This is a free introductory course into Lei Fa, a classical form of Taoist sorcery. Lei Fa (雷法), translated into English as Thunder Rites or Thunder Magic, is a tradition of ceremonial magic and Chinese occult craft that rose in popularity during the Song Dynasty of China (A.D. 960—1279). In Eastern esoteric traditions, Lei Fa is considered one of the more advanced practices.
There are both inner and outer alchemical forms of Thunder Rites. Methodologies are premised on the belief that thunder is the divine command of Heaven and a practitioner can harvest the power of thunder to absorb powers from Heaven and use those powers to both exorcise demons and heal sickness (because, for the most part, historically sickness was attributed to demonic possession).
Homework: Your Practicum
Following each installment of the series will be a suggested practicum, or homework for you to try out. Homework material presumes that you are an occult practitioner who is actively on the path of developing your craft.
Eight Days of Inner and Outer Alchemical Cultivation
For eight consecutive days, commit to 108 recitations (or, alternatively, 5 minutes) of the Vajrapani mantra to attune yourself to that divine pillar of power we’re referring to as the thunder channel. Though we are using Buddhist terminology, the principle is secular. We simply acknowledge that the Vajrapani mantra is one (of many) tried and true methodologies for tapping in to that pillar.
To kick it off, on Day 1, get pen and paper (pass through the smoke of sacred incense to consecrate, if that so pleases you) and render the Thunder Rites sigil. The order of strokes is provided below.
Note that for this exercise, we’re using the Thunder Rites sigil as a standalone sigil. In intermediate craft, this would be the leading or top glyph of a Fu talisman and then below it, you’d continue on with the rest of a sigil design. That is why if you’re serious about learning Thunder Rites, then you’ll want to begin by mastering this standalone glyph. So much of subsequent sigil-crafting will be based on this glyph.
Alternatives: Instead of a paper Fu talisman, you can charge talismanic jewelry, such as a metal vajra pendant, a metallic mineral stone like peacock ore, pyrite, silver, etc., or gold jewelry. Or you can use it to charge a pendulum, which you’ll later use for divinatory purposes, with the principle understanding that the pendulum is now charged with Lei Fa. If you go with talismanic jewelry or one of the listed alternatives instead of the paper sigil, then consecrate that object on Day 1.
Then, Day 1 through 8, begin with the Jing Guang hand mudra directed inward and proceed with 108 recitations of the Vajrapani mantra. You can bookmark or download the below guided recitation video that’s exactly 108 recitations where I’ll lead and accompany your daily cultivation practice.
In the above video, I note that if you’re following the guided recitation just for the recitation (a form of five-minute-ish meditation you can add to your routine), then you stop at timestamp 5:33.
If you’re using the guided recitation video to charge your Fu talisman or talismanic jewelry for Lei Fa, then continue to the end. You’ll first want to make sure the object to be charged is in front of you during the meditation and immediately after the 108 recitations, you can transition in to the outer alchemical practice.
The conclusion of the instructions is given in the Tinkering Bell video, so be sure to watch and take notes. Click on the below table to download the PDF print-out that summarizes the eight-day exercise.
Optional: In between the charging recitations, I store the talisman within a closed ring of consecrated salt or a closed ring of frankincense resin bits, and then keep this on my working altar. Personally, I don’t think this is a requirement. I do it because it gives me the sense that while I’m away and not paying attention, no negative or toxic energies will interfere with the crafting. The concept is like keeping a perishable item stored in such a way as to prevent spoilage.
Note that it’s not necessary to use the Guided 108 Vajrapani recitations video I provided. However, I’ve designed and intended it to not just be the guided recitations, but to be a means of safeguarding and shielding you during the process. The video itself is designed to be empowering for you.
MP3 Audio File – 4 minutes 34 seconds
Click above link to download mp3 from DropBox
For the straight 108 recitations only, without any chatter or the guided instructions for the talisman charging, download the mp3 audio file from the above link.
Continuing the Practice
After the initial eight-day cultivation practice with the paper Fu talisman (or if you went with the alternative, a talismanic object that would be classically in line with the principles of thunder rites), you can apply this energy charging methodology to, well, pretty much any object to empower it into a talisman with the powers you’ve harvested from Zhen, that thunder pillar we went on about in thunder magic, this energy transference modality.
You know when New Agers talk about reiki charged crystals? Yeah, this is kind of like that, but more old school and not as instantaneous. Zhen is the pillar of divine power you’re siphoning from and drawing down on to earth, materializing it, and pushing it into an object so that the object becomes a talisman, or becomes fully charged with that divine power, that Zhen.
So try out the eight-day technique on other talismanic objects. Be creative and think of very personalized, innovative ways you can apply the cultivation technique instructed here to your own practice.
Personal Grimoire Work
Presuming that you’ve connected with this genre of craft, then don’t forget to memorialize the information into your personal grimoire. This post will provide different media files for you to work with in designing your grimoire page spreads.
Lei Gong (雷公, direct translation: “Duke of Thunder,” referring to the thunder god of folklore) is one of the key figures in the pantheon for Thunder Rites and is also the personification of the monad in this genre of craft. Weather magic, exorcisms, warding off demons, to defeat your enemies, and spells to defeat or take down other sorcerers in Thunder Rites will commonly petition Lei Gong.
The characters your Thunder Rites sigil is based on is a petition to Lei Gong. The two characters are Lei (雷), meaning thunder and a reference to petitioning Lei Gong, and Ling (令), meaning order, decree, petition, or to manifest.
Lei Gong is venerated during the sixth lunar month (around July) of each year, the month before Ghost Month.
Petitioning to Zhang Daoling to Teach You
If after the eight days of working with the entry-level practicum you find that this is something that you really want to pursue further, then it’s time to connect to your teacher. Yeah, no– that is not me.
“One Talisman, One Spell”
Both Lin Ling-Su and Wang Wen-Qing (discussed in the lecture) make reference to how they received the full teachings and mastery of Thunder Rites.
They received one talisman and one spell.
Then they proceeded with meditation practices on their own. A divine teacher (basically, a spirit guide) came to them and from there, taught them their craft.
That, too, is how you will learn and master Thunder Rites for yourself. In this practicum, I’ve given you just that already: one talisman and one spell. I’ve also provided you with instruction on core meditation practices.
If you want to advance further, you’ll be petitioning to Zhang Daoling (34 AD – 156 AD) to be your divine teacher, though you’ll be addressing him as Zhang Tian Shi (張天師), or “Divine Teacher Zhang.” Per tradition, when talking in third person about the historic figure, sure, you’d use the name, Zhang Daoling (or Zhang Ling). However, in ritual or when addressing him directly as a celestial teacher, you would use a title, and never call him by name. Thus, you’d address him directly as “Zhang Tian Shi” or Divine Teacher Zhang.
Admittedly, my renderings aren’t that artistic. Yours don’t have to be either, but if you’re more gifted than I am, then certainly apply that artistry when you render the seal. There’s some creative license that can be taken here with the rendering of these seals, though the essential structure should remain the same, since they’re based on Chinese characters.
Those who are loong de tsuan ren (“descendants of the dragon”) may want to go with Zu Tian Shi (祖天師), to indicate that Zhang Daoling is your ancestor. [Short version of the story: Oftentimes ethnic Han practitioners of thunder magic will petition Zhang Daoling with Zu Tian Shi (祖天師) kind of the way you would call your grandfather “Grandpa” or “Gramps” in honor of that direct familial connection.]
Begin by rendering the Seal as a form of devotional art.
In other words, you need to go a bit beyond sourcing a scrap piece of paper and any old pen you’ve pulled out of your drawer. Above you’ll see that I used a wood burner to carve the Seal of Zhu Tian Shi into a plaque of pine wood.
You can also see some of the creative licenses I took. I try to keep any deviation from the Seal symbolic and intentional. So, for instance, the part in Tian (天), the oracle bone script for it, there’s that part I rendered differently, to combine the Chinese character for fire and water together (the principle of converging polarity, which you’ll know what I’m referring to if you watched the video already). In Zhu (祖), I rendered the two center lines as Taoist power crosses.
While you are creating this piece of devotional art with the Seal, pray to or have a conversation with Divine Teacher Zhang. Yeah, use whichever language you’re comfortable with. No, you don’t have to speak Chinese. Plus, if you want to get stupidly technical, modern day Chinese is nothing like what Zhang Daoling would have been speaking. So I reckon you speaking English, German, Spanish, Russian, or French is going to be a negligible difference from speaking modern day Chinese.
In this conversation you’re going to have in your head where, yeah, you’re in effect talking to yourself, I would use a respectful tone. Think about how you’d speak to an elder, a great grandpa. So do try to go a bit beyond talking to your buddy at the bar. That said, also be authentic and be yourself, so in your conversation, you should shine through. If you tend to be a bit cheeky and you would use that kind of cheeky tone with your great grandpa, then go for it.
How this “conversation” while you’re rendering the devotional art goes down is up to you and I’m not going to give any further pointers. Go in with the mindset that you’re sincere about seeking this divine teacher and think about how you want to declare why you want to learn Lei Fa. You can acknowledge some of your reservations, your questions, your concerns, your thoughts, feelings, etc.
Then, in a dedicated, daily manner, practice meditation and mantra recitations. This is your trial period. Think of this period as when the Celestial Teacher is watching and assessing, to see if you’re someone he can train and impart knowledge and power to. You aren’t limited to the Vajrapani mantra, though if you need a place to start, then start there.
Be proactive about physical health as well. Eat healthy, exercise, and while that sounds like rather mundane advice, the attitude you’re demonstrating by being proactive about overall personal wellness is what’s going to appeal to the Celestial Teacher. Adjust your entire lifestyle in such a way that it’s unequivocally clear you care about yourself and those around you.
When you’re meditating, doing mantra recitations, or studying esoterica, keep your work of devotional art of the Seal close by and place it in a way that demonstrates your utmost respect toward the Celestial Teacher. Assume this work of art of the Seal is now the physical embodiment of the Teacher and therefore treat that Seal accordingly.
And that’s it. Then you wait it out. Continue devotional practices like meditation and mantra recitation (if you’re a total beginner or feel a bit overwhelmed or apprehensive about how to proceed, stick to the Vajrapani mantra recitations and follow the guided recitations daily, stopping at time stamp 5:33 as noted earlier), proactive pursuit of overall personal health, and proactive pursuit of knowledge. In other words, study. Study the occult.
Here’s where I’d actually say book learning is imperative, or the sincere demonstration of seeking book learning. I think of it as the Celestial Teacher watching on to see just how committed you are to all this. Once the Celestial Teacher is certain you’re serious, that’s when the practice of the arts begins.
How long this is going to take before you feel your Celestial Teacher’s presence and feel guided in this spiritual training will vary. The individual experience is going to vary. According to lore, the emperor personally asked Zhang Daoling to come to the imperial court to become a teacher there, which would have elevated Zhang Daoling to a high social status. He refused not once, but multiple times to the emperor’s personal request.
What I get out of that story is a teacher who isn’t interested in status or material ambitions, and therefore is probably not going to look on kindly to a seeker who cares too much about those things.
If you’re asking me, I’d say your goals in life have to be a lot more than riches, fame, glory, sex, or romantic love if you really want Zhang Daoling to become your spiritual teacher. (Interestingly, several of his more prominent descendants were power-hungry and politically very ambitious.) I will also say that if you genuinely are not looking for these things, oddly enough, as incidental perks, they appear. Zhang Daoling wasn’t looking to achieve greatness, and yet greatness found him.
Keep at this initial practice in a committed manner and soon enough you’ll be guided by forces beyond as to what to do next, how to proceed, etc. so I won’t give any further instruction. From this point on, it’s up to you.
As you progress and find that you do have a strong teacher-student connection with the Celestial Teacher, the Seal itself becomes the lead glyph at the top of your Fu talismans. Again, not saying you need to do that or that it even makes sense for you. But if you feel pulled in that direction, then just know that yeah, it’s a thing.
The Celestial Teacher’s birthday is celebrated in the third lunar month of each year (that roughly converts over to April), so occultists who work closely with him in their craft are going to be more attentive during that time.
Wait a Minute… I Don’t Think That’s Zhang Daoling…
Finally, in some instances, even though you’ve specifically petitioned the Celestial Teacher Zhang Daoling, he might instead send an emissary, someone else to come be your teacher, if another teacher would be more suitable for you. Thus, Divine Teacher Zhang isn’t always the one to personally appear. He might call upon another to come to you as your guide.
Oops, Are You Doing It Wrong?
(No, probably not.)
As you pursue mastery over Thunder Rites through solitary work, beyond the one talisman and one spell I’ve provided, there may be times you’re wondering, are you doing it wrong?
If your craft is ineffective, then probably. So it’s back to the drawing board for you and you need to figure out for yourself what adjustments to make. You’re not “doing it wrong” by some external standard; you’re doing it wrong by your own standard.
Otherwise, no, you’re not doing it “wrong” just because someone else coming from who knows where tells you that you’re doing it wrong, or even it’s just own inner Negative Nancy raining on your parade.
If you’re asking the question “am I doing it wrong” out of some intangible concern over authenticity, then I would say already that your mind and heart are in the wrong place. Your eyes and thoughts are wandering off your target and instead, you’re looking around worrying about what others might be thinking of you. You’re more worried about how you look to others than what you’re actually doing, and the progress you’re actually making.
Keep your mind and heart on that connection with your divine teacher and follow the omens given to you.
What you’re doing may look very different from what’s “traditionally” or historically done, because times change and cultures shift. The Celestial Teacher is also working with you within the framework of your ideologies, your resonance factors, and who you are.
Let’s Connect and Share!
I’m hoping the Facebook group “I Ching and Occult Taoism” can be a place we’ll connect and share these very personal experiences and the process of our personal development. If you’re working through this practicum or learning Thunder Rites for yourself to add to your arsenal of occult knowledge, find others who are doing so as well and connect.
Click on above link to access Group page.
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The Tinkering Bell video series is intended to be a multi-module free practica or online course on esoteric craft, drawing from both Eastern and Western traditions. The purpose is to help a novice practitioner build his, her, or their magical repertoire. “Practica of Esoteric Craft” is entirely free, but if you have the means, please consider a nominal donation to help keep it free! Or help keep me going by supporting my work. There are many ways to support my work, noted below.
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