I’m going to walk you through an easy beginner’s methodology for I Ching and tarot divination. We’ll be doing a simple one card tarot draw plus casting I Ching hexagrams by the coin toss method. So in addition to the instructions here for the I Ching divination, I’m presuming you have a tarot deck and know how to operate one. If not, no worries. This doesn’t need to be I Ching and tarot. It can just be I Ching! 🙂
I use traditional coins for my personal practice, but we won’t be needing those today. Any three coins of the same value in your change purse will do. Go find three pennies, or three nickels, or three quarters–whatever pleases you. And give them a good wash.
Here I’m using disinfectant soap and water. Dry them thoroughly. You can use a towel. Anything. Just be practical.
The first hour will be a talk on Taoist cosmology, the history of Fu talismans, the 13 principles of craft as derived from the Yellow Emperor’s Classics of the Esoteric Talisman, intersections of science and magic, and how practitioners use divination to know and then craft to change.
The second hour will be a hands-on workshop where you will use tarot divination to help you design and craft a Fu sigil, working with Chinese oracle bone script. Fu sigil paper consecrated on 11/11, cut and prepared at 11:11 am, and then consecrated at 11:11 pm will be provided for your use. You can take some home with you to craft the sigil. It is recommended that the final sigil be crafted on the day after the workshop, on the full moon.
I’ll bring my Jiao Bei divination moon blocks and set them out on the table top for anyone who seeks to use them for a personal divination. Free for your use at any time during the event. Please handle respectfully.
All attendees will also go home with a consecrated and blessed pocket gemstone, with the hopes that it helps you along in all your magical endeavors.
For more detailed metaphysical correspondences of the gemstones per my perspective, check out this previously uploaded PDF for a glossary of gemstone correspondences. Find the entry for the stone you picked (or the stone that picked you…) in the PDF if the one-two word correspondence on the yellow card wasn’t clear.
Here’s your chance to win a free copy of The Tao of Craft. One winner will be selected on September 16, 2016, weeks before the actual release date. The publisher will then contact you directly for mailing details.
The LXXXI is an 81-card esoteric deck by Josephine McCarthy, Stuart Littlejohn, and Cassandra Beanland. It’s not a tarot deck, though you’ll see cards captioned “Chariot,” “Wheel of Fate,” Hierophant,” “Luna” (Moon), “Sol” (Sun), and “Death.” You’ll see “Fellowship” with imagery that may remind you of the RWS Three of Cups.
On a technicality, some might categorize LXXXI as an oracle deck, but I’ll just stick to what it’s been named: The Magician’s Deck. The LXXXI Quareia: The Magician’s Deck “draws upon the mythic, mystical and magical powers that underpin the magical systems that tarot eventually developed out of.” See here. “It is based upon real inner realms, real inner contacts, beings and forces that the practitioner of magic is very likely to involve themselves with. Because of this approach, the deck works as a contacted deck, i.e. used magically the images can act as gateways to inner realms, inner beings and magical patterns.”
The premise behind the LXXXI reminds me of the inner and outer gods concept in Taoism where, in short, certain “gods” reside within us (and they have names, along with descriptions of what they do) and certain “gods” are romping out and about, around us (both on earth among us and in other various supernatural realms). Granted that was the Cliff-Notes-Taoist-Deities-for-Dummies version but you get what I mean.
According to esoteric Taoist principles, a magician or metaphysical practitioner can invoke or summon these “gods” (I put the term in quotes because if you’re looking to translate/interpret the term, 帝, it can be “gods,” “emperors,” “divine beings,” “Divinities,” take your pick) and work with those energies to influence both the natural and supernatural worlds.
The deck is subdivided into four realms. Red bordered cards indicate contacts (the term that the companion guidebook for the deck describes these metaphysical energies as) from the Divine Realm. There are four contacts of the Divine Realm in this deck, pictured above. Star Father I correlates with Divine Intention. Creator of Time II is the energetic movement flowing from the Star Father toward manifestation. Holder of Light III expresses the eventual return of all souls to Divine Source. Archon and Aion are archangelic and symbolize a divine binary. In readings, the card serves as a warning that the practitioner has come to a threshold that cannot and should not be crossed. The message is to turn back.
In both the above photograph and the one below, note how some of the card titles end with roman numerals. I’ll address that later in this review.
Contacts from the Inner Realm are noted by blue borders, case in point Madimi, described here as the “Inner Librarian.” Madimi was one of the spirits that was purportedly in contact with 16th century occultists John Dee and Edward Kelley.
In the printing of the deck copy I received, the borders look more like a deep purple than a blue, but blue or purple, I’m not terribly concerned.
According to the deck description, the art here is done in oils, acrylics, and watercolors. They appear to have been polished and fine-tuned digitally afterward. The art and imagery is very much imbued with Western esotericism and is definitely going to resonate with any practitioner of such traditions.
So far I’ve been trying to remain fair, objective, and factual, but I’m going to break for a moment here and just gush. Omigod I love this deck! The deck fills a void in the tarot/oracle/cartomancy world that I haven’t seen any other deck on the market during the time I’ve been alive and interested in cartomancy even come close to filling. I am not a Quareia practitioner or even a practitioner of Western magic. I don’t even identify as a magician. And yet there is something for me here in this deck.
While writing my forthcoming second book, tentatively titled The Tao of Craft, I had to do some intense study of oracle bone script. That’s where the knowledge for the card content comes from. All citations to the amazing references I used are in the book, but one person I want to thank right away is Richard Sears, who runs ChineseEtymology.org. Now, as for the inspiration, that’s a little harder for me to convey.
On a morning I was to drive my parents to the airport, I thought I heard a voice speaking to me in my room, while I was sleeping in bed, and that woke me up. Then after that, no matter how hard I tried to go back to sleep, I couldn’t, so I relented, booted up my computer, and in that same sitting, a complete first draft of this deck was done. I talk more about the conception of this deck in the accompanying 55-page Guidebook. The deck itself is made up of 33 cards.
These cards are not for sale, but I am offering a free license for you to use them. Keep reading for now. (Or skim and scroll down. Whatevs.)
I grew up trained to fear the number 4. In any scenario where I had to be assigned a number, I would sit there praying that the number 4 would not appear in my assignment and dreading that it would. If my seat number in the exam room had a 4 in it, I’d take it as an omen of impending failure.
I’m not the only one. There’s a name for it: tetraphobia. If they’ve got a name for it, it means I’m not alone. The Taiwanese and South Korean navies avoid assigning the number 4 to their ships. In Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and many other parts of East Asia, you’ll hardly ever see a 4th floor. It’s the 1st floor, 2nd, 3rd, and then 5th. For a race stereotyped to be good at math you’d think they’d know how to count. Hospitals don’t have a 4th floor for sure, and no room number in those hospitals will have a 4 in it.
To the Chinese, 4 means death. 4 means bad luck. 4 means misfortune. 4 means you’re going to suck at life. 4 means you are not a Chosen One. Chosen Ones never get number 4. They get, well, 1. Or 8. Chinese people love the number 8 the way tarot readers love the Ace of Cups or The World card. As for The World card, by most counts it is the 22nd card in the Majors and the theosophic reduction of 22, 2 + 2, is 4 and so take that tetraphobic Chinese people!
I guess back in the day in Chinese grammar schools, the concept of homonyms got glossed over. Everybody there missed the lesson on how a homonym is when two words sound the same but have different meanings. Different. So even though pronouncing the number 4 in most East Asian languages and dialects sounds the same way one might pronounce the word for death, the two words should still retain their different meanings.
Not so to the Chinese. Just because the number 4 sounds like the word for death, suddenly 4 means death. There’s some serious issues with logical reasoning there, which is hilarious to me, because in the Western tradition, 4 means logic, rationality. More on that later.
When I first started study of the tarot, especially when reading with a Marseille deck, numerological associations for the number 4 tripped me up. The numerological association for 4 seemed all too clear: you were doomed. 4 in batons? You’re doomed to fail at work. 4 of cups? You’re doomed to fail in love. You get the pattern. Growing up in the Chinese culture meant I hyperventilated just a little when the number 4 appeared in my life.
Tarot helped me overcome that fear of the number 4. Don’t laugh. I’m serious.
The Emperor might not be all sunshine and rainbows, but it is still a strong card with an empowering message. In western numerology, 4 symbolizes stability, like the four legs of a table or chair, the four corners of the universe, the four elements, the telegrammaton YHVH. 4 is the number of rationalism. Hey, I like rationalism– 44 means great power and physical vigor. 444 is said to be an omen of the Divine’s presence.
When four Fours appear in a tarot spread, there will be peace and order. The Four of Wands in the Rider Waite Smith deck is all about prosperity. The Four of Cups: introspection. Introspection is hardly death and doom. Four of Swords: repose, recuperation; not your preferred state of being but there is a positive message latent in the card–the loved ones awaiting your return depicted in the stained glass window, the secret weapon underneath you– whereas the number 4 according to the Chinese is straight up bad, no nuances.
Those of Life Path 4 are indispensable to a society. They’re our builders, our planners, our architects, the designers of all social constructs. People of Life Path 4 make things happen. Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates are all 4s. Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Twain, J. P. Morgan, Paul McCartney? All 4s with 4s littered throughout their numerology charts.
Even more intriguing is how 4 is so not a big deal even in traditional Chinese metaphysics. Take the I Ching hexagrams. Hexagram 4 suggests naiveté, not death. Hexagram 14 is abundance, validation, all good stuff, like the Four of Wands. Hexagram 24 hints at progress. Hexagram 34 is a powerful, positive omen. So okay, Hexagram 44 is getting a bit darker. Entropy ain’t great news, but still. Hexagram 54 is back to positive again. I’m using the terms positive and negative very loosely here, by the way, as neither tarot nor the I Ching can be characterized with absolutes. And Hexagram 64 is like the Judgement card, give or take huge liberties with the interpretation.
The Four Pillars of Destiny (四柱命理學), which is said to date back to the Song Dynasty, is founded on the idea that there are four components to mapping out a person’s destiny chart. That destiny chart, based on month, day, year, and time (the four pillars) of birth, is supposed to be a playbook of your life. Four for life, people, not four for death!
Understanding quells fears. It is now my dedicated mission to alleviate tetraphobia among the Chinese. Or– okay– at the very least, the Chinese in my arm’s length social network…
Hubby is the Year of the Horse, which means this year, 2014, is going to be a year of major changes and flux in his life. At least that’s what the Chinese believe. It’s called your Ben Ming Nian. Every lunar year is governed by a zodiac house and there are 12 of them. When a lunar year is your zodiac house of birth, you will be experiencing a great deal of flux that year, which can be great if you’re careful and proactive, but can quickly become misfortune if left unchecked (chaos theory? entropy?).
Growing up I’d hear about the Grand Duke Tai Sui. Every 12 years the Grand Duke reigns over a different zodiac house and when he’s in your house, you better move out or risk offending him. Move out, good luck. Stay put, bad luck.
Turns out he’s Jupiter. As in the planet. Jupiter’s orbital period is 12 years and each year it appears to be in a different cardinal direction in the sky at particular degrees, and that corresponds with one of the 12 zodiac houses of the lunar calendar. Since it’s also the largest planet in the solar system and bright enough to cast shadows on earth, it is believed that the energies of Jupiter can greatly affect the personal energies of those on earth. It can exert interfering energetic waves on the earth’s magnetic fields and thus affect our personal Qi. It most affects the personal Qi (energy) of those born in a year corresponding with the zodiac house that Jupiter is in that year.
When Jupiter (aka Grand Duke Tai Sui) is in your house, your personal Qi will be thrown for a ride, which can be a really good thing if you know how to keep it in check, but can be an awful thing if you don’t. Enter fun Chinese superstitions. They’ve got all sorts of talismans, rituals, and other incredible ways to “please the Grand Duke” and avoid “offending him.” Basically, know that your personal Qi will be in flux and be aware and conscious of how to navigate that Qi in flux so that it doesn’t afflict you but rather, supports you.
Now my Hubby is an interesting character. He is a full on skeptic… until shit hits the fan. His year went off on a rocky start and he’s worried about his Ben Ming Nian. Ben Ming Nian just means it’s the year of the zodiac house that you were born in. He was born in the year of the Horse and now it is the year of the Horse. It’s his Ben Ming Nian, you would say. You would be surprised, floored really, how many perfectly intelligent and rational Chinese people flock to temples and energetic practitioners to try to get their good mojo on for their Ben Ming Nian. Hubby knows that a few years ago it was my little sister’s Ben Ming Nian and her year, too, started off hellish. I assembled some happy charms and sent them to her. By that year’s end, she met a wonderful guy who is still the love of her life right now (they’re making plans to marry soon) and she got an offer to work at the biggest law firm in the country, in the city she loves, Manhattan. So this year, 2014, Hubby nagged me to do the same for him.