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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On Demonology

On an unintentionally related note, the way I did my makeup for the video is reminiscent of how Chinese demons get depicted in film. It was totally unintentional. Hence, interesting. Hmm. Anyway.

Figure I’d expand more on the juicier bits of the subject here in writing rather than in the video because guess how many people are going to watch the video but not read this post. Hidden in plain sight, yada yada. Right?

Demonology and the nearly universal cultural tendency to peg all ills of humanity on the work of demons is fascinating to me. Sick with disease? Acting out of the ordinary? Getting a bit too emotional for people’s comfort? Commit a crime? Oh. Demon possession. Of course. What else could it be?

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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


“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.


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”

Architecture of Sacred Space | Tinkering Bell #3

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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