I love a good book and a cup of coffee (or Red Zinger tea as it was when I took the picture)
This past weekend I finished Magick of Reiki: Focused Energy for Healing, Ritual, and Spiritual Development by Christopher Penczak. It is a absolute must-read for Reiki practitioners in America, possibly everywhere else, too.
I originally picked up the book to learn more about the magick piece of it. Full disclosure, I began to study Reiki back in the late 1990s, and was attuned as a Master-practitioner in the Usui style in 2000. Reiki was the topic my Ph.D. thesis in 2011. Reiki is my jam, I use it all the time for myself and my family. For various reasons, it hasn’t been until lately that I’ve started to connect the dots between the Asian culture influences (Taoism, Zen, Meditation, Reiki) and the European cultural influences (Tarot, Magick, aromatherapy, crystals) within my overall energy work.
To put it in a food analogy, I was expecting to try a new dish, but instead got a big old bowl of really delicious and familiar comfort food.
My expectations were backwards. Rather than being a book about a Magickal practice that incorporates Reiki, this is a book about Reiki by a Reiki teacher that points out the ways that Reiki is similar to magick. Instead of a book nudging the limits of my magickal knowledge, I found a book that was, after all, right in my wheelhouse. Delightfully so.
Mr. Penczak’s description of Reiki is right on the mark in my experience. I respect the he way he approaches all the varied schools in Reiki. He deals insightfully and compassionately with some fairly hot button issues between them.
His attitudes toward a wide variety of topics within Reiki very much resonate with my own. His thoughts on extended symbols, individually given symbols, publishing symbols, Reiki guides, the use of intuition within Reiki practice and most of all the giant bugaboos about money and charging for lessons and treatments are all kind, wise and just exactly what the American Reiki landscape needs. For magick topics and learning, I plan to read his other books. Magick of Reiki may not be the best choice for beginner magick reading, but it is perfect for next-step Reiki reading.
This is a book for people who have had a taste of Reiki and are looking for a fuller, more empowered approach to their practice. I cannot recommend it highly enough for anyone who has had any sort of Reiki attunement or training. This is next step elevation of existing Reiki practice through review of the basics and an overview of important advanced concepts.
It seems to me that the best non-fiction writing gives some nugget, some bit of wisdom that transcends its literal topic. The same is true here. Whenever similar ideas come from sources separated in place, time or specialty, it gives that idea a real gravitas. One might shy away from calling anything ultimate ‘truth’ but similar ideas from dissimilar sources makes any notion important to my mind.
Mr. Penczak emphasizes following one’s own intuition and feeling in incorporating different Reiki practices into our own, both generally and session by session as needed. Joanna DeVoe describes herself as a “spiritual magpie” following the same self-direction for her spiritual practices writ large, magick or otherwise. Benebell Wen, in Holistic Tarot, connects the universal life energy (the ‘ki’ in Reiki, the “chi” in Tai Chi) to the ability to do Tarot readings at a distance. Scott Cunningham, in Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner, reminds us that “the feeling is the power.” Adam Savage, writing in Every Tool’s a Hammer hints at the same autonomy and independence of thought within the realm of creativity and making. Mr. Savage captures the core of it when he quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius.”
Genius, as every superhero movies teaches us, can, however, go wrong. To believe your inner heart is genius. To to have an inkling that it can be useful to everyone is generous. To believe that the totality of your path is the one singular right way for everyone is arrogance.
That isn’t to say all singular traditions are arrogant or wrong. The wrongness comes in assuming that one specific tradition is the one true way for everyone be it within Reiki or Magick or making stuff. If there is a particular tradition or path that is right in its totality for you, by all means follow it. You must fo what you know to be right for you be that stick with a particular school or be that follow your inner heart.
There is common ground between the group and the individual.
Tradition is tradition. Method is method. Making your own way is a tradition and a method of its own. Magick of Reiki hints that using the best of what we know gleaned from all the varied schools of Reiki IS the tradition of Reiki just like Cunningham hints that the feeling of power IS the power within magickal practice. This notion seems at diametric odds to adherence to prescribed old ways. Think about trust. Trust runs deeply through both approaches. Trust is the tradition.
In order to follow one particular school of thought within Reiki (or anything else) it require trust of that tradition. It requires trust in the originators and the transmitters of the tradition. If you are on a more inner (read solitary) path, it requires a great deal of trust too….trust in your perceptions and in your ability to adapt as better information comes along. In practice, it is a yin-yang dynamic combination of both. If you follow a tradition, you have to trust your inner knowing to choose the right tradition out of the many that exist. It requires extroidinary trust in your inner heart to change traditions and personal practices if needs be. If you are solitary, you have to trust the outer sources of information that you in turn adopt and adapt.
Usui, Tibetan, Johrei, Karuna, Shamballa; whether you follow one tradition or draw from them all and more, trust is the tradition behind it all.
Other Bookshelf posts:
It’s been half a year since TaoCraft Tarot’s official launch on Halloween, 2018. Today is half-o-ween (halfway to Halloween) or, if you want to be traditional about it, Beltane. This is the first spring that I have been open with all of you about my Taoist / witchy tendencies. If TaoCraft can launch on Halloween, it is only fitting to do something for Beltane.
It’s all magick now.
In honor of days of light and summer fire, I’ve made all the readings InkMagick Sigil Tarot. All of the readings now feature a sigil element and reading-based affirmation. Lucky for you, these won’t be handwritten unless you specifically order a pen and ink snail mail paper version from the Shop. The photo of your layout and the typed explanation part will stay the same. So will Zombie Cat with all of his snark and sly advice in the form of yes/no readings and the new Ask Zombie Cat page
I’ve thought of making layout changes, but it doesn’t feel right. The layout and position meanings are going to stay the same, in the old, reliable, trusty “Modern Oracle” layout that works so well. If it ain’t broke, far be it from me to fix it.
If you would like a reading in the new “InkMagick Sigil Tarot” format, you can order on the HOME page. If you want the handwritten version using my increasing beloved and magic wand like ink dip pen, those can be ordered from the TaoCraftTarotShop on Etsy, along with all the e-books, mala and jewelry (pssst….check out the necklaces. Mother’s Day is coming soon).
To those who celebrate, Merry May and Blessed Beltane, and to everyone else, Happy Tuesday! It’s all good. It’s all magick now.
InkMagick Sigil Tarot (both email and paper versions) are still at a special price until the end of April. Each one card meditation style reading includes a sigil element given by intuition that you may use to inspire your own sigil crafting plus a positive affirmation based on your reading.
Please visit the home page to order
The more digital becomes the norm, the more power handwriting gains as it slips into the realm of the quaint, the old-fashioned, the arcane.
I’ve seen it called both a day and a month of commemoration, but April has been dubbed “National Letter Writing Month” here in the US. It isn’t about pretty callegraphy, it is about heart to heart communication in written form.
In honor of the month, my favorite format (writing) and my Tarot specialty (distance, e-mail, mail) “InkMagick Sigil Tarot Readings” are $1 off the regular price until April 30, 2019. Order yours on the home page.
Each reading, both paper and digital, gives a sigil element, a symbol or doodle given by intuition. You are welcome to use it in your own sigil crafting. In the me pictured above, the pinaform (feather) shape symbolizes a pen or writing. the line paper, plus our connection, the circles hint at electrons, distance communication.
If you are interested in sigils, writing, and magick (yes, I use the k, it just looks cooler and I’m no Penn and Teller, you know?) I suggest reading Sigil Witchery by Laura Tempest Zakroff and Write Your Own Magic by Richard Webster.
TaoCraft Tarot is on YouTube! Please visit, like and subscribe: https://youtu.be/nfV6eP_G4RM
I’ve been into Taoist phliosophy since the late 80s, out of the EX-Christian closet since 1992, out of the Tarot closet since the early 2000’s and out of the atheist closet since 2012. I only have one closet left. I don’t rock a goth style in my old-ass middle age but I admit to seeing the world through a witchy lens along with everything else. My “magick” (yeah, I spell it with a K because I think it looks cool and makes an important distinction between philosophy/way of life magick vs stage & entertainment magic.) is a low-key, in the flow, actions-and-words to align my intent with the natural way of things sacred-in-the-mundane variety.
That being said, this worldview is another part of the rebranding from Modern Oracle to TaoCraft. Not all witches are Tarot readers, and not all Tarot readers are witches. The way I see it, to borrow from Bill Maher, if you made a Venn diagram of Tarot, Taoism, Reiki, and my version of witchcraft you’d have damn near a circle. They are different iterations of the same thing. Parallel paths to the same mountain top. Different words to say the same thing. Tarot, Taoism, Reiki and Witchcraft are all just slightly different ways of viewing the world, living in harmony with nature and the natural flow of universal energy.
Thus the new “Bookshelf” series of posts. On Modern Oracle, I wrote a few posts singing the praises of a few favorite spirituality and Tarot books. I plan to expand that here, fan-girling over favorite books, old and new, about all of those super-overlapping circles; Magick, Tarot, Reiki, Meditation, Spirituality with assorted other bits of inspiration and entertainment.
First up in the new series is my latest read, Sigil Witchery by Laura Tempest Zarkoff. Whether you resonate with any form of magick or not, I consider this an essential read for any Tarot enthusiast. The well researched insight into symbolism at it’s most basic level can easily and effectively be brought to bear reading any Tarot or oracle deck. She enriches the most basic shapes and components of images with primal meaning. Those ancient and primal meanings then add another layer of meaning to the artwork on our decks, enriching our reading of the card. In interpreting a card, we can use the assigned meaning for the card blended with our own intuitive understanding of the card, and season it with the underlying significance of the shapes and symbols contained in the artwork as well.
My interest in sigil craft actually began with some of the most potent power symbols -words. Sallie Christensen told me in a reading one time that thoughts are powerful, spoken words more so, but the written word is the most powerful of all. Sigils are even more potent and focused. Working with written words has one energy, one magic. Working with sigils is a similar but distinctly different energy wavelength.
Sigils are power symbols created from words. There are different methods of creating them, which Zarkoff relates briefly. Then she goes right on to elevate the whole thing far above what has been before. As an artist, Ms. Zarkoff understands the emotional and subconscious impact of shapes and overall composition. A sigil constructed from the letters of a reduced phrase, or from the lines traced from letters on a magic square are perfectly fine, but the seem to be dominated by straight lines and spiky shapes. With Sigil Witchery, we are given a method for creating sigils that are pleasing to the eye, heart and mind. Better still, her understanding of how to incorporate sigils beyond setting them on fire and releasing them to the ethers makes sense, and, again, elevates the art and craft of sigil drawing.
For Tarot readers, go, read this now. Use what you learn about symbols and art to better appreciate and interpret your cards. If you are interested in sigil making as well, this is the book for you. Sigil Witchery is pleasant to read and easy to understand. Because Sigil Witchery is such an elevation of the art, and because the classic source of sigil craft is so very hard to read and follow (Austin Osman Spare) I suggest reading a mid-step introduction to sigils as a primer before reading Sigil Witchery. (I read Practical Sigil Magic by U.D. Frater. *See note below.) Having that little extra background only helps a reader to appreciate Laura Zarkoff’s accomplishment even more.
Sigil Witchery is available at major outlets like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and on the author’s website at https://www.lauratempestzakroff.com/shop.html
*Frater’s work is rooted in “Chaos Magic” and some portions of the rituals described might offend some. The first half of the book is an excellent distillation and explanation of Spare’s approach to sigils. The second half of the book delves into ritual magick and, to my way of thinking, an undue, pedantic, overwhelming amount of detail about complicated ritual and so on. If you are inclined toward that style of things, this book is for you. To be honest, I bailed. That kind of detailed complicated ritual just isn’t my path. No slight to Frater, his writing, Spare or Chaos Magick. It’s a good, well written book. The subject matter isn’t for me after the sigil basics were over.
I totally agree with Theresa here. There is no denying the unique beauty of our solar system and the dance it does. It is the essence of our point of view on the cosmos. But it is just that, a relative point of view but not absolute reality. How the sun and moon align with other stars from the singular perspective of planet Earth is breathtaking, beguiling, and our portal to larger understanding to be sure. But these alignments have little meaning to other parts of the universe. The Mars rovers gave a very different view of…and energy environment from…tonight’s “super blood wolf moon.” It’s going to be gorgeous for those able to view it, no doubt about that. Celebrate it, enjoy it, soak up its energy, yes. Still, don’t forget that there is a larger Cosmos than the sun, the Earth, and the Moon. You are as much a part of that larger Cosmos as you are part of Earthly beauty and the Earthly perspective. The dance nearby is magical, but you can make your own music any time you like. The dance hall of the Cosmos is big enough for any and all of us to dance free.
Our keyboards and devices are pens, electrified and empowered to send the magic of words farther and fastee ghan ever before. Almost a full circle, actual handwriting and drawings can be sent electronically without taking a picture, without converting to type.
I’m hoping these “digital handwriting” format Tarot readings will be as popular as I believe them to be powerful. REALLY old school pen and for-real paper by snail mail readings are avaiable too.
Ok, ok so the background is a little muddled. I want to try and soften the look of it witn a filter for posts, but not sure how to do that for other uploads. This is a low tech solution an app that uploads from a reusable, white-board-like page. I love the eco friendly and affordability aspects along with the ink color and detail. Could solve the downsides, but can’t afford a tablet upgrade right now unless all of you good people order a bunch of readings. But I’m good with low tech with a personal touch but slightly gnarly background if you are. What say you? Does digital InkMagick look like an enjoyable format?
Other new reading formats may be on the
Sometimes, a whole lot.
“Re-branding” seems to be a thing lately. “Ghoulish Delights Bath Shop” is becoming “Balefire Apothocary” (fingers crossed she’ll still carry my very most favorite hand cream) and ” Hearts Peace Healing” is becoming “Hygge Lightwork”. One personal trainer is becoming a Tarot reader, while a musician is becoming a personal trainer and a martial artist is shifting to being a musician and life coach. Of course, Modern Oracle Tarot is now TaoCraft Tarot.
My sense is this is growth, evolution, and expansion is a very good thing for all of us. The new name isn’t just a marketing ploy. There is no ill will or negative feeling about our old names or identities at all. Shedding our old “brand” is like a snake shedding its skin: It’s necessary for growth. We are re-naming, re-imagining, and re-building in order to embrace more things and to become more fully ourselves. I can’t speak for the other folks, of course, but after brief chats on social media, I get the feeling we are all very much on on the same page.
Expansion and deeper authenticity is certainly my aim in abandoned Modern Oracle and building TaoCraft. As I write this, Modern Oracle feels like something that happened ages ago to someone else. Time passes. I’m not the same person who started Modern Oracle. TaoCraft is me, now.
That doesn’t mean I have to abandon EVERY single little thing. “The Niggles” are still here. Those posts are about ideas that camp out in my head, and niggle there until I write about them. Yeah, I know. That sounds more like a brain parasite than creative inspiration. Some ideas are like that.
Since the very beginning of this re-branding process, I’ve felt pushed to talk about TaoCraft as a name. I have no earthly idea why, or even what to say, so I’ll follow that spirit, inspiration, call of the muses, or brain idea-parasite such as the case may be.
Let’s start with the obvious. “TaoCraft” is a made up word, and I’ve stuck a capital in the middle. Why? I like it. As two words, it is a description. As one word it is a NAME. I threw the capital in because 1. it works as a humpback web address and 2. “Craft” is an integral part of the concept with a dollop of double meaning.
Tao, as many of you know, is from Chinese philosophy; Taoist, Taoism, Tao Te Ching. Just to be pedantic, Tao and Dao are the same thing. Tao is Pinyan westernization of the Mandarin word, while Dao is from the Wade-Giles system. The few minutes I studied Mandarin back in the 90s, I was taught using Pinyan, so there you are. Tao it is. Tao is usually translated as “way” as in a “way of life” or a “way of doing things.”
What does Taoism have to do with Tarot? A surprising lot, actually. “Magical Tarot, Mystical Tao” by Diane Morgan explains it best. It was an enormous influence in the early days of my Tarot career because it connected two great loves. Time and time and time again, Tao and Tarot were philosophies, a way of looking at the world, that I could rely on. I could lean on them in turbulent times without them crumbling to dust and nothing as religion and other philosophies always, always did. When your life puts your beliefs to the test, they shouldn’t fall apart. Taoism and Tarot never did. No matter what I would learn or explore, I always circled back to them and found them reliable, trustworthy. Tao and Tarot belong here in this new mental and spiritual living place. They are very much authentic me. This re-branding is, as is highly valued within Taoism, an exercise in deep authenticity.
Craft is also a bridge. As Tao and Tarot bridge east and west, craft bridges old and new. When I see the word, “arts and crafts” spring to mind. My grandmother taught me to embroidery when I was 6. Embroidery, cross stitch, knitting, beading have been a part of me since then. I like to create and make. That embraces the meditation mala and assorted stuff I make and put in the TaoCraft Tarot shop on Etsy. Craft connects to a fond memory of a cherished Grandmother – a wise woman whom I swear was magic. Which brings me to the new craft. THAT craft. THE craft. Not the movie, although it is one of my favorites. TaoCraft expands my Tarot cyber-world to include, mala, meditation, Reiki, and my own brand of magical craft. It took half a century to even flirt with the notion of associating with magic or witchcraft, but dammit, I’m claiming it now. And I’m defining it on my own terms. This is my own non-diestic, non-ritualistic, natural, energy reading WAY of engaging with a solitary sort of witchCRAFT. I’ve finally found words for what I’ve been doing all along in Laura Zakroff’s excellent book “Sigil Witchery”. A “modern traditional witch” is one who “does what needs doing when it needs done using whatever is at hand.” That. So that.
There you have it. That is what is in THIS name. Welcome to TaoCraft Tarot.