The first hour will be a talk on Taoist cosmology, the history of Fu talismans, the 13 principles of craft as derived from the Yellow Emperor’s Classics of the Esoteric Talisman, intersections of science and magic, and how practitioners use divination to know and then craft to change.
The second hour will be a hands-on workshop where you will use tarot divination to help you design and craft a Fu sigil, working with Chinese oracle bone script. Fu sigil paper consecrated on 11/11, cut and prepared at 11:11 am, and then consecrated at 11:11 pm will be provided for your use. You can take some home with you to craft the sigil. It is recommended that the final sigil be crafted on the day after the workshop, on the full moon.
I’ll bring my Jiao Bei divination moon blocks and set them out on the table top for anyone who seeks to use them for a personal divination. Free for your use at any time during the event. Please handle respectfully.
All attendees will also go home with a consecrated and blessed pocket gemstone, with the hopes that it helps you along in all your magical endeavors.
For more detailed metaphysical correspondences of the gemstones per my perspective, check out this previously uploaded PDF for a glossary of gemstone correspondences. Find the entry for the stone you picked (or the stone that picked you…) in the PDF if the one-two word correspondence on the yellow card wasn’t clear.
This has been going on for a while already and I am having so much fun! However, I don’t know if I’m reaching enough folks, so here is a blog post. You can sign up to get on a list of folks who consent to possible free randomized divinatory readings to be delivered to your e-mail inbox, perhaps when you least expect it. This is offered alongside all my reading services that you can book. More info on my “Book a Reading” page. Scroll all the way down to see the info on the Free Randomized Divination Sign-up.
I don’t have educational degrees that would qualify me to write about any of this, so please understand that I am writing my observations within that non-expert context. Lately I’ve been fascinated with pagan and neopagan belief systems, mostly for how strikingly similar paganism is to Chinese Taoist-based folk religion.
Here’s how I understand paganism in context: Back in the day across Europe, Abrahamic religions rose to dominance, became institutionalized, and began setting up centralized bodies of authority that often started in the cities and spread its influence from there. At the fringes of the countryside, however, pagan faiths endured among the minority. These pagan faiths were polytheistic, though pantheist, strongly nature-based, and because they believed that everything was connected, it was thought that certain herbs, incantations of words, ritualistic conduct, and representations of elements could be harnessed to manifest intentions–in other words, magic exists.
Replace a few specifics from the previous paragraph and you could apply it to the relationship between Confucianism (and to a great extent Buddhism) and Chinese folk religions. These folk religions were looked upon in the same way pagan faiths were looked upon by the Christians. Those who practice pagan/neo-pagan religions (like Wicca, Druidism, Heathenry, or some form of pagan reconstructionism) tend to keep their faiths concealed or strictly private. That’s less of an issue among those who practice Chinese folk religions, and so you’ll see altars set up in Chinese businesses that still pay homage to the faiths of their [often agricultural] ancestors. However, like what pagans experience, those who still practice Chinese folk religions are considered fringe.
I grew up trained to fear the number 4. In any scenario where I had to be assigned a number, I would sit there praying that the number 4 would not appear in my assignment and dreading that it would. If my seat number in the exam room had a 4 in it, I’d take it as an omen of impending failure.
I’m not the only one. There’s a name for it: tetraphobia. If they’ve got a name for it, it means I’m not alone. The Taiwanese and South Korean navies avoid assigning the number 4 to their ships. In Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and many other parts of East Asia, you’ll hardly ever see a 4th floor. It’s the 1st floor, 2nd, 3rd, and then 5th. For a race stereotyped to be good at math you’d think they’d know how to count. Hospitals don’t have a 4th floor for sure, and no room number in those hospitals will have a 4 in it.
To the Chinese, 4 means death. 4 means bad luck. 4 means misfortune. 4 means you’re going to suck at life. 4 means you are not a Chosen One. Chosen Ones never get number 4. They get, well, 1. Or 8. Chinese people love the number 8 the way tarot readers love the Ace of Cups or The World card. As for The World card, by most counts it is the 22nd card in the Majors and the theosophic reduction of 22, 2 + 2, is 4 and so take that tetraphobic Chinese people!
I guess back in the day in Chinese grammar schools, the concept of homonyms got glossed over. Everybody there missed the lesson on how a homonym is when two words sound the same but have different meanings. Different. So even though pronouncing the number 4 in most East Asian languages and dialects sounds the same way one might pronounce the word for death, the two words should still retain their different meanings.
Not so to the Chinese. Just because the number 4 sounds like the word for death, suddenly 4 means death. There’s some serious issues with logical reasoning there, which is hilarious to me, because in the Western tradition, 4 means logic, rationality. More on that later.
When I first started study of the tarot, especially when reading with a Marseille deck, numerological associations for the number 4 tripped me up. The numerological association for 4 seemed all too clear: you were doomed. 4 in batons? You’re doomed to fail at work. 4 of cups? You’re doomed to fail in love. You get the pattern. Growing up in the Chinese culture meant I hyperventilated just a little when the number 4 appeared in my life.
Tarot helped me overcome that fear of the number 4. Don’t laugh. I’m serious.
The Emperor might not be all sunshine and rainbows, but it is still a strong card with an empowering message. In western numerology, 4 symbolizes stability, like the four legs of a table or chair, the four corners of the universe, the four elements, the telegrammaton YHVH. 4 is the number of rationalism. Hey, I like rationalism– 44 means great power and physical vigor. 444 is said to be an omen of the Divine’s presence.
When four Fours appear in a tarot spread, there will be peace and order. The Four of Wands in the Rider Waite Smith deck is all about prosperity. The Four of Cups: introspection. Introspection is hardly death and doom. Four of Swords: repose, recuperation; not your preferred state of being but there is a positive message latent in the card–the loved ones awaiting your return depicted in the stained glass window, the secret weapon underneath you– whereas the number 4 according to the Chinese is straight up bad, no nuances.
Those of Life Path 4 are indispensable to a society. They’re our builders, our planners, our architects, the designers of all social constructs. People of Life Path 4 make things happen. Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates are all 4s. Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Twain, J. P. Morgan, Paul McCartney? All 4s with 4s littered throughout their numerology charts.
Even more intriguing is how 4 is so not a big deal even in traditional Chinese metaphysics. Take the I Ching hexagrams. Hexagram 4 suggests naiveté, not death. Hexagram 14 is abundance, validation, all good stuff, like the Four of Wands. Hexagram 24 hints at progress. Hexagram 34 is a powerful, positive omen. So okay, Hexagram 44 is getting a bit darker. Entropy ain’t great news, but still. Hexagram 54 is back to positive again. I’m using the terms positive and negative very loosely here, by the way, as neither tarot nor the I Ching can be characterized with absolutes. And Hexagram 64 is like the Judgement card, give or take huge liberties with the interpretation.
The Four Pillars of Destiny (四柱命理學), which is said to date back to the Song Dynasty, is founded on the idea that there are four components to mapping out a person’s destiny chart. That destiny chart, based on month, day, year, and time (the four pillars) of birth, is supposed to be a playbook of your life. Four for life, people, not four for death!
Understanding quells fears. It is now my dedicated mission to alleviate tetraphobia among the Chinese. Or– okay– at the very least, the Chinese in my arm’s length social network…
Hubby is the Year of the Horse, which means this year, 2014, is going to be a year of major changes and flux in his life. At least that’s what the Chinese believe. It’s called your Ben Ming Nian. Every lunar year is governed by a zodiac house and there are 12 of them. When a lunar year is your zodiac house of birth, you will be experiencing a great deal of flux that year, which can be great if you’re careful and proactive, but can quickly become misfortune if left unchecked (chaos theory? entropy?).
Growing up I’d hear about the Grand Duke Tai Sui. Every 12 years the Grand Duke reigns over a different zodiac house and when he’s in your house, you better move out or risk offending him. Move out, good luck. Stay put, bad luck.
Turns out he’s Jupiter. As in the planet. Jupiter’s orbital period is 12 years and each year it appears to be in a different cardinal direction in the sky at particular degrees, and that corresponds with one of the 12 zodiac houses of the lunar calendar. Since it’s also the largest planet in the solar system and bright enough to cast shadows on earth, it is believed that the energies of Jupiter can greatly affect the personal energies of those on earth. It can exert interfering energetic waves on the earth’s magnetic fields and thus affect our personal Qi. It most affects the personal Qi (energy) of those born in a year corresponding with the zodiac house that Jupiter is in that year.
When Jupiter (aka Grand Duke Tai Sui) is in your house, your personal Qi will be thrown for a ride, which can be a really good thing if you know how to keep it in check, but can be an awful thing if you don’t. Enter fun Chinese superstitions. They’ve got all sorts of talismans, rituals, and other incredible ways to “please the Grand Duke” and avoid “offending him.” Basically, know that your personal Qi will be in flux and be aware and conscious of how to navigate that Qi in flux so that it doesn’t afflict you but rather, supports you.
Now my Hubby is an interesting character. He is a full on skeptic… until shit hits the fan. His year went off on a rocky start and he’s worried about his Ben Ming Nian. Ben Ming Nian just means it’s the year of the zodiac house that you were born in. He was born in the year of the Horse and now it is the year of the Horse. It’s his Ben Ming Nian, you would say. You would be surprised, floored really, how many perfectly intelligent and rational Chinese people flock to temples and energetic practitioners to try to get their good mojo on for their Ben Ming Nian. Hubby knows that a few years ago it was my little sister’s Ben Ming Nian and her year, too, started off hellish. I assembled some happy charms and sent them to her. By that year’s end, she met a wonderful guy who is still the love of her life right now (they’re making plans to marry soon) and she got an offer to work at the biggest law firm in the country, in the city she loves, Manhattan. So this year, 2014, Hubby nagged me to do the same for him.