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Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Art of Candle Doctoring

Doctor (Verb) - To treat medically. Synonyms: heal, cure, minister to, care for, nurse. 

As a candle worker, I have ran across many a candle in less than perfect condition. Sometimes candles get broken in transit, sometimes they explode while burning, and something the wick burns all the way down to the bottom and does not melt away any wax at all!

Now I am not always inclined to say that this is a "bad sign" because candles are made by human beings, or by machines built by human beings, and you will sometimes get a bad batch. In addition, I hate waste so I have developed procedures for doctoring a candle that is not always cooperative. 

When a wick burns down to the bottom of the candle and leaves all the wax behind, or the wick gets drowned and I am not able to save it or re-lit it with a splint, or it is not otherwise salvageable then I perform the following procedure.

First, I drive a knife down the center of the candle all the way to the bottom. With a tight grip, I twist the knife in a circle leaving a large hole in  the wax.

The excess wax is then dumped out. This sometimes results in the loss of any herbs / oils that were placed in the candle previously so a little bit of herbs and a few drops of condition oil is placed in this hole to make up for that. 

Next a household taper is marked with the name(s) of the person(s) the vigil light was meant to affect and it is then dressed with an appropriate condition oil.

It may or may not also be rolled in an herbal mixture or sachet powder which sticks to the candle by virtue of the oil with which it was dressed.  The candle is then inserted in the hole which was made in the vigil light and lit with affirmative prayer.

It is important that when you make your hole in the vigil light and insert your fixed candle that the candle go all way down to the bottom of the vigil light otherwise the candle will only burn to the bottom of the inserted candle and then go out.   

As you can see from the photo at the left once the candle burns down it melds with the wax from the vigil light and burns normally until it is spent. Once the candle is spent, it may be read for signs.

Sometimes I take into account having to "doctor" the candle as an negative sign, and sometimes I do not. As I stated earlier, sometimes you simply get a "bad batch" of candle but even getting a bad batch can also be a sign.

You will have to use your own judgement  and intuition to determine if a "bad burn" is a negative reflection on the work or the product of bad workmanship, or low quality materials at the candle factory. 

Carolina Dean


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review: Miss Cleo Power Deck

Miss Cleo

You may not remember her, but Youree Dell Harris was something of a minor celebrity of dubious reputation in the late '90s. Operating under the name of Miss Cleo and claiming to be a Jamaican Shaman, Harris appeared in late-night infomercials as well as several 30 second commercials for the Psychic Readers Network. As the spokesman for the network, Miss Cleo offered psychic advice and predictions based on Tarot readings while a prominent 1-900 number appeared on the screen inviting listeners to call in for their own reading at .99 cents a minute or more. 

While some believe that the calls were scripted or that the callers were actors who were hired to "play along" with the readings, it is clear that Miss Cleo had some knowledge of the Tarot. Her warm, friendly and inviting manner with her callers made her a magnetic and charismatic figure later parodied on shows such as The Simpsons, MadTV, and Angel to name a few.

Several lawsuits were filed against the Psychic Readers Network and Miss Cleo herself  in 1999 over deceptive business practices, which included spamming and false-advertising.  The lawsuits were later settled out of court, but not before much of Miss Cleo's claims regarding her past had been discredited. During this time it was revealed that Miss Cleo was actually Youree Dell Harris, who was born in Los Angeles and who is not Jamaican.

It was later reported that Harris had previously created a version of  the character of Miss Cleo for one of her self-penned plays Women Only: A Celebration of Love, Life and Healing in which she played the part of Miss Cleo. After settling the lawsuits filed against her, Harris went into private practice as a shaman and spiritual-adviser through a company located in Florida. In October of 2006, Harris came out as a lesbian in an issue of The Advocate. Harris also claimed to be a survivor of domestic abuse.

For many people interested in the Tarot, Miss Cleo's infomercials were the closest they could get to seeing a reader actually ply her craft.  Despite claims that the infomercials were scripted I never saw an instance where I felt that Miss Cleo gave her callers bad advice. Despite her previous past, it is clear that Miss Cleo was responsible for introducing the Tarot to a whole generation of individuals.

Miss Cleo Power Deck 

I first received a Miss Cleo Power Deck around 2002 from a friend who ordered a lot of 20 of these decks from a seller on ebay. She had gotten them fairly cheap and it was her intention to distribute them among the prisons we visited as part of our Pagan Prison Ministry. She felt that if we were to be using this deck as a teaching tool that I should be familiar with its art and symbolism.

As an avid collector of tarot decks, I was happy to add another deck to my collection, however, I wasn't sure what to expect from this deck.  The cards measure roughly 2.75 X 4.75 inches on a medium card stock that is, surprisingly, not flimsy at all. They were created by Seth Stephens and J.F. Lambert for Radar Communications (the company that also produced the Miss Cleo Infomercials) and follow the standard structure of a 78 card tarot deck comprised on 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana in Staffs, Cups, Swords, and Coins. The Pip, or people, cards are named as the King, Queen, Knight, and Page.

The Miss Cleo Power Deck became something of a collector's item after Miss Cleo's downfall and subsequent disappearance from the airwaves and is available online either alone or with an accompanying book and VHS video in which Miss Cleo gives a rudimentary explanation of the cards and how they are read. She also explains three tarot spreads including the Past, Present and Future Spread, the Four Door Spread and the Celtic Cross Spread.  and the deck itself comes with the requisite LWB (little white book) with a basic explanation of each card's meaning.

Unlike the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck she used on television, this deck is drawn in an pseudo-Egyptian theme.  I understand that the maker of this deck could not sell a RSW deck due to copyright laws but you would think that she would have used her own deck to do readings on television. Of course no one knew at the time that Miss Cleo would be a pop culture sensation and this deck was obviously an effort to take advantage of her influence at the height of her popularity and the public's interest in the Tarot at the time.

The Miss Cleo Power Deck is definitely a RWS clone with a few changes here and there which, I feel, changes the intended meaning of the cards. For example, the female figure in the Strength card does not seem to be able to control the lion. The Fool is stepping off of a cliff backwards, and the figure in the 10 of Wands does not seem to be burdened at all by the load he is carrying (see photos below)

In other instances I feel that these changes improve upon what has gone before. For example, the 10 of Cups ---a card which traditionally shows a heterosexual couple surrounded by their children and associated with home, family, happiness, etc...--- depicts two men whose posture and position mirror one another. The slight difference is that one man has a sword strapped to his waist and the other has a bow. They appear to be tying a knot in a snake-like rope and the overall effect resembles a large heart surrounding them.

That being said, this is a very gay-friendly deck in that the male figure are drawn stripped to the waist with athletic figures which many gay men and straight women may appreciate. The one thing I do not like about the figures is the lack of pupils in the eyes, which in my opinion robs them of any personality or humanity.

The cards handle quite nicely when shuffling and cutting them, and I have gotten some very good readings out of this deck.  I find that the artwork does grow on you after a while and the differences between the traditional RWS imagery and that of the Miss Cleo Power Deck does open the door to new interpretations and meanings associated with the cards which seems to compliment her style of reading the cards.

Overall, I would say that this is a decent, though average, tarot deck that is certainly usable and which would appeal to a certain tarot enthusiasts. There is something of a catch-22 to this deck in that it is largely overshadowed by the ignominious legacy of Miss Cleo without which this deck would not have been created and popularized in the first place.


Carolina Dean

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Review: The Gay Tarot

Description:  The Gay Tarot focuses on the experience and identity of homosexual men. While men are featured as all the major figures, women are not excluded. The 78 images are fully illustrated, with people are of all ethnicities, shapes and sizes and in modern, contemporary settings.

Created By: By Lee Bursten & Antonella Platano

Review: The Gay Tarot is something of a Rider-Clone with modern twists on some of the images. For example, the 8 of Swords shows a young man in a subway surrounded on all sides by other people (alone yet not alone), the Chariot now takes the form of a skater-boy being pulled along by two dogs.

There are very few females in this deck, which is fitting because it was made specifically by and for gay men. I personally don't find this a problem as there are many feminist decks on the market which don't feature men. However, the exclusion of women necessitated a few changes and therefore the High Priestess becomes the Intuitive and the Empress, the Protector. Other changes include replacing the traditional Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages with Sages, Men, Youths, and Guides respectively. Finally, significant changes to the Major Arcana include replacing the Devil with Self-Hatred, and the Tower with Revelation.

In addition the numbered cards of each suit relate to one another in profound ways. For example, with the exception of the 3 of Swords,  the 3's of each suit display scenes of a single-father caring for his young daughter. Some figures appear in different cards at various points in their lives. For example, the Fool shows a handsome young man standing along the highway with a puppy asleep at his feet. Later, the same young man can be seen in the 10 of Wands. Here he is still traveling the highway. His book-bag is more tattered, his dog has grown and he himself is more mature. 

I like that the cards aren't  full of young attractive white men but rather shows men of all ages, races, and types. The Gay Tarot consists of the young and the old, single and committed, single-parents, and happy families.  I like that all of the images are tasteful and there's very little nudity in this deck and does not perpetuate the idea that gay men are all about sex and pornography. In fact, there is very little that I do not like about this deck. The most I can say that I dislike about the Gay Tarot are the extra titles on each card which gives the card's names in six different languages. 

Once you get used to the differences, especially if you are accustomed to the traditional structure of the Rider-Waite deck, I think that you'll find many insights and nuances that add depth and meaning to your readings. All in all, this is a great deck that reflects the lives of gay men and speaks directly to their experiences in the modern world.

Happy Hoodooing!


The Gay Tarot (Aeclectic Tarot)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

MIPC: Love Potion

For this entry in my Magic in Popular Culture (MIPC) series, I would like to share with you a love potion from the 1984 motion Picture Supergirl. Those of you familiar with this series will note that I have written about this movie before as it is rich with spells, concepts, and symbolism

The Potion

"Take a spider off its web and shut him up inside two shells of a nut. Boil the nut in oil, into which has been added a piece of the web. With a silver spoon, put two drops of oil into the water. He who drinks the water shall be in love with the first person he sees, so long as the spider stays shut up inside the nutshell, or one day goes by...which ever comes first."

See the Scene


While on the surface this may seem to be something that was made up by the writers to move the plot along, however, a closer looks at elements of this potion reveal that it is quite sophisticated.

First of all, like men in primitive cultures, spider's are endeared as hunters. They often build their web to trap their pray. Nuts, symbolically are associated with the testicles and therefore male sexuality. Therefore, I believe this potion is about capturing a man's nature so that he can be controlled (i.e. the spider trapped in his own web) under the guise of love and sex.

Boiling the nut is symbolic of putting "heat" on the situation, to make the man "hot" for you and susceptible to your charming ways (the silver spoon, being born with "a silver spoon in your mouth"). 

Finally, feeding the man two drops of oil in water is all about duality and confusion. We all know that oil and water do not mix, and so here we have the heat of desire, symbolized by the oil, conflicting with the cool clarity of the water to confuse the man and keep him under your control.

The fact that the victim will fall in love with the first person they see goes all the way back to Shakespear's time, and probably earlier than that, and is a common element place on love potions. (See A Midsummer Night's Dream).

The spider sealed inside the nut then comes to represent the man himself and in that respect it is similar to a Voodoo Doll, in that so long as the spider stays trapped in the nutshell so will the man remained in the witch's thrall. However, the fact that the spells is broken after 24 hours tells me that this spell is less about love and more about seduction and sex.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Setting Lights: A Rootworker's Perspective

Praying Over a Candle
Setting Lights, or candle-altar service, is a service offered by many spiritual-workers and owners of candle-shops. The setting of lights entails the burning of a fixed Vigil-Candle on top of a client’s petition for a period of 7 to 9 days, however long it takes for the candle to burn. Each worker has his or her own process and today I would like to explain my methods in further detail.

All of my business is conducted through my website, and I have many choices of candle types to select from. Typically a client will purchase their candle and the payment comes to me via paypal. However, sometimes a client will email me first with a description of their issue or condition and I will recommend an appropriate candle.

Once I receive the order, the client is emailed a confirmation as soon as possible explaining that their candle will be lit the following day and to expect their report in 7-10 days. The reason for this is simple. I have a day job and am not home 24 hours a day to start candles the same day. If someone orders a candle at 2:00 am on a Tuesday I am sleeping. I will generally send them a confirmation that morning when I wake up. However, I do not have time to go through my process that day. Their candle will be prepared that evening when I return from work and lit the following morning (see below) 

Vigil Lights with Labels Attached 

The process begins when I print the paypal receipt containing all the client's information. I also print an appropriate label and glue it to a candle.  On a legal pad in which each page is dedicated to a specific client's candle I write down the following information which will form the basis of my candle-burn reports.

  • Name of Client: The person who ordered the candle. 
  • Email Address: The address I will be emailing the candle burn report 
  • Date Started: The day the candle was lit. 
  • Moon Phase: The Moon Phase and sign the moon occupies when the candle was lit. 
  • Date Ended: Obviously this area is left blank and filled in later.  
  • Moon Phase: Again this is filled in later. 
  • Number of Times Re-lit: How many times, if any, the candle went out and had to be lit again. This is usually represented by X's 
  • Target: I.E., the person the candle is intended to affect if not the client themselves. 
  • Notes: In this section I will note my observations about how the candle is burning. 

A Written Petition
The necessary herbs, roots, and oil(s) are then pulled down and set aside with the candle. If the client has not provided me with a petition, I write one up myself and set it aside. If the client has provided me with a written petition, that is also printed out and set aside. 

I then fix the candle with the herbs and dress it with the oils. The candle is then set on the altar with the petition underneath until the following morning as it is my preference that all candles fixed for positive purposes be lit first thing in the morning shortly before sunrise so that love, health, wealth, prosperty, etc... grow with the Sun.

Road Opener Candle Burning 
The following morning, I light the altar candles and incense on my altar and offer up my morning prayers. I then remove the client's petition from under their Vigil Light, and read it over carefully. I five spot the petition with a specific condition oil and then smoke it in incense as I pray for their cause. The petition is then folded and placed under the Vigil Light. The Vigil Light is sealed with prayer and by knocking on it three times. Finally the candle is lit and allowed to burn.

The candle is observed over the following days and I note my observations on the legal pad. When the candle is spent it is removed from the altar and placed in a designated spot in my office along with the sheet torn from the legal pad where I will write up the candle-burn report. The candle is photographed against a backdrop for clarity, the photograph is emailed to me an the candle is moved to my desk.

A Sign Leftover from the Candle 

At my desk I open up an email and transcribe all my notes into an email to the client in a clear, logical order. I explain how the candle burned, any sounds it may have made any odd occurrences, any signed left behind in the wax or herb matter, etc....All pictures are inserted into the email and / or added as attachments. Finally, I give the client a Spiritual Prescription, that is any follow up work that I recommend me done.  

In addition to the client, I always BCC a special email address which I have set up specially to archive all candle-burn reports (and tarot-readings) that I send out for record-keeping purposes. I also print these reports and place them in a special journal I keep as a hard-copy.

The clients petition is then burned and dropped inside the Vigil Light glass after which it is disposed of.

If I hear back from the client within three days, I will make a note of their feedback in the journal. If I do not hear back from the client within three days I send them a follow up email with a link to my online feedback form. If they chose to fill out the simple form, I will make note of their feedback in the journal. If they do not fill out the form, I will not ask again.


Carolina Dean 

Friday, January 2, 2015

This Little Piggy Went to the Altar

Kevin Bacon
According to Wikipedia, "in English, the word 'pig' can refer to two things: the animal and earthenware, which is used to make crockery. People often saved money in kitchen pots and jars made of pig, called "pig jars". By the 18th century, the term "pig jar" had evolved to "pig bank". As earthenware was supplanted by other materials, such as glass, plaster, and plastic, the name gradually began to refer specifically to the shape of the bank, instead of what was used to make it."

In the old days, folks didn't quite trust brick and mortar banks, which could be and often were robbed, and so they saved their money in these little banks such as these or jars buried in the backyard close to home where they can be protected and guarded. They were also often given to children to teach them the importance of saving for the future. These types of banks can be further divided into "still" banks and "mechanical ones," which are both decorative and perform a mechanical function when a coin is inserted.

In Hoodoo, and in Southern culture in general, the pig is considered a lucky animal especially in terms of money and finances. Pigs are very resilient, they can live off of "slop" and breed like rabbits! Many folks are known to consume pork on New Year's Day (along with other foods such as collard greens, black eyed, peas, and cornbread) to ensure wealth and prosperity in the new year.

For this reason, piggy banks can often be found on Money and Prosperity Altars to represent the accumulation and storing of monetary funds. In this day and age of electronic banking, credit/debit cards, few people keep cash in the home anymore and so it is not always easy or even convenient to have spare change to place in a piggy bank. To address this problem, the piggy bank can be "fixed" to act as a "container spell" or "voodoo doll" for your bank account.

How to "Fix" a Piggy Bank for Prosperity

Items needed

  • Piggy Bank
  • Enough change in a variety of denominations to fill the bank
  • Your Bank Account Information
  • Two Dollar Bill
  • Irish Moss
  • Cinnamon Chips
  • Chamomile
  • Red Thread
  • Lodestone Grit
  • Plantain Root
  • Money Come to Me Oil
  • Money Stay With Me Oil
  • Wealthy Way Oil
  • Incense Forms of #'s 11, 12, and 13
  • Green Candle

Begin by marking a green candle with your name and dressing it with all three of the oils listed above. Next make up one incense cone each of Money Come to Me, Money Stay with Me, and Wealthy Way. Place the cones in the form of an upright triangle with the green candle in the center. Light the candle and incense and pray Psalm 23

Take a pen and write the success sigil ($$¢¢$$) in the four corners of the two dollar bill, and then sign your own name under the Secretary of the Treasury. In the center of the bill write your bank account number and under this write the name of your bank. Dress the four corners and center of the bill with the condition oils mentioned earlier and then pass it through the incense smoke and say the following prayer:

"With Gods's blessing and assistance may money flow to me now an always in a steady stream form sources known and unknown so that all my needs are met and more. In Jesus name. Amen"

With the two-dollar bill flat before you, place the Irish Moss, Cinnamon Chips, Chamomile, Plantain Root, and Lodestone on top and fold the bill into a small packet securing it with the red thread. Smoke the packet in the incense and dress the knot with the trio of oils as you repeat your prayer.

Place the packet in the Piggy Bank (you may have to do this from the bottom where there is usually a larger hole that is used removing the change). Next, slowly fill the piggy bank with your change and as you do you may repeat your prayer for a steady stream of money to flow into your bank account. If you desire you can designate each coin to represent money coming from a different source. For example you might say something like:

"With God's blessing and assistance, may money flow to me from....

  • the North
  • the South
  • the East
  • the West
  • scratch off card winnings
  • lucky dreams which provide winning lottery numbers
  • my job
  • my conjure business
  • folks paying for tarot readings
  • folks paying for setting-of-lights
  • folks paying for doll-babies
  • folks paying for mojo-bags
  • residual income from my writings
  • from new clients referred by old clients
  • from repeat clients
  • from generous tips
  • from speaking engagements
  • from personal appearances

and so forth and so on. It is good if you can expound on this theme and make your petitions specific to you, to your work, and to your life. When you are done, dress your little piggy with a combination of the oils already mentioned (just a tiny dab each) and polish him up so he looks all clean and shiny. Place the piggy bank on your money and success altar. If you desire, you may also give your little Piggy a name. 

Above all, keep him clean and never take any money out of the piggy bank unless it is an emergency and you really need the funds. If you do, be sure to fill it back up as soon as possible. Remember this piggy bank represents your bank account and whatever you do to it, you do to your actual bank account so you always want to keep it full.

Carolina Dean

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015: The Year Ahead

Here is a quick draw using both the Tarot and the Lenormand cards to look at the year ahead in 2015. My question is  What is the general theme for we as human beings in 2015? 

The cards draw are Temperance and The Mountain (21). From our perspective the mountain is between us and Temperance, the mountain is what we must overcome to get to that place as represented by the Temperance Card. 

I interpret this as meaning that our biggest‪‎ challenge‬ will be to overcome our own ‪egos‬, ‪doubts‬, and ‪fears‬ so that we can work with one another toward achieving ‪‎harmony‬ without having to sacrifice our ‪‎identity‬, ‪ideals‬ and ‪principals‬. The way opens when we expand our individual perspectives and ‪balance‬ that ‪awareness‬ with‪ compassion.‪‎