Today’s Reading – Four of Swords – 20.01.2022

Four of Swords – Tarot of Mystical Moments by Catrin Welz-Stein

Today’s card – taken from Tarot of Mystical Moments – by Catrin Welz-Stein

Like the more traditional card here we have our protagonist lying horizontally, but not on a tomb, she’s not a knight, or the effigies of a knight, she is, may I suggest,  not dead, but a young woman/girl lying, well more cradle,  by a crescent moon.

Unlike the knight in some of the more traditional cards, she’s not on solid ground, she is floating somewhere above it all, dreamlike. Behind her are the heavens, and the clouds behind are not as white and fluffy as one could expect.  above her to the left is a cold dark night, stars can be seen, to the left at the bottom, it looks like there are also dark clouds gathering.

It looks like it’s snowing, and there she is, almost but not quite naked, sleeping unaware of what is happing.  The card has many dream-like qualities. 

Her hair tumbling down over the moon, and she is dressed in her underwear, or nightwear, her PJs.  She looks like she’s asleep and quite comfortable.

Though I’m not quite sure if that’s the case. While it appears she is not going to fall, or overbalance and that she is trusting that she is held securely, if we look at her right leg that is straight out, rigid her toes pointing as if she is trying to keep still in order not to fall.

 Her eyes are closed, though her face is pointing to the heavens. What of the swords? Well as we can see they are no longer the sharp metal pointy type, but 4 white feathers, 3 above her and one appears that she has held it and just let it go.

While the other three are falling from the heavens, the larger one of the four, which is under her, its tip is closer to her, is touching her, its tip is pointing towards her. 

The Annunciation, fresco by Fra Angelico, 1438-45; in the Museum of San Marco, Florence

Similar to the image of the lily we see in many classical images of the Annunciation, it points to her womb, from where life, and according to Christian tradition, salvation itself comes from.  It’s also interesting to see that her clothing like the Virgin’s as seen in many images of the Annunciation, is also blue. Indeed in some Annunciation images – in particular in film, Mary, when visited by the angel was asleep and is in her bedclothes.

The girl on our Four of Swords looks very similar to a pre Raphaelite woman, with long reddish and at the tips almost golden hair.

Hair to the Victorian, the Pre Raphaelites and the Fairy tales they took their inspiration from is a motif of not only of maidenhood, power, sexuality but also of Otherness.

Another example of long flowing locks can be seen in Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais, here we also have a young woman laid on her back her face looking up to the heavens. Though our young woman has her eyes firmly closed and is tight-lipped.

And The Girlhood of Mary by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

What of the Swords? As I have previously mentioned here in this card we have not cold steel but soft down. White feathers are said by some to represent angels, and so like Mary in the annunciation has this sleeping young woman been visited by an angel?  Or is she just playing dead, is she scared, refusing to look and see, afraid of what she is being told and/or offered? She’s not wanting to hear what the angel has to say, ignoring him and hoping he and they will go away.

So then after all this what is the card telling us today.

It’s an Annunciation, it telling us to not be afraid, to open our eyes, to see, that despite the dark clouds that surround us, the fear of falling, of being balanced precariously on an illusion (the moon), you /we have been given (or told) something precious if we would just look, listen, see, something which could change our life.

So are you ready, today open your eyes, stop dreaming, stop living unsteadily on illusion and take that which has been offered to you?

if you would like a more in-depth reading please contact me either via my Facebook page or here and we can discuss a longer reading.

Images and text ©Shullie H Porter 2022 unless otherwise stated.


January’s Cold Moon.

A Chilly Night by Christiana Rossetti 1830-1894*

I rose at the dead of night,
     And went to the lattice alone
To look for my Mother’s ghost
     Where the ghostly moonlight shone.

My friends had failed one by one,
     Middle-aged, young, and old,
Till the ghosts were warmer to me
     Than my friends that had grown cold.

I looked and I saw the ghosts
     Dotting plain and mound:
They stood in the blank moonlight,
     But no shadow lay on the ground:
They spoke without a voice
     And they leaped without a sound.

I called: ‘O my Mother dear,’—
     I sobbed: ‘O my Mother kind,
Make a lonely bed for me
     And shelter it from the wind.

‘Tell the others not to come
     To see me night or day:
But I need not tell my friends
     To be sure to keep away.’

The Moon – from ‘Major Arcana’ by Leonora Carrington

My Mother raised her eyes,
     They were blank and could not see:
Yet they held me with their stare
     While they seemed to look at me.

She opened her mouth and spoke;
     I could not hear a word,
While my flesh crept on my bones
     And every hair was stirred.

She knew that I could not hear
     The message that she told
Whether I had long to wait
     Or soon should sleep in the mould:
I saw her toss her shadowless hair
     And wring her hands in the cold.

I strained to catch her words,
     And she strained to make me hear;
But never a sound of words
     Fell on my straining ear.

From midnight to the cockcrow
     I kept my watch in pain
While the subtle ghosts grew subtler
     In the sad night on the wane.

From midnight to the cockcrow
     I watched till all were gone,
Some to sleep in the shifting sea
     And some under turf and stone:
Living had failed and dead had failed,
     And I was indeed alone.

*_*A Siren in Full Moonlight 1940 by Paul Delvaux (1897–1994) Southampton City Art Gallery

* *This poem is in the public domain.

***All images my own except where cited – Shullie H Porter ‘The Delightful Mrs P ‘ – 2017-2022

The Annunciation

I wanted to share with you a small piece called ‘The Annunciation’, that I wrote last year and which has been published by a small non-profit online magazine called The Cauldron

This is the link if anyone would like to read it. There are some other amazing stories, poetry and non-fiction in there too. Why not check this issue out as well as past issues, and let me know what you think!

The Portable Dowery or The Bride of Bethlehem by William Holman Hunt.

** I have to add, that the story may trigger some as it is not, as one may expect from myself, the ‘every day’ (or gospel) idealisation of The Annunciation.


Bluebells and Wild Garlic – Jervis Lumn, Norfolk Park, Sheffield
©Shullie H Porter  2014-2021

The Bluebell*

A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.

There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.

Yet I recall not long ago
A bright and sunny day,
‘Twas when I led a toilsome life
So many leagues away;

That day along a sunny road
All carelessly I strayed,
Between two banks where smiling flowers
Their varied hues displayed.

Before me rose a lofty hill,
Behind me lay the sea,
My heart was not so heavy then
As it was wont to be.

Less harassed than at other times
I saw the scene was fair,
And spoke and laughed to those around,
As if I knew no care.

But when I looked upon the bank
My wandering glances fell
Upon a little trembling flower,
A single sweet bluebell.

Whence came that rising in my throat,
That dimness in my eye?
Why did those burning drops distil —
Those bitter feelings rise?

O, that lone flower recalled to me
My happy childhood’s hours
When bluebells seemed like fairy gifts
A prize among the flowers,

Those sunny days of merriment
When heart and soul were free,
And when I dwelt with kindred hearts
That loved and cared for me.

I had not then mid heartless crowds
To spend a thankless life
In seeking after others’ weal
With anxious toil and strife.  

‘Sad wanderer, weep those blissful times
That never may return!’
The lovely floweret seemed to say,
And thus it made me mourn.

*Ann Bronte

The Fairy Wood by Henry Meynell-Rheam 1903

Wide yawns the sea…

Starless and cold is the night,
Wide yawns the sea,
And over the sea, flat on his paunch,
Sprawls that uncouth lubber, the northwind,
And, quite at his ease, with hoarse, piping voice,
Like a peevish curmudgeon who grows good-humoured,
Chats to the water below;
And he spins mad yarns without number,
Slaughter-breathing tales of giants,
World-old Norwegian sagas;
And between-whiles, far-bellowing, laughs he, and
howls he
The magic songs of the Edda,
And runic-spell rhymes,
So darkly defiant, and potent in glamour,
That the white sea-children
Leap their highest and cheer him,
Drunk with insolent glee.

Meanwhile, on the shore’s flat margin,
Over the tide-washed, surf-wetted sand,
Strides a stranger, the heart within him
A wilder thing than wind or billows.
Where his feet fall
Sparks fly out, and crackle the sea-shells;
And he wraps him close in his mist-grey mantle,
And swiftly strides through the blustering night;
Surely led by the little candle
That pleasantly luring glimmers
From the fisherman’s lonely cabin*

The Devil & The Magician went down to the Sea **


The North Sea lV – A Night by the Strand, by Heinrich Heine [1797-1856]

**Blood & Ink – The Devil Made me Do It – Tarot Cards – © Elise Oursa 2021 for more information please see

© All Images are copyright to Shullie H Porter 2021 unless otherwise stated.

Simmel Cake and Saint Judas

This morning, half watching a cookery show, I heard Mary Berry talking about how there were only 11 disciples on the Simmel cake.

The reason being that of course they would not allow a traitor such as Judas to decorate such an auspicious cake. That got me thinking and I looked back on a post I had made on a previous blog.

I think I may make a Simmel cake this week but with 12 apostles because Judas spoke to me.

Never mind the marzipan…

Saint Judas

When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began,
How soldiers milled around the garden stone
And sang amusing songs; how all that day
Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone
Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.

Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,
Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope
Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms:
Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten,
The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope,
I held the man for nothing in my arms.

James Wright

 Judas Iscariot c.1923, Sascha Schneider

The Feast of The Annunciation – March 25th

Je vous salue, Marie – Jean-Luc Godard (1985)

The threefold terror of love; a fallen flare
Through the hollow of an ear;
Wings beating about the room;
The terror of all terrors that I bore
The Heavens in my womb.

Had I not found content among the shows
Every common woman knows,
Chimney corner, garden walk,
Or rocky cistern where we tread the clothes
And gather all the talk?

What is this flesh I purchased with my pains,
This fallen star my milk sustains,
This love that makes my heart’s blood stop
Or strikes a Sudden chill into my bones
And bids my hair stand up?

*The Mother Of God by W. B. Yeats

Leda Atomica- Salvador Dali 1949

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                    Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

*Leda and the Swan by W.B. Yates

She had never been Much of a Seamstress

As some of you know I am a writer amongst other things, so I thought I’d share with you one of my Short Stories which has been recently – well last year – published by Mookychick.

Mookychick is on a Hiatus at the moment, but have a look around there is plenty to see there, as well as other one of my short stories, there is some fantastic poetry, articles on being a witch and a woman today.

Garm of Hounds

Skíðblaðnir best of boats;

Of all the gods is Óðinn the greatest,

And Sleipnir the best of steeds;

Bifröst of bridges, Bragi of skalds,

Hábrók of hawks, and Garm of hounds*

This is our rescue boy, Nathan, a Hound of fine upstanding….He’s been with us since July of last year,2020. He came to us in the Middle of what was a most horrendous Year for everyone… He was a true Gift , I believe, and was sent to help us through.

However I first posted this on my old site , Tales from the Under Gardener’s Lodge, and shared a picture of our much loved and much missed girl, Shea, sat on the doorstep watching the day go by. So I want to share a photo of her too.. She too was a rescue and was ‘given’ to us, we believe, by our Deity, again at a time of great personal loss. She too took us through the darktimes and brought much love and joy. We were blessed to have her.

* from Grimnismol, The Battle of Grimnir, The Poetic Edda, by Henry Adams Bellows, [1936]

All images ©Shullie H Porter 2015 -2021

Candlemass 2nd February

Bede records in his Reckoning of Time (A.D. 725) the use of candles at the Feast of Purification was common in his day.  (Latin Text)

O]n the feast of St Mary, the whole populace with the priests and ministers goes on procession through the churches and the city neighbourhoods, all singing devout hymns, and carrying in their hands burning candles given them by the bishop. As this good custom grew, it provided a model for the conduct of other feasts of the blessed Mother and perpetual Virgin as well, not in the five-year lustration of a worldly empire, but in the everlasting memory of the heavenly kingdom where, according to the parable of the wise virgins, all the elect shall go out to meet the Bridegroom, their King, with the lamps of their good deeds alight, and then shall enter into the heavenly city with Him. (Bede, The Reckoning of Time, Translation by Faith Wallis, Liverpool University Press, 1999 p. 49)

Ronald Hutton observed that the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2 gives ample reason for candles when the Christ child “was recognized there, according to the tale, by an old man called Simeon, who hailed him as the messiah of Israel and a Light to lighten the Gentiles.” (The Stations of the Sun, 1999:139)

Is there, in bowers of endless spring,
One known from all the seraph band
By softer voice, by smile and wing
More exquisitely bland!
Here let him speed: to-day this hallowed air
Is fragrant with a mother’s first and fondest prayer.

Only let Heaven her fire impart,
No richer incense breathes on earth:
“A spouse with all a daughter’s heart,”
Fresh from the perilous birth,
To the great Father lifts her pale glad eye,
Like a reviving flower when storms are hushed on high.

Oh, what a treasure of sweet thought
Is here! what hope and joy and love
All in one tender bosom brought,
For the all-gracious Dove
To brood o’er silently, and form for Heaven
Each passionate wish and dream to dear affection given.

Her fluttering heart, too keenly blest,
Would sicken, but she leans on Thee,
Sees Thee by faith on Mary’s breast,
And breathes serene and free.
Slight tremblings only of her veil declare
Soft answers duly whispered to each soothing prayer.

We are too weak, when Thou dost bless,
To bear the joy–help, Virgin-born!
By Thine own mother’s first caress,
That waked Thy natal morn!
Help, by the unexpressive smile, that made
A Heaven on earth around this couch where Thou wast laid.

John Keble

Matka Boska Gromniczna – Our Lady of Candlemass

Our Lady of Candlemas — The Polish legend relates that Mary, the Mother of God of the “Blessed Thunder Candle” (Matka Boska Gromniczna), watches over the people on cold February nights. With her thunder candle she wards off the ravenous pack and protects the peasants from all harm.

The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.

And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.

But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:

Who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.

And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Leviticus 12 KJV.

Mikvah ©2006 Carol Buchman – oil on canvas, 48″x36″

All images and words unless otherwise stated are copyright to © Shullie H Porter 2014- 2021

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