MARRAKECH: THE CITY OF THE MAGIC DOORS




Oh, I’m in love! I’m in love with a pink city that comes alive at sundown. In the mornings, the sweet African breeze is cool and crisp. I'd wake up before 5A.M. every day, and hear the call to prayer from my balcony. The sun had barely started to shine and the glow of my computer screen tints my face in blue. As I type out morning e-mails and messages, I feel content with where things are at in my life. This is the best place to be in the moment in, and I don't waste time being outside of myself. I can hear the birds chirping from the riad and the streets are less busy.

The best part of the day is starting it out with the de menthe in the morning. I have at least six cups because I love the fresh mint so much that now it’s a part of my routine. Do it over again for lunch and dinner, and in my friend's shops. I wish this was a practice I could bring back with me to America.

As you walk through the labyrinth, you get some sights! Stray cats roam the streets like lazy royalty, there are beautiful iron doors with pastel colors or stark black and white patterns. I did not cross a door I did not love for its rustic, artisanal qualities. The streets are cobblestoned and many of the walls of he labyrinth have been worn down by the desert’s climate. Many of the patterns seen overhead are in lace. What a Romantic place! Agrabah has come to life!







The shops open form 11A.M. until 10P.M. In some cases, some shops close at 11P.M. or midnight. The shopkeepers are always active, and they will remember you. I have never quite seen hustling game like they have it in the Middle East. The people of the Medina are expert hagglers and hustlers. Both Mom and I learned a thing or two about closing a sale simply from interacting with them.

Another highlight from Marrakech is the attention that you get. It doesn't matter if you're clearly not responsive, it won't discourage them from trying. Everybody gets it, it's hard to avoid when you're passing by the streets.

“Excuse me! Excuse me!” “España?” “How many camels?”

I don’t think I’ve ever received so many compliments in a day. These people will do anything to lure you into their shop and sell you something!







At first, you can easily get overwhelmed by the hustle and the noise. I sure was! It took me a full set of 24 hours before I felt more confident navigating the labyrinth of the Medina, and two full days to feel comfortable being out past 8p.m.

The next we found ourselves walking through the door of our riad at 1:30a.m., arms heavy with two handira and accompanying pillow cases. I was glowing with excitement. These marriage blankets are made in the mountains by Berber women, commitments to their marriage. With growing popularity, they have started to produce these blankets in other colors, but the traditional ones are the white ones. Those were also really gorgeous.

I ended up purchasing three: an XL black one, a medium white one and a small purple one. I can't tell you which one I love more! It is simply impossible to. They are all gorgeous, but my white one will be the one getting the most use.

Haggling the prices for the handira blankets was an experience. Well, finding them was, as well. We went around the entire Medina looking for the right style and scale. After combing through shops and piling blanket after blanket atop one another, we met the charming Mouad. Sitting at the 4th floor of this Moroccan artisanship superstore, the piles flopped on the floor as we sat around, drinking the most delicious mint tea I had during my time in Morocco.




Another quiet source of magic in Marrakech is their garlands. I have a tendency to notice light patterns wherever I go, so these shops were quite a delight. After admiring tea sets, bridal dresses and marriage blankets, the one regret I have is being unable to bring some garlands back. They were all so gorgeous!

The shopping here is unparalleled. Truly. I still dream of some of the tea sets I saw while hunting for my handira blankets. I think we lost count of how many times we came back to the Medina. Something else that we enjoyed that I didn't get to take a photo of is the dried fruit and nuts vendors. I'd delight in some grapefruit juice and dried apricots for snacking and keeping cool. Soooo good!




With each new blanket that flopped onto the floor, I cheered. Those handmade patterns and sequins delight! I saw them in all colors and sizes, and ended up going home with a large black one and a medium white one with some of the most beautiful little details I have seen on handira to date. Now I regularly flop around my bed and delight in the magic of my marriage blankets. I found a third purple one to drape over my couch, and it delights my day every morning when I first walk out of my room.

We took a day to go to the desert of Palmeraie, delighting in camel rides and stopping to drink some water. It was some of the best fun we’ve had in months. When we were done, we got dropped off in the new city of Gueliz. There, we found some really excellent restaurants and a modern Marrakech that we couldn’t help but fall in love with. We kept repeating how impressed we were with what Morocco has to offer, and how much we enjoyed the culture despite how different it is from our own.









I took great enjoyment from kaftan hunting at the Medina. Isibella asked me to bring her back a dress, and I had a great time haggling with vendors. One of them recognized me in the street randomly and greeted me as you would a long time friend.

We went to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and to a few castles. I think my favorite exhibit was that of the Berebere people and how they accessorized themselves.

At night our usual go-to place to have dinner was this Spanish restaurant, where we’d sneak wine and delight in candlelit dinner. We became friends with the owners who shared their life stories with us and greeted us with gusto every evening.

Witnessing sun down on a rooftop in the Medina is something else. I’ll never forget the contrasting pinks and teals in the night sky.







The walk back to our riad every night was hustling and bustling. The markets take on new life at night. Many a time we would find our way back at midnight without concern for our safety even though we traversed the streets of Marrakech alone. It is truly a wonderful, magical place.

On our last day in Marrakech we took a tour to the Atlas mountains to visit a Berber village. I got to hang out with the locals and they taught me how to make organ oil for any ailment you can think of. I saw some more handira that I fantasized about taking home and ended up hiking the Atlas mountains.

The hike was extremely dangerous. There were no ropes to help keep you grounded and the rocks were at times slippery. I found myself asking, “why do I do this to myself?” when I had to go up a thin metal latter that had nothing but rocks after. I only made it because the tour guide helped me get through it.

It was well worth the risk though in my opinion. I found peace in the Atlas mountains. After visiting the waterfall, I fell asleep in a nearby resting area with blankets and pillows. I woke up to silence and the feeling that everything was falling into place. I found myself at peace with myself. No noise, no concerns or burdens. No self-loathing. All of my problems and dramas had gone away for that moment and I felt truly happy. I sat there meditating and enjoying the African breeze, marveling at the sacred grounds I tread.




Still today I can close my eyes and go back there. I remember the way the light of day hit the boulders and the shadows it cast because of it. I remember the clear water of the waterfall and how refreshing it was to sit by it, contemplating my life.

The answer is that I say yes to adventure because it helps define me as an individual. I’ve done some amazing things and found happiness because of it. My happiness is not dependent on others most of the time, but rather in the amazing events I experience. I am a very solitary person, but I find joy in sharing my blessings with others when they wish to participate.

This trip was so good for me. Still today I find myself craving mint tea and feeling the African breeze on my face. These pictures are enough to last me for a while, though, and for that I am thankful.








The lace city delighted me with its mint tea and wild, wild streets. Oh, to traverse the maze of the Medina is a dream come true. I miss it all the time, but I'm glad I got to experience its magic first hand.

It's also kind of sad, but I lost my moonstone necklace in New York on my way back from the trip. Many times I thought to give it back or pass it on, but I wasn't expecting to part with it this way. I kind of wish I hadn't brought it, but that part of my life is over so I chalked it up to time claiming it when my time with it was up. Kind of an emotional conclusion to a venture of self-discovery. I wonder where it ended up.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful 2018!
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DARKNESS OF LIGHT TAROT




Since we are touching up on the subject of inner darkness lately, I figured it was the best time to unearth the Darkness of Light Tarot by Tony diMauro from my vault. I’ve been meaning to review this deck ever since I first got it, but now is when I finally have the ability to sit down and contemplate it. I guess I wanted to dedicate myself to this deck to really get to know it and have some more educated impressions.

The web site for the Darkness of Light Tarot states the following:
The deck strives to paint an honest portrait of nature: it doesn't shy away from dark themes but instead embraces them, weaving both darkness and light together to tell the story of the Fool's journey. Tony diMauro

The inherent darkness of this deck really appeals to me. This deck is unapologetic for its darkness, which is tastefully depicted. A lot of these illustrations look like they could be transitional scenes in dark dreams or nightmares. The darkest cards are powerful, and even the happiest ones have an aura of darkness that pulses through the reader. The feelings evoked aren't murky; instead they resonate very clearly with the reader. Sometimes I can hear sound in my mind that is evoked from the action in the cards. Delightful whispers from my work tools!

Something that really impressed me about this deck is how well it reads out of the box. Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned expert, there is life in these illustrations. You can read according to tradition, or because the cards take on life of their own. They read very easily no matter how seasoned of a reader you are. These cards would be fun to meditate into for spiritual work or simply for the purpose of bonding with your cards in a creative way. I want to learn to read them using every little detail, and that comes with getting to know them over time.

Will the inner voice I hear when I read with them change? The deck almost has a shape shifting vibe to it. If you have a taste for darkness, then this deck is certainly for you.





I have always wanted a deck like this. There was much need for it! Mostly black, beautifully artful renditions of people, and natural aspects that seem to come alive. I appreciate that there are no bright pops of color, and that what is rightfully light is sources of light. I definitely pay attention to the time of day and the mood of the environment in the cards, and use those indicators to influence my readings.

This deck is doing for me what The Wild Unknown Tarot did for a lot of people in the tarot community. When the Wild Unknown Tarot came out, it spread like wildfire for its connection to nature and the stylized black/white pen & ink illustrations with pops of color. But it didn't have humans in it. I can't use a deck if it doesn't have the human figure in it, and this one does.

The values in these cards all go together really well as an overall system. Even though I think these cards are digital paintings, to me they almost look like stylized oil paintings and I love that. I also enjoyed the use of darkness to create a somewhat ethereal space that makes you feel like anything could happen. Magic!

I look over all the cards and there is not a single one I don’t like. That’s an achievement! You enjoy reading with a deck more when you agree with all the cards and how they depict these archetypes we have grown to know and love.




What is your most important characteristic?
Three of Cups. The completion of this project merits celebration. Not only does it fill a necessary void that existed within the options for decks to read with, but it is also a skillful rendition of something that can be both dark and beautiful. It is also elegant, which is a feat in itself to pull off. We start this card interview off with a celebration of the achievement it is. It’s a strong deck that is dark and still manages to keep a balance. I appreciate that it isn’t at an extreme. It is just right!

When it first came out, this deck was definitely celebrated. I was off on holiday so I was unable to connect with it until I got back. And now that I am, I understand the hype. This deck sings!

What are your strengths as a tarot deck?
Eight of Cups. Try not to fit this deck in only as a Rider-Waite clone if you can help it. Seek out the elements that set it apart as an artist’s original work. Look into how it is different and admire it for its individuality. It ventures away from tradition ever so slightly.

Know your strengths. If you walk away from something, let it be because you don’t have the energy to invest in it to do it justice.

What are your limits?
The Sun. There are areas of your life that you may be more attached to than you are willing to admit. Even if you are close to something and feel you have a clear point of view, be open to the possibility that there may still be parts of the situation you don’t understand.

If your pride or ego get in the way, it can’t be helped. The Sun in a negative position in a spread is only slightly less bright. It’s really a positive indicative.



What are you here to teach me?
The Star. I am here to teach you how to find the light in the darkest of situations. So long are you are open and vulnerable you will be able to tune into something outside of yourself. You will just come to understand, and by then you will know what you have to do to act.

Standing vulnerable before others is not easy. It takes courage to open up to someone and share your personal truth also. Trusting is a vulnerable act because you are sharing something intimate about yourself with somebody else. We have this same trust in our fate sometimes.

How can I best learn to collaborate with you?
Ten of Coins. Find your comfort zone. Make the space moody and conductive for the experience you will have with your cards. Go there in your mind as well. Make yourself present and aware, then begin. You can find warmth and comfort even in the darkness. It helps if your reading space is conductive to focus and introspection.

What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?
Three of Coins. It's going to take some work and experimentation reading for different types of people with it. Concepts will change on the intent for them to be manifesting. Once you understand how to peel back the layers to find deeper meaning you will also find yourself more comfortable trying new things. Be patient! Work through it.



Which card do you want to show off?
Five of Wands. There is beauty even in the darkness and even in the difficult cards to draw. For every difficult set of news to tell there will be something to buffer and hold us over. It is important though that we accept what is outside our control and commit to work through the negativity instead of getting taken under by it.

How do you see me?
King of Cups. Tuned into empathy and compassion, easily influenced. Seeking out something more when there is something good just beside you. The restlessness is to catch something prized when in reality you already have a lot going for you that is worthy of praise and admiration. Try not to focus so much on what is outside your control, it makes you feel heavy. There is no reason to subject your feelings to that.

How do you see yourself?
Queen of Swords. Sharp and tough as nails. No one shakes your perspective or sways you without first facing the sharp end of your blade. At your best you are eloquent and immaculate with your words. At your worst, you decimate people.



This is the kind of world I live and thrive in, a world of darkness. Those of us that dwell in Gothic subculture especially will have a fondness for this deck. It speaks to us in a way we understand, because we live a life of dark glamour and this is the closest to our interests as we will ever get in the tarot. I love this deck! Thank you for reading.
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