Grimoire Inspiration: The Wooden Books Series

By far my favorite source of inspiration for my grimoire comes from the Wooden Books series published by Bloomsbury. I have the four-book set shown above, which I like to keep displayed out on a coffee table in our living room.

I reach for these books often and you’ll see why once you peek inside the page spreads. One of the questions I get asked the most is about my grimoire or personal book of methods/book of shadows.  I’ve given my thoughts into how you might structure and organize your grimoire here (How to Create Your Grimoire: Inspiration From One Approach) and you can check out a three-video series I did for the 2017 YouTube Pagan Challenge where I share the pages of my own private book.

Each one of these four books informs my grimoire work in a different and valuable way. You can click on the photos in this post for the enlarged 1200 pixel-side image file for a closer viewing. I’m hoping these few snapshots already start to generate amazing ideas and inspiration for you.

Designa I use to inspire decorative borders, ornamentation, and just the design elements in my grimoire pages. If you’ve ever seen a flip-through of my book and now see these page spreads from Designa, you’re going to see the influence for sure.

What I most love about using these books for inspiration is not just the design elements, but the explanatory entries as well. That way I’m informed about the design elements I’m using and I can use them with intention and significance. Everything in my grimoire is meaningful to me and symbolic, and much of that capacity comes from consulting these books.

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Guidebook of 19th Century Etiquette (Download PDF)

You can file this under totally random and “what the hell is this Benebell.” A while back I told you all about my hard drive mishap. What proceeded was some top level desperate attempts to recover as much as we could.

One of those things recovered was this. For reasons now unbeknownst to me, one day a younger version of me decided to check out a stack of 19th and early 20th century books on etiquette and manners. And I took notes. And I consolidated those notes into a Word document.

Fast forward more than a decade seventeen years (!!!) and among the things recovered from my erased hard drive was this document. I spruced it up a bit, made it pretty, and now it’s a free downloadable PDF for you. Why? No reason.

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Tarot in Wonderland by Barbara Moore and Eugene Smith

Tarot in Wonderland is a whimsical, playful deck that nudges you to not take yourself or the situation you’re in too seriously, and yet when times have truly gotten rough, it’s going to be there for you to offer insightful advice. It’s that close friend of yours who’s a jokester most of the time and kind of a goof-off but if you’re crying and hurting for real, that friend gets real, too, and is there for you 300%. That’s Tarot in Wonderland.

I had the great honor of attending the launch party for Tarot in Wonderland and heard the legendary Barbara Moore speak about her deck. I shared a couple of photos on Instagram if you want to check it out.

Now let’s talk about the deck. Thank you to Llewellyn for finally upping their packaging production. The magnetic flap, the hard casing, the cut-out nook for your deck, ribbon, and the book that fits perfectly up top is by leaps and bounds better than what Llewellyn deck packaging used to be. See here, for example, for the Mystical Cats Tarot. or here, near the end, when I again gripe about the product packaging for the Llewellyn Tarot.

Barbara dedicated the deck to Hermes, messenger of the gods and the divine trickster. Due to many humorous mishaps along the way, the deck took four years to bring to fruition…probably thanks to Hermes. But it was all worth it in the end because the length of time devoted to this deck means a lot of close attention to detail went into it.

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The Lost Tarot (Majors Only) by Hans Bauer

The Lost Tarot is a self-published Majors only tarot deck brought to us from the brilliant mind of Hans Bauer. The deck art is premised on a fictionalized back story of an English merchant, William Bradford, who purchased from Leonardo da Vinci an optical device (i.e., the very first camera, prior to the invention of the camera as we know it today) that da Vinci had invented, essentially a camera obscura device. The back story of the deck continues: Bradford took a series of photographs with the device and, in 1994, a stack of Bradford’s medieval photographs were found in Nottingham, England. Restoration efforts commenced and now we’ve got an incredible tarot deck for the 21st century based on those medieval photographs taken with Leonarda da Vinci’s optical device.

Weaving the back story for The Lost Tarot. Click on image for link to image source. Deck descriptions and marketing copy put forth the narrative: the “Circa 1517” image seen above is purportedly the original photograph as taken by Bradford with the camera device he purchased from Leonardo da Vinci. To the right, “2017 Recreation,” is the digitally corrected version used for the modern tarot deck. I love it.

The premise is charming, innovative, well thought out, with brilliant world-building as you’d expect from a renowned screenwriter like Hans Bauer of Anaconda (1997) fame (which starred Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, and Owen Wilson, among others) and Titan A.E. (2000).

To execute that premise, Bauer took photographs at various Renaissance faires in Texas and also staged some at his studio, mimicking a photography style as best as he could conceive of it that might have been taken by a prototype camera from 1517, centuries before the actual invention of the camera in 1839. Thus, the photographic art is expressed with a distressed and antique tone. The purpose, the painstaking attention to every detail in the execution of this Majors only tarot deck, and then finally, the cards themselves as a working tarot deck excite me.

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The Mother Wound Tarot Reading

In feminist circles, the mother wound is oft talked about. The mother wound is the relationship tension often inherent between a mother and a daughter. It’s a daughter:

  • feeling like the mother is fundamentally disappointed in how the daughter has come out, that the daughter hasn’t met the mother’s expectations;
  • feeling dysfunctional because the mother has explicitly or implicitly conveyed to the daughter that there is something fundamentally wrong with the daughter;
  • feeling like you can never repay the enormous sacrifices the mother has made for the daughter; or…
  • feeling afraid that she might outshine the mother and therefore hurt the mother’s feelings somehow, so plays down her attributes intentionally, tries to be smaller and more helpless than she actually is.

For me, when ill-dignified maternal cards are consistently showing up in synchronistic patterns throughout a tarot reading for a querent who is biologically female, who identifies by gender as female, or has transitioned, I’ll explore the mother wound. The mother wound can be such a pervasive root cause of the internal conflicts in our lives.

If you intuit that you may be affected by the mother wound at some soul or fundamental level, a tarot spread programmed specifically to address that mother wound can help.

If you’re looking to explore the mother wound or just probe deeper into the spiritual implications of your relationship with a mother figure, try out this spread.

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Relationship Compatibility by Your Tarot Court Significator

Queen of Swords from the Tarot in Wonderland (Barbara Moore); Game of Thrones Tarot (Liz Dean and Craig Cross); Bad Bitches Tarot (Ethony Dawn)

Even though I don’t personally buy in to generalizations about astrological sign compatibility, they sure are fun to read (and write). Instead of zodiac signs, I’m going even broader and exploring elemental compatibility between the tarot courts. Zodiac signs aren’t the only way to determine tarot court correspondences, but it’s the one I’m going to go with for the purposes of this blog post.

Since there are differing elemental correspondences for tarot out there, here’s the one I’m working with:

Those who are Fire signs are part of the Wands court, Water signs are Cups, Air signs are Swords, and Earth signs are the court of Pentacles. Psst… I’m the Queen of Swords by both sun sign and rising.

To determine your elemental court, you can use your sun sign (what is commonly referred to as your horoscope sign), but for some relationships, you may want to go with moon sign. Checking compatibility points for moon signs, rising, and Venus signs in addition to sun signs can bring a more well-rounded insight to a very specific romantic pairing. Closeness of friendships can also be determined through an account of the moon signs in addition to the sun.

The relationship compatibility I want to explore here is not limited to love. These considerations can be applied to friendships, acquaintances, or professional partners, or heck, even which public figures seem to resonate with you and which for some inexplicable reason just don’t.

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Readers Studio 2018: First-Timer’s Insights

Readers Studio 2018 was both my first time as an attendee and first time as a presenter. The tarot community is truly one-of-a-kind. Having now experienced the astrology community, pagans, Taoists, and Buddhists as social collectives, the favorite is hands down my tarot peeps. You won’t find a warmer, more enthusiastic, more diverse, more welcoming, more integrated and united, or more supportive tribe.

The Readers Studio is a weekend extravaganza of three master classes, breakfast roundtables, general sessions, tarot incubators, study groups, showcases, and many delicious event offerings. They also feed you, so there’s a cocktail party, luncheon, formal dinner banquet, and breakfast buffet. Ongoing throughout is the merchant faire where you can buy amazing goodies from small artisanal proprietors or get a tarot reading from one of the Studio’s selected celebrity psychic readers.

This post is going to be a review of my first Tarot Readers Studio experience. I’m sure I’ll be attending in 2019– and next year as an attendee and eager student only– no onstage pressures (yay) so I’ll be able to focus entirely on mingling, learning, and of course, sharing an unconscionable number of live tweets and Instagram posts.
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The Game of Thrones Tarot (Oh Yeah….)

The Game of Thrones Tarot. If you watch GoT and you’re a tarot reader, I’d be shocked if you didn’t get this deck. So many of us were salivating while waiting for it after the first preview photos surfaced on the interwebs. Plus, the production quality is spectacular for the price.

Click for enlarged view.

I love that the creators went in the direction of hand-drawn (or at least it has the appearance of hand-drawn) illustrations rather than photography. Had this been a photography deck, I wouldn’t have bought it. I love the correspondences here, meaning which characters are assigned to which keys.

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