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I got my first tarot deck for my 23rd birthday. It was the Osho Zen deck, named after one of the most eccentric gurus of the 1970s. There’s a Netflix series about him now called Wild, Wild Country, but I didn’t know anything about him then! I put the cards on my windowsill in my tiny, tiny room in Boston in the light of the Harvest Moon. I started doing readings as a party trick for eager friends, which I still sometimes do today. …


At Halloween, we’re fascinated by the blurry line between the living and the dead. We wonder what it’s like to cross the hedge, to maraud with the legions who have gone before us. Around Christmas and the winter solstice, we realize our imaginations have taken us too far. All we want is warm bodies next to ours, huddled together until the night lifts. But then, we get overwhelmed. Our families take us over once again, sitting around the Thanksgiving table saying prayers for the president half of us didn’t want, sitting around the tree giving out presents one by one…


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You will have no trouble at all finding people who get excited about crystal quartz. From 1970s ecofeminist pagans to #witchesofinstagram, many people find it a desirable tool for that contemporary Venn diagram of alternative spirituality and ‘wellness’ practice. One common argument is that crystal quartz operates at a high vibration — that it helps you clear yourself and the spaces around you. I can forgive (and relate to) the fact that it’s difficult to verbalize spiritual experiences without resorting to extremely hokey language. …


(Little House on the Prairie sewing pattern)

My mom and I went to Montréal over the weekend of November 11 sometime in the late 1990s or very early 2000s, when I was a tween. It’s an important date in our family. This time last year (2018), I was in the North Georgia mountains thinking about how World War I ended a hundred years ago, and my sister died twenty-five years ago. Armistice Day; Veterans’ Day; the length of time it takes to walk past all the names of French teenagers who died on horseback in the first year of the war outside Père Lachaise Cemetery.

I had…


Who do you see who’s not really there?

I have a few — I see them in my mind’s eye, or in that liminal space between waking and sleeping. I think this is very common, even if we’re not paying attention, and no matter what meaning we assign to it. I’m certain it’s a reasonably quotidian experience of being human.

For me, there’s the man in overalls holding a broom outside the historic stone house on campus, a custodian figure. The orange-brown, stout, hairy creature by the bonfire in the North Carolina mountains with funny ears, sort of a bootleg…


In time for Halloween, let me sand down those sharp edges of waking life even more. Let me unwrap more layers of thin gauze from around our eyes. I try to recount my experiences here as precisely as possible, so that you understand I’m not embellishing them. I want to tell good stories, but I also want to precisely pinpoint the details. The more strange the stories, the more accurate I want to be.

Dreams are another of those twilight, in-between, liminal spaces where we communicate in ways we can’t otherwise. That’s my experience, anyway. In the weeks after my…


It’s either very safe or very dangerous to hide under a bridge during a lightning storm. Since I couldn’t remember which it was, I erred on the side of unbridled ignorance and hunkered right down under that concrete overpass in a small town just outside of Winnipeg. I’d blame it on being 23, but who knows what would happen if I released my 33-year old self into the wild unknown today. When I picked up the call on my hot pink T-Mobile flip phone, I didn’t expect anything so serious. It was my mother, and she told me that my…


Tipu’s Tiger is a mechanical toy sculpture of an Indian tiger mauling a British soldier, the latter’s eyes bulging wide in fear as the former pins him flat to the ground. Visitors to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London can only view Tipu’s Tiger in a glass case, but if we could play with it, we would find out that the tiger makes a grunting noise as the man moans. The toy was created in the eighteenth century for Kingdom of Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, also known as the Tiger of Mysore, who hated the British colonizers.

A statue…


High strangeness is the sense that the weird — the wyrd, perhaps — is turned up to top volume.

In April of 2009, a medical student in Boston strangled and killed a woman whom he’d met on Craigslist. Her name was Julissa Brisman. My new coworker’s sister had sat right next to him in their white coat ceremony at Boston University; their last names were right next to one another in the alphabet. When I lived in Boston, I loved to take the T all over the city on weekends, usually by myself. I had plenty of friends, since we’d…

Claire Bolton

Sharing mystical and sacred tools for justice-minded folks to renew their spirits. Writings about spirits, family, and geography. The whole world is alive.

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