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The Tarot Garden of Tuscany

  The Tarot Garden, or Il Giardino dei Tarocchi, wasn't my first choice for a tourist stop during my recent trip to the Italian countryside. Or my second, or my third. My most recent vacation had been planned as a restful stay…

The Emerald Studded Sword of Ancient Persia

Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar, the emerald-studded sword, is mentioned in the Persian epic of Amir Arsalan. In the story, Fulad-zereh, a giant horned Ifrit, is led astray from his duties as head general to the King of the Peri by his fondness…

The Jinn Part I: Aisa Qandisa

The Jinn of Middle East and North Africa legend bear little relationship to the Western caricature of a bare-chested figure arising from an oil lamp to grant wishes.  Created before the race of man from smokeless fire, the Jinn, like humans,…

The Hand of Fatima

Now that you're tossing and turning at night, worrying about the Evil Eye, you're probably eager to hear about ways to protect yourself from it. In Italy, you might ward off Il Malocchio with the mano cornuto or sign of the horns : The…

Il Malocchio

The Evil Eye The occult has always fascinated me.  My real world persona is so grounded, so rational, so entirely focused on a linear view of reality that perhaps it's only natural my down-time fantasies should revolve around all that is…