Angels and Ancestors Oracle Cards

The Angels and Ancestors Oracle Cards is a fun, beautiful New Age divination deck by Kyle Gray with art by Lily Moses. It’s a quintessential Hay House deck and one I’m really loving. These cards will pleasantly surprise you with resonant messages. Readings with Angels and Ancestors will bring clairvoyant images that leave you with a lasting imprint.

It’s a 55-card deck printed on heavy-duty cardstock in an absolute matte finish. Angels and Ancestors is a self-contained system and kit, which means you don’t need to know a darn thing about cartomancy to pick this deck up and begin working with it. The guidebook is a wonderful primer for the beginner.

Let’s see how you’re connecting to this deck, shall we? Let your eyes scan across the three cards–left, center, and right. We’re going to be following the ceremonial instructions provided in the companion guidebook. Take a moment to concentrate on your breath and continue scanning the cards, from one to the next. I’m going to rephrase the recitation a bit for the purposes of this exercise.

Start by reciting to yourself:

I am here in this space to forge a sacred bond with the Angels & Ancestors oracle deck today.

Now recite to yourself:

Guardians of the four corners,
Mother in the Earth, Father in the sky,
Angels, ancestors, sacred ones,
I call on you and welcome you here now.

The full transcript in the guidebook goes on further, but I think this will suffice for our purposes.

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Shadow Work (Bell Chimes In #37) & Applying it Right Now to A-Z New Age Practices

Bell Chimes In is baaack for 2019. =) And we kick off the series with #37, on shadow work.

Well, it’s not really about shadow work. I realize now in retrospect I never even actually addressed what shadow work is, or even what it is to me. I just jumped right in to my opinions and tangential thoughts.

Anyway, I want to conjoin that video chat with a blog post on the most recent thing to fire up the tarot, pagan, occult, and New Age communities: Doreen Virtue’s “An A-Z List of New Age Practices to Avoid and Why.” At first my response to that article won’t seem to relate to shadow work, but just stay with me. I’ll get there.

Which by the way, is totally okay. Shadow work, that is. It didn’t make it onto Virtue’s list of demonic things. So we’re good. Phew.

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Sacred Rebels Oracle Cards by Alana Fairchild and Autumn Skye Morrison

On the year of this blog posting, the Sacred Rebels Oracle deck is now five years old. I’ve had it for a while now, and only now have gotten around to sharing my impressions of it. The deck is by Alana Fairchild, one of the reigning voices in New Age spirituality.

Personally, I love the deck art, I love the spirit of what this deck is trying to achieve, and overall production design is lovely. However, it would be remiss of me as a person of color to not also mention that many people of color do have some bones to pick with Alana Fairchild decks. An argument can be made that she culls from the surface of cultural and religious traditions that she doesn’t fully study or immerse herself in, and then photoshops those traditions through a White lens. Instead of trying to sway you one way or the other, let’s just walk through the card images and you can decide for yourself how you feel.

Sacred Rebels is premised on the celebration of individualist spiritual paths, refusing to follow tradition, orthodoxy, or the mainstream, in pursuit of living your own personal authentic truth. I totally get behind all of that.

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Pre-Order Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, Vitruvian Ed.

Click for enlarged view. Correction: LWB pdf is 8.5″ x 8.5″ in dimension, not 10″ x 10″.

Deck Description:

Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is a hand-illustrated 78-card tarot deck (with 2 additional versions of Key 0, for a total of 80 cards) inspired by late Renaissance woodcut prints, with symbology based predominantly on medieval European alchemy, Hermeticism, Zoroastrianism, astrology, the Kabbalah, Abrahamic angelology, Egyptian mythology, Sufism, and late Renaissance Christian mysticism.

The narrowly-tailored premise of Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is to transform tarot keys into calling cards for accessing a spirit world of beneficent immortals.

The artwork is original black and white line drawings done by hand, by me, in pen and ink, then digitally remastered to monochromatic sepia tones. The cards are bordered with a tea-stained parchment design.

All decks will be anointed with hand-crafted holy anointing oil made of Ceylon cinnamon, cassia cinnamon, myrrh resin, and sweet lemongrass.

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Redesigning the SKT Tarot Box

Redesigning the box for my deck has been so much harder than designing the first edition’s box, because I love my first edition box design. I love the symbolism, I love the energy of it, how it very much feels specific to a particular historic period, and I love how it complemented the black and white deck itself (first edition). Being so attached to it means parting with it has been the hardest part.

Specs wise, the new box will be the same as the first edition box– a top and bottom lid format, absolute matte finish, and really sturdy quality. Anyone who has the first edition might be able to attest to how freakin’ amazing these boxes are. If you’re curious, to get this quality for your tarot box, the stock is 1200 gsm. Compare that to the stock for the tarot cards themselves, which is 350 gsm.

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Zillich Tarot by Christine Zillich: A Thoth-Inspired Watercolor Deck

Those of you who attended Readers Studio 2018 in New York will recognize this deck as having come in the event gift bags, courtesy of U.S. Games. The artwork is done in watercolors by German artist Christine Zillich. The deck art blends mythological, astrological, and Kabbalistic symbolism, featuring Crowley’s keywords on the pips.

Click on photo for enlarged view.

The cards are petite at 2.25″ x 3.75″ (compared to standard tarot size: 2.75″ x 4.75″) and remind me more of a typical Lenormand size deck. You get the deck in a keepsake metal tin. I love the blue-purple tones of the reversible card backs. I know I’m getting nitpicky here, but there’s just the slightest imbalance in terms of vertical spacing in the white caption boxes at the bottoms of the cards–there’s not enough space between the bottom edge of the artwork and the first line of text, compared to the amount of spacing between the bottom edge of the card and the last line of text.

There’s a typo with the roman numeral for Key 21: The Universe, but it doesn’t really bother me. While Key 20 (XX) in the Thoth deck is titled Aeon and in the RWS is Judgement, here in Zillich, it’s Justice, which confused me, so I turned to the LWB. Indeed the card is supposed to be titled “Justice,” so this isn’t a typo on the card (unless it’s a typo that appears on both the card and in the LWB…)

The description of the artwork for Key XX reads in relevant part: “Golden light from heavenly trumpets awakens the dead. . . . An old age ends and a new era begins. The eternal consciousness is reborn in the spirit of the primordial fire.” So that sounds very Judgement-y and Aeon-y to me. Assuming the keyword “Justice” for Key XX is correct, I’m not entirely sure how justice fits in to the card, even with the deck creators’ own meaning attributions for Key XX.

Click on photo for enlarged view.

The abstract cubist style pays a clear homage to Lady Frieda Harris’s style. That Death card is just absolutely beautiful and to me, almost has a dark goddess vibe to it. Some of the symbolic renderings in the Majors feel more RWS to me than Thoth, like how Key 8, while titled Lust, is positioned as it would be in the RWS (whereas Crowley goes through quite the trouble explaining white Lust/Strength “should” be Key 11) and Key 11 is Justice/Adjustment. Also, the depictions, most notably in The Hermit card, or even the Wheel of Fortune feel more RWS than Thothian.

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Taoist Metaphysics

This is the continuation of a six-part video series I’m doing on Taoist and Buddhist Mysticism as it has been practiced historically and culturally. We are now on to Video 4.

4. Taoist Metaphysics

This video lecture will be a beginner-level overview of Taoist metaphysics, which will begin with the Taoist mythology for the origins of the universe, cover Taoist expressions and esoteric thought on reality as it has been created by our minds and by physical matter. Concepts of magic and non-physical entities will also be addressed.

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Taoist Sorcery and Its Cultural Practice

This is the continuation of a six-part video series I’m doing on Taoist and Buddhist Mysticism as it has been practiced historically and culturally. We are now on to Video 3.

3. Taoist Sorcery and Its Cultural Practice

What is the impact of Taoism on the everyday Chinese culture and the collective consciousness of its people? What are some of the guiding principles underscoring Taoist sorcery? This lecture will discuss some of the practical ways Buddhism and Taoism get syncretized in Chinese occultism.

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History of Taoist and Buddhist Mysticism in China

This is the continuation of a six-part video series I’m doing on Taoist and Buddhist Mysticism as it has been practiced historically and culturally among the Han. Video 1 released earlier was the Introduction to Buddhist-Taoist Esotericism. We are now on to Video 2.

2. History of Taoist and Buddhist Mysticism in China

In this video lecture, we are going to cover over 4,000 years of history, going through the dynasties, beginning with the Xia, Shang, and Zhou, until we reach modern China. Our coverage will span beyond 4,000 years, preceding the Xia, to talk about shamanism in the Neolithic Era.

Works cited for everything covered in this lecture are in the end notes of The Tao of Craft (North Atlantic Books, 2016).

Next Lecture: Taoist Sorcery and Its Cultural Practice

All videos in this series are closed-captioned for the deaf, hard of hearing, or those whose native tongue isn’t English. I’ve also made my best attempt at accommodating for the blind. If there is room for improvement in these regards, I’m open to friendly critique. Thank you!

For the full playlist, go here:

tinyurl.com/chineseoccultism

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Introduction to Buddhist-Taoist Esotericism

Taoism is a nature-based religion, philosophy, and a 2,000 year old tradition of sorcery native to China since the Zhou Dynasty. In that same time, Buddhism enters China and a modality of it–esoteric Buddhism–is blended in with Taoist magic. Yet the roots of Taoist magic trace back even further than the dynasties of antiquity, back to Neolithic shamanism.

This introductory six-video lecture series will cover the ontology, theory, history, and cultural practice of sorcery at the intersection of esoteric Buddhism and Taoism. You’re on Video #1: Introduction to Buddhist-Taoist Esotericism.

1: Introduction to Buddhist-Taoist Esotericism

2: History of Taoist and Buddhist Mysticism in China

3: Taoist Sorcery and Its Cultural Practice

4: Taoist Metaphysics

5: Chinese Occultism as a Syncretic Practice

6: Taoist Magic in Contemporary Times

I’m creating this lecture series as an invitation to you to learn more about the occult traditions I practice. I hope you find within these offerings bits of insight, knowledge, and methods that you can integrate, syncretize, adopt into your own Path.

For the full playlist, go here:

tinyurl.com/chineseoccultism

Continue reading “Introduction to Buddhist-Taoist Esotericism”