About Benebell

The super-official author photo. Hubby took it for me. No, he's not a professional photographer.
The super-official author photo. Hubby took it for me. No, he’s not a professional photographer.

Author. Independent Metaphysician.


How was I going to self-identify after introducing my name?

“Author” was easy. I can confidently and factually claim that I am an author of two books, Holistic Tarot and The Tao of Craft, both published by North Atlantic Books, one of the coolest publishers, like, ever. I can tell you now there is definitely a third one in the works, but which will get to the finish line first, I’m not sure.


I’m not unaware that “Independent Metaphysician” sounds goofy, but all the other possible self-identifying titles sounded goofier. Plus, “Independent Metaphysician” is descriptive. I liken it to people with bios that refer to themselves as independent scholars, because they’re not affiliated with any universities or institutions, except here I’m saying independent metaphysician. Like, you know, because I’m not affiliated with any longstanding esoteric traditions or lineages. Yet my concentration of study is in various metaphysical practices. So I am an independent metaphysician. It makes sense. Don’t laugh at it.

2015.10.14 Blog About Me Page Photo
Left: Selfie; Right: Book Signing Author Event

Then we have the issue of the name. Benebell Wen. It is a pseudonym.

It’s based on my Chinese name. For those who can read Chinese, it’s 善 (which basically means “good” or “benevolent”) and 鈴 (“bell” like the musical instrument). But if I called myself Benevolent Bells, you’d look at me funny. Hence, Benebell. Still funny, but less funny.

Wen is the surname I should have had, but I guess when my family immigrated to the U.S., people were playing fast and loose with transliterations and so my legal surname is something else entirely. In so many ways, this pseudonym is closer to my true identity than my given legal name. Weird, huh?

Another random pic of me so there's a good balance of images and text on this page. Marketing people tell me that's important.
Another random pic of me so there’s a good balance of images and text on this page. Marketing people tell me that’s important.

Yet I opted for the pseudonym in a determined attempt to keep what I do here separate from my professional life as a corporate attorney. Oh, yeah, by the way, I’m a lawyer. I am licensed to practice in California and New York. I work in-house and do mostly corporate transactions, which is like mergers and acquisitions if you’re really curious. I work in venture capital. And yes, I am still juggling that full-time in-house legal job with what I’m doing here, and the books I’m writing. More reason to continue the pseudonym. Plus, throughout occult history all the cool people had pseudonyms and if nothing else I want to be cool.

I grew up in upstate New York and later moved to Northern California. I was that quiet kid who read all the books in the occult section of the local small town public library. In third grade while at a mega-bookstore for the first time (or first time in recallable memory), my father said I could buy one book, any book I wanted. I chose The I Ching: Book of Changes. It was a copy where one side had the original Chinese text and the opposite side had its English translation. The very first book I bought by myself with my own allowance money was in sixth grade. This was a big deal, mind you. My own money! I bought The Encyclopedia of the Occult or something with a similar title like that. It was a nice, thick, juicy book chock full of reference material. In junior high and high school, I was that kid that got yelled at by my mom for burning candles and incense in my room. [By the way, you can read more about that in an old blog post, here, “Magical Parenting: The Metaphysician Mother”] I’d spread a savvy piece of fabric over a nightstand and on it, arrange various figurines and doodads I picked up in forests or by the creek.

Then at some point adulthood happened and I became really focused on higher education and then my career. I sought out resume-worthy accomplishments, not woo-woo pastimes, though without a doubt there has always been an intense streak of woo within me. I just kept it to myself. Like, wayyy to myself. That’s why when Holistic Tarot was published, it came as a surprise to many in my arm’s length social circle, though upon reflection of all my demonstrable interests, those who really knew me and had already been getting tarot readings from me, receiving mysterious talismans “for good luck and protection,” heard me talk about feng shui or ascendant signs, or had accidentally stumbled upon my gemstones and crystals collection, the new public push of my metaphysical interest was no surprise at all.

Oh, and also, I’m Taiwanese American. The only reason I mention that is because you’re looking at that photo of me and wondering, “Where is she from? What is she? Some kind of Asian, for sure.” And that’s cool. I love that you’re interested. Well, that kind of Asian is Taiwanese. I add the American because I’ve been to Taiwan all of five times in my life, so I’m not entirely sure birthright is enough to claim my Taiwanese-ness.

Because everybody knows that serious metaphysicians must have pink hair. No pink hair = not legit.
Because everybody knows that serious metaphysicians must have pink hair. No pink hair = not legit.

For those who feel like they’ll know me better if they know my sun, moon, and rising, I’m a sun sign Libra, moon sign Leo, and Aquarius rising, with a Scorpio midheaven. My polar ascendant (how people view me; what people think of me) is Virgo.

Content Creator, Not Teacher

I don’t teach. I don’t lead. I’m not all that interested in making sure you hear me. There are plenty of teachers and spiritual thought leaders out there who have a vested interest in your development. I’m just going to keep it real with you and let you know I’m not one of them. I don’t care particularly one way or the other what your spiritual path is, what your esoteric practices are, or the progress of your journeying.

If it’s any consolation, I don’t think I’m saying that out of apathy. I’m saying it matter-of-factly, in acknowledgement of reality. The reality is I don’t have a say in your spiritual path or development. I can’t actually help you. You have to help yourself. It’s the only way. I am not here to motivate you with my speech. You have to motivate yourself. Even if something I say motivates you, if it doesn’t come from within you and only you, then it’s a waste anyway. You may feel charged for all of five minutes before you lose focus and return to what you were doing before. So it always, always has to come from you. I am not part of your equation.

And be warned that there are spiritual teachers and thought leaders out there who want you to believe they have a vested interest in your development, but helping you is just their way of validating their own self-worth, perpetuating their own sense of entitlement, and to fuel their egos. I’m pretty egotistical, arrogant, and endowed with an inflated sense of entitlement all on my own thank you very much. I haven’t found the need to be a teacher or leader to get that fix.

So that people don’t freak the fuck out, I’m also not saying all spiritual teachers and thought leaders out there are what I just said. I also don’t think any of the good ones would disagree with me when I say uh, yah, there sure are a lot of shit ones peddling farcical New Age hogwash in an effort to transfer the energies in your pocketbook to theirs.

I create content. As much of it as I’m moved to. And then I’ll drop it in your lap, in a manner of speaking, this figuratively intense and disheveled stack of information that I’ve painstakingly researched or gained by experience the old school way, and pretty much say to you, “Here. Read it or not read it. It’s up to you. Like it or not. You’re on your own now.”

If and when I give my opinions, I am not stating facts of reality (that much is obvious, I hope?) and I’m not preaching at you. I’m giving my opinions, of which I have many, as do you. One of the cool things about the Internet and blogging is any idiot from any corner of the world with any level of experience can give an opinion and publish it, which is all I’m doing here on my own website.

Speaking Engagements

I’ve done speaking engagements about various metaphysical and occult topics at the Bay Area Theosophical Society, San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium 2015, Northwest Tarot Symposium in Portland, Oregon in both 2016 and 2018, Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley, PantheaCon 2018 in San Jose California, and most recently, was a headlining master class presenter at Readers Studio 2018 in New York, New York alongside Mary K. Greer and Rachel Pollack, and a key presenter with Rachel Pollack at the 2018 U.K. Tarot Conference in London, England.

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57 thoughts on “About Benebell

    1. Hi Benebell, super quick question–does your natal Mercury happen to be in Virgo? I saw your Sun, Moon, and Ascendant (and I share your Aquarius Ascendant and Leo Moon, though I have Sun in Virgo), and I’d be almost willing to bet you have Mercury in Virgo (having read your Holistic Tarot book and seen enough of your website and other materials) and given your Libra Sun, there’s a good chance Mercury would be in Virgo in your chart. Thanks so much for everything you do!


  1. I’ve looked at Tarot with fascination. On my desk in front of me now my current favourite (Hanson-Roberts) although the Rider is almost equal. I once posted on a wee trial I conducted: it seemed that no matter how I shuffled I would randomly cut and produce The Star. So I took some numbers and it was quite unbelievable. Doesn’t happen now (a quick try: Nope! The Fool … )


    1. Wow. How have I missed your blog and review of The Wild Unknown Tarot before today?? Your review is very thoughtful and now (as a Tarot student) I wish I had books that would explain The RWS, the Thoth System and the Marseille system! Suggestions?? I love that you’re a lawyer (right brain/left brain) and that you live in Northern California! Me too!
      Anyway, now I am definitely a fan.


      1. Hi sybes1! Well, I can’t help but put in a plug for my own book, Holistic Tarot, which is keyed to the Rider-Waite-Smith. 🙂 You can learn more about the book if you click into the “About Holistic Tarot” link on my website. Thanks so much! – b


  2. I think I’ve deleted it. I’ve just been googling all my blogs, no joy. (Recently I revamped and cleared quite a bit of old stuff.)

    But: in essence, new pack, effectively doodling with it by absent-mindedly shuffling and cutting I noticed that one card was coming up way more often than by random. So I did a wee unofficial trial and tallied my results over quite a few tries.

    The Star came up about nine times, Fool about five, other trumps more or less filled out the balance in dribs and drabs. I don’t think there were any minor arcana at all, which is really unexpectable. I was so impressed I posted. Dammit~!

    I may just try the whole exercise again, sometime, see what happens. Don’t wait up …


  3. @ Jenna: I didn’t know about the tarot conference in China! Sadly I couldn’t get the link to work on my end, but I love the idea and will go hunting around for more info. Thanks!

    Re: comparative analysis of I Ching and Tarot: that would probably take a book! I do get into it a little bit, at least superficially, in the book I just wrote on tarot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] Benebell Wen is a long-term practitioner of tarot and a certified master by way of the Tarot Certification Board of America. She is also a California and New York licensed attorney, and works as a corporate legal counsel. In addition to tarot, Wen is a feng shui consultant, I Ching practitioner, numerologist, and astrology enthusiast. She resides in Castro Valley with her husband and their beloved cat. […]


  5. Hello Benebell,

    I just found your book. (I love most everything North Atlantic does! Can’t wait to dig in.)

    I’d love to have you on my podcast in February to talk about it . . .

    My name is Douglas Bolles and I cohost an online “radio” show called 42 Minutes in which we naturally discuss “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything”. The podcast is recorded Tuesday mornings at 11:11 am Eastern, and has its genesis in a book that came out September, 2011 (The Sync Book), of which both my cohost and I are authors. I live in Boise, and my cohost is in Denver. We explore connection, and meaning normally, and its relationship to art, and the intuitive artistic process. We also really like synchronicity.

    If you have any interest in participating in a short interview (only 42 minutes) with individuals keenly interested in meaning, existence, myth, and art, please get in touch with me and we’ll get you on the schedule! (Feb. 17th?)

    Thank you for your consideration,
    and I look forward to this lovely book!


    Douglas Bolles


  6. I just love reading on your blog. You are so wise and intelligent. You explain things so perfectly. I am your fan now.


  7. Hello lovely,

    So happy to find your blog, I am a fan of tarot too! I am currently doing a 30 tarot challenge on my blog 🙂 I am definitely going to be interested in following your posts!

    Love & Light!


  8. Hi Benebell! My name is Linnea Gits. I am a designer and artist and am a partner in a small design studio in Chicago called “Uusi”. I started work on a tarot deck (based on the Marseille tarot) a few months ago for our studio as we loved the direct, simple and almost holistic approach of that early deck and it’s tantric-like modernity with the graphics. Our studio focuses on finding the essential beauty in everyday items and we couldn’t resist exploring the undeniable and exceptionally relevant power that the universal, yet intimate images of the tarot held.

    Last week, half way through designing our deck I suddenly felt the need to move out of my intuitive approach to these symbols and read more about them. I didn’t want a claustrophobic direction manual. I wanted something almost painterly, soulful yet deeply serious and practical. It seemed like an impossible combination (much like the tarot itself!), but then I stumbled on your book and it is exactly what I was dreaming of!!! I haven’t been able to put it down and I can’t thank you enough for using your natural talents so beautifully and generously to underscore the deeply meditative side of the tarot and bring it back into the modern conversation.

    Linnea Gits


    1. Thank you, Linnea!

      The Brut Tarot looks amazing and I just backed your Kickstarter campaign. I’m excited and can’t wait for it to come out! I also love the TdM and wish you the best of luck with your deck!

      Btw, your studio’s products are all so amazing! I’m in love!

      – b


  9. Hi Benebell!

    Thank you for your wonderful compliment on our work and also for backing our BRuT tarot on KS – very cool!! I was wondering if it would be possible to get your permission to share your book with our backers? So many of them are playing card collectors who are braving the deep waters of the tarot for the first time because they collect Uusi decks. However, many of them are becoming intrigued with the tarot and have asked us for a book we would recommend so they can learn more about it. Your book is an exceptional resource and one we would love to share with them. Just let me know if that would be ok. If you’d like, you can email me at the studio with any imagery, links or content you would like to share. studio@uusi.us

    All the best,


    1. I am thrilled and honored! If you need anything, email me. Or never mind let me PM you. And yes, of course, feel free to use any imagery I own that you like.


  10. I am part way through your book, and I am finding it extremely good… so thorough, and I like the way that you combine eastern and western thought. I myself love the psychological approach, so this book does resonate with me, but above all, it is the breadth and depth of the knowledge that makes this a truly monumental text! well done… a true classic.


    1. Hi Joanna! I checked out your website and LOVE the content! Wow. Color me impressed. I’m now a follower. I’m so grateful to hear that my book resonated with you! I know it’s keyed to the RWS and by the title of your site, you’re a Thothy. (I work with the Thoth, too, and pull it out for the “important” readings from time to time.) So happy to hear from you, truly, and I wish you the best of luck on your Thoth journey. I’ll be reading along on that journey and can’t wait to see what’s in store! Lots of love, B.


  11. Just randomly stumbled across your blog and am excited to add it to my reading list. I have been trying to learn more about the Tarot craft for the last ten years. I too am an attorney from northern California and am inspired that you’ve made time in your life for your non legal interests. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of your book.


    1. Hi Jillian:

      Nice to meet a fellow NorCal attorney! Glad you didn’t say SoCal attorney! ;-D Just kidding. Well, half-kidding.

      I hope the book proved useful for you and I’d love to chat more with you on tarot any time!

      – b


    1. Hi Ron!

      I don’t have any cards for sale, so I’m not sure. Oh– you mean my Chinese oracle script cards? Oh, have at it! Please! Share away! Do as you will. I think I stated as much in the accompanying Guidebook. Yes– share on FB, Pinterest, your site, everywhere! No need to link back here but if you private-message me a link so I can take a peek (only to satiate my personal curiosity!) that’d be so cool!
      – b


  12. Hello, I was just reading an extract of your book on Amazon and I thought it must be good as you don’t say the the two sphinxs are pulling in two directions (they are not are they, it’s just the way they are painted so we can see them from the side).


  13. Hi Benebell: I am in awe of your productivity on your blog. How in the world do you manage to blog, do tarot readings, write books AND work a day job at the same time? I’d love to know your secret.


    1. I get asked this question more frequently than any other question, even from my own family! Just the other day it was 7 am and my sister was texting me. I mentioned I was baking and making seasoned croutons at the moment and then she went, “Ugh. I don’t know how you find the time for everything. Freakin’ making your own croutons on the same morning you have court?!”

      I don’t think there is any secret to it. I just plan, plan, plan, have checklists that I refer to constantly, and I make sure I’m up at 6:30 every morning and doing *something* productive as soon as I am literally holding on to my first cup of coffee. I take everything with me everywhere I go so if there is any moment of free time, I’m using it to do something. Guess that’s all there is to it! 🙂


      1. Checklists are a good idea, thanks. Also, my commute to the office is about 50 mins (I take the train). My plan for 2016 is to get on that sucker early enough to get a good seat. Perhaps I can get some things done during the ride. Thanks for the inspiration and have a great start to the new year!


  14. Loved this! I’m a 58 year-old African-American male and you’ve inspired me to take the Tarot deck I’ve used only for myself for the last 20 years, and a few of my high school students, out into the wider world. I also think the idea of a pseudonym is kind of cool!


  15. How do I leave a note about an error in the text? Well, I guess here’s pretty good, actually. Throughout The Tao of Craft, Amitabha is spelled Amithaba. The former is correct, and appears in some places, but the majority of them are the latter.


  16. I just read your review of TWU tarot deck (I don’t own it) and found it very thorough. I do have your Holistic Tarot which arrived recently and I have a question for you….with so much incredible detail, you have hardly mentioned the Tree of Life and all the teachings that go with that. This surprised me, especially because my study over the last 3 years has been mostly Paul Case and Aleister Crowley. I use the Crowley deck (because Case doesn’t have a full deck and even the major arcana you have to colour yourself). I also have a Rider Waite deck but the imagery doesn’t appeal to me much (the Death card is very tame). However, I also have some issues with the Crowley deck – after much contemplation, I prefer having Strength as number 8 and Justice as number 11. The TWU deck is quite intriguing but I see it also puts Strength as number 11.
    Nice to see your website!


  17. Hello! I’m reading The Tao of Craft on kindle right now, I’ve gotten about halfway through the book but I’m wondering about invocations. You’ve clearly stated that unless I’m the son of a Taoist sorcerer or I’ve been initiated into a Taoist tradition I ought to either: Brute force compatibility with an existing invocation by incessant repetition. Or, should I be metaphysically gifted, I could form my own invocations. Thing is, I would not dare call myself metaphysically prodigious, had I been that I likely would have been drawn to mysticism at a younger age than 20. This leaves me with but one option, thorough repetition. Only problem is, I am not only not gifted, I am also lazy. Having to attune myself to an invocation like that would be incredibly boring.

    As such I am wondering, to what degree is the I Ching and its ability of divination usable in this situation? Though my understanding of the book of changes is clearly limited, I do know how it works in theory and I have made use of it on several occasions. Seeing as how the text, through the hexagrams contained within, is closely connected to the metaphysical workings of, well, everything, could it not be used by one less gifted in the art of esoteric Taoism to formulate invocations, and possibly check if these invocations are servicable?


  18. Hello Benebell! I am new to your work! You are so generous to give out such helpful information. I would like to study Tarot and become a reader. I see you have online classes. This will be helpful to me also. They are very reasonably priced. Thank you for all the priceless information.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ms Wen, I just discovered your site a few days ago … and it’s full of the information that I need right now. I’ve been studying tarot, and reading the cards, since the 1970s (I was a teenager). I first read professionally in the early 1990s. As I near retirement, I am trying to turn my background and experience into a full-time source of income. You are such a dear for providing this information ! You are truly a Teacher and Guide … I get very tired of the commercialism of so many websites (but I do understand their need to garner income!!) God Bless you !!


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