April 26, 2017

Satanic Stupidity 2.0

This is something that's been a challenge for me to understand in the past: do Satanists follow principled positions, or is Satanism just a tool-kit to be used either in whole or part? I've had some very large disagreements with other Satanists over this question in the past and I've come to accept that Satanism can be both - it really just depends on the individual, you know? Me being who I am, though, I think that it's worth taking a principled stand on a variety of issues that are either important to me or that I think are worth being principled about. 

One such principled position I think is worth standing for is not being a massive, gaping asshole for the sole reason that there's no law which requires me to be a decent human being. And speaking from a lesser magic perspective, I'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar, you know what I mean? But, returning to the conversation: somebody in an online discussion group shared a link to a podcast, and somebody else made a general comment about how gosh-darned amazing the program is. I chimed in that I felt differently about their third-side interpretations of Satanic philosophy and decided to stop watching...

... and that's when these two guys just couldn't keep it together anymore. The way they flew off the handle you'd think I was posting pictures of my hairy asshole, but apparently having a non-critical difference of opinion is just as bad. 

But you know, I've learned my lesson from past encounters. It's wrong to try and force other Satanists to my way of thinking and insist that they see things the same way that I do. I've got strong opinions and I'll present evidence-based arguments for why I feel the way I do, but my days of storming other Satanists' blogs and videos and trying to discuss it with them are long over. I've accepted that if I feel differently, I don't need to convince them otherwise. They're welcome to their opinions, and me to mine - and if I feel very strongly about something, I'll elucidate my thoughts within the digital confines of my lair - namely my own blog, YouTube channel, or my Google+ profile. If they don't like what I have to say, then they don't have to visit these places and try to impose their solipsism upon me.

So naturally you might see why this whole exchange was alternately irritating and entertaining. I mean... for crying out loud, if they just want to advertise the show but don't want to have to talk to anybody about it then they can buy Facebook ads, amiright?

A few key points stood out to me from this exchange.

First, the host's friend's accusation that I'm shitting on the pride of the host of the show. Shit on his pride? What is this, a little league baseball game where every child is exceptional, everybody gets a trophy, and nobody's allowed to say anything that doesn't gush positive? For fuck's sake, people... can't I talk about the show generally without you getting all butt-hurt because I'm not falling over myself to praise it? And if what I said qualifies as "shitting on his pride," then these guys have awfully thin skin because I not only didn't say anything about the host of the episode in question, but I didn't even make a value judgement - I only said I felt differently. Apparently, that's a gave injury which needs soothing.

Second, the host and his friend both made this weird accusation that I'm forbidden from discussing other episodes. Huh? What is this, a no-free-speech zone? If these guys can't tolerate off-topic conversations on posts that they share in an online group created for the purpose of discussion, then the Internet isn't going to be a good place for them. And slightly related, but their accusation that my opinion is both "wrong" and "irrelevant" since I was referring to a past episode and two of the three hosts aren't even on the show anymore. Again, Huh? Since when is personal experience validated after the fact according to the interested party's preference? I'm pretty sure I was not impressed by the conversation then, and I'm still not impressed by it now. The hosts are welcome to their opinion, and since Satanism is an individual matter I'm not prepared to say that they're wrong - but I still feel differently and just don't feel like spending my very limited time watching a show that hasn't proven to be personally stimulating to me. Is that really so bad that I'm not falling over myself to love it?

Third, and this is rather petty - but what's with all these Satanists who can't use proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting? If I'm going to take time out of my evening to give the apparently misplaced courtesy of responding to hostile demands that I elucidate my thoughts and justify my opinion, I'd appreciate it if the other side of the conversation could at least attempt to make their writing easier to read. If I had a dollar for every time I communicated with a Satanist who wrote tenants instead of tenets, facilities instead of fallacies, and just inserted words seemingly at random into the middle of a sentence I'd have, well... probably enough to buy a good sushi dinner at the Shogun restaurant in town. But the point is - Why can't these people be bothered to care about what they're writing enough to spend 15 seconds proof-reading before they send it? Apparently, Satanic elitism doesn't extend to written communication.

Fourth, I'm really astonished at the level of self-censorship exercised by the other two guys in the conversation. It's absolutely each individual's choice to decide for him or herself who and what is included in his or her total environment. I do the same thing - if I don't want to see somebody or something on Google+, I clean up my circles and followed pages to eliminate it from my timeline. Nothing wrong with that. But the OP who shared the link was so triggered by my non-critical comment that I felt differently and decided to stop watching that he couldn't leave it alone. He was compelled to argue with me and make me justify my opinion, and when I presented evidence to show him that there really was in fact a reason that I felt differently, he had a childish fit and declared that I had better not ever comment on his links again and promptly quit the group. The second guy was so triggered that he deleted his top-level comment to erase the entire conversation. Who does that? That's quite intriguing to me that he felt the need to prevent anybody else from seeing what we were talking about, and again - I still didn't actually criticize anybody. From the very start, my only assertion is that I felt differently. What does it say about both of these guys that a difference of opinion is so threatening to them?

I thought this whole thing was finished, but the host's fanboy was apparently so upset that I didn't generally love the podcast as much as he did that it was necessary for him to contact me in private and try to teach me why I'm wrong. He very helpfully opened by saying that he understands it and that he's right, and then inviting me to explain whatever it was I didn't understand. Yes... thank-you for your condescension. Nothing sparks a riveting conversation among Satanists as opening with, "I'm right and you're wrong." And hey, I'll admit - I've made this mistake in the past. It can be very difficult to put aside passionate emotions in a Satanic discussion, but it's something I think I've gotten much better at. Clearly, this is a lesson "Bob" is still learning.

At this point, you might be wondering what the issue is that sparked a difference of opinion? I'm not going to link it for the sole reason that I just don't care to feed drama - but in an episode of this podcast the three hosts had a round-table discussion in which they talked about not calling people by their preferred genders because they haven't done anything (for the hosts personally) to deserve it. And you know, the justification for such a rationale is right there in the 4th Satanic statement - kindness is for the deserving! - so the hosts are surely welcome to make this argument if they really feel that way.

But you know, it's also in the canon literature that Satanism accepts all sexual orientation and gender identities. The argument can also be made that there's no reason to refuse to call people by their preferred gender and - arguably - it's un-Satanic to refuse such an simple request. Why in the world would you demand that people you meet either online or in person who care to call themselves by a different gender than the one they were born curry your favor and do you some kind of service to deserve your kindness over such a simple request? I think that this is place where I should be principled and that there shouldn't be any debate over the matter. Don't you think it's inconsistent to say in one breath that you won't address people by their preferred gender because they haven't earned it, and then say in the next breath that Satanism has always been GLBTQ+ inclusive? Doesn't really jive, does it?

After some back and forth with this guy, he kindly informed me, "I don't give 2 shits what your preferred gender is and I am not going to respect it, either." And that was the point in the conversation where I said, "I'm sorry you feel that way, madam," and refused to address her as a man for the rest of the conversation in the hope that she would see my point. Naturally, this ended with her calling me stupid, accusing me of not being a true Satanist, and insisting that I failed to see her point. I was optimistic that since she took the time to contact me directly that we could share a private conversation free of interference and reach a mutual understanding, but judging by the results I expected too much. 

These kinds of encounters make me question my place in Satanism. Not myself as a Satanist, but where I stand in the greater Satanic conversation. Part of me thinks that I must be a dullard that I can't see it the other way, and then another part of me thinks that if this kind of view is what qualifies as "truly Satanic," then I should find another way to be Satanic. Or at least, I'll have to fully embrace the Satanic reality that Satanism is for the individual and that I may be happier practicing my individual approach to Satanism in a vacuum. There are worse things than practicing alone, and if anybody asked me I'd say that one of them is giving a free pass to embarrassing and ignorant behavior from co-religionists.

April 24, 2017

If you're going to start a Luciferian church...

via Houston Chronicle
Any lessons to be learned here?

1) If you want to start a Satanic Luciferian church, don't throw in with somebody who by reported accounts from those closest to him should have been seen for the con-artist he is.

2) If you want to start a Satanic Luciferian church, own your operating space so you can't be forced out when the local Christians start sending death-threats to your landlord. Christians are such a tolerant bunch, aren't they?

3) If you want to start a Satanic Luciferian church, don't choose a storefront with big glass windows. Any idiot could predict that it would get shattered almost immediately. Fences and second-floor locations go a long way to keeping out the riff-raff.

4) If you want to start a Satanic Luciferian church, don't play respectability politics. If you're going to take the name of Satan Lucifer, then TAKE IT! Blasphemy is part of the attraction, and if you're going to change your name from "Greater Church of Lucifer" to the "Assembly of Light Bearers," then you can go ahead and quit before you start again because you might as well be Neo/Pagan or even a New Thought organization. And that's not much of a winning path, either, because Neo/Pagans can't seem to stop eating their elders or even sustain a seminary (which is struggling to stay solvent), and the only New Thought organization with meaningful infrastructure still standing is the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, whose land and infrastructure was given to it by a very wealthy patron - and to the best of my knowledge, they've never expanded beyond it.

April 19, 2017

I'm a Fortune Teller

Over the years I've spent as a fortune-teller, I've learned that people generally see me as a cheap entertainer who belongs in a circus sideshow outside the confines of polite society. There's also a general sentiment that it's okay to be rude to fortune-teller - like we're not real people - because we exist on the margins. And you know, for the most part, I think that's okay - society being what it is, and me being the misanthropist that I am, I think we're all happier this way. I don't seek approval and acceptance, and truth told I'm quite happy being seen as an entertainer. Some people expect fortune-tellers to be sainted prophets or  infallible seers, and that's absolutely not what I am. I don't want to put myself in the position where I claim perfect knowledge, because I think that's not only impossible but also requires me to pretty much take responsibility for my clients' problems - and there are few things for which I have less patience than a client coming coming back into my life months later only to complain that I wasn't right. It doesn't bother me that I can be wrong - that's just part and parcel of being a fortune-teller - but it does bother me in spite of my advice to the contrary some clients refuse to take responsibility for themselves and whine to me later that they couldn't just coast on my prediction.

But that's just the general perception that I've observed among society at large. My parents, for example, no matter how often I remind them that I'm full-time self employed they just don't seem capable of disabusing themselves of this assumption that I'm living on the dole and am begging for hand-outs from anybody who'll take pity on me. I feel as if I ought to be insulted by this, but for the most part I just find it humorous. My parents came from a generation where the rules of the game stipulated that if you went to university for at least four years, you could apply to a corporate job where you'd work nine-to-five and be promised vacation time, health benefits, spend every weekend with your family, and in 40 years get a pension. For them, those rules are still in play and they're reaping the benefits, and while they understand plenty about the world, they don't at all understand how the world in which I live is not at all the same as the world in which they live. The promises they grew up with don't exist for me, and because I'm not living by their rules, they'll always think I'm a bum. Which is fine - their opinion of me stopped being important a long time ago - but the difference in world-view between our generations is a lot different. I don't think there's anything I can do to change it - I know I've tried - so there's not much else to do except keep calm and carry on.

Now, my friends - there's a different story. Satanists are an extreme majority, and no matter how you define Satanism and the people who claim the Devil's name, the absolute number will always be a fraction of a fraction. I've only met two other people in my city who identify as Satanists and as it happens I don't particularly like either one of them (but that's a story for another day.) But the reason I bring up friends is because my interests in Tarot, divination, and general occult flippity-flap brings me closer to the local Pagans than anybody else. I'm not one-of-them, but they interpret me through their Pagan lens anyway and see what they will. None of them have ever said it, but I've gotten the general impression that they think of me as Professor Quirrel - the Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor who was secretly murdering unicorns and carrying the bogeyman Voldemort within his own flesh. Aloof, deceitful, and overall occulty. I can live with that.

But if you thought my friends' perception of me was something else, you're going to love my clients' perception of me. Due in large part to how I market and present myself, my clients frequently see me as a kind of demonic intermediary: "I have such sights to show you!" For the most part, I'm glad for this dramatic perception and am happy to know that my theatrical presentation is doing what I intended. There are fortune-tellers who prefer to keep everything cool as a cucumber, and that's their prerogative, but I've found that a little drama goes a long way toward creating an experience that my clients will come back to over and over again. And honestly, part of the reason that I've nurtured this perception is because I want my clients to know before they put their money on the table that I'm probably going to tell them something they don't want to hear. This is not only part of my promise to read the cards no matter what they say, but from a sales perspective this is about framing my clients' expectations. If they know that they might hear something they don't like, then it doesn't become a problem when it comes up. But if I sell them on sunshine and butterfly farts and then tell them something they don't want to hear, you can bet they're not going to like it.

And how do I see myself? Some people are surprised to know that I see myself not as a prophet, seer, or even a hell-priest, but more like a detective who's very observant and connects the dots from scattered pieces to see the whole. My clients typically observe me at work and call it magic - and who knows, maybe it is magic? I embrace the magic and mystery of fortune-telling - but the reality is that if they knew exactly how I told their fortune they'd find it dry, analytical, and probably boring. And that's okay - they don't have to know how I do it or even want to do it for themselves. I do fortune-telling my way because it works for me, and they're welcome to consume it their way because it works for them. See? Everybody's happy.

But no matter how I feel about myself as an observant detective, after removing fantasy from the equation the reality is that I'm the Wizard of Oz: a man who's learned to perform a few tricks very well and hides behind a curtain while his vaunted avatar is believed to be doing the real work. Does that make me a nobody? Perhaps. But going back to the example of the flim-flam man behind the curtain, he did ultimately give Dorothy the way home, the Lion his courage, the Tin-Man a brain, and the Scarecrow a heart. And not because he gave them what was missing, but because he gave them opportunities to use what they already had. I find that this reality is frequently true for me: I don't honestly give my clients anything at all, I only give them opportunities to exercise their will and do for themselves what nobody else will do for them.

April 18, 2017

Open- vs. Closed-Source

In which I discuss mental health; open- vs- closed-source Satanism; comparisons to Paganism; The Satanic Warlock; and holism.

April 11, 2017

Book Review: The Satanic Warlock

So, I finally finished reading the Satanic Warlock. And not finally because it's a long book to read, but because it's a painfully difficult book to read. Ever read Maxim? The Satanic Warlock is like that, only with fewer pictures and worse editing. The bulk of every chapter in the book is filled with the author bragging about his exploits - which is fine - but unless we're supposed to read between the lines, there's not much to be learned except that the author has had and continues to have a lot of sex. Not even discussing the content of the book, I found it difficult to read because it's riddled through with typos, grammos, and formatting errors. And did I mention that every paragraph is separated by a double line break?

Every paragraph.

Is separated.

With a double line break.

That's a lot of empty space.

The author speaks frequently about how many witches and warlocks were interviewed in preparation to write the book, and also thanks them for their contributions, but their contributions aren't edited into the final work of the book and used as fuel to feed great instruction in the performance of lesser magic or the act of seduction. Instead, these contributors are almost uniformly copy-pasted into the body of the work and their contribution is noted with an (italicized comment) - something I've never seen done before - or in the instances where they aren't noted, their words are just copy-pasted into an unformatted list. In addition to that, several chapters end with disjointed paragraphs written by other people who are simply remarking upon themes set forward by the author. Unless I'm  missing it, no effort was made to weave their words into the content, they're just extra viewpoints tacked on to expand a chapter. In many ways, The Satanic Warlock felt like a copy-pasted survey of sexual practices and opinions from Church of Satan members. Which is fine - it surely makes for interesting reading - but it feels a bit disingenuous to charge money for a book filled with content that feels like it was skimmed from Facebook comments.

In terms of writing style, The Satanic Warlock is painful to read because the tone is almost uniformly declarative and doesn't flow as a conversation. I mean, I've read stereo instruction manuals that were more engaging because at least they provided in-depth instructions how to do what the instructions say they'll show you to do, which is more than I can say for The Satanic Warlock which only skims the surface. Nothing presented in The Satanic Warlock ever goes beyond the 100 level, or when it does attempt to go beyond the 100 level, it doesn't elaborate. For example, a kitchen dullard might ask, "How do I make pancakes?," to which the chef responds, "You fry them in a hot pan." That's what a lot of the content in The Satanic Warlock is like: anything beyond the simplest and most self-evident strategies is answered with an as-the-crow-flies general strategy.

In terms of diversity of content, The Satanic Warlock is all over the place. You'll find advice on how to groom and dress yourself, how to behave in polite company, basic table manners for fine dining, and strategies for the performance of lesser magic including body language, order of operations for how to present yourself to a woman (what to address first, what to address last), the dangers of trying to NEG a woman into sleeping with you, and so on, but again - because nothing in the book goes beyond the 100 level, and anything that does is only described in the most general terms - there's absolutely nothing here that you can't learn for free on the Internet or get for better and cheaper from off-the-shelf books about table manners, courtesies and customs, basic person-to-person direct-sales strategies, and even neuro-linguistic programming.

I'm a big fan of lesser magic and absolutely fell in love with Anton LaVey's The Satanic Witch. When I heard that the CoS canon would be expanded with an officially endorsed follow-on to The Satanic Witch to complete the male perspective on lesser magic, I was stoked. Very nearly as soon as pre-orders became available I laid my money on the table for a signed hard-back edition of The Satanic Warlock. The book was promised to be finished and to have shipped by the 50th anniversary of the Church of Satan on Walpurgisnacht 2016, but then for reasons that were never explained it got delayed and we were promised it would ship before Halloween. Then it got delayed again and we were told that it would ship on Halloween. Then it was announced that the printers were having trouble gilding the pages, and were told that it would ship as soon as it became available. Yeah... not what I was expecting from a Church of Satan endorsed project led by a highly ranked member of the hierarchy. This is the kind of shenanigans I'd expect from a half-baked, crowd-funded project on Kickstarter.

I did eventually receive my copy before the New Year, and was almost immediately disappointed with the purchase when it became evident that the content of the book was not as much to do with lesser magic in general from a man's perspective and instead very heavily to do with how to seduce women. Which is fine - there's nothing wrong with seducing women - but The Satanic Warlock is a pale shadow of The Satanic Witch and taught me nothing that I hadn't already learned in The Satanic Witch or from my tenure in the Marine Corps, a martial arts instructor, a salesman, and a professional Tarot reader. Clearly, I was hoping for more. I also got the impression from the sloppy editing and the numerous typos and grammos that the final draft was rushed to publication and suffered from poor oversight.

Perhaps my disappointment would be less if The Satanic Warlock had been marketed as a 100-level book? Then at least I would have known that it wouldn't have anything to offer me, but marketed as it was as a comprehensive guide to Satanic magic for warlocks and showered with gushing reviews from the known and public faces of the Satanic interwebs, I really got the impression that it was at least at the 200 level or higher - like The Satanic Scriptures by Magus Gilmore, or Infernalia by Michael Rose? Maybe I just don't have eyes to see, but from what I saw there's nothing original in The Satanic Warlock and all the actionable information is either repeated elsewhere and in greater detail in the Church of Satan canon literature, or is so basic that it can be had for free, better, and cheaper from other authors.

Final verdict? Save your money, folks. There's nothing to see here.

April 10, 2017

Skin Color =/= Magical Ability

via YouTube
So. This is happening: 
“Magic is not for white people. Leave that shit to brown + black women and stop fucking up the cosmic balance with ur [sic] fake witchy shenanigans.” -Sanam (@trustmedaddy) April 3, 2017
The woman who tweeted this to her +13k followers got some attention, the fall-out got picked up by Heats, and turned up in my RSS feeder by way of the Watcher of the Dawn. I wish I could say that I'm surprised that this tempest in a tea cup is gaining traction, but if there's anything I've learned from watching the Internet it's that netizens love nothing more than a fight-of-the-day. Well... truth told... I love a fight-of-the-day, too - it keeps my rhetorical skills strong and helps me refine my understanding of the world in which I live.

I'm not going to waste my time dissecting her statement that magic is for "brown and black women," because I'm not really in the mood today to debunk sexist occult tropes about magical vaginas and how they can apparently Hoover-vacuum dark forces into a woman's uterus. That kind of gender-binary occultism is broken, and it's worth talking about because people still talk about it, but that's not my focus today.

No, today I'm here to talk about CULTURAL APPROPRIATION! I don't buy into the accusation of cultural appropriation. If a white guy wants to embarrass himself by running around dressed like a mockery of a Native American, that's his business, and I think it's well established that the only person he's humiliating is himself. Likewise, if you want to be a white person who wears corn-rows or dreadlocks, that's your business. You do you, and I'll do me. People who sling accusations of CULTURAL APPROPRIATION are in many ways segregationists who want a place for everybody and everybody in their place. The flow of ideas, practices, styles, habits, and anything else you can name between people is how all those things grow and evolve. Demanding that white/brown/black/yellow/etc. people can't use something because it originated outside of their respective cultures is just another way of saying, "You have to drink from the other fountain." 

The only way for ideas and practices which are unworthy of perpetuation to be brought to an end is by being made to compete in an open marketplace of ideas. If your ideas, beliefs, practices, or customs are worthy, then they'll be figuratively or even literally purchased by customers. "Law of the jungle" doesn't just apply to animals - it applies to thoughts, concepts, beliefs, ideas, practices, customs, and even cultures. I don't think that anybody or anything should be sheltered from criticism for the sake of protecting and preserving culture. Likewise, perhaps you've got some really great stuff but you're keeping it to yourself. Have you considered that if you gave up exclusive ownership and control over whatever-it-is that you could gain a massive audience and potentially huge leverage over the further growth and development of the intangible in question? Segregation not only shelters and perpetuates unworthy ideas and practices that deserve death, but also hides and stunts worthy ideas and practices that deserve life.

The woman making this accusation of CULTURAL APPROPRIATION is doing so for exactly the reasons that I expected: she wants to validate herself as being authentic and powerful. As usual, isn't it odd how it is that the people who agitate for orthodoxy are the ones who stand the gain the most from keeping the status quo? Orthodoxy is static. It doesn't move. Honesty and creativity are the enemies of orthodoxy which would otherwise equate criticism with treason and lean heavily authoritarian. If you like authoritarianism, you're welcome to it, but that's not a mode of thought (or organizational management) that has yielded favorable results for individual liberty. You're welcome to be orthodox in your own practices, but your personal orthodoxy doesn't extend to other's personal liberty. It doesn't diminish your faith, belief, culture, ideas, habits, or practices when other people do things that don't impact you. Jesus loves you, but Satan demands you grow the fuck up.

Does this woman of color who makes the accusation of CULTURAL APPROPRIATION realize that she's reinforcing racist stereotypes about people of color? I find it deeply humorous that a woman of color is so ignorantly playing into the white stereotype that people of color are are possessed of magical power and innate abilities that white people lost as a result of becoming civilized. Is this woman aware or does she even care about how her argument that all people of color being "magical" (whatever that's supposed to mean to her) plays into and supports the racist stereotype that (mostly) white believe how people of color are more sexually promiscuous than white people? Or more violent? I mean, it's not as if people of color are mythical creatures like unicorns or leprechauns, right? We're not playing D&D and selecting classes based on the bonus rolls. Ever noticed how in many RPG's the black character typically gets bonus rolls for strength and agility, but never for intelligence or wisdom? Think about it.

This argument for a cultural or even physically/spiritually inborn magical superiority plays directly into the involuntary eugenics programs of the past which sought to improve the human race through the non-consensual sterilization of undesirables. Granted, she's not arguing for eugenics, but she is making the argument that she's superior in terms of either race or culture - and I dare you to explore where that argument will take you. I also dare you to explore the interwebs and see who else is making the argument for inborn superiority based on either culture or race. Spoiler alert: ignorant white racists ahead!

I don't have anything against elitists: if you're elite, then flaunt it. You earned it, so indulge in your earned power. But I absolutely am against people who think that they're elite for no other reason than their race or place of birth. That's deeply ignorant thinking and that kind of ignorance deserves to be killed with fire. Prove yourself elite through your accomplishments - not by clinging to herd identity. I'm not racist - I'm an equal opportunity hater and if you prove yourself to me by way of your words and your actions to be deserving of my scorn, you'll get it. No race or culture involved: for better or for worse, I'll judge you as an individual, and no defense based on ignorant stereotypes about skin color or culture will save you.

April 01, 2017

The Secrets of Snow and Ice

So the other day I found a blogger talking about finding cards in the wild. And to be honest, I thought that was really wild - I've never found playing cards outside before that I can ever remember. I suppose part of this is that I haven't particularly been looking for them, but then, part of it too is that I've largely engineered my life to avoid interaction with other people. I live at home, I eat at home, I work at home, and when I go out to do anything, it's in the car to a parking lot into a store back into my car and back home. Yes, I'm a bit of a hermit, but I like it that way.

But for whatever reason - if you choose to believe in this sort of thing - I found cards yesterday. I was walking to the grocery store down the block to get some celery (we had chili and oven fries for dinner) and there in the grassy margin beside the lane were three playing cards. I don't know how long they've been there, but seeing as the bulk of the snow is only just melting it's quite possible that they got scooped up by a plow and spent the better part of the winter frozen in a snow drift. And now, here they are: the 10 of Hearts, the 9 of Hearts, and... something. The middle card might have been something before it got buried in snow and ice, but now it's absolutely blank and no longer bears any suit or pip markings.

In the words of the sage, "What does this mean?" Well... it might meaning absolutely nothing at all except that I found some trash.

Or, if I'm going to read the cards in the order that I found them, it could be a message about security and duty. 

The 10 of Hearts is the first card I found, and for me that's a card of urgent obligation and a pressing need for care and security. Reading it in context to the second card I found, the 9 of Hearts, this is a message about turning my attention toward long-term security and both the literal and figurative stability of my home... which isn't a surprising message since I have to re-shingle my roof this year.

The real mystery here is the blank card. Without any visible clues to its suit or pips, it's a wild card and I'll read it as a Joker who talks about being forced to change for the sake of change. And I'll tell ya, that sounds like a pretty stupid message to me. Change for the sake of change? Even if no change is needed and change might even make things worse? Not really seeing the significance. If there's a message here, perhaps it's about the importance of hearing and acting upon messages when they're timely and relevant - and not after they've spent all winter frozen in a snowbank. This might have been something important six months ago, but anything it might have been is gone now. 

Tick tock... time is running out.