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The butterfly is a powerful symbol of transformation because of its life cycle: the egg stage, larval stage, chrysalis stage and finally, the birth stage. Seeing a butterfly could be a sign that a metamorphosis is about to take place in some part of your life, especially if something has become stagnant or no longer is relevant. One time, in particular, I had come across a group of five swallowtail butterflies drinking salts from the mud. I knew it was a sign that I had done a lot of inner work (transformation), since I had just worked on a powerful dream with my Dream Group the night before. Our group consisted of five women; hence the five butterflies. In the ancient world, the butterfly was a symbol for the Great Mother. In Greece, the butterfly represents immortality. The Celtic peoples, as well as the early Christians, saw it as a symbol for the soul. In China, it is a symbol for conjugal happiness. To the Native Americans, the butterfly is a symbol for color, as well as joy. Take note of each color on the butterfly wing to gain a deeper understanding of its particular meaning. If this Spirit Animal makes an...

  I love the jaguar! It is my favorite among the large cats because of its beauty and, incredible strength and power; it is also fearless. I often call on the Spirit Animal of Jaguar when I am in a difficult place and need a large dose of courage. When things are not going according to plan, it’s all too easy to get sucked into F.E.A.R. (false evidence appearing real). Getting control of your thoughts (ego) and reactions is essential, because the ego operates on three default emotions located in the limbic brain: anxiety, anger, and fear. These same emotions can easily get triggered when an obstacle appears on the horizon. Have you ever noticed that the world is hooked into watching rerun episodes of Negative Reality T.V.? To nip that in the bud, kill the negative thoughts at once! Thoughts are things, becoming your manifested reality depending on how long you’ve been thinking about them. The name jaguar originated from South America and means, “true, fierce beast and he who kills in one leap.” The jaguar is a symbol of power, and is revered as the protector of the rainforest. In shamanistic circles, the jaguar is seen as a familiar, or...

The word armadillo is Spanish, which means, little armored one. This Spirit Animal will show you how to protect yourself and your vulnerable side. Since the armadillo wears armor, this can suggest a past life connection to knights and chivalry. In Christianity, armor is used a symbol of protection against evil. To the Native Americans, the armadillo represents self-preservation, protection, and strength. One of the major themes in my life has been having to set strong boundaries, and for a period of time the armadillo was always making an appearance! At times, I had to speak my truth or walk away from situations, jobs, or people that were abusive or not aligned with my beliefs or goals in life. This happened more often as I grew Spiritually, so that being in the company of negative people and environments became intolerable. And this expanded into other areas of my life; I stopped watching the news or violent movies and T.V. shows, and I no longer read horror books or dystopian novels, etc. Yes, negative things do happen in life but I do not focus on them or engage in repetitive negative thoughts, since what you focus on creates your world. It is...

At the start of a new year I like to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year to see how far I’ve come. Doing this helps me create better goals for the brand new year.  To accomplish any goal, focus is required, and this has been something that I’ve struggled with often. I’ve discovered over the years that I like to have multiple projects going on at the same time, but to be the most effective, I have to make one of them my primary goal if I want to be productive and achieve results (get it done). Whenever I see a bear I am reminded to spend some time in meditation to contemplate the goals that I currently have in mind, so I can figure out which ones are the most important. The bear is a wonderful Spirit Animal for helping you with project planning because it is a symbol for your goals and visions. The bear is an ancient and powerful symbol in mythology and it has a lunar association with the goddess Diana and Artemis; it is also the emblem of the kingdom of Persia and Russia. In China, it is seen as both bravery and strength. Bear...

The frog has plenty of ancient mythology surrounding it and has long been associated with water and the moon; both are symbols for the emotions. It is also a symbol for eroticism, fecundity and fertility. The Hindu’s believe the Great Frog supports the Universe and represents the prima materia, which is the basis of all created matter (and manifesting; more on this later). In Ancient Greece and Rome, it was the symbol for Aphrodite and Venus. For the Celts, the frog is the Lord of the Earth and healing waters and is considered the rain bringer and renewal of life. But for my own mythology, frog has come to represent prosperity and cleansing. Frog is the quintessential symbol for detoxifying your body, mind, and emotions; it is reminding you to clean up some area of your life. For example: take a bath, unhook from social media, meditate, do yoga, go on a juice fast or, clean up your own thoughts, which is the basis of all matter creation. The metamorphosis that a frog undergoes is akin to resurrection, and something in your life is about to go through a change. Your current environment may need purging from the people and places...

If you’re like me, you enjoy frequent walks in nature during all seasons, even if it’s just around the block. I always see or experience something to brighten my day and elevate my mood; a cool breeze scented with flora and fauna, white puffy clouds shaped into animals, or a riotous group of mushrooms hanging out on a fallen tree. And today was no exception. It was getting near dusk and the temperature was close to freezing. I had just finished a delightful three-mile hike in the woods and I decided to sit a spell and enjoy the closing of the day, so near the Winter Solstice, which is set to arrive in a few days. I heard a plaintive bird call and followed it; a male bluebird dressed handsomely in his bright blue suit was perched on a low hanging branch. Two other female bluebirds, and another male, were nearby. Bluebirds have long been associated with happiness (the bluebird of happiness), so that’s why I keep a glass figurine of a bluebird near my desk as a reminder to stay positive. Bluebirds are also a sign that your luck has changed and that good things are coming your way—and soon!...

THE TOP TEN MOST COMMON DREAMS 1) Being Chased by Something Dream: This indicates that you are avoiding issues in your life instead of confronting them. It could be your subconscious mind trying to send you the message that you need to address the problem. 2) Falling Dream: These dreams signify anxiety and loss of control. The falling dream is one of the most common of all the dreams we experience throughout our life. It’s believed to be a sign that something in your life is spiraling out of control, whether that’s your job, your finances, your marriage, or your relationship. 3) Being Naked Dream: A dream of being naked (particularly before a group of peers) is a sign of insecurity, humiliation, shame, or feelings of vulnerability. Some psychiatrists hold the view that dreaming of ourselves nude may be a message to become liberated, get a taste of true freedom and break out of the ties that keep us chained. 4) Failing Your Exams Dream: If you are a student then obviously these dreams are a part of the exams related anxiety. But, if you graduated many years ago and are still having the dream of being back in school and worrying that you...

DREAM SYMBOLS AND HOW TO UNDERSTAND THEM I have learned over the years that you are the best interpreter of your dreams. Each symbol is personal and your meaning could be entirely different from someone else’s. When I first begin to analyze a dream, I usually reach for one of my dream dictionaries or go online to dream websites to get started, but then I have to put all of that away because it will only go so far. Dream symbols are personal, so you may have to do some digging to figure out exactly what a symbol means to you. Because of this, I have developed my lexicon of dream symbols, and you can too! The following are several examples of the dreams I had, their symbols, and how I interpreted the messages. Dream Example One: I had two important dreams involving the Spirit Animal, Spider. This Spirit Animal is a powerful symbol of creation. It is associated with magic because of its ability to weave a silken web, which is also linked to weaving a web of your own fate. As a message, it could be a time for you to create something, such as a new project, career, or relationship....

Dreaming your dreams can help you deal with the complexity of life by giving you dream symbols that reveal who you are and how you feel, as well as information about your anxiety towards relationships, career, money, health, security, or any other important facet of your life. Somewhere in each dream are clues and, an answer. Oftentimes, a particular symbol will reveal a solution to a particular problem, invoke healing, or give you an important message. The subconscious mind stores an enormous amount of information about you and releases that information to your conscious mind in your dreams, but only when you are ready to receive it. If not, then the hidden parts of yourself or ‘shadow’ will not be revealed (Note: the shadow can also represent your hidden talents, gifts, abilities, and desires, as well as fears, wounds, or traumas that you may still carry). Only when you are ready to face the shadow residing in your subconscious mind will the information be released. I call this important process dreamwork. Dreamwork is the practice of collecting information about your life through dreams. Your dreams can provide highly accurate and individualized spiritual guidance. Dreams open the door to the different aspects of...

“Watch out, there’s a snake on the path,” the man warned. My eyes fell to the 3-foot black and brownish tan snake ten yards in front of me moving slowly across the dirt path towards Batsto Lake, located in Batsto Village, New Jersey. From this distance it looked like a stick, since it practically blended into the dirt, so I appreciated the ‘heads up.’ For many people, seeing a snake would set off a fearful reaction. But I was instantly curious instead. I haven’t seen a snake in the wild all year.  I like snakes, but I do have a healthy respect for them. I certainly wouldn’t want to run into a thirty-foot anaconda any time soon. I walked up to it but kept a respectful distance. It looked like a northern water snake. They can be aggressive, but they are not poisonous. It could’ve also been an eastern pine snake. Snake medicine is powerful, and the timing of seeing this Spirit Animal was impeccable. The Universe never misses an opportunity to communicate with us if we have the awareness to know when they are calling. Besides Spirit Animal signs, I also look for messages in a variety of places, especially dreams, but also...

Manifesting ‘Benjamins’ has been my number one priority of late. In August, the independent contractor job that I’ve had on Keen for the past 8 years unexpectedly added a $2.99 session fee to all customer calls, and my business took a nosedive. Many customers weren’t too happy about the new fee and to show their appreciation, they decided to go elsewhere. The end result: my income was cut in half practically overnight. To say that I was upset was an understatement. I was shocked and angry (I called the company umpteen times to complain), and then fear settled in. What was I going to do about this sudden loss of income? I had bills to pay. My on-the-go plan was to brainstorm creative ways to earn money, while I looked for another third party network job like Keen. The second part of my plan included some serious manifesting rituals: prayer, meditation, candles, affirmations, and sticky notes placed all over my home as reminders to stay on the money manifesting train track. Last year, I had manifested a car and lottery wins, so I was confident that I could create the money magic again. But on one particular morning I just couldn’t shake the anxiety....

Whenever I see a Turtle, I am reminded of my childhood. My mother would take me, and my two younger brothers to Grants Department store to buy small pets from time to time. We would come home with a hamster, a guinea pig, or some goldfish, but on one occasion we bought some Red Eared Slider Turtles, along with an aquatic tank, rocks, and some Turtle food. It was love at first sight. They made great pets; they were small enough to fit in my kid hand and cute enough bring a smile to my face whenever I played with them. Since then, my pet of choice has been a cat, but whenever I see a Turtle in the wild, I feel the same kind of childhood joy well up inside of me—oh, look, a Turtle! There’s just something special about them; it’s as if they have a secret treasure hidden underneath their shell. According to author, Jami Sams, the Native American teachings say that the Turtle is the most ancient symbol for our planet. It represents our Mother Earth. As a Spirit Animal, the Turtle could be sending you a message that you are scattering your precious energy and to slow...

Summer is one of my favorite times of the year! And seeing lightning bugs—also known as fireflies, appear in the evening like little fairies holding lanterns of golden light still fills me with joy. As a kid, I would sit patiently on the back porch step with my empty jar in hand after the sun went down. I usually caught about 20 or so lightning bugs each night. I would watch them later, blinking on and off while I settled down to sleep in my bed. I released them in the morning, then go out again the next night and catch more of them. I often wondered if I would catch the same ones. If you see a lightning bug, it’s a sign for you to get inspired! If you have anything creative that you’re working on, this is a great omen. Let your ideas flow, and allow your muse to share a divine vision with you. Lightning bug also speaks of not giving up hope, and to let your star shine brightly! In fact, this insect is connected to the Star Card in the Tarot. It is the light of hope that shines and lights your way, so never give...

My stepfather, John H. S., died on May 2, 2022 at ll:20 p.m. I’ve always known him as my ‘dad’ though, and will continue to do so. I didn’t become aware that he was my stepfather until I was seventeen and, years later, in my mid-thirties, I sought and found my biological father. All of this is another amazing tale, which I wrote about as a short story in Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. I want to admit right now that I did not have a fuzzy-warm relationship with my dad—not even close. He was man whose heart had a wound in which anger raged forth and it had affected me deeply. I know he loved me, but it took many years of spiritual and psychological work to heal from the effects that he had on my life. He had lung cancer, complicated by four years of painful back problems. His health had declined rapidly in early November of last year, and he was admitted into the hospital. Honestly, the family didn’t know if he would make it. Then, right before Thanksgiving, my brother, Glenn, died unexpectedly. To say I was taken by surprise was an understatement. A few weeks before...

I like to feed the squirrels that live by my home, and there is one in particular that comes to my office window looking for peanuts (I named him Rufus). If I forget to leave some peanuts on the windowsill he will wait for me by the front door. With the temperatures dipping into the single digits this winter, I give him his favorite snacks almost daily. But come Spring I will have to stop the peanut factory extravaganza because he likes to climb the windows and chew holes in my window screens, looking for more peanuts. Bad squirrel! Squirrel is a symbol for preparing and gathering things for future use, especially practical things, like food, money, candles and medicines. There have been shortages of everything the past 12-18 months due mostly to the supply chain being disrupted, and other things happening all over the planet. Astrologically, we are in a time of  transformation. Last year, I had several dreams in which Squirrel made an appearance. In the first dream I was food shopping and found the store overcrowded and then I couldn’t find what I wanted. Driving home, a squirrel ran across the road and I just missed hitting him. The...

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik480 pagesDel Ray   In Naomi Novik’s brilliant fantasy, three unlikely women are drawn together in a quest to stop a terror—of ice and fire—that threatens them all. The protagonist, Miryem decides to take over the family business of moneylending since her father is unable to collect the debts owed, which caused her family to be one step away from poverty. It isn’t long before she gains a reputation for not backing down, but also for turning silver into gold. The king of the Staryk, creatures who live in a world of ice and snow, overhears a boast by Miryem, and her fate, along with two kingdoms is cast. He gives her an outrageous challenge, and Miryem unintentionally brings two young women into her nightmare: a poor girl, Wanda, and an unlucky daughter of a scheming lord, who secretly plans for her to marry a handsome young tsar. Only, the Tsar Mirnatius hides a terrible secret that looms over the two kingdoms like a black cloud, threatening to swallow them whole. Miryem’s quest takes her, and her two allies, into fatal choices and to their own limits of power. Spinning Silver is a true page-turner! It was highly recommended by my writing...

How often I had climbed the dark boughs of the white pine tree growing in my backyard to escape the world below as a child I couldn’t say—maybe hundreds of times—but that tree had become my best friend despite the gummy pine resin that stuck to me and my clothes like glue. Sitting on the thickest branch I’d squint my eyes from the sun and survey the landscape, imagining the hidden treasure chests that lie buried in my neighbors' fenced-in yards. Sometimes I’d spot my kick ball or yellow Tonka truck that I’d forgotten all about during my unbridled joy of playing. At other times I’d hug my tree friend, especially when I was sad. It always hugged me back. Yes, I still hug trees (and climb them, if the mood strikes). I’ve also become a tree whisperer. The sycamore, beech, and pine trees are my all-time favorites. But I do have a very special place for the giant redwoods in California. I also adore the oak and American holly too, and the birch for its papery white bark. And don’t forget about the willow, for it symbolizes love: I used its branches to form my Medicine Shield. Cherry blossom trees cover...

A winding dirt trail snakes upward, hugging the ridge that overlooks a shallow lake, as geese and ducks float on the sparkling water below. The sound of tap-tap-tap echoes nearby in the woodland of oak and pine trees. I slip on my woolen hat. Even though it’s spring, the air is chilly. I inhale the loamy scent of leaves and moss and growing things with delight as I saunter along the sandy trail, glad to be free of technology and my to-do list. Tap-tap-tap! Much louder this time—Woody the Woodpecker must be nearby. I glance upwards, scanning the old trees for a red-headed bird, which should be easy to spot since all the trees only have the tiniest of buds forming. I wonder if Woody found any insects yet? Up ahead on the trail, I spot a woman dressed in a winter coat, with a pair of binoculars pointed upwards. Her brown mutt greets me with a few sniffs, then wags his tail. “Did you find a woodpecker?” I asked, petting her dog. She lowers her expensive looking binoculars and smiles. “I did.” We share our love of birds and nature. She reveals that she likes to come to the woods often and see what...

Last Spring my garden and I were introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Groundhog. My broccoli plants were in full vigor and close to harvest when I noticed that they appeared to be getting smaller. At first, I thought I was imagining things, but the next day I came out to check on my favorite veggie again and there was no denying that the incredible shrinking broccoli disease had taken over my garden! I examined the broccoli plants closely and noticed that something was eating them in a very precise way. I scratched my head wondering who or what was sneaking into Mrs. McGregor’s garden when I noticed a gaping hole in the center of my vegetable garden about eight inches in diameter that was hidden by my tomato plants. I called my dad right away. “Sounds like you have a groundhog problem, Shelley.” “What can I do about?” I asked. “Your Aunt Phyllis uses Juicy Fruit gum to get rid of ‘em.” Say what? “Get a few packs and put the gum in the hole,” he continued. “She says the groundhogs will eat the gum. They don’t like it and will leave your garden.” While all of this was going on, I looked up the meaning of...

Santa won’t deliver his presents to our house when he sees our Christmas tree this year, I thought, as I stared with unmasked hatred at the imposter tree sitting in our dining room in all of it’s gaudy glory. Six feet tall, spray painted in gold, and covered in dried macaroni, it is my Dad’s proudest achievement and my Christmas Nightmare. He spent months creating this paper mache and macaroni tree in secret. He surprised the family with it two weeks ago to the horror of both myself, and my two younger brothers. “Why can’t we have a real tree like all of the other kids?” I lament to my mother when my father is out of earshot. My brothers stood behind me in solidarity, wearing sad faces and holding a box of tissues. “It’s a nice tree, Shelley, and your father worked very hard to make it.” Mom sat on the couch. “You’ll get used to it.” “No we won’t,” my brothers and I said in unison. I’m glad the blinds are down so the kids in town can’t see it. Mom sighed, then opened The Courier Post newspaper, her signal to us that the conversation was over. It was the second time...

George Washington had wooden teeth (ivory dentures set in silver plate), but that’s not why I liked him. I firmly believed the first president of the United States made a wish of mine come true in the summer of 1973. I was eleven and horse crazy, which is not the same as being boy crazy—that would happen later, but I never lost my love of horses. It was our family’s first camping trip across the country and I was crammed between my two brothers in the back seat of our Chevy Suburban. My dad threw the car into low gear as the engine choked and whined, climbing up the steep road in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Our destination was the Mount Rushmore Memorial, and it was to be the last national park that we would visit before heading back home to New Jersey. It was also the last opportunity that I had to convince my parents in letting me go horseback riding. We’d been camping for about six weeks and although I longed to sit in front of a television and watch cartoons again, I was going to miss this grand adventure we had been on. I had been totally...

Do you believe in magic? I do. Does the Universe send us messages? Constantly. Did I expect to get a communiqué from my garden? Never. And that’s what makes me grin from ear to ear as I write this post. Never did I get such a wonderful and unexpected message before! I belong to a community garden and had three plots this year, which worked out great, because I also started the time-honored art of canning. The ten tomato plants in the end plots would give me plenty of ‘maters to put up in jars when they started turning red and juicy. In the middle plot, I had planted a few rows of Italian beans, right next to my cucumbers, and in front of the towering sunflowers. After weeding, I grabbed a large handful of beans and stuffed them in my bag to take home for dinner. There’s nothing like grow-your-own vegetables right from the garden. The beans were getting rinsed inside of an old metal colander sitting in my sink, when I discovered the magic bean. On the flat side of the 5-inch bean was a heart that a hungry insect had nibbled out perfectly. I gasped. It just so happened...

In January of this year, I was unceremoniously laid off from my job as a Graphic Designer of 13 years from a small publishing company. I didn’t see it coming (and me, a psychic, right?) There wasn’t a sign as in ‘hunch’, or ‘dream’, or something ‘intuitive’ to give me a warning. At least they waited until after Christmas to tell me. I went through all the stages of grief compressed into one week. I didn’t want to get out of bed, then I would be gripped with sudden fear (how was I going to pay the bills? Would I find another job?) Later, I got so angry I wanted to punch a hole in the wall. I had felt abandoned and betrayed by this sudden divorce. “Thanks, but we don’t need you anymore, goodbye.” Collecting unemployment helped keep me afloat for six months while I tried to figure out a plan of attack. But seventy resumes and several job fairs later, I didn’t get a single interview. (Queue in the sound of crickets). Besides being bored out of my skull, I had gotten too comfortable in my old job. My skills had lapsed and the industry had changed a lot in...

I discovered the double yolk when I cracked the brown egg into the cast iron fry pan. I smiled proudly, as if I had achieved a special egg status award. My mom gets them from time to time, but it was my first ever double-yolker. I had always thought they were a chicken’s worst nightmare—ouch! I also happened to look at the digital clock on the stove as the egg sizzled in the pan, and lo and behold, the clock readout was 11:11. That got my attention. The twin eleven’s are a sign that a portal or energetic doorway is opening and to be aware of a synchronistic event taking place. I also have come to believe that the 11:11 is my Higher Self or Future Self sending me a message, “Hey there, are you paying attention?” she asks. “Well, as a matter of fact, I am. So how do you like them apples (or eggs)?” I reply. Truth be told, I had been waiting for a sign that I was on the right track, and the double yolk appeared after much praying and envisioning, so it had to be a good omen as far as omens go. But I wanted to...

Writing a novel is a labor of love, and I do mean labor. I discovered after writing the first draft of my novel that I needed to learn the craft of writing if I was going to be any good at it. Over the years, I joined several writing groups, took classes, read books, attended workshops, both large and small, participated in critiques and sent my manuscript to beta readers. And I’ve gone the round with several editors. I’ve rewritten my novel five times, and each time I got better at the craft but also discovered that I’m a perfectionist. It’s a handicap I’ve had to overcome. And don’t expect to get rich on your writing, at least not for a while, if at all. That’s why it’s a labor of love, because if you don’t love writing, then you won’t have enough gas in your car to reach your destination. Perseverance is probably the most important ingredient needed in any Writer’s toolbox, for without it, you won’t finish. I have a small poster on my wall of writing advice by my favorite author, Neil Gaiman: Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it. Once your...

On May 15th, two things happened; the praying mantis egg cases I had kept inside of a jar hatched, and the planet Uranus entered into the sign of Taurus. The significance of these two events did not escape me, but I did end up having to catch the hundred or so baby mantises that had ‘escaped’ into my home. I discovered two praying mantis egg cases after cleaning out my herb garden, so I put them in a glass jar and placed the jar on a windowsill. I had pretty much forgotten about it until my cat started batting her paw on the glass a month later. Eureka! The little critters hatched! After admiring the newly hatched barins (Scottish term for a child), I laid the jar next to the mint growing like stinkweed in my garden and released them into the world where they belong. Luckily, I had the sense to tilt the jar on an angle because it poured that evening — I mean like mantis cats and dogs! And it continued to rain for the next four days. I thought for sure they would drown, but on the fifth day the sun emerged from the soaking-sponge clouds and lo...

My honeymoon included dog poop, burned hair and a family doctor (not in that order). And that’s not all that happened in those 10 days I spent traveling through England and Scotland on foot, in cabs, on trains, and in cars that I refused to drive. (Driving on the wrong side of the road freaked me the hell out). And did I mention that I brought way too much luggage? But the food was surprisingly good, like really good. All of those rumors I had heard about English food being bland weren’t true at all. I remember one meal in particular that showed its appreciation for my love of English food on my first night in London. But I’ll get to that embarrassing part in a wee bit. First, I’d like to discuss the topic of dog poop. I have an issue with the excrement left by pooches. Why? Because whenever I step into the nookie cookies, there are witnesses. It’s bad enough that my foot has to get intimate with Le Turd, but do other people have to catch me in the act? It’s happened enough times that I’ve often wondered if I am being set up by the Gods...

A rabbit crossed my path twice this Easter. The first rabbit was from my dear old mom, a stuffed bunny that I promptly named Renoir Rabbit since the hands, feet, and ears were all different colors, just like a painter’s palette. The second rabbit sighting happened right after dinner. I took a stroll around my old stomping ground, Laurel Springs, the town where I grew up, and a rabbit hopped across the road with a basket of brightly colored eggs. Just kidding about the basket of course! But the rabbit's appearance was multi-synchronistic and his message timely. Rabbit is my symbol for financial abundance, mainly because of the fertility aspect that rabbits embody but also because they are so darn cute. And having more of the green stuff in my life is one of my main goals this year. There are many ways to attract abundance into our lives but lately I’ve been using crystals to help me with the task. I sit with the crystal and mentally tell it (program) what I want then I meditate with it, envisioning various aspects of my life, all the while feeding it positive emotion and feeling. The key to abundance is feeling like you already...