My Thoughts on the FTC Disclosure Guidelines for Social Media Influencers (Specifically, Tarot Content Creators)

Random old photo to accompany the commentary. I’m holding the Tarot of the Holy Light by Christine Payne-Towler, which at some point long, long ago I received for free. Do I need to disclose that?

Psst… I have a “TL;DR Short Summary for the Not-Readers” that summarizes this otherwise very long blog post. So if you don’t have the time or you’re only a little bit interested and not that interested, then scroll all the way down to the end for the TL;DR Short Summary.

I’m reviving and sharing a blog post I drafted in 2019 that has sat in my WordPress saved file for the last 3+ years. It’s about FTC-issued disclosure guidelines (“Rules”) for social media influencers, and key takeaways to glean from the Rules if you’re creating content in the Mind, Body, Spirit spheres. I never got around to finishing and posting that 2019 draft, back when the FTC disclosure guidelines first gained traction, but I think now is a good time to reopen the discussion.

What’s of note to me is how the legal minds who are often the ones drafting these Rules seem to be people who have no personal experiences or insights into the communities they’re drafting the guidelines for. Even when they employ subject matter experts, those SMEs tend to be biased, or come from a very particularized segment of the community, and therefore do not fairly represent all interested parties.

There’s consumer protection, which nobody’s against. But then there’s untenable rules of compliance that aren’t clear enough for practical application by the people the rules are demanding compliance from.

By the way, none of this is my legal opinion, and do not rely on it as such. All of this is personal commentary in reaction to the FTC disclosure guidelines as someone who considers herself a deck reviewer but who could potentially be categorized as an “influencer.”

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Gender Discrepancies in Viewership

Data collected from 2023

My interest in this particular consideration piqued earlier in 2023 when I noticed a sharp change in the gender demographics of who views my Youtube channel, which appears to have shifted just as the subject matter of my channel’s content shifted, from being tarot dominant to more I Ching.

Though I don’t have any screenshots to show, back in 2018 and well into 2019, the gender demographics for my Youtube channel was something closer to 20% Male and 80% Female, and that checks out for most of Tarot Tube and witchy content creators, especially among witchy content creators who present as female. I did notice that after 2019 when I started making more Taoist occultism content on the channel, the demographics shifted slightly to 30% Male and 70% Female.

(For clarification, when we say Male or Female, these are per the identifications opted in by the users.)

I didn’t follow the analytics too closely, so I can’t pinpoint exactly when the shift happened, but in early 2023, per the screenshot image above, I noticed suddenly that the demographics were closer to 50/50, which is in fact strange for the tarot and witchy communities and stranger yet for female-presenting content creators like me. You don’t typically see 50/50 demographics for viewership when it comes to tarot and witchy content. There’s typically an underrepresentation of men.

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Reading Your Critiques

In my head I’ve been mulling over a candid video chat I’ve been wanting to make for some time now, but it’s only these last few weeks of stirrings in our tarot community that concretized my motivation to just go ahead and do it. =)

I’ve only chosen one comment to read as an example of a recurring common critique I get, and the three recurring common critiques I’m chatting about in this video are as follows:

  1. I’m pretentious and elitist, and also an opportunist,
  2. My work is imbued with negative, demonic entities and/or I am possessed by or consort with negative, demonic entitles (evil, dark energy, etc., take your pick of descriptive), and
  3. I say insensitive things at all the wrong times (as interpreted from the writings I’ve put out there).

In the video I also reflect on authenticity, the perception of virtual authenticity, and how true, sincere human authenticity will come back to bite you in the ass online, and the only way to appear authentic is to fabricate and manufacture the illusion of authenticity.

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AI Art Controversy: The Libran Perspective =)

Everyone from all corners and interest groups have been buzzing over AI art, or at least this is most certainly the case in my world.

Here are some from the online hamlets I lurk in: Juli, Heather, and Sarah chat about AI Art here. Here’s Ethony’s take, “Are AI Art Tarot Decks Immoral or Genius?” Will and Kate touch on AI created tarot decks in this discussionGoliath, the creator of the El Goliath Tarot, weighs in as well. I’m really loving Chaweon Koo’s perspective in this article, “Will You Burn the AI Like You Burned the Witch?

If I tried to list out all the impactful video discussions on AI art I’ve been loving, it would just go on and on, so I won’t link to the more popular takes from artists themselves. Plus, you can find them via any quick keyword search on YouTube.

I’ve been quite verbose myself when it comes to sharing my thoughts and commentary on AI art. See below hyperlinks to three past blog posts. As an assist I’ve outlined bullet point lists of subtopics each blog post covers.

But I thought I might add a candid video chat, too. =)

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List of the Most Auspicious I Ching Hexagrams

I’ll start by saying it’s gimmicky to claim a list of “the most auspicious” hexagrams in the I Ching. The Book of Changes doesn’t work like that. Not to mention as the sequential lines move through the Changes, line 1 up to line 6, different points of that movement of change can indicate different turns and degrees of auspices.

And so while I Ching practitioners wouldn’t necessarily say there are “good” vs. “bad” hexagrams, in moments of fun, sure, everybody’s got their own shortlist of favorite hexagrams.

Here are my top six.

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My Responses to #13TarotTubeQuestions

I’m a big fan of Atypical Tarot‘s channel and have recently become familiar with Astral Lady Tarot, so this was a lot of fun to watch.

Here are my responses to the #13TarotTubeQuestions.

1. What are your favorite videos to watch?

Group discussions, when several TarotTubers get together and chat about a topic. For example, Three Fat Readers with Lisa Papez of Supportive Tarot, Dani Mystic, and Dustin from Modern Metaphysicae, or the Three Girls, One Deck series with Juli from Peekaboorose, Sarah of Sunset Bough Tarot, and Heather Carter.

I also enjoy watching candid chats when people get real and honest about their experiences with the tarot community.

Remember the grainy, poorly-lit midnight rants and unfiltered ramblings people filmed and posted on YouTube back in the early 2000s? Yeah. I miss those. Those were my favorite.

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How a Parent Makes or Breaks a Child’s Dream

We have an abundance of persimmons this year and I remarked to the father-in-law about how I wanted to make hoshigaki, using the traditional method. Hoshigaki are peeled persimmons that you hang up to sun-dry for four to seven weeks (depending on climate/weather), and then you have to massage every persimmon weekly so it ferments evenly and the natural sugars get coaxed up to the surface of the fruit, forming this light dusting of finely crystallized sugar dust.

Is it magic or chemistry? I’m not quite sure. =) Meanwhile the fruit becomes deliciously gummy, like chewy candy. It is one of the sweetest and most delectable desserts you can have.

Immediately, before I could even complete my explanation of the process, the father-in-law shot the idea down, listing out all the ways this could go wrong, all the reasons this is not worth the trouble, just one negative statement after another.

This is his personality, his habit. He’s been doing this to James since hubby was a boy. If you’re sparked by an idea that’s just slightly more labor-intensive or slightly more aspirational than ordinary, the father-in-law’s immediate response is to shoot down the idea and be really negative about all the ways this is stupid.

Oh and if you haven’t guessed already, this is a personal blog post. Not in any way tarot, esoterica, or “in line with my branding” related. Just me sharing what’s actually been on my mind as of late, and ranting.

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What Does It Mean (to Me) to Be Taoist?

Since I made reference to some of these regions, below is an excerpted Appendix E from I Ching, The Oracle (North Atlantic Books, forthcoming 2023).

While the maps are not drawn to scale (I did them myself, by hand…) at least they help to give you a mental reference of where these kingdoms or states are located in geographical relation to one another.

Excerpt from Appendix E of I Ching, The Oracle (June, 2023):
Shang (1600 – 1045 BC) and Zhou (1046 – 256 BC)

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Are Esoteric Taoist Traditions Closed or Open?

Don’t forget– if it helps, turn the closed captioning on! =)

When I say “open tradition,” I mean a culture-specific practice of a magical system and set of doctrinal beliefs integrated into that practice that anyone at all can work with for themselves, that it’s free and open to the public.

When I say “closed tradition,” I mean a culture-specific practice of a magical system and set of doctrinal beliefs integrated into that practice that can only be honorably accessed if certain conditions are met, such as initiation; heredity; clan or ethnic group membership; or a formally established master-student bond.

My third book, I Ching, The Oracle: A Practical Guide to the Book of Changes, published by North Atlantic Books, is forthcoming mid-2023. It’s my translation and annotations of the Oracle with cultural and historical references that honor the shamanic origins of the I Ching.

What it really is, though, is a magical grimoire. I began with an aspiration to write a grimoire on Taoist mysticism and magical practices, and then decided to do so through the framework of the I Ching. This is going to be a practical hands-on primer on East Asian modalities of witchcraft and folk magic. A deep-dive learning experience into the history and mythological references found in the Book of Changes is the bonus.

Leading up to the release of I Ching, The Oracle will be this series of videos where I lay the foundation for working with this third book. If this is of interest to you, stay tuned! ❤

Taoist Witches? What is Asian Witchcraft?

In my previous blog post recapping NWTS 2022, I talked about how much I enjoyed the “Which Witch is Which” lunch panel discussion. So that you don’t have to click between pages, here’s what I said about it:

The best part of all? Hands down, the Which Witch is Which lunch panel discussion. Each practitioner on the panel represented a different perspective on witch identity and witchcraft, from whether they identify with the moniker “witch” (some yes, some no), what is witchcraft anyway, and their takes on covens, solitary practice, closed vs. open traditions, altars, ancestor work, and more.

Thank you, Mat, for giving a shout-out to Taoist ceremonial magic! And wish the incredible Onareo, who was present in the audience with me, could have also been up there on the panel to represent brujeria.

In this Bell Chimes In video chat, I wanted to ruminate on my own responses to the questions “Do you identify as a witch?” and “What is witchcraft, to you?”

Answers to those two questions are not at all easy to arrive at.

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