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Of Fear and Enlightenment

Of Fear and Enlightenment

S.O. Baba

The wicked witch from fairy tales or a goddess in disguise? We have as much, and sometimes more, to learn from our tormentors as we do from our teachers. Baba Yaga is one who teaches through fear.

Baba Yaga is a slavic Witch/Goddess. She turns up in many fairy tales, always a rather scary character. She is a Goddess that strips away all the crap and gets right down to the bones of a situation. She reminds us of the need for a strong foundation. A foundation that is solid, not littered with fears and illusions.Hers is not a fun energy to live in. Baba Yaga teaches us that we cannot pretend. We cannot pretend that everything is okay when it is not. We cannot pretend that we are someone we are not. It is easy to get caught up in distractions and illusion. They are what keep us from facing often painful realities. Baba Yaga will strip that all away. She teaches us that the only way to happiness and peace is through honesty. She will be painfully honest in assessing your situation, she will not mince words. She doesn’t care. She has no time for sugarcoating, she will not enable. She demands that you step up and be accountable, be responsible for your choices and your decisions or she will not allow you to go further. You will never leave her bone yard alive.

The choice is enlightenment or death. She will trick you, twist you and test you. It’s only painful if you fight. Surrender to the honesty, let the illusions fall away. Rip off the proverbial band-aid, it will make it a whole lot easier.


Making Contact

You are in a small clearing in a birchwood forest. There is a large rock near a path through the trees. Here you sit and remove your shoes. With a deep breath you stand and begin to walk in bare feet at night. The Moon grows cold. You look up at the waning crescent, up to Her light and Her gleaming white fingers point the way for you to follow. Mesmerized you follow Her gaze deep into the forest and begin to walk the bone littered path. You chose your steps carefully to avoid the sharpness of potentially splintered bones, rocks and twigs. You take deep slow breaths inhaling the crisp fall air. You smell autumn on the breeze, dying leaves and cold earth. You steady your heart and focus on your breath, slowing your thoughts. You begin to hear a rhythmic pounding, somewhat muffled by the trees. At first you think it’s your heart, but you realize it is the sound of pestle in mortar. It’s beat is steady and you match your own body’s rhythm to its sound. As you near a clearing that is just around the next bend, the pounding grows louder and you feel an icy breath on the wind.

As you turn the corner you see through the trees a small crooked woman squatting in a clearing. As you approach Grandmother Yaga, you take another breath, deep and cleansing. She is sitting outside of her deformed hut within a fence made of bones. Crows perched about her in the trees watch you closely, but they stay quiet.Though she does not look at you she has known of your presence since you first began your journey. She is pounding her herbs and whispering incantations. You kneel and wait quietly before her with respect, until she is finished and chooses to acknowledge you. As her fierce and ancient eyes lift to meet yours, you speak:

“Grandmother, I come before you, clothed and afraid, not knowing if I will be allowed to leave. And in your horrible gaze, may you find me worthy. And with your horrible teeth may you tear away my flesh, leaving nothing behind but my bones. My bones, as gleaming white as the moon. The moon, with her thin fingers that sooth my tears and smooth my hair.

Bone Mother, take no mercy on me! Tear apart my soul, free me from my flesh. Leave me clean as bone. Rip away my fears as a lover tears away clothes, until I am exposed, raw and emptied. And when I leave your embrace, if I am allowed, I will leave gleaming white as the moon and as strong as bone.”

As she assesses you and your situation, you wait quietly, you do not speak. She may give you words of advice, she may send you on your way, she may give you a gift to take with you. Whatever Her response, thank her and move away quietly back through the woods.

Continue to breathe the crisp autumn air as you walk slowly back down the path.

The moon will guide your way. Once you have returned to the rock, replace your shoes which you left behind and begin to move slowly back into your own space, your own body.

Remember that Baba works in ways we cannot question, in ways we cannot fathom. She often gives you a gift that you may initially see as a curse, look closer. Enlightenment will come if you allow it.

Wheel of Fortune

Wheel of Fortune

wheel of fortune

Yesterday I had surgery on my ankle. They removed all the screws and plates and various hardware that was implanted last year after I broke it.

The breaking of that ankle seemed the marker for the beginning of a personal journey. Everything I believed was tested. Nearly everything I feared, I faced.

The Wheel of Fortune in the Tarot, very much sums up the cycle that I’ve been living. Of course everything in life is cyclical, not linear, as so many believe. The trick to a circular life is that when you come around to that starting point again, you are hopefully wiser, braver and stronger so you can choose differently and begin a new and better cycle.

Last year not only did I break my ankle, but because of that I lost several jobs and income we were counting on to be able to move. Not being able to walk or move around without crutches and pain made it necessary to call on many friends to help us pack.  And then to move. Most of our things went into storage, much of it we had to leave behind.

Some friends agreed to let us stay with them for a period of time. When that time was up, we still were unable to find anything. We stayed on the road and in hotels until we landed with some more friends.

Our time here is nearly up and although we don’t have anywhere as of yet to go, we are very, very close.

I had been exploring and releasing this whole poverty consciousness within me for some time but this journey brought so much into VERY sharp focus.

First thing is the immense gratitude I feel toward all my friends. From kind words, to new shoes, to dinners out to packing, moving, even letting us crash in on them dog and all! It’s huge. The power of community is huge. I am forever grateful for my community.

I learned how little I cared about things as I had to leave them behind. People matter, not things. I always believed that but there is a completely different feeling that was added to that belief once it was lived.

I realize I don’t have time to screw around anymore and not follow whole heartedly my dreams. As hard as we worked, taking any job we could, accepting stop gap measures, we ended up homeless anyway. It’s easy to react in fear and only look at short term solutions even when that means we get screwed over long term. Not anymore.

I see how I can push even harder when I thought I was at my limit. We all have a little more to give. Sometimes we just need to find the right motivation. At the same time, I learned that I need to push less and be gentle with myself, allow others to step up so they can learn their strength too.

Communication and respect have always been important to me, but living in someone else’s space made me hyper aware of what was around me, how I was living, how I was contributing or detracting from the situation. It also allowed me to understand the victim/rescuer paradigm in a close up and personal way. I do not like being considered a victim.

I see now how I have allowed that to happen by allowing particular treatment. No more. Speaking up, setting boundaries, adjusting attitudes…there have been many sleepless nights, so much examination of myself.

I see how spirit can move us to one place and another not only for what we can learn, but for what others can as well. None of us live in a vacuum. So much good can come of it if it is allowed.

We started off losing quite a lot. I gained some screws (in my ankle) and I felt screwed (by life).

Now those screws have been removed. The cycle is completing. My ankle is healing, there is money in the bank, we are ready to go as soon as the opportunity presents.  The Wheel of Fortune seems to be turning around, but this time I am wiser, braver and stronger. This time my decisions will be based on my new experiences and will move us forward on a better journey, and finally, a better turn of the wheel.



Photo is of the Isidore Tarot by Bajema find it HERE



Ramblings, Writings and Revelations

Ramblings, Writings and Revelations


lenormand 27

Ah the weekend. One day, I will have one that is completely open and I am free to relax. Until then I will stay focused. At least until the evening. I figure putting nine hours in on a Saturday is good enough. (The nine hours thing added for your benefit so you will not judge me, or maybe feel sorry for me? Nah, more so I can rationalize to myself and ease my guilt and impulse to keep working until I drop.) The thought crossed my mind to give myself a reading, which caused me to recall this page and the fact that I haven’t posted in awhile.

The dangerous thing about posting here, is that I’m not even sure anyone sees it. Which makes me feel safer to say things that perhaps, otherwise I might not say. Here I lay down my art, my musings and my adventures. My opinions, observations and my rambles may end up here too. Tonight is a case in point for the ramblings.

I’ve been working hard to stay focused and finish up many projects. The largest one is our ArtPrize entry, The Blue Bead Project. I’m also on the finishing side of illustrating a children’s book. One that I happen to think is VERY cool. And I will post more about that as soon as I can. I will also be wrapping up a triptych for a local church and need to start a faux finish for another installation for another local church. All this while teaching part time, developing new teas for the amazing Orangemoon Tea Company and looking for a place to live.

I’ve been learning a great deal about focus, limitations and patience of late. I’ve also been learning about the value of family, wine and chocolate. Everyday I see more clearly that which is of true importance, like time spent with loved ones, creating good memories and hanging onto a positive, though realistic attitude. (And chocolate really helps with all of those things.)

And as I began this post with the idea of pulling a card for myself, I have decided to do just that. I chose to play with the Orange Moon Trading Company’s Bat Lenormand Deck and pulled number 27.

This card has to do with communication, documents, messages, etc. The first thing I thought of was that in this day of instant messaging, the picture depicts a hand written letter, sent via snail mail I’m sure. And although it is beautiful, it made me think of delays. I believe my patience will be further tested. What may be a good lesson for all of us with this card is to think about the messages we convey in our everyday lives.

How are we living? What is our attitude? Is our message clear? Is it forward moving and of benefit to ourselves and others? Or do we continue with a victim mentality and carry anger, hurt, blame or even guilt? Maybe writing out our feelings (like this lovely rambling post here), journaling or even writing our story could help. Perhaps this has to do with paperwork of a business nature, tying up lose ends, finishing what we’ve started.

I’m a big believer of finishing. I hate unfinished projects, unspoken words,… dangling participles…

This card could also be speaking of getting all your ducks in a row. Make sure you are doing your work, covering all your bases, and various other cliches.

But I think the main point is to stay focused. Stay honest. Be clear in your communication. Expect some delays but ultimately, if your message is on point, you will achieve that which you set out to achieve.

And now I believe I shall return to my family, wine, chocolate…or maybe some popcorn. Because coping skills are important, I think I will pop some, curl up with my kiddos and watch a movie.

Art for Social Justice

Art for Social Justice

blue bead project cover

The fact that there are more people enslaved today than during the last 400 years combined is mind blowing to me. Many of these modern day slaves are women and children. I have daughters. I cannot imagine any of my children being taken into the slave trade. How horrifying this must be.

So often I think to myself, what difference can I make? I feel so insignificant. How can one person change anything so awful in this world? I’m not famous, I’m not a politician, I’m not a billionaire. I’m an artist. Art is my life, art is my tool, art is my voice. So I am using my art to speak out. After all they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So how many words is a large installation worth? Hopefully a whole lot more.

The Blue Bead Project is an ArtPrize installation designed to bring awareness to modern day slavery. And I need your help.  And it’s really easy…just wear a bead.  Why a bead? Please check out our Facebook Page or our Website to learn more.  If you want to help even more, please look into our Campaign.

I know one voice may not sound like much, but a chorus will be heard above the greed horror of human commerce. I know that with all of us, we CAN make a difference.

Acceptance, Humility, Trust and other Painful Things

Acceptance, Humility, Trust and other Painful Things



Things seemed to be on the upswing, I had the ball, I was moving it down the court. No one could stop me and I was about to take the winning shot, when the coach benched me. For a long time now I’ve been in this game. I’ve been playing hard and lately maybe I’ve been a bit of a ball hog. I don’t know.  All I know is I’ve had and will continue to have a lot of time to think about it. I’m not getting back in the game anytime soon.

We’ve had our challenges over the past several years. We’ve worked hard to over come them. And in many ways we have. There have been a couple of last hurdles to work our way over. It would always seem though that we would get so far and then get stopped.  And at this point those hurdles are not ones we can jump over, we will need a catapult.

Some time ago, being fed up with all the struggles, after screaming and crying and kicking at the Universe, I committed to doing whatever it took to make a better life. I had always worked hard toward this but something in me was different, it was beyond my normal angry. I prayed and I yelled out and I said, “tell me what I need to do! I’ll do it! I don’t have a problem with whatever it is, just let me know! Because obviously what I’m doing isn’t working!!”  I’ve always been about doing. I’ve always been about hard work. I feel better if I can DO; anything, as long as I’m moving. Well, it turns out, it seems what I needed to do was get out of the way.

So I was taken out. A trip rollerskating with my son, turned into a trip by ambulance to the emergency room. Having snapped both bones and the tendon in my right ankle, I was sent home to await surgery. The first thing I thought when I heard the bones snap was “shit”.  I just got a couple of really good mural jobs which was what I was counting on to make the money we needed to enable us to move out of where we are living. Because as it turns out, we need to move by May 4th. Only a couple of weeks away. And I immediately knew that I wouldn’t be standing on ladders anytime soon.

So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been confined to bed with my leg elevated. I have crutches to get me to the bathroom and back. I need help with EVERYTHING.  Now I am wondering not only how the hell am I supposed to pack, but where the hell are we supposed to go? My one shot  I thought I had and was about to take, was deflected.  I’ve been mad, frustrated, depressed, and in pain. But then my daughter takes my hand and tells me I’m “the best Mom ever”.  My other children come by and help where they can, my husband is rallying and doing his best. I’ve had friends tell me of their struggles, much greater than mine, that let me know they get it. And they will do whatever they can to help. In other words, they don’t care that my house is messy, my hair is greasy, I can’t get up and help, I may burst into tears at any given moment or anything else.  They will be there for us and I can’t tell you how important that is to me.

I realize through all of this that I made a commitment to a better life, and when you pray for something, the Universe will conspire to give it to you. Just never in the way you imagine. Right now I feel like I’m in the last few weeks of my last trimester of pregnancy. The time where you absolutely feel like shit and even though you don’t know exactly when that baby is coming it has to come, it will be soon and you’re no longer scared of much it will hurt because you are so tired of how much you’re hurting now.

So many lessons learned, so many yet to come. It’s tough to keep walking forward when you can’t see where you’re going (and you’re using crutches) But I’m not walking alone, and maybe that’s my biggest lesson.

I’m birthing a new me. A new life. I have NO idea where exactly I’ll end up or when exactly it will happen but I do  know it’s gonna be awesome.


Absinthe and the Sisters Henriod: A More Complete History

Absinthe and the Sisters Henriod: A More Complete History

Wormwood Queen Absinthe Recipe


I’ve always had a love of all things mysterious and magical. I remember at a very young age I would pick various flowers and herbs and attempt to make potions, perfumes, teas and tisanes. It seems this was an inherited trait. I come from a long line of those who infused magic into their every day lives, through palmistry, cooking, tarot and tea. And when I go back further, I see the penchant for Herbology has been there for quite sometime. It seems only natural that I would find myself recreating a family tradition relating to that most mysterious of drinks, the infamous Absinthe.

Some credit the good Doctor Ordinaire with the creation of Absinthe. But as so often is the case in our patriarchal society, history has been shaped to recognize those that are deemed acceptable, credible, more reputable? My dear ancestors, the Sisters Henriod had long been creating medicinal tinctures and tisanes to help the people in their village of Couvet, Switzerland. Many of their recipes were passed to them from their mother and her mother before.  Although the Sisters were well respected and their shoppe well patronized, they still needed to be wary of public opinion and the ever possible accusation of witchcraft. For even though the final Witchcraft Act of 1735 written into law led to prosecution for fraud rather than pacts with the Devil, both would result in death as the punishment.

(In fact this same act was still used in the 1940’s to prosecute spiritualists and Gypsies. It wasn’t repealed until 1951.)

Being clever people and recognizing their limitations for simply being women they decided to secure the help of their friend Pierre Ordinaire,  a French Doctor who had taken up residence in Couvet and at the time, rather fancied their mother. They petitioned his assistance to promote this increasingly popular medicinal known as Absinthe. His charming nature, good looks and respectable title of Doctor were well embraced and he proved to be a most natural salesman.  His credibility and successful promotions led to the purchasing of said recipe by a French businessman, Major Dubied, for a suitable sum. The Major then partnered with his son-in-law, Pernod to begin distillation. And the rest is history…until now…

Privately, those of us in the Orange Moon Tea Society have been enjoying my Absinthe Tea at our parties and gatherings for some time. After long discussions and encouragement from the ladies in the Society we have decided to make the tea publicly available along with some of our other signature blends. We are so excited at this prospect it has been difficult to have patience while we go through the nitty gritty of the business stuffs. We are much more adept at the creative aspects of the process.  However thanks to support  from our wonderful neighbor in Orange Moon Downs, Miss Flossie, we are able to offer her special Lenormand Bat Deck and other goodies from her Bat Emporium as incentives to raise funds for our endeavor. We are so much closer to our goal and production now! It’s nearly time to put the kettle on!

In the meantime, please follow along with us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler or our Website. And do take a look at our fundraising efforts HERE.  I’m sure there is something in our neck of the woods that will spark your imagination and tempt your tea loving tastebuds!



Fairies of the UFRL

Fairies of the UFRL

Littlest Fairy


I used my youngest daughter as the model for this little fairy. I was going to put her with a toad, but she wanted a kitty. This particular kitty, she named “Clever” after looking at the painting.  This is one of the pieces I’m working on for the Orange Moon Tea Society. They would like paintings of the various fairies now living in Mab’s greenhouse while they are rehabilitating and waiting to be returned to nature. Mab is one of the members of the Urban Fairy Rescue League. (URFL) they do amazing work with these magical beings. I’ll be documenting more soon. To learn more about Orange Moon Downs and the Tea Society, please stop by

Wisdom of Bats

Wisdom of Bats



For the bat, this time of night is the beginning of their day. They view the world upside down and they fly skillfully  through the darkness. They can represent a rebirth and new beginnings. Bat can teach us how to change our perspective and look at our old world with new eyes. They teach us not to be afraid of the dark.

I find it interesting that the Bat is the symbol used to help get our new business of the ground. They inspired the amazing Lenormand Cards that Bethalynne has designed, the posters promoting the Orange Moon Tea Society. The bats reign!

Over the years I have tried many things. Bits and pieces of endeavors that for one reason or another didn’t go beyond the trial but did get me to the next adventure. Looking back, I can see that these ideas were not bad, not wrong but for the timing and the tweaking.

Now I am revisiting the old world with new eyes. Like the bat, I am learning to change my perspective, learning to see in the dark. And all those old ideas are being revisited and re-birthed in a new and unexpected way. It has taken time and experience to begin to see how the pieces can fit, to see that there is a place for them.

My life has been filled with a lot of hard work for a very long time. It is amazing to do something that is fun. Just for me. Just because. And to have it develop into something that can be sustainable, well…that would be the best.

The bat symbolizes triumph even in darkness. They are survivors and let’s face it, they’re adorable (especially in top hats). I’m thrilled to go along for this ride.


Welcome to Orange Moon Downs

Welcome to Orange Moon Downs

The Kitchen Witch in me is thrilled to be creating my teas again. Creating a tea to match the personality of a fictitious character is even more fun! The teas above do just that. They are created to represent the characters in the Snapdragon stories. These stories are about a town called Orange Moon Downs. And there, the most wonderful and mysterious things happen to strange and wonderful characters.

So in and among my more traditional art and mural painting, I get to create art for the palate. I haven’t had this much fun in a long time. To be able to partner in this endeavor with a dear friend whose inner machinations of the mind are as twisted and creative as mine, is wonderful. Who knows where this may lead?  But we’ve no doubt that we are going to have a blast along the way.

Please stop by our website:   There you will be able to read snippets of stories to introduce you to the world of Orange Moon Downs, see our teas, view the artifacts of this mysterious city and learn more about this new adventure.

Isidore Tarot Card of the Day: Three of Cups

Isidore Tarot Card of the Day: Three of Cups

3 of cups


It’s been awhile since I’ve pulled a card. Tonight in particular I was called to pick up the deck. The Three of Cups jumped out as I shuffled. Since that was the one that seemed to want to talk, I decided to listen.

I think it’s been talking to me all day. I’ve been mulling over in my brain the idea of play.  I mentioned something about that in my reading for the year that I did in January. Now a couple of months later I am beginning to see how that might work in my life. Play, as a sustainable way of living. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

The Three of Cups traditionally represents friendship and celebration, creativity and community.  As a culture, we tend to work an awful lot.  We work through our lunch breaks, we work on the weekends, we work through the night. For most of us, we don’t see much return for all that work we put in. So why not play once in awhile? What have we got to lose?

There is something to be said for doing that thing that brings you joy, makes you laugh, connects you with others. When you celebrate life, celebrate living, your energy changes and you begin to bring to you all those juicy things life has to offer. Who wants to hang out with someone who only works, is stressed, doesn’t take time for love, beauty and joy?

This card will pop up in your life when it’s time to celebrate. It’s YOUR time now.  Maybe you don’t think you have anything to celebrate, but you do. If you’re reading this, you’re alive. Celebrate that. You will begin to see more and more things in your life that are good. You will shift away from anxious feelings. And more and more good things will come to you.

Play with your work, make it a game. Play with your money, make it a game. You know it really is. Most of us take it so seriously. We get caught up in a mentality that keeps us forever stuck in a certain kind of relationship, a certain socio-economic status, certain jobs. We buy into the idea that we must work, work, work, work to be of any value. But what of the value of play?

Play brings laughter. Play brings joy. Play brings a creative mindset that allows us to see solutions to our problems. Play brings people together so that we can support each other and help each other. Play allows friendships to grow and relationships to flourish. There is great value in that.

Take the time. Make the time. You hereby have my permission. Go have some fun. You’re worth it.