What Writing and Publishing a Novel Means to Me + Asian American Kid Problems =)

Sigh. I’m querying a novel that concludes in the time period of the bubonic plague. During the Covid-19 outbreak and global quarantine. And lots of literary agents on social media are posting about how this is really not the time to be sending apocalyptic novels to them because they just want to read something light, fun, and heart-warming.

Like most of you, I’ve been sheltering in place for several weeks now and figured why not document the thoughts that have had quite a bit of time and space to magnify in my head around the trajectory of my novel writing journey.

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The Oracle of Human Destiny: Cartomancy + Bibliomancy Reading Method

This is fun! A delightful soul and kindred spirit gifted me with the above book, which you can download a pdf of at the Internet Archive, since it’s in the public domain. The Oracle of Human Destiny (1825) is credited to someone going by the pen name “Madame Victorine Le Normand” and is written in first person, with references to doing divinatory readings for Napoleon.

You’ll need a standard deck of 52 playing cards. I opted for the pips, pages (knaves), queens, and kings from a Tarot de Marseilles deck. Works just as well.

From the below charts, decide which of these 12 questions (along the right side of the page spreads) best expresses what you want to ask the oracle. Then note the corresponding zodiac sign on the left side of the page spread.

Table of the Celestial Signs with Corresponding Questions, Part 1 of 2

For example, say I want to ask about financial stability to come, business opportunities, or employment. I might opt for Libra and the question I’ll be asking will be, “Inform me whether I shall ever be Promoted, Wealthy, or Fortunate?”

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Novel Writing Adventures & New Vlog Series

So I did a Thing. I completed a novel. I say “completed” instead of “wrote” because I’ve written many incomplete novels over the decades. This is the first one I pushed over the finish line. Yay.

For those interested in following the journey of my novel manuscript, I’ll be sharing the experience by way of a vlog series on my YouTube channel.

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The Fives: Tarot Card Meanings

New to this video lecture series?

Start Here

The above-linked Introduction page will give you an overview of what this series is about and provide a course contents listing.

The Fives is the seventh of seventeen videos in this series, “Tarot Card Meanings with Benebell.”

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The Little Work: Magic to Transform Your Everyday Life by Durgadas A. Duriel

The Little Work: Magic to Transform Your Everyday Life (Llewellyn, 2020) by Durgadas Allon Duriel is exactly the kind of book I want to see more of. A fresh, modern take on inner alchemical work, this primer text will help you weave magic into the mundane. On that count, Duriel begins by reminding us that there is no such thing as the mundane. Rather, it’s about seeing the magic in what we otherwise have always perceived as the mundane.

Well-researched, thorough, and the kind of beginner text on contemporary magic that we should be sharing with those new to the craft, The Little Work builds confidence, knowledge, practical experience, and gives you the tools to approach the craft with intelligence, discipline, and also compassion. Duriel also inspires you to trust your intuition and lean in to your very personal, unique connection with Spirit.

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Elemental Directional Correspondences in Ritual Magic, East vs. West: How Do You Reconcile Conflicts?

One of my favorite personal rewards from launching the Witchcraft Fundamentals course is the Google Group, where all of us are exchanging insights, asking tough questions, trying to answer tough questions, and getting to know each other. To give you a sampling of what that e-mail list-serv group is like, I’m sharing something I wrote on there in one of the threads started by a practitioner of both Eastern and Western metaphysics.

The question presented is, in short, how do you reconcile Eastern elemental-directional correspondences with Western elemental-directional correspondences?

By the way, scroll all the way down for the PDF downloads of this post, which you can then print out and tuck into whatever reference manual for your metaphysical studies you have going on.

IN THIS WESTERN WITCHCRAFT COURSE, you’ll learn fairly soon that there are different systems of elemental-directional correspondences even within the umbrella of Western occult philosophy, and we cover three of them in this course:

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Ciro Marchetti’s Encore Tarot (& New Media Art vs. Old Visual Arts)

If there is one Ciro Marchetti deck to have, it’s the Encore Tarot. This is the deck that fully showcases Marchetti’s talent as an artist, the consistent clarity of his vision, and evinces the magnificence of tarot art, taking what had been possible traditionally to new modern heights.

When future tarot scholars look back at our era, the one deck artist’s name I am very sure will come up time and time again is Ciro Marchetti. His style is so distinct, so unique that it has indelibly trademarked itself in the collective consciousness. I can spot a Marchetti deck by the artwork before knowing he was the creator, just as I (and all of us) can spot a Marchetti wannabe.

I’ve always been a huge admirer of Marchetti’s talent, though admittedly, in my own past I’ve been known to be ambivalent about digital art decks or, more specifically, new media art. But then that’s been a long-raging cold war in the arts community anyway– new media art vs. the old visual arts (or “fine arts”).

Marchetti is the new media artist who changed my mind. New media art is defined as art created by using digital technology, forms of digital art and computer-generated graphics. Old visual fine arts would be drawing by hand, painting, sculpture, in essence what is “hand-crafted.” However, these definitions can get a bit dysfunctional, especially when you get into hand-drawing with a stylus digital pen on a computer pad vs. hand-drawing with a pencil on sketch paper.

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The Witch’s Power to Bless (and the Magic Chain)

This is a supplemental lecture in Module 11 of the Witchcraft Fundamentals course, titled “The Magic Chain.” If you’re working through the course in the order outlined by the syllabus, then watching this video lecture would come after having watched the video lecture for Chapter XI in the Doctrinal Basis workbook.

However, this supplemental lecture is being provided for free public access.

Download the LECTURE NOTES (PDF):

The Magic Chain & The Witch’s Power to Bless

PURCHASE THE COURSE PACK:

Witchcraft Fundamentals: Doctrinal Basis

The Mystical Dream Tarot by Janet Piedilato

The Mystical Dream Tarot published by Eddison Books is an unconventional tarot deck that blends shamanic journeying with transpersonal psychology. The deck creator, Janet Piedilato, is a transpersonal psychologist, healthcare consultant, and ordained minister, with doctorate degrees in Biology and Psychology.

Right up front in the Introduction of the guidebook, Piedilato lets us know that this deck will not be following “traditional tarot, where the meanings are merely set for us to memorize and then to place in patchwork interacting spreads.”

Rather, the Mystical Dream Tarot features “dream images” used to “dig more deeply into the personal consciousness, helping each of us find answers which are within our own unique psyche. . . . [Mystical Dream Tarot] does not demand we memorize and follow dogmatically a formalized path chosen for us.”

So here I might respectfully raise the counter that all decks can do just that. I don’t think certain tarot decks demand that you memorize card meanings while others “dig more deeply into the personal consciousness.”

You the tarot reader make the decision on how you want to read the deck. Because I could very well take this Mystical Dream Tarot, pull cards, and then look up each card meaning in the guidebook, one by one, and interpret a spread of cards strictly and narrowly through the printed text. And I could very well take the RWS deck, throw out every RWS card meanings book ever published, and just read it in an improvisational style, digging into my personal consciousness.

The images in this deck are all sourced from Piedilato’s dreams, which she then transcribed through the structure of the tarot deck. However, I’m not entirely sure whether Piedilato herself then created the art based on her dreams or whether Tom Duxbury was the artist commissioned to bring her dream visions to life. Either way, the artwork is beautiful. I love the style of art. It is in perfect harmony with the deck’s premise and point of view.

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Getting Mad at Our Reflection in the Mirror: Responding to Ceri Radford’s “I spent a week becoming a witch”

There’s an article in the Independent that has riled up the witchcraft community: Ceri Radford’s “I spent a week becoming a witch and the results were worrying,” where she culled tips and instruction from a book she cites, Luna Bailey’s The Modern Witch’s Guide to Happiness.

The community’s response on Twitter?

  • “vapid anti-witch bullshit”
  • “poor journalism”
  • “This bitch has no clue”
  • “written by an idiot only looking to be trendy through appropriation”
  • “hot mess of an article”
  • “absolutely shameful”
  • “ignorant and frankly disappointing and offensive”
  • “piece of shit”
  • “articles like this just piss me the fuck off”
  • “a smug shithead”
  • “I just read the vomit in question and I am fucking livid”
  • “dipshit sneer piece … 85% dumb jokes”
  • “complete horseshit”
  • “wildly offensive article”
  • “fucking idiot”
  • “hex that bitch”

Love and light, apparently.

The salient takeaway point from the article, however, is the one fueling the anger and animosity: Radford’s conclusion that witchcraft is in “dogged resistance to logic” and requires a “suspension of belief in the scientific underpinnings of the universe.”

And my private response to myself after reading her article? Oh, man…  We as a collective (so clearly I’m not saying we unanimously believe, but the dominating voice after averaging high and low and everything in between together) have put out a particular narrative about modern witchcraft, and then when we see exactly that narrative being reflected back at us tinged with a smidge of snark, we go off our rails because clearly none of the shadow work or meditation we’ve been doing has had any success.

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