Deadlines: Time Management

Sketch journal where I don’t have to worry about perfect drawings or writing.

Sketch journal where I don’t have to worry about perfect drawings or writing.

There’s a superstition that what you do on New Years is significant of how your year will be. So if you go out to a wild party, your year will be full of social engagements, if you spend it with close friends or family, it will be spent cultivating close relationships and friendships, and if you spend it alone, it will a be year of self reflection and care. Last New Years, I spent it alone, cooking, cleaning, and on a deadline which was Jan 1. I knew the year would be filled with projects but I didn’t know how large or fantastic they would be. I also didn’t know how isolated I would become. It’s easy to hide away on deadline, to just focus on the work, and feel like there’s not enough time for anything in between. I’ve done it and found myself depleted during and very much after those deadlines had been met.

When I was working on The Smashing Pumpkins tour I slept about 4 hours a night. There were a lot of images to complete and my main focus was to make good looking work that reflected what the band needed aesthetically. While the work came out great and the concepts were fantastic and exciting, I wasn't taking very good care of myself. I barely got out of the house, ate whatever was fastest, and rarely exercised. I was so focused on finishing and making good work in a short amount of time that I completely forgot about balance. Once the target date had passed, I immediately crashed. I had another project coming and was struggling with finding the energy to finish it. In the midst of this I recalibrated and tried to work out a plan that gave me time to exercise, cook, and possibly socialize. (This isn’t always achievable. Especially when trying to paint three to five paintings a day for huge projects.)

I started to look at the way I was framing time. I get up in the am, make coffee, pet the cat, check email, and take a few moments to put my to do list together and make day goals and then I’d spend the rest of the day painting or writing until I met those goals with just a few breaks in between for food. I would fall asleep exhausted only to wake up four hours later just as tired. I began to break up time into increments. The morning would remain the same, get up, make coffee, have breakfast, and then I’d get myself to the gym to swim or I would ride my bike down the lakefront for a few hours. Sometimes I would do both but the rest of the day had to change otherwise I was going to crash and burn quickly. I decided to do some research on productivity.

Author Tony Schwartz founder of The Energy Project suggests we focus on the 4 main pillars of human energy needed to avoid burnout.

  1. Physical - Focusing on nutrition, sleep, fitness, and intermittent breaks throughout the day.

  2. Emotional - Developing and nurturing the emotions that coincide with higher performances. The idea that emotions can influence performance.

  3. Mental - Switching between calculated, detailed thinking and the bigger picture. Utilizing focus to create results.

  4. Spiritual - Purpose and serving something other than the self.

He also categorizes work performance into different levels.

  1. The Performance Zone - This is where we produce our best work. The four categories above are being met and energy is at its peak.

  2. Renewal Zone - Restorative yet positive energy, conducive to daydreaming and restoring focus on bigger picture goals.

  3. Survival Zone - High energy but negative, impatient, critical, and stressed. We can no longer focus on the bigger picture because we are caught in a cycle of productivity but moving towards burnout.

  4. Burnout Zone - Low and negative energy fed by depression and exhaustion with very little productivity.

While I haven’t looked into too many of Tony’s methods I do feel that this simple breakdown of how we work and what we need for balance is true and effective.

In a  2008 University of Illinois study found that attention spans and memory drop after long periods of focusing without breaks. performance declined in those without breaks but brief interludes increased the focus of those observed.

Upon further research I discovered scientists at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute (BSI) had uncovered tools to help the brain focus by routing relevant information to noncognitive domains of the brain. This allowed them to gain insight on how the brain is disrupted by distractions. Justin Gardner and his research team found the brain uses a two step process.

  1. Sensitivity enhancement - Look at the project as a whole and assess what needs attention. Focus on what needs the most attention.  

  2.  Efficient selection - Zoom into the task at hand. As you do this it helps you enter into the Performance Zone.

Using these pieces of information I formulated a plan for my next deadline. I would stop multitasking. There was too way I could answer tarot related client questions, paint, keep up with social media, and try to take on other projects at the same time. I had to focus one painting at a time. I came up with actions that were achievable for the most part.

-I would try and get 8 hours of sleep a night. I used this “Swamp Sounds” recording to get me relaxed and fall asleep quickly.

-I would exercise 5-6 days a week for 1 hour increments but would not beat myself up if I fell short of this.

-I would try to cook easy meals in advance so I wouldn’t have to worry about eating quick foods.

-I would drink lots of water.

-I would use errands as a way to stop for breaks and engage with the outside world

-I would go to a museum, attend a cultural event etc whenever I could to give myself a rest and gather inspiration/feed my mind.

-I’d keep a journal where everything could be messy and imperfect and I wouldn’t have to worry about what I wrote or if it was poetic. The drawings could be messy and smudged. It would be a place to play.

With theses changes I was able to manage the emotional and mental aspects of the deadline. Swimming in the morning allowed me to process any feelings I had and gave me the energy to step into work mode once I got home. In order to cook food I made sure I took breaks in between painting to make easy recipes such as soups and baked healthy muffins for breakfast or boiled up some eggs for easy quick snacks. I also cut up fruit into water and kept it in the fridge so I’d have access to fresh infused water throughout the day. I also assessed the ways I worked fastest. I’m someone who is easily distracted in a quiet room, so I found myself working faster when I put on a podcast or a documentary. That way I could listen but my full focus could be on painting while I listened and absorbed any other information. I also turned off social media during heavy work periods. The spiritual aspect was the process itself. When I paint I spend a lot of time looking at people, trying to understand them, what makes them special etc. This is working outside of myself. Am I telling their story in a way that will make them proud? These were my thoughts while working on “The Hoodoo Tarot.” While I did get to Survival Zone by the end of the deadline. We were working on a lot in a short time span I didn’t feel fully burnt out. I considered this experiment a success and know for the next deadline I’ll be able to manage it even better.

My friend Chiron Armand suggested the Pomodoro technique of 25 minutes with a five minute rest and uses Marinara: Pomodoro Assistant a google chrome extension.

I’ve also been exploring a bit of the Ultradian rhythm of 90-120 minutes based on experiments of brain activity while sleeping. First brought to our attention by Nathan Kleitman his research was called “Basic Rest-Activity Cycle” in which he focused on the 90-minute cycles during which you advance through the five stages of sleep.  He also took notice that the brain mimics this during the day as well with higher and lower attention spans throughout the day.

I’m looking to try both of these and see which works for me personally. As a freelancer it’s very easy to get sucked into the feeling that you can’t stop until you’re finished. Allowing myself breaks in between, even if it’s just to prep food completely reformulated the way I work creating a more efficient and less taxing way to meet a deadline. I’m still a work in progress but feeling much healthier, stronger, and much less stressed because of it.

Remnants of Storyville

From 1897 to 1917 Storyville was one of the first of the tenderloin districts after the "Swamp" (Between South Robertson and South Liberty Streets) started to decline. Spanning a sixteen block radius (Iberville to St Louis and North Robertson to North Basin Streets, just Northwest of the infamous St Louis Cemetery No 1.) Named after Sidney Story a councilman who in 1897 enacted a city ordinance designating a confined area for prostitution. Lining Basin street were high end Saloons and mansions which offered beds, gambling, drinking, entertainment, and ladies for the evening. Storyville has often been credited for the beginnings of jazz as well as  a city of degeneracy. Most of Storyville was torn down to make way for Iberville Projects. These three buildings remain. 

Location of Lulu White's Saloon Photo 1943 from Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose

Location of Lulu White's Saloon Photo 1943 from Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose

Lulu White's Saloon today.  237 Basin St. Photo Katelan Foisy 2018

Lulu White's Saloon today.  237 Basin St. Photo Katelan Foisy 2018

Lulu White found herself in Storyville from Alabama in 1880. Lulu, born in Selma, moved to Louisiana with a long list of offenses. She became a well known Madame and ran Mahogany Hall and Lulu White's Saloon which catered to some of the most prominent and wealthiest men in the area. Her love of extravagant jewelry earned her the nickname "The Queen of Storyville." Her jewelry was so lavish that they were described as "like the lights of the St. Louis Exposition." which was quoted in the "blue book" (a directory for brothels and prostitutes) for her business. She called herself "The Diamond Queen." She was also known for her bad business dealings which eventually left her broke and with a prison sentence which she asked to be pardoned for poor health. The sentence was commuted by Woodrow Wilson. She returned to running a brothel shortly after and remained a madame until her death. 

Mahogany Hall (235 Basin St) was demolished on Nov 22, 1949. It was four stories and in it's prime made of marble with five parlors, fifteen bedrooms with bathrooms and closets and boasted hot and cold water in all of them. The bottom part of Lulu White's Saloon is all that remains of these businesses. Mahogany Hall was immortalized in "Mahogany Hall Stomp" which has been recorded by Louis Armstrong among others. 

Arrow points to Mahogany Hall. Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose

Arrow points to Mahogany Hall. Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose

Location of Frank Early's Saloon on Bienville and Crozat (formerly Franklin) Photo taken 1940s found in Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose

Location of Frank Early's Saloon on Bienville and Crozat (formerly Franklin) Photo taken 1940s found in Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose

Frank Early's Saloon. Photos Katelan Foisy 2018

Frank Early's Saloon. Photos Katelan Foisy 2018

Best known for it's connection to Tony Jackson,  who created the song "Pretty Baby" Frank Early's Saloon provided work for musicians. Tony had worked as a musician since he was a child and was known for his large repertoire which earned him the nickname of professor, a term used to describe someone with a vast assortment of music. Jelly Roll Morton came into contact with Jackson during their years of playing brothels and despite the ten year age difference, different sexual preferences and the opposite upbringings they became fast friends. Jelly Roll look up to Tony like a mentor. Tony could mimic any style music and voice and was considered one of the most talented musicians out there, notwithstanding the taboos. 

"Tony was considered among all who knew him the greatest single-handed entertainer in the world. His memory seemed like something nobody's ever heard of in the music world. He was known as the man of a thousand songs. There was no tune that come up from any opera or any show of any kind or anything that was wrote on paper that Tony couldn't play. He had such a beautiful voice and a marvellous range. His voice on an opera tune was exactly as an opera singer. His range on a blues tune would be just exactly like a blues singer. Tony happened to be one of those gentlemens that a lot of people call them lady or sissy."

-Jelly Roll Morton in an interview. 

Tony Jackson via Wikipedia

Tony Jackson via Wikipedia

Location of Joe Victor's Saloon intersection of Villere and St. Louis Streets. Photo 1943 from Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose

Location of Joe Victor's Saloon intersection of Villere and St. Louis Streets. Photo 1943 from Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose

Joe Victor's Saloon. Photos Katelan Foisy 2018

Joe Victor's Saloon. Photos Katelan Foisy 2018

There's not much known about Joe Victor's Saloon or the man himself. Census records show he had two sisters that owned the saloon with him and one article in the Times-Picayune. Joe Victor's was cited for leaving manure on his property in violation of the city’s anti-housefly ordinance. No records show of musicians playing there, nor is it mentioned in any interviews or historical texts. 

Nothing original from the historic buildings is left inside them. They have been stripped down and gutted numerous times, made into storage facilities and grocery stores. But the stories passed down by word of mouth and writing still exist and they weave their way through the streets and into the ether. If you stand there and squint for just a moment you may see the former shape of Lulu White's Mahogany Hall and the women bustling up to their rooms or posing for a photo to be used in the blue books. And if the breeze hits you in just the right way, you may hear the remnants of Tony Jackson's honeyed voice crooning through the walls of the old saloon. For now the area seems to be in development. What was once one of the birthplaces of jazz, became the Iberville Projects and now goes through another transformation building new housing for mixed income families through a grant from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.

Map of Storyville from Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose

Map of Storyville from Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose



Santisima Muerte

Santisima Muerte.jpg

Approximately sixteen years ago I witnessed a murder, sort of. I don't remember the exact date or time and being that I was in a relatively quiet neighborhood, it never really made the news. Quiet areas like the one I lived in liked to keep things hushed especially if there were thoughts that it could be gang related. I remember walking down the street and past the bar with a new friend I had been hanging out with. Everyone in the neighborhood seemed to know him. We had just had dinner and he was walking me home. I saw a car approaching slowly and made a comment about it. I heard him say "Oh God, turn your head!" I don't remember if I turned it or he did for me. I was pushed and there were loud sounds and everything became fuzzy. I never saw the faces of the people who did it, I only slightly remember the car. I remember the face of one of the men lying on the ground in front of me, and for one moment I saw the life drain out of him. In that moment I saw peace. My friend took me home. I sat on my bed looking at my shoes. There was specks of blood on them. 


It took a week for the blood to clear the streets. The bar didn't really clean it and until it rained you could see the splatters from where people lay. Every day I went to work I jumped over the spots. I didn't want to look at them. The day before the rain fell I stepped in it. I remember writing "Tonight I stepped in another man's blood." in my journal, then losing the pages sometime later. Over time I put it out of my mind. I went to the bar once years later. The bar was now nicknamed after the murder but no one ever talked about what had happened. I'm not even sure anyone that experienced it still lives there. I remember walking past the area where the bodies lay. My friend asked me if I was okay. We ended up playing darts in the back. Time went on, and I pushed it out of my mind.


It wasn't until a conversation about perception and life experiences occurred that I remembered.  As these memories flooded back I called Chiron Armand and scheduled a session with him.  Santisima Muerte was very present. She helped lead me through a past issue and create an opening or space for it to be rectified. She blessed the new opening/union and asked me to paint her red aspect. While my history with her is long, it's been variable up until recently mostly because I hadn't found people who worked with her traditions and cultural lineage, and I didn't feel I knew enough to fully work with her and show the proper respect. I knew the time would come eventually and so I did what I could until the right time. She was gracious and understanding. She helped me with prison work and protection. Once when I asked her to help me make a decision she alerted me that someone I was dating needed to go. She did this by breaking a candle shaped like her in half while we were both sleeping and the only ones in the house. I found it on the floor by his side of the bed. Within two weeks he was out of my home. A few weeks later I would fully realize why. 


There's been a lot of articles written about Santisima Muerte in the past few years, many wrought with misconceptions. As my practice is fairly new, I encourage you to seek out a practitioner who has the training and skill set. I will post recommendations at the bottom of this blog.


Who is Santisima Muerte? To her followers she is death and an archangel second only to God. She is a Mexican folk saint typically dressed in robes, with a scythe, an owl, an hourglass, justice scales, and cupping a globe in her palm.  She has three aspects: White for peace, blessings, clarity, protection, healing and prosperity; this aspect can also be prayed to for a peaceful death, and represents those who have died the peaceful death such as old age, stillborns, dying in one’s sleep, etc. Red is for matters of the heart and according to some represents those who have died in crimes of passion. Black for Protection, obstacles, spirit communication, and hex breaking; she also represents those who have died violent deaths and can be prayed to for justice or to ease the souls of those departed; this is also the aspect in which some people do brujeria, or negative work. While her appearance, name, and traditions seem Catholic in nature, the Roman Catholic Church has not recognized her as a saint. In 2013, Cardinal Ravasi condemned devotion to her and called the practice "anti-religious". "Religion celebrates life, but here you have death," he spoke. "It's not religion just because it's dressed up like religion; it's a blasphemy against religion."


Devotees of Santa Muerte think otherwise. Known as a healer, bringer of love and prosperity, a fierce ally, protector, and a bringer of justice, she is non discriminant and will work with anyone who comes to her no matter who they are or what they do. This is exactly what led me to her in the beginning. As everyone in this life will die, she has a place for all that seek her. The night I witnessed the man die, was the first night I experienced watching death. I had experienced death in my life, friends and lovers died. Pets I had as a child would curl up on my lap as they took their last breath but I had never seen it happen to a human being in front of me. I had a complicated relationship with death for years. A boy I thought I would marry overdosed and passed away on this day March 31, twenty years ago. My cousin overdosed Thanksgiving day seventeen years ago, and for many years I lived a life wondering why I lived and they died. What kept me alive was curiosity. 


When I came into contact with Santa Muerte I was drawn to her. I didn't know why. All I knew was that she felt good. My immediate reaction to her was a peace I had never known, it pushed up from inside me and enveloped my entire body. "This is what it must feel like to die,” I thought. And in that thought I had a better understanding of life. In my session with Chiron I channeled the message:


    "She responds to the sound salt water creates."


Sound travels at about 1531 m/s  up to 33 meters per second faster than freshwater at 1450-1498 m/s . The speed of sound in water depends on salinity. Salt water is about 2-4% more dense than fresh water. Its bulk modulus is about 9% greater than that of fresh water. So the higher bulk modulus overpowers the density, producing a higher speed of sound.


Santísima Muerte responds to tears both in joy and sorrow. She understands human emotion at its core. The tears you shed in prayer travel quickly to her, and in her understanding she deciphers the best course of action. She acknowledges the inner workings of the heart and mind. In my work with her, the trauma of seeing this man I never knew take his last breath rose to the surface. It took me down a path of deep wounds and wove it's net around them. I thought about this as I painted her portrait. I became afraid I wasn't depicting her right. But as paint hit paper and layers surfaced that fear subsided. I blew smoke against the layers and anointed it in tequila. I crushed roses into the paint until they became fine dust mixed with tears. I hoped that this would depict both the beauty and sorrow. I whispered prayers as I placed the painting into the frame and sent images to my nearest and dearest. Death walks beside us all.

If you would like to learn more about building a relationship with her I suggest Steven Bragg's (New Orleans Chapel of Santa Muerte) books. You can purchase them here. You can also visit or contact these temples. 

New Orleans Chapel of Santa Muerte 

Santa Muerte Queens NY

Templo Santa Muerte Los Angeles

Santuario Nacional del Angel de la Santa Muerte

Temple of Santa Muerte, Chapitero Mexico


Edelweiß: Bloom of Affection, Song of Resistance

Vintage edelweiss pendant from Austria.

Vintage edelweiss pendant from Austria.

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever
Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my homeland forever
Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever
Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my homeland forever

At the top of the Alps in Austria lies a small flower known as edelweiss. Fairytales tell us it formed from the tears of a Snow Queen and local lore speaks of brave men risking their lives to pluck the flowers for their beloveds. It is a symbol of devotion and purity but also of resistance. Leontopodium alpinum has woolly white bracts and yellow or white in the axis. It grows on the steep mountain terrain surrounded by harsh weather conditions. It is said when a man has fallen for a woman he would climb the mountains risking his life to pluck the flower and bring it to his partner as an act of devotion. She would then press it into a necklace and wear it around her neck as a token of their love. Many men fell to their deaths trying to obtain one for those who survived the journey it symbolized great bravery. In German, “edel” means noble and “weiss” means white. It was a symbol of noble purity. 

I've been drawn to edelweiss for years. Growing up I would take my grandmother's pendant and hold it in my hands wondering who picked the flower and if it was given or bought. I wished for one of my own. When family would visit from Austria they'd bring us jewelry. Sometimes it was necklaces with red ruby like stones and other times bracelets with the flower etched and painted into the metal. I thought I would never get one of my own. Christmases would come and go. We'd exchange gifts, sometimes perfumes or candles with the edelweiss scent but the US was not as interested in the flower as I was. I forgot about the pendant but still the little woolly flower crept into my consciousness in many ways including pop culture.  

It became a muse to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "The Sound of Music"  where Captain von Trapp and his family sing it as support for their homeland. As Austria was being taken over by Germans, it became a song of resistance as he is pressured to join the German Navy following the Anschluss. It becomes a symbolic goodbye to his homeland as he makes the decision to flee to nuetral Switzerland. The song was so convincing that people thought it was the national anthem. 

The song took a ominous turn when it became the opening soundtrack for "The Man in the High Castle" The 2015 tv series is loosely based on Philip K Dick's alternative history novel set 15 years after WWII in which we see America divided after an Axis victory. The east is run by the Nazi Reich and the west by Japan. The show focuses on the rebel fighters resisting totalitarian rule. It offers multiple timelines offering a different outcome of the war through propaganda films that are being distributed by the resistance. While "The Sound of Music" offered hope, love, and resistance this version becomes a haunting dystopian melody of desperation. 

Edelweiss has been valued for centuries as a medicinal plant aiding in protection against ultraviolet radiation. This comes from the harsh conditions it grows in. It is a natural anti-aging plant as it carries a high amount of antioxidants, and it's root extract is used as a cure for dermatitis and fluid retention. It has been traditionally used to help with both respiratory and abdominal issues due to bactericidal properties. It is not edible and the plant should not be eaten. Currently there are legal limitations to the picking and usage of the flower. 

I recently purchased the pendant at the top of the page as an ode to my grandmother. It formed new meaning as I thought about her life in Austria living through the Anschluss, and settling in the US as an Austrian and Sinti woman. I've always felt connected to edelweiss and the stories connected to it. Life can be bittersweet and this tiny flower is an incredible reminder that sometimes the sweetest things are worth the hardships we endure. I've always thought the deepest love and joy is felt through our experiences both positive and negative. We can't feel true happiness until we've understood sorrow and vice versa. 

To end this on a magical note I bring you to the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the Snow Queen, a tale of love, loss, and a flower by the name of edelweiss. 


There is a legend that, once upon a time, a beautiful fairy, the Snow Queen, lived on the highest, most solitary peaks of the Alps. The mountain folk and shepherds climbed to the summits to admire her, and everyone fell head over heels in love with her.

Every man would have given anything, including his life, to marry her. Indeed, their lives are just what they did give, for Fate had decided that no mortal would ever marry the Snow Queen. But in spite of that, many brave souls did their best to approach her, hoping always to persuade her.

Each suitor was allowed to enter the great ice palace with the crystal roof, where the Queen’s throne stood. But the second he declared his love and asked for her hand, thousands of goblins appeared to grasp him and push him over the rocks, down into bottomless abysses.

Without the slightest emotion, the Queen would watch the scene, her heart of ice unable to feel anything at all. The legend of the crystal palace and the beautiful heartless Queen spread as far as the most distant alpine valley, the home of a fearless chamois hunter. Fascinated by the tale, he decided to set out and try his luck. Leaving his valley, he journeyed for days on end, climbing the snowclad mountain faces, scaling icebound peaks and defying the bitterly cold wind that swept through the alpine gullies.

More than once he felt all was lost, but the thought of the lovely Snow Queen gave him new strength and kept him moving onwards. At last, after many days climbing, he saw glinting in the sunshine before him, the tall transparent spires of the ice palace.

Summoning all his courage, the young man entered the Throne Room. But he was so struck by the Snow Queen’s beauty that he could not utter a word. Shy and timid, he did not dare speak. So he knelt in admiration before the Queen for hours on end, without opening his mouth. The Queen looked at him silently, thinking all the while that, provided he did not ask her hand in marriage, there was no need to call the goblins.

Then, to her great surprise, she discovered that his behaviour touched her heart. She realised she was becoming quite fond of this hunter, much younger and more handsome than her other suitors. Time passed and the Snow Queen dared not admit, not even to herself, that she would actually like to marry the young man.

In the meantime, the goblins kept watch over their mistress; first they were astonished, then they became more and more upset. For they rightly feared that their Queen might be on the point of breaking the Law and bringing down on the heads of all the Mountain People the fury of Fate.

Seeing that the Queen was slow to give the order to get rid of her suitor, the goblins decided to take matters into their own hands. One night, as dusk fell, they slipped out of the cracks in the rock and clustered round the young chamois hunter. Then they hurled him into the abyss. The Snow Queen watched the whole scene from the window, but there was nothing she could do to stop them. However, her icy heart melted, and the beautiful cruel fairy suddenly became a woman.

A tear dropped from her eye, the first she had ever shed. And the Snow Queen’s tear fell on to a stone where it turned into a little silvery star.

This was the first edelweiss … the flower that grows only on the highest, most inaccessible peaks in the Alps, on the edge of the abyss and precipice . . .

Chicago: Graceland Part 1


I've long been fascinated with the way cemeteries in cities are set up. Growing up in a small town we had tiny old cemeteries attached to small white churches. The bigger cemeteries were a mixture of neat new rows and toppled stones. When I moved to New York I became interested with the layout of large cemeteries as they were the first rural cemeteries, an idea brought over from Europe, and provided relief from a plague ridden city. It became a place of beauty and prestige where families could take carriage rides, see monuments and have picnics with their deceased loved ones. They went on to inspire public parks such as Central and Prospect Parks. 

When I moved to Chicago I noticed the cemeteries were smaller but landscaped in much the same way. Graceland and Rosehill are the largest cemeteries in the Chicagoland area. In 1860 Thomas Bryan a successful lawyer purchased 80 acres and hired landscape architect H.W.S. Cleveland (designer of Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord MA,) to design Graceland to be park-like in appearance. Later William Le Baron Jenney, a renowned architect and "father of the skyscraper" contributed to the design and engineering of it. Jenney passed it on to his assistants who established the firm of Holabird & Simonds and worked on it from there. They were joined by a third partner, and shortly after this Simonds left the firm to focus solely on Graceland. Ossian Simonds was the last architect to work on the cemetery bringing it to what we see today by adding plants native to the area to the landscape design. Graceland is now the most well known cemetery in Chicago and doubles as an Arboretum.

Wandering through the cemetery leads you to the resting places of many great architects, artists, public figures, sports legends, and inventors. I'll lead you down the path to some of my favorites. While I enjoy grabbing maps and finding renowned graves, my favorite thing to do is wander and see where I'm lead to. 

“Eternal Silence” created by Lorado Taft in 1909 for Dexter Graves.

“Eternal Silence” created by Lorado Taft in 1909 for Dexter Graves.

Upon entering the cemetery you may be startled by the haunting sculpture "Eternal Silence" that marks Chicago hotelier Dexter Graves and "500 Chicagoans" on the census taken right before Chicago's incorporation. He moved from Ohio along with 13 families to settle in Chicago. Graves died 16 years before Graceland was created and his body was moved there from the Old City Cemetery where Lincoln Park now exists. That statue was erected in honor of the Graves family whose will enabled the city to pay for the monument. Lorado Taft based it on the original depiction of the Grim Reaper and was inspired by his own ideas on "death and silence." There's a bit of folklore to this sculpture as it's rumored that you cannot photograph it. While I had to a do a bit of editing to get the details, I was able to although the eerie feeling the sculpture gives cannot be captured. The bronze against black granite has been oxidized through time and weather giving it the green hue it is now. Walking by I had the sense that at any moment the eyes would open and he would awaken into a new world.  For a bit of urban legend, it is said that if you stare into the face of the sculpture you will get a glimpse of your own death giving it the nickname "Statue of Death."

Jack Johnson: First Black Heavy Weight Champion of the World

Jack Johnson: First Black Heavy Weight Champion of the World

As a boxing fan I was delighted to come across Jack Johnson's grave. Nicknamed the "Galveston Giant" he was the son of ex-slaves and the third born out of nine. As many children did, Jack only had a few years schooling before he went to work full-time in sculleries and on boats. During this time he traveled to Boston and NY working as a longshoreman. Around 16 years of age he engaged in his first boxing match. The prize was just $1.50 but he saw it as an opportunity to expand and eventually leave his hometown. Jack quickly rose up in the black boxing circuit but his goal was to be heavyweight champion, the title held by white boxer James Jeffries. Jeffries like other white boxers would not fight him. During this time Blacks were prohibited from fighting for heavyweight champion as they were closed off from fair competition. He finally got his chance for the title when champion Tommy Burns, who had recently won it from Jeffries agreed to fight him after being offered $30,000.  This was helped by Richard K. Fox, publisher of the Police Gazette, who said that Johnson deserved a chance. Being that it was the most popular sports paper at that time, it helped the argument. Jack London attended and wrote about the fight including it lasting 14 rounds, only ending when police came to break it up fearing a riot. Johnson was named the winner and continued his taunts and calls. Jeffries was pulled out of retirement to fight once again. Johnson got his wish on July 4, 1910. Jeffries was considered the "great white hope," a term given by those infuriated by the win. Media dubbed it the "Fight of the Century." Held in Reno, Nevada more than 22,000 boxing fans made their way to see it. This became more than a fight for Blacks, Johnson was a hero and a a beacon of hope. Winning this fight would be a huge victory for Blacks especially during this time when segregation and Jim Crow laws were in full force after the 1896 Supreme Court's Plessy v. Ferguson declared it was not unconstitutional. Race riots and lynchings were everyday realities they had to face. Sports were a significant part of American culture. Fifteen rounds later Johnson was declared the winner. Race riots ensued and resulted in the lynching of at least 20 black people after the win. Whites searched for another "great white hope" to take the title from Johnson.

Johnson was a showman. He loved cars and women, and bowed down to no one. He earned $117,000 for that fight and it would be five years before he would hand over the heavyweight title to Jess Willard in a 26-round bout in Havana, Cuba. Johnson was hated for another reason too. He loved to party and he openly had romantic relations with white women. Angered whites actively tried to find a way to stop Johnson. They found it in The Mann Act. The Mann Act was part of social reform that intended to stop prostitution. Often it was depicted as naive white women being lured by immigrants into opium laden prostitution houses. Race mixing was considered immoral. Boxing was also coming under attack during the reform as it was considered a savage sport. This was a weak spot for Johnson. His first wife Etta Duryea committed suicide in his Chicago night club, Café de Champion. After long term depression brought on by the public's hostile attitude, Jack's infidelity and sometimes abusive behavior and her father's death, her depression had become more than she could handle. Three months later he married Lucille Cameron with whom he was having an affair and was under investigation for bringing her across state lines before their marriage.  Cameron's mother had gone to the police and charged Johnson with kidnapping her daughter. She was outraged her daughter was having romantic relations with a black man and accused him of having hypnotic powers to lure women. He was convicted of violating the Mann Act in 1913, but fled to Europe for 7 years. When he returned he served his sentence of 1.5 years. 

As Johnson got older he used his name to keep afloat. He and Cameron were divorced due to infidelity. He married Irene Pineau and they moved to Europe where he told his story in dime museums, played music, made predictions on fights, and did a bit of fighting in small exhibitions. He even took out a patent for a wrench. He also planned to create a boxing school but Hitler's rise to power curtailed it. One of his great loves was the automobile and driving fast. In 1946 he died in an automobile accident. Irene buried him in Chicago with his first wife Etta. After his death she was quoted as saying  she loved him "because he faced the world unafraid, fearing nothing and nobody."

Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum designed by Chicago School architect Richard E. Schmidt.

Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum designed by Chicago School architect Richard E. Schmidt.

Peter Schoenhofen was a well known Chicago brewer. He was part of a group of brewers who transformed production techniques and developed transportation alternatives. The process started in the mid 1800s and by 1900, there were sixty Chicago breweries producing over 100 million gallons of beer per year. "In the basement of the old brewery building is the only artesian well still in existence in the Chicago area. At 1600 feet deep the well is capable of producing one million gallons of water a day for the next 100 years."

The Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum was created in the Egyptian revival style by Richard E. Schmidt out of granite and contains both Christian and Egyptian imagery with the angel and sphinx. The gateways at Karnak provided the inspiration for the door. The imagery contains lotuses, serpents, and bundled reeds. It is considered one of the most famous and photographed mausoleums at the cemetery. 

William Kimball Monument by McKim, Mead & White

William Kimball Monument by McKim, Mead & White

William Kimball started out as a real estate broker in Iowa and liquidated his estates before the Panic of 1857, the first worldwide economic crisis. He moved to Chicago and started the Kimball Piano Company with just four pianos. He quickly rose to success having a store in the Crosby Opera House. The Great Chicago Fire destroyed it and he lost more than $100,000 with the destruction. He moved his location and started to manufacture paints on his own building up to 100 pianos and organs weekly. After his death his son took over the company, and during WWII the Kimball factory produced aircraft parts for military airplane manufacturers, such as BoeingDouglas and Lockheed. After the war, piano production resumed but a series of poor financial choices by W.W. Kimball Jr led the company into decline. An heir to the family bought the company, reformed it, moved it to Indiana, and it once again rose to power and created offshoots into appliances and technological advancement. The piano portion of the company closed down in 1996 but the company still remains in furniture and electronics. 

One of the largest monuments in Graceland, it has Corinthian columns made of white marble. It was erected in 1907 from a design by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. An angel watches over the graves below but much of the detail is worn away due to weather.

George Pullman Monument by Solon Beman

George Pullman Monument by Solon Beman

George Pullman was an Industrialist and creator of the Pullman sleeping car, a luxurious train car designed for comfortable overnight travel. He was the son of a carpenter who created and patented jackscrews while working on the Eerie Canal. After his father's death he took over the business and relocated to Chicago where it was his job to raise building over the Lake Michigan flood plain. As the structure of city building began to advance, Pullman knew he had to create a new business to keep afloat with the changing technology. Railroads and train transport were becoming increasingly popular. Pullman himself rode the railway for business but felt the experience was not pleasurable and became interested in personal transport. He convinced Chicago, Alton and St. Louis Railroad to allow him to convert two of its cars for overnight comfortable travel included private sleeping quarters and good ventilation. They contained fine tapestries and decor. Pullman Sleepers debuted in 1859 and were an immediate success being compared to the luxury of Steamboat cabin travel. 

Always looking for a new endeavor, he became interested in the Gold Rush and relocated to Colorado where he focused on the needs of the miners which gave them hot meals, comfortable sleeping quarters and a place to switch out the crew, animals and supplies before they headed out to the mountains for mining. 

He headed back to Chicago in the 1860s, hiring a replacement for himself in the Civil War so he could focus on business. He worked on expanding the cars and creating his own, the “Pioneer,” invented jointly with Field. The 1865 car contained folding upper berths and extending seat cushions that could be made into extra bunks. The Pioneer was the most famous of these cars even transporting President Abraham Lincoln’s remains to his burial site. Pullman leased these cars to railways and by 1879 had made millions. Pullman also constructed a town made entirely for his employees. What at first seemed publicly ( it was featured in 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition) like a wonderful place to live and work soon showed a darker side. Pullman's original vision was to create place that  hired diverse staff, solved the poverty issue, provided fresh air, housing, and entertainment for those he employed. It was soon discovered that he ruled over the town like a tyrant creating a hierarchal structure. Executives received the best housing, skilled labor received row houses, and unskilled labor lived in tenement buildings. Newspapers and free speech were prohibited within the confines of the town and churches were only allowed Protestant denominations which he charged high rents.

With the economic depression, wages were lowered and people were laid off but the rent, gas, and water bills remained high. The workers called for a strike. The workers were tired of the lack of equalitarianism and the heavy handed control the company used over the workers. They were also not allowed to buy houses. Disgruntled workers met with the American Railway Union (ARU). A grievance committee attempted to meet with Pullman, who refused to recognize them or negotiate  and had them all fired. A strike was called with little to no success. Eugene Debs, the founder of the ARU called on a boycott of Pullman cars on the railways. It affected most rail lines from Ohio to CA and involved over 250,000 workers in 27 states. Violence and rioting ensued, especially in Chicago. Thirty people were killed in the riots and up to 80 million in damages. The federal government stepped in and placed an indictment against Debs, the union, and others who participated in a leadership level as they were interfering with mail cars, impeding service. Pres. Grover Cleveland, ordered 2,500 federal troops to Chicago on July 4, 1894. The strike ended a week later and troops were recalled July 20. Debs was arrested on federal charges and defended by a team including Clarence Darrow and Lyman Trumbull. At the trial, Darrow argued it was the railways that met in secret and colluded against the union. Despite being talk of an acquittal, a juror became ill and the prosecution dropped the charges. Debs went on to the Supreme Court where he was sentenced to 6 months. 

Despite the strike, George Pullman's business thrived and went on to many other endeavors. After his death his body was laid to rest in Graceland where he was buried at night with a lead-lined coffin, then placed in a steel, tar, and cement vault and reinforced with railroad ties. It was then poured over with concrete so that angry labour activists could not exhume, desecrate, or hold the body for ransom.

The monument was designed by Solon Beman and features a large Corinthian column.

Potter and Bertha Palmer's Greek Temple designed by McKim, Mead & White

Potter and Bertha Palmer's Greek Temple designed by McKim, Mead & White

Potter Palmer was best known for his rebuilding and developing of Lakeshore Drive and downtown after the Great Chicago Fire. Starting in NY, he worked as a clerk in a small general store. He worked his way up within two years and from there he opened a store of his own. Upon two failing endeavors he gained financial help from his father and moved to Chicago to open a dry goods store on Lake Street in 1852. Palmer had a different approach to handing his business. He focused solely on women, allowed people to test merchandise, didn't ask questions when someone returned product, and set up pleasing window displays with price comparisons. He also offered sales or bargain deals. He also offered the latest women's fashion. 

Upon failing health and his doctor's urging, Palmer first brought in partners Marshall Field and Levi Z. Leiter, then sold his shares to focus on real estate. He built several buildings along State Street, including the Palmer House Hotel. When the Great Fire of 1871 hit, he lost his buildings and had to borrow 1.7 million with the help of his wife's influence to rebuild. He also helped to develop swampland into what is now known as Lake Shore Drive. 

Palmer's wife Bertha Palmer was impressive on her own. She grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and quickly became popular as she was a musician, linguist, writer, politician, and manager. She married when she was 21 and he 44. She helped her husband with business dealings. She was taken in by Chicago's elite and charmed them with her knowledge and talent. She quickly rose to chairman of the Board of Lady Managers for the World's Columbian Exposition to be held in Chicago two years later. Under her administration, Bertha made sure the accomplishments of women were noticed. Using Palmer’s personal connections with political leaders and royalty, she worked the board to create The Woman’s Building, designed by Sophia Hayden, an architect and interior designer. Sophia and Bertha argued over the donation from the rich as part of the interior design for the building. Sophia feared it would clash with the design. Bertha fired her from the interior and hired Candace Wheeler. Palmer worked closely with curator Sarah Tyson Hallowell on the exhibits and murals that would be exhibited. It contained two murals "Primitive Woman" by Mary Fairchild MacMonnies Low and "Modern Woman" by Mary Cassatt. She also convinced Congress to produce a comparative coin for the Exposition which became the Isabella Quarter. 

Bertha and her husband were avid art collectors and supported artists with the help of Hallowell, who they trusted to pick up on the latest trends. They spent a good portion of their money on decorating the Palmer Mansion, including works by Claude Monet, as well as fine jewels. Bertha was known to travel the world entertaining with royalty and politicians. Her husband was not fearful of her fame and encouraged her to do whatever she desired. She also supported the Jane Adam's Hull House, giving to them financially, and was also a trustee of Northwestern University. As a mother, she supported kindergartens until they were made a part of the public school system and rallied for inexpensive milk to be made available for the poor and for children of imprisoned mothers. She also planned a dinner between workers and capitalists to work on social reform. She received criticism from Mother Jones, saying because Palmer was upper class she did not have the insight to solve the working class problems. 

When Potter died, Bertha took over management of his business, which was worth 8 million, and doubled it. She became interested in Florida and the agriculture there. She became a rancher and land developer focusing on innovative ways to encourage farmers and land preservation. Bertha is buried at Graceland along with her husband in a Greek Temple style monument with twin sarcophagi designed by McKim, Mead & White. The inverted torches on the sides of each, symbolic of death.

Reading Tea & Coffee


It  begins with land and memory. Every herb harvested for tea or bean gathered for coffee comes from somewhere. Some are chosen with care and others in collected in mass. While you can do tasseography with any tea, I like to work with Madame Zuzus teas as they are high quality, personally chosen and harvested with care. For coffee I prefer Armenian, Greek, or Turkish coffees. You can work with anything you choose. It will not effect the reading. 

The most important part of tasseography is creating a relationship with the tea or coffee itself.  Every morning I get up and make myself coffee. I then slide back into bed and make "to do" lists or check email. I take this time to fully wake myself up and prepare for the day ahead. In the afternoon and evening I like to brew tea. Sometimes I brew regular tea and sometimes Romani tea. This is my daily ritual and makes me feel grounded despite the piles of work I may have to do. Think about your personal relationship to beverages. How do they make you feel? Do you have your own personal ritual with these beverages? Does tasting a certain tea or coffee bring back memories? For instance Cafe Bustelo reminds me of my days in Bedstuy listening to NPR and jazz as I finished my projects for college and tried my hand at black and white photography. Armenian coffee takes me back to Astoria and mornings with with Armenian neighbor Kristen, who brewed up the best tasting cup as we talked of faraway lands. The taste of chicory coffee is distinctly New Orleans and walking through the French Quarter to Cafe du Monde. Think about the history of the land you are getting you tea or coffee from. History reminds us that chicory and coffee have somewhat of a mysterious beginning. Some say it began when Napoleon initiated the 'Continental Blockade' in 1808 and divested France of its coffee. Once the block was lifted the French believing in it's health benefits continued to use it. Although it was here in the US due to French influence, it was considered an additive until the Civil War where coffee deliveries were often blocked. It became a substitute or mixed to keep rations from dwindling. When the war ended so did the need for chicory, except in New Orleans. It became a staple, and undeniable taste that makes it unique to the Crescent City. 

Crema Earl Grey takes me back to painting divination tables and creating prosperity spells at my former home in Queens. It also makes me think of land and how recipes are formed from the land itself.  The history of Earl grey goes back to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1830 to 1834. In the early 1800’s he was given a sample of tea by a Chinese diplomat. It was a blend of tea from China flavoured with rind of bergamot The water at Howick had a high lime content and the tea masked the taste of the water. Grey served it to friends that visited and eventually gave the recipe to George Charlton in 1830. That recipe has been used ever since. 

Think about these things as you brew and hold the cup in your hands. When you take the first sip savor it. Notice the flavors in the tea. There is a romance in tea and coffee. It's something that over time we have created relationships with and to think that there are messages hidden at the bottom of the cup is quite a magical experience within itself. 


Before we go further lets go into the history of tasseography itself. The root of the word is derived from the French tasse and Arabic tassa , meaning cup and the Greek suffix graph and mancy meaning writing and knowledge. Tasseography  was thought to have been brought over from China when Europeans were introduced to tea in the 17th century and it's origins have been credited to Asia, Greece, and the Middle East. It became popular in the Victorian era.  Interest in the occult was becoming widely popular as was self analysis brought on by the work of Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer. This interest brought on an "acceptance" of certain cultural practices that were normally shunned. The Roma who were often banished from towns and cities were now part of the social circle making house calls for divination for a fee. Many immigrants found work in fortune telling as they were not allowed to work regular jobs. For the Roma, it was hard no matter where they went. The church attacked fortune tellers and tried to force deportations. Often the Roma were sold as slaves or faced racism and persecution in Western Europe. An example of this was Napoleon transporting hundreds of Roma men to Louisiana right before he sold the territory to the US. By the end of the 19th century many were immigrating to the US as they felt their lives would be better there.   During the 1920s tea rooms were formed and allowed for immigrants to make a living telling fortunes, this however made some people angry and laws were introduced to ban payments for fortune telling services. "Gypsy Tea Rooms" were created to find loopholes around the laws. Often the fortune tellers would not charge for the reading but one would come free with a tweet-five cent tea purchase. It has been noted that Chicago’s Gypsy Tea Room on 22 West Monroe where the Majestic Theater is may have been the city’s first tea room. The Persian Tea Room on 16 West Jackson, and the Garden of Zanzibar Tea Room on 54 West Randolph Street created a little while later also did quite well. The Queen of Heart Tea Room on N Dearborn offered palmistry, tasseography, cartomancy and numerology as well as a selection of teas to choose from. During this time pottery used for divination was formed. Teacups with symbols painted into them helped aid in the fortune telling. Bottom of the Cup 327 Chartres St. in the French Quarter, New Orleans  was established in 1929 and still stands to this day being one of America's oldest tea rooms still in business. 

Tasseography takes a different kind of concentration. While the symbols you see are important, it's also important to take notes of what you're being told. This will often come in as a thought bubble or something that pops into your head. These are often the most important messages.

How to Read the Leaves

*Something to keep in mind: When drinking the tea try to focus on something specific you'd like the answer to. If you have no questions just think about your life in general. 

There are a few ways to make the tea. One is to put a pinch of the leaves into the cup, add hot water and drink the tea with the loose leaves. I use a tea strainer and then add a few pinches of the leaves to the cup when there is one sip left. Leave that liquid in the cup and add the leaves. For Armenian coffee, you take a tsp of the coffee and some sugar and add to cold water in the pot. Stir the mixture and set on low to medium heat until the coffee begins to simmer and the foam rises, lower the heat, and let it settle then do this two more times. Pour into a cup. 

Once you have finished drinking your beverage take your left hand and swirl the cup counter clockwise three times and put the saucer or a small plate over the cup. Flip the cup over and put it right side up. Look at the way the tea leaves form. At first you may not notice anything but as you look further you will start to see shapes appear. Turn the cup around to see all angles. Squint your eyes if you need to to get a better grasp of images forming.

There seems to be a resurgence in tasseography as a divination art in the past few years. This may be with the rising interest in both the occult and tea in general.  Tasseography is the perfect method of gaining insight  by sipping (putting your essence into the the process of drinking) thinking about what you'd like to know and then looking at what the cup and you essence (saliva) are telling you. In Romani culture saliva is very sacred. It contains your life force and can be used both to bless and curse.

Starting with the cup handle (current month) and going left to right you can see how each part of the cup represents a month in the future. Now look inside the cup. The bottom of the cup is Current. then it goes up to beginning of month, mid month, and end of month or future.


Crosses: Dramatic changes and choices to make.

Straight or Curved Broken Lines: Projects to be started creativity.

Curved Wavy Lines: Use caution. Need better direction or control.

Separate dots: Money or possessions. The position in the cup indicates amount and time frame. For example in the image there are 5 dots in the 5th month position. This could be an indication that a raise is coming or change of work for the better but also that you will be incorporating more. It could be redoing the home or buying a car etc.

Circles: Energy influencing events, completion of cycles and projects.

Groups: This could be a group of circles, curved lines, symbols etc. Look at the grouping. You will probably have to squint as the lines can be faint.

Cluster: Usually a cluster of the same symbol such as a circle along with another set of symbolism. It represents emotions. Happiness, sadness, anger etc.

Remember: At first it is going to be hard to see the symbols and make the connection to what they are. I remember my first time doing it I felt so overwhelmed and like a failure because I couldn't automatically make the connection. I felt blocked or like I was making it up. The important part is to notice patterns. If you see shapes like stars, hearts , horseshoes, animals etc track down a symbolism dictionary or look online to see the hidden meanings. You can also look at dream dictionaries for symbolism. Often there is a crossover. 

Below is a list of teas you can purchase from Madame Zuzus and their magical properties. If you'd like to hear me speak about Tasseography, you can find my interview on "I'm Spiritual Dammit" with Jenniffer Weigel on WGN here

Recipe for Romani Tea via Jessica Reidy. We differ in our opinions of reading for yourself. I feel it's okay and have done it many times for myself. The main thing is to be detached and don't project your own feelings into the reading.

Forgotten History: Roma Slavery in Romania

The secret history of Earl Grey tea by

The Hidden World of Tenement Fortune Tellers in 19th Century Manhattan



Rooibos purifies, rejuvenates, and brings magic into ones life, it also brings peace and is wonderful for dream work. Associated with Venus, Vanilla brings about calm peaceful energy with a loving vibration. Use for questions on love, lust, healing, luck, life path, and mental clarity questions.


Back tea is the traditional tea for tasseography. This tea gives the strength and agility to push through hard times. If you are looking for clarity or navigation on tough decisions, this is a good choice.


Removes negativity and brings in sweetness and happiness. Excellent for connecting with the divine feminine and moon magic. Also good for when you need to speak your mind without being harsh. Good for any magical concerns you may have in your line of questioning.


The oolong helps in meditation and concentration while the blue pea flower creates a sense of inner and outer beauty, love, loyalty, marital balance, harmony, and peace. It is also excellent for overcoming addictions, obsessive behaviors, and fears. 


Black tea is associated with Mars and male energy while the rose is Venus and provides female energy to balance it out. Together this is the perfect tea for anima/animus questions as well as inquiries on love, romance and partnerships. 


Harvested on the 88th night of spring this tea brings luck and good fortune to all that taste it. 


Clementine along with Apple, Rosehip , hibiscus, and 3 types of cinnamon make the perfect combination for self love and healing. 


 Black tea is good for prosperity, attracting money, good health, strength, and endurance. Grapes are wonderful for abundance work and ice wine is excellent for relieving the blues and freezing out negativity. Work with this tea for business questions as well as health questions. 


 Made from five rare orchid scented oolongs this tea is wonderful for reflection, meditation, inner wisdom, and fantastic for concentration and the mysteries of life. When combined with the rare orchid it attracts romance, love and deep relationships and friendships. For inquiries this would be good for discovering hidden blocks that keep you from your goals. 


 Removes negativity and brings in sweetness and happiness. Excellent for connecting with the divine feminine and moon magic. Also good for when you need to speak your mind without being harsh. (With this tea you would be reading the blossom more so than the leaves.)


 Promotes spiritual growth, the champagne of teas, it brings luxury to one's life. Go to this if you have questions about how to bring a higher frequency into your life. 


 The blueberry provides protection while the black tea gives the strength and agility to push through hard times. Work with this tea in times of uncertainty. 


 The Nettle dispels negativity and fear, stops gossip, envy, and jealousy. Excellent in an emergency to help with clarity. Lemon is a natural cleanser used for purification and clearing blockages.


 The motherbush is the bush that creates all the other bushes, it is the original and one rarely touches this bush. This tea is excellent for working with the energy of the divine mother Goddess. It represents new beginnings, clarity, cleansing, meditation, connection to the earth and history,  purification and protection. An excellent tea for working with your ancestral spirits as well.


 A gorgeous blend. The honeybush is used for purification and rejuvenation as well as weight loss. Cantaloupe aids with balance and success, honeydew for love, pineapple for hospitality and blessings, Seville orange to regulate the flow of energy, and blood orange for warmth, safety, and protection.


 The Dragonwell green tea brings passion and energy as well as a boost of magic while the biodynamic spearmint brings, healing love and protection. The biodynamic peppermint increases vibrational frequencies while purifying the body and mind. The lavender promotes healing of the mind, sleep, and depression. If you're looking to tap into some Brion Gysin energy  Moroccan Mint tea was his favorite. 


Brings warmth, compassion, and understanding. Good for questions on healing old rifts or disagreements. 


Promotes transformation. It has been compared to the “Ugly Duckling” fairytale wherein at first glance it looks like, stems, stalks, and twigs but transforms into a golden flavorful potion with a hint of citrus. It is one of the finest teas in Japan. Yuzu pushes out negativity and attracts healing and prosperity.


Brings strength and stability. A great tea to drink if you have just closed a chapter of your life as the black teabrings closure. The cacao improves mental weakness and stimulates happy thoughts. Excellent for releasing the past. The chai allows for new awareness and opening of the heart.


Energy, energy and more energy. Oh and some healing too but energy! Rapid growth and big steps in the right direction. Focus!


Healing and progress are the name of the game when you drink this tea.


The lemon purifies and renews while the currants bring a higher vibrational frequency and passion, hibiscus brings love and warmth, blueberries for protection and feeling safe, raisins for pushing out the old and bringing in the new, and cherry for a bit of sweetness and attraction.


Love, passion, and sexual energy.


Energy and luxury. Oak bring vitality and long life as well as inner power, centering the mind and avoiding distractions. It inspires leadership, prosperity, bravery, strength of character and also grounds and balances.


Rooibos purifies, rejuvenates, and brings magic into ones life, it also brings peace and is wonderful for dream work. Peaches are wishing fruits and are thought of to bring wishes into fruition. It is also wonderful for exorcising negative thought patterns and energy, longevity, bringing in loving vibes, and fertility. 


This tea is wonderful for removing and expelling negative energies around you. 


Love healing and success are all things chamomile brings in. It also dispels negativity, breaks, blocks, creates peace and harmony within the mind and body. Washing hands in chamomile infusion brings luck in gambling and money attraction. When sipped daily it brings long lasting feelings of pure love. Anhui wild lime promotes calmness, tranquility and helps to strengthen love while purifying the mind of negative thought and actions.  Lemon peel removes unwanted negativity and blockages.


This tea promotes youthful energy and passion. It is great for educing progress. Rice is used for money, sex, fertility, and protection.


Luxury, healing, energizing. Promotes clarity of the mind as well. The blood orange helps with divination, luck, money, love, and prosperity.


Jasmine is wonderful for attracting spiritual love, soul mates and higher vibrations. Drinking Jasmine allows the mind to accept wealth and money without doubt. Helps creativity and new ideas. Excellent for prophetic dreaming. (With this tea you would be reading the blossom more so than the leaves.)


Black tea dispels negativity and allows for prosperity to begin while the bergamot is great for prosperity., money workings, removing obstacles and blocks, success, and protection from illness.


Biodynamic spearmint is for wishing magic, health, healing, love, and to dispel bad dreams while biodynamic peppermint increases higher vibrational frequencies, aids in changing ones life for the better and purification. 


Promotes spiritual growth and understanding, connects one with the land. Excellent for working with spirit guides. 


The oolong helps in meditation and concentration while the magnolia blossom creates a sense of inner and outer beauty, love, loyalty, marital balance, harmony, and peace. It is also excellent for overcoming addictions, obsessive behaviors, and fears.


This tea allows you to feel the richness in life and connect with the earth. It heals negative thought patterns as well as energizes the body and mind. The caramel promotes love, happiness, love, sweetness, riches and self worth while the vanilla promotes playfulness, lust, energy, and passion. 


A love spell in a cup. 





Obscura Day Tour - William S. Burroughs' NYC


Taft Hotel – 152 W 51st St

Now the Michelangelo Hotel. Reportedly Burroughs had a room there and met a man named Jack Anderson who he decided to have romantic relations with.  They left the door open and a hotel employee caught them in bed together while he was checking the doors. Ten minutes later Burroughs was told by hotel management that he had to pack up and leave and would be refunded for the remaining time. Burroughs became enamored with Jack andmoved to the boarding house Jack was staying at.


55 Jane St – Boarding House


Burroughs moves in to become closer to Jack. Jack was bisexual and enjoyed bringing men and women back to his room for sexual encounters. Burroughs became so distraught that he cut off the end of his left little finger with poultry shears and brought it to his analyst, Dr Wiggers. Dr. Wiggers committed him to Bellvue (462 1st Avenue). He then was transferredto the Payne Whitley Clinic (525 E 68th St.)

Burroughs wrote about this incident later in a sketch called “The Finger” it is included in the 1988 Interzone collection.  During this time he also experiments with automatic writing. He was sent back to St Louis after his time in the hospital where he and Jack kept in touch. Jack visited him there and they immediately got into a car accident whichshows up in “Driving Lesson” in Interzone as well as glimpses of the relationship in The Wild Boys and Port of Saints.


69 Bedford Street


Lucien Carr and Dave Kammerer had just moved from Chicago to NY. Burroughs followed along soon after and moved to Bedford St. Kammerer lived at 48 Morton Street which was just a block or so away and was intrigued by Carr. Carr was not homosexual but enjoyed the attention and allowed Kammerer to follow him. Here Burroughs met a man who worked for the New Yorker who introduced him to Truman Capote. Burroughs was not impressed. Around this time is where Burroughs met Ginsburg through Carr. 


Chumley's – 86 Bedford St


Chumley's was one of the homes to the Beats. You could often find William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, or Jack Kerouac there. Burroughs and Kammerer would have drinks and dinner there. It was founded in 1922 by Leland Stanford Chumley and used as a speakeasy modified from an abandoned cobbler shop. The rumor is that the term “86'd” started here to describe being thrown out of the bar since one would land under the bar’s address 86. Hence “86'd.” It is more likely, though, that the term came from Article 86 of the NYC Liquor code which details reasons why a person may be thrown out or removed from a bar. Edna St. Vincent Millay was known to stop in for a drink as well as were EE Cummings, Eugene O'Neill, John Dos Passos, Theodore Dreiser, and others. The bar closed after a chimney collapsed and has had trouble re-opening ever since. This is mostly due to neighbors protesting. The bar is fully renovated and contains the book covers of those who visited. 


White Horse Tavern - 567 Hudson Street


The original White Horse Tavern was constructed in the 1880's.  Much of it has been preserved to stay true to its roots. Jack Kerouac lived upstairs and would come down for drinks or food. Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Dylan Thomas, Hunter S. Thompson, Jane Jacobs, and Norman Mailer where some of the many that stopped by in our their travels. There is a rumor one can still see the words “Jack go home” carved into one of the bathroom walls. This is also the infamous tavern where Dylan Thomas drank too heavily one night, stumbled back to the Chelsea and died a few days later of pneumonia with pressure on the brain. Diet and lack of self care may have been a part of his demise. There is a plaque honoring him within the tavern at his favorite booth. Burroughs came here for drinks while visiting Kerouac. 


Minetta Tavern - 113 MacDougal Street


Minetta tavern is named after a small stream that once flowed through Union Square to the Hudson River. As time passed and the city created streets, the path the stream once took was renamed the Minetta Triangle. The tavern opened in 1937 and has many of the original fixtures giving it a “tavern of the time” feeling. It was the base for the original “Reader's Digest” and a favorite of E. E. Cummings, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, and Eugene O'Neill. Many of the Beats including William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Joe Gould would come to dine and drink but are barely mentioned in the roster of writers who dined there.


421 West 118th Street


This was Kerouac's apartment he shared with his girlfriend but it became a sort of artist gathering space. Burroughs at this time was living on Riverside Drive at the end of 108th st. He spent a lot of time working communally and socializing at Jack's place. 


360 Riverside Drive, west end of West 108th Street


August 14, 1944, Burroughs awoke to knocking at his door. It was Lucien Carr who immediately handed him a blood stained pack of Lucky Strikes and told him how Kammerer had tried to come onto him on the grass below Riverside Drive and west 115th st. They were both drunk and a fight ensued. Kammerer was taller and bigger than Carr. Carr took out a knife and stabbed him. He then ripped his shirt into strips, tied rocks to his arms and legs and pushed his body into the Hudson. Burroughs advised Carr to turn himself in and destroyed the cigarettes. They then took a trip to Kerouac's to tell him the story. Kerouac and Carr went back to the park and disposed of the knife in a sewer drain. 

Carr turned himself in 2 days later but without a body and Carr being so awkward the chief didn't believe him. He locked him in the cell and waited for the coastguard to alert them of the body. Carr then took the police to where he killed Kammerer and buried his glasses. Burroughs and Kerouac were arrested as material witnesses. Burroughs' father posted bail and Kerouac with no one to post bail stayed in jail as his family would not bail him out. His girlfriend's parents agreed to post bail if he married their daughter. He did. 

Carr was sentenced to up to twenty years for first degree manslaughter but only served two. He worked at United Press until his retirement. 

Burroughs and Kerouac later wrote And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks,  based on the experience. 


419 West 115th Street


Joan Vollmer lived in this apartment. Joan was married at the time and had her daughter Julie living with her. She had met Ginsberg and they had become friendly. He ended up moving in along with Hal Chase reforming "the libertine circle" which had been first formed at Kerouac's. Kerouac came back from Michigan and moved in and Edie, his wife followed shortly after. Burroughs had an apartment near 59th and Broadway at Columbus Circle. He started hanging out at the apartment and he and Joan became a couple shortly after. He moved in sharing the bedroom with Joan. Joan's husband returned home from Germany a few weeks later disgusted. He filed for divorce soon after. 


204 East 7th Street


Burroughs stayed here after a few arrests for narcotics and the death of Joan. He killed Joan accidentally in a drunken game of William Tell. His brothers went to Mexico City and bribed the authorities to release him. He was released after just 13 days. This was his first time back to NY in 6 years. He stayed there a short time before moving to Tangier. 


Chelsea Hotel - 222 W 23rd St


Burroughs took up residence there. There is a strange video of Andy Warhol having dinner with Andy Warhol from this time where they talk of chicken fried steak. You can hear Nico talking from the other room. Rumor has it that parts of Naked Lunch were drafted here. Burroughs and Gysin also came to the Chelsea to market the “Dream Machine” The “Dream Machine” consisted ofa spinning paper cylinder with slitted sides and a light bulb inside. It was made to create a psychedelic experience for the viewer without the use of drugs. Unfortunately it did not make them rich. They also created much of the work for “The Third Mind” while here. Rumor had it that if Stanley Bard felt you would become Somebody he would let you live in the hotel for free or at least a discounted price. Hotel Chelsea is now closed and being remodeled to include a retail space and restaurant. Lord knows that can't end well. 


210 Centre Street


Burroughs lived here very briefly in which he did readings for friends events. He moved to London after.


452 Broadway


This was right around the corner from his old apartment. He worked at City College as a creative writing teacher. Ginsberg got him the job. 


77 Franklin


Burroughs lived on the third floor of this building mid seventies. He stayed there briefly before giving it to Malcolm McNeill who he had brought over from London. He and malcolm were working on various projects together. 


The Bunker - 222 Bowery


Burroughs hated teaching and only lasted a semester. At this time he moved into “The Bunker,” described as a windowless locker. Burroughs lived here and worked with James Grauerholz who was his assistant and agent,. James would book him speaking engagements. He also became a columnist for Crawdaddy Magazine interviewing people like Jimmy Page for the magazine. He lived there entertaining friends and working until 1981 when he moved to Lawrence Kansas. His room has been kept the way it was since he departed by John Giorno a friend of Burroughs. Gothamist posted images inside the Bunker taken by a photographer allowed to photograph the space.