Friday 23 September 2016

Mabon 2016 Tarot Blog Hop: Foodies Guide to the Tarot

Welcome to Alison’s Alembic!   You may have arrived here as a stop on the Tarot Blog Hop from either Completely Joyous or Kismet's Companion.  Or you may have found this through TABI’s Facebook page, or though one of the many wonderful tarot bloggers in the ether... It doesn’t matter – what does matter is that you’re here! 

In the northern hemisphere, we're approaching the Autumn Equinox, also known as Alban Elfed, as well as the time for paying tribute to Mabon. It's the time of year when we’re poised between light and dark, with the hours of daylight and darkness being equal in length. It’s also the culmination of the harvest that was begun at Lughnasadh.  At this time we celebrate the beginning of harvesting grapes, making wine, bringing in the sheaves for the canning, preserving, and other ways of gathering the fruits of months, sometimes years, of effort and care.  

With all this in mind, our co-wranglers for this particular Blog Hop, Jay and Arwen, have given us the title Foodies Guide to the Tarot to work with.  As our ancestors – ancient and more recent – would have been harvesting and beginning to store food for the winter, my thoughts turned immediately to the idea of preservation....chutneys, pickles, jams...all those jars of goodies/goodness that would fill the cupboards, ready for winter.  

Although my usual method of cooking doesn’t involve measuring things carefully, I’ve learned that when it comes to baking and preserving, precision really is important. Everything has to be in balance, otherwise nothing sets properly or tastes right.

Now, I’ve never, ever been able to re-create my dad’s mustard pickle (also known as Piccalilli, although I have no idea why!).  As Dad’s no longer around to consult, I thought perhaps I could ask the tarot  for some guidance.

What do I need to do to find the right balance and produce the ‘perfect’ pickle?

There are four basic steps to the recipe, so I’ve drawn a card for each from the Sharman-Caselli tarot deck.

Card 1: The raw ingredients. 2 lb of mixed vegetables – beans, cucumber, shallots, cauliflower...cut them into small pieces and sprinkle with salt.

Four of Cups (trimmed): ©Sharman-Caselli Tarot

So, what do I need to remember when I choose these?

The Four of Cups. Don’t just pick what’s in front of me. Have a closer look, and see if there are any hidden ‘gems’ lurking at the bottom of the pile/vine/stem/whatever. 

Look for the very best, and don’t settle!

Card 2: Preparation (part 1). Boil 1 pint vinegar and 15 chillies for 2 minutes. Then let this stand for an hour before straining.

Ace of Pentacles (trimmed): © Sharman-Caselli Tarot

What to be aware of at this stage?

Ace of Pentacles.  Just remember I can accomplish my goal – taking raw ingredients, fresh from the earth, which will carry me through the winter.  Fortune favours the bold!

Card 3: Preparation (part 2). Mix ½ lb sugar, 2 oz mustard, ½ oz turmeric, and 2 level teaspoons cornflour. Blend with a little of the cooled vinegar.

Bring the rest of the vinegar back to the boil and pour over the blended ‘sugar and spice’. Boil it all for 3 minutes.

Four of Swords (trimmed): ©Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Advice here?

Four of Swords.  Take time to let this work. Curb my natural impatience. Let it boil for the required length of time!

And also perhaps, spend some time thinking about how Dad used to do - maybe he'll send me some hints somehow...

And finally, Step 4: Remove from heat and fold in the strained vegetables. Pack into prepared jars and cover.
The Fool (trimmed): ©Sharman-Caselli Tarot

The Fool Reversed. Don’t allow myself to be distracted – focus on what I’m doing so I don’t make any careless mistakes.  

And if anyone would like to try this out, please let me know how it turns out!

Thank you for stopping off here on your journey through this Mabon Tarot Blog Hop!  Please do come back and read some of my other posts – and if you’re a Facebook user, you can find me at Alison’s Alembic.  

The next stops on the Tarot Blog Hop are - depending on whether you’re moving backwards or forwards through the list – Joy Vernon's Completely Joyous or Vivianne Kacal's Kismet's Companion. The Master List can be found here.

Sharman-Caselli Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections



  1. I love Piccalilli and make a variation on that theme myself around this time every year to pickle and preserve some of our backyard goodies! Thanks for the wonderful post! <3

  2. Going to be making my jam and my mead this weekend, and your post definitely gives food for thought on the spiritual and psychic components of that act. Thank you so much!

  3. I love piccalilli :) I imagine boiling vinegar with chillies will clear your sinuses ! :)

  4. I like the way that you wove the cards into the process! I've never tasted piccalilli but I'll have to try it. I love pickled things, and I love mustard!!!

  5. MMMM I may have to try these. Sounds delicious!

  6. Replies
    1. Ah. you might have to have English roots...or Russian - I did come across a version of this (can't remember the Russian name) in one of the 'stans!

  7. Yep, like Morgan, never heard of it, although it sounds interesting. There seem to be a number of food things that didn't make the trek across the pond.

    I really love how you used the Tarot to guide you in the recipe! I think the guidance makes a lot of sense!

  8. What a great idea to use tarot to help you refine the recipe! Like Morgan and Joanne, I haven't heard of this either, but it sounds fabulous!

  9. I love pickles and chutneys... except piccalilli - I've never liked it. However, DH loves it, so I may make some anyway and perhaps I will learn to love it if I make it myself :D

  10. Sounds like an interesting recipe! Hmmm... have you tried grinding mustard seeds into a paste? They taste and smell so strong it makes you cry...

    Lovely idea to ask the cards about it! Great post Alison, let us know how it turns out!

  11. What fun! Liking your method to clarify the recipe technique :) Bet it would help on the Great British Bake Off if they had a few minutes to consult the cards!

  12. :) I loved it a lot and have never heard of Piccalilli before, but I am keen on exploring new things. I enjoyed your spread a lot! :)