June 23, 2017

Post from the Host


The next open-house Tarot party is scheduled for the 30th of June, starting 12pm EST / Toronto. Naturally, you're welcome to join the chat room and ask questions live, but if you can't be present you can submit your questions in advance here.

Also, a heads-up that I'm making the open-house Tarot party a biweekly event happening every other Friday. The largest reason for this is because this event takes a lot of time to plan and execute, and - considering the level of participation - this is time I could be better using for other projects like polishing the second draft of The Satanic Tarot or starting my next writing project - the 3,003 Names of the Devil, in which I cover all 3,003 two-card combinations in the Tarot.

Ultimately, it's my goal to use the 3,003 Names of the Devil as the back-bone for an Android and iOS app that will allow you to do your own Tarot readings. There are a lot of cool Tarot apps out there, but they only ever read one card at a time and are limited to the 78 definitions for each single card. With this app, I'll be able to provide not just the 78 definitions, but also an additional 3,003 definitions for every possible combination. This means you'll be able to get a fuller and much more engaging reading than you will from any other app available. It's an ambitious project, and considering the scope I think I'll be working on it for longer than a year, but I'm hopeful that the results will be well worth the effort.

In other news: have you visited me on Google Plus lately? I'm playing around with a new way of doing my daily Tarot readings: instead of a two-card reading, it's now a three-card reading, and you have a role to play. Oh, yes: you can vote on which of the three cards goes onto the next day. This is an interactive and cooperative experiment in group fortune-telling, and so far the results have been very exciting.

And on an unrelated note - have you ever thought about the lessons being taught in Disney movies?

Other than that, I don't have anything else for you today, but if you have anything else for me - let me know! Leave a comment below, or contact me directly to say what's up.

June 21, 2017

I Love Disney Villains

... said somebody, somewhere.
I've always sympathized and identified with the villains in Disney movies. At their core, they're the only characters who are ever willing to be honest with themselves about what they want and how they're going to get it. Sure, they're dissatisfied with their lot in life, but what's wrong with seeing that your life could be better and doing whatever's necessary to achieve it? Disney villains are driven.

The only reason Disney villains ever lose is because they get greedy. Which is fine - greed is a powerful motivator and I think that so long as it pushes me to do better, that's a good thing - but every Disney villain loses everything he or she gained for the sole reason that he or she reached his or her hand further than he or she could take it back.

Imagine if in "Aladdin" that when tempted to wish to become a genie, Jafar had said, "Why? I'm already the most powerful wizard in the world, and I control the only known genie." Aladdin would have been snake-food; Jasmine would have been his royal bride (which was her fate from the beginning of the movie, and which she still didn't escape when she married Aladdin); and he'd still be the ruler of his strangely amalgamated India/Babylon. 

Or if in "The Little Mermaid" Ursula would have just let Ariel have her voice back, but kept King Triton in her mushroom collection and the magic trident in her own hands? She could have been queen of the entire ocean, but she over-reached when she tried to be queen of the land, too.

Or if in "Frozen" Prince Hans had contented himself to marry the princess he ensorceled and bide his time to over-throw the queen who clearly didn't even want the job? He'd be king of his own kingdom, and with control of what's probably the only warm-water port for leagues in any direction he could have made a big profit on docking fees for every ship passing through his waters and toward his brothers' kingdom.

People say that Disney movies teach valuable lessons, and I absolutely agree, but I don't think they're seeing the same lessons that I'm seeing.

The Satanic Tarot is almost ready!


10 months, 60,000 words, and 200 pages later, I've completed the first draft of The Satanic Tarot!

This is big news, and I'm so happy to be able to share it with you. My blog and YouTube channel have been quiet for a few weeks now, but it's been time very well spent and I look forward to resuming my usual schedule of weekly conversations with you.

At this point, I've turned the first draft of the manuscript over to alpha readers who'll give it first eyes-on and provide valuable feedback regarding the order, tone, format, and quality of the content. Naturally I'm hopeful that this will be completed quickly, but - seeing as they're going through over 60,000 words with a fine-tooth comb - the alpha-readers may not be finished providing feedback until the end of September. 

Assuming the back-and-forth with my dedicated alpha-readers takes that long, the entire month of October will be devoted to implementing their feedback, making final revisions, and formatting the second draft into a printable manuscript at which point I can submit it for copyright protection and then market it to publishers including Red Wheel/Weiser, HarperCollins Canada, Nephilim Press, and a few others.

I anticipate that it could take several months to find a publisher, and a few months more than that to get it into production, but at this point all the hard work has been finished - all that remains is to put it in front of the right agents' or publishers' eyes. The rest, so I hope to be able to say, is history.

June 20, 2017

News & Politics 6/20/2017

... said somebody, somewhere.

Don't look at the man behind the curtain!

So the multiple investigations into all-things-Trump continues. Another week goes by, and another chorus of GOP talking heads whose skin is burning off in a bright, orange flame want to talk about anything except the cheeto-flavored lava upon which they've built their political house.

And I've come to expect this kind of behavior from the GOP, but it really surprises me when I hear it from my country's intelligence chiefs who:

A) Have very little to say, yet at the same time...
B) ... insist there's damning evidence they can't share.

Every time I wonder why all this severely incriminating evidence has yet to see the light of day, I'm getting the feeling that the FBI, NSA, et al are getting all their ducks lined up exactly right so that there's no way the guilty parties can weasel out of it. That's what I'm telling myself and I'm sticking to it.

And yeah, I get that it can take many months for an investigation to conclude, but we know that the investigation started at least this past July; Trump was inaugurated in November; Trump took office in January... (counting months on my fingers.) 

Who hasn't received a subpoena?

This is pure speculation, but as others have said, "Flynn is the hole in the donut of subpoenas." If he hasn't been issued a subpoena, there's a reason, and I think we're all going to find out why sooner than later.

2nd Amendment Solutions

Oh yeah, did you hear the news? A True Patriot™ used a second-amendment solution to express his opinion to elected officials last week. Now, let it be said that it's all-around shitty that these guys got shot, but I gotta say: When is the point at which the GOP will stop whoring itself out to the NRA? I wish I could say that a bunch of Republicans getting shot in broad daylight would bring them to their senses, but somehow I think it's just more offerings laid at the altar of gun rights. Remember, folks: responsibility is for the responsible. If you want to own a lethal weapon, you'd better prove the reason why you need it.

And that includes the police. 

Do you think it's a radical idea? Britain, Ireland, Norway, Iceland and New Zealand would disagree with you - the majority of their police officers don't carry firearms for this exact reason: even when a private citizen is legally registered for open-carry of a firearm, cops just can't stop themselves from shooting off whenever their feelings get hurt or the feel a little bit scared. 

I'm not against gun ownership, I just don't think people should have the unconditional right to gun ownership. Just like governments around the world don't trust the majority of their law enforcement officers to carry guns, I don't trust the majority of people I meet to carry guns.

If you want to own a weapon capable of killing potentially more than a dozen people in a few moments' time, then you had better prove why you need it. Want to make the system safer? Let's treat guns like cars: you have to take pass a state-approved safety test; register your gun; carry insurance; and have your weapon safety inspected; and so on. Some of this already exists, but a lot more of it doesn't exist. This is a problem that can be fixed.

You might think this is unnecessary just to own a gun, but I happen to think that the unending parade of mass shootings and killer cops is unnecessary.

Tarot Blog Hop: Thesis vs Antithesis

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Position Statement

The assignment for this blog hop is based in the Wiccan myth of the Oak King and the Holly King, who - like the Christian myth of the trinitarian Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - are one and the same. Because the waxing, generative Oak King takes turns with the waning, degenerative Holly King, participants are asked to discuss "the cycle of the self." I'm choosing to approach this assignment in terms of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

Thesis

Among the pieces of Tarot lore I've learned over the years, few have been as impactful on my understanding of the Tarot as the concept of a septenary, or something that is composed of seven parts. To see what this is, take all 22 trumps out of the deck. Set the Fool aside - who is unnumbered - and lay the remaining numbered 21 trumps in order as three rows of seven cards. From left to right, each column of three cards tells a connected story. If you follow a standard interpretation of the cards, then this can reveal intricacies in your method that you might not have realized were there. Consider the following picture:


In this layout, the blue bottom row is our starting point - the thesis - which informs everything that follows. If you care to do so, you can align the entire bottom row with mind, body, or spirit - it's up to you - but I find it more productive to consider each of first seven cards to be indicators of direct action upon others. When these appear in a reading, they reach out and touch other things and people. Their waxing influence expands, grows, inflates, or elevates whatever they touch.

Antithesis

The natural development of the thesis is the antithesis, the top orange row which stands in opposition to the thesis. Oak King and Holly King, light and dark, yin and yang, up and down, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. You know, frenemies - two things that don't particularly like each other, and yet can't seem to exist independently. Consider the following image:


In this image, you see that the Magician, Strength, and the Devil all share the same column. Like most things in life, the way you interpret the Tarot is up to you. Speaking for myself, I regard the Magician - our thesis - as an agent of creative destruction and violent yet expansive force. The antithesis to the Magician is the Devil, who is also violent, intrusive, and destructive, yet unlike the waxing Magician is a wane force that leaves everything it touches barren, scarred, and disordered. The Magician and the Devil are sympathetic enemies: although they agree that violence is necessary, they disagree regarding its application and will forever oppose one another. But what would happen if they found a way to get along...

Synthesis

... and synthesize something useful? The green middle row are those which perform their essential nature upon themselves. If the Devil (which shows a subject being acted upon) and the Magician (which shows a subject acting upon something else) can cooperate, then they're able to be synthesized into Strength (what I call Chaos) which destroys and abuses itself in order to recreate itself. Wanton destruction creates random patterns, and from this ever ravishing dance potential beyond counting may emerge. Invoke the mythical ouroboros or phoenix, or if you prefer the regenerative power of a forest fire - that is the synthesis of the Magician and the Devil.

But is this a true synthesis? In the search of open and secret faces as they relate to the cycle of the self, and what emerges from the play between them, we can observe the result of their blending. But this process is purely internal - do you see? It exists only within the group of the Magician, Strength, and the Devil. If you dare expand your gaze, then you can find the true and complete cycle of self.

Transpolarity

In order to see this true and complete nature, you must expand beyond the immediate group. This isn't a limited matter of three cards, but of 21. What happens when we use a transpolaric approach to thesis, antithesis, and synthesis? Consider the following image:


In this way, it's revealed that the Magician and the Devil are in fact complimentary opposites. To return to a previous example, the Magician may yet remain Justin Bieber, but instead of The Devil (Selena Gomez) as the complimentary opposite, the polar opposite is played by The World (which could be vested corporate interests who want to sanitize his work for mass consumption by teenaged girls and boys.) The intrusive, disorderly, yet innovative and ultimately generative force of The Magician stands in polar opposition to the heavy, oppressive weight of The World which while stable and fully formed is ultimately orthodox and authoritarian. It seeks to impose smothering peace (devoid of liberating conflict) on everything that it touches.

Standing exactly half-way between them, the synthesis of the Magician and The World is Justice - what I call Inequality - which seeks its own level of stratification and succeeds according to its own definition of the rules. As it happens, Justice is the ultimate synthesis of any two cards measured transpolarically on the grand tableau, with its meaning changing depending on the thesis and antithesis measured against it. As it relates to the tension between Justin Bieber and his corporate stake holders, then Justice is probably Perez Hilton.

Applying this pattern to the remaining cards, we see illuminating patterns of mutual antagonism emerge:

  • The High Priestess =/= Judgement
  • The Empress =/= The Sun
  • The Emperor =/= The Moon
  • The High Priest =/= The Star
  • The Lovers =/= The Tower
  • The Chariot =/= The Devil
  • Strength =/= Temperance
  • The Hermit =/= Death
  • The Wheel of Fortune =/= The Hanged Man
  • Justice is opposed by nothing, influenced by everything
Isn't that fascinating? A simple exploration of opposition within the grand tableau of the 21 numbered trumps changes everything. And while it's fine and well to recognize complimentary and polar opposite relationships in the cards, how can they be practically applied? If we consider that polar opposition brings negation, dissolution, and censure, then we can name and measure the degree of opposition between trumps in a reading. Consider the following image: 

via http://serennu.com
Randomly generating some cards in a Celtic Cross spread just to put something on the table, we get a selection of trump cards all in the vertical arm of the cross. Read them as you will, but I read them from bottom to top as needs, habits, and desires. In this case, the High Priestess as habits are the key significator card for the reading and show the actor in an extroverted state in which he or she is seeking to both influence and expand people and events around him or herself through the use of either greater magic and ritual or simply deceit, falsehood, and illusion. But an actor in a position of power, none the less! But what's the motivation?

Looking at this actor's desires, we see a failing reluctance to confront what he or she already knows to be true: that no matter of chicanery will dissuade others of the actor's true place he or she has earned for him or herself. Straight away, this reading tells us that the actor is afraid to take the place circumstances have given to him or her since Justice/Inequality - which is opposed by nothing, yet influenced by everything - and is almost certainly avoiding responsibility through smoke and mirrors used against those who would hold him or her accountable yet also reward him or her for doing what he or she is called to do. 

But we can see from the actor's needs filled by The Star - an antithetical card with a waning influence - that he or she should abandon deception and accept the encouraging and even optimistic promptings of others who want what's best for the actor. Because The Star is very close to The High Priestess's antithesis (The Tower), the degree of opposition between them is quite minor. Were this Judgement, we'd have a more severe discussion on our hands, but the gentle advice of the star to move in another direction unburdened by the weight of unproductive dishonesty is secretly welcomed by the actor who's probably getting tired of the charade.

Final Solution

The High Priestess is our thesis. The Star is our antithesis. And while Justice happens to be present as our synthesis, it doesn't build a bridge between the actor's habits and the actor's needs. How are the two reconciled? Consider the following image:


By forming a bridge between The High Priestess and The Star, I judge the most natural synthesis to be the Wheel of Fortune. Not only because the Wheel stands in proximity to Justice (the actor's secret desire to live at his or her level of stratification without fear of insecurity within the hierarchy), but also because it moves the actor closer to The Star while moving the actor further away from the fantastical, deceitful group of The High Priestess, The Hermit, and The Tower.

Embracing The Wheel of Fortune, the actor is able to synthesize his or her habits and needs into a solution which requires a rediscovery of personal optimism (even if it is unfounded) and decide for him or herself why he or she has reason to expect glad tidings and can encourage him or herself to voluntarily accept the necessary path forward instead of inflating the discussion with bullshit reasons that he or she isn't exactly who he or she is known to be.

The Oak King and the Holly King

If the Oak King is our waxing thesis, and the Holly King our waning antithesis, then what's the synthesis? If you find value in the Wiccan myth of the cycling seasons, then you would probably name the trinitarian Goddess who waxes as the maiden, is full as the mother, and wanes as the crone - imposing the growth, glory, and decay of her phases upon herself. How might similar cycles of the self be revealed elsewhere in the Tarot - such as in the pips?

The world may never know.


June 14, 2017

Why I'm not an occultist


My rejection of and disdain for occultniks is not based so much on ideological or philosophical grounds as it is on personal boredom.
-Anton LaVey
(Satan Speaks!)
You may find this difficult to believe, but I don't consider myself an occultist. Before I tell you why, let me start with a definition of the term: Generally, I consider occultism to be hidden knowledge. Specifically, "occult" does not in my mind automatically imply either "valuable" or "powerful." Surely, it can be argued that engineers of nuclear warheads or spymasters of national intelligence organizations are occultists because the kind of knowledge they possess is deliberately hidden, deeply powerful, and can pose vast danger to the world if exposed to the unworthy. 

But I think more often that knowledge is "hidden" because it was discarded as rubbish or proven by the progression of time to be irrelevant. In the contemporary sense, the occult - which would include all manner of esotericism and spiritualism - is a fascinating reservoir of hidden, forgotten, and simply discarded information because it is either composed of early attempts to describe natural phenomena which are now properly understood through science, or are personal or cultural fantasies which attempt to either perform or explain both the unknowable and the impossible.

Because I am a Satanist, I am not bound to cultural paradigms which would obligate me religious or spiritual norms and mores. Nor am I bound to counter-productive pride which would lock me into my own personal deceits. Because I am a Satanist, I stand in the place where I am able to acknowledge the passage of history and objectively see that every variety of occult woo-woo that has ever been is frequently an echo of something that came before it, and sooner or later is invariably forced into the burning rubbish pile of Gehenna by the steady march of scientific advancement. 

Stephen Roberts, a person who in his words had the good fortune to say something rather profound in the right place at the right time in the development of the Internet, made the following argument to theists who wanted him to accept Jesus: "I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." Likewise, I believe that neither you who read this nor I are occultists; I just follow one less occult paradigm than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all other occultisms, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

I am not an occultist because I truthfully have little interest in forgotten, discarded, or hidden knowledge in the sense of contemporary occultism. Instead, my interest lays in dramatic, stimulating, and just plain useful knowledge. Fortune-telling is steeped in occultism, and while I enjoy its dramatic and alluring qualities, I don't believe in so much of the spiritual underpinnings. Past and future lives; spirit guides; ascended masters; summoning demons; angel communication; secret numerology; natal charts; channeled languages; and more - it may contain some attraction to me for the way I can use it as a tool to substantively enhance my life or the lives of those I care about, but I have yet to be convinced of the metaphysical realities or spiritual philosophies which attempt to address things which I think are either unknowable or impossible.

Because I have no use for the elaborate spiritual or metaphysical fantasies which inform so much of occultism, I find little difference between people who summon demons and people who summon Pokemon; people who quote from the Bible and people who quote from Star Wars; or people who collect haunted relics and people who collect sports memorabilia. For all these reasons, so much of the occult is simply boring to me.

But I won't stop calling myself an occultist - it's a useful word, after all.

June 12, 2017

In search of a better horror movie



Many of the allegedly "horror" movies that I've seen come out over the last ~20 years are really just highly formulaic ghost stories for Christians. All the (Haunting/Possession/Exorcism of _______) movies exist within a thoroughly Christian world paradigm (God vs. Satan) and God is always presumed to be the "good" and natural victor of the contest. Which makes sense - if the majority of your audience is Christian, then you're going to make a movie which plays to their most overt fears - but for the rest of us oh so jaded horror fans, it's just silly.

Remember Rob Zombie's "Lords of Salem?" That wasn't a horror movie - that was a Christian movie stuffed full with messages of the opportunity for redemption, the choice of salvation, the "good" vs. the "bad" (with "good" God positioned as the preferable default.) There were lots of creepy, scary, and weird visuals, but it never really went anywhere.

And of course, there's the flood of Saw / Hostel / "naughty white girl gets brutally tortured" movies. To my eyes, those are derivatives trying to follow on the lurid fascination with Hannibal Lecter / Dr. Evil / Mad Scientist archetype. And to my eyes, they just weren't very good. They were full of disgusting gross-outs and scattered jump-scares, but ultimately were nothing more than poorly executed exploitation films.

Believe me or not, but one of the most memorable horror movies I saw was The Human Centipede. I went in with very low expectations, but I found it to be rather captivating and deeply unsettling. I feel like horror movies ought to be movies that you feel drawn to watch, yet aren't sure you want to do so because of the way that they unsettle you.

The Jasons / Freddies / Michael Myers of the 80's don't unsettle anymore - if they ever did. You know how this pattern goes: man stalks woman, fight ensues, people die. These are the kind of movies you can play at a Halloween party and everybody can have a good laugh while carrying on their regular conversations.

But put on a movie like Human Centipede, and people stop talking. They either stay and watch, or they find somewhere else to be. To my eyes, that's what horror should be, and I haven't seen much of it for a very long time.

June 10, 2017

In Defense of Individual Expression

Picked up this essay from the Church of Satan today, "In Defense of the Feared Religion." Huzzah for people who are willing to fly and defend the black flag, but I surely struggle to understand why some Satanists see Satanism as a zero-sum game. Aren't we a little old to be playing "with us or against us?" It's possible to both love and criticize Satanism. 

You know, it's like how your favorite restaurant attracts shitty guests and the head chef just can't seem to make a good creme brulee but they've still got an awesome wine selection and cook the best steaks in town. I'm not going to say, "Ugh, I refuse to expose myself to these minor irritations, so I'm not going to get my favorite steak and paired red wine anymore." How about, "I really like a lot of what's happening at this restaurant, I just wish they'd fix the other stuff?" 

This is what happens when the Church of Satan claims absolute authority over the definition of Satanism: criticism of, or disagreement with, parts of Satanism become a criticism of, or disagreement with, the Church of Satan. As it happens, I'm an active member of the Church of Satan and I think it's a pretty cool organization: It's got a lot of history, and I feel like I owe a debt to them for promoting a religion and philosophy which has done a lot to improve the quality of my life. 

But just because I'm grateful to the Church of Satan for keeping the black flame lit doesn't mean they get my unconditional support. I'm going to have independent thoughts and occasionally disagree, you know? I'm going to white-wash Satanism interpret the fundamental tenets of Satanism through my individual lense. I'm going to be a detractor talk about the things that I think are silly because I didn't sign a loyalty pledge it's my prerogative to speak freely and share my thoughts.

What can I say? I think that differences of opinion make organizations stronger, not weaker, and I'm genuinely baffled why it's so important to squash divergent views.

June 08, 2017

Order a Tarot Reading

So said Anton LaVey, "In matters of significant concern, there is invariably another alternative: a third side, a Satanic side." Order today and I'll give you a powerful Tarot card reading in which I'll reveal a third-side perspective that shatters your problems with brutal honesty and scathing clarity. Together, we'll grab reality by the horns and confront your life head-on. 

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June 06, 2017

Almost Finished: The Satanic Tarot


A project that I began nearly a year ago is coming to completion: The Satanic Tarot, an approach to cartomancy interpreted through the lens of the 9 Satanic statements with a heavy emphasis on lesser magic. I'm very close to finishing the first draft of The Satanic Tarot and will be sending to alpha readers hopefully within the next week, and that's why...

... I'm not doing any other blogging or vlogging this week because I want to push all my productive time into finishing the last pieces of the draft manuscript. I'll miss all my readers and viewers terribly, but I'm in the final push for completion right now and I've got to take this time away to finish the project.

Hail Satan!


June 05, 2017

Satanic (In)Tolerance


Let it be known that my personal opinion is that laws are arbitrary and that what is legal may be wrong, and what is illegal may be right. I believe that laws are imperfect substitutions for individual responsibility - something which every Satanist ought to cultivate.

Let it be known that I personally don't endorse the use of violence as a means to censor and silence opposing points of view. You're welcome to your opinions and beliefs, but don't make the mistake of confusing freedom of expression with freedom from consequences.

If you express an opinion or belief, you had better be prepared to defend it. If somebody has an opposing viewpoint and argues vehemently for their position, that's not censorship or a hostile attack - that's freedom of speech.

Having said that, though, there are limits to free speech. Nearly every freedom is in some way limited. Freedom of speech means you can voice your opinion in a public space and not be asked to leave, but it doesn't mean you can express it in a private business and expect to stay. Freedom of speech means you can speak about dangers the world faces, but you can't shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater. 

There are people who like to shout, "No tolerance for the intolerant!," and they're welcome to shout it. As it happens, I myself have very little tolerance for the intolerant. Why should I agree to listen quietly and nod politely to somebody who wants to deny individual choice and chip away at personal liberty? It's the thin tip of the wedge, and I have no desire to see the fat end of the wedge. But unlike those people I just mentioned, I am not willing to do the thing I think is wrong in the name of preserving what I think is right.

I think that the only way to genuinely defeat intolerance is to not punish the intolerant behavior, but to dismantle the intolerance words. This might look like rational dialgue, but it might also look like cowbell. After all - cowbell is just as much a method of free speech and expression and arguably makes as much sense as using a loudspeaker to initmidate women and advance public policy which would deny a woman's right to bodily autonomy. Cowbell is nonsense? Well, I happen to think that forced birth is also nonsense.

All of which is a long way of saying, there are limits to my tolerance. Push hard enough, and I'll push back.

June 03, 2017

How to be an Awesome Tarot Reader

From Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Picked up this essay from Jessi Huntenburg in which she talks about ways to give better Tarot readings, and it sparked a few thoughts. If you're a Tarot reader and your readings are not-good, there are a few reasons for that. Surely, some of the reasons may simply be that you're not listening to the client's question; are steering the client; using a deck or spread that you're not familiar with; are distracted; or are feeling burnt-out, but I think there are other reasons. Here are three of them.

#1) Show vs. Tell

The #1 and most important reason that I see perfectly good Tarot readers giving terrifically bad Tarot readings is because they're telling the cards instead of showing the message. I sincerely believe that many Tarot readers would instantly become better at what they do if they took a few courses on creative writing for the sole reason that reading cards is a lot like writing fiction: the Tarot reader has to use creative prompts to form a powerful narrative with very little time to prepare. A great exercise to help you become a better Tarot reader is learning to write flash fiction. Trust me on this: better writers are better speakers, and vice versa.

We've all had this kind of reading (and if you're a reader, you've given this kind of reading) where the reader tells you the names of the cards, explains the elemental associations, goes to great length to point out important connections, and generally treats you like a student learning to read the Tarot cards instead of a client who's starting to get impatient about hearing a straight-forward answer.

A good way to stop showing the cards and start telling the message is this: at any time you start to say the name of the card, just stop yourself. The names of the cards don't matter. Your client doesn't read Tarot and genuinely doesn't care about the fancy names, suit and pip values, or any of the elaborate connections. Just stop talking. Time is precious, so don't waste it by showing the cards - just tell the message. If you want an idea what a showy reading feels like, watch this scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail and pretend that King Arthur is the client, and Tim is the Tarot reader. That's a perfect illustration of what it's like to work with a reader who can't (or won't) just tell you the message.

#2) Lack of Competence = Lack of Confidence

The second reason highly capable readers give deeply flawed readings is because they lack confidence and competence. But, I repeat myself. This is going to rub some of you the wrong way, but the simple truth is that giving readings for yourself is a different skill from giving readings for other people. When you read for yourself, there's no pressure: you don't have to say anything, there's no time limit, and you don't have to second-guess what you say. 

But when you read for another person, you have to use your extemporaneous public speaking skills, choose your words carefully, think about the impact of the message, consider the client's perspective, and form a cohesive narrative within 60 seconds. There's nothing wrong with pausing to think during a reading, but you should be pausing because you're choosing your words - not because you're still trying to figure out what the cards mean.

If you want to be an awesome Tarot reader who give awesome Tarot readings for other people, then you must practice giving readings for other people. It's a skill that can be learned, and the only way to do it is through practice. If you feel like you lack confidence in giving readings for other people, this is indicative of a lack of competence which can only be remedied through attentive practice. My experience is that live readings (face to face, or voice to voice) and audio recorded readings you can't pause will teach you more in a week than you'll learn in a year doing written readings.

#3) Consistency is Key

The third reason very inspired readers give very uninspired readings is because they're not familier or comfortable with their tools. You're welcome to have as many decks as you like - I've got a few, myself - but you should have one deck that's as familiar to you as your lover's body. You should know what every part of it looks like. You should know your deck's mood and be able to anticipate the kind of themes that it will present in a reading. You should know what your deck is good at, as well as what it's bad at, and strive to magnify its strengths while avoiding its weaknesses. Know your deck inside and out, and be able to say without even looking at the deck exactly what any one card means. 

If you're not willing to give you deck the same kind of devotion as you give to your romantic partner, you'll find that it provides an inconsistent experience during a reading and you've only got yourself blame. Trust me: reading Tarot is a lot like managing a long-term, committed relationship. Pay attention to how you use the deck; make sure you understand the occult philosophy embedded in the cards; don't argue with the deck's message (that's why it's called cartomancy!); and don't bring your own shit into your client's reading.

And to a lesser extent but in the same pattern, you should have some staple arrangements that you've thoroughly memorized and use in nearly every reading. Speaking for myself, there are really only five arrangements that I use and they're all quite small. Like many readers, I enjoy playing with novel or elaborate arrangements, but I only use them when I read for msyelf. When I read for other people, I only use arrangements that I've memorized because if I don't know the dynamics of an arrangement, how it works together, or simply forget the positions during a reading, this distracts me from the message and pushes me into an awkward position where I'm no longer telling the message, but showing the cards and trying to recall how they're arranged on the table.


Parting Shots

The last thing I'll say is something I learned from my days in the Marine Corps: slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. You must learn to slow down enough that you can learn each individual step. Giving a Tarot reading for another person has a lot of moving parts, and if you don't take the necessary time to slowly and smoothly master each of these parts, you'll find that when you try to go fast your readings will have a rough, jagged edge to them. Lean to flow slowly and smoothly between all the necessary skills required to read for another person, and you'll find yourself flowing fast and smooth before you know it.

June 01, 2017

Satanism 6/1/2017

Nothing much today, just my opinion that if you want to be taken seriously, then you shouldn't be cosplaying a cartoon stereotyped Satanists who lives in an alternative reality.

Self-deceit and pipe-dreams come all kinds of flavors, and some of them are even Satanic.

This guy is a comedian who's putting on a show for the cameras, but the fact that a lot of people - including myself - thought he was for real the first time we saw him says a lot about what we've come to expect from Satanism and Satanists today.

May 31, 2017

Why Fiverr Sucks


I thought I was finished announcing changes and updates for a while, but I guess I was wrong. Earlier this week, I received an email from my sales platform - Fiverr - that my best-selling Tarot gig had been denied because it was deemed offensive and outside Fiverr's editorial focus. And you know, that's okay - their website is their lair, and it's their choice how to maintain that space. If I had started a gig on Fiverr and they had denied it within the first few months, it wouldn't bother me - their house, their rules. If I don't like their rules, I'll just find a new house.

But what does bother me is when I've been using their sales platform for longer than two years; have been consistently ranked in the top 10 sellers for my category and sometimes as the #1 seller in my category; have pushed my clients to do business with me on Fiverr even when they wanted to pay me directly; built a portfolio of more than 1,800 positive reviews and over 2,000 sales; been a significant contributor to the community forum by writing extensive tutorials on marketing and sales; and have given at least $4,000 of my gross sales in exchange for help marketing, a unified sales and message system, and easy sales processing, and they show me the door without so much as a, "So long, and thanks for all the fish."

Because if I had known that the service I'm offering is outside their editorial focus and that they feel like it's offensive, I wouldn't have spent more than two years of my time building my entire self-employed income around Fiverr. Yes, yes - isn't it funny that the psychic didn't see this coming? Call me gullible and naive if you will, but judging by my long string of success - and the vast number of other readers working on Fiverr - it didn't occur to me that I should be worried about my job security.

So you can imagine my surprise when my gig got denied. After much back and forth with customer support to ask why this decision was made, here's the answer I got:


If Sam's response has left you scratching your head, you're not the only one. I mean, seriously: if Customer Support is unable to advise sellers on editorial rules and guidelines that could get their gig denied and in my case literally years of work thrown out with the trash, you'd think this is a good thing for sellers to know, right?

Well, you'd be wrong, and the reason is because Fiverr can't decide what it wants to be when it grows up. Is Fiverr a fun and friendly destination for budget-services and weird, quirky digital gifts? Or is it a sales portal for self-marketed professionals who enjoy the convenience of a unified sales, message, order, and accounting system?

Fiverr is currently running a marketing campaign to recruit sellers to its marketplace and is using the slogan, "In doers we trust:"


And you know, that's a motivating slogan: if you're somebody who doesn't waste time on shallow words and empty dreams but who actually gets shit done, then Fiverr is the place for you! I know it was sure the place for me. By linking my Fiverr seller profile to all my marketing efforts - my blog, my YouTube channel and videos, my social media profiles, and my mailing list - I was able to drive all my clients to process sales through Fiverr. But the reality I discovered is that Fiverr does not, in fact, trust doers. Not even a teensy little bit. Unlike several other freelance portals I could name, Fiverr is seriously paranoid about letting buyers and sellers have direct contact with each other. 

Consider the inbox messaging system: every single message sent on Fiverr is filtered for links and blacklisted words. If you send the wrong kind of link - or sometimes, any links at all - or use the wrong word, Fiverr's messaging filters will scoop up the message and hold it for review. Hey, nothing like having your inbox slowed down by a snooping nanny to help work get done quickly! 

Or consider the guidelines for creating a gig. Suppose you have a service that requires your buyer's telephone number? According to customer support - whom I asked about this very thing - you can only collect your client's telephone number if you say in the title of your gig and in your gig description that you require that kind of personal information, and additionally you can only collect that information on the page for an active order. Same for email addresses - you can't ask for that information if you don't specify that you require it, and if a buyer gives it to you without being asked, Fiverr can still punish the seller for breaking the terms of service.

And consider the terms of service! Fiverr includes in its terms of service that gigs can be denied if they're deemed to be offensive in nature or outside Fiverr's editorial focus. Naturally, you might ask yourself, "So, what exactly constitutes an offensive service, and what is Fiverr's editorial focus?" The answer is, Nobody Knows! Not even customer support, who - as I mentioned above - are unable to advise sellers on the editorial teams rules and guidelines.

After Fiverr denied the gig I'd spent two years building and all the reviews attached to it, they kindly informed me that I was welcome to create new gigs. How generous of them! I'll admit that part of me thinks I should just shrug off this experience and just create a new gig, but the larger part of me thinks that I can't afford to place my financial security in the hands of an editorial team that won't even tell their customer support what their guidelines are for what's allowed. I've got bills to pay, groceries to buy, and other people who depend on my paycheck. Considering the repurcussions that are happening in my life right now as a result of Fiverr's opaque and inconsistent policies on the kind of services they want on their website, I think it'd be foolish to start down that road again.

So from here on out, I'm marketing for my own website and am processing all my own sales. My business mailing list contains a few devoted clients for whose continued support and patronage I'm deeply grateful, but they don't add up to all the people I steered to Fiverr. I'm effectively starting over, and if history is my guide it's probably going to take 6 months to recover half my income.

But it'll be worth it, because I'll be in control of my business - not Fiverr's capricious editorial team - and I alone will be able to say how I'm allowed to work.

All of which is just a long way of saying:

EAT SHIT AND DIE, FIVERR





May 30, 2017

News & Politics 5/30/2017


The buck stops anywhere but here

There are people who are saying that the USA is having a political crisis. I disagree. I think that the USA is having an accountability crisis. When something goes wrong, three questions have to be asked: who did it; who's to blame; and, who's taking the fall? Often enough these days, there's a different person for each of those questions and none of them are the ones who matter.

Consider the "accountability crisis" through the lens of the recent revelations that Trump's son in law Jared Kushner wanted to set up a secret back-channel for direct communication with the Russian government. And why am I not surprised? At this point, nothing revealed about Trump & Friends surprises me anymore. The schedule of revelations has become so routine, and the degree of severity remained so constant, that I can't find it in myself to feel any amount of shock or disgust for the fact that Trump certainly knew that his son in law Jared Kushner wanted a line of communication untouchable with a foreign - and arguably hostile - government unpenetrable by the NSA and the FBI.

I expect Trump, his cabinet, his appointees, and his spokespeople to pretend like it's all okay - that's called defending your own interests - but I continue to be sadly impressed by the lengths to which the Republican majority in both the house and senate will pretend this kind of deeply suspicious activity doesn't matter and look the other way. As always, I'm willing to be convinced that there may be a legitimate reason that Kushner was knee-deep with the Russians, but until it's proven so - I'm staying skeptical and if proven to be criminal am curably hopeful that the right person will be held accountable.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Cop

And you know, I don't think that this accountability crisis is limited to federal government - I think it's just a symptom of a larger problem being played out in other levels of government. Don't believe me? Just look at a bill that the Republicans in congress apparently want to pass which would absolve police officers of virtually all accountability for their actions

Anton LaVey once said that cop beats crook, but lawyer beats cop, and it's this rule of law that keeps everybody in their place. Me being who I am, I think this falls in line with one of the most consistent arguments he made: criminals deserve to be punished for their crimes, even when they're the very people charged with catching and punishing criminals.

But what happens when elected officials want to change the law of the land to excuse almost any behavior from law enforcement and make it nearly impossible for them to be held accountable and meaningfully punished for their actions? If, as Lord Acton said, power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely, then removing accountability and even the possibility of meaningful punishment from law enforcement officers will only increase corruption and absuse within law enforcement.

Trump isn't the problem - he's a symptom - and the GOP majority in both houses of congress is reflective of this problem. With everybody's attention focused on Trump, members of the house and senate are figuratively invisible and are free to discuss - and possibly pass - this kind of authoritarian legislation with little to no unwanted attention.

Entre le dragon 

In other news, the newly elected president of France challenged Trump to speak out against the mistreatment of GLBTQ people living in one of Russia's proxy states, Chrchnya. Even if Putin cared about GLBTQ+ rights, he wouldn't be able to change a thing in Chechnya. Want to know what's really happening here? Macron is trying to start a fight either between Trump and Putin, or between Trump and every other decent person who thinks it's wrong to kill other people for their sexual identity, orientation, or preferences. That only gives you the story that Macron is calling for Trump to take action. 

It doesn't give you the part of the story where Putin has more or less ceded authority of Chechnya to what may as well be tribal leader who aren't even completely loyal to him. This is potentially problematic for Trump, because his election victory was only possible through the support of the religious right who oppose marriage equality and some of them even the existence of GLBTQ+ people. If Trump comes out and condemns what's happening in Chechnya, then he not only throws sand at his alleged patron Vladimir Putin, but at the religious right who supported him. If he stays quiet and doesn't comdemn what's happening, then it's a sign not only to the country but to the rest of the world that at best he's choosing to be silent on the issue, or at worst approves of it.

The article also doesn't tell you that Macron is somebody who not only wants to be taken seriously on the world stage, but who also wants to be seen as strong and capable - desires which arguably manifested Brexit, put Trump in the White House, and carried Duterte to power in the Philippines (among other examples.)

While Macron's challenge to Trump might ultimately be nothing more than empty posturing, it's posturing nonetheless and communicates to everybody who's watching where Macron stands and what he wants to see in the world around him.

Does the world need a policeman?

For me, though, this leads to my final question of the week: to what degree should our national governments be involved in policing the actions of other countries? While our infrastructure is crumbling, public schools are forced to sell cookies for class materials, and public colleges and universities and universities are being cut to ribbons, the military marches on! Politicians keep sending soldiers to secure oil fields bring liberty to the unwashed masses, but they clearly don't care about the lives of those young men and women. After all, they've consistently neglected to give the the Beureau of Veterans' Affairs the funding it needs to treat all the soldiers who come back with broken minds and ruined bodies.

My view on this is complicated, but suffice it to say I think that the country should be spending a whole lot less on projecting military power abroard, and a whole lot more on building domestic power at home. In a way, I guess you could say that I believe in putting America first, but I also believe that means putting all Americans first. We don't have the power - or do we? - to tell other countries how to run their business, so let's not do it. In that regard, I'm something of an isolationist. Instead, let's spend all that money on our own business. Goodness knows there're enough ways to spend it.

via Business Insider

May 25, 2017

Satanism 5/25/2017


Self-Discipline: the Master Key to Success

Forget getting it done right - if you want something done at all, you'll have to do it yourself. Satanism is a religion and philosophy that embraces will-to-power and the development of the individual through personal desire and motivation. A couple items today, both picked up via +Spiral Nature :

First, a parallel in Thelema

And granted, Thelema isn't Satanism, but the sentiment is right at home: 90% of Thelema Satanism is self-discipline. What's the other 10%? I won't speak for the Thelamites, but speaking at least for myself I'd say that the other 10% is up to the individual. After all, if it's not you - it's not you. Amiright?

Second, a short discussion on how to build self-discipline

This essay is mostly centered on how you can develop the discipline to actually do the things that are central to your religion, but you can apply it to plenty of other stuff, too.

Speaking from my days as a martial artist and instructor, I'd add that self-discipline is easy when you're motivated. Kind of like how celibacy is easy when you're monk living in an isolated monastary away from the opposite gender, being disciplined is is actually quite easy when you're motivated. Perhaps it's because I'm a hedonist and am deeply motivated by pleasure, but me being who I am - and what I've observed - I've found that I can put up with a whole lot of sticks so long as there's one big carrot waiting for me at the end of at least one of them.

If I remember what I value and want to achieve above all else, then everything else can fall into place. Naturally, some things will have to be removed from my life to make space, but if they're not things that I really value or genuinely want to achieve - then what's the problem?

Prison is Too Good for Some People

Should convicted pedophiles and murderers live out their lives in prison? Or should people who've proven through their actions that they're far beyond the pale be shuffled off this mortal coil? Such is the argument from Baphomet is my co-Pilot.

As usual, my opinion is that prison is for thieves, vandals, murderers, rapists, and others who are too dangerous to be allowed to walk free and who - as is largely the topic of discussion today - don't have the self-discipline or impulse control to avoid criminality. As usual, I think that the death penalty should be used not as a deterrant to crime - because evidence shows it doesn't actually deter crime - but as a tool of last resort to permanently remove criminals who are beyond second chances from society.

Rape little girls and keep their mudered bodies in your basement? Death.
Like to play with matches and burn down apartment buildings? Death.
Break the world economy and bankrupt hundreds of thousands of people and companies? Death.
Start a war based on a lie and send tens of thousands of young men to die for it? Death.

The death penalty may not keep us any safer by preventing a deoraved criminal from offending the first time, but it can sure keep us safer by preventing a depraved criminal from offending the second time.

Do Not Harm Little Children

But as long as we're talking about crimes that deserve death - such as murder, and especially the murder of children - how does Satanism deal with the reality of child soldiers? The 9th Satanic rule of the earth says that Satanists shouldn't harm little children, but how can a Satanist - or anybody - make the decision to kill a child soldier, or be killed by a child soldier, in armed combat? I read in the news that Canada has issued guidelines and what can be called "best practices" for Canadian forces who meet child soldiers on the battlefield. Now to be fair, Canada isn't telling its troops how to kill child soldiers, but is instead talking about paths to victory that ideally don't involve killing the children - such as trying to deescalate the confrontation, breaking the chain of command by talking with their adult commanders, and finding other ways to get the child to put down the gun.

There are no good answers here

No matter how small a bite you eat from this shit sandwich, you're still eating shit. Who wants to kill kids? Nobody. I know I don't want to kill kids - especially kids who've been conscripted into battle against their will and have no particular choice in the matter. And this isn't just a matter of the boys being forced into uniforms, it's also a matter of the girls being forced into child marriage or even prostitution. Look past the children forced into gears of war, and you'll find adults who are willing to do anything to not only get their military victories but also control their civilian populations. What is an adult soldier supposed to do when faced with a child soldier? Shoot first and ask questions later? Let the child shoot first? 

Satanism in Action?

I don't know that I have any good answers about the question of child soldiers, but I think it's the kind of question that's worth talking about if only to see where the answers will take us. And isn't that an interesting exercise? Following the evolution of Satanic thought as set forth by Anton LaVey, the natural outcome is an authoritarian state with strictly enforced borders, Judge Dredd style law enforcement, and a willingness to either let the waste of society sink to the bottom on their own, or even push them there in the name of stratification.

Enter Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who's been using both government death squards and vigilante gangs to extrajudiciously murder drug dealers and drug users. As much as the literature produced by LaVey waxes on about the need to let weakest links suffer the consequences of their weakness and just die already, combined with the directive that criminals just be punished swiftly and severely for their infractions, it's not hard to see a Satanic parallel in President Duterte.

Might Makes Right

And shame on me if you think I'm depraved, but in a way - I can see the perspective and agree with it. The violence and public health problems surrounding the trade and use of drugs are perniciously stubborn, and if existing methods to stamp out supply while discouraging demand are failing, then stronger action needs be taken. So - in a way - I can sympathize with the action being taken.

But, in many ways, I think it's deeply disturbing to see a country's government murdering its citizens without due process under law. I have no great sympathy for smackheads and the disease they spread through the re/use and unsafe disposal of hypodermic needles, but is the problem that drugs are a moral evil that must be stamped out at all costs - or is the problem that they've been needlessly criminalized? Instead of financing a government war against drugs and creating crimes to be solved through police intervention - and we've all seen just how well that's worked - why not decriminalize drugs, create safe-injection centers, and fund needle exchanges at pharmacies? 

Harm Reduction > Criminalizing Drugs

Nobody wants the government has to be in the business of pushing smack, but if I had to choose between an unending war of the state against the people (and all the economic costs that come with it), or a modest proposal to stop filling prisons and graves with people who only want to abuse themselves (and give them a way to poison their own bodies without hurting anybody else), there's be no hesitation - I know which one I'd pick.

There'd also be no hesitation in the choice because the problem with authoritarian governments is that once it's been decided that undesirables can be eliminated by whatever means necessary, then the definition of what it means to be an undesirable always evolves to include opposition politicians, journalists, concerned citizens, counter-culturalists, and anybody else who would challenge authority.

I lean heavily Libertarian in my interpretation of Satanism. There are Satanists who lean heavily authoritarian, and that's their business, but I'll still think they're silly to dream their authoritarian dreams when the religion and philosophy of Satanism that they love are only able to openly exist because of the freedoms they'd so eagerly deny others.

Know Thyself

The best writing about Satanism that I'm reading lately is being written by Neo/Pagans. Remember: Satanism and Neo/Paganism emerged from the same countercultural soup of the 60's, and despite their differences, they share a lot in common. For example, check out this essay by John Halstead published at Humanistic Paganism. There are several striking parallels in this essay between Neo/Paganism and Satanism, and there are some places where you can simply replace Neo/Paganism with Satanism and it still makes sense. Consider the following paragraph in which I've made replacements in bold:
"If we really want to avoid orthodoxy, as we Satanists so often claim, then we need to have more discussion, not less–and some of that discussion needs to be constructively critical. We Satanists need to get comfortable with idea that criticism can be constructive. So long as we avoid criticism, we are vulnerable to self-deceit and groupthink. Sometimes that criticism can come from friends, but sometimes it takes an outsider to challenge us to ask the hardest questions about ourselves and our experiences. When done in a spirit of openness and humility, critical questioning benefits both sides in the conversation, and the community as a whole."
I only changed two words in that paragraph, and yet it still rings strikingly true for Satanism - not just as a religion and philosophy, but also as community cabal of individuals. Scholars and academics recognize Satanism as a religion, and it not only lived on past the death of its founder, but will continue to live on with or without a spokesperson or leading organization to champion its value in the marketplace of ideas. But Satanism - as both a religion and a philosophy - has a long way to go before it can legitimately claim to have the same depth and bredth, or the same degree of maturation and development, as other world religions I could name.

Me being who I am, I don't think it's enough look at how Satanism benefits the individual, or ways that the individual can use Satanism for his or her own advancement. I think that it's really important to ask the self-critical questions of Satanism, and to consider what a Satanic world-view means - not theoretically in terms of Pentagonal Revisionism, not ideally as outlined in various essays, but with the world as it is right now. I have no interest in spiritual political pipe-dreams that may never appear within my lifetime. There are questions worth asking and answers worth examining, but it's going to take a large degree of both self-awareness and self-discipline to follow them through to the end.

If you're such a Satanist who says that Satanism is just a tool-kit and you use only what appeals to you, okay - that's cool - you're welcome to your approach. Me being who I am, though, I struggle to accept the premise that Satanism means something except when it doesn't. Satanism means something - at least to me - and I'm going to figure it out.

May 24, 2017

Alien = Rapey Penis Monster


One of the greatest things about the Alien franchise is how it's totally perverse.

You can Google the Alien franchise to learn more about how it was designed to terrify the white, male psyche with a story about male rape committed by giant penis-headed monsters, but isn't it obvious how grotesque it really is? 

I mean, seriously: they hatch from eggs laid by the one alien that's ever female at a given time: an indomitable woman who reproduces asexually and who has no need for a cock, and nothing ever fucks her. And what hatches from the eggs look like a pair of hands with a giant, mouth-raping penis and a rope-looking, throat-choking tail. 

So after you get face-raped and forced to swallow the fat load forced down your throat, you get to live with the shame of what happened before a slimy, black, penis-headed monster explodes out of your chest who then grows to enormous size and proceeds to run around with its cum-drippy, foreskin-looking mouth-inside-a-mouth gluing anybody it can find into a jizzy, vaginy, bondage cocoon where you get to wait helplessly for a face-raping cock-spider to force a load down your unwilling throat and start the process all over again.

The first and the third Alien movies remembered this truth, and this theme was present if you cared to look for it. But the other Alien movies largely bypassed the FACE RAPEY THROAT CHOKEY SHAME INDUCING CUM DRIPPY BLACK BONDAGE PENIS MONSTER and instead focused on good-old fashioned Hollywood shoot-em-up sci-fi action. Which is fine - directors and studios gotta make money, and if audiences want to see space aliens get blown up, then they're welcome to it.

But the Alien franchise is rooted in sexual terror, and while I can appreciate the direction Ridley Scott took with Prometheus and Covenant for the sake of having broader conversations, I feel like this sacrifices much of what made the Alien franchise terrifying and compelling in the first place. There are plenty of other science-fiction movies which explore the themes present in Prometheus and Covenant, but without the sexual tension in which the Alien franchise was born, the latest additions to the franchise fade into the background.

May 23, 2017

Tarot Talk 5/24/2017


Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

The shadow knows. And if you've been around the Tarot block long enough, you've met some Tarot readers who think they're the homoerotic love-child of Freud and Jung. And, if you've been around the Tarot block a few times, you'll find people who think it's oh so fashionable and genuine to talk all about their shadow selves, all the shadow work they're doing, and did I mention The Shadow? Here's some helpful advice: nobody wants to listen to you talk about your sads. Keep them to yourself. Seriously: the next time you think you're being edgy and authentic by showing off your figurative naughty bits, stop. The only thing showing off your dark and tainted shadow does is make you look like either a whiny victim or a self-righteous Fisher King. It's tacky. Don't do it.

In totally unrelated news...

There's a Tarot Blog Hop coming up on the 20th of June, and the host of the hop asked everybody to do private shadow work and publish it on their public blogs. Mmm-no, I don't think so. I talk a lot about myself on this blog and on my YouTube channel, but I get to choose what I talk about and the degree to which I share my problems with others - if at all. The choice to either do the assignment as given or simply not participate at all is rather irritating to me - I mean, that's kind of like somebody saying, "Hey, the challenge this week is to set yourself on fire. If you don't want to set yourself completely on fire, you can just burn your little finger with a match, but either way, you're gonna burn." See what I mean? I don't want to burn myself at all! But me being who I am, I'm still participating in the hop. I won't be participating as the host of the hop intended, and yeah - that's a little assholish of me - but I'm curably hopeful that my contribution to the hop will still be appreciated. We'll see what happens.

Regarding Tricksters and Magicians

Remember the Magician of the Tarot? Its earliest origins show him not as a Magician, but a Juggler: a street performer who at best is an entertainer but more frequently a trickster, confidence artist, or even a thief. How many people would acknowledge the reality of a juggler and street performer? It wasn't for nothing that the Juggler was put at the start of the 22 trumps, and the sense of him being a trickster and potentially untrustworthy person casts a new light on the sainted Magician which so many Tarot readers equate merely with initiative, power, personal mastery, and awareness.

Tricksters are frustrating: they're not what they appear to be and you can't ever really trust them, but the gift of the trickster is that it demands you pay attention and look closely at the world around you. Nothing like having an egg fall on your head to make you look closely at doors before you open them, or an illusion that makes you question whether your eyes are telling you the truth. Tricksters may be not be deeply loved and appreciated, but they perform a necessary service by reminding us of the importance of critically evaluating the world in which we live and the people that we meet. 

Didn't See That One Coming

Isn't it a funny joke? The psychic who couldn't predict that a client was nothing but trouble. I picked up this essay by Lisa Boswell from RichSexySpiritual.com in which she talks about all the times readers get scammed by clients who find ways to get free work or steal their money back through payment disputes. Speaking as somebody who reads professionally, I agree with a lot of what the author says here, although unlike her assertion that readers just aren't listening to their psychic intuition about a client, I think it's Lesser Magic 101: problem clients almost always foreshadow the problems they'll cause by the way they treat the reader. Clients who are pushy, ask for discounts, demand special treatment, expect fast delivery or same-day service when it's not available, and just plain talk down to you are all waving red flags that consistently indicate a client you'll regret.

I've gotten pretty good at identifying problem clients, but for reasons the author discusses - I just want to get paid, you know? - I've been willing to ignore warning signs and do the reading anyway. As it happens, I recently reached my limit for tolerating red-flag clients when one of them asked my Satanic opinion on abortion (I think it's the woman's right to choose, on demand, no apologies). I didn't like the way he was treating me, but it seemed harmless enough so I indulged him. Turns out, no good deed goes unpunished: he didn't like the answer, haranged me via email, and then initiated a charge-back to recover the measley $15 I charged for the reading.

Scammers don't like to climb walls

This is one of the reasons that I've raised my hourly rate, increased my minimum purchase, and now work by telephone only: problem clients are nearly always also impatient clients who aren't willing to front-end the money, wait for an appointment, and speak with me in person. Problem clients prefer to wield their lesser magic against on-demand Tarot readers who work by email or text-chat, so the best and nearly 100% successful way to kill problem clients totally dead is to make them climb walls built from high minimum buy-in, appointments only, and live readings where they can't hide on the other end of an email address. There's nothing they hate more than having to actually deal with the person they intend to cheat.