Magick

Practical magick.

Alternative approaches to the Goetia

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Demon, photo by Orin ZebestLegend has it that the “Testament of Solomon,” which contains the original text of the Goetia, was left out of the Bible, because it was not considered to be inspired by Jehovah. The “Testament” is accredited to King Solomon, but the real author is unknown.

Solomon is said to have been the wisest person of his time (848-976 BCE). He was powerful, wealthy, and according to the text, was given a magical ring by the archangel Michael that gave him power over demons. When it was time to build the temple in Jerusalem, Solomon needed help, as it was forbidden in the Torah to use certain kinds of materials. His advisers told him to seek the advice of demons, as they were known to hold forbidden wisdom and would be able to give him the knowledge he desired. Continue reading


Chinese fortune telling, tarot, and divination

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I Ching, photo by Ross GriffHolistic Tarot, by Benebell WenOn page one of my book Holistic Tarot, I wrote, “I do not support fortune telling.” When I sat down to write my book, I made the conscious decision to state my position on that particular issue. I wanted to pull professional tarot practice outside the scope of anti-fortune telling laws that are still enforceable in many parts of the United States. More than that, my position comes from a definition of what fortune telling entails that might differ from Western perspectives, a personal definition influenced by the Chinese theory on fortune telling. I hope this article will provide context for my position.

While I wouldn’t dare assume that all Chinese metaphysicians think the same about fortune telling and divination, by general practice the Chinese metaphysical view seems to make a clear distinction between fortune telling and divination. In Chinese, 算命 (suànmìng) is fortune telling;卜筮 (bǔshì) is divination. Continue reading


8 swords and no hands

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Detail from 8 of Swords in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The 8 of Swords and I have a long history. It’s shown up in so many of my readings that for a long time I was surprised if it wasn’t there. But lately, as my life has changed (thankfully for the better!) I haven’t seen it as much, and in a way I’ve come to miss it, even though it always signified struggle and hardship for me. I’ve developed a close relationship with the 8 of Swords, and my own web of interpretations and associations, and now that the card stepping out of my life I feel compelled to share them.

The 8 of Swords, in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and in most of its other incarnations, depicts a woman, bound and blindfolded, standing in a field of swords which seem to cage her in. She wears a red dress and has dark hair — an interesting contrast to the archetypal blonde damsel in a white gown. Perhaps her life has been marked more by passion than purity. There are puddles of water near her feet (which make me think of a flood plain, perhaps adding an additional danger) and behind her is a mountain with a castle-like structure on it. Continue reading


How to cast a circle anytime, anywhere

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Earth and sky, photo by Jacinta Iluch ValeroCasting a circle is a fundamental magick practice, and it can serve two vital purposes.

Firstly, the circle contains and concentrates the energy generated prior to casting a spell. The circle does not generate energy itself; instead it functions like a dam that holds back the flow of water and forming a reservoir. As energy builds during the spell or ritual, the circle will likewise hold back the energy. This allows it to be released at the opportune moment, maximizing the effectiveness. Continue reading


Epistolary tarot: Love, letting go, and learning

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Letters, photo by Lenore EdmanDear Reader,

The practice of writing tarot letters has brought me joy and comfort as well as enriched my understanding of the arcana. In 2014, I came up with the idea of sending my friends and family individual tarot cards with handwritten letters for holidays, birthdays, and other special events.

First, I had to select a deck to break up and give away. I wanted to use a deck that I read with professionally and wasn’t the standard Rider-Waite-Smith (as some of my friends already own it), a deck that spoke to me and to strangers. One that was field-tested and familiar. After trying out Corrine Kenner’s Wizards Tarot at a couple festivals as well as in private readings, I bought a second pack of cards to mail with letters. Continue reading


Crafting a tarot wreath

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Star anise wreath, image by Hans

Whether designed to recognize a winter holiday, created as a gift or used as a reflective hobby, wreaths can take on many themes and incorporate a variety of materials such as fruits, twigs, leaves, paper, fabric or wire. They need only to hold to the shape of a ring, and sometimes loosely at best.

Tarot-themed wreaths are a craft that can enrich those who love to create, those who may be daunted by the system of traditionally 78 cards and archetypes known as tarot, or those who may wish to deepen their relationship with the cards. Continue reading


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