The Niggles: Hippocrates, Socrates, Cellphones and Hammers.

Benebel Wen recently discussed the ethics of health questions in Tarot readings. Like everything Benebel does, it was brilliantly detailed, meticulous and methodical. (https://youtu.be/EQOwLiTn1Rg) She makes some crucially important points, but on other points, I disagree and it’s been niggling at me. This post isn’t a pedantic point by point response. This is a different conclusion from different point of view. I leave it to you to decide which approach resonates with you.

I may not be the definitive authority on health questions in Tarot, but I do claim expertise. I have been reading Tarot for 25 years, reading professionally for over 15 years, hold a Bachelor of Science in Medical Science, have 14 years of clinical experience as a physician assistant in psychiatry and interventional cardiology plus a Ph.D. in Natural Health. I’ve been a Reiki master-practitioner for almost 20 years. I’ve been on the giving end of bad medical news and, thanks to a rare-ish genetic disorder, I was told that I had almost died from a stroke. I’ve given and received both mainstream and holistic medical care. I know Tarot and I know health care.

And I don’t take medical or pregnancy questions in Tarot sessions.

I didn’t make that choice based on some fancy pants “Tarot Ethics” or boilerplate liability disclaimer. I made that choice based on fundamental medical principle.

And Socrates.

And cellphones.

From the time of Hippocrates and before, healers have first and foremost sought to do no harm. Doing intuitive readings for a health question is not necessarily harmless. A doctor will weigh the risks of a medication, procedure or test versus the benefits of the action. Across the landscape of all of the Tarot readings being done, there is significant risk of harm by means of misinformation, creating false hope or delaying medical diagnosis and treatment. Yes, Tarot has emotional and spiritual benefits. It can even have some broad physical benefit by way of stress reduction. However, those benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the risks. None of us know how a client will react to what we say or what they might selectively hear and retain from a reading. If a client brings up the psychic/spiritual information to a mainstream doctor, it could impact the doctor-patient relationship. It’s a harsh reality. Doctors may take them less seriously or, worst case, write their symptoms off as psychosomatic. I know – I know. It shouldn’t be that way, but it often is. Regional culture may be a factor in the medical community’s openness to complimentary care and “psychics.” Our attempt to “empower” the client could backfire. I don’t take medical questions because the potential unintended consequences out weigh the potential benefits. The best way to do no harm is to do no medical Tarot.

Allopathy (mainstream scientific health care) in America treats the physical without the spiritual. Tarot readings for medical questions address the spiritual without the physical. It isn’t fully holistic. You don’t pound nails with a cell phone and you can’t make a phone call with a hammer. Some things work well together, others don’t. Using Tarot for a healthcare questions is a little like pounding nails with a cellphone. It might work, but it’s not your best option – by a lot. Not when there are so many good hammers out there. Understanding the spiritual genesis of illness can indeed help long term health and healing. “Magic,” “talismans” and “amulets” can indeed engage the mind-body connection and be a useful adjunct to mainstream health care. Still, Tarot/magic/psychic readings pale in comparison to Reiki, aromatherapy, Western herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine, ayervedic medicine and other truly holistic techniques. These disciplines consider mind AND body AND spirit all in one go, and they are arguably effective with or without complimentary allopathic care. Psychic work can not heal the body without complimentary physical care of some sort.

The video made one critically important point. I wholeheartedly agree and can not emphasize enough: Not everyone has physical or financial access to mainstream medical care. There are places in this nation hours away from the nearest obstetrician. My mother has to drive over 90 minutes on back country roads to the nearest MRI machine. Health care access should never be taken lightly or assumed in the name of “Tarot ethics.”

Benebel suggests re-framing the client’s medical question into a form that Tarot can handle and proceed. I would agree but ONLY if you are an experienced intuitive AND take the additional step of re-framing the clients expectations. Benebel mentions this, but I think it warrants more emphasis. To do the right thing for our client, it is necessary to be unambiguously clear that Tarot can not make specific predictions about lab results, end outcomes, etc. Continuing with a Tarot reading after re-framing the question, context and expectations serves some good purposes. It is kind, soothing and addresses the immediate, short-term emotional need. But we can do more. It is possible to borrow a page from mainstream health care with referrals.

If a heart patient needs a big toe bunion fixed, the cardiologist doesn’t do the foot surgery. The heart doctor sends the patient to the foot doctor for specialty care. There is nothing wrong with referring a Tarot client to a health professional who has skills that you do not have. Gathering information to share with clients, such as a phone number for a local free clinic, the health department, local holistic practitioners or even the new 211.org service is one strategy. Steering a client toward resources outside of a reading pays attention to their needs without any of the potential drawbacks.

Socrates is attributed with saying “Know Thyself.” Another reason I will not accept medical or pregnancy questions is that I know myself. We’ve met. Say something medical and boom! Intuition goes out the window and right into clinical mode we go. Not only is Tarot a poor tool for health questions, not every Tarot reader is cut out to deal with medical questions, re-framed or otherwise. In order to give my clients the best of my intuitive work, I choose to defer medical questions. Not everyone can be the second coming of Edgar Cayce. It isn’t a matter of “picking and choosing” the “easy questions.” Unless you have medical training or you are a practicing health-specific intuitive, then it would be better to err on the side of caution and stay away from reading for health questions altogether in my opinion.

You are not a bad or inadequate energy worker if you choose to refuse medical questions. Like Hippocrates, you are choosing to do no harm. You are not being egotistical or flaunting your “ethics” if you refuse medical questions. Knowing your limits and not crossing them is another way of doing no harm. Knowing yourself and the boundaries of your skill is the exact opposite of ego, especially if you go that step further and encourage the client to place their question into more skilled hands. Presuming to read every question, easy or hard, sounds egoistic to me.

As with everything, compassion is the ultimate measure. It seems less important whether you take medical questions or not and more important HOW you decline them if you choose to do so. In all these years, every time I get a medical question, I simply explain to the client the readings I do are not very good at helping health questions and, because of my clinical background, my intuition just doesn’t work well with medical concerns. If I have something else to offer, I will. Usuall y I say something the lines of “you might want to learn more about Reiki” or “so-and-so is in your area and is a wonderful herbalist, but something like that would need to be coordinated with your doctor” or some such thing like that. I’ve never had a client become angry or distressed over that sort of response. Yes, people in physical and emotional distress need our help. Yes, they need us to hold a compassionate healing space for them, but no, we should not always fill that space with a Tarot reading. I agree that we should never dismiss a medical question harshly or judgementally from a place of high and mighty “Tarot ethics.” Tarot clients do come to indeed us out of spiritual and emotional need. But in the case of medical questions, they don’t necessarily need us.

Varieties of Reiki

Q: Are there different kinds of Reiki sessions for different needs, like one for night to relax if you have trouble sleeping or one for morning if you need more energy?

A: Surprisingly no. It isn’t guided or prescriptive like that. The energy is like a raw material that the body uses where ever and however it is most needed. On of my teachers told the story of a gentleman with tennis elbow. He was very skeptical of Reiki, didn’t think it would help at all, but came to the session to placate his wife. He would’t let the Reiki master touch him anywhere except his left elbow. After a couple of sessions it didn’t do anything for his elbow….but it greatly improved his blood pressure. Nothing else in his life had changed to explain the improvement…no change in his medication or diet or activity or anything else that they could think of except the Reiki sessions. The body puts the energy where it needs it the most. Timing isn’t an issue, either. Reiki can be sent with the intent that it activate at a time when it is most needed as well. Like gravity, Ki is everywhere, all the time, and Reiki simply helps you draw from that energy in a time and a place and a way that is for your best health. For example, if problems sleeping is the main concern, a morning Reiki session might help the underlying reason for the insomnia, and in turn help the sleeping problem when bedtime comes around.  Like the tennis elbow, the blood pressure was a more important issue. We trust the body (in its physical, mental and emotional aspects) to put the energy where it is most needed. Like the morning session that helps bedtime insomnia, the body guides when the effects of the energy are felt. Thanks for the question!

FAQ: A question of your own

Have a quesion? Ask HERE to have your question added to the new FAQ page

So far, I’ve kept these classics….

Q: Will my ex- and I get back together?

A: That depends on what you and your ex decide to do. Tarot can’t read your ex’s mind or how they feel about you, or predict what they will do. The only way to know for sure is to talk to them directly. If you aren’t talking to each other, then there is little or no chance you will get back together. If the two of you haven’t fixed whatever caused the breakup then no, getting back together is very unlikely. That is just common sense. You don’t need a Tarot reading for that. BUT if you want advice about how to heal from the breakup or how to have better relationships in the future, then Tarot can definitely help.

Q: Nothing you said came true. Why not?

A: I. Don’t. Make. Predictions.

I’ve said it a thousand times. Tarot doesn’t predict the future. That is the dark ages, flat earth way of using Tarot. It doesn’t matter if predictions are “true” or not.  I could sit here and make perfect, on-target, 100% accurate predictions all day long, but then you could go out five minutes later and do something that changes everything. (See: Predicting the Future and a Big Cube of Jell-O) Remember Yoda from Star Wars? The future really is fluid and always changing. Life is cause and effect. If you drop an apple, it will fall down. If you strike a match, it will catch on fire. If you pour water on something it will get wet. Cause and effect is the way Nature works. It is science. Your future is created by what you choose and do. Tarot is a way to look at options, then choose the flow of energy that is more likely to take you where you want to go in the long run…not tell you every ripple of everything that will happen along the way.

Q: How can you do readings by e-mail? Don’t you have to be with the person for the reading to work?

A: I read universal energy, not the person themselves, so no, they don’t have to be with me for the reading to happen as it should.  Energy and spirit is everywhere, all of the time. I read that universal energy and listen to spirit on that person’s behalf. It doesn’t matter if someone is across the table or across the world when I connect to that universal energy. It doesn’t matter if I say the words of a reading or type them. It doesn’t matter if you hear the words now or read them later. The same core message still gets through either way. I connect to your specific energy message when we talk about your question vs an open reading. That conversation & connection happens the same way when I read your words as it does when I hear them. The difference between a distance and an in-person is the way you experience getting the message, not in the message itself.

Q: How long have you been doing this?

A: It blows my mind to say it, but a little over 25 years. I started reading oracle cards around 1992 as I began my new spiritual life as an ex-christian (after an evangelical upbringing.) At the same time, I started Taijiquan training which introduced me to Taoist philosophy and meditation.  In 1996, I began Reiki training, certifying as a Reiki Master-practitioner in 2000. In the early 2000s I started working part time as an online Tarot reader while I worked toward a Ph.D. in Natural Health and started a family. That was followed by working for myself locally under my old website Modern Oracle Tarot. In October 2018 I introduced meditation and Reiki to the Tarot website to become the new TaoCraft Tarot. I’ve been at this for a while, and now teach other people to read cards in local workshops.

Q: Do you read for the LGBTQIA community?

A: Of course! Anytime! Consider me an ally. Readings are naturally gender/orientation neutral. I intuitively “see” people as energy signatures, kind of like a silhouette made of light. Intuition doesn’t tell me anything about gender, orientation, identity, race, hair color, height, or any other specific attribute. I don’t mean to use wrong pronouns in your reading. They are all just completely interchangeable on an energetic level. If I get that sort of thing wrong, just clue me in and we’ll move on. It’s all good.

Q: Are there different kinds of Reiki sessions for different needs, like one for night to relax if you have trouble sleeping or one for morning if you need more energy?

A: Surprisingly no. It isn’t guided or prescriptive like that. The energy is like a raw material that the body uses where ever and however it is most needed. On of my teachers told the story of a gentleman with tennis elbow. He was very skeptical of Reiki, didn’t think it would help at all, but came to the session to placate his wife. He would’t let the Reiki master touch him anywhere except his left elbow. After a couple of sessions it didn’t do anything for his elbow….but it greatly improved his blood pressure. Nothing else in his life had changed to explain the improvement…no change in his medication or diet or activity or anything else that they could think of except the Reiki sessions. The body puts the energy where it needs it the most. Timing isn’t an issue, either. Reiki can be sent with the intent that it activate at a time when it is most needed as well. Like gravity, Ki is everywhere, all the time, and Reiki simply helps you draw from that energy in a time and a place and a way that is for your best health. For example, if problems sleeping is the main concern, a morning Reiki session might help the underlying reason for the insomnia, and in turn help the sleeping problem when bedtime comes around.  Like the tennis elbow, the blood pressure was a more important issue. We trust the body (in its physical, mental and emotional aspects) to put the energy where it is most needed. Like the morning session that helps bedtime insomnia, the body guides when the effects of the energy are felt. Thanks for the question!

Bookshelf: Magick of Reiki

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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:

Sigil Witchery

Blue Dress With Pink Shoes

Carl Jung called it synchronicity.

I call it something worth a little attention.

Intuition, “psychic gifts” in many ways is simply letting yourself see connections and coincidences. Synchronicity is defined as a meaningful coincidence. Even if there is no plausible connection, if something seems meaningful to YOU – it IS. To you. Not every attention-getter is a profound announcement to the world. It might just be a message just for you. A reminder to water the plants, or something. It doesn’t have to change the destiny of the world to be real, to have a meaning impact impact on your way of thinking. A meaningful coincidence isn’t mystical destiny knocking at your door. Well, yeah, it might be….but it doesn’t always have to be.

Listening to coincidences, following such modern day omens, is how we live in a balance between intuition and logic, magic and mundane. We should pay attention when intuition grabs our attention. We shouldn’t go wild with it when logic and common sense urge caution.

In short, let love lead attention, let logic have a hand in deciding action.

Here is an example. A few days ago, I was reading a book when my husband showed me an internet picture of a pink and white sneakers, and asked me what color they are. When he said they looked teal and grey, I had to resist the urge to wrestle him to the ground and administer a colorblindness test. I mean, Teal? Seriously? It is, of course,  the same trick of light that sparked the great blue/black vs white/gold dress controversy of twenty ought fifteen. But, not having any Ishihara plates on hand, we both just shrugged and went back to what we were doing.

A few minutes and a few pages later Christopher Penzak in the Magick of Reiki describes taking an aura reading class and doing an exercise where several people would read a person’s aura and then compare notes afterward. (We did the same thing in an aura reading class I took back in the 90s, so I can verify this is both a good way to learn auras AND the way this exercise always seems to go) He saw bright yellow, another person saw electric blue, another person saw no colors at all but a zigzaggy lightning shape. Just the same, all of them interpreted what they saw as representing “stress” as I recall the story. On the surface, they each saw vastly different things, but at the core, the important message still was still communicated. Just exactly like the internet picture thing a few minutes before. He saw teal, I saw pink, but we both saw shoes. If everyone gets caught up in arguing over the color, we all would have miss the real message: “This person is feeling stressed right now” or “That is a pair of shoes.

Neither of these things are particularly unusual. Neither of these things are the slightest bit supernatural. We show each other internet pictures all the time. That’s the way aura classes go, it seems. BUT when the two very similar things coincidentally happen within a few minutes of each other, it is worth a moment of hmmmm….

Different colors lead to the same shoes. Different colors lead to the same aura energy. What do these two little attention grabbers lead to?

First and foremost, trust your intuition. You might intuitively get “pink” while someone else gets “teal” but as long as you ultimately wind up at the important part of “shoes” both colors are fine. As long as you (or the person you are reading for) gets to the important core message, all the different colors and paths that take you there are valid.

Second, trust your intuition. We all do this differently. Honor your path (no matter what color it may be) Honor your process. Do things so that you feel good and right about it at the end of the day. Do what gets you to the most honest message you can give. It doesn’t matter if you get there by seeing zigzags, blue or yellow, as long as you get to energy of it.

Third, trust your intuition. Your intuition might scream SHOES while you have pink shoes clearly in mind. If your client says nah, they are TEAL, then don’t sweat it. The symbolism of intuition is intensely personal. It might have taken the pink to get you to say the important “shoes” part. If  shoes makes them think teal, that’s perfectly fine. The right message got through. It just took a few daisy-chained steps to get from pink to teal, but as long as your client gets to “teal” it’s ok. It is just part of the process to go from pink to shoes to teal.

Fourth, trust your intuition. It’s an imprecise process. We all have intuition, but communicating it well is a skill and an art. We can all read Tarot and follow our own intuition. Reading for other people is a whole other level of thing. But don’t let that stop you from…did I mention?….trusting your own intuition for you.

Here is a photo of the pink shoes next to ….the pink shoes.

pinkshoes

Ask Zombie Cat Anything

NEW!

That  snoo-wearing website has nothing on us. You can ask Zombie Cat anything RIGHT HERE

Use the contact form on the Ask Zombie Cat page to – um – ask Zombie Cat. Ask any question you like – I won’t promise the answer will involve Tarot Cards or anything else for that matter.

Questions will be chosen at random to be answered (yeah, it probably WILL use Tarot come to think of it). Your answer will appear as a blog post or a YouTube video. Don’t worry, we’ll edit the daylights out of it so no one will know it is you.

Pro Tip: subscribe to the blog over there –>

and follow TaoCraftTarot on Instagram (TaoCraft.Tarot) Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and subscribe on YouTube so you don’t miss your answer.

Inappropriate comments and spam will be immediately set on fire and ignored.

Zombie Cat is a fairly snarky fictional character. Anything labeled Zombie Cat is purely for entertainment and should be used at your own risk. After all, he has ZOMBIE right in his name.

Send your question HERE

 

The Un-selfie Psychic

I hate having my picture taken.

Always have, it seems. One of my favorite photos from when I was about 6 or 7 was the whole family seated against the wall at grandma’s house, looking oh so 1970s. Mom, Dad, and my 2 year old sister had enormous “say cheese!” grins. Mom also had her arm around my waist with me in full sprint position making a break for it, fast exit stage right. I won’t tell you how old the picture below is, but it will have to do because I don’t do selfies. I’m trying to make myself do one of those speech to camera introductions for a TaoCraft YouTube channel, but we’ll cross that bridge later. Much later.

It is only slightly less excruciating to write a bio for a book or what have you. I hadn’t updated mine in ages. I copied and pasted the “Meet Your Reader” page right from the old Modern Oracle page. I mean, ewww, right?

But logic finally won. Updated the old bio this afternoon. It’s below.

As long as I’m introducing Reiki and meditation to TaoCraft Tarot, might as well reintroduce myself to you so you’ll know who is coming to your reading or your party, or is behind the cards for your distance session.

*Deep Breath*

Here goes….nice to meet you

MEET YOUR READER

Read Client Reviews

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My name is Ronda. I read Tarot, write things, and make stuff.

I started out with no intention of reading cards professionally. I have a Bachelor of Science in Medical Science, 13 years clinical experience as a physician assistant in psychiatry and interventional cardiology, a non-accredited Ph.D in Natural Health, Reiki Master-practitioner certification, U.L.C. ordination and am a retired Tai Chi instructor. The original idea was to do Natural Health Consultations. Natural, holistic health is all about mind, body and spirit in balance. There are lots of practitioners out there who can help physical heath. As it turns out, my calling is to help emotions and spirit through the art and entertainment of Tarot.

In the early 90s, when I was working in mainstream medicine, I began reading Tarot and oracle cards for my own spiritual development. That, and the fact I was too cheap to pay overpriced phone bills and have psychic friends to do it for me. Turns out I have a knack for it. After reading for friends and family, my best friend encouraged me to try reading online. In the early 2000s I did readings under the handle “Baihu” on Keen, Advice Trader, and Allexperts. When my Ph.D dissertation expenses came along, I took the next logical step, started to work for myself, and Modern Oracle Tarot was born. The extensive Tarotbytes blog archives are still available if you are interested.

In October of 2018, I brought Reiki and meditation under the same cyber roof as my tarot work, transforming Modern Oracle into the TaoCraft Tarot you see today.

That’s the “I read Tarot” part.

Things I’ve written includes the old “Tarotbytes” blog, the blog at RondaSnow.comModern Oracle: Hello, Peace Tarot, my dissertation Reiki and Relaxation and Bead Mindful, Begin Meditating. PeaceTarot is available in the etsty shop with other titles coming soon.  PeaceTarot and my poetry collection “Triquetra: The Dance of Worlds” are already on amazon.com for Kindle. I have written  articles about Natural Health for Point of Light magazine, and about Tarot for Find Your Psychic e-zine. My poetry has been in magazines and contest anthologies including Kindred Magazine, Nature’s Echoes, Quicksilver Moon, and Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum.

Now for the making stuff…

I make handcrafted meditation beads (mala) for your meditation practice or to go with the meditation lessons offered here. You can find them in TaoCraft T.arot Shop  on Etsy. I also knit and make handmade jewelry as a hobby. Some of those projects are in the shop too.

Now we’ve come to the part where author’s bios put some jazzy 3rd person comment about where I live and and stuff…

Ronda lives in the Pittsburgh suburbs with her musician / concert photographer / computer genius husband, her yarn stash and a deep dislike for doing yard work.

I hope we can work together soon.

 

Bookshelf: Sigil Witchery

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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.

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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.

The Niggles: What’s in a Name?

A lot.

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.

 

 

ElfCon 5 2018: Bring it

This is the most low stress, laid back downright holiday season in years. My daughter is adult now, the Terry’s oranges are already in the cupboard, it’s a jewelry not knitting year for gifts (less time intensive by a loooong shot)

This year, instead of straight up closing for the holidays, I’ve decided to keep distance Tarot and Sending Stones Reiki open. In-person and party sessions are cut back December 15 – Jan 15 but I have lots of time for Distance work, which suits my introverted eggnog loving, cookie baking, knitting, and mala making holiday plans just fine.

My gift to you was easy to make this year too: use YULECRAFT18 at checkout to get 10% off everything in TaoCraft Tarot Shop except e-books.

The holidays are spookily in hand this year. I’m here to help you deal with your holiday stress with Distance Tarot, Distance Reiki, and handmade mala and other surprises for out of the ordinary gift ideas. I’m only at ElfCon 5 so all of you hectic Santa’s Helpers…bring on the readings and the relaxings 🙂

Don’t forget: If you contact me and don’t get a reply of some kind within one business day PLEASE try again. I’m closed Sundays and US holidays so please be a little extra patient during those times.

I’m on Telegram now (@TaoCraftTarot) if you want to text privately.  The phone only answers daytime business hours (eastern usa time zone) IF I’m not with a client. Otherwise, please leave a voicemail. I get voicemail notices all the time, and that is a pretty reliable way to get through. Ditto for email.

Let the ElfCon Days begin!