holidays, magic

Christmas Sticker Miracle

A blonde curly-haired toddler refused to sit up in his bum bucket bus seat and squirmed away from his mother’s grip.

“Do you want to sit with Daddy?” she tried.

Daddy was next to me with an empty seat in between.

Mom sent the fussy little cherub over, red rover style. Dad pulled him up and he plopped down with bright aqua blue sneakers, kicking the air.

“Are those narwhals?” I asked excitedly, trying to make friends with the new mini monster to my right.

“Yes,” dad confirmed, “and they squeak, so we turned them off.”

“Like, electronically? Or with pressure?”

“Mostly when he jumps,” Dad said. It was not hard to imagine that this one jumped a lot.

Mom handed over a sheet of Christmas stickers and Squeaky Narwhal got to work peeling and sticking them to dad, the seat, the floor, himself, and me.

The first sticker he gave me was a small elf.  He stuck it to my work bag and looked up at me for approval.

“Oh, thank you!” I cooed. “Did you know that’s my nickname? Good job!”

He smiled and drew his fingers down around his mouth and chin, stroking an invisible beard.

“He’s saying “Santa,” his father interpreted.

“You’re Santa?” I asked, playfully.

He plucked another circle from the page and stuck it to his nose. A picture of a tiny Santa head in a red cap.  He giggled, pleased with himself.

“Smart boy!” I lavished. He played coy and giggled again. Little flirt.

I’m always amazed by how much children hear and understand, and cannot say with words, but can express in their eyes and body language, or in this case, sign language.

He proceeded to affix me with a set of snowflakes in blue, red, and green, a miniature reindeer, a candy cane, and a gingerbread man. I stuck them to the tips of my fingers and waggled them back at him.

“Hi!” he barked and we both laughed.

I peeled them off and lined them up the spine of my travel hairbrush like a Christmas Chakra, the elf at the root. Dad approved of the creative re-purpose.

His parents thanked me as I gathered my bag to leave.

“Of course,” I smiled. Hey—it was entertain and distract, or endure the screaming call of the Squeaky Narwhal, which, once heard, could be accurately described as a duck chainsaw.  I ventured that this little person, much like the narwhal, has a high-pitched biological sonar he could fire up on demand, and whether or not you turn his shoes off, he clearly doesn’t thrive in captivity, so we allow him to be his wild, sticker-covered self on the long bus ride home.

“Say bye!” mom entreated. Squeaky Narwhal stuck out his hand and waggled his fingers at me in his bum bucket and shouted “byeeee!”

It’s little bits of holiday magic like this that expand my heartspace 💗

dreams, magic, nature

Ocean Skyscrapers, Wedding Shells, and Angelwings

Last week, I had a particularly strange dream. The image of the monstrous seashell building is still tumbling around on the ocean floor of my brain.

I know it was fueled in part by my neighbor. She was preparing to attend a beach wedding over the weekend and as I watered the garden at dusk, she called out over the fence to ask my opinion on the best dress of three. A mini fashion show ensued as she popped in and out the front door in short order, doing a quick pirouette each time. I suggested the comfortable stretchy number with the peacock feather pattern over the short cocktail dress or the thing with the trailing wrap skirt and bodice that would require stitching and extra boob support to make it work. Why make an outfit more complicated when you need to be comfortable near the ocean—because . . . sand, saltwater, and wind.

Later, she awaited her frantic friend whose son was getting married to arrive last minute to help prepare wedding favors—seashell ornaments. Piles of them. All of which needed a dab of hot glue, ribbons, and hole-punched tags with the bride and groom’s names attached. It would be a late night of of production for her and as it happens, for me as I slept.

Turris_babylonia_shell
Babylon turrid

In the dream, I rowed a small boat out into a wide canvas of ocean. There, I saw a large metal spike rising from a soft ripple of water and bubbles. I slipped into the water to swim towards it and grasped it with one hand, my legs floating behind in a gentle current. I touched the top of it, and found it sharp and tapered as a needle point blade.

junonia
Scaphella junonia

Then I looked down into the ocean below and felt a strange wave of fear and nausea as I discovered what I was holding was a spire attached to an enormous building that went down for miles. It was shaped like a turrid shell, more specifically, Turris babylonia: the Babylon turrid or Tower Turrid.  I could see endless windows spiraling into oblivion, casting golden whorls of light out of the black-green hulk of bone-metal. The windows were an inverted negative of the pattern on the elusive Scaphella junonia: the junonia shell, or Juno’s volute.

I battled two opposing instincts—swim down to see if there was more to the cityscape; or get back in my little red boat and find the nearest land. Somehow, my sense of the building was based on a faint memory from a previous dream. It did not feel like a livable, underwater Utopia, but a submerged and dark-tinged Atlantis. This seashell skyscraper was merely a glittering prison tower.

The morning after the wedding and my dream, I asked Terri how everything turned out.

“Oh, we were up ’til one in the morning,” she said stiffly, “but they turned out nice. Hold on, I’ll show you.” She ran back into the house to retrieve a sample.

She dangled a few shells on silver and gold ribbon between two fingers, one of them a Babylonia. The dream swam up and flooded me with remembrance.

shelfshells
some of my shell collection

Later, I read that people who attend beach weddings often receive seashell favors, bought in bulk from a craft store, just as these were. Sometimes, brides want that extra stagecraft to their ocean side ceremony and purchase cheap bags of foreign shells to scatter along the beach or create aisle runners. They often get left behind, run out with the tide, and wash back in to the minor annoyance of pros or the sheer delight of amateur shellers (yes, a name for people who collect seashells) depending on their knowledge of where the shells originated. But most people who buy them have the innocent intention of spreading them on local beaches so their children and grandchildren can go hunting and find a rare treasure—albeit, not a local creature that has fled its conical home. Shellers call these castaway orphans and refugees “Wedding Shells.” Still others want to rid themselves of their old beach comber collection with similar meaningful ceremonies that return them to the sea, even if it’s not the same water.

I look at some of my own collection on my nature altar, recalling the sandy coastlines and aquamarine water I dove in to collect them—even who I was with when I found them. California. Florida. Oregon. British Virgin Islands. Once, I opened a box on a dresser at an estate sale to find a small clutch of shells, which promptly went home with me. I wondered, where had they gone to find all these? What memories were attached to all these nature objects? Were any of my prizes wedding shells? Certainly not the brain coral or the banded tulip shell, not the dried urchin or the sand dollar—I found those in their native spaces.

Holey-StonesAnd what of all those holey stones aka Faerie Stones, Hag Stones, or Witch’s Amulets I have a knack for finding? Or for them finding me. It is said that they offer protection by placing them on a nail near doorways. Faerie stones provide a window into other worlds as you gaze through the naturally made hole eroded by time and water, or clam-like shelled creatures called piddocks, known by the sweeter name, angelwings.

angelwingPiddock shells are divided into 2 or 3 sections, one of them with a pointed beak that contains a set of ridges or “teeth,” much like a grinding plate for spices. They slowly drill their elliptical shells into rocks, creating tubular burrows, rhythmically contracting the muscles attached to their wings, siphoning water and holding it in to create an expansive pressure, and extending a fleshy foot that grips the stone surface of their home to rotate the shell. As they grow, they enlarge their hole, carving out space to live in and protect themselves. They remain in their stonehouse hidey-hole their entire lives—5 to 10 years. Because of their foot and their siphon hose, they can never quite fully retract into their shell halves and close their wings. They are a mouth with teeth on the outside and feet on the inside!  Those muscles fusing the wings together become weak, and the rest of the shell fragile, making it rare to find angelwings on the shore with both halves still intact.

But perhaps what I should be doing with the stones with holes in them drilled by nature to see through time with, is what the mystics did—thread them with a black cord and put them near the bed to ward off nightmares. Especially nightmares of buildings in the shape of a cutting shell rising above the water’s edge.

dreams, love, magic

Dragon Dreaming

This morning I woke from a dream where a dragon was terrorizing the city I lived in. It would cling to the parapet walls of churches, breathing fire down on the street and smashing buildings as it went. No one could figure out where the dragon lived and it would appear suddenly in random places. While on a date with a strange man at a theatre play, I discovered that HE was in fact the dragon, able to shiftshape. Somehow, his eyes and the graceful, reptilian slink in his step gave him away.

I was given a gladius from the community, a smallish sword, and instructed to murder him while he was human, which I couldn’t do because—he was teaching me things, and of course, I loved him.

I woke as he was perched at the top of a tree, leering down at me in dragon form, as I sheathed my sword, and thought to myself, “we should leave this place, we are not welcome here.”

drinking, family, magic

What’s in a name?

I like idea of the power in a name. Special words ascribed to objects and people of significance. A name that’s handed down, borrowed, or given as an homage or blessing—a name that becomes familiar or famous. A name that implies layers of meaning and strata. A name that opens doors and breaks barriers. A name that when called or written, works like an incantation on the forces of the universe. Rockstars. Magicians. Dignitaries. Gangsters. Kings and Queens. Spiritual Leaders. Deities.

No offense to the multitude of Bob Smith(s) out there, (Robert Smith of The Cure, notwithstanding) but wouldn’t you rather be named something like, say, Robert Gerald Mondavi? His is one example of a name with power and his legacy was in the game of naming things—specifically, wine.

Mondavi “aggressively promoted labeling wines varietally rather than generically.” He believed we should know the true nature of something. Instead of us saying, “Oh, I like Franzia, Gallo, Paul Masson, or Carlo Rossi, (cheap, brand name jug wines from California) or “I like ‘Burgundy’ or ‘Chablis,’ (terms that were meant to conjure the French regions and corresponding varietals they were supposed to taste like), Mondavi wanted us to challenge the assumed knowledge of regionally grown varietals and clearly identify the grape right there on the label. This is now the standard for the way we label New World wines.

In a pinnacle move to merge the Old World and the New into one grand opus, Mondavi went to the Big Island of Hawaii and met with Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild to found the joint venture, Opus One. Their intention and idea was one they kicked around since the early 1970s—to create a single Bordeaux style blend based upon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The Baron’s name gave the Napa wine region a respectable air, and it quickly became the most expensive Californian wine during its time.

But the stars didn’t always align . . .

When Robert Mondavi Winery went from a private family named estate into a publicly traded corporation (a move that Mondavi stated regret over), The Robert Mondavi Corporation ballooned into a behemoth that owned several wineries at home in North America and partnered with prestigious wineries abroad. A succession of unfortunate events came on the heels of the Y2K panic—the economy tanked, 9/11 happened a year later in 2001, and wine sales were way down. In a hostile takeover bid of more than $1 billion, Mondavi scrapped the whole sordid plan and sold off his luxury brands to Constellation Brands, the hydra beast of beer, wine and spirits who gnashed at and absorbed his legacy.

Mondavi left his own board as ambassador and partnered back in with the family. With his youngest son Tim  and daughter Marcia, they created a single wine from a single estate at the highest level. The family partnership Continuum Estate is still run by Robert’s son, daughter, and grandchildren Carissa, Chiara, Carlo, and Dante Mondavi (how about THOSE names?!). Thus in the continuum of things, he tried to get back to to the original idea of good food, good wine, and good family to share it with. His name was on the label of many philanthropic ventures—he donated millions to his alma mater to create an institute dedicated to the food and wine sciences as well as the performing arts. In the end, he was back to where he started and among those closest to him who shared his name and his passions. He died peacefully at home at the age of 94.

Having a background of wine knowledge myself and having drunk (and been drunk) on a wide array of wine, I know that even a name doesn’t guarantee standards, flavor profile, consistency, anything really. Terroir is just as crucial in plant genetics as it is in humans. We are built, or damaged by our biology (geology), geography, and the climate of the place and people we interact with. The way we express ourselves and the way we grow is dependent on all of that plus the weather. We are also subject to those pesky, but necessary insects and undesirable diseases. Although some diseases, as in the case of Botrytis infection known as “noble rot” in full-ripened grapes make for a kinder boon. The wine made from grapes picked at a perfect point during the moldy infestation can produce a fine and concentrated sweet wine said to have an aroma of honeysuckle and a bitter finish on the palate. We as humans, can choose to be either sweet or bitter from our miseries.

But isn’t it nice to think, we can remake and reinvent ourselves or even return to ourselves? Or just reNAME ourselves, like most young people who flirt with the idea of running away or changing their name—we want to have our names roll of the tongue, thick as honey, golden and royal. Penetrable as common knowledge. As rich and well-established as old vines grapes. We start out and continue searching for our own power and control over our lives and destinies. We break and change and reconfigure. We try to escape who we are, where we come from. Sometimes to come back and sometime to never look back. Women take a name, add a name, hyphenate a name, or leave name behind when they join forces in love and marriage or business. We set out “make a name for ourselves” like it’s a rise to fame, or a numbers game, and perhaps, we discover our true nature along the way come to peace with a name that suits us well.

Now, getting briefly back to wine . . . of course, you must be a certain percentage of a varietal (with an allowance for some mixing) to be considered “authentic,” and claim your name, so I got to thinking about what kind of math goes into being 100% Andrea Janda and the numbers in my name.

So—here’s a fun little witchy exercise in frequency and numerology on the power of my name from nameanalyzer.net

A (4x) • N (2x) • D (2x) • R (1x) • E (1x) • J (1x)

Influence of the letters in Andrea Janda name:

Numbers and Tarot cards are behind each letter of Andrea Janda name. A brief description, explanation of the meaning of each letter:

Letter Number Tarot card Intensity Short description of meaning
A 1 Magician Creative, Inventive, Intuitive
D 4 Emperor Determined, Persistant, Idealist
E 5 Hierophant Wise, Crafty, Daring, Inventive
J 10 Wheel of Fortune Optimist, Opportunist, Enterpreneur
N 14 Temperance Healer, Wise, Survivor, Crafty
R 18 Moon Patient, Determined, Strong
HEARTS DESIRE NUMBER Andrea: 1+5+1=7. Reduced: 7 .
Janda: 1+1=2. Reduced: 2 .Hearts desire number for Andrea Janda name (calculated from vowels) is Nine.The hearts desire number represents your innermost desires and longings. This number closes the gap between how you feel people see you and the way they see you. It also relates to the subjective, inner aspects of your life, and improve relationships.
Life Expression number (DESTINY NUMBER) Andrea: 1+5+4+9+5+1=25. Reduced: 7.
Janda: 1+1+5+4+1=12. Reduced: 3.Destiny number for Andrea Janda name (calculated from all characters) is One. Also known as Name Number. It relates to your vibration in this world; how you express yourself in the many outer experiences of your life, birth given talents to be developed, and tasks you must achieve in this life.