Monday, December 31, 2007

Seduced by a Secondary Character

I’ve been seduced by a secondary character.

Okay, years ago when Gabriel’s Ghost first exploded out of my brain (I was living in Coral Springs, FL, at the time and can very distinctly remember waking at 5 am because Sully Would Not Let Me Sleep!)…anyway, when Gabriel’s exploded and was finished, I’d always thought I’d do Ren’s story. For those of you who’ve read my 2006 RITA-winning novel (shameless plug, but hey, if I don’t, who will?), you’ll remember Ren as the 6’7” blue-skinned sexy-as-hell young monk-turned-mercenary. Long-time friend to the hero, Gabriel Ross Sullivan. New friend and confident to the heroine, Chaz Bergren.

It’s not Ren’s story I’m writing. It’s Philip’s.

Huh? You all go.

Yeah, huh.

Let me backtrack and explain something here. About a month ago, The Down Home Zombie Blues was released by Bantam. So hopefully you all are buying that book now, and are reading it and are anxious to talk about Jorie and Theo. But understand, Jorie and Theo, to me, are last year’s news. In authorland, we live in a time warp, one set by our publishers who deem we produce books in one year and then have them appear in the next. So while you’re just now devouring Jorie and Theo and their Men In Black Meets CSI:Miami story, I’m just finishing another book in my contract with Bantam. And this book—Shades of Dark—was the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost. But it wasn’t Philip’s story. Not yet.

But Philip—who had a minor part in Gabriel’s—as Chaz’s ex-husband and a bit of a nemesis to Sully, appears in Shades of Dark a lot more. And in so doing, demanded his own story.

And who am I to argue with an admiral? Moreover, who am I to argue with an admiral who so unexpectedly seduced me with his heroism and his charm?

You all are going, but…but…we want to talk about Theo and Jorie! Kip and the zombies! Aunt Tootie!

I know. But my heart belongs to Philip. And all along, I thought it would be Ren. It’s not. It’s Philip.

But if you want to talk about Theo, my homicide cop hero in Zombie Blues, then I can at least tell you he’s a bit like Philip. They’re both “good boy” heroes . I know the trend has long been for bad boys. Alpha males. I like alphas. I’ve been accused of being an alpha female (like there’s something wrong with that?). But Theo and Philip are both betas, or maybe even gammas. (Though I’m not really all that hip on those kinds of pigeon-holes.) Zombies’ Theo is a nice guy in all meanings of the word. Hard-working, loyal, patriotic, loves his elderly aunt and uncle, keeps his nose clean and has recently has his heart trashed. He doesn’t swagger (well, any more than the average cop with a Glock on his hip), doesn’t do stupid shhhhhtuff in relation to the women in his life. He doesn’t view falling in love as a disease or life-sentence in prison.

Philip—even though he’s Chaz’s ex and yeah, I know a number of you didn’t like him because of that—is pretty much the same way. He’s honorable, loyal and capable of love. Maybe a bit more afraid of it than Theo is, but he wants it. Yeah, he does.

He just didn’t, at age forty-five, think he was going to find it with his dead best-friend’s daughter. Who’s twenty-nine.

But that’s really all I can say about that at this point, because the book that’s exploding out of me in the same way Gabriel’s Ghost did several years ago, is only 21,000 words in (think: five chapters) and not even yet sold. Not even yet seen by my agent.

But I had to write it because Philip would not shut up.

So watch for Shades of Dark in July 2008 from me and Bantam. You’ll see Philip in there, eventually. It’s still Chaz’s and Sully’s story, and a very intense one at that. I was actually pretty shocked at what happens to Sully. And what Chaz has to face. But hey, I only type the words as they’re told to me.

Philip does come into the story mid-point on, and a lot of things I’d wondered about him in Gabriel’s are suddenly answered. Not all nicely, either. But it opened a dialogue between Philip and me…and from that Hope’s Folly (working title) was born.

So for those of you waiting for Ren’s story, sorry. Not this year. But he has time, you know. Stolorths have longer life spans. He’s only, what, about twenty-one years old in our terms? He has time. Philip’s forty-five and very willing to accept that time is running out, and that love is not for him, ever.

RITA-award winning Science Fiction Romance

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Monsters (and alien romance)

Good morning, alien romancers!

I'm wrestling with a monster list of revisions to be done this month on KNIGHT'S FORK which is the next love story in the god-Princes of Tigron series (informally dubbed by some, The "Mating" books).

Of Men and Monsters

One editorial request I did not receive was to make my villain more monstrous. In fact, I am to give him more scenes (because he is urbane, witty, funny) but simplify why he wants the heroine dead.

Writing monsters of the villainous kind is tricky. It has to be done, I suppose. Even though few bad guys see themselves as the villains in their own life stories, many wiser persons than I would tell you that the hero seems more heroic if the villain is evil.

Personally, I like shades of grey, and I enjoy an ambiguous, dark relationship with an attractive villain. I must be twisted. Am I the only one who saw the first Darth Vader breathing heavily and striding through the ruins of a rebel stronghold, and wondered what he'd be like in bed?

Of course, that was before I knew that everything below his waist had been chopped off. I suppose it is not a spoiler to say that.

I think I've mentioned in a previous post that my personal taste is for the generic Bond movie villain. That is, someone very powerful in the worldly sense, well groomed, well educated, fiendishly clever, exquisitely polite.

Sigh. They can't always be "exquisitely polite". In fact, a bit of bad language adds a certain "shock and awe" especially when it's obvious that the villain has deliberately chosen to offend both the reader and the hero.

Here be Dragons and other Monsters

Dragons, dinosaurs, trifids, architeuthis (which you can find by googling phonetically for "archetoothus", I've just discovered), The Kraken, Alien, the Blob and others are monsters because they are big and scary, and it's their nature to eat a conveniently slow moving food source (us).

Since I am a contrarian, I once amused myself by writing the story of Polyphemus's encounter with Ulysses (The Odyssey) from the Cyclops' point of view. Mostly, stories aren't told with excursions into the minds of Monsters.

For those interested, here are a few resources being discussed elsewhere on the net:

The new Paraphernalia feature, “If There Be Dragons” is now online featuring dragon themed romance.

Marilynn Byerly will be teaching a course on worldbuilding for paranormal romance in
February for the RWA Outreach chapter. Topics include building a better monster and how to give your own a unique touch.

Charlee Boyett-Compo has a huge list of monsters at

Look under Creatures, Spirits, and Monsters. There is also an occult
dictionary, supernatural glossary, ghosts, dragons, and fairies.

Happy New Year!

Rowena Cherry

Chess-inspired ("mating") titles. Gods from outer space. Sexy SFR. Poking fun, (pun intended). Shameless word-play.

Award-Winning Finalist in the Fiction and Literature: Romance category of the National Best Books 2007 Awards

Winner of the Spring N.O.R. Awards, Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Romance:
Second Place winner, Fall N.O.R. Awards

CAPA Award nominee
LASR Award nominee

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Here's the review of Linnea's latest book that will appear in the January issue of my newsletter. (Visit to subscribe.) I felt empathy with the characters right away and could hardly put it down. I was so excited that I immediately ordered a couple of her earlier novels. Linnea, might there be a sequel to DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES someday? I want to see how Jorie and Theo handle the challenges facing them in the future.

THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES, by Linnea Sinclair, definitely lives up to the anticipation! Zombies (oddly named, since they aren't undead of any kind, but the term makes for an irresistibly attention-getting title) originated as an artificial life form designed purely for defense and the detection and destruction of dangerous infections. Having gone rogue, they now mindlessly prey upon warm-blooded organisms, especially higher species of mammals. Small-town Florida homicide detective Theo gets called to a case centering on a mysteriously mummified body. Meantime, extraterrestrial Guardian Jorie arrives on Earth to investigate that same death, the zombie killing of one of her people's covert agents. (By a fortunate chance, English has a remarkable similarity to Vekran, an ET language Jorie speaks fairly well. Although this resemblance isn't explained, I had little problem suspending disbelief in it—maybe there's an "ancient astronaut" visit in the background somewhere?—and the premise obviates the usual translation problems of alien contact.) Theo has seized as evidence the dead agent's computer, which would cause catastrophic repercussions if the local authorities discovered its alien origin. In the process of recovering the device, Jorie has to beam Theo up to her ship. Now that he knows about the extraterrestrial presence, the only way he can avoid a benign but lifelong exile from Earth is to convince her people that they vitally need his help to deal with local conditions. So he and Jorie become temporary partners in hunting for the remaining zombies and discovering why they have suddenly begun to breed on this "nil-tech" world. The crisis is complicated by possible involvement of the Tresh, a hostile species among whom Jorie was once a prisoner of war, and the suspicion and jealousy of one of her fellow officers, who's secretly attracted to her. Jorie, who has to overcome her own prejudice against "nils" such as Theo, gradually comes to respect his skills and his sense of honor. Tense action scenes alternate with deeply emotional dialogues between the hero and heroine. Secondary characters come across as engagingly lifelike, too. Humorous incidents of Jorie's attempts to navigate American technology and culture made me laugh without diminishing the seriousness of the danger at hand, and conversely I almost cried a few times, too, at emotional moments between Theo and Jorie. The problem of how they can hope to stay together, given their literally worlds-apart backgrounds and their devotion to their respective careers, is not trivialized or evaded. Sinclair has a marvelous talent for instantly involving us in the minds and hearts of her characters and making us care for them. I didn't want the book to end. I'd love to see a sequel; although the immediate zombie threat is neutralized, there is still plenty of work to be done.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

10 Pentacles - The cake comes out of the oven.

As noted previously, this is a chapter in a book about the Tarot aimed at Intermediate students of Tarot, not beginners or advanced students. It is particularly aimed at writers looking to learn World Building and Alien Character building.

Updated and expanded compilation of all these Tarot Just For Writers entries is now available on Kindle:

The Wands and Cups Volumes and  the Swords and Pentacles Volumes, are now all available separately on Kindle.  The 5 Volumes combined are also available on Kindle as one book, cheaper than buying them individually.

The Not So Minor Arcana: Never Cross A Palm With Silver Aug 30, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Wands Sept. 1, 2015  99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Cups Sept. 11, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Swords  Sept. 17, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Pentacles  Sept. 21, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Books 1-5 combined Sept. 24, 2015 $3.25

This series is designed not for the beginner or the advanced student, but for the intermediate student and specifically for writers doing worldbuilding..

And Remember: The meaning of a Tarot Minor Arcanum resides in the placement on the Tree of Life (i.e. the number on the card) integrated with the "World" or Suit of the card.

For the Tree of Life and the Jacob's Ladder diagrams see:

I don't really go with the way this page explains the Tree, but it is worth thinking about. There are many other ways. For now, ponder the diagrams on this page or Google up some others.

I have been posting here since August 14th, 2007, every Tuesday, the 10 minor Arcana of the suit of Swords. The Ace of Pentacles was posted Oct 23, 2007. The 3 of Pentacles was accidentally posted dated Monday November 5th.


10 Pentacles

So here we are at the bottom circle on the middle column (the 3 columns are actually called "Pillars") of the Jacob's Ladder diagram. And this is the last one we have to discuss here.

Note that this 10 dangles down below all the others. The previous 10's all connected to the 6 of the next level down and were colored by that Love. So we can expect the character of this Ten to be a little different.

This one receives all the energy spilling down through all the others. That energy arrives here from 7, 8 and 9 by direct routes as well as the one we've followed. It all collects, crystallizes and fills up this "vessel." Naturally, this creates a complex content for this particular 10.

Or put another way, 10 Pentacles is the end result of that excruciating moment of commitment made in 3 Swords, the moment when THIS project was chosen to be done and therefore all the other ideas and projects and possibilities were sacrificed, discarded, lost. You put all your eggs in one basket, and now they've hatched (or not.)

One way to think of that bottom circle is as all of manifest reality. It is our concrete, everyday world, defined by 3 spacial dimensions and Time. It is where the laws of Physics apply rigorously. It is our normal waking consciousness plus the physical reality around us.

Every project we complete contributes some little something to shaping our personal reality.

But everyone is doing projects. "Reality" is the resultant of all our efforts.

All the other 39 Sepheroth are abstract principles, states of mind, levels of consciousness, subjective or hypothetical -- all parts of a "reality" nobody can prove is "real." Access to these mystical realms is only for mystics.

Except that whether you know it or not, you are embedded in the most mystical realm of all - Reality, the result of all 39 above us. All the projects you've completed have gone through most all these processes even if not in so orderly a fashion and with concrete manifestations.

10 Pentacles manifests the end, sum total, result of all the other 39 Sepheroth, their lessons and their processes.

Thus every manifestation of reality contains and perhaps clearly expresses all 39 processes from above. For example, taking a novel you've written to a critique group can often be a 5 Swords process - the reality clearly illustrates the principles of the 5 Swords process. But that reality also contains all the other processes above. Reality is "messy."

10 Pentacles is how the story comes out, how the mess manifests. This is The End. This is the climax of the novel. This is the purpose of all that activity fulfilled -- or not.

Here all the suspense is gone. It's all over. And so it can represent the end of life, or just retirement from a particular career to start yet another.

It is the life you have built, and the only way to change it now is to give up some part of it -- 10 Pentacles Reversed -- to break it up. One example might be a child building a castle out of building blocks or sand. Once completed and photographed with the proud child, it has no destiny other than being dismantled (or lacquered and kept forever).

Take for example, the ambitious businessman who gets an MBA from a top University, works 12 hours a day all his life, cashes out his business and retires wealthy. Now in 10 Pentacles, he can enjoy his wealth.

From here, there is nowhere for the descending energy to go but UP!

Yes, souls descend this ladder and turn around and climb back taking with them all the experiences and lessons gathered.

What is the Tree of Life? It is the method the Creator of the Universe used to generate this thing we call "reality." These Sephirot represented by the circles on the diagram are all the stages of Creation.

We spend our whole life in 10 Pentacles, but are not deprived at all the others because 10 Pentacles contains all the rest. Every project we do starts with an Ace of Wands, an Idea and ends with a finished product, a 10 Pentacles (or not).

At the end of life we contemplate death as the completion, the journey of return to the Creator. And we evaluate all we've accomplished in terms of the outcome, the 10 Pentacles.

Now we come to something really mystical.

The Pentacles are all about concrete reality, and that is the most mystical concept there is. Existence. Being. Is reality real? I think, therefore I am?

Humans can become afflicted with a sense of futility because it's so hard to see the result of what you've done, of what you've worked for, sacrificed for because everything is mixed up with everything else. All of one whole life's efforts can amount to nothing tangible at all. And one can be fooled into thinking a life was wasted because it had no discernible effect on the world.

But the 10 Pentacles lesson is that, no matter what you think you see looking back on your life, the true fact of the matter is that your existence has changed Reality permanently, indelibly, and irrevocably.

As we discussed in Swords, (which is contained inside Pentacles, remember), every thought, word and deed has an effect on the world around you.

A thought, word or deed, even just an emotion, an opinion kept to yourself, an observation, a hope, a dream, focused by kavana (intention) -- that is a "deliberate act" -- etches itself indelibly on the continuum, or Akashic Record.

If your thinking or feelings are messy, muddy, imprecise, or conflicted, you will leave a messy, muddy spot in the world when you leave. Someone has to clean it up; most likely you.

Our material reality has been given a receptivity to us. We are empowered to mold and change reality, and in fact if we don't take hold and do that with kavana, we do it by accident, carelessly. Because of our nature, we can't not-do it.

We have also been given Free Will. Thus we must choose what to do with our ability to change the world.

We have been given the power to "elevate" material things, to expose the divine sparks of spiritual energy within things by doing good deeds with them.

In 9 Pentacles, at the intersection between Things and Self, we organized our world around our Need. At 10 Pentacles, the Self that re-organized and coalesced in 9 Pentacles now projects into material reality.

There is a congruence between the Identity and the world that surrounds that Identity. It can be seen through astrology. It can be seen through Tarot. But we are all "works in progress," eternal web pages under construction.

Our external realities don't exactly match our internal reality. We resist (sometimes successfully for a while) the lessons pounded in by a material reality trying to reshape us, and sometimes we successfully pound back and reshape reality to our needs.

The mis-match is an area of conflict. Life is the process of resolving those conflicts, pounding back, smoothing it all out, and getting our personal reality to match our self-image or vice-versa.
But what do we do with it once we've gotten it done? What's it for?

Some traditions say that we can get off the Wheel of Birth and Death once the soul has learned these essential lessons about how material reality works. They say that some very advanced souls may voluntarily risk their perfected state by taking another incarnation in order to teach, to bring more souls to perfection.

The tradition behind the Tarot structure we've been studying looks at it the other way around. Instead of an objective of freeing ourselves from material reality, our objective is to prepare material reality so that the Creator can dwell here with us.

We touched on this in the description of material reality in 10 Swords: Your Chickens Come Home To Roost, (adjacent to 6 Pentacles, remember) where we modeled the world as a seething plasma of divine sparks swimming amidst a sea of dross.

Our job, done by all that pounding to get inside and outside worlds to match, is to free the Divine sparks and elevate as much of the dross as possible, letting the rest fall away. Once that is all completed, the world will be able to withstand the full force of the Divine presence and life here will become much nicer.

So how do you get a handle on "the world" in order to accomplish some part of this job? Where can you get hold of "reality" and change it?

Many people try to fix the world by teaching other people the right way to do things, and what never to do. They try to affect the behavior of others by disapproving of how they dress or what they eat. This is like the "misdirected problem solving energy" of 8 Pentacles Reversed -- you can work very hard for thousands of years and not make a dent in the real problem because you aren't addressing the real problem but only its reflection.

What is the real problem?

You, yourself.

Remember, in 9 Pentacles we found how reorganizing our Self, our Identity around all the lessons learned in previous processes would affect how things turn out in 10 Pentacles.

How well we learn our lessons, how we resolve our internal conflicts, identify our true needs, wants, and desires and organize our whole Self into a team effort determines how things turn out in 10 Pentacles.

The smoother we cooperate inside our-Self, the smoother the parts of our external world will work together.

That external reality comes from our internal reality -- not the other way around. Remember the 9's are the "Foundation" of the World. It's not the World that generates the 9's. It's the 9's (astral plane) that generates the World.

Thus to change the world, we change our-Self.

We change what we think, feel, believe, dream, want, desire, imagine, enjoy, and do.

If you see someone behaving badly, look into yourself and find where that flaw has its counterpart within you. It won't be identical - that would be too easy. No, you'll have to search for the counterpart.

For example, if you see a shoplifter, you know you would never - ever - just take something from a store. Now watch inside yourself for a while (could take a couple of years of vigilance) and perhaps you will find a moment when you steal the limelight from someone and get a real charge out of it, or perhaps you might incorporate more of someone else's novel into your own novel than is wise.

Change the world by fixing yourself.

And when you've got it all done, you'll come to the 10 of Pentacles process and look around to see that's it's Good.

Let's see what's happened to our writer at the end of her career.

Well, the movie was a flop she doesn't even note on her bibliography. But they paid her a bunch of money. She paid the taxes and invested the rest in mutual funds and let it sit on re-invest for all those years.

It was a struggle to pay the taxes on the dividends and capital gains from her writing income to keep the earnings reinvested, and still put her kids through school but she managed.

Now she's writing her memoirs, showing how writing each of her novels resulted in learning a seminal lesson about life. She's not expecting to publish her memoirs. This book is for her grandchildren, of which she has six.

She expects to finish by the time her husband retires. The income from investing the film proceeds will let them travel as much as they want.

She's glad she signed the contract, and in a way very glad the movie was a flop and her career merely solid, not stellar. Now she can bask in anonymity.

If she were experiencing a 10 Pentacles Reversed process, a serious mis-match between her material reality and her inner Self, you might find a number of scenarios in her life:

a) the film would have been wildly successful and, intimidated by that success, she might have been unable to write any more novels and learn the lessons from them, and thus she would be rich but her husband would have left her because she turned into a shrew, the children abandoned her, and she might be too ill to enjoy retirement.

b) the film may have been moderately successful, but she lost all the money in the dot-com boom and bust investing in stocks instead of diversified mutual funds. Her writing income never made up the difference, her husband is invalided out of work, and now they face living on social security or sponging off the kids.

c) the film may have been a flop, but that so depressed her that she was never able to write well again, so she used up all the money putting her kids through school. Now she's buried her husband and her kids are unmarried -- and who knows if they have any kids!

d) the film may have been a flop, but she learned from it all and went on to write four or five more novels that were made into good films. She's rich and famous, but not so famous she needs security guards when she travels. However, the kids don't want any part of her, her husband divorced her and got alimony, and she can't see what she's done wrong.

Frankly, I think this writer's first film was a flop, but she went on to write books and her own original screenplays, has made a good living, learned all her lessons with a full heart, and her family still loves her (but usually that's apparent only on Mother's Day).

So how can a writer use these Tarot Card processes to build a World and construct a novel?

If you think this is a useful model of reality, then try to construct a character from the inside, and then generate their world to match. Leave a piece of the character in conflict, and see how that alters the world the character creates around him/herself.

Pick one of these processes to become the whole plot. Each one is a whole story in itself, an Initiation, an eye-opener, a life-changing event. Go through a 3's process and toss away everything but one single thing to focus on.

If you're building an Alien World, it needs a Philosophy and possibly a Religion. If you study comparative religion on Earth, you will find various versions, sub-sets, and derivatives of this master pattern called the Tree of Life buried within most of them.

If there exits an "objective reality" out there somewhere, other species will be probing it too, and will find some echo of this basic pattern -- it just may not be all that easy for humans to recognize their version of it.

If you start with this Pattern, and your alien's biology, look at the Pattern through their eyes, you will see how the religions of their world would likely interpret this Pattern, or some sub-set of the Pattern.

Because the Tree of Life is so familiar on Earth, human readers will recognize enough in your aliens to accept them as "real."

You'll find an example of this in two of my mass market paperback SF novels, Molt Brother and City of a Million Legends.

Molt Brother

City of a Million Legends

The more far out the fantasy you are writing, the more necessary it is to provide the reader with a sense of reality. Using this very old, very standard model of reality which has been commonly adopted by many schools of philosophy and psychology can make your alien civilization seem real to the reader.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Parallelism, Convergence, or something else

For the purposes of , tonight, I'm thinking about the three --or four-- reasons that romantically inclined aliens might look reasonably like us.

Convergence might be the most "fun". That is where a species evolves to look like another species, often a prey species, for a good and sufficient evolutionary reason. For instance, all the better to prey upon us.

Vampires might be a good example. The book "The Sparrow" had another cool example. Imagine a lion evolving to look a lot more like a wildebeest, so it could get really close to its prey without being noticed.

Parallelism is where different species evolve independently, but end up looking the same. We might like to think that this is because the design is the perfect adaptation.

Intelligent design, or divine intervention. One God --from outer space-- either liked the model so much that He --or She-- duplicated it. Or else, He --or She-- was not entirely satisfied, and created new and improved versions of the basic model.

Seeding... "gods from outer space" who were simply more technologically advanced, for whatever reason --not necessarily moral--, colonized, terraformed, performed cross-breeding experiments, and then went away (or didn't).

Of course, you could also have almost any combination of any of those, as in the case of the race of alien males whose own females have become sterile (or vice-versa) and therefore they abduct us, and as a result, evolve to look even more like us.

Have I missed anything out?

Happy Christmas!

Chess-inspired ("mating") titles. Gods from outer space. Sexy SFR. Poking fun, (pun intended). Shameless word-play.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Proof of Intelligence

This week, rereading the chapter in Jared Diamond's GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL about domesticable animals reminded me of a short story I read a long time ago. The crew of a Terran spaceship gets marooned on a planet with a mild climate and no sapient inhabitants. One day they happen to be frolicking naked in a warm rain shower when an alien ship drops by and captures them as zoological specimens, mistaking them for native animals of the planet. The crew members are confined in a zoo on the aliens' world. They strive to find a way to demonstrate their intelligence to their captors. The aliens don't recognize their verbal sounds as language. The captives' attempts to write mathematical formulas, solar system diagrams, etc. in the dirt are ignored. When they build miniature structures out of sticks and stones, the aliens think they're nesting—and respond by moving the women into the men's cage so the "specimens" can breed! Meanwhile, the bored Earth people start taming a small, rodent-like animal that infests the enclosure. Eventually they construct a makeshift cage for their pet. As soon as the aliens notice this artifact, they release the captives and start serious attempts to communicate. Explanation: "Only intelligent beings put other beings in cages."

Unfortunately, this sardonic moral isn't entirely accurate. Some species of ants, for instance, keep aphids as "livestock" (although I don't suppose they build cages for them). So there's no guarantee this trick would work for the next group of Terrans locked in an extraterrestrial zoo. Recent research has shown, in fact, that some animals perform many of the acts previously thought unique to the human species (including, regrettably, rape and warfare). If you found yourself in a plight similar to that of the characters in this story, how would you prove to technologically superior aliens that you're a sapient being?

A related disturbing thought: Suppose dolphins have a level of intellect and social complexity equal to our own, and the only reason we haven't recognized this fact is that they don't produce the material technology we tend to consider an essential component of "human" intelligence?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

9 Pentacles - You've Made Your Bed; Now Lie In It

As noted previously, this is a chapter in a book about the Tarot aimed at Intermediate students of Tarot, not beginners or advanced students. It is particularly aimed at writers looking to learn World Building and Alien Character building.

Updated and expanded compilation of all these Tarot Just For Writers entries is now available on Kindle:

The Wands and Cups Volumes and  the Swords and Pentacles Volumes, are now all available separately on Kindle.  The 5 Volumes combined are also available on Kindle as one book, cheaper than buying them individually.

The Not So Minor Arcana: Never Cross A Palm With Silver Aug 30, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Wands Sept. 1, 2015  99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Cups Sept. 11, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Swords  Sept. 17, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Pentacles  Sept. 21, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Books 1-5 combined Sept. 24, 2015 $3.25

This series is designed not for the beginner or the advanced student, but for the intermediate student and specifically for writers doing worldbuilding..

And Remember: The meaning of a Tarot Minor Arcanum resides in the placement on the Tree of Life (i.e. the number on the card) integrated with the "World" or Suit of the card.

For the Tree of Life and the Jacob's Ladder diagrams see:

I don't really go with the way this page explains the Tree, but it is worth thinking about. There are many other ways. For now, ponder the diagrams on this page or Google up some others.

I have been posting here since August 14th, 2007, every Tuesday, the 10 minor Arcana of the suit of Swords. The Ace of Pentacles was posted Oct 23, 2007. The 3 of Pentacles was accidentally posted dated Monday November 5th.


9 Pentacles

We're now discussing the second circle up from the bottom of the middle column on the Jacob's Ladder diagram.

As with Swords (and Cups and Wands) 9 is the Astral Plane where you shape your reality using what you mastered of Kavana and the crafting of your reality in the previous processes.

Remember that we are discussing these processes in isolation from one another to sift out a core signature that can let us recognize the process when we see it operating in the pea soup of ordinary life.

We synthesize the meaning of the number with the meaning of the Suit to discover something about the Tarot card. (not "everything" but just one something).

There is no "right" answer, no one meaning that's exactly what everyone must know to progress in this study.

There are, however, a lot of wrong answers - ones that will lead nowhere or to disaster.

So keep in mind that this text discusses my current (tomorrow is another day!) insights into these core meanings as of this writing. The insight itself is not important to you. The process of arriving at these concepts, however, is something you can apply yourself to generate ideas and concepts, meanings and uses that are entirely appropriate for you.

So watch what happens as we explore the real-world, concrete, materialization (Pentacles) of 9 which is associated with the astrological symbol The Moon.

The Moon is wishes, desires, wants, and needs (neurotic and sane). The Moon rules the 4th House, the root of our Identity, the home and the Mother.

When you look into yourself, you can usually identify the function of The Moon in your natal chart by asking yourself what is it that you "want" in life that you can never seem to "get?"

What's missing? What do you cry for? What is the one thing you want to end up with in life?

Or what is the one thing that, no matter how much you have, you still want more of?

Usually, you will find an echo of the House your Natal Moon occupies in your Natal Chart within your psyche by answering that question on a non-verbal, emotional level.

For example, people with Moon in the 10th (career, ruled by Saturn) want to "do something important." Important=Saturn. People with Moon in the 11th House want "Appreciation" or one of the 11th House (Aquarius) attributes. People with Moon in the First House want "to be number One" - to excel, to be out front, to be the explorer, like Aries the Natural First House.

That "want" is the goal that will mobilize all your personal resources on every level.

When you pass through a 9-process in any project you're doing, that "I wanna!" will stir and re-organize the astral plane in a way unique to you. That "I wanna!" is the organizing principle behind your ambitions and decisions. Even your ego (Natal Sun) energies will be brought to serve that Want.

On the Tree of Life, 9 is The Foundation. It's where everything in material reality is rooted and draws Divine energy into manifestation as a tree draws water up from the soil. That's right, the Foundation of reality is "The Moon," which waxes and wanes and casts a reflected light.

If you want to build something, you first lay a foundation. Just try building a house by putting the roof on before you've set up some walls to hold it. Just try writing a novel before you've had the idea for the novel.

There's a lot of work that goes into writing a novel or writing your life before ever a word is crafted or a college degree earned.

First comes the idea (Ace of Wands) and that fire of an idea has to be brought down through all the Wands processes, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc. to the Cups where the "want" the emotional punch, is added to the idea and it becomes "an idea to write a novel." That results in the Swords processes, the actual writing, crafting, marketing, and leaps to the Pentacles where a novel breeds a career of writing novels.

Each of these 4 stages has a 9 process to get through. They're all the same, but all different.

In 9 of Swords, the writer went through the waiting period before publication of the novel with the feeling "anything can happen" -- i.e. her "world" became amorphous, shimmering in the moonlight.

If she was in an anxious phase, she would imagine terrible failures. If she was euphoric, she'd imagine glory. 9 is a realm where dream or nightmare can affect what eventually happens.

Swords are events, deeds, and so 9 Swords is dreams or nightmares about "what will happen."

But human psychology is not that simple. We rarely go directly after what we want. In fact, most of us don't really know the true name of what we want. So we can eat chocolate ice cream because we want to be loved. Or amass wealth because we want respect. The combinations are endless.

Pentacles is about material manifestation of all the lessons taken from the previous processes.
9 Pentacles is as much a result of the previous 38 lessons as it is a precursor to 10 Pentacles.

As 9 Swords was a test of how well the lessons about how to act were internalized (i.e. for a writer, how to incorporate editorial direction and reader comments into the "vision" of the result), so 9 Pentacles is a test of how to be.

That's it. How to exist.

9 Pentacles is about who you are when there's nobody else around. Who are you when there's no audience to play to? Who do you want to be?

In 5 Pentacles, our writer discovered the searing cold of rejection, in 6 Pentacles came largess from a past life, in 7 Pentacles that gift had to be examined and its meaning evaluated, and in 8 Pentacles, the career being built had to be materialized with kavana - with an action backed by pure intention.

Pentacles is material reality, i.e. existence. So why are we talking about actions in 8 & 9 Pentacles?

Shouldn't that be Swords?

Take another look at Jacob's Ladder and the Tree of Life. Notice that Jacob's Ladder is 4 repetitions of the Tree. It's an "extension ladder" -- like one of those where you pull the rope and the ladder gets taller.

When the Ladder is collapsed, you have the Tree with all 4 repetitions stacked on top of each other.

OK, now imagine the whole Tree collapsing so that you see only one circle, but really they are all on top of each other.

Now compress the stack of circles into a two-dimensional single circle.

It's holistic.

This is a view of reality in which every tiny part contains the whole.

OK, you can unfold it now until it reaches Heaven.

Think about the tiniest energy particle you've ever heard of. That particle contains the whole of Reality plus all the rest of the mystical realms of creation we've been discussing.

Think about stem cells. That tiny cell contains the potential for all cells the organism needs to exist.

This Jacob's Ladder diagram is just a way to give our material brains something to grab hold of to think about all that mystical stuff. It's not "real." It's a "model" of reality. As physicists use models to explore theories, so too mystics use this model to understand reality.

Look at a box of Quaker Oats. See the man holding a box of Quaker Oats with a picture on it of the man holding a box of Quaker Oats with a picture on it . . . ?

The Tree of Life is kind of like that. A recursive pattern.

Each of the sepheroth contains all the others.

So when we're in an 8 Pentacles process, all the previous processes we've studied are also in operation. Thus the idea generation of Wands and the passion of Cups and the flashing action of Swords all combine to create the singular action of 8 Pentacles -- in this case, signing the movie option contract.

Now in 9 Pentacles comes the period between signing the contract and seeing what the ultimate result of that will be. This repetition of 9 is similar to 9 Swords because it allows for the imagination to shape the stuff of reality, and different because of the writer's mastery (or lack thereof) of kavana in 8 Pentacles.

Our writer has signed the film option contract and now can imagine a travesty of a movie made from her book, or a great movie that has little to do with her book, or a real dog that nobody will see anyway.

And now we know that what she chooses to imagine will be drawn from whatever inner peace she has achieved with her innermost want or need. As we left her in 8 Pentacles, she had decided that she would use whatever came of the option contract to further her career rather than worry about the fate of one novel.

Remember, the Universe responds more readily to who you are than what you do. And here in 9 Pentacles, you get to BE yourself, all alone. By being that concretized Self, you affect and shape the reality about you.

The Waite Rider deck shows a woman in her garden with a bird surrounded by pentacles. She is alone.

This is where you enjoy your own company and get to know yourself, your fears, nightmares and dreams. Here is where you do the real work of re-crafting your life to reflect the lessons learned throughout all these processes. Here in 9 Pentacles, all those lessons become real and manifest within you, all organized to serve your basic need as an individual.

By this point in the Pentacles processes, you have accomplished something. Here is where you enjoy that accomplishment, or pine away over what you have not accomplished. The mid-Life crisis is very much a 9 of Pentacles process.

The 9 Pentacles Reversed happens when that innermost need or want is still a raging sore point in the psyche.

Consider the "nerd" -- the socially inept perennial teen whose every word and deed begs for your attention at all kinds of inappropriate moments. And of course, your respectful attention is the last thing you would give that person.

That "nerd" condition is described by the 9 of Pentacles Reversed. The very manifestation of the need prevents its satisfaction.

So the 9 Pentacles Reversed process is experienced as a loss.

For example, if you join a volunteer organization, and organize a big affair that appears to be a great success where everyone has a good time, 9 Pentacles Reversed is the phase where you are left alone with the huge mess people had volunteered to clean up -- but they left.

It is in that lonely moment that you realize you didn't organize the affair to raise money for the organization's good deeds, but rather to gain the high regard of the other members. Their desertion is a loss in that bid for regard.

OK, so you also learn to hire a janitorial service next time. You've made your bed; now lie in it.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, December 16, 2007

World-building. How off Earth do you tell time?

Have you ever thought of "Time" as a problem?
Maybe not.
If all your action takes place on one planetary body, or moon, you might start with the local sun or star, and measure time by the orbit.
But what if the orbit wobbles?

I suppose you could have Leap Years on a grand scale.

If the sun is a Cepheid Variable, (not recommended, too unstable) can you rely on light to predict time?

What if there are two suns? Suppose you have several moons?

And supposing your civilization is on a space ark, or a tora, or a space station --like Babylon 9-- populated in a democratic manner by peoples from many galaxies. How would they agree on what time "Standard Time" is? Whose moon --or watch-- would rule?

Would there be Time wars?

Why do the military use a 24 hour clock, and civilians use a 12 hour (plus am/pm)?

Even on our own little world, we've had different calendars and almanacs as current world rulers have dabbled, and named months after themselves, and got egotistically involved in whether or not "their" month is bigger and longer than their rivals' months.

If any super power ever elects a President named February, watch out!

Even if "we" all agree on Greenwich Mean Time (time is "mean" ?) we live in different time zones, and when we fly across an international date line, we travel in time. And if we leave one atomic clock at Greenwich, and whizz another identical one around the globe in orbit, they don't tell the same time. (Twin paradox).

So what would happen to fast-moving --but not equally fast-- spaceships? Do you think, instead of talking about the weather (as Englishmen are supposed to do), friendly spacefarers would chat about the time all the time?

In FORCED MATE, I decided to base time-telling in the Tigron Empire on a regular, predictable, reliable event: the alien female cycle. "The third thing females are good for."

That presupposes mammalian females, and reproductive cycles, and also that gravity, velocity, the space diet etc do not interfere with biology. What else is regular and reliable?

Heartbeats? Just imagine if time passed more quickly when we are frightened, or sexually active, or doing our gym-rat thing!

This week, Barbara Vey blogged on Thursday about a sex myth quiz. You can find a link to Barbara Vey's blog through the bloglinkhoppers link.

Spoiler alert!

Apparently, the average, healthy, human male (at least three loopholes, there) produces 300 million spermatoza every day. Imagine trying to tell time based on that reliable number! Of course, this is not a serious suggestion. It would be totally unmanageable and impracticable.

On that happy thought.... I'll leave you to go spoof something.

Best wishes,

PS. Check out the Sampler of 10 current and former Dorchester FF&P authors' first chapters.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Tall, Dark, and Deadly" Excerpt

My novella "Tall, Dark, and Deadly," an erotic vampire romance from Ellora's Cave, is scheduled to be reprinted in one of that publisher's anthologies in partnership with Pocket Books (release date June 2008). So I'm posting an excerpt from the scene where Claude, an actor who plays vampire and other horror roles, explains the truth about vampirism to the heroine, Eloise, a novelist and script writer. She has just tried to attack him with a cross in his sleep to test whether he's really a vampire.

Excerpt from "Tall, Dark, and Deadly":

Eloise retreated into the adjacent sitting room. After opening the curtains halfway to let in some light, she saw a matching couch and chair, a bookcase, a miniature refrigerator and a wet bar with a compact-model microwave oven on its counter. She sat on the couch and waited, glad for the few minutes of solitude to tame the hive of bees in her skull and the spiders skittering in her stomach.

Soon Claude emerged from the bedroom, barefoot, in a pair of blue satin jogging shorts and a T-shirt. He went to the bar, filled a glass with ice and got out bottles of gin and tonic. “Care for a drink?”

“No, thanks, I want my head clear. If that’s possible around you.” She glared at him.

“Well, I need one.” When she flinched, he added with a wry smile, “Not that kind. Not right this minute anyway.” After he’d mixed his gin and tonic, he took a seat at the other end of the couch from her, out of the direct sunlight from the window. “Tell me exactly what happened when you met Philip.”

She summarized the encounter. “He said you’re a vampire, a demon in human shape, as he put it. I’m not sure how it happened, but the next thing I knew, I was in here testing the theory.”

“Of course,” Claude sighed. “I should have known. He caught you off guard, so he hypnotized you. I should have known you wouldn’t do anything like that on a mere suggestion. Regardless of what you saw just now, I’m not a demon.”

“You changed—” Her breath caught in her throat, cutting off the words.

“I apologize for that. A defense mechanism. You startled me out of a sound sleep, after all.”

“What about the cross?”

“A psychosomatic reaction. I’m not a creature of the devil, and I’m not undead either. Though if you’d looked for a pulse a few minutes ago, you’d have had trouble finding one. Suspended animation looks a lot like death.”

She folded her arms in resistance to his reasonable tone. “I don’t hear you denying you’re a vampire.”

“I don’t deny it.” He took a swallow of his drink. “But I’m not supernatural. We’re another species, long-lived, with a specialized diet.”

“Liquid protein.”

He nodded.

Her numbed brain woke up and processed clues from the past few days. “Oh, God, you drank my blood! How many times?”

He gazed into his glass as if embarrassed.

“Come on, level with me. At the con?”

“Yes, and the night before last, after we arrived here.”

A flush spread over her body. “Then all those feelings I thought were dreams came from you? And that’s why I can’t remember much about Saturday night?”

“Granted.” He drained his glass and got up to mix another drink, heavy on the gin.

Her throat tightened with indignation. “You—I don’t believe this! You made up all that rigmarole about producing my script just to feed on me.”

“What?” He whirled around to face her, glass in hand. “Bloody hell, do you seriously think I’d go to all that trouble just for a little refreshment? I can get that from the vampire groupies.”

Her pulse hammered in her temples. “Well, isn’t that what I am to you?”

“Eloise, no!” He hurried to the couch and sat near her. She edged as far away as the space allowed. “I feasted on your mind, your passions, not only your blood. That’s why I didn’t want to take any risk of letting Philip see us together. He would realize instantly that I care for you. And I meant it when I said I’d like to have you stay here.”

“How can I tell what you mean? You turned me into a puppet, like one of those blow-up sex dolls, and wiped my memory on top of it. Anyway, you’re an actor. You could turn on the charm at will even if you weren’t a vampire.”

“Please, ma belle, let me prove that isn’t true.” He caressed her shoulder and gazed into her eyes. In this light, his no longer glowed red, but they still held an inhuman sheen of silver that she could hardly believe she’d missed before.

She jerked away from his touch. “Don’t look at me.”

“I’ve vowed not to mesmerize you again.”

“I don’t trust your vows. Not yet.”

He stalked to the bar and leaned against it, half-turned away from her. “Very well, I’m not looking at you. Now will you listen?”

“I’m listening. What do you mean, you vowed not to do it again?”

“I want you as a friend, an equal.” He gave a dry chuckle. “Something we don’t say to ephemerals very often. Many of my people would think I’m going soft even to consider it.”

“Ephemerals? That’s what you call us? Here today, gone tomorrow. No wonder you think you can treat us like puppets.”

“I don’t.” He gritted his teeth with a muted growl. “Some ephemerals. Not you.”

“Well, at least you admit it.” A new thought chilled her. “How many people have you killed?”

“Oh, for hell’s sake!” He slammed the glass on the bar. “I don’t kill for food. I take no more than they can spare, and I reward them with pleasure. Pleasure that I thoroughly enjoy sharing. I’ve killed in self-defense now and then. Not often. I told you, I prefer the quiet life.”

“That Philip guy said you killed his beloved, or caused her death anyway. Is that how he knows you’re a vampire?”

“What do you think he is?”

“He’s one too?” Speechless for a minute, Eloise sorted out this new bit of data. “Wait a second, he walked around in broad daylight.”

“You’ve read enough books like *Dracula* and *Varney*, not to mention reams of folklore, that you shouldn’t believe that tripe about vampires bursting into flame in the sun.”

“Yeah, but he was out on the beach with no shade at all.”

“Goes to show how much he’s willing to suffer for the satisfaction of harassing me,” said Claude. “How was he dressed?”

“White suit, gloves, hat, sunglasses.”

“You see? Probably sunscreen as well. I could walk on the beach in that costume too but I wouldn’t enjoy it much.”

“What about the cross? It didn’t seem to bother him.”

Claude fidgeted with his glass as if self-conscious about the topic. “I suffer from a phobia for religious objects. He doesn’t. He was fortunate enough to grow up in the enlightened atmosphere of Victorian England. I was born in a French village in 1738, when rural folk still seriously believed demons might walk among them. It was also the height of the vampire-hunting craze in Greece and Eastern Europe, as you know. I became infected with the superstitions of the culture around me.”

“Really? Does that happen a lot?”

“It can. We’re highly adaptable, especially in childhood. We have to be to fit invisibly into your world. We tend to pick up human attitudes unless our mentors are very careful.” He sat down, more relaxed now but still making a point of not looking directly at her. “It still happens to some young vampires today if they’re allowed to watch horror movies.”

She had to laugh at the image of stern vampire elders censoring their children’s viewing habits. “Tell me about Philip. Who was the woman, and why does he blame you for her death?”

Claude sighed. “He’s not far wrong, but I never intended her any harm. I suppose I’d better tell you the whole story.”

“Yes, please do.” She folded her arms and frowned at him, determined to shield herself against his charm until he offered her some basis for trust.

-end of excerpt-

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

8 Pentacles - Kavanah

As noted previously, this is a chapter in a book about the Tarot aimed at Intermediate students of Tarot, not beginners or advanced students. It is particularly aimed at writers looking to learn World Building and Alien Character building.

Updated and expanded compilation of all these Tarot Just For Writers entries is now available on Kindle:

The Wands and Cups Volumes and  the Swords and Pentacles Volumes, are now all available separately on Kindle.  The 5 Volumes combined are also available on Kindle as one book, cheaper than buying them individually.

The Not So Minor Arcana: Never Cross A Palm With Silver Aug 30, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Wands Sept. 1, 2015  99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Cups Sept. 11, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Swords  Sept. 17, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Pentacles  Sept. 21, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Books 1-5 combined Sept. 24, 2015 $3.25

This series is designed not for the beginner or the advanced student, but for the intermediate student and specifically for writers doing worldbuilding..


And Remember: The meaning of a Tarot Minor Arcanum resides in the placement on the Tree of Life (i.e. the number on the card) integrated with the "World" or Suit of the card.

For the Tree of Life and the Jacob's Ladder diagrams see:

I don't really go with the way this page explains the Tree, but it is worth thinking about. There are many other ways. For now, ponder the diagrams on this page or Google up some others.

I have been posting here since August 14th, 2007, every Tuesday, the 10 minor Arcana of the suit of Swords. The Ace of Pentacles was posted Oct 23, 2007. The 3 of Pentacles was accidentally posted dated Monday November 5th.


8 Pentacles - Kavana

We're now talking about the bottom circle of the left hand column (your left as you face the diagram) of Jacob's Ladder.

The Waite Rider card is the picture of the cobbler-like figure making coins - circles with Pentacles on them. It is the master craftsman materializing his art.

And you thought Pentacles (the material world) would lack mysticism especially when manifesting through 8 which is where all of "science" resides?

8 is associated with Mercury (Hermes), which rules thought via Gemini (Air) and Virgo (Earth).

Hermes is associated with Natural Philosophy, the precursor of science and science is organized (Virgo) thought (Gemini).

So what's Kavana?

Well, that's the transliteration of the Hebrew word which is translated as "intention." But it's a lot more than that. It's the central discipline of the magician - focused attention at the soul level.

When it comes to mastering the craft of concentration or meditation, the one hardest thing to grasp is that concentration does not consist of what you are thinking about, nor does meditation consist of thinking of nothing.

This craft of the mind has to do with what you are not-thinking about, more than with what you are thinking about. It is what you exclude from consciousness, or the fact that you exclude all but a certain thing, that brings on the meditative state.

Remember the discussion of 3. To be anything is to not-be everything else. Choice and commitment are an Initiation, a process to be mastered and internalized.

Thus "intention" is focused and narrowed to a laser beam, with all the attention that would be multi-tasking, scanning and recording 360 degrees around you, flicking from issue to issue trying to juggle your life into some semblance of order -- all that force of attention is gathered away from all those "other" issues and brought to bear on one thing and one thing only.

What thing?

Ah, there's the art in this matter.

What to "intend" during this exercise can't really be effectively chosen by the conscious Will.

The lesson of the 8 process is all about the place of the conscious will in the scheme of things. It is not dominant. But it can not be dominated.

The intention to be poured into the crafting of this Pentacle is negotiated through the point where the deepest subconscious mind connects with the soul, communicates with the spirit, and receives energy from the Creator.

How all those levels interior to the human being connect, interact, and function will provide the menu from which to choose an intention for this process. Success or failure will be governed by the degree of Peace that has been achieved.

Here we come to a mystical meaning for the word Shalom - Peace.

Peace isn't lack of war or lack of conflict or lack of disagreement. "Peace" doesn't mean I win; you lose. Shut up and do what I say. (which is the attitude behind the "self-discipline" of dieting.)

Peace does not originate outside the physical body. Peace is a matter of love between the Spirit, Soul, Mind, and Body (all of which consist of many components which can likewise be in conflict.)
Peace is smoothly flowing energy - collimated light; laminar flowing fluid. Peace is energy manifesting effectively and efficiently without collateral damage.

8 of Pentacles works best as the Intention to Craft Peace between Spirit, Soul, Mind and Body.

The Pentacle represents the upward yearning human spirit supported by the 4 "Elements" or "Worlds." Bringing those "Elements" together to cooperate toward a single goal crafts peace.

Remember how I've mentioned that in the scientific view of the universe, the results of your actions are governed by what you do?

If two people in different countries perform the exact same experiment, they "should" get the same results. If they do, it "proves" the hypothesis and advances it to the level of a theory.

In the magical view of the universe, the results of your actions are governed by who you are.

Two people in different countries should perform different actions to get the same results. One person might need money and buy a lottery ticket (and win); another person might need money and write a book titled Harry Potter. Each person has to do that which bespeaks their own personal Identity at the soul level.

Example 1: Two scientists on opposite sides of the globe each run a particle accelerator experiment, certain of their theories and certain the experiment will work because all the ones leading up to this one worked out. Each is certain they will be the first to prove this theory and win a Nobel Prize for it.

S1 runs his experiment and sends the results to the computer. He goes home, triumphant, knowing his results will be ready in the morning.

S2 runs his experiment (truly identical in every regard to S1's) likewise certain he's got it. He sends his results to the computer, and goes home imagining what he'll do with the prize money.

S1 wins the Nobel prize.

S2 is killed in the blast when his accelerator blows up and takes out most of the university campus and his home and all evidence that he achieved the breakthrough first (yeah, no off site backup).

Example 2: Two farmers, one in Canada and one in Argentina, plant crops in their correct season. They've calculated the cost per bushel to produce the yield and guessed the World Market price and sold into the commodity futures market. They each have sound estimates of their profit.

F1 sows, weeds, fertilizes, and reaps. She gets double the yield and makes a nice profit that year, paying debts from the draught of the year before with something left to buy seed for next year.

F2 sows, weeds, fertilizes, and -- doesn't reap. A raging firestorm sweeps in from the prairie and destroys his crop.

Success or failure does NOT entirely depend on what you do or how well you do it.

Of course, if you do nothing, you reap or win nothing. But it is likewise possible for someone who does things "all wrong" to get the promotion, reap the windfall, write the best seller.

From a mystical point of view, it seems that "what" happens to us is not nearly so important as what we learn from the results of our actions and how that learning changes us inside to make peace between spirit and soul.

All that internal change doesn't change "what" happens to you in the world externally -- it changes how it feels when it happens and thus how you respond to events -- and how events then respond to you. The world is an interactive game. The world responds to you, but not so much to what you do.

Back to 5 Pentacles -- remember our writer got her first really bad review in 5 Pentacles and it hit her so hard she lost her self confidence.

In 6 Pentacles, a film option opportunity dropped in her lap, and in 7 Pentacles she sat over cold coffee for hours and hours hesitating to sign the option contract.

The process of 5, 6, 7 is the same as in Swords. A project comes out of the private growth stage of 4, gets hammered in 5, repaired by Love in 6, then the lesson is evaluated and assimilated in 7.

Now in 8, the meaning of that lesson starts to become clear. The mentality becomes involved in judging the evaluation of 7 and how the lesson hammered home in 5 actually fits into the overall life and personality.

This kind of lesson "learned" makes changes in the subconscious, and possibly even in the soul and spirit. These are the lessons that you might (not will) take with you to your next life.

No two people learn the same lesson from the same events.

Here in 8, a new "power" (a skill, knowledge, position, wealth -- some kind of power) has been acquired through the 5, 6, 7 processes and now must be used. (See One; Do One; Teach One)
The Waite Rider deck image is of a cobbler chiseling out a Pentacle on a circle. He's using a skill (practical or arcane) to create a material object which then can be used for something. The image implies it's money -- he's either a Royal Minter (right side up) or a forger of currency (upside down - lesson not well assimilated in 7).

I like to remember the core meaning of 8 Pentacles by calling it "The Initiation of the Mirror Degree" -- which is a mystical experience that rams home the lessons of all the previous processes; "As you Sow; So Shall Ye Reap" and "What Goes Around; Comes Around" and all similar maxims (cliche's all) that indicate you, of your own free will, craft your world with whatever skill (or lack thereof) at your command.

What is inside you is mirrored outside you. By grabbing hold of what's outside you, you can get hold of what's inside you, down underneath the subconscious where your conscious mind can't go, and make changes in yourself by changing your world, then watching your world change to match your new inside. (the Arcane name for this science is Alchemy, so the guy in 8 Pentacles is actually an alchemist changing base metal to gold.)

Change is a process: a cyclical, interactive process of problem solving, part of the scientific method. It is a process of successive approximations.

Mastering a skill is a problem solving sequence: "Oh, that didn't work; what did I do wrong this time?"

The 8 Pentacles let's you see how your Self (your Identity) creates the world around you as a reflection of what is inside you where your intentions are shaped. If there's no peace inside, there will be no peace outside.

In principle, when you can see what you're doing, you can start doing it on purpose, if you're willing to forge a peace with yourself. 8 Pentacles sums up all the foregoing lessons embedded in the processes from Ace of Wands on down to 8 Pentacles. As you craft your own Identity, your Self, so will your world be crafted to match, so that the lessons the world dumps on you will pertain to you and not to someone else.

If you don't like what's going on outside of you -- change something inside.

Take for example, a young runaway teen girl who finds herself on the streets dealing drugs and getting high every night.

She gets shot at, sees where this life is going, and makes a change inside herself. She makes up her mind this life is not going where she wants to go. Then, by "accident" she sits down on a bus bench and sees the 800 hotline number offering help. Because of the change she has made inside herself, now (in 8 Pentacles) she is able to make that phone call.

That bus bench didn't happen to be there by accident, and that 800 number wasn't still legible by accident, and she wasn't sober enough to comprehend the opportunity by accident. The bench had been there all the time. What changed was inside her. She is now crafting her world with her skills.

OK, making a phone call isn't maybe such a lofty skill, but she couldn't do it before she got shot at in 5 Pentacles, got saved by a Good Samaritan in 6 Pentacles, and re-evaluated everything in 7 Pentacles.

90% of the solution to any problem of the real world, just as in algebra, is stating the problem in a useful form.

In reverse, the 8 Pentacles can represent a problem statement that is not in a useful form. It is misdirected problem solving energy.

For example: You want happiness. You look at your life and see all the things you don't have and conclude (because you didn't assimilate Love in the 6 and 7's processes) that you would be happy if you had those things. So you set out to get money in order to buy things.

Sometimes that works, but most often it doesn't because you have put your energies into solving the wrong problem.

You may get the things, and still find yourself unhappy, but now you don't have the energy or the years left to solve the real problem.

This kind of hyperdrive toward solving the wrong problem can result in a feeling of working so hard to no avail, a feeling of futility and failure while others look at you with envy of your success (which attitude only makes your despondency deeper).

In the midst of the 8 Pentacles Reversed process, you often find the syndrome called Type A Personality -- the person who can't sit still and who is far more likely to die young of a heart attack.

In reverse, 8 Pentacles can produce the sort of situation where progress (i.e. earning huge year-end bonuses) is counter productive. You lose your family because you're never home, but boy do you have what to pay alimony with.

Or 8 Pentacles reversed can result from the sort of endless mentation our writer fell into during 7 Pentacles.

Let's rejoin her as she re-reads the option contract for the hundredth time.

Suddenly it dawns on her that she can't decide because she's been evaluating the situation all wrong.

It doesn't matter whether they make this movie or not, or if they do make it, it doesn't matter if they mess it up. What matters is whether she has another book in the pipeline to take advantage of any attention garnered by the movie project.

With 8 Pentacles right side up at last, she can see how this opportunity has resulted from the internal changes she made in herself. Her world has rearranged itself to reflect those inner changes, and now in 8 Pentacles she can see what to do.

She is now confident she can handle whatever results from this option contract. She has spent hours studying this contract. She understands what she can (and can't) use it for. She intends (kavana) to make good use of this opportunity, regardless of what others do, to further her writing career. She will employ all her skills, incorporate all the lessons that have gone before, and work with diligence and impeccable determination.

She picks up the pen and dashes off her signature with a smile.

Wholly focused on externalizing that which she's crafted within herself, she runs into her office, makes a copy for her files, puts the original in the return envelope and takes it to the mailbox -- in the nick of time.

She catches the mailman walking away and hands the envelope to him.

Then she goes back inside to call her agent before the kids get home.

8 Pentacles is SIGNING THE CONTRACT WITH FULL FOCUSED INTENTION. It is a magical act. It creates something real and tangible, coin of the realm. It changes - everything.

The result of that act, in success or failure, will reflect the kavana at that moment more than it will the simple business of affixing a signature.

When you act with kavana, you don't get what you want, think you want, or intend. You can't make things happen with your conscious mind's intention. Kavana comes from deep down, way beneath the subconscious mind, from that place where Identity connects to the Creator.

You can't select kavana and you can't control it because one component of it is you, your own Identity.

It matters more who you are than what you do -- but even who you are doesn't control the world. Everyone else is a "who" with free will and kavana, with needs, wants and desires, with craft and determination. Everyone matters as much as you do.

However, you will note that our writer would not have had an option contract to sign had she not crafted herself and her novel with such energy, application, and vision.

You craft your own corner of the world. It's just like installing a program - everyone of the few people who own this program (are born with this natal chart) have started with the same code to install. But then you install it in the directory you choose on the drive you choose. You select what features of it to install and what to disable. You customize the colors of the display, the font size, etc. You arrange the contents of the dropdown menus. You program the right-click menu. Then you use it to create your own original content (your own life), like nobody else's.

And yet your life will follow a recognizable pattern because others have lived that pattern. The Tarot can reveal a lot about the recognizable pattern of the software you are using to write your life, but relatively nothing about the story you will produce.

Each of these Minor Arcana cards describes one of those archetypal patterns. A Tarot reading can show which menu selections are not grayed-out at the moment, but it can't show which you will select with enough kavana to manifest a change, nor how that change will manifest.

If you're looking for a tool to foretell the future, you're looking in the wrong place. If you're looking for a tool to make sense out of life, you just might find it here if you can look beyond the surface of this tool.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Alien Romance. What makes us who we are.... (lite)

I was surprised to find myself blogging aloud on live radio with two anthropologists this week.

Why was I surprised? Because I was hosting one of my "Crazy Tuesday" internet radio shows, and my five guests were authors of faery stories. I might not have been surprised to learn that one speculative romance author in five is an anthropologist. Two seemed more than a coincidence. Moreover, two of my guests have a special interest in crows!

Jacquie Rogers, Eilis Flynn, Elaine Corvidae, Roberta Gellis, and Sahara Kelly called in for a sometimes-learned, occasionally hilarious whirlwind tour of the world's magical beings-- both benign and malign-- from the Japanese Kappa that bites unwary waders below the belt if they splash into his river, through the fairies of the Silk Road, to the crow spirits whose task is to cause the sort of accidents that bring a man and a woman together (Crow-Harmony!), to sirens, selkie, and kelpie.

Anthropology, crows, and fairies... And history.

This isn't the first time that an unrehearsed, free-wheeling chat with other authors has turned up surprises. One week, I had two historians discussing mermaids and seafaring males with a roving eye for the odd manatee.

I've heard of the Romvets, former military ladies who now write action adventure, often with a strong sci-fi bias.

Who are today's story tellers?
Do we have more in common than we imagine?

In our personality types?
In our "other" careers?
In what we studied at university?

(There are endless quizzes we could do on MySpace and Facebook, if we had the time, but most of us are always on some deadline or another)

Or, do we run the gamut of former careers, and it is simply serendipity when a few of us get together and discover how much we have in common?

For what it's worth, I'm an INTJ when I'm not an INTP. I read English and Education at Cambridge, and my school majors were English, History, Art, and Greek Literature in Translation. I've had extensive experience of being "an alien". That's why I write .

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry
Chess-inspired ("mating") titles. Gods from outer space. Sexy SFR. Poking fun, (pun intended). Shameless word-play.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sexy and Not-So-Sexy Aliens

Some time ago, we speculated here about what kinds of creatures (if any) would be completely unacceptable as romantic heroes. I recall a comment in a paranormal romance newsletter years ago (in the pre-Internet age) to the effect that scales or tentacles would disqualify a character as a love object. I protested: What about mermaids (scales)? What about Jacqueline Lichtenberg's Simes (tentacles)? On this blog we questioned whether anyone could fall in love with a slimy blob. Odo from DEEP SPACE NINE was offered as an example. On one of my e-mail lists, I recently mentioned a novel by Mercedes Lackey that includes a love affair between a human heroine and a sentient, vaguely humanoid (flightless) bird. I stated my dissatisfaction that we aren't given any details about his lovemaking technique. One of the people on the list expressed the opinion that a giant bird would be totally non-sexy.

So I'd be interested to read some new comments about whether there are any kinds of creatures that can't possibly be made sexy. How about a sentient spider? (Hmm. . . I haven't tried that one; maybe I will.) I made erotic use of tentacles in my Lovecraftian romance novella "Tentacles of Love" (Ellora's Cave). Conversely, what species make especially good alien romance heroes? Personally, I'm partial to shapeshifters (mainly werewolves or werecats), cat people, vampires (the intimate symbolism of blood-sharing), and Jacqueline's Simes (intimate sharing of life energy).

If you haven't read Octavia Butler's short story "Bloodchild," try to find a copy. It's not a romance, but it does focus on an intimate relationship between Earthlings and aliens. The insectile humanoids who dominate the planet have granted Terran refugees a colony on their world in exchange for one service: The giant-centipede-like females lay their eggs in the abdomens of human males. Typically, a female "adopts" a human family, for whom she shows genuine affection. And she tries very hard to remove her young before they grow large enough to eat the host from inside out. Butler manages the dazzling achievement of believably portraying a kind of love between the narrator, a teenage boy in a host family, and his insectile patroness. Butler was quoted as calling this a "pregnant man story."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

7 Pentacles - The Right Answer

As noted previously, this is a chapter in a book about the Tarot aimed at Intermediate students of Tarot, not beginners or advanced students. It is particularly aimed at writers looking to learn World Building and Alien Character building.

Updated and expanded compilation of all these Tarot Just For Writers entries is now available on Kindle:

The Wands and Cups Volumes and  the Swords and Pentacles Volumes, are now all available separately on Kindle.  The 5 Volumes combined are also available on Kindle as one book, cheaper than buying them individually.

The Not So Minor Arcana: Never Cross A Palm With Silver Aug 30, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Wands Sept. 1, 2015  99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Cups Sept. 11, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Swords  Sept. 17, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Pentacles  Sept. 21, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Books 1-5 combined Sept. 24, 2015 $3.25

This series is designed not for the beginner or the advanced student, but for the intermediate student and specifically for writers doing worldbuilding..

And Remember: The meaning of a Tarot Minor Arcana resides in the placement on the Tree of Life (i.e. the number on the card) integrated with the "World" or Suit of the card.
For the Tree of Life and the Jacob's Ladder diagrams see:

I don't really go with the way this page explains the Tree, but it is worth thinking about. There are many other ways. For now, ponder the diagrams on this page or Google up some others.

I have been posting here since August 14th, 2007, every Tuesday, the 10 minor Arcana of the suit of Swords. The Ace of Pentacles was posted Oct 23, 2007. The 3 of Pentacles was accidentally posted dated Monday November 5th.


7 Pentacles

Here we evaluate the results of all the work that's gone into this project, whatever that project might be. The example we've been following is a writer boldly beginning her first novel and having her adventures after that, however these processes apply to almost anything you can do.

Here in 7 Pentacles our writer applies aesthetic criteria to the results of her labors and tries to figure out what is the right thing to do.

We are looking at the bottom circle in the right hand column of the Jacob's Ladder diagram. Note it has no other circle behind it or superimposed on it.

This part of the Ladder reaches down to mundane reality. This is where all that energy driving the project finally ends up manifesting in our conscious world.

The Suit of Pentacles represents the crystallization of energy -- the forming of concrete objects from philosophical abstract ideas, emotions, and actions, finally ending in something you can see, hear, touch and smell. It may be money, or what money can buy. Or it might be a tool -- or an obstacle you have created for yourself to overcome. It might even be a conundrum to consider so you will leap to a new level of spiritual insight.

This crystallized energy property of matter (yes, once again we're talking pure mysticism) is the reason the laws of magic say that it makes a difference what you say aloud while stirring the stew, what you mutter while hammering a nail, what you wish while quilting the baby's blanket, what you imagine while building a cabinet.

Things built with the power of intention (Wands), emotion, (Cups), and skilled action (Swords), manifest as an object which can outlast similar objects, be treasured by generations, have meaning when viewed in a museum, be studied in universities for hundreds of years, -- or simply change the world.

Compare 7 Pentacles with the 7 of Swords, Cups and Wands. 7 is associated with the various astrological meanings of Venus. Venus rules the natural second house, Taurus (money, and all concrete personal assets) but also the 7th House of personal relationships, Libra.

So 7 Pentacles is not so much about money alone, but rather where in your personal hierarchy of values you place "money." What are you willing to do for money? What won't you do for money? Would you promise to sell your grandmother into slavery? If so, would you deliver?

7's are about values, and those personal subconscious values are inevitably expressed in your personal aesthetic sense -- what you consider pretty, what you find funny, what you see as entertaining, what makes you cry, what makes you angry, what offends you. All that and more reveal what and who you really are, rather than who your parents wanted you to be or who you want the world to think you are.

All of your subconscious motivations, values and internal conflicts become concrete and externalized in 7 Pentacles.

Oh, here comes another cliche. As you sow; so shall yee reap.

That sums up the 7 Pentacles so we should just quit there. But who today knows what that means? There are so many thirty somethings who have hardly ever heard that phrase, as it is banned from television because, not only is it a cliche, it has religious associations. Besides, few today even sow a garden, and many 20 somethings don't know the difference between "sew" and "sow."

A family's very survival used to depend on sowing and reaping. Today people think reaping is done with a huge, expensive machine made by Caterpillar. The metaphor is broken.

But like, "As Above; So Below," "As you sow; so shall yee reap" is a maxim of the magical view of the universe. What you do has consequences that are directly relevant to your soul's journey through life.

And as noted in previous chapters, the Tarot based model of the universe is entirely rooted in Free Will. It is by your own, personal Free Will that you choose your actions.

Unfortunately, you rarely get to choose the consequences your actions produce. Even if you are trained in the methods of concentration and invocation used by practitioners of magic, and you use them, you still don't always get what you intend.

The subconscious mind projects the results of personal values into the material world, not the conscious mind. And that subconscious intention is the crop that grows as a result of actions.

But it isn't quite that simple, even at our Intermediate Level. The conscious mind may oppose the subconscious (and don't forget the levels of spirit and soul -- in the advanced study, you may learn about the 7 levels of soul within a human soul.)

If the conscious opposes the subconscious or has a different agenda, the subconscious may not be able to manifest its product cleanly against that interference. So looking at the material world result of a person's actions does not tell you (exactly) what that person's subconscious intended.

There's no way to reverse-engineer the results of an action to discover the "intent" behind the action because the result is a composite of many factors, and not all those factors originate within the individual who acted way back up there in the Swords processes.

Let's look in on our writer who gritted her teeth and started writing her first novel in Ace of Swords, had her packaging go all awry, finally began another novel in Ace of Pentacles and built a career in 4 Pentacles then lost her confidence in 5 Pentacles only to be offered a plum of a film option in 6 Pentacles.

In 7 Pentacles, she's sitting at the kitchen table over a cold, stale cup of coffee holding the pen with which to sign the option contract her agent negotiated for her.

She's been all over the web reading up on authors who have had films made of their books.

She's re-read some of the books then watched the films. She can see in her mind's eye what a horrible travesty of her book this film will be.

She just has to sign to get the money which she really needs. She remembers that striking moment of inspiration when she decided to write her first novel in Ace of Swords, opened the word processing file and stared at the blank page.

Ideas had been there for years, maybe decades. But in that moment, all the theory (Wands) and yearning (Cups) became the action (Swords) of typing a title.

It took all her courage to type those first words. But "Nothing ventured; nothing gained" so she made her fingers move.

In this moment, sitting over this option contract, knowing what it really means, that first moment of typing her very first words of fiction and this moment of signing her name, signing away creative control (because it's take it or leave it time), are connected without any intervening moments. That first letter she typed feels like it was just yesterday.

This is her dream. It's come true.


And that's what stops her. Her consciously espoused values and what her subconscious has projected into the world don't exactly match.

And now, when it's too late, she realizes that the reason she has to surrender creative control of what amounts to the most important thing she owns (her family is more important but she doesn't own them) is not what she has done -- but rather what she has not done.

She wanted the "big bucks" -- but she didn't stop in her headlong plunge to get these books into print to develop the skills and credentials that would allow her to be trusted to write the script. She had in fact, never really visualized this moment when the option would be before her.

And it's not a contract to make the movie -- it's only an option. Which means the movie might never be made. Nothing may come of this. That's a lesson she learned in 5 Pentacles -- not to be so cocksure she knows what she's doing.

But in 6 Pentacles she learned a lesson hammered home into her subconscious by love which she is now trying mightily to assimilate. Though there were people who scoffed and scorned her novel, there were also those who loved it. Those are the people she wrote it for; those who would understand it.

Remember, this is the author who, when her cover and even her byline were totally messed up by the publisher, adopted the screwed up byline and appeared on local cable TV to give unstintingly of her experiences to those who hadn't yet reached that point.

In 6 Pentacles, something was given back to her, and now she is looking at the prospects opened by that gift of love. And she has to evaluate what all this means.

She can extrapolate events in a straight line from here. She knows what seeing that messed up cover and byline felt like. She knows what the total rejection of 5 Pentacles felt like. She doesn't want to experience that again by seeing the travesty this option will create of her novel.

But in 6 Pentacles, she learned an even deeper lesson.

She learned that life in this world isn't a straight line you can extrapolate like a novel plot. This isn't "Murder, She Wrote" or a "Star Trek" episode. This is real.

Events have meaning. Decisions have consequences. Everything has a price. But the connections between those elements are rarely clear.

And here's the value she has to apply to make her decision about whether to sell her soul for money to feed her family.

To what extent should we, as individuals, act to shape our own destiny -- and to what extent should we bow to a Higher Power?

At what point does humility become pride?

Who are we to know what any given event or opportunity means?

Maybe the director of this film will cherish her heart and soul -- maybe that relationship will lead to a second marriage, the birth of children who will change the world for the better?

Maybe her heart she has poured into this novel will be set on a shelf and forgotten. Maybe an award winning blockbuster film will be made that thematically says the opposite of what she, herself believes. And for that, according to this option, she might get paid residuals for years to come.

Knowing how she arrived at this moment, willy-nilly, on the wings of a hope and a prayer, on naive certainty she knew what she was doing, on sacrifice of her paying job to write these novels, knowing she didn't do this on purpose, she knows she can't consciously impose her choice of what will happen as a result of her next action. Furthermore, she's learned that total control of her world by herself might not be the best possible idea.

So she sits over her cold coffee, cream congealing, pen poised, and ponders.

What she's really doing is letting the lesson of love learned in 6 Pentacles soak into her subconscious and change her on a level she can't consciously reach.

The lesson of love in 6 Pentacles, just like the lesson of Love in 6 Swords, has its roots in the harrowing experience of the previous 5 process, which couldn't have happened had nothing been grown in the preceding 4 process, and so on back to the origin in Ace of Wands.

The philosophical abstracts upon which she's founded her life are sweeping through her mind, dragging waves of emotion in their wake, which cause jittering jerks of action toward signing, not signing, swishing the coffee around in its mug, glances at the clock.

She has to sum it all up and make a value judgement.

If she hasn't the energy to form that judgement (either a yes, or a resounding no), or if she's conditioned against forming value judgements (if she hasn't practiced by judging the values of others) she will become trapped in a 7 Pentacles Reversed situation.

All that she's endured from Ace of Swords on down will have produced valid work, good novels that entertained thousands, but she will have nothing to show for it all and will have to start a new project, perhaps a new career.

It is the forming of the judgement that is the process here -- not "getting the right answer."
We search incessantly for the right answer. We are conditioned from early grades in school to find the right answer, to get the right answers on tests, to be right.

We can spend our whole life searching for that one and only right answer.

"What does this Tarot card actually mean?"

"What should I do now?"

"What will happen to me next month?"

We ask that kind of question never suspecting that the formulation of the question leads us away from useful answers (not "right" answers; useful answers).

Having brought a project down from Ace of Wands, through Cups, into Swords where action is taken, and now deep into Pentacles -- here, in 7 Pentacles we have to figure out what we've learned, what we have actually produced, how what we've learned has changed us so that what we've produced is no longer a valid representation of what lies within.

We may learn here in 7 Pentacles that questions about values and relationships don't have answers, but rather like algebra, they have solutions.

Venus represents the subjective reality of our personal, internal life and the subconscious drives that govern (not control, govern) our personal relationships.

What is the "right" thing to do at a decision-moment like signing a coveted contract is a question that has a solution -- but no "answer."

It's not arithmetic. It's not a calculation. But it's not random either.

What this author does in this moment will have consequences. There will be a link between her action at this point and the ultimate consequence, but the nature of that ultimate consequence arises more from Divine Will than from Human Will (though both are involved).

To sign or not to sign isn't the question.

No matter what she does, she may have vast financial success or end up dying as a street person. There is no "right" answer to this kind of question.

But the question must be answered. To refuse to answer is in fact an answer and will have consequences.

So, if it doesn't matter "What" you do -- then what does matter?
Harmony. Peace.

That is ultimately what Venus is all about, and the 7's moments are Venus moments. They are moments when you take all the experiences that have come before in all these processes we've discussed and synthesize them into beauty.

To get the optimum consequence from this moment, (not right, not wrong, not best, not avoiding disaster, not defying disaster, just optimizing your performance in your personal, subjective life) -- you must use all that's come before this moment to bring your conscious and subconscious minds into harmony if not actual agreement.

You must internalize Love (the 6's) and love yourself.

All relationships are rooted in your own love of yourself, your own ability to have compassion for your tormented subconscious. To the extent that you love yourself, you will be able to love your spouse and children. To the extent you have compassion for your subconscious, you will have compassion for your intimate associates. That's the secret of solid novel plotting.

And that's why our author is sitting there so long, pen poised over this opportunity of a lifetime, hesitating.

She has to write her name in a moment when her subconscious, conscious, mind and soul and spirit are all in harmony. She has to be at peace internally to create peace as a result of this document.

That's it. Magic is subjective. Love is the glue that holds the universe together.

Having been through 3 previous 8's and 3 previous 9's and 3 previous 10's, she has a good notion what challenges await her in 8 Pentacles, 9 Pentacles, and 10 Pentacles. (You should by now, too.)

She knows that if she acts without internal conflict, she will be able to negotiate through the coming mine-fields to the end-of-life experience she prefers.

She has learned a lot (maybe not all there is, but a lot) about internal conflict by crafting it for her characters and writing about the results. She's learned the shape of the world by doing that, but she knows she's no hero. It takes more than she's got to do what she knows she must.
So where's it going to come from?

Magic is subjective. In the mystical realms, it doesn't matter what you do nearly so much as it matters who you are when you do it.

Remember, your values, summed up in the 7's, tell the world "who" you are by determining what you like, what repels you, what makes you laugh, etc. And those values bespeak "who" you are to the universe, as you act.

So whether she signs or not won't determine her fate or the fate of her novels.
But what she thinks and feels and does as she signs will determine at least some of the outcome, if not the path to that outcome. And what she thinks, feels and does is determined by those internal values, by her Identity.

Still, this one single act of signing an option contract won't change things so very much. Life is made up of a myriad acts. The policy which generates those acts (determined by her values, thus by her Identity) will ultimately determine the significance of what happens -- but it won't determine exactly what happens.

Your destiny isn't graven in stone. You craft it yourself, but you don't craft it by yourself.

Venus is about relationships and values, two of the ingredients necessary to shape your destiny because they are defining elements in your Identity.

Back to the ancient wisdom encoded in the weary, shunned cliche.

As you sow; so shall you reap. Be careful what you pray for; you might get it. Better late than never.Neither borrower nor lender be.

The results of our efforts that come to fruition in 7 Pentacles are determined by the aim we took at our goals in Ace of Wands, then Ace of Cups, then Ace of Swords, then Ace of Pentacles, and by the level of harmony within us at the time of Ace of Wands. That was many processes and experiences ago!

Crafting a life is like astrogation -- a very tiny increment of an angle difference in course at blast off to a distant galaxy can result in arriving at a very different galaxy. The 7's allow for mid-course corrections in life.

So whether she signs or not doesn't matter nearly so much as how much internal harmony she has achieved because of the experience of Love and Charity in 6 Pentacles.

If she acts in harmony now, the film gets made, maybe it doesn't resemble her novel very much, but it says what she became a writer to say. The message reaches far and wide and makes a difference in some lives. The world is enriched and her next novel provides enough new contracts that she can finish a good career and retire.

Or perhaps the film never gets made, she inherits a fortune she never expected (or wins the lottery) and can retire in comfort.

If she's in internal angst and conflict instead of harmony, if she's held motionless over this option contract because she must bludgeon her subconscious into submission, then most likely she will sign and the film will get made.

But it won't resemble her novel at all, says the opposite of what she personally values, and it bombs at the box office, ruining her reputation as a writer. Her 3rd and 4th novels are given no publicity. She can't sell a 5th no matter what she does. And she wonders if she did the right thing trying to become a writer.

Yet another possibility is that the film gets made, says the opposite of what she values, and is a smashing success. But her subsequent novels don't live up to the promise of the film because deep down, she simply doesn't believe what the film says and can't mimmick that philosophical stance.

Bottom line: you can't guide your life on purpose. You may have an intuitive sense of what your life is or will be, and you may actually end up at that point, but it won't be conscious choice that creates that end. Nor is it destiny.

The theory behind the Wisdom behind the Tarot is all about the soul and the spirit, the intangible part of the human being that survives death of the body. The Tarot is the "Royal Road" to Wisdom, not material success, nor even "happiness."

And so the cards have no "meaning" at the intermediate level and there is no "right answer" nor any roadmap to destiny or way to avoid disaster.

Still, it isn't random. It isn't futile. It isn't all just smoke and mirrors. And it most especially is not a matter of opinion with anyone's opinion being equal to anyone else's.

There is, this ancient wisdom insists, a very well defined objective reality out there, and it is within human purvue to apprehend that objective reality. The shape of it, and its rules of function, are encoded in the Tree of Life and the extension ladder of 4 Trees called Jacob's Ladder.

When you stop obsessing on finding "the" meaning of Tarot cards or a Reader who is "good," or "psychic," you will be able to place your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder that leads to solutions, not answers.

Because there are so many variables in life, there are no "right" answers, no one thing that works for everyone all the time. But there are workable, usable, general solutions to common equations.

Most of your life, even though it is unique, is just exactly like everyone else's life. That's why film makers and novel publishers want stories that are identical to successful ones - but also new, fresh, startling and unique.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg