Friday, October 16, 2015

EATING & DRINKING SUMMER SUNLIGHT Part I - The Harvest of Presence & History of a Mystery from the Renaissance

  The intimacy of Dreams does not exclude the sharing of them*

August 2015 - pedaling thru the Charente
Biking to Feuillade - August 2015

 *I think the above quote comes from the dream-meister, Carl Jung, but I like what my brother, Mark wrote in a poem, even more:  Our dreams explain us, as do our vows...


All the True Vows
are secret vows,
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.
There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want…
Excerpt from ‘All The True Vows
From RIVER FLOW: New and Selected Poems
Many Rivers Press. ©David Whyte

Did the summer end, fade, vanish or disappear?  I pondered the difference between "to disappear" and "to vanish".  French wasn't much help because both words have the same translation: à disparaître (to disappear).  I like the word "vanish," - it has an air of mystery about it, like Angela Lansbury in The Lady Vanishes.  "Disappear" seems more sinister; "ending" too final, and "fading" (like a pair of old jeans, or the ubiquitous rose), doesn't cut it. Kevin said he thought it was a temporal distinction, like being kidnapped, you'd disappear pronto.  But if you were a shooting star, you'd flash across the sky for 20km, a streak of light, vanishing into the void.  Anyhoo, we have Indian Summer now, which was defined by unusually warm weather in late Autumn, but also means:  "a period of happiness or success late in life."  Bonjour Indian Summer!  But we haven't even had the first frost yet, so it can't truly be Indian summer, must be the late-in-life happiness descending. When I leave this incarnation, they will say "she just vanished."  

 The Vanishing Summer in Review - Harvesting Sunlight and Presence

My arty friends, the Oiseaux sisters -

AUGUST - Realm of New Beginnings, the eighth month of the Gregorian Calendar, the Dog Star Days, the majestic, the increaser, the venerable; Augustus, Rome's first Emperor; Augusta, Roman Empresses, (title bestowed upon women of Imperial dynasties) e.g., Ceres, Juno, Minerva, connected to augury; Rome said to have been founded with the "august augury" of Romulus. From the French, Auguste, and the Latin, Augustus; eight, my lucky number, and St. Augustine, who said "Beauty is lifesaving."    
Allegory of August: Triumph of Ceres, Palazzo Schifanoia, Fresco - Ferrera, Tarot Travel Guide

Beauty is a plank amidst the waves of the sea -  St. Augustine - De Musica*

N.C. Wyeth:  Next Morning Came a Clear Day - A Hot Day, 1918

*All gratitude and appreciation to my friend Jeanne: artist, writer, Greek/Roman scholar who has shared with me the golden threads of thought about Helen's beauty & about 'The Beautiful Measure' Embodied - the inspiration of Kazantzakis, Camus, Plato, Augustine, Bowra & Scarry, culling years of  impeccable study, illustrated with her own artistry, poetic soul. It is from her that I learned of what Homer, Plato and many other thinkers repeatedly describe as BEAUTY as a GREETING. At the moment one comes into presence of the Beautiful, it greets you, lifts, welcomes you.  It invites you to search for something beyond itself--Beauty is somehow bound up with the Immortal & with Truth, because Truth abides in the Immortal sphere - Jeanne Benion

The spectacle & beauty of the Feu d'Artifice at the Fortress of Villebois-Lavalette, celebrating the Feast of St. Augustine from Martine's terrace, was a pyromaniac's wet dream. How can anyone resist fireworks? even if they substituted quiche and terrines for hot dogs and baked beans. 

Fortress at Sunset - August 30, 2015

The Super Moon that night

The first fireworks
On the Terrace with Cyril & Olivia

I'd never seen such an astonishing display. Back in USofA, each year, a group of us would trudge to either Crissy Field in San Francisco, Tiburon (or hope against hope!) to the top deck of our houseboat, or someone else's even higher deck, in Sausalito, to see the 4th of July extravaganza. Without fail, the fog would roll in, and all we could hear were a few dislocated booms. Consumed loads of crackers, cheese and two buck Chuck. 

The Fortress engulfed in flames - August 30, 2015

On this night, we feasted on the Beauty of St. Augustine, and toasted the village of Villebois-Lavalette for providing such a generous display, especially with the economy at a low ebb at the moment.

  I tucked the evening's events into my Memory Palace.
Right Thoughts in Sad Hours - Cotton Mather, 1811

 The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.  St. Augustine

Constant companion travel bag from friend Dale, Queen of the Star Gazers

The older I become, the lighter my suitcase gets.  Soon it will be Hobo Samsonite, a stick with a kerchief.  My hands, which used to be filled with idle mischief, are now held by a thousand other hands, and by the time I leave this plane of existence, I hope they will be filled with light.

I had "traveled far," this past summer, updating my Diary of Beauty, but found the most beautiful things right in my own front yard. First came, Madame Alfred Carrière, bred by Joseph Schwartz & introduced in France in 1879; a generous, old fashioned rose, with an intoxicating scent, that blooms its heart out from spring to Christmas (an anniversary gift to my sweetheart).

Madame Alfred Carrière climbing our side gate - June 2015

One morning I found that our little garden had been turned into a "Fairies Meeting Place" by  Kate, a.k.a, Tinkerbell, from La Tour, who had brought back some of her white magic from the U.K. 

A proper meeting place

I want to keep Les Fées happy.  They like tulip blooms and Rosemary, of which we have oodles, but I have to plant some Foxgloves - they use those for clothing.  Fairies travel on the backs of humming birds & dragonflies, like brave Una, from my Magical Adventures of Voyager -

You probably don't believe in faeries, lots of very smart people don't.  But John Hyatt, Director of Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design, took this photo in his local landscape and had this to say:

It was a bit of a shock when I blew them up, I did a double take. I went out afterwards and took pictures of flies and gnats and they just don’t look the same. People can decide for themselves what they are. Read more at

Hyatt's photo, allegedly proving that fairies are real

In hot pursuit came the wild roses, followed by the rosehips, which inspired the Ode below.

Wild Roses - June 2015

An Ode to Wild Roses & Hips

We put up a pergola to support you,
bending as you were
under the weight of your own bounty.
You gave us pinky-white flowers in the spring,
& silky petals we walked upon
like newlyweds in a Merchant-Ivory film.
Then came the rouge-red buds like the
Fire-Engine lipstick my mother used to wear
when she was feeling sexy & full of mischief.
After a spell of drought and buckets of rain,
you are ripening too early, before the first frost,
warning us to pay attention to the cycles and
seasons of our lives;
to pay attention to the birds, the bees, the trees,
and the very ground we stand upon,
as the sky's canopy shelters us.

You enchant and encourage us to take care of our earth
and each other, as you have kept your eternal promise
of spring flowering and fall harvest,
despite your own trials.
You release into our greedy hands,
your gifts of health and well-being:
your rose-hips,
which have more vitamin C and antioxidants
than all the pharmacies in the land.

And, you forgive us.

We put up a pergola to support them

Rosehips - August 2015

Then came the rosehips. They couldn't wait for the frost, so we couldn't wait to gather them. 

In the rosehips

The bounty drying on the dining room table - August 2015

We froze many quart bags of sunlight & vitamin C - stowed away for winter gifts of rosehips tea.

Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.  Wm. Wordsworth

August was also my busiest month for Tarot with festivals and night markets, fund-raisers, ZOU, and a Sound Healing workshop & Dynamic Yoga day thrown in for good measure.  Querents came with their dreams, their sorrows and fears, multiple choices, and whispered confidences.

We had a ravishing day singing & "breathing" in Brossac with sound healer, Lou Van Stone (organized by one of our local "healers" Liz Bell), come all the way from Byron Bay, Australia. We created a container of sound, color & light and filled it with our voices and our stories - find her on FB and at

Lou Van Stone at Brossac - August 2015

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.  - Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar.

I spent some time in a field breathing with horses, sharing my secret vows;
Je suis, Je suis, Je suis

Fish + Cross + Birds
Five Horses in Mainzac - like Celtic Gods

“Nous souffrons par les rêves. Nous guérissons par les rêves.”
We suffer through dreams.  We heal by dreams.
        ― Gaston Bachelard

At Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, charmant hilltop village with river below, I read the futures, under the stars, till after midnight, in the sweet spot next to the L'Eglise Monolithe, which was open all night so people could enter freely - hundreds of visitors dancing to Cuban music, eating foie gras & Jerked chicken, doing the Macarena + one of my favorite fortune seekers, Irish actor, Ryan, enchanted evening... then the coach came, one glass slipper left behind.

Ryan, the Eye-candy, I mean Irish Actor

A beautiful young girl who asked beautiful questions

L'Eglise Monolith - Marche Nocturne
End of the Night - Bonne Soirée!

I read Tarot for the Twilight Doggies 7th year Birthday Party at Lempzours. It was almost 100 degrees, but I stayed semi-cool under a giant Oak tree, reading cards for seekers with exotic names like India, Wasia, Verite & Koko. A grand success! Graeme & Cindy were there with violin & guitar. Twilight - the retirement home for doggies, on FB and at  Leeanne & Mike, and a battalion of volunteers, provide refuge and comfort for so many aged and abandoned dogs - running the place on a shoestring, a wing and a prayer.

Hey, turn on the air conditioner!
Shelter of the mighty Oak
It was hot!
Leeanne & Doreen

Something shifted at Lempzours.  People asked for messages from the other side.  I don't usually do that - I'm not a medium, but voices wanted to be heard, so I listened.

We had more chaleur on "Sun"day for the rescheduled CSF fundraiser at La Charrue, near Brantome, my last public event in the Charente in August. I had a green Tarot oasis behind the sax player. I've read there many times, one of the most convivial of settings.  Clive and Pauline put on a good show and give so generously to the community.  The Bear brought in lots of honey & some of my favorites, Lex, the Mad Hatter and Janika, the Swedish Lady in Lavender.  I did get scolded for taking too much time with each client (I didn't know this), but there was a queue of people waiting out of my line of sight.  It takes what it takes, and I hate to cut people off, but I've ordered an antique hourglass!

CSF support for Riberac Chapter

Lex, the Mad Hatter
The Bear - Prosperity/Protection


Janika - Lavender Lady

While the Wellies were getting tossed and the band played on, I heard so many biographies, tragedy and tears, coupled with courage and laughter.  And it was here, I felt another shift of consciousness, some further lifting of the veil.  I no longer "saw" parts of people, impressions or tiny visions and newsreels, but rather their wholeness like a blueprint of
their being, an X-ray of their interior reality. Often, I see other lifetimes folding backward & forward. Time is not linear. People let me slip in to their time warp. And the view I am allowed of their humanity, the sharing of their stories, their grief, loneliness, disappointments, happiness, hopes & dreams, makes me bow my head in humility and gratitude.  You might say:  What audacious claims!
But it's the truth, it's actual, everything is satisfactual...

And as Rilke says:  There is no place that is not looking at you.

As  I drove home, under the full moon, I thought about how hard it is to be fully present in our lives, to put down our defenses and our impotent weapons - wishing to escape the hard parts, and worse yet, not fully embracing the Joy that flies like snowy Doves onto our rooftops and perches there, waiting for us to look up or thru the walls of our own inner prisons.  And instead of dancing with our destiny we try to control it, which is virtually impossible and ultimately breaks us into smaller chunks. A fragmenting of the soul takes place and for most of us, it can take a lifetime to collect those pieces, to rectify and make peace with the choices along the route.  And to finally forgive ourselves and others for the losses we endured and orchestrated.

Doves at Roger's house in Bristol

 A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.  John Steinbeck

Allegory of September (detail) 1476-84, Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrera, Tarot Travel Guide

In summer we were caressed by the Chantilly breezes - and warmed by the sloe-eyed, Gauguinesque sun. The bite of fall, like a crisp apple, was vivid and alive. 

In September, the calendar was filled with private readings and fascinating characters. I read for a  Chilean diplomat, on the short list for Ambassador,  a French actor, an artist from Sri Lanka, several Welsh ladies who come back each year to see what's new in their cards, a water dowser (who told me it is also called water divining and doodlebugging), and a couple of horse trainers, one who does dream work.  And there was a resounding wave of larger issues on the world stage; big ticket items, like droughts, wars, oil and alternative energy.  The Tower (La Tour), La Maison Dieu, kept appearing. Crisis, Destruction, Revolution, Liberation. Outdated forms are tumbling down.  Lightning strikes - Eureka!      

Le Tarot de Marseille, Jean Dodal

La Foudre, Belgian Tarot, Jacques Vieville - 17th c.

          But the Tower was large,
          wasn't it?  O Angel, it was,
          large, even compared to you?
                                                              Duino Elegies, Rilke      
Resurrection Angel - Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Bursting Forth 

This angel, bursting forth
into the world, 
found the poorest of us
emptied but wagging like dogs, 
strangers in between towns;

found us as individual roses
upon her dress, the given breath,
as moments caught in downpour, 
your honest lament and sunsets. 
This angel, everyone’s angel,
multiform and oh so individual,
private as corresponding star, 
this friend
they cannot corporatize. 

Angel of the way, 
angel of the cross,
angel coming into view, this feeling taking form
out of scintillating black. Nothing
to shove out of the way, 
no unguarded rooms for unwanted guests.
Angel winged in wonder,
the ascended here on earth. 

—Stewart S. Warren, 2015

September was "bursting forth" with Angels, AND orchards and apples. I had a bountiful trip to Bordeaux, where I saw the retrospective of Chilean director, Alejandro Jodorowsky, filled with psychomagic & Tarot at the Contemporary Museum plus a private tour of the Bordeaux Observatory, built in 1893, when stargazers spun the world manually and used photographic plates.

But now, the hour grows late, the eyes grow tired, and the blog grows too long, so I will catch up on September palaver in Part II, which will likely not arrive off the presses until November, when I return from Spain.

Toutefois, I have saved the best for last, (as I advertised above, the "History of a Mystery...") and I won't renege.
Compilation of photos from Italy Tarot Tours 2012 & 2015 by Arnell Ando (I'm in Niki's Garden, left frame)

Tarot Travel Guide of Italy
History of a Mystery from the Renaissance
Now Available as Both a Kindle or a Pdf eBook
Expanded to Include More Fascinating Details & Beautiful Imagery
Full of Useful Live links & Maps!
With Over 70 Images (65 in Color)
A Must Have Guide for Italy Travel & Tarot Art History
Created by: Morena Poltronieri, Ernesto Fazioli & Arnell Ando
Published by Museo dei Tarocchi
Available on Kindle at 
or visit the webpage for other ways to access this special guide

I've written at length about my time on the 2012 Tour with the merry band; how it expanded and illuminated my understanding of Tarot, and saturated my soul with the lusty, earthy beauty of Italy. I can still conjure up the smell of olives & parmesan in Tuscany! The 2015 Tour is likely to have been the last one.  I am so happy to have the Tarot Travel Guide, the end result of years of scholarship & research, artistically and lovingly compiled by Ernesto, Morena and Arnell.  And I do believe the hard copies are sold out, so lucky duckies, we are, to be able to obtain the guide on Kindle. It is truly a labor of love and a gift from three of the foremost experts on Tarot (and Italy). With this unique Travel Guide, you’ll trace Tarot’s earliest roots and follow the trail to the Italian Renaissance where it was born & continues to thrive and reinvent itself through every artist who interprets its powerful, archetypal imagery & esoteric symbology.    Poem below from Introduction to Italy Tarot Tour Kindle version, by Stewart S. Warren, participant in 2015 Italy Tarot Tour. 

From Olive’s Terrace

I speak as a stone tower 
held together with iron bands
above the cold waves, corroding against the wet
mineral winds and also time
which is motion and compassion.

Every day an old man climbs
to wind the clock; everyday a woman 
leaps to her death, her blue
gown turning like petals in midair.
Lightning strikes from within;
you feel the gears… and the sky. 

I speak as a bell, my metal
fashioned in the shape of alarm
and glory, my song
not exactly a song
but the true dog tracking
the tracker, sniffing out our
rough and tumble history.
I am the black bee come to visit 
your country kitchen
with nothing on my mind
but left over toast and jam
and the crumbs of dreams brought
from the crypt of your far flung nocturnal wonderings. 

Through the open door I come
and go, through light falling
on the floor. Last night
you closed it against the storm
and you’ll close it again before final dawn.
The bee finds its way through the smallest crack
and light moves according to passion.
I love as spider threads strung between the roof, the rose
and the sun, and I am broken
by black birds and cats,
by the wind and the woodsman, 
by the wishes of children rushing
heart first into this garden.
I am diligent and sticky like hope.
I am for you now and always.

 —Stewart S. Warren, Evocateur and author of over
20 poetry collections, five of which explore the Tarot - -

Thank you to Carmen Sorrenti for allowing me to use two of her gorgeous paintings in this blog.

Pholarchos Tarot -
Dark Angel - ZOU Expo, Trish McCrae, artist, August

Grotto Angel, ZOU Expo, Le Hameau de la Brousse, August 2015

Hundreds of honking Cranes ((Les Grues) have been passing overhead in the Charente the last few days, announcing a cold and early winter. They are on their way to Spain - maybe I'll meet them there. I'm off to Barcelona and Madrid with my dear friend Dawn.  Hasta la Pizza, enjoy your life, wherever you are...

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. – Henry Miller

Leaving you with this cracking little video:  Le Retour des Grues

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