The Inner Guide Meditation, by Edwin C. Steinbrecher

I recently became fascinated by The Inner Guide Meditation; a relatively obscure and idiosyncratic book first published in the 1960s, after hearing it mentioned by a Jungian astrologer on a you tube video. What made it interesting to me is that even though it's basically been forgotten by contemporary esoteric voyagers the ideas it contains have had an influence on most of the creative visualization based stuff that became popularized in the late 80s on through the 90s (including the neo-shamanic fad). By the end of the 90s if one more book suggested I visualize a cave or pasture where I could meet a spirit guide or step into a tarot card to dialogue with its image I gave my self complete permission to tear up the book and set the shredded remains on fire!

Steinbrecher, a jungian analyst turned astrologer, is probably the guy that sparked that whole genre of guided tarot meditation crap. The only thing is - the actual system that Steinbrecher outlines in this book is one of the most ingenious, creative and innovative modern spiritual systems I have come across; the quixotic love child of jungian concepts, astrology, tarot and the practice of active imagination. That watered down talk-to-a-tarot-card page filling nonsense that would become plastered across every New Age book store, in fact, had its roots in a remarkably unique system of inner work. 

First I tried it out of pure curiosity. I couldn't resist. The book has the fevered tone of an eccentric inventor uncle who had been cooking up something in the attic and inadvertently stumbled onto bizarre new technology that had basically fried his brain. And he wants to tell people - if only they would listen! 

Who can resist that uncle?

As I got drawn deeper into the inner map that this system creates I soon found myself being sucked down, down, down the rabbit hole. And I started feeling good. I mean really good. I wasn't sure if it was due to some sort of self-induced psychotherapy, play, magic or spiritism. But the pull became increasingly irresistible as my energy levels increased, new solutions to problems began popping up and blocks that had dogged me for years seem to be evaporating. 

In some ways its been my dirty little secret because if you read the book you will soon discover it is ten percent C. G. Jung, fifty percent astrology, twenty percent tarot and twenty percent batshit crazy. And I mean CRAAAZY. But its the crazy that makes me love it. It's the kind of crazy that lets you know Steinbrecher stumbled and the plunged headfirst into something that worked. Perhaps a little too well.

So what is IGM?

Superficially it is a kind of meditation - a session of active imagining, really - during which you meet an "inner guide" who then takes you on a journey to the tarot images/energies. Scratch a little deeper and you soon discover there is a whole lot more to it than that. The real meat and genius of the system is in what Steinbrecher refers to as the horoscopic pattern. This is where it gets really interesting. In short, the practitioner of IGM takes their astrological natal chart and then translates it into the corresponding tarot images. Creating a kind of a map of the soul. Then, based on the aspects of the planets in the natal chart certain "high energy" pairs are identified. These are basically planets that have difficult aspects in relation to each other; square or opposition. Or, planets that are ill dignified in their zodiacal placements.

Then, under the tutelage of the Inner Guide you are taken to meet these troubled pairs (represented by the tarot cards images), and in these meetings you begin to negotiate a new truce between these forces in various ways. They tell you what they need from you to get along and also what they need form each other - and then upon agreement they either hold hands (forming a circle with you and the guide), change places or even merge. And in this, admittedly, twee way you begin tweaking and twisting the knobs of your soul.

The first time I had my astrologically opposed saturn and sun (represented by the World and Sun cards) meet and reach this sort of agreement, something astounding happened. The deal was brokered and I rolled my eyes as we all awkwardly held hands (as Steinbrecher prescribes) and I gave them permission to "balance". As I did so I experienced an unexpected, nauseating zap followed by what can only described as an hallucination. A nearly psychedelic whirlpool of garbage released; repressed images, violent movie clips, audible zings and zaps along with shouts and screams. Throughout my body a queer sticky feeling permeated. Within minutes it was gone and I was like, WTF? This effect was so notable, so unmistakable that what started off as bemused curiosity soon changed into fascination. I began reading and rereading the book and working through my whole natal pattern to see what would happen in each instance. Each day I would be surprised in a new way - not always as dramatically but certainly with a consistent sense of interest and energy.

Then the dreams started. Crazy ass dreams each night following an IGM session. Each session usually produced a relating dream and a certain dialogue became established. A call and response dynamic, as certain characters and symbols from the IGM appeared once more in the dream. I would take these back into the meditation and we would work on them again. I was hooked!

You see, the cards begin giving you little errands to run in exchange for their cooperation and pretty soon you are running around hiding a rusty key in the forest to appease Saturn, burning lists of names for Mars, sipping sea water for Cancer and doing all manner of curious things to please the planets. Your spouse begins raising his eyebrow at what is  quirky behavior (even for you). The Other Side is teaching, and you are changing but the whole thing gets the unmistakable quality of a child's game or quest. Its a great deal of fun yet at times desperately serious, uncomfortable and a little embarrassing. 

Whatever it is - it works. 

There are a couple of issues with the book worth mentioning. Firstly, as I mentioned there is a lot of batshit crazy stuff peppered into an otherwise brilliant system. Really whacky talk about adult circumcision as initiation, macrobiotic diets, alien vessels, meta-sexuals - and as was fashion at the time - a real fascination with kundalini experiences. I don't mind, these strike me as the artifacts of an unusual mind as well as the zeitgeist of the 60s.

Steinbrecher also had a pathological, and I mean FIERY, hatred of spiritualists, mediums and channeling. He spends many pages preaching sanctimoniously about and cautioning against "false guides", both inner and outer. I find this very amusing considering that there is so much of talk about working with the shadow throughout the book. It's obvious to me that Steibrecher was projecting his own shame an embarrassment at creating this lunatic departure from traditional psychoanalysis. His efforts to distance himself from the lowbrow hucksterism so prevalent within the spiritualist scene at the time is evident in these rants. Especially when considering that the core mechanism of his book involves working with a spirit guide! Steinbrecher even admits that in all likelihood the guide is not an aspect of the mind but a spirit of the dead. I can see why it is that the IGM method slipped into obscurity because he spends many pages insulting the book's main demographic of readership!

Nonetheless, even the author's repeated denouncement of what forms the core of my religious practice could not make me love this system any less. Sometimes you just have to nod your head along in agreement with your crazy uncle when he goes on about the spy helicopters above the house because you know pretty soon he will forget about them and start telling you about that cool contraption he built in the basement.

It's clever, it's creative and above all it's challenging inner work. This is probably another reason it didn't catch on because there is a whole lot of effort and discipline required here - the planets can be merciless with homework assignments. But if you do the work, the rewards are unmistakable.

Despite mister Steinbrechers protestations I would highly recommend it to anyone working in a mediumistic way or in a spiritualist-derived framework. It is an incredible way to tighten contact with the spirits and clarify mediumistic communication. You might call it kind of spiritist gymnasium where you can practice talking with (and listen to) the numinous realms. There is something unmistakably therapeutic here in a psychological sense too - so if you are interested in C.G. Jung then there is something for you here too. Hardcore Jungians will probably run screaming into the hills when they read how he has butchered archetype theory, however.

The most challenging thing at the outset is translating your own natal chart into Steinbrecher's "horoscopic pattern" of cards. If you are unfamiliar with astrological language this could be discouraging. Don't let that discourage you however! I am making myself available to do just that - so if you need your chart translated into the card archetypes, all you need to do is book a consult with me and I happily do so for you, provided that you send accurate birth information. 

The astrology is another area where I have to respectfully depart from Steinbrecher's opinions because he seemed to adopt wholesale much of the nonsense of modern astrology - like attributing sex to the 8th house and reversing the positions of mother and father in the 10th and 4th houses, respectively.  He insists that the Inner Guide's appearance is determined by the sign on the cusp of 9th house, but, as we all know by now the Good Daemon is traditionally derived from the 11th house. Similary, some of his planetary attributions for the cards are a bit suspect. And I am personally inclined towards Donald Tyson's astrological attributions for the cards more so that the GD system (swapping The Chariot and Temperance around most notably, because, I'm sorry there is nothing warlike or victorious about the crab! And I don't care what Mathers had to say about it). 

In practice this makes little difference because you soon discover the planetary energies are just playing dress-up in the tarot symbols and they morph and change into whatever forms they damn well please. Some of the most notable surprises for me were being introduced to the Emperor (Aries) as an alcoholic Jesus, or discovering that Venus likes morphing between Mary Magdalene and a Fairy Queen respectively - perhaps not that surprising considering that I have Venus in Pisces. Whatever the case may be you will soon begin learning a whole lot more about tarot and astrology because - as a side effect - you discover those symbols from the inside. That certainly was not Steinbrecher's main intention, though it really is a pleasant bonus.

Get the book. Steinbrecher deserves the recognition - and hopefully a new generation of IGM practitioners.


Anamnesis Meditation mix

I was in need of some music to do inner work with. I wanted something trance inductive but most 'shamanic' drumming recordings are either terminally lame with flutes and Casio keyboard or just too boring, so I decided to remedy this in garage band by remixing a couple of tracks integrating overtone singing, atmospherics and tasteful drumming into a single 18 minute atmospheric journey. Enjoy!


Review: Tarot by Alexander Daniloff 2012

Visitors who see my groaning shelf of tarot decks may assume I'm a deck collector. The truth is I'm no tarot collector. That shelf is the discard pile. I hate most tarot decks. Especially these new photoshop monstrosities we see replicating themselves virally.


The need to acquire is based on a single impulse; the childlike hope that there is a deck that is an authentic new expression of the tarot mystery. Not the cheap plastic-coated facsimile that the industry vomits out, but the Tarot that I see with the eye of my heart. A tarot that has been created with the degree of class and skill you would expect to see in the Devil's picture book. A deck therefor that is appropriately artful, crafty even, in its treatment of the greater and lesser arcana; by being cognizant of both tarot tradition and the greater visual tradition that the tarot was borne in, yet, is a new expression of that history. A refreshing night-bloom on the tree of knowledge whose dangerous scent stirs deep anamnesis. Not just a pack of pictures to help spark the imagination but an oracular machine, animating each image as a living sigil; with lines, colors and symbols oscillating and interlocking with the clockwork of the soul in such a way that the simple act of looking allows one to glimpse through the weavings of time - to that place where the seventy eight arcanum whisper and wink conspiratorially like glittering cardboard jewels in Indra's web.

With the eye of my heart I can see this is what the tarot truly is. Perhaps it's the same eye that blinks back at me from La Luna, smug with the knowledge that that deck is remains perfectly hidden somewhere between the towers of Dreaming and Forgetting. It's as if I have once owned this spectral deck I speak of and somehow managed to lose it - and the new habit of searching catalogues, forums and blogs for new tarots isn't so much about novelty and discovery as it has become a sincere attempt to recover a precious lost object. As always, my husband shakes his head in exasperation at the monthly ritual. Each new amazon package is opened hopefully, and then discarded with a grunt.

I'm not sure I will ever manage to recover this archetarot of my soul. I'm not sure I would even want to... but dammit - I have come so very, very close today.

The Tarot by Alexander Daniloff 2012 (which is should not be confused with his major arcana deck from 2010) stands alongside the Marseilles, the Rider-Waite-Smith and the Thoth as a profound expression of Tarot, of that I have no doubt. Perhaps prescient of this fact Daniloff eschewed the obligatory silly deck name for his work and opted simply to give it his own name. This class and grace is evident throughout the Daniloff tarot. Abandoning cheesy fonts or tacky borders - or any of the other gimmicks and trinkets we see encrusting the cards these days - instead focusing on what the cards are actually about: communicating the incommunicable. Expressing that which crouches just beyond the edges of understanding. Perhaps this is why the edges of Daniloff are square cut. And what may have been a practical production decision for this limited edition deck, manages to somehow enhance the impact these images with a serene austerity, allowing the images to live on their own terms.

And what a life!

The foolish might dismiss the Daniloff tarot a "Rider-Waite-Smith clone". As if each new tarot should or even can improve on the allegories of RWS. You see, RWS is a genre. Like jazz or impressionism. When Renoir painted Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette did people say "Oh look, another Monet clone"? Probably. A fresh batch of fools are born in every decade.

However, good artists know how to work in a genre so that their work expands, deepens and comments on it. Great artists can take genre and turn it inside out without resorting to iconoclasm or novelty (the hallmark trick of the modern market) in order to form that pearl beyond price: genius.


This deck has it.

In great walloping buckets full. I'm willing to wager that one night around midnight mister Daniloff went to the crossroads with a pack of pencils, some brushes and an easel. Let's just say he went to go sketch the portrait of a certain blues celebrity whose silhouette seemed unusually pointy in the dim moonlight. And whom, as one would expect, proposed a bargain of sorts.

Because - holy crap - Daniloff illustrated the shit out of this thing. I don't even know where to begin.

Lets begin with how Daniloff's fluid line work snakes and dances across each card like a whirling dervish intoxicated by the wine of Divine Unity. There is a elegance in these compositions that plainly attests that Daniloff is not only a supernaturally skilled draftsman but that he has has also steeped himself in the iconography of the period to which this deck beckons us so very seductively. The man has done his research. From the designs of the swords, to the groundbreaking inclusion of heraldic motifs into the court cards, down to subtle iconographic elements that provoke biblical and apocalyptic narratives. Ideas which so powerfully shaped the medieval period as a whole. Eschatological themes were of course instrumental in shaping the tarot itself, but swept under the rug in favor of an imagined egyptian ancestry.

More viscerally - the linework, design and composition as whole have a startling vibratory tension. Stele-like in the simplicity of arrangement; sometimes airy and dreamlike and at other times perfectly iconic with all the austere religious weight of the period - and somehow all the while remaining perfectly visually consistent. But more than that, it seems there is an energetic effect you experience when looking at each image. Something that you experience with only very, very few decks. By looking at a card a certain state of consciousness is triggered by the image. It's like it slowly starts crawling inside you and readjusting your body's subtle meridians by means of the blackest of sorceries: coloring pencil.

I mean - just look at the Devil.

Now, in a creepy italian accent croak "il diavolo". Aaah, that's what I'm talking about! There is a certain kind of dire symmetry in this image that evokes infernal consciousness in all its sulphuric glory.

The Court Cards

An area of the tarot that few people get too excited about. My system of reading uses the court as a vital feature so it's one of the first things I tend to look at in a new deck. Daniloff did not disappoint in this regard. In fact, he has created one of the most ingenious tarot courts I have ever seen. Breathtaking artwork aside - he has very appropriately decided to tap into the rich heraldic traditions of Europe and design  each suit's court around a motif. The result it stunning.

Further, he has illustrated each figure with such skill that the true character of each court card is plainly readable on the face. It would probably be more accurate to call these court portraits. You wouldn't need to know much about the court cards' traditional attributions in order to read these accurately because their facial features, expressions and attitude say it all. I can almost hear the King of Wands guffaw good-heartedly over his latest conquest. The Page of Swords really does look like a spy - a thoroughly sly looking character, hiding ever so slightly behind the most exquisitely folded banner (a motif on all the Pages). The whole of the Swords court is a blast, let me tell you.

The Minors 

As I mentioned, the minors use the RWS allegories as their basis which will be boon for those who love that tarot genre (as I do). Those RWS allegories have a certain power and momentum behind them - a tradition. But he really does move that tradition forward. While each RWS narrative is there he has either deepened it in some way with his consummate skill at communicating subtle ideas visually or by adding a twist that wasn't there before. The 6 of Cups, for instance is card that in most decks really falls flat (even within the RWS), but Daniloff has managed to take the same two little characters and rework them in such a way that you feel like you are glimpsing a childhood memory. There is a sweetness and nostalgia that's undeniable in this 6 of Cups. There are a few cards that depart strongly from the original RWS template (like the 9 of Pentacles) but in each case for the better in my opinion. Even with these departures he has retained the central figures and scene but changed it in some critical way. The Ten of Swords' with its animated corpse - who is offering a necrotic benediction from within a pulsating dark aureola just bakes my noodle, let me tell you! That card is certainly going to see some serious meditation, scrying and journeying from me and I ain't a path-working kinda guy!

The Majors

Same thing. Takes the majors like some mad virtuoso and just riffs off them in the most mind-boggling way. If you know a bit about art history you are in for a treat - a nod to Hieronymus Bosch here, then tweaking the vatican's nipple there. But these majors are more than historically astute, much more. They are magical glyphs proper. Don't even get me started on the classy zombies tucked away like little easter eggs...

Which brings me to the major that really talks to me like no other: La Morte (Death). Here we find a skeletal-zombie type Angel of Death standing mischievously over the traditional dying figures depicted on the RWS card. This death however has a friendly glint in his eye and rat familiar perched on his shoulder, and he seems to be playing a hourglass musical instrument. It has such humor and charm to it, without diminishing the gravity of that card.

In conclusion

By now you probably realize how much I like this tarot. There is a lot more I could say about it but no amount of florid writing will replace the experience of looking at this beauty in real life. Even better: lay it out on the table and hear its sure, gentle voice speak.

So, what don't I like about the deck? A balanced review should have some negatives, surely?

In this case all the negatives I can point at have mostly to do with the fact that it is a limited edition production. On the one hand this is fabulous for the exclusivity of the deck. It should be treated as a collectable, its that gorgeous. On the other hand, I love this deck so much I want to read with it all the time.

All the time.

And I don't want to ruin a collectable with the wear and tear that full-time professional reader puts on a deck of tarot cards. I sincerely hope that a major publisher offers him an outrageous amount of money so they can pick this masterpiece up and print it in greater quantities. Just so that I can have a Daniloff work deck which I don't need to feel too squeamish about handing to clients to shuffle.

This would also solve a few of the small additional technical gripes I have about the deck. Gripes that are all production related. The card stock is a little flimsy for cards this size. Not terrible but a bit more weight would have done the art justice - especially for a limited edition deck. There are some inconsistencies with the borders being trimmed shorter on the bottom than on the top. Also, the box it comes in looks handmade which is charming but is already loosing its structural integrity and soon will get discarded altogether. Finally, the deck could do with some color correction so that the blacks are consistently black across the whole range of cards. The color on certain cards also looks a little washed out by comparison to other cards which remain very bright. These are small details that only someone who was chained to a DTP work station for almost a decade might notice, but there you go. Details that would easily be fixed by a large publisher like, say, Lo Scarabeo.

Daniloff has clearly given all his talent and vision (and possibly even his soul) to create this spectacular addition to tarot culture and tradition. 

Do not hesitate to go to his site and order it today. 


Poetry Contest

My pagan friend Anne, asked me to pass this competition on. In my preoccupation I forgot to post it earlier this week, but if you are poetically inclined (and fast) you could still enter today!

 Autumn Poetry Contest

October is the first ‘real’ Autumn month. Around Mabon and Samhain, Nature is very beautiful. Everything starts to change its form and colour. This time of year is excellent for creative outbursts – home decorating, writing and painting. That is exactly why we thought of organizing an Autumn Poetry Contest!

We’d like to ask you to write a nice poem, inspired by ‘Autumn’ or ‘Samhain’. Send this to us by Facebook message (message button top right on our Facebook page), so we can place it on the Facebook page of Wiccan Rede Online Magazine.

Judging will be as follows.
Our Facebook friends can ‘like’ a poem if they think it should win this contest. Beside this public jury, there is a jury that will judge the poems. The combination of both kinds of judgements will result in a winning poem.

What is there to win? The winning poem will be publicised in the Samhain edition of Wiccan Rede Online Magazine, plus the winner may choose two copies of the paper version of Wiccan Rede Magazine from the still available stock.

The deadline for sending in your poem is October 25th, so get up and go for an inspirational walk in the woods and write your poem as quickly as you can. We are looking forward to your contributions!

Blessed Be!


Memento Mori

Check out this jewel edited by Kim Huggens and soon-to-be released by Avalonia! A feast of fascinating perspectives on death and the dead and I'm very pleased to be part of it. 

From Avalonia:

Memento Mori is a unique feast of offerings exploring a variety of magical and mythological perspectives on death, dying, mortality and beyond. With contributions from sixteen international writers, this collection gathered together by Kim Huggens, offers a great diversity of both historical and contemporary perspectives. It includes experiential accounts and scholarly research for readers interested in magick, paganism, mysticism and mythology.


Introduction By Kim Huggens
Communicating With The Blessed Dead By Tina Georgitsis
Eating With The Dead:  Funeral Meal Practices By Tylluan Penry
Cultivating The Dead: The Path Of Lilies And Water By Chad Barber
Don’t Fear The Reaper:  The Evolution Of The Death Card In Tarot By Emily Carding
Behind The Glasses Of Ghuedhe: Life In Death And Love In Both By Kyle Fite
The Death Of Baphomet By Julian Vayne
Papa Gede, Petit Gede: Spirits Of Death In Haitian Vodou By Sophia Fisher
The Truth About Zombies, Or: How To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse By Kim Huggens
Traditional Craft And The Cult Of The Dead By Michael Howard
The Setian Way Of Death By Mogg Morgan
Demeter’s Wrath: How The Eleusinian Mysteries Attempted To Cheat Death By Caroline Tully
Dogs And Death  – Guardians, Omens And Psychopomps by Ivy Kerrigan
Tomb-Cults, Caves, Stars & Blessed Isles: Heroic Interactions With The Otherworld & Life After Death By Karen F. Pierce
“Now I Am Harvested And I Die”:  The Theatre Of Sacrifice In The Book Of The Provider By Peg Aloi
Ascending To The Imperishable: Star Lore And Death In Ancient Egypt By Dave Moore
Ars Moriendi By Humberto Maggi
Prayer For The Good Spirits From the Book of Saint Cyprian (Translation from the original Portuguese, and Introduction by Humberto Maggi )
Death And The Lady (19th Century English broadside ballad)
Death, Be Not Proud From Holy Sonnets (Sonnet 10) by John Donne
I Am Stretched On Your Grave (Anonymous Irish poem, 17th century)
O, Death (American folk song, date unknown)
To His Coy Mistress By Andrew Marvell
Dèy Traditional Haitian song of mourning Translated by Kim Huggens

You can pre-order a copy here.


The Gate of Tears Is Never Closed

Extreme gratitude for all the prayers and healing for dear sweet Trixibelle. We did not have to put her to sleep today!! The vet is cautiously optimistic after the ultrasound and has (mostly) ruled out a tumor or cancer although a biopsy will confirm this. She seems to have Pancreatitis which can cause the liver to stop working but there appears to be a treatment regimen. She also mysteriously perked up this afternoon - although not having eaten for almost 3 days - started running around and wagging her tail and drinking water again, thankfully. If we can get her through the next few days the vet thinks there is a good chance she will survive. She is a fighter!

Trixi says thank you for the prayer and light! Keep it coming!


Save Trixibelle

This is an urgent call for prayers, lights, healing energy, spell work, conjuring or whatever else you can do spiritually for our beloved pet Trixi. She has fallen gavely ill and her liver has all but stopped working. Unless there is a miracle the vet has said we may need to put her to sleep tomorrow. We are a gay couple and trixi is like our child. Her full breed name is Trixibelle Rambling Rose of Tama - she is a pure bred miniature pincher with the most intelligent sparkly personality you have ever seen in a dog. We love her so much and the thought of losing her is just unbearable.

If you are spirit worker, conjuror, espiritista, magician, witch or wizard who has ever gotten any value or benefit from my blog and other writings I would like to ask for your help with this. Please help us save our beloved little family member. 


The Garden of Souls: spirit pots, the dead and spiritualism

It's been a while since a posted and there is a rather timeous discussion going on over at R.O.'s blog about.. you guessed it - the construction of spirit pots! This topic comes up every so often and then we all thrash it out for a while trying to come some sort of inter-tradition consensus, which is basically impossible. What complicates matters is that the inspiration for the creation of these pots - this last while anyway - seems to come mainly from ATR's - and Palo Mayombe's Nganga specifically.

R.O. suggested creating, I guess you could say, a simulacrum of a prenda by putting a freshly dead human soul in a pot using a grimoiric approach. I of course protested saying it was a bad idea and so the discussion began, Jason piped up and Jack Faust also makes some very thoughtful and interesting points based on the PGM which I didn't know but are especially tantalizing threads of cross-cultural connection. Valid moral issues regarding the enslavement and desecration of the dead are also discussed. It's a rather good thread.

What's especially timeous about the thread is that I wrote an essay all about the topic for the At Crossroads published by Scarlet Imprint. Specifically, I discussed a certain contentious simulacrum of the Nganga found in Cuba and now globally (and indeed here in Amsterdam) called the caldero espiritual. 

What is the caldero espiritual?

Well, it is a pot that looks and works similarly to a Nganga but is in fact not a true Nganga at all. So, as you can see it isn't only R.O. who is inspired to create nganga-like pots but in fact people in Cuba  and abroad have been doing it too.

Jason writes:

As to the permanent emeshing of shades in matter, it is indeed more or less the standard to use criminals, or insane people because they are easier to manipulate. Sadly, it the philosophy also extends to children, aborted foetus's, and so on. In the case of a Nganga there is a lot more than just emeshing in matter that goes on. It is almost like surgical enhancement...

All that said, when I hear about graves being robbed or hospitals being raded, than traced to spirit pots, it kind of pisses me off. Religious freedom is one thing, but shouldnt the sanctity of remains also be protected? 

Indeed. And this is one of problems that the wielders of caldero espiritual claim to address. This 'spiritual' cauldron has no enslaved Nfumbe - although it is still is a kind of necromantic nexus. There is more than one way to skin a cat, you see. Some also think that it is a lot more dangerous than a Nganga and many paleros believe it to be a perversion of the sanctity of their tradition. Yet, various forms of the caldero espiritual have been created and passed on for a couple of generations already and people do work with them successfully... There is a lot more to it than even this though, and I try to tackle some of the main topics in that essay but it's so culturally complex it could well be the topic of an entire book.

I mention this in part to plug At the Crossroads but also to point out that there are different approaches to spirit pots even with the Cuban religious continuum. The main thing that I would like to emphasize above all, however, is that there many other viable ways to work with the dead (ancestral or otherwise) not only in Afro-Cuban religion but in all of the diaspora. And most of them certainly do not involve plucking a soul out of the otherworld and sticking it in a pot. This seem to be the main go-to thing that western magicians want to do these days and I think it is due to frustration of wanting access to traditions like Palo but being unable (or unwilling) to get initiated to them.

To work with the dead you really don't need to stick a spirit in a pot. There are different approaches available in the diaspora and a very excellent one in western tradition too! Namely that great western living tradition of working with the dead: spiritualism

Spiritualism works SO well in fact that african-derived religions all over the Diaspora have quite happily blended western spiritualism into african traditions creating beautiful traditions such as: espiritismo cruzado, sanse, umbanda and many, many more!

It really surprises me that western magicians have not looked more closely at spiritualism as a way to start working with the dead. Why not start syncretising or synthesizing something along those lines? You don't hear about that. You hear an awful lot about Nganga-like pots being put together or running round the graveyard whenever the topic of the dead comes up. Yet, in the Caribbean it's spiritism that is the main vehicle for working with the dead. The reason is simple: it works so bloody well!

Perhaps, it is because we have a low estimation of our own magical history. In my opinion spiritualism was probably one of the primary thrusts behind the magical revival in the victorian era. You know, the revival that caused the Golden Dawn, Thelema and all the succedent ceremonial magical orders up to and including Wicca. The faux Egyptian headdress wearing bourgeoisie were knee deep in spiritualism, people! In the case of the Golden Dawn they are plainly documented as having used spiritualist techniques to talk to them pesky Secret Chiefs.

I mean just listen to that term: "Secret Chiefs" If that isn't spiritualist lingo then I'll eat my own ectoplasm. And lets not forget A.O. Spare's main spirit guide, White Eagle. Yes, the grandaddy of chaos magic, mister Zos Kia Cultus - had a friggin spirit guide called White Eagle. Ehem.

My point is that there is a ripe avenue for working with the dead that could be followed in much the same way that it was in Caribbean, but in this case by western magicians. And considering that spiritualism is in fact 100% western, cultural appropriation is much less of an issue. There are also very many good spiritualist centers around the world where you could just walk right in and meet experienced mediums to talk to and learn from.


At The Crossroads

The latest talismanic title from Scarlet Imprint has been announced and it looks smoking hot. Among the excellent contributors are voices from our very own blog cabal such as Christopher D. Bradford, fellow AIRR associate ConjureMan Ali, and why yours truly of course! :-)

From Scarlet Imprint:

At the crossroads the paths of magicians and worlds meet.Grimoire and root workers, Hoodoo and Vodoun, Quimbanda and Ifa. A potent fusion is occuring, a second diaspora.
At the Crossroads tells the stories of what happens when the Western Magical Tradition encounters the African Diaspora and Traditional religions, and vice versa. It is a mixing and a magic that speaks of a truly new world emerging. 

Read the rest of the announcement, check out the contents and pre-order your copy from Scarlet Imprint here.


Tarot of Marseilles

I dusted off this 1963 printing of the Tarot of Marseilles today. I found this little beauty almost perfectly preserved in the bottom drawer of a cabinet in an junk shop a few years ago. The owner of the shop didn't even know it was there and sold it to me for R8 - that's about a dollar I think. And wow does it sing for me today! They don't make cards like this anymore. The card stock is almost like wood and the colours are basic litho of red, yellow, black and blue.

I did a quick relationship reading to see how the Tarot of Marseilles and I will get along...

The cards on the bottom left are to describe me. The cards on the right are to describe the ToM and the two at the top, our relationship.

As you can see I am only satisfied by perfect accuracy and objectivity (Justice+10C). It's true - I have an unreachable ideal for this and nothing less satisfies me. As you know tarot is hardly an exercise in objectivity!

The Tarot of Marseilles' side is interesting! The ToM is devastating in it's harsh honesty Tower+5P. No sugar coating anything from this deck. Barebones reality, like it or not.

Our relationship looks promising; successful revelations brought by the High Priestess + 6W. It looks like working with this deck will help advance visionary capacity.

I must say I find the combination of shocking honesty and visionary expansion promised by this spread rather appealing. This stays on the reading table for a while then.

With the endless proliferation of these ugly photoshop/digitally painted decks you see everywhere - the raw simplicity of these woodcuts are just what I want right now.


Sigil Magic: a spiritist and folk-magical approach

The more I think about sigils in their various incarnations, I can't help but question what the function of all magical symbolism really is. As regular readers probably have realised by now I don't buy that the unconscious mind does magic. I'm not saying that the mind isn't involved in magic. Just that the mind is involved in magic the way that the landing gear of a Boeing 747 is involved in flight. While, strictly speaking, landing gear isn't keeping an airbus in the air - it probably is a good idea for the aircraft to have a well functioning set for take-off and landing.

The further away I have moved from the notion that I need to manipulate my mind and instead focussed on building relationships with spirits, and refined ways of creating a sympathetic language with materials, the better my magic works. From my perspective, thinking that I have all the power inside my head can, ironically, be disempowering. My personal approach has been to move the locus of power away from myself and instead to think of everything in this world (and the other) as a potentially infinite source of spiritual power.

Resultantly, I have been working quite differently with sigils. The fact is I do enjoy working with sigils and sometimes they are exactly the right tool for the job. Granted, I have jettisoned every scrap of theory associated with Spare's sigil legacy. I certainly don't worry about the unconscious, or tricking the censor and all that jazz. It seems to me that in order to reconsider sigil magic intelligibly I have had to ask myself what sigils in fact, are?

The obvious thing about Spare's sigils is that they are symbols; signs or signifiers pointing to a desire. Plain and simple. The traditional method of constructing a Spare-style sigil is pretty arbitrary if you think about it. You have your statement of intent (which, incidentally, is already a symbol). You then delete all the repeating letters  - and take those remaining letters put them together to make a pleasing magical-looking symbol.

Nine tenths of the process is aesthetic. The step between sentence of desire and sigil seems somewhat gratuitous when you take into account that both the sigil and original sentence are already symbols. I mean - why create a new signifier (sigil) from an already existing signifier (sentence) to point at the same signified (desire)? Why not just activate the sentence of desire, taking into account that it already is a symbol? The sentence of desire's reduced letters themselves (also symbols), which are used to generate the sigil, when looked at as discrete components of the sentence, don't bring anything of particular relevance to the resulting sigil itself either. We may as well randomly select letters from a scrabble set and create a sigil from those*. So why all that agonising about the cleverly crafted sentence of desire when we just have to decide that the sigil these letters produce is a magical signifier pointing to our desire? And why is this resulting set of inky squiggles on paper more powerful, magically speaking, than the originating set of inky squiggles?

Compare this for a moment to the traditional method of deriving a sigil from a planetary camea. Now here we see some more structure. Some sound mythic logic. The planetary camea creates a cosmological lens so that the symbol/sigil produced isn't just an arbitrary construct based on an aesthetic whim but the result of extrapolating something out of a meaningful mythic pattern into the form of a symbol. As above so below yada-yada.

This is one of the reasons that I am a fan of the automatic writing method for deriving a Spare-type sigil instead ( Frater U:D:, Practical Sigil Magic, 1990). One enters into trance and then sitting with a pen one allows a sigil to be produced via automatic writing. It goes without saying that the spiritualist underpinnings of that approach naturally will appeal to an espiritista. Because now I can (like with the planetary camea) bring some greater forces other than myself down to bare in this situation - in this case a spirit is providing the sigil via automatic writing. This is far more meaningful and powerful to me for several reasons.

We use signs and symbols in magic all the time. We string together signifiers of all kinds; materials, colours, sounds, shapes, words, scents to create complexes of meaning. Looked at from a certain perspective we could say a black candle with a name carved in it using a coffin nail, dressed with black arts oil and sprinkled with graveyard dirt is a kind of performed three dimensional sigil. I admit, I winced a little as I wrote that.

Yet there is a crucial difference here; all the sympathetic resonance of the black candle, coffin nail, oil and graveyard dirt - like the planetary camea method - form part of the broader cosmological web of meanings in which a deeper pattern is activated. Graveyard dirt connects to a spirit; coffin nails to the grave; black candles to evil etc... we are sitting in that web of signification and we are plucking at all those strings in a very crafty way.

I want my sigils to do that - which is why it is important to me that my method of deriving one isn't arbitrary but instead is an extension of the cosmological underpinnings of my magical world-view. As you know I don't believe the unconscious is doing the work, so I have no need to encode anything to trick it. No need to sneak sigils past the censor. No need to forget or destroy sigils (which, thankfully, has gone out of fashion anyway).

If anything, my sigils are spirit-devices. We just need to look at the grimoire tradition very briefly to notice that sigils have primarily been associated with spirits of all kinds for hundreds of years. Similarly, in Kongo magic and in the Caribbean we find a prevalence of these kinds of spirit signatures - which is one of the more compelling overlaps between African and European tradition and another important attraction for me to the practice of using sigils in my work.

Receiving sigils

And here is the most important difference in my approach to sigil magic. Instead of creating a sigil and then going into trance in order to 'activate' it. Try going into trance and getting into touch with an appropriate spiritual intelligence then state your magical intention to them. Make an offering. If the spirit is interested and helpful you can receive a sigil from them. Chances are if you have been doing magic, and sigil magic in particular, you probably have somebody in your spiritual framework guiding you in this way already. This could be done through automatic writing, scrying, direct trance-based inspiration or something like, say, pyromancy. This sigil then effectively becomes a spirit signature that activates the spirit you are working with to work in a specific way for you.

There is correlation here, for instance, in the Kongo-derived practice of Palo. A palero can and does receive an innumerable number firmas (sigils) both through revelation and tradition that will set his prenda to work in different ways depending on the firma employed. The firma is then drawn and activated allowing associated magical workings to be performed atop it.

Looked at in another way the process of the sigil's revelation to you is its activation. Then it can be deployed in any number of ways in your spell craft just as you might work with any other seal, which I will go more into in a minute.

The key thing here is not the trance induction itself. It is the spirit contact. This ass-backward focus on trance induction by any means is the result of reductive, mechanistic thinking of magicians working from a materialistic scientific world-view. We want to reduce everything to some sort of physiological phenomenon because we simply cannot imagine anything else genuinely at play. So we think that if we can trick ourselves into a trance state - presto we have magic. Not all trance is created equal. Productive trance, however, is the human nervous system's natural reflex to an encounter with the numinous. While trance itself, as a simple physiological phenomenon, does not necessarily cause contact with the numinous. 

In other words: not all altered states of consciousness are useful or productive nor does every altered state of consciousness bring you into contact with spiritual reality. But I can pretty much guarantee that if I were to bring you into close contact with a spirit entity you would almost reflexively slip into trance. Again, trance is the body's natural reflex to the presence of spirits. Focus less on inducing trance and more on befriending helpful spirits.

working with sigils in a hoodoo oriented, spirit-centric style

Contagion, contagion, contagion...

The simplest approach for starters (and not be underestimated) is to draw your sigils on petition papers used in conjure work as per normal.  You can stick them in mojo bags and paint them on glass encased candles - whatever floats your boat. Basically, I use them in much the same way I would use any solomonic seal typically included in traditional conjure because they are structurally and visually almost identical.

Here are some more ideas for working with them...

  • Take your sigil burn it to ashes then grind the ashes up with roots and herbs to create a powder to deploy near a target as you would with any magical powder.
  • Take an appropriate condition powder and use it to trace your sigil on a flat surface then burn a votive candle to the appropriate spirit over it. Gather up the powder-sigil to deploy elsewhere strategically.
  • Draw your sigil on paper in water soluble ink place it on your chosen spirit's altar in a glass of water allowing it to dissolve over night then take the water and add it to a spiritual bath, put it in a floor wash, or add it into a perfume to wear.
  • Draw the sigil in chalk on your magical work surface; energise it with a puff of cigar smoke and then do your candle work, doll-baby conjure or jar spells on top of it.
Basically, you can transfer your sigil directly or indirectly by means of one of the important cornerstones of all folk-magic: magical contagion.

I started this post by saying that the more I think about sigils, the more I question what the function of all magical symbolism really is. The conclusion I have come to, based in my involvement in the ATRs, personal experience and survey of magical history is that magical signification from the most subtle implications of a tiny gesture to the most dramatic explosive elements is a way of talking to the spirit world. We are entering into a dialogue with a numinous. We are miming the other-world into being this-world. For me it isn't just fancy dress for the unconscious mind - it is the conscious dissolution of the false distinction that there is an 'inside' and 'outside'. 

By magically working with everything in our environment; herbal and mineral materials, sounds, colours, smells, and signs such as sigils as the manifest language of spirit we are demonstrating that our actual waking, tangible, physical reality itself is magic. 


*And this to my way of thinking would work even better than the usual procedure. Why not enter into trance, talk to a spirit ask it for a sigil then draw letters randomly from a scrabble set and create a sigil from those? They might even mean something...


Announcement: AIRR membership

I am pleased to say I have been accepted as a member of AIRR: the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers. I am thrilled to be working in association with such a gifted, diverse group of readers and rootworkers.

My profile page has gone live at the AIRR website - be sure to check it out!

The Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers (AIRR) is a gathering of professional practitioners of African American folk magic, hoodoo, conjure, and rootwork who provide psychic readings and spiritual root doctoring services to the public. AIRR promotes quality service and ethical conduct by means of accreditation and evaluation of our members. Unlike commercial online psychic reader services, AIRR is a membership-supported organization that receives no fees or kickbacks for referrals


Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione

I discovered Tsultrim Allione's book a couple of years ago and I have not hesitated recommending it to clients and friends since that time. It is a potent modern adaptation of the Tibetan vajrayana practice called Chöd, made accessible for the modern person whether they are buddhist or not. The principle behind Feeding Your Demons is that our darkest and most frightening fears, anxieties or addictions (our demons) can be befriended and transformed. 

With the surprisingly simple yet radical technique one 'feeds' the demon whatever it wants until it becomes completely satisfied! This takes the form of a meditation in which the demon is first personified and given shape before feeding it and finally transforming it into an ally. 

Those with new age proclivities will seize upon the totem-like 'ally' that the method produces as the end goal, but folks with some background in Buddhist meditation of vajrayana variety will know that the true power of the practice lies in the bit where the ally is dissolved into the practitioner and they rest in unstructured awareness. This unstructured awareness neither grasps nor rejects anything in that moment and therein lies its incredible deep healing capacity - because this state momentarily introduces the meditator to their own deepest nature: unconditioned freedom. This is the greatest magic of all.

Tsultrim Allione compassionately and expertly teaches the method using case histories and stories of the most moving variety and by the end of the book the reader has been given ample examples of how to apply this technique in almost any kind of situation. If you want to learn to work with even the most difficult or painful emotions, addictions or memories I cannot recommend Tsultrim Allione's teachings highly enough.


Candle Conjure Meetings

Date: 19th April 2012
Time: 7- 9PM
Where: La Botanica: Haarlemmerstraat 109, Amsterdam Centrum
Cost: 15 Euros per person

Join us for an evening of candle magic, meditation and good mojo! We will work together using the practical art of candle magic to manifest your intentions. With plenty of encouragement and advice, each participant will fix and empower a magical candle of their choice using oils, powders and prayer - finally setting it on the altar allowing their spell to manifest.

We will each fix a candle for ourselves and then thereafter we will select a participant and we will all empower an additional candle for their petition. This means that at each meeting one individual will get the whole group working magically on their goal too. This way regulars will all get a turn to have the entire group working magically for them!

These evenings are intended to be friendly spiritual events - chatting, learning and sharing together as we dress our candles with fragrant oils, write our petitions and conjure our candles! Each session will culminate in a short ceremony and meditation where we will set our candles on the altar.

Chad will share easy candle works and spells anyone can use to help boost their love life, bank account and well-being.

Candle conjure meetings are suitable for seekers of any magical experience level or spiritual background. If you can say a heartfelt prayer - you can do candle magic! Each meeting includes a short introduction to candle magic for newcomers before we move onto the practical aspects of the art.

The 15 Euro fee covers the cost of your glass encased candles and the use of any of magical oils and powders. The duration of each candle conjure evening is approx two hours.


Just shut up and take that bath!

Spiritual baths are a practice. One can be tempted to come to them in a perfunctory or impatient way. It's the thing you do because your spiritual worker or godparent insisted and, well, you have to get it out of the way. A chore. But, really, they are a practice. In santeria (and by extension espiritismo cruzado) all important rituals are accompanied by the ritual washing of something, be they objects or people. These washes are lustral herbal waters that cleanse and prepare but also infuse the object or person with power and blessings. Similarly, in hoodoo spiritual baths figure as an important part of the spiritual workers repertoire of prescriptions for many of the same reasons.

To wash oneself spiritually is a sacred act.

It develops one spiritually. It cleanses and it feeds your spirit. If you want to get into african-derived traditions and you groan and moan implacably about taking a spiritual bath then I have news for you!

You know what? The people who complain the most - the ones that resist and rationalise their way out of baths incessantly - need them more than anyone. There is something about that state of spiritual grubbiness that wants to defend itself. Sometimes it's a spirit that has attached itself to the person and it's whispering in their ear.

Similarly, people sometimes ask how they can develop their mediumship or other spiritual abilities. The best recommendation? Prayer and a routine of spiritual baths. After this particular recommendation one will often get a blank stare, or there will be an awkward pause, and then they ask: but is there a visualisation or an amulet or something?

No, just prayer and spiritual baths.

If the power and efficacy of these are not apparent to you yet, then you should try them as a practice and see what it does for your spiritual development. See what it does for your emotional well-being. Discover for yourself how it enhances your spiritual protection, and your clout as a magician. It is the african magical practice par excellence. There is a good reason for that.


progress mini-readings available by e-mail

My regular clients will know that I don't offer full spiritual card readings or rootwork consults by e-mail. In part because my reading method is interactive; but also because I like speaking with clients directly during a consult. Resultantly, I only offer in-person, phone, or skype spiritual readings and rootwork consultations - and that stands. That's the way I like to work.

I am making an exception to my rule, however. I am introducing an additional e-mail support.

Progress Readings ($15)

Progress readings are short, cheap e-mail updates/readings for people who have already had the initial rootwork consult and have contracted me to do spiritual work for their case. This is so clients can check-in and get a three card reading about something relevant to their case. This can be useful in the event that there has been some new development or complication pertaining to your case and you would like to take a quick look at with some divination. When you order a progress reading for your case I'll write up your short reading and then send it through to you by e-mail. Once again, you will need to have ordered spiritual services with me to be eligible for these mini-readings.


Saint Joseph's Day

Happy and blessed Saint Joseph's day to all my readers! May this most wondrous of saints and patron of workers, bless you with good employment - so that as he was able to provide for the Holy Family - you too are be able to provide for yours.

This saint has blessed my household in many different ways. If you feel so moved you might want to light a candle and say a prayer in honour of him on this, his feast day.

We are having a small party for him in Amsterdam this evening followed, in all likelihood, by a misa (at Yanu's place, for those local friends who are reading).

The Prayer of Saint Joseph

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your devine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesusasleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls - Pray for me.

This prayer was found in the fiftienth year of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves, shall never die a sudden death, or be drowned, not shall posion take effect of them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy; or shall be burned in any fire, or shall be overpowered in battle.
Say for nine mornings for anything you may desire. It has never been known to fail, so be sure you really want what you ask.


madamas, gypsies, indians and other spiritual guides in espiritismo cruzado

There seems to be some confusion on the internet about the nature of certain spiritual guides that populate the afro-Caribbean varieties of spiritism. For the record: when I talk about espiritismo on this blog I am always talking about my experience in espiritismo cruzado, because that is what I have worked in over the last few years.

It is important to note that there are quite a few different forms of espiritismo in the Caribbean. Just in Cuba alone there are a variety of forms. We find for instance purer kardecian scientific spiritism; then there is espiritismo de cordon; and then also espiritismo cruzado which functions more closely alongside the African-derived traditions such as palo and santeria. Puerto Rico has its own unique forms of espiritismo, where espiritismo and brujeria are very popular and widespread. That's without even going into spiritism in the Dutch Antilles or Brazil! There has been a lot of exchange in those regions too which makes the topic even more complex.

It's good to be specific and mention which stream of practice I am talking about because when we say 'espiritismo' we could be talking about a variety of creolized Kardecian-derived practices - and while they are part of continuum it certainly cannot be claimed that they are a single thing. There is a great deal of variance in practice even though they tend to follow a similar pattern with similar Kardec-inspired themes.

So to get back to the issue I was mentioning; there seems to be confusion about the role and nature of the madama, gypsie, arab, congo, indian etc spirits. It seems worthwhile to present the explanation as I have been taught it in our line of practice with regard to the nature and role of these spirits in espiritismo cruzado.

Firstly, these spirits are considered to be a class of egun, which is to say, the spirit of someone who used to be alive at one time but now works in the spiritual world as guide for the living by bringing their own unique stream of wisdom to the white table. Elevated dead people. So, when an espiritista is talking about 'their' madama spirit they usually mean that they have a muerto that has certain characteristics that allow it to be categorised in that grouping of spirits. They aren't necessarily talking about a single entity called The Madama.

Similarly, you might have a spirit that was a gypsy in life and therefore an espiritista will talk about 'their' gypsy (or their indian spirit, or their arab spirit and so forth). They are usually referring to individual spirits of the dead that fit into that stereotype with whom they are working. These spirits work in their charge's spiritual framework in order to develop themselves spiritually. It's symbiotic. Each person is understood to have network of spiritual entities that have been chosen to guide and protect the medium. And one can and should develop, elevate and expand that network by working with it in a skilled and dedicated way.

As I have been taught you definitely cannot pick and choose these guides. They choose you. What's more; there is a degree of protocol for identifying which spirits reside in your spiritual framework. This usually takes the form of an  'investigation' which is a special misa focussed around a single medium. The other mediums will then spiritually 'investigate' the medium for whom the service is being held to inform him or her about the constitution of their spiritual framework, thereby identifying which spirits they have and what they need to do for them in terms of spirit dolls, offerings, implements, pots and so forth.

This is to avoid self-delusion and the medium getting tricked by evil spirits that want a free ride. Just because you have strong draw to a certain kind of spirit doesn't mean you have that kind of spirit with you. Just because you find a pretty doll doesn't mean you should stick it on your altar and feed it! This is a distinctly inadvisable course of action.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that espiritistas will say that this is dangerous when considering that espiritismo traces almost all illness, variances of fortune or well-being to the influence of good or bad spirits.

That's why it is called spiritism after all.


How I read during my consultations.

I recently received some advice from an elder that it might be helpful to show the actual process and card layout that I use when I read for clients to give prospective clientele a visual and tactile sense of what the table looks like during my telephone readings. 

Here we go:

I have developed a reading routine that involves three divination tools; the tarot (usually the Rider-Waite); the Lenormand oracle (the classic Blue Owl deck); and the obi. I combine a three card tarot layout with a freeform Lenormand spread. I then will clarify certain points with the obi shells. I tend to use the obi sparingly, usually to confirm certain spiritual indicators or advice - and to 'close' the reading.

I first start with the tarot to derive the general theme and advice for the reading by laying down three cards in a rough triangle, as pictured above. It gives a nice overview of things, I find. Those three cards stay at the top of my reading area and I will refer back to them during the course the consultation as a thematic anchor. The card at the top of the triangle is read as the 'issue'; the card to the left is the 'challenge'; the card on the right is the 'resource' or 'what helps'.

The lenormand oracle is dealt beneath the tarot spread (the smaller cards), and is laid out in a linear sequence using a particular 'key' card to hone in on specific questions. During the course of the reading I will do several freeform Lenormand spreads like this to clarify different aspects of an issue asking a new question for each spread - in this way building up a well rounded picture of situation. To do that I take an appropriate key card and pray over it so as to 'charge' it with the question. I then shuffle it back into the deck and then I search through the deck to find it - and a string of cards that accompanies it. I read that string of cards as it appears on either side of the key card.

Why do I use two decks?

Well, I find the tarot and the lenormand oracle each speak with a different 'voice'. The tarot gives great advice, and the Lenormand has a way of really nailing details. The combination of those two voices creates a nice wide spectrum that I've found really gives a nice well rounded picture whilst also being able to drill down into specific details as needed.


Snuff out your enemy's tricks

One of the most helpful things about strengthening and building your spiritual framework is that your muertos - the blessed dead who guide and protect the spiritist - begin imparting some very useful information. Of course they bring spiritual power to any work the espiritista performs by empowering it as it is done but they also transmit altogether new workings to the medium. What's important to note here is that the workings that are received in this way are unusually potent because they are fresh - a direct expression of your very own spiritual framework's magical 'language' and tailored to your particular needs.

How that manifests in practice depends on the muerto in question. A gypsy spirit has a certain style of working, while a madama spirit has a somewhat different approach and temperament - just as a chinese or arabic spirit might have their own unique specialities. Each will step in as needed, guiding, nudging and correcting things as you work, based on their specialities. Often these works are surprisingly simple, or even strangely cryptic  - using everyday objects, gestures and ingredients that you might never have considered using in a spell before. Sometimes an irrepressible tune or song bursts out of your throat causing the air to vibrate with spiritual electricity. Yet, no matter how simple the gesture or mundane the object employed it's like a rocket has been lit under the work because it comes straight from the source.

Here is a deceptively simple little work I was given in this manner. It snuffs out pernicious negativity or spells flung at you. Although it's quick and requires a bare minimum of ingredients I've found it to be exceedingly effective.


Holy water
Candle (a short stub of candle is all that is needed)
Clear glass bowl, preferably with a flat bottom.

Open the Bible at the book of Psalms (randomly choosing a page in Psalms). Place the empty glass bowl atop the bible as pictured. Take the candle that you will be using for this work and proceed to spiritually 'clean' yourself with it by passing it all over your body from head to toe, praying as you do that any witchcraft, molochia or any other negativity be removed and transferred into the candle. Let that candle take it all up like a sponge.

Next, drip some hot wax (from another lit candle or tea-light) on the bottom of the bowl and while the wax is still soft, position the spiritually 'dirty' candle so that it will stand securely in the bowl, ready to be lit. Pour holy water into the bowl so that it's roughly an inch deep in water and the base of the candle is suitably submerged beneath the holy water.

Call on God, your ancestral spirits and spiritual guides to snuff out the tricks of your enemies like a flame snuffed out by water. Call them into the holy water. Light the candle and leave it to burn. The flame will eventually meet its demise in the water - dousing any nasty tricks and negativity along with it. 

Finally, peer through the clear glass bottom of the bowl to find a passage that jumps out at you. By means of bibliomancy you will now be able to divine more about this matter. 

Dispose of remains appropriately and then finish off with a spiritual bath to seal in the effect.