I’m often asked about my own journaling methodologies and how I document my personal work. At any given moment in time, I have the above-pictured four books/journals/what-have-you. Each one serves a different purpose for me.
If you want a more in-depth peek inside that big black one you see pictured above, check out this video I uploaded onto my YouTube channel:
Let’s talk about the other notebooks as well. I’ll start with the mundane. Of course, I have a daily planner. I write everything into here relating to my daily activities. That means to-do lists for work, to-do lists for my tarot and divinatory readings, meetings, appointments, recipes, meal planning, vacations, holidays, everything.
This is not a commercial endorsement or anything, but FYI, I always use the Gallery Leather day planners. I’ve been using a Gallery Leather day planner every year of my life for, gosh, as far back as I can remember. Well, well over a decade.
I can show you snapshots of pages if I redact, like, 90% of the page spread. All my notes and to-do lists for day job work, cases, personal stuff, appointments, meetings, and of course Benebell Wen stuff go in here. In the above, for example, in the top left corner you can see a checkbox for Tao of Craft edit work. I also left visible my to-do list for writing the natal chart monograph templates. Some text left visible show the type of legal work I have to do day to day. I have no idea why I wrote in about the granola bar. Can’t remember now. You’ll also see notes for the weekend (26th) to write my deck review for The Cartomancer.
Above is another example. You can see notes to books I’m reading and when I’m reading off a PDF or e-book where I can’t insert a physical bookmark, I’ll note which page I left off on. Again, you get a small glimpse into my day to day work and also how I document my to-do lists for book writing and my metaphysical practice. The bottom left section seems to be thumbnail sketches for what looks like the layout for a flyer or brochure or something and a sigil.
Final example before we move on. Oh, also, in the previous photos you may see astrological notations for transits, zodiacal releasing dates, etc. In the above, you’ll see a to-do check item for writing something for BiddyTarot and then my organization notes for the OOTK course I taught over at Tarot Readers Academy. So this gives you a behind-the-scenes look at my produced work.
Here we get to why I’m showing you my day planner. At the start of each new year, when I put together a fresh day planner, I have printout reference pages that I tape to the back of the planner. I carry these reference pages with me everywhere. Above you see some of the page spreads. Usually these are taped into the planner so it’s like a mini booklet in the back, but it’s September already and the tape is no longer sticky, so my pages are free-flying at this point. I’ve been making a mental note to myself to tape them back in, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
The next journal I always have is one where I write like a diary, but specifically to document my own spiritual, divinatory, and paranormal experiences. Readings I do for myself, notes on readings others have done for me, records of dreams or premonitions, weird contact, basically any weird shit that’s crazy-woo that I personally experienced gets dated and documented in here.
This particular notebook was a gift I received at SF BATS (San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium).
I’m not too enthusiastic about showing pages from this book, so I’ll show the most benign and boring of all the page spreads in here. I gotta say, I don’t entirely remember what the heck this page even is. I think it was an intuitive free-write? I really don’t know. I don’t remember anymore. But yeah, this is the most benign and boring of all the pages in here.
This journal is basically the brain dump journal. It was a gift from a client from China, so the English wording you see on this book is going to be a bit wonky. Anything I want to write down that doesn’t belong in any of the aforementioned journals go in here. There’s no organization to this book. I don’t even know what to tell you in terms of what it is.
From the side view, you can see there are different sections. One section is graph paper, one section is lined, another is blank, etc. I love that. So there are sketches and all sorts of notes in here.
Here’s one example of a page spread. You have a pendulum chart of some sort on the left and I have no idea why there’s info on the solar and lunar eclipses on the right. I can’t even recall the context of that. But there you go.
See? Here’s another page spread. This one seems to be information copied down from classic Buddhist tenets. Wait, no… Book of 1,011 Sacrifices sounds totally Taoist. Point is, I must have come across some spiritual teachings that resonated with me, so I jotted them down into this book (though in my own words).
What I’m not showing from this “brain dump book” are my experimentations and dabblings. I experiment and document my trial and error in this book, and then when I feel confident I’ve arrived at something really cool, something worth memorializing in a more formal manner, I get to my final book…
Purely for communication purposes, you might from time to time hear me refer to this as a grimoire, but it’s really not. Or if someone asks me, “Is that your Book of Shadows?” Sometimes in the moment I may say yes (or I say “yeah, sorta”), even though again no, it’s really not. I don’t have a name for it. I’ve never needed a name for it because I’ve never really talked about it with others.
I write in here with consecrated pens only. For the writing of certain entries here, I’m even mindful of the astrology of the date and time I’m writing the entry. Many of the entries are written during ritual. Some of the pages look mired in detailed line art, but nothing in here is for decorative purposes only. I recite mantras and try to channel my personal energies into the pen as I render each line. In so many ways, to me, this book has a life and personality all its own. It’s, you could say, alive to me, even if that’s just a figure of speech.
A lot of the sigils found in The Tao of Craft came from my personal book. Also, for my book, everything is done by hand, in longhand, no collage or printed work. It was important to me that everything in here is produced through direct transference of energy from me, my hand, into the pages of this book.
The mere writing and drawing in this book is a form of inner cultivation. Not shown are some of the intricately detailed page spreads and while rendering each detail, I’m reciting mantras or invocations, which means it takes me even longer to complete. My daily life is fast, fast, fast, rushing from one obligation to another, living packed schedules. Creating this book forces me to slow down, slow wayyyyy down while I, I don’t know, draw each dot, one by one, or one thousand crosshatch lines inside a little frame while invoking deity.
And here’s where the book rests when not in use. (It’s on the bottom or second shelf).
The other journals are always with me. In my designer handbag no less. ;-D
I’ve journaled since elementary school. In fourth grade, I had a spiral-bound notebook where I’d sketch out things I picked up and brought home from outside, like a rock, a leaf, or interesting-shaped twig, and then write a caption next to that sketch indicating when I picked it up and where I found it. I must have picked up the idea from Audubon books I’d been reading. I read a lot of nerdy stuff as a kid. I’d also press flowers into the notebook. I made up my own alphabet, write the key in the back of the notebook, and then write entries in my own coded alphabet (which, in retrospect, was kind of futile… if the point of the code was so no one could read it, then why would I write out he key to the code in the back of the book?).
So there you go. How I document my woo.