Season of the Tower

tower card from Rider-Wait-Smith deckOnce a month I’ll be doing a post related to the study of Tarot. If you are interested in a reading, contact me at sessarego1@gmail.com!

I am right smack in the middle of my 40s. I have a daughter who is about to learn to drive and then go to college, all my health issues hit a low point at once, and everything in my house broke at the same time, making the body/house metaphor both overly literal, uncomfortable and expensive. The nature of everything, from my garbage disposal, to my bank account, to my physical abilities, to my marriage, to my parenting, is changing. ‘Tis the season of the Tower.

The Tower is a card that signals not just massive change, but a crumbling of something that was already built – a career, an actual building, a relationship, or anything else a person has spent a great deal of time making and felt safe within. Midlife is famous for Tower moments. People get divorced in midlife. Their addictions peak in midlife. People move. They look into the rest of their lives and say, “Fuck this shit.” They make drastic choices. The nature of the choices we make when confronted with The Tower determines whether the Tower card is a positive or negative card.

The idea behind the Tower card is that the Tower is a strong building on a faulty foundation (think of all the divorces in which onlookers say “They seemed so happy together!”). Perhaps the original foundation was always flawed, or perhaps it was fine a first, but over time it developed cracks that weren’t attended to because they seemed so small.  Now a single bolt of lighting can bring the whole edifice down. That which seemed safe and stable became an illusion, and is now a wreck.

Tower card from Zombie Tarot

Zombie Tarot, by Paul Kepple and Stacey Graham: Looks like someone forgot to lock a door!

The Tower is a disaster card, but also an opportunity card. Knowing that the foundation was based on something dishonest or unstable, how will you rebuild? Knowing that you’ve had half of your life to learn things, how do you want to incorporate those lessons into the last half of your life? The next card in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot order is The Star, a card of calm, insight, and renewal.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, The Star

 

My advice to those, like myself, who find themselves in the season of the Tower is not to panic. Breathe in and out. Put yourself in a Star frame of mind. Be honest about this season and how you got here and use that to make your next safe creation one that will last.

Between the Lines Book Club: Behold the Dreamers

between the lines book club logoBetween the Lines Book Club will be meeting on March 23rd at Arden Dimick Library from 10:30-12. Our book this month is Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue.

Behold the Dreamers is a novel about Jende Jonga, an immigrant from Cameroon, and his family. Jende gets a job as a chauffeur for a Lehman Brothers executive in 2007. When Lehman Brothers collapses, Jende and his wife struggle to maintain their marriage and their jobs.

Behold the Dreamers received critical acclaim when it was published in 2016. For reviews, check out these links:

New York Times

NPR

Washington Post

And here is a lengthy interview with author Imbolo Mbue following the book being selected for Oprah’s Book Club:

 

 

 

Heartstone, by Elle Katherine White

cover of Heartstone, featuring yellow dragon
I can guarantee that the vast majority of my readers will stop reading this review and race off to one-click as soon as I finish the following sentence:
Heartstone is a loose retelling of Pride and Prejudice, set in a fantasy world with talking dragons. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

 

Aliza, her parents, and her sisters live in Merybourne Manor. The youngest sister, Rina, was killed by a gryphon. Her father hires a group of Riders (as in: dragon riders, the most elite social class) to get rid of the gryphons. The Riders are led by Alastair Daired, who is taciturn and snobby. Aliza’s sister, Anjey, is instantly attracted to Daired’s affable best friend, Brysney. However, for Aliza and Daired, it’s intense dislike at first sight.

 

There’s a lot happening in this book. We get a fairly faithful rendition of the plot of Pride and Prejudice, complete with embarrassing dancing and a wayward younger sister (Leyda). We also get an action-filled fantasy novel complete with sparring sessions, fights between riders on both horses and dragons against packs of gryphons, and threats from an ancient and mighty foe. With all this commotion there’s not enough time for leisurely character development, but the basic character arcs come through fine as Aliza learns to question her first assumptions and Daired learns to stop being such a snob. The world feels real and lived in, and did I mention that the dragons talk? And have opinions on matchmaking and social issues? I loved that!

 

So why am I not crazy about this book? For one thing, I had a hard time keeping track of the characters. There’s the usual Pride and Prejudice characters, but most have very different names and often very different trajectories. Then there are dragons, hobgoblins, and other creatures, many of which are distinct characters that must be kept straight. Then there are class distinctions. All you really need to know is that Daired is elite and Aliza is not, but I wanted to know more about the social structure and all these words (for instance: Tekari, Rangers, Riders, Shani, Nakla). All of these words are explained somewhere in the text, but the world is so interesting that I would have liked just a bit more of it.

 

Also, the book opens by introducing hobgoblins, a small but sentient species that lives in gardens. They are supposed to cute and maybe not too bright. Although Aliza refers to a hobgoblin as her “friend,” she’s also patronizing. Daired calls them vermin and kicks one. Even though he treats them with great respect later on, I could not get past his initial attitude. There is too much racism in the world for me to be amused by what amounts to the same thing in a fantasy context. It’s a very common trope in fantasy but it just drives me up the wall.

 

I did enjoy the way some of the more irritating characters from Pride and Prejudice are redeemed in this retelling. Aliza’s best friend marries an irritating, self-absorbed, pompous idiot – who turns out to be a truly loving husband and father. Charis, Daired’s mean friend (standing in for Catherine Bingley in the original novel) is mean for sure, but also a kickass warrior who truly cares about her family and about Daired. Best of all, no one makes fun of Mari, Aliza’s introverted and well-read sister who saves the day through scholarship.
This is a well-built fantasy with a well-written romance at its core. It does have flaws, but the writing is solid, the action exciting, and the dragons are amazing. The sequel, Dragonshadow, came out on November 20, 2018. Those of you who one-clicked at “Pride and Prejudice with dragons” will not be dissapointed!

Laura Palmer, Rest In Peace

 

Laura Palmer's homecoming pictureDear readers, yesterday was a momentous day. On this day in 1989, poor Laura Palmer (Twin Peaks) was found dead and the rest of us spent a lot of time over the nex few years wondering what the hell was happening. The pilot of Twin Peaks scared me so much that I never watched the series regularly, but I gather that you could never tell what was going to happen next, as in this scene wherin the Log Lady looks like she might do anything. Go home quietly and watch TV, suddenly burst into flames, spit out a live frog, order pie – who knows?

 

I wasn’t able to embed the next video, so you’ll have to click here  to find the priceless Saturday Night Live parody of Twin Peaks with guest star Kyle MacLachlan. Truly, this is a priceless gem!

Between the Lines Book Club: Link suggestion

between the lines book club logoTomorrow we will be discussing When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi at Arden Dimick Library, at 10:30AM. When Breath Becomes Air is Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir, written after his diagnosis with terminal cancer.

For more about the book and author, check out paulkalanithi.com. This page includes essays by Paul and his widow, Lucy, as well as interviews, podcasts, and reviews. See you tomorrow!

Book Review: Around the Tarot in 78 days

Cover of Around the Tarot in 78 DaysThis is a short review of a long book: Around the Tarot in 78 Days by Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin. As some of you know, I’m offering Tarot readings by appointment for individuals and events. For more information, or to schedule a reading, email me at sessarego1@gmail.com!

Around the World is a versatile book. If used as recommended, the reader does daily study and some kind of meditation or reading, which should lead to a deep understanding of the cards. You will also learn about incorporating the cards into numerology and astrology, and get practice using the cards as parts of a spread as opposed to just memorizing each card’s individual meaning.

I used the book as more of a quick refresher, doing one unit a day as opposed to one card a day. This was a more superficial approach, and I noticed that the cards blurred together after a while, so I’d suggest the one card a day method instead. As a skeptic, I found some of the information to be outside my area of interest, but the book is well-organized so it’s easy to take what you want from it and leave the rest. The authors are influenced by the teachings of Alister Crowley and by the Kabbalah, so keep that in mind as you read since every person approaches tarot from a different angle. I especially enjoyed “how to connect to your card” which helped cement the cards for me. I also loved the variety of spreads in the book.

I recommend this book for a new reader who wants an in-depth approach. More experienced readers will like the variety of unusual layouts. As a new professional, I appreciated the appendix which contained suggested codes of conduct for professional readers. Overall, the book is a good resource.

 

 

 

Between the Lines Book Club: Doctor Memoirs

between the lines book club logoSometimes the best lessons doctors learn happen when they become patients. If you liked our book club pic for February, When Breath Becomes Air, then you might also like some of the following books. We’ll be discussing When Breath Becomes Air on Feb. 23, 2019 at Arden Dimick Library.

For Starters, try this list from The New York Times.

Here are some other suggestions. Unlike the more general memoirs listed by the New York Times, these are specifically about health care providers and scientists who become patients:

My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bole Taylor: chronicles a brain scientist’s recovery from a massive stroke.

Opening My Heart: A Journey from Nurse to Patient and Back Again, by Tilda Shalof: A nurse’s recovery from heart surgery changes her perspective on he relationship between patients and caregivers.

Memory Lessons: A Doctor’s Story, by Jerald Winakur: A doctor who specializes in elder care struggles to care for his own elderly parents.

Being Mortal, by Atul Gwande: Our book club pic for June!