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.

Continue reading “List of the Most Auspicious I Ching Hexagrams”

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.

Continue reading “My Responses to #13TarotTubeQuestions”

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.

Continue reading “How a Parent Makes or Breaks a Child’s Dream”

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)

Continue reading “What Does It Mean (to Me) to Be Taoist?”

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.

Continue reading “Taoist Witches? What is Asian Witchcraft?”

AI Generated Art + Tarot and Oracle Decks with AI

On AI Art

  • 2021 Dec. 5, How Do We Value Art? What AI art means for tarot and oracle deck publishing
    • Playing around with wombo.art
    • Is AI art indistinguishable from human-made digital art?
    • What principles determine great art?
    • Socratic & Platonic philosophy on art
    • Taoist & Confucian philosophy on art
    • Art composition: design theory
    • Disegno (Italian Renaissance)
    • Confucianist aesthetics
    • AI’s creative process vs. human artist’s creative process
    • Is AI doing a better job than humans?
  • 2021 Dec. 6, I Ching Oracle Cards with AI Generated Art (Free Download)
    • Having fun with AI generated art apps
    • AI art doesn’t “lack soul”
    • Who is the creator when it’s AI art?
    • Free download of I Ching oracle cards (AI generated art)
    • Zip files of all downloadable image files for hexagrams
  • 2022 Sep. 14, AI Generated Art + Tarot and Oracle Decks with AI
    • Personal dabblings with AI art
    • Does AI art lack soul?
    • Rising popularity of AI generated art decks
    • AI art won’t replace fine art (but may impact illustration)
    • What artists are saying
    • IP implications of AI art
    • Valuing AI generated art
    • More of my thoughts

Back in December 2021 I covered the topic of AI generated art and what it might mean for the marketplace of tarot and oracle decks here (“How Do We Value Art? What AI art means for tarot and oracle deck publishing“) and here (“I Ching Oracle Cards with AI Generated Art“).

But since then there have been new developments in this subject area so I thought I might revisit the topic.

Left: My illustration, by hand in pencil and ink. Right: NightCafe, art style: “Charcoal”
Some Personal Dabblings with AI Art

Above to the left is a sketch I did by hand, first in pencil, then outlined in ink. I started with the following prompt, text I typed out myself and stared at for a good five minutes before putting pencil to paper: Solitude. Contemplating. Maiden in a moment of self-questioning.

I copied some text written by Hildegard of Binden on the transcendental experience of God, to fill the blank space. What you see took me two hours. Uh, tbh, probably longer than two hours. I lose track of time when I’m doodling. (The barely-there blue grid lines was added digitally, because that’s just something I like to do when I share my doodles to the public.)

What you see to the above right was produced via NightCafe, an AI art generator, with the same exact text as the prompt: Solitude. Contemplating. Maiden in a moment of self-questioning. I selected the art style “Charcoal” to see how close to a pen and ink sketch it could go. The illustration to the right took the program two minutes.

Left: High school art by yours truly, from the 90s. Colored pencil. Right: AI generated art based on text description of illustration to the left, via Wombo

I’m fascinated by how similar the interpretations were, between me, a human, and AI tapping in to collective knowledge. In fact, in the past I’ve drawn illustrations in charcoal very similar to what the AI produced!

The pose, the facial expression, the way the hair falls, the vulnerability– if I rummage through my old art portfolio from high school, I can excavate a charcoal or pastel drawing that looks more or less the same with that!

“You Are the Journey” by @KaliYuga_ai via MidJourney (AI art)
Does AI Art Lack Soul?

I explored the question “does AI art lack soul” here in an earlier rumination on the subject. In that blog post, I talked about how this advent of AI generated art has shifted my former paradigm on the mind-soul relation.

This declaration you’ll hear oft repeated — AI art lacks soul; AI lacks soul — is one I’m most apprehensive about. Perhaps we can say we don’t understand the soul of AI, but to declare that AI art lacks soul… I dunno. It doesn’t sit right with me.

I’m not convinced that these works “lack soul.” If I’m getting all psychic and woo, I might say the impression of the soul that’s present feels different from a human sapient soul, just like an animal’s sentient soul or a tree’s soul feels different. You hear people critique the evident style or aesthetic consistent in AI generated art, but just because you don’t love an artist’s style or technical approach doesn’t mean that artist suddenly lacks soul.

So while I have many conflicting thoughts about AI art, the accusation that it lacks soul isn’t one of them. If anything, I wonder if the full body of AI generated art is mirroring back something deep within us collectively, for us to see.

Technomage Tarot by Lee Duncan in collaboration with AI, via Kickstarter campaign (last visited 2022 Sep. 30)
A Rising Popularity of AI Generated Art Decks

Oh, and to illustrate what the community has been buzzing about with regard to AI-generated tarot decks (or in collaboration with AI) coming on to the market, I’ll feature several throughout this commentary.

Continue reading “AI Generated Art + Tarot and Oracle Decks with AI”

Tarot Deck Collecting and Consumerism: My Thoughts

I’ve had a working draft of this blog post, on this topic, started in 2020, and already I was feeling late to it, since it was a topic trending in 2019. Life and other priorities got in the way so I left this draft unfinished.

In 2021 I started seeing this topic discussed with fervor again. It inspired me to reopen this post. I worked on it some more, but again, just didn’t care to finish my train of thought, for whatever reason.

Now it’s 2022 and this same exact topic of conversation in the tarot community is still going strong.

Maybe this time I can finally finish what I was trying to say. I’ll divide up my thoughts by the recurring subtopics or points of argument you hear when community members start talking about tarot deck collecting, culling, and consumerism.

To balance out the paragraphs of text, I’ll be sharing random photos of decks you’d spot around my house.

Continue reading “Tarot Deck Collecting and Consumerism: My Thoughts”

Angels and Ancestors Oracle, Sámi Erasure, and Takeaway Lessons

Inlé’s Inlet recently posted the above deck review and commentary on the Angels and Ancestors Oracle Cards, which raises cultural awareness of some concerns with the imagery in this deck. To be more precise, it’s not the imagery that’s of concern, but the lack of credit and acknowledgement for where the sources of inspiration came from.

The distinct drum design featured on the Drum card, the Shaman card, and on the card back of the Angels and Ancestors deck (photographs of it in my deck review) have been taken directly from Sámi religious and spiritual iconography.

However, no credit, reference, or source citation was provided in the accompanying guidebook, in effect erasing the Sámi, who are a historically marginalized indigenous minority.

This is a form of appropriation of indigenous cultural intellectual property rights. Yet this particular instance is one that could be reasonably remedied.

In this type of a scenario, I do think addressing the issue head-on is the compassionate approach.

Continue reading “Angels and Ancestors Oracle, Sámi Erasure, and Takeaway Lessons”

To the New Pagan Author…

A video I watched inspired me to hit the record button and share these thoughts. But this is no longer a direct VR to that video (and in fact this video might have taken on a more melancholic tone than intended).

Instead of being a direct VR to the video inspiring this sharing, I will be commenting on what my own experiences have been like.

Here are some of my thoughts 7 years in.

This video is unlisted, which means it won’t appear on my YouTube channel or on the public YouTube platform. I will be experimenting with moving away from that platform and posting more unlisted videos here on the personal website.