List of 2017 Bell Chimes In Episodes

I started a fun, personal video series via my YouTube channel on September 20, 2017 and so far have produced a set of 15 18 videos for 2017. After I figured out what exactly I wanted to do with the series (about 3 episodes in…starting around October…), I resolved to releasing one new episode every Sunday. For 2017, the episodes will end on Sunday, December 17. [The Sunday episodes will run to the end of the year. See 11/21/2017 Update below.] You can check out the schedule on this page, with direct links to each aired episode.

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A Review of the Resonance Oracle Cards

Resonance Oracle - 01 Box Cover

The Resonance Oracle by Dara Caplan is a deck of 40 cards, 40 exquisite works of art with accompanying messages that were said to have been channeled through the deck’s creator, Ms. Caplan. The deck is “created with the magic and energy of intent,” or as the book also describes it, the power of attraction.

Resonance Oracle - 02 Box Open

Lately I’ve been curious about channeling, so I am intrigued by the premise of this deck. The cards come in a high-gloss, sturdy box with a magnetic top flap. I’m surprised at how few Schiffer decks I have, so it’s nice to get to work with this one. The deck set is made in China, though overall I have few complaints about the quality.

Resonance Oracle - 06 Card Backs

The card backs are not reversible with a naturalist feel to the art, and based on the Guidebook, it doesn’t appear to be a deck intended for reading with reversals, though one card in the deck got me scratching my head about the reversals. We’ll get to that later on.

Resonance Oracle - 09 Scatter of Cards

One really neat attribute to this deck you’ll notice right away is that all the cards are horizontal, in landscape, and not the typical vertical setting we’re used to. I really like that. I also like the modern sensitivity, for example in the “Communication” card, seeing the Blackberry.

I can’t tell if it’s the printing quality or if it’s the artwork itself, but this is a very dark deck, as in very dark, saturated colors in the paintings and dark borders on the cards. The art is done on black backgrounds, and so given the style of art, as a publisher I might have opted for a matte finish, instead of the super-high-glossy finish that this deck comes in. These cards are so shiny, I had trouble taking photos. There was a glare in every pictures and you could see the reflection of my camera on the cards.

* Note: I looked up Caplan’s artwork online and it really is the print quality. Her art has a much more balanced quality between light and dark when you see the works on a computer screen, but in these cards, all the colors muddle together a bit and look dark. However, the dark muddle look ultimately works for the deck’s purposes, so I like it. It really sets the right mood.

Let’s try something a bit different from my usual deck reviews. Here’s a one minute video offering you a substantial sampling of the card images. Set to public domain Edvard Grieg’s Sonata in A Minor for Cello, Opus 36, the second movement. Something about the vibe of this deck just said Grieg to me. So here we go (promise it’s short–just 1 minute!):

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Pagan Practices and Chinese Folk Religions


Left image of pagan Wheel of the Year from Biblical Connection.

Right image of a Taoist Fu sigil.

I don’t have educational degrees that would qualify me to write about any of this, so please understand that I am writing my observations within that non-expert context. Lately I’ve been fascinated with pagan and neopagan belief systems, mostly for how strikingly similar paganism is to Chinese Taoist-based folk religion.

Here’s how I understand paganism in context: Back in the day across Europe, Abrahamic religions rose to dominance, became institutionalized, and began setting up centralized bodies of authority that often started in the cities and spread its influence from there. At the fringes of the countryside, however, pagan faiths endured among the minority. These pagan faiths were polytheistic, though pantheist, strongly nature-based, and because they believed that everything was connected, it was thought that certain herbs, incantations of words, ritualistic conduct, and representations of elements could be harnessed to manifest intentions–in other words, magic exists.

Replace a few specifics from the previous paragraph and you could apply it to the relationship between Confucianism (and to a great extent Buddhism) and Chinese folk religions. These folk religions were looked upon in the same way pagan faiths were looked upon by the Christians. Those who practice pagan/neo-pagan religions (like Wicca, Druidism, Heathenry, or some form of pagan reconstructionism) tend to keep their faiths concealed or strictly private. That’s less of an issue among those who practice Chinese folk religions, and so you’ll see altars set up in Chinese businesses that still pay homage to the faiths of their [often agricultural] ancestors. However, like what pagans experience, those who still practice Chinese folk religions are considered fringe.

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What Buddhism Says About Magic

I met the Venerable Sheng-Yen, a Buddhist monk, teacher, and scholar, when I was too young and too immature to have appreciated the encounter. For that I will always be regretful for not being more open and receptive when I had the chance. Here, though, the Internet is a wonderful thing. Apparently, many of Ven. Sheng-Yen’s lectures have been recorded and posted onto YouTube. The lectures are in Mandarin Chinese, but there’s English subtitles. The one of highest interest to those in tarot practice might be what the Shi Fu had to say about magic, the supernatural, and psychic workings.

I highly recommend watching the video in the entirety, but if you can’t I’ll summarize.

A question is presented to the Shi Fu (Shi Fu is the honorific we use to refer to any master teacher): What are his thoughts on supernatural powers (in other words, magical practice or working with spiritual energies) and does he think it really exists?

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