Wisdom of the Tao Oracle Cards by Mei Jin Lu (Vol. I and Vol. II)

I’m really excited about Mei Jin Lu’s The Wisdom of the Tao oracle cards published by U.S. Games. I’ll be covering both Volume I: Awakenings and Volume II: Strategy.

These oracle cards pictorialize Taoist philosophy in what is presented as “for the first time, a visionary system, incorporating teachings from Taoist masters, the power of nature’s elements, the revelations of zodiac animals, and the dynamic interactions among them.”

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I Ching Oracle Cards with AI Generated Art (Free Download)

I’ve been maybe a little bit obsessed with AI generated art apps, though not just because of the pretty art. Rather, my fascination comes from the way such AI generated art shifts my former paradigm on the mind-soul relation. Does an AI really lack soul? That’s the question I’ve been kicking around in my head.

After my blog post on How Do We Value Art? What AI art means for tarot and oracle deck publishing, one recurring sentiment expressed in the comments section on Instagram and Facebook was that the art created by an AI lacks soul, whereas art created by humans reflect the artist’s soul, and that is why human-created art is superior.

Really? Because I’m not convinced.

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How Do We Value Art? What AI art means for tarot and oracle deck publishing

If you haven’t played around with the wombo.art app yet, then check out this link and have fun. You type in some keywords– any instruction you’d like to give the AI, be that themes, subjects, nouns, adjectives, colors– then choose an art style, like ukiyo-e, pastel, high fantasy, dark fantasy, medieval, etc., and the AI will generate a work of art based on your commission.

And the results are rather stunning. Human artists, in particular those who work primarily with digital art techniques, are now wondering what this means for the future of their vocation. No, not necessarily because of this app specifically, but just in general, this inevitable supplanting of human artists with AI.

More notably, I think, this is going to have an irreversible impact on tarot and oracle deck artists.

Take, for instance, these I Ching oracle card illustrations generated by the AI in a ukiyo-e art style. I typed in keywords for each corresponding hexagram, plus keywords for the two trigrams, selected Ukiyoe for art style, and hit the Create button. Then I did the design layout, added the hexagram image, number, and key phrase. Voila.

Oh, and if you’d like to download the digital image files for all 64 of these AI generated cards, go here.

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Ancestor Veneration When It Isn’t Your Father’s Wish

I received a question by letter, which I wanted to answer privately, but didn’t have an e-mail address or even mailing address. So here’s to hoping this post is seen by who it’s intended for. ❤

The question presented:

Dear Benebell,

I am a Taoist witch, but my religious family thinks I am a Baptist Christian and therefore against non-Baptist religious practices.

Last night my dad and I were watching a Taiwanese movie and an ancestor veneration scene came up. My dad began a conversation about Taoist traditions and said, “When I die, please don’t venerate me like a Catholic or Taoist would.”

I am a strong believer in ancestor veneration and plan to venerate both of my parents when they pass away.

I do not want to go against my father’s personal wishes as I love and respect him, but I also do not want his spirit to go un-venerated because I love him dearly.

What, in your opinion, is the best way to go about this?

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Integrating the Culture-Specific Craft I Share into Your Path

I’m writing this post mostly for my own benefit because I get the question asked so often and I’m kind of getting to the point of laziness where I dread typing and rehashing out my answer. Now in the future I can link to this post.

Everything I share….everything…is set with the intention, the hope, and aspiration that if you’ve found it, resonate with it even when it’s not your culture or even anywhere close to what ordinarily enters your personal path and craft, that you will nonetheless feel an untainted, anxiety-free freedom to integrate it into your path.

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Your Saturn Returns (Free Saturn Return Survival Kit)

In Episode #29 of “Bell Chimes In,” I talk about the Saturn Return. I also make reference to the Decisive Age and how it may relate to your Saturn Return. (What is a Decisive Age? Find out more here.)

A Saturn Return is a period of time, typically within a year, when the transiting or present Saturn’s positioning is at the same degree in the same zodiac sign as it was in at the moment of your birth. In other words, if Saturn was positioned at 3° in Capricorn when you were born, and currently Saturn is at 3° in Capricorn, then you, my friend, are in the throes of one of your Saturn Returns. Typically, there are three: the First Saturn Return, the Second Saturn Return, and your Third Saturn Return.

For the general population (there are a few astrological exceptions, which I get into in the video), Saturn can create a large weight or obstacle that holds you back. People cross a major threshold in their lives during a Saturn Return. You’ll hear astrologers talk about the First Saturn Return as a coming-of-age, when the process of growth may be difficult, but is the necessary rite of passage that must be crossed in every person’s life path.

You can find free Saturn Return Calculators online. Here’s one that I like. Input your birth details, click “Calculate,” and the dates of your three Saturn Returns, all Saturn Oppositions, and Saturn Squares are provided.

Going through or about to go through one of your Saturn Returns? Here’s a fun Saturn Return Survival Kit you can download for free.

DOWNLOAD PDF:

Your Saturn Return Survival Kit

The Saturn Return Survival Kit is granted to you under a Creative Commons license, Attribution 4.0 International. Continue reading “Your Saturn Returns (Free Saturn Return Survival Kit)”

Seal of Changes | Tinkering Bell #7

The Seal of Changes is a template for crafting 64 talismanic sigils that harness the 64 powers encoded into the I Ching: Book of Changes. In this practicum video, I’ll share with you my favorite one: the Seal for Raising an Army based on Hexagram 7.

This work is dedicated to the public domain.

Download the blank template for the Seal of Changes:

Seal of Changes (Blank Template)

Digital Design in JPG (Public Domain)

If you want to fully understand how to operate the Seal of Changes for controlling the 64 powers from the I Ching, then you’ll first need to understand the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching and some of their metaphysical and occult correspondences. A great place to attain a solid foundation to that regard is my “I Ching and Practitioner” course, which you can find and order below.

“I Ching and the Practitioner”

Course Description

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Mysterious Lady of the Ninth Heaven (Jiu Tian Xuan Nü, 九天玄女)

I love watching videos of people sharing their deeply personal experiences with deities of different pantheons and what those experiences have meant to them, so now I’m sharing one of my own. =)

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We’ve arrived at our final installment of the “Bell Chimes In” series for 2017. For those of you who’ve watched all 18 episodes, thank you so much for coming along on this journey with me. As I close out the year of venturing into the terrain of YouTube (I know I am no pioneer on this front, but it was for sure an unfamiliar and new adventure for me), I should probably share with you why I ventured out in the first place: the Lady of the Ninth Heaven.

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Ku or Taoist Poison Magic | Tinkering Bell #4

“Poison magic” is the English translation for a tradition of black magic, or malevolent spell-crafting, found in Chinese witchcraft and Taoist sorcery, called Gu Dao (蠱道) or Gu Shu (蠱術) [Long form: 蠱道巫術 or Gǔ Dào Wū Shù]. You might also find it translated as Ku.

Those who have read Chapter 13 from The Tao of Craft know my stance on so-called white magic versus black magic, i.e., energy work inherently is neither good nor evil, but it is the intentions that humans put into the work that we may categorize as either good-intentioned or evil-intentioned.

Thus, it is important to note here that Gu Dao is not necessarily evil-intentioned. The tradition of Gu Dao, or Ku, is multi-faceted, nuanced, and complex, which I hope this video will be able to expound upon.

Plus. What better way to talk about baneful magic than through a campy Tinkering Bell video? Exactly.

In my world view, it’s important to start occult study with the elephant in the room. I don’t understand why practitioners would wait until the very end to cover malevolent spell-crafting or not even address it at all. Not addressing it doesn’t change the fact that it exists. Better to address it head-on, with eyes open, get yourself informed, figure out what your own bright line ethical boundaries are, and then continue on your course of study.

Supplemental Handout

Model Code of Ethics for Malevolent Craft

Click on the link to download the PDF

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Homework: Your Practicum

Following each installment of the series will be a suggested practicum, or homework, for you to try out. Homework material presumes that you are an occult practitioner who is working on developing your craft.

Your Code of Ethics: Take this opportunity to reflect on your own code of ethics when it comes to craft. Where do you draw the line when it comes to baneful magic? While I am a strong proponent that all practitioners learn as much about metaphysical craft and occult study as they can, including aspects of craft they might not necessarily agree with as a form of personal practice, I also advocate that you draw bright lines for yourself, write down what those bright line rules are, and then never cross them. For reference, also consider watching two Bell Chimes In videos: (1) Curses and Baneful Craft, and (2) Can’t Curse, Can’t Heal?

Three Poisons Karmic Requital Spell: If the three poisonous ingredients I mentioned in the video are ones you can source easily where you live, then use those. Otherwise, take some time to do research on natural poisons and what can be sourced locally for you. During the episode, take notes on the instructions for how to follow the Three Poisons Karmic Requital spell, a form of Ku, or poison magic. Formalize and organize your notes into a comprehensive how-to that you can add to your personal grimoire. Before adding it to your grimoire, research different poisons and include that research as reference material in your grimoire to go along with the Three Poisons Karmic Requital Spell.

General Readings and Specific Readings

Deck Pictured: The Dark Tarot

The issue of general readings versus specific readings is pertinent to most divinatory forms, whether we’re talking tarot, astrology, the I Ching, or even in terms of configurations for feng shui analysis. Rather than frame this post as general commentary, I want to talk about my personal approach, and since most of the divinatory work I do for people are in the modes of tarot and astrology, that’s what I’ll focus on.

Let’s start with my definitions.

A general reading is when a seeker doesn’t have a cogent, cohesive question to present for divination, but just wants insight for moving forward at the particular juncture point the seeker is at. For example, a seeker sits down in front of a tarot reader and the reader simply begins casting cards and reporting back what the reader interprets from the cards. Another example is a solar returns or birthday chart reading in astrology. A reading service such as a twelve-month forecast is also considered a general reading. In theory for a general reading, any subject matter that comes up in the reading is game.

A specific reading is when a seeker has a question in mind that is narrowly tailored and will require a direct, responsive answer. For example, the seeker wants to know about romantic prospects up ahead, or which career path to take, or which of three possible office site locations would be optimal for setting up a business. Here, even a broadly-cast inquiry such as “just whatever comes up that’s money related in my life” is an inquiry I’ll tuck under the category of a specific reading.

One more point before we proceed. To debate which is better, general reading or specific reading methods, is absurd. Readers also come with different strengths. No reader is all-powerful. Some excel at the general reading. Others excel at the specific reading. Play to your own strengths. That’s all there is to it.

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