Posted in diversity, multiculturalism, women trailblazers

Women Leading, All Colors, All Races

Northern snowbanks are
mother earth is quaking
continuous warnings
mudslides, floods
and fires
while Washington keeps pumping out liars.

Hush hush now children
we’ll hold you tight with our hugs
don’t look now babies
lest marauders grab you from us,
those robed and slick-suited thugs.

Hush hush now children
listen while we shield you as best we can
under the inky dark and starlit night
a band of SHEros approaches, we scan
the globe from celestial heights,
we are here, the goddess clan
we emerge with impenetrable force,

our warriors beside us. We are the colors of all races

we are the faces of all faces

we are red, yellow, black, and white

we are women and we are leading the fight.

Posted in artists, multiculturalism, oracle cards, Story, tarot, writers

The Lighter Side of Tarot: Lovers and Goddesses with Kris Waldherr


Hello good people. I missed writing for you! Hope you all are well these days. Strange times.

Back in July we talked about fears people have with tarot imagery. Tarot imagery is based on legends, our lives, and the subconscious. Tarot themes can be about real events, but we don’t have to be led around by worry.

As a remedy for tarot anxiety, simply take a look at the oodles of non-traditional decks out there such as The Lover’s Tarot and The Goddess Tarot. As promised, I’m introducing you to a fascinating high priestess of creativity, Kris Waldherr.

Kris Waldherr is an award-winning artist, author and card deck creator. She’s also a mother and a traveller. I’ve used her inspiring multicultural decks for years. It’s my pleasure to talk with her this week.



Here is my Mini View:

SR: What got you started with tarot?

KW: I saw my first tarot deck as a small child, which was owned by an older cousin whom I regarded as infinitely sophisticated and glamorous. I had no idea what the cards were about, but I felt drawn to the art and the mystery. Later in college, I learned to read from the Palladini Aquarian Tarot deck; I studied art with David Palladini at the School of Visual Arts, which was an interesting experience. 

SR: What are your favorite symbols in tarot and why?

KW: Believe it or not, I love swords. I think the suit of swords  


gets a bad rap, thanks to the intense imagery of the Rider-Waite Tarot. (Ten of Swords, anyone?) Maybe it’s a midlife thing, but whenever swords appear in a reading, I see them as an invitation to take charge of a situation and literally cut out the crap—there’s no longer any time to waste. In the major arcana, these days I especially identify with the Empress, now that I have a garden of my own. Related: I also love the Nine of Pentacles. 



SR: How do you feel women can benefit from studying tarot?

KW: I think *anyone* can benefit from studying the tarot. It teaches a person to trust their inner voice, which often knows more than our left-brain oriented society is willing to acknowledge. However, for women especially, learning to read tarot can be valuable. It encourages us to keep our own counsel, instead of ceding our authority to others, and helps us to view our lives in a more detached manner. That written, there’s no substitute for consulting professionals when it comes to legal or medical situation—and this goes for anyone, not just women.


Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Kris. What an honor to be able to continue the tarot discussion. I can’t wait to do more posts about oracles.

Discussion: Is the goddess thing just for women? What is the deal with gender roles in tarot? Do they matter?

Waldherr writes in the workbook for the Goddess Tarot, “Goddesses aren’t the only women with myths of their own. Our lives all bear a story unlike anyone else’s: as rich and individual as any divinity, as full of amazing wonders and surprises, disappointments and joys.”  The divine feminine (goddess energy) is about celebrating nature and natural healing, and non-violence.

Men are also tuned into the “feminine” goddess energy and have the ability to nurture as lovers, brothers, fathers, and husbands. Male symbolism projects caring combined with virility, as well as spirituality.



Journal prompt: Find an “esoteric” non-traditional tarot deck and work with it. How do you see yourself as the protagonist (starting with The Fool card, the archetype of innocence) in the tarot journey?  

2) Write about goddess energy. Do you relate to it? Why or why not? Which goddess do you feel represents you? 


Art and images protected. Copyright © Kris Waldherr, all rights reserved


PS: I’ve read all the arguments about capitalizing the word “tarot.” I’ve decided not to capitalize it from here on. Yes when citing a noun/specific deck, but no in general discussion. :0 Please don’t give up on me.






Posted in journal prompts, journaling, memoir, multiculturalism

More from Dorm Days aka What Happens in College Stays in College

“She carries in the candles,

And lights the curtained room,

Shy in the doorway

And shy in the gloom”- Yeats

                                                                                               sue with sketch pad at dairy queen 70s

Always walking around with a sketch pad….

The woods of southern Ohio offered a treasure chest of foraging delight. A friend who was an experienced naturalist-we’ll call her *Heather Meadowlark and I set up a lean-to in the forest behind New Dorm. We  lashed cross beams at a slant  to two standing trees. Then we wove  long saplings and topped that with bark and brush for the roof. We created a tamped earth floor and gathered rushes for floor mats.  I loved that little shelter. We’d sit out there and draw and read. I’d cleared a patch of ground for a garden. We fancied ourselves going back to the land even though we were barely out of our teens nor we did know how to make a living. When everyone left the campus during breaks I stayed on to clean rooms for extra money and spend time in the woods.

Below is one of Heather’s delightful drawings that she put in my journal.

                                            sue working in the earth by heather 2 copy

Heather was strong legged, efficient, and very Type A. She was also surprisingly coy for a practical girl. One time we went on an outing with another kid from the dorm.  I watched  as Heather batted her eyelashes at the driver feigning ignorance in learning  a stick shift. She sat in the passenger’s front seat, gently holding the leather knob of the gear shift as Neil Goldblatt showed her first, second, and…yeah…third. Courting giggles erupted.  I was in the back seat rolling my eyes, waiting to get back to the dorm.  As I sat in  Neil’s BMW with its soft seats, and sporty engine, I marveled at  this guy having such a fancy car at his age and that Heather, with her framed glasses, transformed from  a nature geek into a come hither vixen with  one of the richest guys in the dorm. I bailed out as soon as  we got home, smoked a bunch of cigarettes (tobacco) and tried to work on my paper for art history. I never did ask her if the flirting lead anywhere.

So even though I played the lonely card  in my last blog, I have to say I  was surrounded by the most awesome  people.

That second year in New Dorm, some of my cohorts were Jimmy and Annie-a couple truly in  love. They lived two doors down. Think James Taylor and Carole King, the mini version. So sweet. Annie was nervous, anxious, and forever worried that her parents in New Rochelle, New York would find out about Jimmy and kick him out of her life. He was loyal to her as the day is long, and they were always together. Annie had naturally full, voluptuous lips, long before Angelina Jolie was a twinkle in her father’s eye. Annie was Jewish and Jimmy, a Gentile. Her parents wouldn’t approve.

Down the hall on the men’s side of the dorm lived  Bob a senior from New York who excelled in photography and  studied architecture. His wife, Jenny, a full blood Seneca, was smart and funny and always made us feel welcome. Friday nights were party nights. Saturday, Bob faithfully concentrated on his studies.  The college allowed them to live in the dorm because they were married and Bob was in his last year.  Jenny worked full-time in a law office in town.

Then there was sleek, sexy  Ming, from Vietnam and her Pekingese dog, Smokey. She seemed to swish rather than walk, even though she was small in stature. Actually, she buzzed. She spoke in staccato phrases.  She was always going somewhere, and never seemed to study. Her father was in a high level VIP and lived overseas  in France, I think. When he called, she jumped.

Another one in our eccentric group  was James, Neil’s roommate, with his thick sandy,uncooperative wavy hair and teddy bear body. He was tall and big, not heavy, not fat, just…large. His mouth would be set in a firm line more often than not. He never belly laughed. He had a soft side, a deep side. If I remember right, he was a Scorpio. James owned a purple velvet cape that he would put on when kids were partying. A woman had sewed the garment for him and I sensed a history there. The seamstress, a former lover perhaps, lived in North Carolina and was associated with the Grateful Dead. I wasn’t a “Deadhead” but was fascinated listening to the kids who were into the lingo and culture. The “dead” part scared me. People would read the Tibetan Book of the Dead, popular at that time but I never did read it, nor did I care much. I loved blues and jazz, zydeco and gospel. In literature I was into heavy stuff like Sartre and Nietzsche, as well as  the English romantic poets like Keats and Shelley. I was into Steinbeck-imagining myself doing my version of  Travels With Charley .

 But James was quiet for a reason. His father had died during a diving accident, an underwater death. James was with his father when this traumatic event occurred. Even though he didn’t talk about it much, I sensed a great sadness, even a feeling that he somehow was responsible because at 14, he couldn’t have saved his own father.  His eyes always held a quiet discernment; there was a certain barrier that couldn’t be crossed with James. I think he was still in love with his former flame.

Also at New Dorm, lived Sheila Rothberg, who had her own huge room near the front lobby.  Somebody had pulled strings to get her that room. She also kept to herself a lot and drew huge pastel portraits of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and was into the beat poets and Castaneda. She was allowed to have a hot plate-totally against the rules.  I’d heard rumors about manic depression, but I really didn’t know much about her. She was always pleasant but I never saw her in any art classes and she would disappear from campus from time to time.

Then there was dearest Yasmin, from Afghanistan, and her American red-haired roommate, Libby. I adored them. Yasmin was quiet and loved dancing. She had olive skin and gentle ways. She felt isolated from her country and family. I never saw anyone from her family. She worked in the mail room at the college. By the second year of college they lived off campus. We had spent hours together my first year in college. Libby had the most handsome boyfriend, whom she adored, an older guy named Steve or Rick or something. He worked in a mechanic shop in her home town in Maryland  and eventually he  broke it off with Libby. I’d never seen someone so shattered when they split. She sat at her window and cried and cried. We all felt so badly for her. Cups of tea and sympathetic cards didn’t help. She would pull herself together and go to work grilling hamburgers and serving coffee at The Lodge, then come back to her room and weep again. Dear sweet Libby. She hand embroidered intricate Celtic patterns on the pockets of our jeans, just to be nice. When I think about her, my heart still wrenches at the thought of her suffering that break up.

 “Black Dorm” was upstairs on the second floor in New Dorm. African-American students wrestled an approval from the administration and negotiated having a completely segregated wing. They had the best parties. Most of the students in that wing were dedicated to their studies. Civil rights and politics were on most of our minds, at least such topics were common with the people I knew.

  Anyway,  one brother named “Sparks” was the nicest guy and was friends with everybody. Sparks was like the big brother for the whole town. He had charisma and was one of those people whom others admire. He wasn’t stand-offish to the  few of us white kids who loved to dance at the Black Dorm parties. He called me “Lil Sis” and we spoke often about life  and the outrageously beautiful  Creole girl he was in love with over at Miami. She was a high-class beauty in pre-med.  He really loved that woman. Somehow Sparks had made it out of inner city  Detroit and the future was looking good with his track and baseball accolades. He was a health nut before everyone else got into the fad.  Women flocked to him like a movie star.

Sparks wanted to read Richard Wright’s  Native Son  and I’d told him I had a copy. One late morning after a classic Black Dorm party, I went to drop off the book. As usual, I’d listened to the fantastic local band for an hour or so,  then went back to my room and slept. I got up early and went to church at the stone chapel on campus. Every Sunday they had a jazz trio perform before the sermon. I would sit up in the balcony, wanting to be transcended.  I missed my boyfriend back home. He hadn’t called and I was bluesy-it was the usual college girl funk. So I went back over to Black Dorm and hesitated before  knocking on Spark’s door.  I heard people laughing so I left the book on the floor and turned around to leave when he hollered “come in.”  He was sitting in bed with two gorgeous sisters  Oops, sorry! They chuckled and made a joke about “don’t mind us” or “care to join?” as I closed the door quickly. I mean, I wasn’t naïve, and I certainly was no prude…but… I felt as out-of-place as a redneck in overalls at a country club gala.

And no, none of those kids were my lovers, they were my pals… the kiss and tell part will just have to remain in the reader’s mind, because during this particular chapter of the Lonely Times in the Life of Sue the hot stuff was only in my head.

Journal prompt: Write about the people in your life, past or present. How did they affect you? What do you remember most about them? You can use descriptions, but more importantly, try to give the reader a sense of who they really were to you. Pretend you are writing a screen play and these are your characters. How do they act? Talk about couples, relationships, hook-ups and breakups.

* All names changed to protect the innocent. This is a work of creative non-fiction.

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Rowland, all rights reserved.