Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Saw Mummy Kissing....well...

Dear Apocalypse: You missed us, you missed us, neener neener neener!

I didn't get my hair done for nothing!
 I KNEW Mayans were extinct for a reason!

Anyway...On to mistletoe.

Mistletoe is an amazing little plant. It can exist on it's own, but is more likely to be found as a parasite, living on a host tree. Because it draws its nutrients from its host, it also absorbs the magical properties from the tree. It is no surprise that mistletoe growing on the sacred oak would be the most magical and powerful of all. It is a plant associated with the sun, as it is green with berries even as the host tree is bear of leaf. It is the symbol of the rebirth of the sun at Yuletide. It was associated with Taranis, a sun deity, and the white berries are formed from his sperm. (OK, so there is an obvious fertility aspect to the mistletoe which has lead to current customs.)

Mistletoe was considered a protection against fire, lightning, and cured poison (even though the berries, themselves, are poisonous. Keep away from pets and children, weird spouses and peculiar significant know who you are...) It was called “all heal” in Medieval Times (Applebees, Olive Garden..sorry, bad restaurant joke.)

If you hung a sprig in the barn, or a sprig over a baby's crib (minus berries, I hope) it warded off fairies. If a sprig was anywhere in the house, love would dwell within. It gave rise to the English superstition that if a single person was not kissed under the mistletoe at Solstice (or Yuletide) they would remain unmarried for the coming year. I guess it inspired this Sherlock fan art I found on Tumblr.

Druids were said to harvest the mistletoe by cutting it with a gold blade and catching it in a white sheet of linen. It was not to touch the ground. As it grew on the oak, and not from the soil, touching earth would ground all its powers.
  As a thank-you to the gods for this magical gift, one or two white bulls would be sacrificed. This is interesting because it may hearken back to Mithra. We do know that the Romans had a rite of purification called the Taurabolium. In this rite, a white bull was sacrificed, held over the heads of the faithful (or they passed under it via a pit) and the blood was allowed to drip upon the believers and thus “cleanse” them. This rite has been associated with Mithra by many (and the time of year would correspond with the date of his birth, as I explained in a prior post), but some claim this is a misunderstanding. You can draw your own conclusion.

In Victorian times, the mistletoe was hung in the doorway as a round clump called a “kissing ball”. Sprig or ball, the same custom applies. According to some, when a couple kiss under the mistletoe, a berry should be removed. When there are no more berries, there can be no more kisses. So if you see a bare kissing ball, move off to another to get lucky. All the kisses have been taken (or else the hostess is plotting to spike the cider with a merry dose of death...sorry. Sherlock overload.)

If you think no one cares abut the mistletoe in this day and age, please see the following video. It's slow starting. It also proves that the Brits – gods bless em – have no native sense of rhythm. See the dance at the end, for example. Riverdance it ain't.. but they love their mistletoe.


As for me.. I've been unattached for too many years. This time, I am taking no chances.

I think 2012 has seriously screwed with my mind (sigh). Gary wouldn't come anywhere near me until I took the damn thing off.

Have a happy, everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Here Comes Shaman Claus


Is “amanita muscaria” or “fly agaric”. It is bright and festive, and highly hallucinogenic. In fact, it puts the “fun” in fungus. BUT.. what is it doing hanging on a pine tree next to an image of Santa Claus? You might be surprised.

You see, these special mushrooms grow under pine trees.
 Siberian shamans collect them, wearing the colors of the mushroom – red and white.

Once collected, they return to their yurt (a circular tent with a smoke opening in the top), climb in through the smoke hole with their sack of 'srooms, and proceed to string them for hanging. When they are dried, they are ready for consumption. AND... they aren't the only ones who eat these mushrooms. Have a look at this clip from the BBC:

No wonder the green of the pine tree, and the red and white of the mushrooms, have become the colors of Xmas, and other red and white decorations – from satin balls to candy canes – follow suite.

Next time: mistletoe.

I saw my surgeon on Monday. Good news! It will still take quite a long time to recover, but so far I have dodged the bullet. He thinks my foot has come along fine, and that I don't have to report back for 6 months. I can't do any marathon shopping or walking – in fact, I should use a scooter or wheelchair when ever possible, but I should be able to progress from walker to cane in time. He also wants me to do gastric bypass. No. Absolutely not. I would consider Lap-Band, but will consult with my primary physician this Spring. Gastric bypass scares the bejesus out of me. I've had enough thrills and chills for a while.

So, my prediction has come true. I said my foot would recover enough for me to “run” from the world holocaust with the rest of you. Perhaps I won't have to worry about the Lap-Band after all.

Until next time, enjoy the holidays. Here's a nice little video celebrating the fly agaric in music and pictures.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tick Tick Tick...

The Yuletide season is upon us. If certain prophesies are true, this should be a Yule for the ages, the last grand Circle before the lights go out for good. Yes, here comes Armageddon. However, should we all awaken on the morning of the 22nd, and find that the world hasn't been “Arma-got-done”, festivities will resume as planned.

I thought it would be nice, over the next few weeks, to talk about some of the traditions associated with the celebrations and trappings of this “most wonderful time of the year”. Let's start with the date of Xmas itself: December 25th.

Those of a Pagan persuasion know that the Winter Solstice (around Dec 21st) or Yule marks the shortest day of the year. This is a time when darkness seems to be conquering the light. Magic was done and rites performed to assure that the sun would rise in the morning – a sign that the light had been re-born. (All the more reason, this year, to burn those premium peppermint striped candles you've been saving for a “special” Yule!)

Christmas is celebrated only a few days later. Most folks do realize that no shepherds were watching any flocks on the hillsides in December. The most likely time of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is March or April. What we did have on December 25th was the birth of a god named Mithra. Roman soldiers brought the belief in Mirtha back to their homeland from their billets in Eastern lands. Mirtha appealed to soldiers because he was a warrior himself, come to earth to establish his kingdom. In the case of Mithra, this was conceived of as an actual kingdom, not the spiritual “kingdom of God” professed by Jesus.

"Mithra or Mitra is...worshiped as Itu (Mitra-Mitu-Itu) in every house of the Hindus in India. Itu (derivative of Mitu or Mitra) is considered as the Vegetation-deity. This Mithra or Mitra (Sun-God) is believed to be a Mediator between God and man, between the Sky and the Earth. It is said that Mithra or [the] Sun took birth in the Cave on December 25th. It is also the belief of the Christian world that Mithra or the Sun-God was born of [a] Virgin. He traveled far and wide. He has twelve satellites, which are taken as the Sun's disciples.... [The Sun's] great festivals are observed in the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox—Christmas and Easter. His symbol is the Lamb...."
Swami Prajnanananda, Christ the Saviour and Christ Myth

Obviously, there are many points of similarity between the Mithra and Jesus back stories.

The belief flourished, and almost eclipsed the new Christian faith, except for one incredible event – the fall of Rome. With the disintegration of the Empire went the power of the Roman Legion. However, there are always elements of the Pagan which can not be eradicated from the Christian. Obviously the date of the birth of Christ is one of them.

We should not forget that the Roman celebration of the Saturnalia takes place during this period (usually December 17th to the 23rd). During this time, the statue of Saturn was filled with olive oil (he was a god of vegetation) and his feet – usually bound with wood – were freed. There was a public sacrifice at the temple, the giving of gifts (even gag gifts!) and decorating with wreaths and garlands. The Lord of Misrule was in evidence (and survives as an English Christmas custom. This is a person selected to preside over the feasting).

Now THAT'S an office party!

Taking December 25th and making it Christian, and absorbing many other Pagan traditions along the way, makes the Church's observance of Xmas suspect. To misquote Dickens, there is more of gravy than Holy Ghost about it.

Next time: Mushrooms and Xmas trees.

As for me, I'm just happy to be home and able to celebrate with my family. It was December 18th last year when I ended up in hospital, struggling to survive sepsis and facing multiple surgeries. I am starting to walk with a shoe and brace, but I'm taking it slow until after the holidays. If the ankle is going to break down (which means amputation) I'm making sure it is after the holidays. I just want to have a happy memory. I will be seeing my surgeon on Dec 10th, so hopefully the news is good and I can relax a bit.

Rufus is getting accustomed to being home again. I think I've convinced him to stop marking and use his papers. (Today was a good day.) We even had our Holiday picture taken. Claude was the photographer.

My article “The Tie That Binds” was published last week as a special on-line article for Sage Woman subscribers. My blog activity really picked up after that. Welcome, new readers! Feel free to comment.

Finally, for the Sherlock Fans, filming of Season 3 has been pushed back until March. Benedict and Martin are so busy these days that other commitments have caused the delay. Good for them, crappy for us. So, for the time being, Sherlock is still “dead”. But remember what happened last time. You just can't kill Sherlock Holmes.

One final thing: My dear friend, Goldie, was kind enough to read my Sherlock manuscript. In my story, both he and his sister play the Moonlight Sonata on the violin. Goldie pointed out that it was usually done as a piano piece. I advised her to try and hear strings playing it. Well, this isn't the best example but, below, is a string quartet doing the Sonata. Enjoy!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gobble Gobble

Its still Thanksgiving weekend, so I suppose there is time remaining to do the traditional, let's avoid the corny, listing of the things for which I give thanks:

My siblings, who worked miracles for me this past year. They continue to exhibit their love by their periodic Inquisition, making sure I don't slip back down into the Slough of Despond...or the bargain basement of Macy's.
Dr. Siegel, who was willing to take one more chance to save my leg. I know the jury is still out, but amputation would have been a fait accompli without you. And yes, I will joint your Facebook group if I can ever find it.

Keith, who has always been by my side and who always has my back. I don't deserve a nephew like you. I guess you get to burn off a lot of Karma with me around!

My Anam Cara Claude. I love you and can't picture life without you. (Breathe folks, it's platonic.)

My other friends, including the former hubby, who helped me alone the way to recovery.

Debbie, who adopted Rufus while Mama was sick.

The Old Ones, for allowing me the strength to fight on, and all those who kept me in their thoughts and prayers. The trip's not over yet, but I can see the shore.

Thanksgiving was spent at my sister Diane's, with lots of food and a nice peaceful atmosphere. The only thing I missed, from my perch in the solarium, was the opportunity to watch TV. I had no idea how to turn it on. When my brother-in-law wasn't looking, Keith and I pulled out all the remotes to see if any of them would do the trick. It quickly became obvious that any attempt to touch a controller could result in a range of effect, from dimming the lights to nuclear assault.

            There are 16 remotes in this picture. There were more in other rooms.

In fact, Keith and I noticed that it was a rather techno-holiday. The 4 and 9 year old nephews were playing games on their father's I-Phone ( In one case, it had something to do with Stupid Zombies? I don't know. The child can speak as fast as he can type...and that's the 4 year old). Gary was uploading his photos of Jersey shore Sandy destruction, one sister was printing out holiday snaps while the other was pleased with her led lit canvas paintings. One was a church scene with candles in the windows...and they really flickered.

Keith was not approving, trying to put forward the case that the value of art should not be dependent upon batteries. However, there is no male argument that can win out over a woman's perspective of “..But it's pretty!”...and that was ME.

                                         I'm buying this one. Fie on detractors!

I also managed to have a few pictures taken with Gary and Keith, as well as a new one of me which I will use for PR going forward. There were more, but they were on my sister's camera. She doesn't e-mail them very well. They end up huge and unprintable.

So it goes. I was able to get to Diane's by using my shoe and brace. I'm trying to use them 2 hours a day. I was finally able to leave my home via the front door!

For the Sherlock fans...I still haven't decided exactly what the three clue words “Rat, Wedding, Bow” really mean, but I did see that filming of Sherlock Season 3 will begin in January.

Borrowed from on-line fan art
I also found a great video that captures the Sherlock personality. See below for a little fun.

Hope you all had a happy and safe holiday. I'll keep posting right up till Yule. If the Mayans are right, it will be my show finale. If not, we'll go onward through the fog into 2013. It would be just my luck, however, to finally be able to walk only to have to out pace global destruction. Run, Forrest, run indeed.

P.S. Good news! I was just informed that my article “The Tie That Binds” will be published Tuesday as the Sage Woman on-line bonus feature, complete with three of my altar pictures. Gee! The world really MUST be ending, I've been waiting for this to come out for two years. Thanks, Anne!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

One for the Books

Apologies for the delay.  I couldn't get to my computer for a while.  We had a little storm named Sandy whip through, and it basically disrupted power, water, ability to find food and gas for almost everyone in the beautiful Garden State.  I was without power from Monday evening, October 29th, until November 7th.  I was lucky enough to stay with a friend who had power restored on Halloween. I had it better than most.

As lights came back on all around us, our little village of retired folks were forced to endure. All of our units are electric, so we didn't even have gas stoves upon which to warm things up.  The Clubhouse was finally opened during the day, where hot drinks were served.  I'm told the Red Cross also came through with soup.  The Anam Cara and hubby stuck it out the entire time. I lost about $340 in food. At first we were told FEMA would reimburse us up to $300. It was a lie.  Why must people poke sticks at us while we're down? It's not kind to spread rumors.

I was no sooner delivered to my doorstep when the snow started to fall.  Yep, snow. Just what my friends down the shore and my sister in the hills near Lambertville needed.  These folks STILL have no power. They were running on generators, but now "people" are stealing them. New Jersians are a tough but caring lot.  We're strong; we band together and help each other.  But every society has its sub-humans. Shame on those who would rip off a family's only source of heat for the almighty buck.  Evolve! Catch up, damn it!

A special thank you to all those crews from across the lower 48 who came to help, and the everyday folks who packed up supplies and drove out here to help relieve the shore.  I also need to mention the crews from Canada who heeded the call.  It's always Canada who comes to help the USA.  Right now, they're outside my sister's house, trying to get the lights back on.  

 Good Canucks. Thanks. Stay for tea.

My former hubby lives in Asbury Park.  He went out after the storm and took a bunch of photos.  Here's a few a la Gary Niall.

Boardwalk Damage
Destroyed Property

The Stone Pony is now beach front.      

I'm particularly upset about the Seaside Heights area.  All my Summer vacations down the shore were spent on the amusement park. Dad couldn't resist slapping down quarters at the wheels, trying to win us stuffed animals.  Diane and I ended our day on the rides.  A day at the shore was pure joy. (Photos are from ABC News.)

And now, it is reduced to this:

I don't have any words for the sadness. It obviously pales in comparison to property loss and suffering, but it's another little bright touch of my childhood which is gone forever.

I never did get to celebrate Samhain OR Halloween, we go!

At least brooms don't need gas!

My final selection for haunted classical music is the Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saen.

Hope there is fair weather ahead.  Be well, everybody!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Almost There...

We're getting closer, folks! Samhain is almost here. I love the changing of the leaves, the cooler weather, the crisp blue skies...OK, we're about to get a hurricane on the 29th and 30th, but hey! It's been that kind of a Samhain-tide. All I can do is hysterics. At least I don't have to worry about a roof blowing off or a cellar full of water.

The fun continues. Thank you, friends, for your good thoughts about Ellen reuniting with her cat. Perhaps I should have included a picture of Karla so you all had a specific kitty upon which to focus. So far, she has been given a kitten, and caught a calico stray in her have-a-heart trap. Any more, and she'll turn into our local “crazy cat lady”. (Actually, she returned the kitten after a failed attempted to give me a new pet. Rufus is coming home next week, and I have no desire to face the wrath of Ru!) This is Karla:


I went to the eye doctor to complete my exam and pick up my new glasses. I had to do that dreaded field of vision test. You know the one: one eye is covered and you stare into a machine with the other, looking ahead as little white lights flash on and off all around the peripheral. Your job is to press your clicker whenever you see one. Problem is: they leave an after image on my retina and I end up seeing lights all over the place! I HATE that thing!!...OK. I'm calm now. The good news: pressure in both eyes is down and everything looks spiffy. Bad news: got home, tried on my new glasses, and the left eye is completely blurry. $398 dollars for glasses I can't use. I will go back and have them adjusted, AFTER Samhain, and after the flood waters from the hurricane subside. (Eye doctor is down the shore. Lucky me.)

Claude is doing better, although she is in pain. She expressed her displeasure at my posting her “wicked witch” picture... so I KNOW she's getting better! (Love you, Claude. Don't yell at me. I only have one synaptic cleft left and the neurons are barely speaking.)

Prescriptions have been lost at pharmacies, medical faxes have gone astray, food orders have gone wonky, my sisters showed up at the house and resurrected the Spanish Inquisition regarding my diet, my finances, yadda yadda. OH! And we finally found all my makeup...behind the couch in a cloth bag.


Anyway, I have my musical selection for you - “Night on Bald Mountain” a la Disney's “Fantasia”. Pay particular attention to the demonic figure. Look familiar? A famous Universal actor agreed to pose for the character. His name was Bela Lugosi.

For the Sherlock fans out there: Please continue to support the Save Undershaw Project. Doyle's home has been saved from conversion into apartment units, but it is a far way from being restored. This is the place where so many great tales were penned, including “Hound of the Baskervilles”.

I also have a seasonal treat for you. It's a little video entitled “Sherlock Holmes and the Undead”. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Samhain-tide, Get Off My Hide!

I have often told my friends and family, “It's Samhain-tide. If anything can go wrong, it will.” Last week was a perfect example.

Claude was released from re-hab (she had a knee replacement) and was home for a week. She had several panic attacks, but I was always able to talk her down. Last Monday, I got a call at 9am. It was Claude and Jack. She was crying and he was saying, “I can't calm her down. YOU try.”

I couldn't either.

I had her get dressed and had Jack drop her off at my house. I kept her for a few hours but couldn't get her to eat, sleep or stop crying and making those constant “huh huh huh” noises while rocking. Finally, she stated she wanted to go to the Emergency. I convinced Jack to drive, and off we went at 3pm to Princeton at Plainsboro. (Don't any of you DARE make “House” jokes. Tain't funny.) Finally, at 9pm, she was admitted.

Four days later, lots of hydration and tests, and they found nothing. She was feeling better, so they sent her home. The next morning, at 9am, Jack calls. “Is my wife with you?” I thought he was kidding. Claude and I are so close, we endure endless verbal barbs about “being a couple”. So I answered, “You better hope not; I'm in bed.”

He wasn't kidding – Claude was gone. No note, no sign, just apparently rolled through the bedroom wall into another dimension. As I was talking to Jack, I got a message on my mobile. Nurse Jackie from St. Peter's Hospital called to say that Claude fetched herself an ambulance in the wee hours of the morning, and was in Peter's A&E with shortness of breath. Please tell her husband.

Jack was on the verge of collapse. It's OK to get yourself to the hospital; NOT OK to do so as a disappearing act. (I chastised her proper once she got back home.) End result: congestive heart failure, probably caused by all that hydration at Plainsboro. They kept her until Saturday when I ...again... had to don my knee walker and show Jack how to get to New Brunswick. He worried about getting lost the entire way, even though it was my home turf.

Claude on a good day
and not so good day

MEANWHILE... Friend Ellen's 14 year old cat managed to escape unnoticed into the night and has yet to return. Karla was her buddy and she was wracked with guilt that she hadn't detected her escape until an hour later. (In Ellen's defense, Karla hides in the house quite often, so there was no reason for alarm until the food dish went untouched.) Ellen and I made various calls back and forth. I had to support my friend. There was no question of doing otherwise, but the stress was mounting. (Everyone send out a little prayer that Karla and Ellen get reunited!)

THEN – I get a phone call saying Joe and Helen were coming to visit from Thursday until Saturday. These folks are like another set of parents to me, as they are 19 years older. Helen is great: when she comes she helps me go through boxes, do laundry, organize my books. We always get a lot done. Joe is no longer ambulatory, except to get from the car to my rocker, the rocker to the WC, and back. Meanwhile, he issues orders and shouts questions which are impossible to answer from another room like:

Kat, what's that over there?”

Over WHERE, Joe?”

Over there!”

Define 'there'”.


Three days of this, folks.

They left Saturday, and Sunday afternoon my in-laws arrived to stay overnight. Peter and Diana (brother-in-law and wife) and I always get along great. They were staying with me, while my mother-in-law stayed with Gary in Asbury Park. Now, I usually get along with Mom, but she is getting older and more sensitive. Due to my stressful week, I wasn't exactly in a patient mood myself. Mom started making negative comments about another family member. When I mentioned that this individual once wrote me and said that perhaps my spiritual path resulted in my Cancer (six years ago), she exploded. “He never did that!” I was virtually called a liar in front of my family and friends, in my own home.

Yesterday, I had to give a three hour deposition regarding my law suit (I was taped at work using the rest room, as were 59 other women. Naturally, we're suing.) I got a letter saying my company overpaid me and I had to send a cashier's check for almost $1000... and my mother-in-law and Gary are coming to visit again towards the end of the week. I'm not overjoyed with Gary, either. He told his family, out of my hearing, that I misunderstood the letter I had received re: cancer. He read said letter himself, and knows there was no “misunderstanding”. I got thrown under the bus, people!

Finally, I got to use my shoe and brace for the first time today, and my leg was swollen so it rubs on the brace. I also need a new shower chair...another expense. Oh! And I packed makeup to wear at the Para X last week. When I got to the show, the bag was in my grip but the makeup was gone... just gone. I still haven't found it. That's a good $50 right there.

Samhain. You're killing me.

We still have two weeks to go. Holy Mary....

Anyway, I have  three videos for you today. The first is for Sherlock fans. After having folks tease that Claude and I are a bonded pair....

(“We are NOT a couple.”

Sure you are. You are a couple who love each other without having sex.”

There's an English word for that: igit.”)

...I kind of understand John Watson's frustration.

And for the classical selections: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Ah...Bach.

As well as Grieg: In The Hall of the Mountain King.

Hang on there, everyone! Samhain got ta end sometime.

Monday, October 8, 2012


The Para-X was held this past Saturday, and I had a blast! 

Thanks to Karen Timper and her group (New Jersey Ghost Organization) for holding the event. Thanks to everyone who bought books and Graven Images Oracle decks, and all the folks who chose me to do their readings.  I was honored. 

 I had a very full lecture room for my Wicca 101 presentation, and that was well received.  Sorry to anyone who wanted to speak with me after.  I had people lined up for readings (for which they had already paid) and I couldn't stop to chat, much as I would have enjoyed that. Take heart!  My e-mail address and blog address were in the give-away packets we handed out during the lecture, so feel free to use them.  There were some very interesting questions raised during the presentation that I would love to discuss at greater length!

Thanks also to:
!) Charlene for being my driver, fetch, carry, promoter and friend. I can always count on you to chat up my talents!

2) Keith, the nephew, for being there all day, running errands, helping break down my area after the show, and allowing me to use him as a point of focus during my talk on directing energy.  There's nothing like a room full of people pointing their fingers at you by command of your aunt. Hope the paranoia after-glow faded quickly.

3) Thanks to my friend Lori from Philadelphia, who braved the trip with kids and buddy in tow, only to get lost.  At least you made it to the presentation and, hopefully, got to see a few vendors before they packed up. You took it in your stride. That's why I love ya!

4) ..And thanks to Ellen, who made time in a busy day to come, only to find me drowning in a sea of people.  Yipes!  Sorry I had to neglect you. 

Scenes from the vending floor

The Lytle sisters: Denise and Yvette. Check out Yvette's Etsy shop "Happy Harpy"

My table

My crew: Charlene and Keith

Friends from Philly

One very tired Kat

Now for the musical selection.  You may remember the opening of this music as the theme from "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"... if you're as old as dust, like me.  The show went off the air in 1962, but anyone who remembers it will think of Hitch's profile as soon as the music starts. (The rest of you can look it up on YouTube!) Here, then, is Gounod's "Funeral March for a Marionette". (It starts a bit slow, but keep watching.)