How to choose a tarot deck that’s right for you

Looking to get into the tarot, but aren’t sure which deck to use? In this post, I’ll give you some tips on how to choose a tarot deck that’s right for you.

Is it okay to buy your own deck?

There’s a myth that you should never purchase your first tarot deck, rather it must be given to you by someone else. I have no idea where this notion came from, but it’s been floating around for years. It’s also complete nonsense.

Tarot decks, particularly your first deck, are deeply personal objects. I still use a Rider-Waite-Smith deck for many readings, because that was the first deck I picked up. And whether or not you connect with a deck is far more important than how it came to you. In my opinion, this means you might even get better results from the cards when you choose a tarot deck to work with. Giving and receiving tarot decks is fine, but there’s no reason you can’t just walk into a store buy whichever one calls to you.

With that out of the way, let’s get on with it.

Try to choose a tarot deck which looks nice

Choose a tarot deck which looks good to you.
The Mystic Dreamer Tarot has an art style I quite enjoy, even if I don’t read with it very much.

For me, one of the most important criteria for choosing a tarot deck is whether or not I like how it looks. Do I like its theme? Its color scheme? Its art style? They say looks aren’t everything. I say that if I’m going to spend hours staring at a bunch of cards, I’m not going to choose a deck which I think is ugly.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (to drop another cliché), so behold every deck you might consider and ask yourself whether or not you think it’s beautiful. Do you like dark and moody things? Look for a deck in a dark and moody style. Are you really into colorful fairies? You’ll probably find a swarm of decks which appeal to you.

This might sound like obvious advice, but trust me, it’s not. I know many tarot readers who have decks with art they hate, but they still use them become someone else told them to. I also know many readers who’d probably be happiest with a light-hearted “theme” deck, but are afraid they won’t be taken seriously if they pull it out for a reading.

Look at the symbols

We’re still kind of in the realm of aesthetics here, but look at the symbols and glyphs on the cards. Do they resonate with you? Do they intrigue you?

One way to look at the tarot is to see the cards as a symbolic representation of the world. This means the symbols and themes you see in a deck should, in some way, reflect how you see the world itself. When you choose a tarot deck, you’re choosing the symbolic language you’ll be using for your readings.

If you’re just starting out with the tarot, some of the symbols might confuse you, but you shouldn’t feel especially “put off” by them.

Size matters

Some tarot decks use cards which are about the size and shape of regular playing cards. Others are very much oversized, while most fall somewhere in the middle. Many of my decks are a little over four inches tall by about two-and-a-half inches wide.

Why do I mention this? Because different people have different hand sizes, and some decks are easier to handle than others. A typical tarot deck contains seventy-eight cards. That alone makes them a little more challenging to shuffle than a poker deck. Very large or very small cards can make shuffling even more of a challenge.

Card stock matters

It’s rarely something you can check while you’re holding a sealed box in the store, but what sort of stock are the cards printed on? Is it thin and cheap? Thick and heavy?

I’ve seen a lot of tarot decks which are printed on stock so thin that they rip and wrinkle if you stare at them too hard. I’ve also seen decks where the cards are thick enough that you could probably use them as roofing shingles.

If at all possible, try to get a feel for how thick and flexible the cards are before you choose a tarot deck. I have one on my shelf with thick card stock and edges so sharp that it actually hurts my hands to shuffle them. You probably don’t want that sort of thing in your life. You also don’t want a deck that will shrivel up the first time you sneeze at it.

If all of the above looks and feels good to you, I say go ahead and buy the deck. That said, we’re not quite done yet.

After you choose a tarot deck

When you purchase a tarot deck, think of it as the first date in what might become a long-term relationship. You still need to get to know each other.

Take the deck somewhere quiet to open. Hold it in your hands, and try to remember the feeling you had when you were a kid about to open a present.

Then, open the box carefully, and explore what’s inside. If the deck comes with a booklet, set it aside and look at the cards with only your own impressions to guide you. Let curiosity take the lead.

Once you’ve gone through the deck, shuffle the cards and perform a few, three-card readings.

What questions should you ask? Here are my big three:

  1. What can you tell me about yourself?
  2. What kinds of questions do you like to answer?
  3. Why did you come to me?

Depending on the answers I get, and the overall “vibe” I feel from the deck, I’ll ask more questions and throw more cards.

I won’t try to get a “serious” answer from a deck until I’ve spent several days doing these little “getting-to-know-you” readings. And I’ll never use a new deck in a tarot consultation for someone else until I’ve done several “real” readings for myself.

If all seems well, and we have a good connection, I’ll put the deck into “rotation” and see where the relationship leads. If we don’t connect, I hand the deck off to someone else, and assume I’m just here to help it get to the person it’s actually meant for.

I hope this advice helps you the next time you go looking for a new tarot deck. And if you have any advice for others, why not drop it in a comment down below?

Have a blessed day!

How to create and activate magic sigils

Magic sigils are one of the simplest, yet most powerful methods of practical enchantment. In this post, I’ll tell you what they are, and how to use them.

Virtually every internet wizard has a blog post (or a whole book) dedicated to the subject of sigils, so why am I writing this one? A couple of reasons.

First, I used to hate sigils. Back in the 90s–when I was an edgy teenager first learning magic–I thought sigils were silly. They didn’t feel like “real” magic. No circle on the floor, no calling out barbarous names, no skulls. Boring.

Second, when I did try to use magic sigils, they just didn’t seem to work. So, not only were they boring, they were useless.

Suffice it to say, in the thirty-ish years between then and now, my opinion of sigils is wildly different. Not only do I think they’re anything but boring and useless, they’ve become an indispensable part of my magical toolbox.

I do have other methods I use in my magical practice, and sigils aren’t my first choice for most things, but they’ve helped me get a lot of stuff done.

So let’s talk about what magic sigils are, how to create them, and how to get them working.

What are magic sigils?

The term “magic sigil” has been used since the middle ages to describe all sorts of signs and symbols. Most were used as “seals” for certain kinds of spirits, and were inscribed in order to summon or control them. In modern usage, particularly since chaos magic became a thing back in the 1970s and 1980s, the term usually refers to a symbol which the magician constructs to represent an intention.

I’ll be talking about the modern sort of magic sigil in this post.

We’re going to decide on an intention or goal we wish to manifest, then we’ll create a glyph or drawing to represent it symbolically. After we’ve created the glyph, we’re going to activate or “charge” it. And then? Well, “and then” nothing. We’re done!

As I wrote up above, this is simple, simple stuff. Minus a few easy-to-follow rules or guidelines, the previous paragraph is nearly everything you need to know about magic sigils.


If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know what I’m going to say next. Before you do any magic, you should perform some sort of divination on the matter, or consult with someone who can do the divination for you. I’ve never seen magic sigils manifest in undesirable ways, but you should still get the “lay of the land” before intervening.

Crafting intentions

For most people, the hardest part of creating a magic sigil is coming up with the right intention for it. This is the “what for” of the sigil itself, so if this step isn’t done well, the rest of your efforts will be all for naught. Don’t worry, though, because even this step isn’t all that hard once you get the hang of it, and you know what kind of “intention” we’re looking for.

An “intention,” in this case, is a statement. A short, simple, affirmative statement which exactly captures what you want the sigil to do. The keywords here are “short,” “simple,” and “affirmative.”

The intention you craft for your sigil should be something you can express in no more than ten words, though fewer is better. You should also use the simplest, clearest vocabulary possible. Furthermore, it’s best if your intention is expressed as a fact which is already true, and not as a wish for the future.

Another thing I should point out is that sigils tend to work on their own schedule. I’ve seen some ways in which other magicians have tried to “speed up” their sigils. I’ve tried pretty much all of these techniques, but I haven’t seen them make much of a difference.

Sigils, for me at least, tend to work very well for medium to medium-long-term goals. That is, they generally manifest anywhere from three weeks to a year out. If you need something done today, sigils aren’t the way to go. So, when you’re crafting your intentions, make sure you give them some room to work.

Lastly, this is magic we’re talking about, so don’t be afraid to “shoot for the Moon,” so to speak. You’ll see what I mean by this in the following example.

An intention example

Let’s say you’re struggling financially, and are afraid you won’t be able to make your credit card’s minimum payment next month. So, you decide to do some magic about that.

“I want to be able to pay my credit card bill next month,” is not a good intention for a magic sigil. First, it’s too long. Second, it’s phrased as a desire. We don’t want wishes, here, we want facts.

“I will be able to pay my credit card bill next month,” is only slightly better. It’s the same length as the last one, but at least it’s an affirmative statement of fact.

“I pay my credit card bill next month,” is getting there. It’s shorter, and it has that “air of confidence” about it which seems to work really well for sigils.

“My credit cards are paid in full,” is a good intention. Even shorter than the last, but now we’ve made it into a bold statement about the present. No more “wishful thinking,” we’re talking facts. Also, note how we’re not limiting ourselves to one credit card anymore. This is magic we’re doing–so why not go big, or go home?

“I am debt-free,” is an excellent intention for a sigil. Short, simple, affirmative–and we’re not holding back on what we really want to see happen.

See, when I call this “crafting” an intention, I really do mean crafting. A really good intention takes time and effort. Don’t be surprised if you have to write, write, and re-write in order to get it right. In fact, if you’re not doing that, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Creating the symbol

It’s time to turn your intention into a symbol or glyph. For this stage, I recommend that you use a sketchbook and a pencil.

At the top of a blank page, write out your intention in all capital letters, without any punctuation. Then, cross out all of the vowels. Finally, cross out any repeating consonants, leaving only the first instance of each letter in place. After you’ve done this, all you should have left is a list of unique consonants.

Now comes the fun part: trying to draw a single symbol which uses these letters as its components.

Trust me, this really is quite fun, and even if you have zero drawing ability (like me!), it’s not as hard as it sounds. You can stretch the letters, shrink them, bend them–feel free to distort them however you like. There are only three “rules” here: use all of the letters; try to “hide” them; and make the symbol look “magical.”

What does a “magical” symbol look like? That’s up to you.

A symbol example

Let’s stick with our intention example and turn it into a proper magic sigil. First, we write the phrase out in all capitals across the top of the page.


Next, we’ll take out the vowels.


That leaves us with only consonants.


Since we have no repeating consonants here, we’re ready to create our symbol. To be clear, if we had, say, two or more R’s in our list, we’d want to cross out all but one of them.

The process of twisting and folding the letters into shape might take a while, or it could happen almost instantly. Don’t try to rush it, just let it take the time it takes.

Here’s what I came up with using the letters above…

Magic sigils don't have to be complicated.

I don’t think I did too badly! All of the letters are there, I don’t think they’re terribly obvious, and it certainly seems like a magic sigil to me. Take a good look at the symbol and compare it to the letters. See if you can work out what I did here. Even better? See what you can make of those letters on your own.

I drew this out in my sketchbook, then–because this is just and example for this post–I re-drew it on the computer. For actual sigils I plan on using, I keep everything on paper, for reasons that will be obvious in the next section.

The hardest part of this stage is knowing when a sigil is “done.” I wish I could tell you there was a simple way to know this, but there really isn’t. It’s done when it feel done. You’ll be sitting there drawing, erasing, re-drawing and then…BOOM! There it is!

You’ll just know.

Activating magic sigils

There are many different ways to activate a magic sigil. I’m going to give you the “Cliff’s Notes” version of how I activate mine, but feel free to experiment. Read up on how other magical practitioners do things and figure out what works for you.


The first thing I do is transfer the sigil from my sketchbook to a nice piece of cardstock. Usually, I use white cardstock, but use any type or color of paper which works for you. The main things to consider are the size of the paper, and whether it will provide a good contrast to the color you’ll use for the sigil itself.

I prefer my sigils to be about four inches square. Why? It just feels right to me. At that size, I can fit in all the detail I need, and I can see the whole thing without my eyes needing to move around too much.

The next question to ask is what are you going to draw the sigil with? A black “Sharpie” marker works pretty well, in my experience. Lately, though, I’ve been using a calligraphy set for almost everything.

What can I say, dip pens hit different. You also have a lot more options when it comes to ink, which I’ll talk about later.

I like to do this transfer just before I activate the sigil. Ideally, I do it right at my altar as the start of the ritual, but my altar is pretty packed nowadays.

Regardless, once you’ve transferred your sigil, bring it to your altar or some other quiet place. You need to be able to sit and concentrate for several minutes without being disturbed.


I place the sigil face-up on the altar, and bring over a chair. The goal is to be able to sit comfortably while also being able to see the sigil clearly. I have two large altar candles which I light, then I burn some frankincense, and settle into a brief meditation to clear my thoughts.

When I’m relaxed and ready, I look at the sigil and let my eyes sort of…drift. This is the part which is hardest to explain. I’ll do my best, but experience is really the best teacher here.

After a while of concentrating on the sigil, keeping my attention on it, and allowing my eyes to see through it and past it, the sigil…moves. It will come to life and float off the paper. This is my experience of the process, but it’s pretty much universally how I’ve heard other magicians describe it.

I continue to sit there, watching the sigil move, letting it “dance,” until it eventually settles down. Sometimes it seems to collapse into the card abruptly, other times it smoothly merges into it. Either way, once the sigil looks like a inert doodle again, that’s when I know the activation is complete, and the magic sigil is now working its sigil magic.

Follow up

I usually give myself a minute or two to “come down” from the activation, then I extinguish the candles.

What do I do with the sigil now? I usually hang it up on my wall for a while. How long is a “while?” Eh, however long. I have about twenty of them on my wall now. Whenever I put up any new sigils, I take a few of the old ones down, and stick them in the back of a binder which I keep in my altar.

About once a year, I take the sigils out of my binder and burn them.

Some people burn their sigils right after activation, others carry them around for a while like a talisman. What should you do? You guessed it–whatever feels right.

Is that all there is to magic sigils?

What I’ve written above is more than enough to help you get started with sigil magic. Beyond these basics, there really isn’t a lot to cover. There are a few other things you can do or experiment with, though, should you be the curious type.

Material correspondences

According to some magical traditions, certain colors and materials correspond to certain kinds of magical forces or work. For instance, some people associate the color green with money, or the color blue with healing. The same goes for certain minerals or herbs.

This is one of the reasons why I love having a set of dip pens around. If you know how to mix your own ink, you can use that knowledge to enhance your sigil work.

The same can be said if you know how to craft your own paper.

Of course, who said you have to use pen and paper at all? Paint is a thing. So is clay. Hmm…

Multiple sigils

Another thing to try is activating multiple sigils at once. This is something I do all the time. If I have a set of related intentions, I’ll create a sigil for each one, lay them out on the altar, and activate them all in the same sitting.

Beyond keeping the sigils at least somewhat related to each other, my only other “rule” is that I never try to activate more than five at once. Why? It usually takes me about ten or so minutes to activate one sigil. An hour at my altar is about the most time I can spend at my altar comfortably without feeling fatigued.

Look to other magicians

Way back at the beginning of this post, I told you that every magician on the internet seems to have a take on magic sigils. This is only my take, and my advice. What I wrote above is what works for me, and what seemed suitable for a basic introduction.

So go on, explore! See what other people have to say on the subject.

And if you learn anything exciting, let me know in comments below.

Have a blessed day!

Learn traditional astrology with these five excellent books

So you want to learn traditional astrology? Here are the top five books I recommend to everyone to help them get started.

But first? Let’s ask the million dollar question…

Do you have to learn traditional astrology from books?

Learn traditional astrology with these five excellent books.

The short answer to this question is no. If you do a search, you’ll find several well-respected and knowledgeable astrologers who offer online classes in traditional astrology. Some of these teachers do require you to purchase a book or two as “classroom” texts, but they bring a lot of themselves to the table.

If you learn best in a classroom setting, an online course might be just the thing for you. Me? I like books, so that’s what you’re getting here.

All five of the books below are in-print and are readily available online. I’ve included an Amazon link to each book, but if you can find them at your local occult bookstore that’d be swell.

On the Heavenly Spheres

On the Heavenly Spheres

I’ve recommended this book before, and I’ll keep recommending it. On the Heavenly Spheres by Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro is absolutely the best introduction to traditional astrology I’ve ever read. Packed with information on history, theory, and technique, it’s not only a great place to start, it’s a reference you’ll come back to over and over again.

It’s definitely information-dense, so it might pose a challenge to people looking for a quick “overview,” but it really is a must-have. And I think it’ll especially shine if you keep it next to you while reading the other books on this list.

Buy it here.

Traditional Astrology Course

Traditional Astrology Course

This is the companion book to On the Heavenly Spheres, also written by Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro. Its full title is Traditional Astrology Course: Essential Concepts and Interpretation Basics, and it definitely lives up to its name.

While this book expands on the material in the first, it does so in a way which will help you learn traditional astrology through practical application. If you only purchase two of the books on this list, these should be them.

Buy it here.

The Martial Art of Horary Astrology

The Martial Art of Horary Astrology

Published in 2002, Dr. J. Lee Lehman’s The Martial Art of Horary Astrology still holds up as one of the best modern works on the subject. In my opinion, when you first learn traditional astrology, it’s best to start with horary astrology. This is the branch of astrology where you cast a chart in order to answer a specific question. It’s the most “divinatory” form of astrology, and one of the most popular forms used prior to the modern era.

This book presents the topic in plain English, and serves as an excellent bridge between the books I recommended above, and the two which I’m about to mention below.

Buy it here.

Christian Astrology (Books 1 & 2)

Christian Astrology (Books 1 & 2)

In 1647, William Lilly published his magnum opus Christian Astrology. Consisting of three volumes, this book was the first major work on astrology published in the English language. He covers theory and technique with equal style, grace, and depth. He’s also quite challenging to read, even in the updated editions of his text now available in two volumes.

This volume contains the first two “books” of Lilly’s original text. The first is an introduction to the theory and techniques of astrology, while the second is his treatise on horary astrology and “the resolution of all manner of questions and demands.” It’s a marvelous book, but I recommend that you have considerable familiarity with those I mentioned up above before trying to tackle this one.

Buy it here.

Christian Astrology (Book 3)

Christian Astrology (Book 3)

This is the third volume of William Lilly’s original work, and it focuses on natal astrology. In my opinion, it provides a wonderful description of how to adapt your knowledge of horary astrology to the interpretation of birth charts. If you’re learning traditional astrology, odds are pretty good you’d like to apply its principles beyond the asking of specific questions. This book will help you do just that.

There is a downside, though, and that is this book just isn’t as readable (or reliable) as his earlier work. If you’ve absorbed Books 1 & 2, as well as the others I recommended, then you won’t have too many issues. Otherwise…you’re in for a bit of a time.

Buy it here.

Where to go next?

Traditional astrology is a very deep and broad topic. Once you start learning it, and you come to appreciate it, there will probably be no end to the books you’ll acquire. My own shelves (and tables, and floors) are filled with texts on the subject.

Consider the books above to be a “good start” to your traditional astrology library. Where you go from here is really up to you.

If you have any books that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below. I still have a few corners of my house that aren’t completely filled yet.

Have a blessed day!

How to magically cleanse an object

Sometimes, things we bring into our home come with unwanted energy or uninvited guests. In this post, I’ll tell you how and when to magically cleanse an object.

A while ago, I wrote a post on magical house clearing. How to get “uninvited guests” out of one’s home is one of the more common questions I get. Another one is how to magically cleanse objects or items. So, let’s talk about that today.

When should you magically cleanse an object?

Why magically cleanse this when you can just not buy it?

If you read my post on house clearing, you just know I’m going to start this post by asking the question: “Should you magically cleanse objects?”

The short answer is: “It depends.”

In general, there are two cases where I’ll cleanse an object: if I plan to use it specifically and only for magical purposes; or if it’s actively causing “trouble.”

Magical tools

I’ve said before that my magical practice is very “spirit-focused.” This means I experience everything around me as “haunted” in one way or another. When I’m performing a ritual, both myself and the work I’m doing are intertwined with the tools I employ, and the spirits within them.

Candle holders, statues, offering plates–they’ll probably get a cleansing before getting plonked down on my altar. The same holds true for tarot decks, pendulums, and scrying mirrors. Anything I plan to bring into ceremony with me usually gets a once-over. I used to be somewhat lax in this practice, but I’ve had enough…challenging experiences to make this almost a hard and fast rule.

Why “almost,” you ask? We’ll get to that.

“Mundane” objects

As for other things I bring into my home? I don’t give them much of a thought unless they act up in disruptive ways. I don’t feel a particular need to magically cleanse every book I order, or every roll of paper towels I buy.

The same holds true even for things like antiques. Just because something is old, or it was owned by someone else, doesn’t mean I have to magically cleanse it. Besides, if I bought an antique, it’s probably because I liked the energy coming off it. Why would I want to mess with that?

If I bring something home and immediately begin experiencing disruptions or unwanted weirdness? That’s when I get to work.

Talk before you cleanse

Before I magically cleanse anything, I talk to it. As I said, I’m spirit-focused, and I treat spirits as persons deserving of respect and consideration. Even if something seems to be acting up, I’ll sit with it, and try to get a read on what’s going on. Sometimes that means journeying and meeting it on the “Astral Plane,” sometimes that means throwing some tarot cards. Either way, I “diagnose” before I attempt to “cure.”

This is especially true if it’s an object I plan to work magic with.

I read a ritual once for “consecrating a magical blade.” The gist of it was that you buy a knife, and bring it outside. You point it at the sky and say some words, then point it toward each of the four directions saying some other words. Finally, you stab it into the ground “up to the hilt.”

I wonder how many people have done this ritual. I also wonder how many of these people ever bothered to ask the knife how it would feel about that. Or how many people even took the time to explain to the knife what was going to happen.

This might sound silly to some people, but establishing a relationship with the items I bring into ceremony is pretty important to me. And relationships start with communication.

Be nice

Incense is a great way to magically cleanse an object.

If I decide to magically cleanse an object, I first explain to it what I’m going to do, and why I’m going to do it. Then I do the least invasive “cleansing” I can. I first burn some palo santo and make sure all sides of the object are touched by the smoke. This works really well for “mellowing” spirits and energies. In my experience, it doesn’t exorcise things, it just makes them “chill.” And if they don’t want to chill, they usually leave of their own accord.

Once I’ve done this, I then burn some frankincense, and do the same with it as I did with the palo santo. Frankincense “elevates,” and it’s my go-to incense for when I want to “raise the vibrations” in a space, or in an object. Again, it doesn’t drive things away. Or, rather, it won’t drive things away unless those things aren’t comfortable in a positive environment.

Finally, I take a while–sometimes a few days–to just be nice to the object. I talk to it, explain how I’d like to work and play with it, and be as “good vibes only” toward it as I can.

In almost every case, with only one or two exceptions in all of my experience, this is enough to magically cleanse an object.

Are you sure it’s meant to be?

So, what if you take the “nice” approach and things still just don’t feel right? Is it time to break out the “big guns?” Maybe.

Then again, maybe the object just isn’t that into you.

There’s something a bit audacious in thinking that every magical tool or item should be thrilled to be in our presence, and if something acts up, it must be because there’s something wrong with it.

I’ve purchased or been given many items, magical and otherwise, which I just never connected with. Usually, they seem “inert,” for lack of a better word. They cause me grief, but they don’t do anything, either. Rarely, they’ll be pretty adamant that our relationship isn’t going to work out.

How do I know when an object and I aren’t a good fit? It comes back to that whole talking and treating them with respect and dignity thing. And when I find I have such an object in my possession, I send it on its way. Sometimes this means gifting it someone my intuition says might be a better companion for it, sometimes it means taking it somewhere out in the world and leaving it there to be found.

Before you go all “nuclear” on an object, try to get your ego out of the game, and really ask if a relationship is something you both want.

Being not-so-nice

If you're going to magically cleanse something, it's often a good idea to do it outside.

Alright, so you’ve tried to be nice, you’re certain that you and this object are “meant to be,” but it’s still not behaving itself. What do you do?

Get ready to break out the asafoetida resin!

Asafoetida is a dried gum or resin which is not only incredibly potent for banishing, it also has a very pungent smell that some describe as “like the devil’s own butthole.”

Needless to say, if you’re going to magically cleanse with it, you’ll want to take it outside.

Grab the object, an incense burner, charcoal, some asafoetida, and some Florida water. Go outside where you won’t be disturbed and won’t disturb the neighbor. Light the charcoal, toss on a chunk of asafoetida, and move the object through the smoke. Thoroughly engulf it in the smoke.

While you’re doing this, firmly and as vulgarly as you can, tell whatever energy or spirit is messing with the object to get the hell out and go away. After a while, you should feel a definite sense of success. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll know it when you experience it. Usually it only takes a minute or two for that feeling to come, but give it ten or fifteen minutes if you can.

When you feel successful, put a couple of dabs of Florida water on the object, then do the “nice” steps I described above before taking it back into your house.

Did you magically cleanse it?

If the not-so-nice approach doesn’t work, and you think the object still has “issues,” toss it. Throw it away, burn it, or bury it somewhere that’s not on your property. Unless you know someone who specifically works with “haunted” or “cursed” items, just get rid of it, and don’t hand it off to someone else.

Honestly, though? I’ve never, ever had to go to this extreme. Like I wrote above, in almost every case, the nice approach was more than sufficient. And in almost every case it wasn’t, it turned out that the object wasn’t the problem–the relationship just wasn’t going to happen.

That’s my experience, anyway. What’s yours? If you’ve had an object that gave you grief, drop a comment down below. I’d love to hear what happened and how you handled it.

Have a blessed day!

Learning how to use the Celtic Cross

No other tarot spread is more well-known or widely-used than the Celtic Cross. In this post, I’ll tell you how it works, when to use it, and when not to.

What is the origin of the Celtic Cross tarot spread?

In 1909, British poet and occultist Arthur Edward Waite published what would become the most popular tarot deck of all time. Illustrated by the artist Pamela Coleman Smith, the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck came bundled with a thin book written by Waite himself. Called The Key to the Tarot, this book discussed the meanings of each card, and described how to use them for divination. He revised and re-released this book a year later as The Pictorial Key to the Tarot.

Near the back of this book, we get a description of the Celtic Cross spread. Waite refers to it as “An Ancient Celtic Method of Divination.” If you know your tarot history, this claim is a bit far-fetched to say the least.

In truth, Waite appears to be the first person to describe this spread. There are no printed references to it prior to 1909, at least that I can find anyway. It’s unclear whether the Celtic Cross was Waite’s own invention, or if he learned of it from someone else. Either way, since instructions for its use have come bundled with nearly every tarot deck sold over the last century, it’s almost certainly the most-used tarot spread today.

How do you use the Celtic Cross?

Waite’s instructions for using the Celtic Cross spread are fairly straight-forward. The instructions below are mostly his, although I’ve added my own thoughts based on thirty years of working with it.

Setting Up

Waite begins by telling the tarot reader to select a card to be the “significator,” which symbolizes either the person asking the question, or the subject being asked about. Here’s a quote:

“The Diviner first selects a card to represent the person or, matter about which inquiry is made. This card is called the Significator. Should he wish to ascertain something in connexion with himself he takes the one which corresponds to his personal description. A Knight should be chosen as the Significator if the subject of inquiry is a man of forty years old and upward; a King should be chosen for any male who is under that age a Queen for a woman who is over forty years and a Page for any female of less age.”

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

We’re then told to put this card face up on the table before proceeding.

Personally? I don’t do this. And that’s for a couple of reasons.

First, I don’t find the Court Cards connect with people in the way Waite describes. I wrote an article about this, titled Understanding the Court Cards, if you’re interested.

Second, I think it’s better to leave all of the cards in the deck until we start dealing them out. If a so-called “significator” card is actually relevant to the situation, I trust that it’ll show up without my having to pull it out in advance.

Anyway, at this point, we (or the querent) shuffles the cards while thinking of the question. Then we (or, again, the querent) cuts the deck, and the tarot reader lays out the cards in the following pattern…

The Celtic Cross tarot spread.

What are the meanings of the card positions?

As with most tarot spreads, each card position in the Celtic Cross has a certain meaning. When we interpret the cards, we take this positional meaning into account. I’ve provided a keyword or title for each position in the diagram above for easy reference. In this section, you’ll find the full explanation for each position.

The Subject

This card represents the major influence or situation which the question refers to. It’s the “nutshell” version of the matter at hand, or the central theme of the situation.

The Crossing

This card usually represents the main or central obstacle which is blocking or opposing the Subject. I say “usually,” because if this card is very good, or its nature is very harmonious with the Subject, it may not represent an obstacle at all. It could be a “stepping stone” which can actually be a source of help or assistance. This is especially likely to be the case if it’s also of a similar nature to either the Self or Environment card.

The Basis

This card is sometimes called the “Foundation.” It represents something which has not only already happened, but is likely the main reason for asking the question in the first place.

When I conduct a tarot reading for someone using the Celtic Cross, these three cards almost always relate to the question or circumstance in a very obvious way. For example, in a question about a troubled love affair, I’d expect to see the Two of Cups, the Lovers, or the Three of Swords in some or all of these positions.

When I don’t see any connection between these three cards and the question, I proceed with considerable caution. I also explain to the client that I may not be getting an accurate read on the matter. Fortunately, at least in my experience, this is rarely the case.

The Past

This card represents something in the past which relates to the matter at hand, sometimes in an unexpected way. Many of the situations we find ourselves in today are connected to older events or patterns we’ve experienced before. This card usually shows us the most pertinent bit of history which has led to the current situation.

The Possibility

This is one of the two “outcome” cards in the Celtic Cross spread (the other being outright titled “The Outcome”). It typically shows us the “best case scenario,” or else what the client can hope for if they put their energy and focus toward achieving it.

I wrote “typically” above, because we need to compare and contrast this card with the Outcome card in order to be sure of its role. This is particularly true when the Possibility card appears to be much more negative than the Outcome. I’ll write a bit more about this later on when I discuss the final card in the spread.

The Future

This is an event or influence which will come into play in the immediate or very near future. In many cases, it gives us a good indication of the client’s next, best opportunity to alter the outcome of events. It’s something to keep an eye out for, and to either avoid or take advantage of. Which route we should take depends on the context, and the rest of the spread.

The Self

I also call this card the “Toolbox.” It tells us what the querent themselves is bringing to the situation. Often, this card represents a strength, or a source of aid. Other times, though, it represents an obstacle, or “baggage” the client is carrying with them. Just like the Future card, we need to look at the Big Picture to decide whether the Self is helping or hindering the client.

The Environment

This card is much like the Self, only instead of showing us what the querent is bringing to the party, it shows us outside influences. Again, these may be constructive or destructive to the querent’s objectives or goals. Only careful thought and experience will tell us which.

The Hopes or Fears

The second-to-last card in the spread tells us something about what the client wants to happen, or what they’re afraid might happen.

To be perfectly blunt, I hardly ever find this card useful. Like the first three cards, it can serve as a kind of “check” to make sure we’re getting an accurate read on the matter. Otherwise? The client probably knows what their hopes or fears are, so this card doesn’t give us much in the way of practical aid.

The Outcome

Like the Possibility card, this one shows us one way the situation can turn out. In general, the Outcome is what will come to pass if the situation is allowed to proceed without further interference. Contrast this with the Possibility–that which will come to pass if the querent puts in the effort and work.

When the Outcome card looks much more favorable than the Possibility, it’s a sign that the client should let things unfold naturally. When the Possibility looks better? That’s when it’s time for the client to push for what they want.

When should you use this spread?

Given the Celtic Cross is the most popular spread in the world, you might think it’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Me? I disagree. I think there are times when it’s a good one to use, but there are other times when it’s…less so.

It’s excellent when you want to get a detailed look at a situation, including all of the most important surrounding context. For example, it’s my go-to spread when I’m about to do some serious magic to influence a situation.

I wrote an article awhile ago about how I think it’s extremely important to divine before you enchant. My thoughts on the matter haven’t changed one wink, and the Celtic Cross is usually the spread I use before dusting off my altar and getting down to business.

It’s also a good spread to use when you’re faced with situations or circumstances which seem particularly chaotic or confusing. If you’re job hunting, and can’t seem to get your foot in the door anywhere, throw the cards and ask: “What’s up with my job search?” You’ll usually see multiple factors at work, and get a good idea of how to proceed.

When should you not to use this spread?

The biggest advantage to the Celtic Cross is that it uses ten cards, and you get a lot of context. This is also its biggest disadvantage.

Ten cards is a lot of cards. And, in my personal opinion, ten cards is too many for most questions and situations. With so many cards on the table, we can get overwhelmed with information, and that might actually prevent us from getting a useful answer.

I maybe use the Celtic Cross for one out of fifteen or twenty readings. Let’s face it, most questions people ask the tarot are actually quite simple. “Will I get the job?” “Will Sophie go out with me?” “Should I take a gap year or stay in school until I finish my degree?”

For questions like these, simpler spreads with fewer cards work just fine, and usually provide much clearer answers than the Celtic Cross.

Then again, that’s just my opinion. If you have a different one, I’d love to hear it.

Have a blessed day!

Three ways to find your chart ruler in astrology

Most astrologers consider the planet which rules your first house to be your chart ruler, but that’s not the whole story. There are several different ways to determine which planets have the most significant impact on your life. In this post, we’ll look at a few of these and see how they relate to you.

Does your chart ruler rule your Ascendant?

There's more than one way to find your chart ruler.

In both ancient and modern astrology, in order to determine your chart ruler, most people look to see which planet rules your Ascendant. This planet–and its house placement–will give us an idea of your overall life direction, and where you tend to focus your activities and attention.

Because the Ascendant moves so much more quickly than any other point or planet in the heavens, your first house is your most personal house. It only makes sense that the planet which rules the sign of your Ascendant would also be quite personal. By looking at this planet, and where it falls in your chart, we can get a mile-high view of life direction and focus. If we find the ruler of your first house sitting in the tenth house of career, for example, much of your time and energy will probably be spent pursuing your profession.

That said, I don’t always find this way of finding your chart ruler to be the most interesting or practical. Instead, in my own natal astrology consultations, I use two other approaches which allow us to find your most prominent planet and your most helpful planet.

What is your most prominent planet?

According to the Renaissance astrologer William Lily, one way to find your chart ruler (which he called the “Lord of the Geniture”) is to determine which planet has the most essential dignity in certain places in your birth chart.

Specifically, we look at the places of the Ascendant, the Midheaven, the Sun, the Moon, and the Part of Fortune. We add up the essential dignities (and debilities) of each of the planets in each of these places. Whichever planet has the most essential dignity in total, that’s your Lord of the Geniture or chart ruler. In my own practice, I call this your “Most Prominent” planet.

Why is this? Well, think of this planet as the CEO of a company who not only controls the “Big Picture,” but they insist on being involved in all of the day-to-day affairs of the firm. Sure, the other employees (planets and points) will show up to work each day, but ultimately they have to answer to the boss.

How much essential dignity a planet has in any given place tells us how much influence the planet has in that place. For example, Mars rules the sign of Aries. That means it has tremendous influence not only over that sign, but over any points or planets within that sign. And those five points and planets we looked at above? They’re the five most important places in your birth chart. That makes the planet with the most essential dignities in these places the Big Boss.

What does your most prominent planet do?

Pretty much nothing gets done without your most prominent planet getting involved. This means every situation or event you experience in life is going to be touched by it in some way. Exactly how comes down to which planet we’re talking about, as well as its own placement in your chart.

Some planets are more constructive, others are less so. As a general rule, if this planet is essentially and accidentally dignified, you’ll tend to find the events and circumstances of your life proceeding relatively constructively and with few frustrations and setbacks. If it’s essentially and/or accidentally debilitated, though, then things might be…less constructive or smooth.

The bottom line? Your most prominent planet just is. It’s always there, like it or not. It might not be what most astrologers call your “chart ruler,” but it’ll certainly seem to rule more than its fair share.

Which is your most helpful planet?

In order to find your most helpful planet, we first want to see which of your planets have the most essential dignity where they sit in the chart. The more essential dignity a planet has, the more likely it is to “put its best foot forward.” That is to say, planets which are essentially dignified usually manifest their most constructive or beneficial significations.

However, we also need to look at how free each of the planets are to act. This means looking at accidental dignities and debilities, too. While a planet’s essential dignity reflects the quality of that planet’s expression, a planet’s accidental dignity reflects the quantity. Accidental dignity shows us how much the planet can express itself.

The planet which has the best combination of essential and accidental dignities is your most helpful planet.

What does “best” mean in this context? That’s where you usually need to just use your best judgement. If a planet has lots of essential dignity, but it’s sitting in one of the “weaker” houses, it might want to help out, but it may not always get the chance. A planet which very little essential dignity, but is sitting right on your Midheaven? It has a lot of power to act, but it might not always do so as constructively as you’d like.

Usually, I find there’s a pretty clear winner in most charts, but sometimes, you just have to look at the “numbers,” then apply your “intuition.”

What does your most helpful planet do?

In every chart, a planet has both “natural” significations as well as “accidental” significations. For example, the planet Venus has “relationships” and “love” as some of its natural significations. If, in your chart, Venus happens to rule your second house, it would also have “money” and “personal resources” as some of its accidental significations.

If you think back to challenging times in your life, or times when you were faced with frustrating or undesirable situations, you’ll probably find that whatever help and support you received then came from those areas of your life connected to your most helpful planet. That is, the natural and accidental significations of your most helpful planet are usually there to assist you in times of strife.

Are they always able to save the day completely? Sadly, no. But, this planet’s influence is likely to be apparent whenever you manage to triumph over some adversity or other.

Also, if you happen to be into astrological magic, well…you could do a lot worse than knocking on your most helpful planet’s door when you need some assistance.

Which chart ruler resonates with you the most?

Now that you know how to look for your most prominent and most helpful planets, go find them! Pull up a copy of your chart, do a little math, and see if what I wrote above resonates with you. You might be surprised to see how much more impact these planets have on your life than your expected chart ruler.

If you don’t have a copy of your birth chart, you can use a site like to generate one. And if you’re unsure of how essential and accidental dignity works, I highly recommend you check out the book On The Heavenly Spheres by Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro.

Have a blessed day!

How important is it to keep a magical diary?

A magical diary is the single most important tool for any sort of magical practitioner. No matter which magical tradition you’re coming from, no matter how long you’ve been practicing, there’s just nothing else that even comes close.

When I consult with clients, whether for a tarot reading or a natal astrology reading, I’m amazed at how few people keep any sort of diary at all. But if you’re a magician? I honestly don’t know how you can get by without one.

If you’ve never kept a magical diary before, let me explain both why it’s so important. I’ll also give you some advice on how to begin a diary, and how to stick with it.

Why keep a magical diary?

An inexpensive notebook and pen are all you need to start a magical diary.

A diary in general is a record of your life and the events and circumstances you experience. Ideally, you write at least one entry for each date describing the highlights and lowlights of the day. Even this minimal sort of work-a-day diary can be extremely useful–particularly if you’re a student of astrology.

I’ve written before about keeping a journal to track planetary transits, but a point from that post bears repeating here. There is no better way of knowing how astrological events affect you than looking back on specific dates to see what happened. For example, let’s say you’re about to experience your Saturn return. One way to receive a hint about which areas of your life are likely to be affected most by this transit is to go back and look at the events surrounding your Saturn opposition.

You can’t do that if you never wrote anything down!

In the broader sense, though, keeping a magical diary is even more important if you’re actually doing magic. In fact, your diary will often be the only “proof” you have that your magic is working at all.

Want an example? Here’s one from my own direct, personal experience…

Several years ago, someone close to me was having a lot of difficulties in school. Every day they were faced with confusing assignments, unsympathetic teachers, and bullying peers. They were trying their best, and going through all of the proper, “mundane” channels to address their issues, but nothing seemed to help.

So why not try a little magic?

I did an in-depth tarot reading on their situation, came up with a list of about a half dozen enchantment goals, and performed a ritual to assist them. Some of these goals were things like “This person’s teachers are understanding and patient,” and “This person feels safe and secure in their learning environment.”

Fast forward a year later, and I was reading over my magical diary and found the entry describing this ritual. For a moment, I was discouraged. None of the goals seemed to have ever “come off.”

Then, with something of a shock, I realized that they had. All of them! Every single one of the magical targets had been absolutely, 100% fulfilled within about two months of performing the ritual.

How so? The person’s parents had taken them out of public school and began homeschooling them.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I keep a magical diary, I might not ever have noticed this. Nor would I have noticed the countless tarot readings I’ve performed where I was left a bit confused by the cards, but my predictions ultimately proved to be accurate down to the smallest detail.

Sometimes–a lot of the time, actually–magic is slow. It can take weeks or months for results to appear. The best way not to lose track of what you’re doing and why? Write it down.

How to start?

Starting a magical diary is as simple as writing down today’s date, followed by whatever’s on your mind. Before we get into more specifics, let’s talk first about formats: digital or hand-written?

Some people prefer to keep their journal or diary on their computer. This might mean using a word processing program, or it could be a dedicated journaling or diary app. Other people handwrite their magical diaries in actual, physical books.

Me? I fall into the latter category. I have tried keeping my diary on a computer, but I never seemed to keep them updated for very long. Maybe I’m just old, but I really do prefer putting pen to paper. At the very least, it makes me feel more “wizardly.”

Whichever format you decide to start with, try to stick with it for a couple of months before trying to switch over to something else. Getting started with a magical diary is often the hardest part, so any format is going to feel like a challenge in the beginning. Build up the habit of writing first, and only switch it up if you’re sure your chosen format isn’t going to work out.

That said, I’m going to assume you’re using a physical book for your magical diary for the rest of this post. Don’t worry, though. The advice all works out much the same if you’re using a computer.

On the first blank page of the diary, I write my name and the date on which I’m starting it. (Once I’ve filled the book completely, I’ll go back to this page and write the date of the last entry.)

I leave the next page or two blank, then start writing my daily record.

The first thing I write each day is the date, along with the day of the week. I record the day of the week because I do a lot of work with astrology and planetary magic. Being able to tell which planetary day it is at a glance is pretty important to me.

Then, because I tend to write several entries each day, I write the time of the entry, followed by my thoughts.

A sample diary entry.

February 5, 2023 — Sunday

4:15am – Got up around 3:30am. No dreams to note. Seem to have slept alright and feel rested.

5:00am – Two cups of coffee. Maybe not as rested as I thought. Received email reply from J.R. regarding tarot consult. Very happy with result. Beginning astro consult for F.G.

9:00am – Report sent to F.G. Meditation now, then lunch.

9:35am – Twenty minute meditation. Very hard to keep my mind from wandering. Feel relaxed, but frustrated. Really need to make meditation a daily habit again.

While I didn’t take the above from my magical diary verbatim, it’s a good example of the sort of record that I keep for myself. Yours doesn’t have to look like this at all. It can be more or less detailed, more narrative in structure, or whatever you want.

The main point is that you want to record whatever magical work you do (I include consultations in this category), as well as any surrounding context which might be relevant. For instance, maybe those two cups of coffee had something to do with my meditation difficulties.

(Incidentally, I learned how to keep a magical diary way back in my teenage years when I was reading a lot of Crowley. As a result, my record-keeping looks quite a bit like what you’ll find in one of his diaries, published as John St. John, which you can find freely-available here. If you’re looking for another, albeit dense example of a magical diary, you could do worse than check it out.)

Anyway, so that’s what a typical entry in my magical diary looks like. Now, why did I leave a page or two at the beginning of the book blank? Because if I perform a major ritual or experience an even or situation of incredible significance, I’ll go back to those pages and write down the date, and a one-sentence description of the event.

In effect, this allows the first couple of pages to serve as a kind of table of contents for the most important things included in the book. This isn’t to say the rest of my magical diary is unimportant, just that some events are particularly noteworthy and I’ll likely want to refer back to them in the future.

One last thing I want to mention about getting started is actually a repetition of something I wrote above. Getting started is absolutely the hardest part of keeping a magical diary. Just getting into the habit of cracking the book open every day and writing something down seems like the most challenging thing ever if you aren’t used to it.

The best advice I can give you here is this: when you first begin your diary, make a commitment to yourself to write in it every single day for two weeks. Even if all you write is the date followed by the sentence “I don’t want to write today,” that’s enough.

I’ll have some more tips for keeping your diary going in the next section.

What are some tips for sticking with it?

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m just an ordinary sinner. As much as I insist on writing in your magical diary every say, I frequently go days, weeks, or even sometimes months without even touching mine. Why? Just ’cause.

Maybe I’m particularly busy or stressed. Maybe I’ve let my magical practice slip. Or maybe I just can’t be asked to sit down and scribble out “watched Netflix, ate half a pizza, played video games.”

Whatever the reason, I don’t really sweat it. Yes, ideally, I’m writing every day and you should, too. But you know what? Don’t beat yourself up if you slack off. Just recognize when you do, then make a concerted effort to pick up the practice again. That’s the first tip: be kind to yourself and just do your best.

Another tip for keeping your magical diary up to date is to write at a set time each day. Try putting aside ten minutes just before you go to bed. Again, even if you write “did nothing today” or “meditated” that’s enough. Sure, a more detailed entry will probably be more useful to you later on, but just getting on with the practice is sometimes all you can hope for.

One tip I learned from a friend of mine is really helpful for keeping track of when noteworthy events happen during the day and you don’t have your magical diary with you. Whenever something significant happens while you’re at work, school, or out and about on errands, send yourself a text message, or a short email–just a sentence or two will suffice to jog your memory later when you sit down to write. And, as a bonus, your message to yourself will have a timestamp!

The last tip I want to share about keeping a magical diary is to not be afraid to get “crafty” with it if that’s your thing. This might mean including small sketches or doodles, or it could mean turning your magical diary into a full-blown scrap book. For whatever reason, I’ve known many people who have a hard time motivating themselves to write, but they absolutely love to draw or do some sort of paper crafting. So, that’s their “way in.” They’ll crack open their diary, do a small watercolor, then find themselves writing a few sentences.

Whatever helps you open the book and keep it going.

Do you have any tips to share on keeping a magical diary? If so, leave a comment down below. I’d love to hear them.

In the meantime, have a blessed day!


I can’t say I’m a fan of winter, what with all the snow I have to shovel, and all the icy sidewalks which want to break my hip, but after the near-continuous heat waves this summer? I’ve actually been looking forward to it. Say what you want about wind chills in the negative twenties, at least I can sleep.

Of course, it’s not winter yet. It’s autumn, a time of year which usually turns out to be a very mixed bag for my family.

We don’t have the best of luck during the months of October and November. Illness, injury, and deaths kind of seem to pile up around this time, in a way that would be impressive if it weren’t so bitterly miserable.

At the same time, my daughter was born in October, and everyone in my family positively adores Halloween and Thanksgiving. Living in New England means the foliage is utterly gorgeous, the woodstoves found in every other house in my neighborhood fill the air with pleasant smoke, and the air itself has just enough chill to wake you up, but isn’t cold enough that you don’t want to leave the house at all.

It’s hard to ignore the hardships, but it’s equally-hard to ignore the happiness.

What hasn’t been hard to ignore is this blog, hence the two-ish months between updates.

I mentioned back in my Summer post that I have been spending as much time as humanly possible out in the woods, or out on the water. Hiking, fishing, just being, really. That was totally awesome, but what would have made it even more awesome was if I hadn’t hurt my foot.

And my back.

And I hadn’t caught a plague which I still can’t believe wasn’t the popular one going around, despite having two tests come back negative.

In other words, that whole Autumnal Misfortune I mentioned above? Yeah, it started about a month early, and it put a serious cramp in my style.

Fortunately, though, things have been pretty good this week! My foot’s mostly fine, my back is now very happy with the the new desk chair I purchased, and I’ve started reliably sleeping through the night instead of waking up every hour to cough myself half to death.

It hasn’t been all misery, though. My daughter just celebrated her eighteenth birthday, which…I believe even less than my negative nasal swabs.

More than this, though, I’ve had many people reach out to me for readings and consultations, and that’s been wonderful. There’s honestly nothing I enjoy doing more than working with other people, whether it’s for a tarot reading, an astrology consult, or doing a bit of magic. Even when the last thing my back wanted to do was sit in a chair for three hours, I was still typing out responses, and loving every minute of it.

So let me close this not-quite-a-post with my sincerest thanks to everyone who has reached out to me for a reading. You truly made these last couple of months far more pleasant than they would have been otherwise.

Have a blessed day!

Ancestors, traditions, and relating with the present

I’ve been spending more time with my ancestors lately, hoping to establish more intentional and positive relationships with them. One of the ways in which I’ve been relating with my ancestors is by putting together a family tree, and really trying to understand the flow of my lineages through history.

And that’s gotten me thinking about tradition.

Tradition is kind of a loaded word right now. There are a lot of people leaning on what is “traditional” in order to justify some quite frankly miserable behavior. Some of this comes from a sort of misplaced nostalgia for a half-imagined past which never really existed, but most of it comes from the desire of those in power to stay in power.

I could go into specifics here, but unless you’ve literally been living under a rock for the last six or seven years, you probably already know what I’m talking about.

There’s another way to look at tradition, though. There’s a way to see the past–the real past–not as a perfect blueprint to follow uncritically, but as a source of inspiration when dealing with the present and preparing for the future.

Gardens come to mind.

My father was born in 1946, the youngest of fourteen children. His mother was born in 1904, and his father was born in 1900. These dates may seem incredibly remote to those of you born around the turn of the millennium, but my grandparents are part of my living memory. And when they were getting their family on, everyone had a garden–especially if, like my grandfather, they were trying to support a family of this size on a mill-worker’s salary.

I’m told that pretty much every square inch of my father’s childhood yard was used to grow something. Whatever they didn’t eat fresh, my grandmother canned for the winter. My grandmother also made bread, not just to feed the family, but also to give and sell to neighbors, other family, and friends. Every resource they had at their disposal was used to help themselves, or it was traded with those around them.

We can find a lot of inspiration, here.

The most obvious flash of insight is that, not too long ago, people did much more for themselves than we do. Today, most of us buy our vegetables and bread from the grocery store. This is fine, I suppose, so long as the grocery store continues to have what we need, and we’re able to pay the price they’re asking.

Those are big “ifs” right now.

Unless you’re still living under that rock we talked about earlier, grocery stores have become both less reliable and much more expensive. I have a loaf of white bread sitting on my counter which cost me $4.29. And last week? I had to get a different brand because the store was wiped out of the brand I usually buy.

When I’m able to bake my own bread, it costs me about $1.00 a loaf, and it’s a far better product.

I’ve written about this sort of thing before, in a post I called Home economics, wherein I linked to a video on the Townsends YouTube channel. You could do a lot worse than going back to that post and watching the video again. It talks about looking at your home as a “little factory,” and not just thinking of it (or relating to it) as a place to sleep and store your stuff.

There’s another bit of inspiration we can glean from the way in which my father’s parents related with the world around them, which is touched on by this video, also from Townsends.

In case it’s not glaringly-obvious, I love this channel, and I spend a lot of time not just watching the videos there, but also trying to find ways to re-contextualize the traditions they cover for life in the present day.

My parents, grandparents, and all the generations before them spent a great deal of time establishing and maintaining relationships with their neighbors, and their local community as a whole. The further you go back in time, the more vital these connections become.

Remember: thirty years ago, there was no World Wide Web. Fifty years ago? No Internet at all. A century ago? Barely anyone had a phone.

Not only were the people in your immediate community likely to be your only social outlet apart from family, they were the only help you were going to get should you find yourself in real trouble. The safety and prosperity of your neighbors was, in a very literal sense, your safety and prosperity.

So what does this have to do with today? More the point, what does this have to do with magic (seeing as that’s what this blog is supposed to be about)?

To my way of thinking, these two questions are basically the same: What might this traditional way of living tell us about relating to and in the present?

I see magic as a tool (or set of tools) which allows us to more easily live in right relationship with the world around us. It allows us to better understand our place and function, and gives us ways to restore ourselves to that place and function when we’re off-base.

Proximity is a critical consideration when relating with others. By which I mean, it’s easier and more fruitful to think and act locally, first and foremost.

Something you might not be aware of is that, if you live in the United States, almost every dime you pay in “taxes” goes to your city, county, or state government. Property tax (or your landlord’s taxes, which you pay in the form of rent), sales tax, water bills, parking fees and fines–all of this is obviously collected by city or state officials. But even a good portion of your federal income tax ends up being paid out to states and cities in the form of grants, or federally-funded programs such as Medicaid.

What’s more, most of the laws you’re required to obey are set at the local or state level. Which streets you can park on, where you can open and operate a business, when you can buy alcohol–the buck for all of these ultimately stops at city hall or your state house.

Who decides where your polling place is, and how long it’s open on election day? That would be town clerk. Who decides if your local library is going to get funding next year? Your town council.

Like it or not, more and more political power is being handed off to the states and cities. It isn’t the feds that are going to decide whether or not you can have roommates to help you pay for a home, it’s going to be the people in your local government–and lot of those people are landlords.

I’ve already shared these thoughts privately, with friends and family. And it’s long been my belief that we should be spending most of our time and attention not on what’s happening at the national level, but at the local level.

To be blunt, I think if you can name your U.S. Senators, but can’t name your city councilors, you’re doing it wrong.

But it’s more than that.

Look again at that video I embedded above, and think about not only what it would take to become more deeply-involved in your immediate community, but also how much further any effort to improve upon it is likely to go, compared to your chances of changing anything at the national scale.

It’s a lot easier to live in right relationship with someone when you can shake their hand.

Have a blessed day!

I now offer natal astrology readings

If you’re looking to understand your place in the cosmos, or want a clearer perspective regarding your overall life circumstances, I want you to know that I now provide natal astrology readings.

I try to respond to requests within seventy-two hours, and ask only for a small donation in return, provided that you are completely satisfied with your reading, and you are able to afford it.

If you’d like to read a long, drawn-out version of why I’ve decided to offer natal astrology readings, read on!

Late last year, I began offering tarot readings via email, and the response I’ve received has been incredible. It was my intention to help everyone who chose to reach out to me for a reading, regardless of their ability to pay for my services. To that end, I asked for no money in advance. Instead, after I had answered their question, I would provide a link through which they could send me a donation or gift–provided that they were both 100% satisfied with the reading, and they wouldn’t harm their wallets.

The result is more than I could have ever hoped for. Not only have I been able to help more people than I thought possible, but their generosity has been truly humbling. If you are one of those wonderful souls who have reached out to me for a reading, please accept my sincerest thanks.

It has always been my hope to expand the services I offer through this site, but I’ve been hesitant to do so for fear of not having enough time to answer requests promptly. “Baby steps,” I said to myself. I would only offer those types of consultations which I knew I could handle in a reasonable time-frame, and I would give myself a long time between announcements of new services, so as to avoid biting off more than I could chew.

Now, I’m in a position to offer natal astrology readings, under the same terms and conditions that apply to my tarot consultations. If you’d like a natal consultation, you can request a reading here. If you have any questions, or just want to say “hi,” please email me and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Have a blessed day!