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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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 It’s my translation and annotations of the Oracle with cultural and historical references that honor the shamanic origins of the I Ching.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! ❤

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.

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Oracle of Novice Witches Look-See

Oracle of Novice Witches is a 50-card deck featuring 24 witches and wizards from history and folklore, 13 tools of the craft, and 13 animal familiars. The deck was created by Francesca Matteoni and with art by Elisa Macellari.

The full-color guidebook accompanying the cards features a profile summary of every witch and wizard depicted. Entries for the tools of craft define each tool’s purpose and how it’s generally used. For the familiars, animal symbolism and correspondences are provided.

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72 Shemhamphoras (Shem) Angels, Tarot Correspondences; Tetragram of the Zohar

Sorting through the mess of files I have on my computer drives and found this. I think I shared these in a past Bell’s Newsletter. It’s excerpted from the textbook for the Western Witchcraft I: The Fundamentals course. References in this free handout to other chapters, etc. are because this is just an excerpt from that textbook.

72 Shem Angels, Tarot Correspondences & the Tetragram of the Zohar

Click Me to Download the PDF

Click Me to Download the DOCX

Posting to the blog just so it’s up on this website and available.

New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic by Cory Thomas Hutcheson

New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic by Cory Thomas Hutcheson and published earlier this year by Llewellyn is a must-have for your personal occult library, and this book review will try to convince you of why.

The text is subdivided into Twelve Rites, from defining witchery and discussing initiation to coverage of common practices in North American traditional folk witchcraft, with exercises and practical work, all the way to commentary on witchcraft in pop culture.

That is one ambitious scope, and Hutcheson pulls it off– this is quite the hefty tome of a book!

Let’s start with defining who is a witch. I appreciate Hutcheson’s acknowledgement: “Whatever image pops into your head when that word passes by in conversation–whether whispered reverently or barked in anger– that will be the definitive image for you.” That kind of has always been my own bone to pick with the term “witch.” What does it even mean? How is the label useful today? He continues, “Many magical practitioners reject the term ‘witch’ either because of its negative or its religious connotations.”

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A Curious Herbal (1737) by Elizabeth Blackwell: Hand-colored engravings

These hand-painted engravings of healing herbs and garden vegetables are a delight, and I’m sure at least one creative person seeing this will get ideas, download, and do something lovely with these illustrations, so here you go.

They’re from Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal (1737). Below you’ll find a zip file you can download of high-res images from the book. Or view it in the entirety, courtesy of The British Library, Catalogues & Collections.

A Curious Herbal (1737)

Download Zip File

About the Book:

Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal is notable both for its beautiful illustrations of medicinal plants and for the unusual circumstances of its creation.

[It] contains illustrations and descriptions of plants, their medicinal preparations, and the ailments for which they are used.

The first herbal was written by the Greek physician Dioscorides in the first century AD.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Aberdeen in about 1700, but moved to London after she married. She undertook this ambitious project to raise money to pay her husband’s debts and release him from debtors’ prison.

Blackwell’s Herbal was an unprecedented artistic, scientific and commercial enterprise for a woman of her time.

She drew, engraved and coloured the illustrations herself, mostly using plant specimens from the Chelsea Physic Garden.

It was highly praised by leading physicians and apothecaries (makers and sellers of medicines), and made enough money to secure her husband’s freedom, although she later had to sell the copyright as well.

This finely-bound copy of A Curious Herbal is from the collection of King George III, held in the British Library.

British Library 34.I.12 -13

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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