Tarot

Deathly Delights For Friday the 13th

It’s Friday the 13th again and for some the day is seen as unlucky, for others it means nothing, and for people like me it’s a time to dip into mythology and try out a few recipes!

13 is sometimes considered the Devil’s number, but in a tarot deck the Devil card is actually 15. It is the Death card that is number 13. Ancient Egyptians believed there were 12 stages of life and the 13th stage was death and transformation in the afterlife. For them, 13 was a lucky number. The number 12 is often associated with completion, so it makes sense that the number 13 can symbolise death and rebirth into a new cycle. This is part of the Death card’s meaning – transformation and renewal.

Death

The Dracula Tarot

One of the key symbols in the Death card is the white rose. White roses epitomise purity, humility, reverence and innocence. They symbolise new beginnings and are therefore popular at both weddings and funerals.

For this Friday the 13th, I thought I would play around with the rose from the tarot Death card and the dessert called Death by Chocolate. There are so many ways this could have gone, but I really felt like a nurturing milk drink. I concocted two Death by Chocolate Delights – because I really couldn’t choose between them 🙂

Rose Water Iced Chocolate

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Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rose water (or to taste)
1 scoop chocolate ice cream

Instructions
Place the milk and rose water in a glass and stir until combined. Add the chocolate ice cream.

Chocolate and Rose Water Milkshake

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Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rose water (or to taste)
3 scoops chocolate ice cream

Instructions
Add the milk, rose water and ice cream to a blender or milkshake maker. Blend until smooth.

April Fool’s Day Treat

I love April Fool’s Day – and not because I play pranks on people 🙂

April Fool’s Day is my unofficial Name Day. It’s a day when I celebrate who, what and where I am. It’s also my self-appointed New Year’s Day. It’s a time when I look back on the year that has passed and make plans for the year ahead. It’s also the day I started my blog – two years ago!

Why have I chosen April Fool’s Day as my very own special day? Well because of tarot. The Fool is the first card in the major arcana. It is the Fool who journeys through the arcana and learns the lessons of the cards. The Fool is so important symbolically that it is the only major arcana to be represented in modern day playing cards (as The Joker).

Fool

Renfield and Wolf
The Dracula Tarot

The Fool card traditionally features a brightly dressed young man standing on the edge of a cliff. His face is lifted up, not watching where he is going. His belongings are wrapped in a sack and tied to a stick slung over his right shoulder. In his left hand he holds a white rose. A dog plays at his feet while the sun shines brightly. Will he step off the precipice and fall, will he leap to the other side, or will he turn around? The Fool begins the journey of the Tarot with no knowledge of what will be. Every April Fool’s Day I too begin a Fool’s journey into the unknown.

In honour of April Fool’s Day pranks, the tarot Fool’s dog and my own very special dogs, I have created a tricky recipe for both Fools and Dogs. The oatmeal cookies below have been cut to look like dog treats and are served in a dog bowl. Surprise your friends by serving them these tricky treats 🙂

Doggie Treats

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Ingredients
1 + 1/4 cups ground oatmeal
2/3 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
65g unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

Method
Preheat oven to 200C / 395F.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Combine the oatmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until combined. Add the egg and milk and continuing mixing with your hands for 3-4 minutes or until the dough comes together into a ball. The dough should be firm enough to roll out. If it is too firm add a bit of milk, if it is too soft add a bit of flour.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board and roll dough out to about 5mm thickness. Use a dog bone shaped cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Repeat with any remaining dough.
Place on prepared trays and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Allow to rest for 5 minutes before placing on racks to cool completely.

A Fool’s Journey

A year ago I answered the question – “what day should I start my blog?” The answer was April Fool’s Day.

A year later another question has been answered – “will anyone be interested in what I have to say?” Happily the answer is yes!

Like the Tarot Fool, I took a leap of faith and leapt into the world of blogging. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I embarked on this Fool’s Journey. I hoped people would like what I wrote and that I would get a few followers. I also hoped that I would find people I liked and could follow. I have been blown away by the encouragement I’ve received and the friends I have made. Visiting other blogs and reading what others have to say has also been fantastic.

What has surprised me is how cathartic blogging has been. Writing about painful moments in my past and present has facilitated healing I had not expected. As I wrote each piece, I felt burdens melt away on the tide of written words. Each piece made me feel lighter and happier. I was stunned and delighted as years of anger and resentment were transformed. I was also surprised by how my words resonated with others. I have been humbled by the responses and the amount of support I have received. I’m still learning the ropes, but I am so happy I began this Fool’s Journey.

One of things I have loved the most is sharing my passion for food, recipes, cookbooks, eating and drinking! Nothing brings people together better than good food and drink 🙂 I recently wrote of a cookbook that was lost to me decades ago and how happy I was when I found another copy.

Another of the recipes I couldn’t wait to try from this cookbook was Istanbul Eggs. The recipe calls for eggs to be simmered in olive oil and Turkish coffee for 30 minutes. Yum! As it is Easter time I thought I would make them. The eggs were lovely but lacked the Turkish coffee flavour I was expecting. To get more flavour into the eggs I decided to combine this recipe with one called Beid Hamine, a slow cooked Egyptian egg dish with Jewish roots. Rather than 30 minutes, the eggs would now be simmered for 8 hours! The eggs ended up having a subtle coffee flavour and turned a lovely nutty brown. I am happy to say that combining the two recipes was a success 🙂

Slow Cooked Istanbul Eggs

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Special Instructions
Make these eggs the day before you need them as they need to simmer for 8 hours.

Ingredients
4 eggs
1 + 1/2 tablespoons Turkish coffee grounds
1/4 cup olive oil
ground cumin (optional)

Instructions
Add the eggs, coffee and oil to a large saucepan.
Pour in enough water to cover the eggs by 5cm.
Bring to the boil then reduce heat to the lowest possible setting.
Partially cover the pot and simmer for 8 hours.
Check to make sure the eggs don’t boil dry and top up with water if needed.

To Serve
Drain and rinse the eggs before peeling and slicing in half.
Sprinkle lightly with cumin if desired.
Serve at room temperature.

Long Night’s Journey Into Day

Those of us in the Southern Hemisphere will be celebrating the Winter Solstice tonight – the longest night of the year. The long, cold, dark night gestates and finally gives birth to the reborn Sun. The old gives way to the new and the night gives way to the day. The days will now get longer and the nights shorter until the Summer Solstice. On that night the reverse happens as the Wheel turns and begins its solar, lunar and seasonal dance anew.

When I think of the Winter Solstice I think of what the longest night would mean to – well – to vampires 🙂 Night is when vampires come alive so the longest night must be their favourite. It certainly is one of mine. Years ago I saw a frightening movie, 30 Days of Night. In this film vampires take over an Alaskan town just as the sun sets and won’t rise again for 30 days – that is one long night! But just how important is it for vampires to avoid the Sun?

In The Dracula Tarot I explored the sun and vampires through the tarot Sun card. Below is a condensed piece that draws on my analysis of Dracula through both the Sun card and the Hermit card – both key cards for the Winter Solstice.

I seek not gaiety nor mirth, not the bright voluptuousness of much sunshine

I seek not gaiety nor mirth, not the bright voluptuousness of much sunshine

In many folkloric myths, the power of the vampire may be dulled during the day, but the sun does not kill them. Many early vampire stories have their vampires walking about during daylight hours, although they do prefer the night. This is particularly so with Stoker’s Dracula. Although it first appears as though the Count is vulnerable to sunlight, this is not the case. Dracula’s sun sensitivity is mainly evident in the first few chapters during Jonathan’s stay at the castle, but when in England, Dracula is seen in the daylight a number of times with no ill effects. Although restricted in sunlight, Dracula is certainly not as vulnerable to the sun as popular mythology would have us believe. Dracula can move about during the day, but like most vampires, he prefers the night. The power of the sun in Dracula appears to be linked to spirit, vitality and new life – much like the tarot Sun card.

In England, Dracula begins to personify the spirit of the tarot Sun. Dracula’s excitement at being in a thriving country is reflected in the number of daylight appearances he makes. Jonathan spies Dracula in daylight, following a woman who will no doubt be his feast. Dracula also visits the zoo, confronts the vampire hunters and books passage on a ship, all during daylight hours. Dracula’s forays into the sun coincide with the injection of new blood into his supernatural body. In England, Dracula is surrounded by people who are easily his prey. Glutted on an abundance of human blood, Dracula not only begins to look younger, but he is stronger and more able to tolerate the sun’s rays. Although Dracula is predominantly a night creature, he is nonetheless free to wander about during the day. Dracula’s trip to England reflects the tarot Sun card as the journey is filled with possibilities. For a brief moment in his life, Dracula experiences the pleasures of being in the world, hunting in freedom and walking in the sun.

It may seem strange to picture Dracula as a man about town in Victorian England, walking the streets in full sunlight. But don’t worry, Dracula, like most vampires, is still a creature of darkness. You can’t take the black cape and inner darkness away from Dracula, no matter how long he spends in the sun. The key to Dracula, as with most vampires, is that he loves to brood! Vampires’ long lives and self-reflecting natures link them to the tarot Hermit card.

I love the shade and the shadow, and would be alone with my thoughts when I may

I love the shade and the shadow, and would be alone with my thoughts when I may

The Hermit represents reflections on the past, present and future, and Dracula is no stranger to such musings. During his stay at Castle Dracula, Jonathan is privy to Dracula’s meditations on all these aspects of his life. The longevity of the undead vampire allows us a unique insight into a figure that has experienced the passage of centuries. Dracula has watched, experienced and reflected upon his growth from celebrated hero into shunned vampire.

When Dracula looks into the mirror, he casts no reflection. As a soulless creature he cannot reflect upon himself or see his vampiric changes. Dracula must seek such outer reflections in the faces of others. Sadly what is mostly reflected back to him is the hatred, fear and loathing of his true vampiric countenance – his unreflected mirror self.

So on this Long Night’s Journey into Day, what do you see when you look in the mirror?

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Blood, Life, Death & Resurrection – Stoker Style

While many around the world are celebrating Easter Sunday, some of us are commemorating today as the 102nd anniversary of Bram Stoker’s Death. So what better way to honour Bram’s Death Day than by briefly exploring the Easter message of blood, life, death and resurrection in Dracula? Three key characters who experience this journey in distinctly different ways are Lucy, Mina and Dracula himself.

Lucy – The Classic Victim

Lucy is the first of Dracula’s victims in England and experiences a traditional transformation into a vampire. Bitten when sleepwalking one evening, Dracula returns to her periodically to feed. Although her friends and family try to help her fight the vampire, they ultimately fail. Lucy dies, a victim of Dracula’s constant feeding. After her death, Lucy is resurrected into a “Bloofer Lady” – a beautiful vampire who drinks the blood of children. She is hunted, staked and killed, dying a second time. Lucy’s soul is returned to her body by the shedding of her unnatural, vampiric blood. Lucy’s journey is traumatic but conventional. (at least conventional in a “bitten by vampires” sense!)

Mina – The Living Undead

Mina’s slow transformation into a vampire is very different from Lucy’s. Mina is bitten by Dracula and forced to drink his blood. This is a ritual Van Helsing calls “The Vampire’s Baptism of Blood”. Dracula offers Mina eternal life through the drinking of his blood. The symbolism to Communion is obvious. What is interesting about Mina is that she starts to change into a vampire without physically dying. She is therefore turning into a living vampire. Her vampiric transformation is stopped just in time by the death of Dracula.

Dracula – The Unknown

We are never told how Dracula became a vampire. Was he bitten like Lucy? Was he involved in a Vampire Baptism like Mina? Did he learn the secret to vampirism at the Scholomance – the Devil’s school? All we know is that Dracula was once a human Prince and warrior and then sometime, somehow, he became a vampire. Dracula’s death also poses a conundrum. All the vampires in the novel are killed by having a wooden stake pierced into their heart. Dracula’s death is slightly different. Jonathan first slits Dracula’s throat and then Quincey stabs Dracula in the heart with a metal knife, not a wooden stake. Dracula’s body crumbles and vanishes, but is he really gone? Could Dracula have survived his destruction? If you’ve ever read a vampire book or have seen a vampire movie then the answer is a definite YES! Vampires are really hard to kill and the King of the Vampires is especially hard to keep nailed down.

Since it is Easter, we should explore another way that Dracula can be reborn and that is through the birth of a Son. Van Helsing calls Dracula “the father or furtherer of a new order of beings, whose road must lead through Death, not Life”. A year after Dracula’s death, Mina gives birth to her and Jonathan’s son. They name him Quincey to honour the fact that Quincey Morris died to save Mina. Yet many questions remain. Quincey’s mother is someone who has had intimate blood relations with a master vampire and almost became a living vampire herself. Can she ever be truly free of her curse? Does her blood carry any vampiric taint? Could some tainted vampiric blood have been passed onto Quincey? Has Dracula “furthered” or “ fathered” the vampiric curse through Quincey? If Mina is fully redeemed by the death of Dracula then there is no issue with Quincey. However, if she isn’t fully redeemed …..

Bram may have left this world, but Dracula, his most famous creation, lives on.

Three of Stakes

dracula coming to whitby

If you’re really interested in this stuff, check out my Dracula Tarot book and deck 🙂

Moveable Feasts, Moveable Meanings

Many, many years ago I was watching a cooking show by Geoff Jansz. He was doing an Easter Simnel Cake and explained that the eleven marzipan balls that top the cake were representatives for the twelve disciples – Judas was naturally omitted. Jansz proceeded to put a 12th ball on the cake explaining that “two thousand years is a long time to hold a grudge”. Once I finished rolling on the floor laughing, I researched the cake and made my own version. I even made a cupcake variation!

simnel cake

simnel cake

This made me think about Easter, food, religion and tarot – popular topics for me.

When I think of Easter I think of the Tarot card the Hierophant. Hierophant is an ancient Greek word for someone who is skilled in the art of interpreting sacred and holy texts. The Rider-Waite Hierophant card features a man sitting on a throne between two pillars. He wears a crown on his head and his red gown and white shoes are both decorated with crosses. The Hierophant holds a scepter in his left hand, his right hand points to the heavens. At his feet are two crossed keys. Two figures kneel before him, one wearing a gown decorated with red roses, the other gown is decorated with white lilies. The Hierophant stands for conformity, education, good counsel and religious guidance. He is the link between Heaven and Earth and is the male spiritual counterpart to the female High Priestess. The name Hierophant may be of ancient Greek origin but the traditional symbology of the tarot card is distinctly Christian, which is why many decks call this card the Pope.

When you think of the Pope, the last thing you may think of is food. Yet food is intimately linked to religion. From the Christian ritual of communion to Pagan feasts, food has been one way of communing with the Gods. Easter is one of the most religious and food oriented celebrations on the Christian calendar. It is called a Moveable Feast as, unlike Christmas which is celebrated on a fixed date, Easter’s date changes yearly. The reason for Easter’s moveability is that it is based on the cycle of the moon and the Spring Equinox. To confuse the issue, Orthodox and Western Christianity argue about how to measure when these astronomical events occur. That’s why you sometimes have two Easters. Like the Hierophant himself, Easter’s dependence on lunar, solar and seasonal cycles harks back to ancient Pagan festivities.

Before Christians began arguing about full moons and equinoxes, Pagans around the world had been celebrating equinox festivals for ages. The Northern Hemisphere Spring Equinox ritual is a celebration of life and rebirth after the harshness of Winter. Christianity easily adapted its message of life, death and resurrection to this festival. Easter therefore incorporates the foods, ingredients, and rituals of many diverse cultures.

Last week I posted my recipe for Coffee Lamb Cutlets which can be an Easter dish as it combines the symbolism of lamb with that most religious and worshipful of all foods Coffee! I’d love to hear about your Easter traditions and recipes – whatever their origin.

So to bring this discussion full circle I will return to the tarot Hierophant. When I was creating my Dracula Tarot there was only one choice for this card – Abraham Van Helsing. The most famous of all vampire hunters combines an intellectual understanding of medicine, science and philosophy with arcane knowledge on the supernatural and a deep belief in religion, Christianity and the might of God. He uses the power and knowledge of the Hierophant to save souls and destroy the vampire Dracula. So what would Van Helsing’s favourite Easter food be? Hot Cross Buns! I can just imagine Van Helsing warding off Dracula with a large yeast bun 🙂

Hierophant

the dracula tarot by vicky vladic & anna gerraty

Hot Cross Bun

chocolate hot cross bun

 

 

April Fool’s Day – What’s In A Name?

I don’t know if other bloggers had the same issue as me but one of my main concerns has always been “what day should I launch”!

It could be the Jungian or mythologist in me, or just a reflection of my love of symbolism, but April Fool’s Day just seemed right.

Why? Well, April Fool’s Day has a myriad of mythology behind it. Some to do with Fool’s being King’s for a day, some to do with Spring and some to do with New Year’s Day. It is this aspect that appeals to me.

My connection between April Fool’s Day and New Year’s Day is tarot. More than a quarter of a century ago I met my first tarot deck. While it wasn’t love at first sight, it quickly turned into love and we have been happy together ever since. You can read about this first meeting in my chapter “Bewitched by Tarot” which was originally published in Practising the Witch’s Craft: Real Magic Under a Southern Sky, edited by Douglas Ezzy. As the Fool begins the journey of the tarot, I chose this symbolic Fool’s Day to be my day for starting a New Year.

The first momentous decision I made on April Fool’s day was in 2003. After almost a lifetime of wanting to change my last name, I finally did it! Why didn’t I like my birth name?

  • It wasn’t an ancestral name. My family come from a part of Eastern Europe that was colonised and as part of that process they had their name changed to reflect the nationality of the colonisers. Cultural identity is a big issue for me, one I will come back to many times here. But in relation to my last name, I hated people thinking I had ties to a cultural background that wasn’t my own. I always dreamed of having a name that reflected my ancestry but could never come up with one.
  • Personal identity is an interesting thing. I’ve loved the esoteric world since I was a child. Vampires remain my first love but as I studied more I became fascinated with witchcraft, paganism, astrology, numerology and tarot. I also loved myths and legends, particularly stories about ancient Gods and Goddesses. Wanting to reflect this I often went by the name Vicky Venus, in honour of the ruler of my astrological sign Taurus. I loved the initials VV and in my punk days I adopted the last names Vodka & Valium – but they are stories for another time! But what I really wanted was a name that had a vampire connection. Vicky Vampire just wasn’t me so I waited until a name came – it was a long wait!
  • The vampire connection. A large chunk of my world came crashing down at the turn of the millennium. I didn’t deal with it well but I came through it. What I needed most to move forward was a new name, a new identity, a new me. I wanted to be free of the past, free of old connections, free of family ties. It was late in 2002 and I was working on the Dracula Tarot. I heard a voice whisper the name Vladic. The word came with an image showing me the spelling. It clicked immediately. Finally, I had my last name! It was a VV, it was Eastern European and most importantly it had a vampire connection. Vlad is the first name of Dracula. I thought it was ironic that I would be taking his first name as my last name. On April’s Fool’s Day 2003 I handed in my change of name form. When the form was stamped I felt a chill run down my spine. Vicky Vladic was born and I have been her ever since

So now, 11 years later, another first is about to be born – my very first blog.

What can you expect to find here? Lots of different things.

  • I am a writer specialising in vampirism, tarot, witchcraft and cookery – so far!
  • I have a PhD in film theory, Jungian theory and witchcraft.
  • I have published The Dracula Tarot book and deck, illustrated by Australian artist Anna Gerraty.
  • I have just finished a cookbook which I am getting ready to send to publishers and agents.
  • I am working on a second cookbook with American artist Anne Belov.
  • I love all things vampire.
  • I love all things esoteric especially tarot, astrology, numerology, paganism and witchcraft.
  • I have a keen interest in politics, the environment and social issues.
  • I am involved in animal welfare and sponsor giant pandas, red pandas, and an Atlantic puffin.
  • I have dogs.
  • I have a long term partner.
  • I am also an amateur photographer specialising in food & drink, still life, architectural, gothic and nature photography.

You can expect me to talk about all these things and more.

Photos will also be part of this blog.

So come and join the fun at vsomethingspeaks.

I’d love to hear from you!

You can also come and visit me at my website vsomethingesoterics or on RedBubble