Wu Xing: Five Movements 五行 · 오행

This is a crash course on the Wu Xing 五行, Five Dynamic Movements, though you’ll often see it called the Five Elements of East Asian metaphysics.

1/30/2023 Erratum Update: A few of the correspondence rows in the Metal and Earth columns got flip-flopped in the subsequent reference chart. If you downloaded the table before 1/30/2023, please delete it and re-download the rectified version. ❤

I say “East Asian” here because it’s not limited to any one culture, ethnic group, or nationality, not to mention the concept itself is much older than modern-day borders.

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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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Asian Wheel of the Year: Lunisolar Astrology

Is there an Asian “Wheel of the Year”?

Maybe. Sorta.

Consider these eight solar terms, their dates based on solar longitude (the path of the sun) and how they compare to close equivalents in the pagan Wheel of the Year:

The Four Beginnings  四立
1. 立春 Start of Spring Feb. 3–5
2. 立夏 Start of Summer May 5–7
3. 立秋 Start of Autumn Aug. 7–9
4. 立冬 Start of Winter Nov. 7–8

Equinoxes & Solstices  分/至
5. 春分 Vernal Equinox Mar. 20–22
6. 秋分 Autumnal Equinox Sep. 22–24
7. 夏至 Summer Solstice Jun. 21–22
8. 冬至 Winter Solstice Dec. 21–23

I apologize in advance if my mode of presentation here is going to be a bit overwhelming. In retrospect, I should have taken more time thinking on pedagogy and how best to organize this material so it’s less everything-all-at-once. =)

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The Rebellious Origins of Witchcraft (Taoist Magic Edition)

What is your hypothesis on the correlation or connection, if any, between witchcraft (/ceremonial magic) and rebellion?

Uh, Wait… Are you conflating witchcraft, folk magic,  and ceremonial magic??

Yeah. Kinda. =/

This 2019 post ruminating on witchcraft vs. ceremonial magic offers some context. I wrote it while I was trying to figure out a title for my then forthcoming course Witchcraft Fundamentals.

Now that I think about it some more, “witchcraft” is probably not even the right term to be using. “Folk magic” might be the better descriptive? What do you think?

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! ❤

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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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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Morning Calm Oracle by Seo Keller

A treasure of a divination system in a box that you’ll cherish, Morning Calm Oracle by trained shaman Seo Kelleher invites you to engage with a world of spirits, divinities, and nature magic from the Land of the Morning Calm, a name of endearment given to Korea.

The box design, sigils, and the tactile experience of handling the cards are an exemplary representation of East Asian magic. Those who are sensitive to energy will even feel the difference in the vibrations of this deck in hand compared to other decks you might have in your collection.

I am enchanted by the effortless beauty and the beneficence of this deck. The artwork is done by Alodia Yap, whose artwork is moving and melodic. Yap’s art style here is impressionistic. It works in perfect harmony with what Kelleher set out to achieve.

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Crafting with a Ba Gua Mirror in Traditional Asian Witchcraft

Learn a little more about this common ritual tool in traditional Asian folk magic. I’m inviting you to give the ba gua or eight trigrams mirror a try.

This video covers a few pointers on how to use a ba gua mirror to tell whether you’ve been hexed or cursed (a folksy practice that’s interesting to learn about, at the very elast), how a ba gua mirror can amplify your spell-crafting techniques, a simple intention-setting candle spell, how to make your own ba gua mirror if you can’t source one, and how to integrate this one tool and folk practice into what you’re already doing.

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Elemental Directional Correspondences in Ritual Magic, East vs. West: How Do You Reconcile Conflicts?

One of my favorite personal rewards from launching the Witchcraft Fundamentals course is the Google Group, where all of us are exchanging insights, asking tough questions, trying to answer tough questions, and getting to know each other. To give you a sampling of what that e-mail list-serv group is like, I’m sharing something I wrote on there in one of the threads started by a practitioner of both Eastern and Western metaphysics.

The question presented is, in short, how do you reconcile Eastern elemental-directional correspondences with Western elemental-directional correspondences?

By the way, scroll all the way down for the PDF downloads of this post, which you can then print out and tuck into whatever reference manual for your metaphysical studies you have going on.

IN THIS WESTERN WITCHCRAFT COURSE, you’ll learn fairly soon that there are different systems of elemental-directional correspondences even within the umbrella of Western occult philosophy, and we cover three of them in this course:

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