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.
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?
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.
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.
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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