List of 2018 Bell Chimes In Episodes

In the Fall of 2017, I started a fun little series on my YouTube channel, called “Bell Chimes In.” Here’s a refresher of the 18 episodes that came out last year:

List of 2017 Bell Chimes in Episodes

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“Bell Chimes In” is a video series on my YouTube channel where I pick a topic that is oft talked about and chime in with my perspective. In doing so, I hope you’ll chime back. After the video, please join in conversation with me through a video response, blog post of your own, or by adding your thoughts in the comments section of the video.

I hope this series won’t be about me. I hope that it will be about us, about discourse, and the collective ideas of a community. There will be a new “Bell Chimes In” video every Sunday for the first quarter of the year.

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The Irony (or Maybe Paradox) of the Empath

Imagine yourself at Point A and you need to get to Point B, which is several winding hallways away. You are focused with this one objective, to get to Point B. However, as you start your way through the halls, flanking both sides of the hall are television and radio sets, every one of them on full blast, images of compelling narratives blinking at you from the glaring bright screens, and you catch snippets of phrases from the radio that sound important, that you wish very much you could stop and listen to acknowledge, but you’ve got to get to Point B and none of what’s bombarding your senses in these hallways relate to your destination.

The practical maybe even all too obvious advice is to ignore the distractions, stay focused, and get yourself to Point B, stat.

Now what if all those television and radio sets buzzing at you also happen to represent sincere cries for help. What if those weren’t television and radio sets but telephones, each one ringing at you and every ring is someone calling for you, hoping you’ll answer and give just one minute of your time, just one little moment, so that you can use your know-how and skill sets to help them solve their life problems.

What do you do? Do you still ignore the “distractions,” stay focused, and get yourself to Point B, stat? Or do you stop and answer those calls? If you stop to answer every call, you’ll never arrive at Point B, which is a destination you really, really want to arrive at. Do you stop to answer only some of the calls but not others? How do you discern which to answer and which to ignore? Speaking of calls, what’s your calling? In the midst of this chaos, you start to wonder: what exactly is your calling anyway? Is it to stop and answer as many of these calls as you can and that in and of itself is your life purpose? Or is your life purpose still to try to arrive at that destination Point B?

That’s the irony, or maybe paradox, I don’t know which, of the empath (which, by the way, my digital device keeps telling me is not a word and keeps wanting me to change to “empathy”).

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Failing to Predict Disaster

My mother possesses an eerily keen sense for what’s to come and can feel future events in her bones. But I remember this one personal tragedy that had blindsided her. None of the talismans, trinkets, doodads, protection circles, shielding, prognosticating, or spirit guides prepared her for what happened. It shook her to her core and she had no choice but to acquire wisdom the hard way. Knowledge is one thing. Wisdom is another. If you accept that there is a greater Divinity, then sometimes our knowledge is blocked so that we can have clearer access to wisdom.

I recall once hearing an interview of a well-known celebrity psychic medium who attained fame and fortune for that ability to see what is to come, and yet when that medium’s own mother came down suddenly with a terminal illness and then passed on, that medium did not see it coming, at all. In the interview, that medium talked about the wisdom gained from that hard check to the ego.

Why is there such irony in this world? Those who seem to have the Sight cannot see coming the worst of all calamities. They’ve built a paradigm around the ability to forecast, so that we can plan ahead and prepare, and yet that one thing that needs the most planning and preparation they could not predict.

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Selling Fu Talismans

In this episode, I answer a question that was presented to me: Can a non-Asian craft and sell Fu talismans to the public?

I recorded the video rather on the fly on the same day the question was presented to me, and didn’t fuss over my face before recording, so now in retrospect when I see the video, I cringe. Ugh. This is what happens when you don’t check your hair or makeup (the eyeliner was already smudging after a long working day) before you hit “record.”

The Fu talisman is a form of Chinese sigil magic that dates back to 400 BC and was later integrated into Taoist mystery traditions around 100 AD. If you’re not familiar with what a Fu talisman is, check out the below links:

The book description for The Tao of Craft (linked here) offers some insights into what a Fu talisman is. On the page of Fu talisman instructables (linked here), you’ll also find images and examples what some Fu talismans look like.

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On Tarot Certification – Redux

Italian Playing Cards (circa 15th century). From the Rosenwald Collection at the National Gallery of Art.

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Three years ago I wrote about my experience with tarot certification through the Tarot Certification Board of America, which is now defunct and any piece of paper you received from them is in effect defunct. Fortunately, the experience for me was all about the experience and that was a lot of fun for me. Going through the exercises, motions, and prompts was quite the enrichment, so I have nothing whatsoever to gripe about. I went through the process for the fun of it. Had I gone through the process for the sake of tarot certification, well then, I would probably be quite pissed right about now, considering my grandiose title of Certified Tarot Master is meaningless. (Not that I’m claiming it was ever at some point meaningful, but.. arrgh.. you know what I mean.)

Today, there are dozens of privately-held tarot certification programs out there and lately I’ve been experiencing a trend of inquiries in my inbox asking me for my opinion on tarot certification.

Then, recently…as in last week…there was a bit of a public misunderstanding where some folks thought I commercially endorsed a particular tarot certification program since my name, face, and my words endorsing a totally different thing was attached to that certification program and, well, let’s just say there was some misunderstanding that ensued and my right of publicity was put into question. Fortunately, the misunderstanding was quickly and amicably resolved and all is right with the world again. As a result, I’d like to just memorialize my take on the whole tarot certification issue.

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Witchcraft and the Witch

It’s the #seasonofthewitch and what better topic to chime in on this October than to tackle the question: who is and isn’t a witch? And what the heck is witchcraft? These are the subjects I chime in on in Episode #6 of Bell Chimes In.

Extending from what was discussed in the video, here’s how I’d define a witch. A witch, or wu, is someone who (1) communes with entities or energies of other realms beyond the material-physical, whether you want to strive for a more science-based outlook and work within the framework of energy transfers and wave function (so in that sense, a realm beyond the material-physical) or you’re committed to the religious perspective, and (2) to achieve (1) works with the four seasons and four directions.

Where did that definition come from? Gotta watch the video to find out. 😉 Continue reading “Witchcraft and the Witch”

Tinkering Bell Series: Architecture of Sacred Space (Part II)

This is the third installment of a video series on my YouTube channel called Tinkering Bell where I showcase my personal esoteric tinkerings.

Episode #3 Description

There is a common denominator among mystery traditions across the world that instruct on a perfected way for harmonizing human architecture with deity and with nature. In “Architecture of Sacred Space,” I share with you the basic criteria I follow for ensuring a sanctified living space.

This is Part 2 of 2 videos on the architecture and design of sacred space. Part 1 covered harmonic resonance. Part 2 (Episode #3) will cover magnetism, orientation, water, and anchoring. In touring each of these fundamental principles, we also touch down into feng shui, spell-crafting, and so much more.

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Cultural Appropriation

At the heels of Episode #4 on syncretic religious practices, now let’s chat about cultural appropriation. Or is it misappropriation? I get just as confused by the lingo as the next lay person.

In this video, I chat with you about some of my latest thoughts on the topic of cultural appropriation, but focused narrowly on cultural appropriation as it would pertain to religious or spiritual practices.

So this isn’t going to cover cultural appropriation in the fashion industry, in the naming of sports teams, or when commodifying a minority culture to the point of objectification. I’m speaking specifically about adopting the religious or spiritual practices of a culture that isn’t necessarily one that’s part of your DNA.

By the way, I addressed the issue in one of the closing chapters of The Tao of Craft, in Chapter 12. As a preview of the book, you can read the entire chapter right here on my website. Scroll down that page until you get to the PDF link, “A Note on Cultural Appropriation.”

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Syncretic Religious Practice

Among Western mystery traditions, you often hear about eclectic witchcraft, can even loop chaos magic into the scope of this topic, and those who observe esoteric practices in a way that blends different cultures and religions. Taoist religious scholars refer to this particular way of practicing religion as syncretism. I say Taoist here because Taoism, as a religion, tends to be syncretic.

In Bell Chimes In #4, I make a case for syncretic religious practice. Today very few of us stay sequestered within a homogenous framework. Not only do we travel physically to interact with different cultures, become geographical and cultural transplants ourselves, but with the Internet at our fingertips and our own curiosities to navigate that web, we have access to a diversity of religious ideas in a way our ancestors did not.

As we engage with different faces of the Holy Spirit, we’re able to discover and formulate our own unique Key of access to that Holy Spirit, or connection to Shen (I talk about this in the video), that fits our physiology, karma, life experiences, and psychic imprint. To not reach out and seize upon such opportunities is what I’d describe as rejecting authenticity. Following one fixed religious doctrine from its Point A to its Point Z that conforms to what a textbook says is historical is not “authenticity.” Authenticity, I argue, is about following what’s in your bones and in ways that maybe no one else will ever truly understand. And what’s being guided by your bones may appear to be eclectic.

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On Initiation Rites

Presenting “Bell Chimes In” #3. I’ll be talking about initiation rites.

Slowly but surely, I’m making my way through all the fun and provocative topics for conversation that have been swimming around the online metaphysical and psycho-spiritual circuits. We covered deity in episode #1, then the placebo effect and magic in #2, and now initiation rites.

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As I commented on in the video, even if you’re a solitary practitioner–perhaps especially if you are a solitary practitioner–an initiation rite is worth your consideration. See it as leaving behind an old perspective, detaching from something that wasn’t working for you, and vowing to take a particular disciplined path in esoterica guided by particular forces you will be committing to work with, whether that’s a patron deity, a specific modality of craft or a tradition of magic, or just dedication to closer future attunement with your guides or ancestors. However you want to frame it, this is about you accepting for yourself the role of the initiate and committing to something that is going to be a dedicated, regimented way of practice from this point on.

Little needs to be said about initiation to one who is on a traditional path, following a set lineage, or who will become a member of an established mystery tradition. So this is addressing the solitary practitioners. Start by thinking about garments for dress that is going to be out of the ordinary for you. I’d even go so far as to acquire garments just for this occasion, exclusive to this occasion, and then something you’ll tuck away in a memory box, something you won’t wear again or at least not for ordinary occasions, and so this particular garment will become symbolic and sentimental to you.

Consider a local mountain or somewhere near where you live that indigenous folk once upon a time considered sacred. Find someplace where you can be alone, with open land and open sky, and if a lake, river, or brook is nearby all the better, and in that privacy, commune with Spirit, connect to the natural powers of the earth around you, and uttering carefully crafted words you’ve drafted ahead of time, send up a vow or petition in exchange for the sending down of a channel of power, attunement, connection, or access to you.

If you’re into astrology, check dates and times for the initiation rite that is going to be resonant with your own birth chart. If there are particular astrological or planetary references associated with your patron deity, then check those as well and make sure those particular astrological features are empowered at the time of your initiation rite.

Everything else about the initiation rite, all the in between details I didn’t address, is up to you.

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I’ve got a couple more ideas listed out in a brainstorm for the “Bell Chimes In” series, but I’d love to hear your requests. What topics would you like to see my talking head yammer on about in the form of a YouTube video?

This is not an educational series, meaning the topics should be ones where all I’m doing is offering an opinion. There shouldn’t be any instructional value, so don’t be like, “an episode on how to read a birth chart!” or “the history of the I Ching.” This series is about perspectives and points of view. [The “Tinkering Bell” series, in comparison, is going to be more instructional in format.]

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“Bell Chimes In” is about discourse, or at least that is my hope and intentions for the video series. It’s about me chiming in on a topic oft talked about, with my own perspective, opinions, or hypothesis, and with that, continuing the conversation on that topic. So I hope you’ll join in to keep the discourse going.