I didn’t receive my copy of Ostara Tarot until well after the spring (or vernal) equinox this 2017, but I am looking forward to taking the deck out again in March of 2018 to tap in to the equinox energies through this deck. However, really, this deck is perfect for year-round use. A case can be made that the expressions from this deck can apply to any spoke in the wheel of the year.
For me, the spring equinox is a pivotal moment in the year because my fruit trees are in blossom. Many of our flower plants are also beginning to show signs of reemerging life. It is the time of the year when my yard is a wash of pinks, purples, whites, and yellow. It’s breathtaking to see.
There is a Seven of Pentacles vibe around my place during the spring equinox. The garden work you put in the past year begins to show and you can count the blossoms to get a sense of the fruit harvest to come this summer and autumn. However, it also is a time to check yourself and remember never to count your chickens before they hatch because I’ve definitely been duped before! I think I’m about to get quite the harvest for the summer and then an icy rain kills all the blossoms overnight, or you just never know what might happen between this moment and the next sabbat.
Recent social events and divisive politicians have motivated many public figures in the spiritual communities to step forward and comment about politics. Almost every single one will receive a vitriolic remark about staying “within your own lane” and just stick to spirituality; don’t be “low vibe and low energy” by talking politics or social consciousness.
Likewise, there are an equivalent number of public figures in the spiritual communities who have built their branding and image on compassion, love, and lightworking, and yet they have remained eerily silent on issues of social injustice, hate, hate crimes, and, well, quite frankly, political issues that they don’t think personally affects them, but are literally killing others. Which is odd, for someone spiritual who believes as above, so below, as within, so without, and we are all One…
Those who actively seek to walk a spirituality-dominant path for personal development have two options. First, they can develop spirituality inward, and focus on themselves. The goal here is personal transcendence. How can you, you, transcend? The second option is to develop spirituality outward, and focus on the collective. The goal here is collective or social transcendence, to use what Divinity has gifted you with to make a difference in the world around you so that the world can, collectively, transcend, or at least take another positive step toward transcendence. Those are the two core objectives of spirituality. It’s either about your transcendence or it’s about your collective’s transcendence
To talk about which one of the two paths everybody should take is an unproductive conversation. Both paths serve a larger purpose beyond what we are able to understand in our moment. Also, one path is the other, and vice versa. Evolve yourself and you do evolve the collective. Evolve the collective and you will evolve yourself. So both are equally compelling spiritual paths.
That’s why for someone to say to a spiritualist that you should not involve yourself in politics or comment on political matters is, well, short-sighted. It’s in effect asserting that the first path is superior (personal transcendence) and spiritualists need not and should not seek collective or social transcendence.
If you’re seeking self-improvement at the moment and using the vehicle of personal spirituality to do so, which by the way is the definition of shadow work, then yes, perhaps turning inward and detaching from the political and social landscape of your world at the moment is the prudent path. If, however, you are a lightworker, or a self-professed lightworker, well then, lightwork is defined by shining your light out into the world so that you can uplift your community. The lightworker cannot do that effectively by summarily ignoring politics and social issues. Politics and social issues are intertwined with the conditions of your community.
To heal a body, you have to find what is rotting, diagnose the problem, and eradicate the problem area so that the healthy part of the body can begin the healing process. No one disagrees with that or finds such an assertion divisive. Yet when our society is sick and everyone, no matter which side of the aisle you stand on, can acknowledge something is rotting, why aren’t we working toward diagnosing the problem and eradicating the rot? Sure, we can disagree on what the problem is and what the solution ought to be, and that’s common in any area of expertise. But if the team of medical experts are going to heal the patient, then even when they disagree with the diagnosis, they had better do so by working together, collaboratively and in harmony, or else that patient is going to die on the operating table.
Let’s also address how spiritualists take many forms, and serve different roles. Some are rhetoricians, the messengers. Others are warriors, our gladiators. We’ve got those who are physical healers, who heal us mind, body, and soul, one by one. There are those who traverse to other realms or channel entities from other realms, and bring to us important messages so the rest of us can do our jobs better. Then we’ve got the teachers, who preserve the body of wisdom we’ve attained up to this point by passing it on to the next generation of messengers, warriors, healers, and mediums. Understood in that way, it seems silly for the rhetorician to tell the warrior not to fight, or that the healer should take up arms and slay on the battlefront. That being said, if one is a self-proclaimed warrior, then one had better take up the cause and fight the war when called. You can’t call yourself a warrior and then run away from the draft.
To be political and social is part of some of our spiritual paths. Let’s honor that. Likewise, certain defined spiritual paths necessitate its adherents to be political, and yet so many of those who profess to follow such paths are too afraid of their own shadows to do what needs to be done. You cannot be an adequate lightworker if you do not walk out of your own comfort zone in search of the darkness, to find where you most need to shine your light. Do you have to be a lightworker if you are spiritual? No, you don’t. Not all spiritualists are lightworkers. But I am perplexed by those who say they are and yet who refuse to engage in political discourse.
Tarot OG Bonnie Cehovet and an awesome human being (I know, I met her) shared a really cool tarot spread that I now must re-share. Check out her article here. It’s a ten-card “Who am I” spread where you ask your tarot deck to tell you about you. You’re going to want to try this one out for yourself, too, and when you do, be sure to share it and tag Bonnie Cehovet. (Twitter handle: @bonnie_cehovet).
And you know what? This would be a great spread to try today, during the Total Solar Eclipse. For those of you of a Chinese Taoist bent, Ghost Month also begins today, so you can modify this tarot spread and bring in mediumship. Use tarot to contact someone who has passed on who knew you well. Think of someone you would have gone to for life advice, perhaps a relative you would have had a heart to heart with, who knew you well, and so would have been able to see you more objectively than you see yourself and thus answer these questions for you.
Okay, here are the questions. Set out the cards in any arrangement you like, but with the intention of these ten points:
A Facebook group called The Wiccan Circle has uploaded the digital files to hundreds maybe thousands of books by pagan authors and are disseminating those copyrighted books for free download. I wanted to get to the bottom of it on my own, so I put in a request to join the group. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been let in, hehe, so truth be told, at this point I don’t actually have any personal knowledge of the allegations. I’m relying entirely on Ward’s reporting of the facts.
For this particular post, I want to address why copyright infringement claims under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) are so difficult to follow through with, from a lawyer’s perspective. I’m a corporate transactions attorney who works in-house at a venture capital firm in the Silicon Valley, so I know my way around intellectual property law. I’ve tried major copyright infringement, trademark, and patent suits in both state and federal court, some of those cases making headlines in the news. I’ve worked in entertainment law and represented independent artists and writers against major production companies in Hollywood, major cosmetics companies, and more. That’s the background context I’m coming from in writing this post.
For those who follow the blog, you’ll know that I had been releasing the Writing and Publishing Nonfiction course module by module. This post provides all five modules of the course on one easy-access page.
In this five-module multi-media course, learn about writing and publishing nonfiction books in the spirituality, New Age, occult, metaphysical, or mind-body-spirit categories. Through audio lectures, handouts, and workbooks, this course is a wealth of resources and information that the aspiring author must have in his or her arsenal. Learn how to get started on your book writing aspiration, how to establish an author platform, how to finish your book, how to prepare a book proposal, all about both traditional publishing and self-publishing, and how to promote and sell your book.
In this workbook-centered course, I’ll cover the writing and publishing process of nonfiction books and impart what I know about both traditional and independent (self) publishing. The focus will be on nonfiction under the Spirituality category. That includes books on New Age, New Thought, alternative religions, and esoteric or occult topics. However, the core of the course content applies to any nonfiction book that is seeking either placement with a small to medium size publisher or through print-on-demand channels. We will also cover basic legal knowledge, from author-publisher contracts and entity formation for independent publishers to intellectual property law, which every author should be familiar with.
The course material will be multi-media in format, but focused on the workbooks that will guide you from outlining your idea for a nonfiction book to querying traditional publishers, preparing your manuscript for independent publishing and even marketing and promotions.
To provide an aspiring author with insights into publishing nonfiction books in the Spirituality category and the day-to-day logistics of finishing your manuscript
To provide an insider view of both traditional and self-publishing
To provide an aspiring author with the beginner tools needed to complete a first manuscript and take it to publication, either by traditional or independent channels
To get personal and share my thoughts and experiences from an insider’s perspective
To be realistic, and give you real information and hard numbers, not the glossed-over, polished, and exaggerated fluff you often get from would-be insiders
About Your Instructor
benebell wen is the author of Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth (North Atlantic Books, 2015) and The Tao of Craft: Fu Talismans and Casting Sigils in the Eastern Esoteric Traditions (North Atlantic Books, forthcoming September 27, 2016). Wen has also served as the editor-in-chief and managing editor of various literary journals, assisted authors with line-editing, formatting, and releasing self-published books in the categories of spirituality and religion, and has represented independent artists and writers in both the traditional and self-published categories. Wen is also a full-time practicing corporate attorney who specializes in business organizations, business law, corporate mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, and intellectual property law.
AUD = Audio File (M4A)
COMM = Commentary (PDF)
WBK = Workbook (DOCX, PDF)
HDT = Handout (PDF, DOCX, XLSX)
WEB = Website Reference (LINK)
Note: Whenever possible, work off the DOCX file, not the PDF.Sometimes the conversion from my original DOCX file to PDF causes the PDF to look a bit wonky. The PDF is provided here just as a backup, in case you want a quick view for reference (since they load more efficiently on a computer or smartphone than DOCX files).
Module I: Introduction
Let’s start at the very beginning.
Module 1 is an introduction to the world of publishing nonfiction books in the New Age and Spirituality category. Let’s start by talking about you and what you want. Workbook A covers the elements of successful nonfiction and walks you through prompts to help you establish a strong foundation for your book. We’ll talk about what it is exactly you want to say through your book and who you want to say it to, or your target audience. We’ll also cover current trends and together, reach important deductions about the authors publishing in this market category. Even at this early stage, you need to be thinking about your author platform. Workbook B will help you brainstorm and build your author platform. Handout 1 dovetails on Workbook B that walks you through the process of structuring, preparing for, and organizing public speaking engagements to help you establish your author platform.
There are four audio files that consist of lectures (total play time just shy of 40 minutes), two workbooks, and supplementary handouts. Follow the work in the order noted below.
Module 2 helps you grow your seed of a book idea and walks you through the process of nurturing that seed to full bloom, achieving a completed book manuscript. Let me tell you how I managed to stay on track and finish my books while working full-time and tending to family responsibilities. Let’s talk about the daily grind. How do you structure the chapters of your book? How do you schedule your weeks to make sure you get your target writing done? What are some of my personal tips and tricks? The handouts in this module will help you to track your progress. Also, how can you tell if a work is in the public domain? What exactly constitutes fair use? I’ve got handouts for both questions.
There will be four audio lectures (for a total of about 35 minutes play time), two workbooks for you to complete, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below.
Module 3 accompanies you from drafting your book proposal to querying traditional publishers. We’ll cover the big publishing houses (and how you’ll need a literary agent if you want to approach these publishers) and also the small to medium publishers (where you won’t need a literary agent).
There will be 5 audio lectures (total run time about 40 minutes), 3 workbooks, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below.
This workbook is a 50-page, 19,000+ word checklist, term by term explanation, sample contract term negotiation and counter-offers, and tips written by a corporate contracts lawyer to help you navigate the author publisher agreement. Please note that this workbook is for educational purposes only and since I do not know your case-specific situation, the workbook cannot constitute legal advice. It is recommended that you seek legal or professional counsel for case-specific matters.
Module IV: Independent (or Self) Publishing
Module 4 will cover basic pointers for self-publishing. There will be 5 lectures, 1 workbook that you should complete, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below. I’m also providing a few unaffiliated external links, so you have someplace to start shopping around for printing presses, getting price quotes, etc.
In the previous modules, the lectures were provided as audio recordings, but my laptop went kaput and I’ve been recording the audio with an app on my laptop. I don’t know how to do it with my desktop, so instead of mp4 files for download in Module 4, we have text–the audio lecture transcripts I would have read off of.
Module V: Promoting Your Book and Post-Publication Strategic Plans
The final module of this course will cover the enormous amount of work that comes after you’ve produced a book and it has been launched into the public arena aka published. If you thought that meant you’re done, then oh boy, you’ve been sadly mistaken. You’ve only just begun. Module 5 is about covering some realities about publishing and selling nonfiction books in the Mind, Body, Spirit category, the nuts and bolts of promoting a book and how to captivate the attention of your target audience. We’ll also cover post-publication strategic plans for actually making some real money off your book (you thought you were going to make money off your royalties? *chuckles to self*).
Below you’ll find the content outline of Module V, but none of the file extensions are hyperlinked. For full access, you’ll need to be part of the Closed Circuit.
The Author Platform and Public Relations
Preparing Your Media Kit (Workbook A)
Media Kit Template
Promoting a Book: What Works and What Doesn’t
Drafting Your Marketing and Promotions Plan
Template Query Letter for Market Exposure
Book Blurbs (or the Author Endorsement)
Log of Endorsement Queries
The Book Trailer: Should You Create One?
Hiring a Publicist: Pros and Cons
The Author’s PR Schedule: Sample Timeline
Self-Publishing: Author Sales Log Debut Year One
Self-Publishing: Author Sales Log Subsequent Years
Traditional: Author Sales Log Debut Year One
Traditional: Author Sales Log Subsequent Years
Traditional: Gross and Net Sales Detail Log
Dealing with Criticism
The Nom de Plume
Where Is the Money? Optimizing Author Earning Potential
Log of Media Contacts
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This year’s day planner is better. Okay, well, I think it’s better. Who knows what you think of it all. Ephemeris tables, charting sign transits for the Sacred Seven for each and every day of 2018, and also, this year’s day planner comes with a 200 page Guidebook. Yep, that’s right. The day planner has its own operation manual.
And in that operation manual you are going to find loads of folk magic, astrological data, and also all void of course moon dates for 2018 in case that’s something you look at for spell-crafting. It’s got forecasts for 2018, step by step instructions on how you can do your own forecasts for 2018 per your natal chart and solar return chart, reference tables galore, and so much more. I’m sure you’ll find something interesting in that Guidebook that you ultimately decide to integrate into your own craft.
Short Summary (aka TL;DR)
You’re getting the digital files to a day planner calendar book that’s part organizer and part grimoire. Then you can upload the day planner digital file, along with your choice of a front and back cover design (many options provided for you to choose from!), to a third party printer (I give you illustrated step-by-step instructions on how to do that), and get your day planner printed and bound. And if you lose your book midway through the year for whatever reason, you can always print out another copy for yourself, since you’ve got the digital file.
This day planner is keyed to a metaphysician with eclectic leanings, and a keen interest in both the sacred arts of the East and the mystery traditions of the West. It presumes the importance of transits astrology in your practice, and so moon phases, ephemeris tables, and key astrological events are noted.
The Badgers Forest Tarot by Nakisha Elsje VanderHoeven, who is also the creatrix of The Rabbit Tarot, The TaRat (Tarot of the Rat), The BlueDogRose Tarot featuring domestic animals, and The Riderless Tarot, a horse-themed deck. I think she is an animal lover, but I’m not sure. You’ve got to check out all her tarot decks, which are self-published and listed through Etsy.
This is my favorite animal spirit deck, for sure. When I read with this deck, it’s less tarot and more oracle deck, and more specifically, I’m checking out the animal spirit depicted on the cards drawn. Typical tarot card meanings come secondary. And if you’re looking for an animal spirit oracle deck, even though this is tarot–and it does fit what I consider to be the parameters for a tarot deck–this is really a great one. Continue reading “The Badgers Forest Tarot: Animal Lovers Rejoice”→
Now that I’ve completed the 2017 YouTube Pagan Challenge on the grimoire, I thought I’d consolidate the three videos I made in response to the challenge and also throw in some additional commentary. This year’s theme: the personal grimoire or metaphysical journaling. For your reference, here is a PDF reference to all question prompts for the 2017 YouTube Pagan Challenge that I was going off of for the video responses.
I’m going to be making references to the question prompts by number. So, for instance, when I say Question 1, I mean the “Show and Tell” prompt, or if I say Question 45, I mean, “What kind of pagans were your ancestors?” and so on. Number to question references are on that PDF.
In retrospect, Part 3, my last video, should have been Part 1, the first video, so for those who haven’t seen any of them, oh good. Now you can actually watch them in the better order. In this post I’m going to be featuring the final Part 3 first, since it makes more sense that way, and then you’d move on to Part 1.
Then, of course, it turns out there were a whole load of questions I totally missed, so I’ll try to answer any that seem relevant to my path at the very end, via blog rather than another video upload.
Part 3: Pagan Practice, Opinions, and the Personal
I start this video by addressing the question of whether I am even considered pagan. Then I address my go-to divination techniques, Question 6, how it’s not recorded in my grimoire but elsewhere in separate journals, ritual work or Question 8, my answer to Question 12 is implied in some of what I say in this video, and Question 13, where I talk about a code of ethics for spell-crafting. Here I also talk about the religions that influence my path and give glimpses of my witchy rooms or…more accurately, witchy house.
The Sirian Starseed Tarot by author Patricia Cori and illustrator/designer Alysa Bartha is premised on the esoteric (some would say New Age) belief that walking among us humans are a handful of aliens, or aliens-that-look-just-like-humans, or ancient aliens (?), and I think it’s different from what Scientologists believe but I can’t be sure because to an ignoramus like me, they sound the same. Both indigenous Native American and esoteric Buddhist belief systems include an idea similar to starseed people, so maybe there’s a grain of truth in it all somewhere.
The Sirian Starseed Tarot was channeled to Patricia Cori and there is a fascinating workshop she did, hosted by North Atlantic Books, the deck’s publisher, that you can watch here on YouTube. I highly recommend that you check out the webinar, especially if you will be working with the Sirian Starseed Tarot.
The Major Arcana in this deck is breathtaking to view and eerily accurate to work with. Check out Keys 0 through XIII above (Death becomes Transition…I know some old school tarot readers aren’t too fond of the “Death becomes Transition” interpretation of Key XIII…). However, what you need to do when working with this particular deck, especially if you’re a seasoned tarot reader, is to check your tarot knowledge at the door and work with this deck within its own universe of a system. You’re going to have a much more enriching experience with the Sirian Starseed if you do just that. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of hang-ups, biases, and cognitive dissonance.