Wednesday Webshare: Online Tarot, Buddhism, and Corpses

2015/11/25

If you do divination online, or are considering it, Donyae Coles on Spiral Nature talks about the pros and cons. I agree with most of them. If I were to add anything, it’s that online readings are sometimes harder to make boundaries for. In person when a client leaves my space, it’s over essentially. Online the client can email me weeks or months later to ask more questions about the reading (not get a new reading, but ask so many questions it takes up more time than the initial reading). Even though face-to-face clients could contact me again for such things, they never do, they always book a full session.

Though there are concerns about whether or not a tarot reader is fraudulent or not, and Fiona gives a good voice to the concerns, and problems with them. She brings up something I struggle with; within the dice mo system I practice it’s not uncommon for the result to give some ritual that is to be performed. Usually I explain to the client how to do a simplified non-Buddhist version of such a ritual. Sometimes they can’t, or don’t want to, and I feel weird saying “Yeah, the divination says you need this tantric ritual performed, if you don’t know anyone who can do it, I can.”

Have a beautiful, and non-traditional rendition of the Seven Line Prayer of Guru Rinpoche.

Speaking of non-traditional things in Buddhism. For the first time Buddhist Nuns in the Vajrayana tradition are becoming Geshes. (Which is a higher degree essentially a doctorate/phd) This is a big step for the tradition. I can only say so much as a Western feminist, but there have been historical power imbalances in the tradition that this will help address. (Also, ignore the fact the article calls Kundun a living god.)

As my primary practice is chöd I have to be very familiar with the process of decay and the details of the body. I know this isn’t the only tradition that benefits from understanding different ways the body is broken down after death (hell, it’s not even the only tradition I’m a part of that requires that), so here is a video of some flesh eating beetles stripping down a snake corpse. Beautiful and fascinating.

We all know Christianity was figuratively built on paganism, but also literally. A 2000 year old pagan basilica under Rome has just been opened to the public. I would love to spend time there, it’s been undisturbed for much of its history, I wonder what the walls would say…and as a sorcerer that’s not necessarily a figure of speech.

Whether you’re new to the game, or old crown when it comes to magick, there are common mistakes we all can make, or have made. Here is a list of seven of the biggest. (I’ve made four of them, and am still dealing with one of them)

Sorry for the shorter share list than usual, it’s not lack of interesting posts, but a very busy month has led me to reading less online.


Wednesday Webshare: Dragons, Dracula, and Meditation: Sex, Breath, and Darkness

2014/07/02

Mercury Web
Interestingly enough a study says that sex and meditation do many of the same things to our brain. Of course I’d wager that lasting effects are more likely to show up with meditation. Maybe I’m biased, but I know a lot more calm, compassionate monks than calm, compassionate people who just get laid a lot. (But as always I take the middle road)

Mike Sententia makes a good, short, post about foundational understanding. I’ve ranted about this for a long time, but he puts it in a short and simple package. We wouldn’t learn science the way a lot of people want to learn magick.

Everyone’s favourite Chick Track combining Dungeons and Dragons, and the occult is being made into a movie. So excited.

A study suggests that non-directive meditation is the most effective form. Despite all the more complex forms I’ve learned over the years, I still return to anapana/vipassana more than anything else, maybe this explains why.

Researchers think they found Dracula’s grave and want to open it…because that never turns out bad in the movies…

Slyphs, and Gnomes, and Undines too…but there are a lot more unusual creatures from medieval manuscripts. Lots of these weird creatures from medieval bestiaries get used in magick, but many have been forgotten, so who wants to figure out magickal uses for the bonnacon?

My friend Psyche discusses the issues around gender essentialism in their time with the OTO, and why they left. As many people know, I recently was part of a panel on queer and gender queer magick, so I’ve found Psyche’s experience with the OTO interesting and relatable to a lot of my issues around rigid binaries. It’s not without hope though, a few commenters said that not all OTO bodies hold to rigid physical sex and gender prescriptions with the roles in ritual, and allow people to move between them based on what the identify with or feel at that time, which is great to read.

Arkansas bans the creation of a pagan temple when they realized pagans aren’t Christian. I wish I could be surprised.

I ❤ Dave, and he recently did a Lyric or Satiric game, using the Bible. Basically he and friend take turns either reading Bible verses or fake Bible verses, and guess if it is real or fake.

Buffersafe has a comic on Ghost Stories…and frankly this is far closer to the ghost stories I live.

Back to Spiral Nature, Psyche addresses a question from someone who isn’t sure if they’re ready to begin spellwork. My favourite part is the advice includes something I see way too many occultists forgetting, and that’s SMART goals (or worse…any goals…).

Frankly I’m more likely to blame moldy chip dip than the Ouija board. Hell, I was at a party last weekend where drunk people made a Ouija board, used it while drunk, with a My Little Pony planchette, and no one got possessed.

The world’s first affordable sensory deprivation tank, only $1,700. Okay, that’s still a fair sum, but a lot cheaper than most. As someone who has had great results with the Ganzfeld procedure magickally, I have to say I’ve always wanted a full-blown sensory deprivation tank, and this is just one step closer.

The dark side of meditation. People in the West forget meditation isn’t about relaxation, it can help, but that’s not the point. It loosens the ego, deals with sankara (impurities of the mind), and that isn’t necessarily a pleasant experience. I feel this person needed more help processing his experience and he didn’t get it, but it’s not an unheard of, or even uncommon response. The times I live in temple or meditation retreat contain some of the more horrible and terrifying thought-experiences of my life, all while on a cushion. Meditation can bring you to some really “dark” places, but it can also take you beyond them, just return your focus to your breath.

A distant dharma sibling is crowdfunding to support her work on an elaborate thangka depicting the chöd practice and it looks amazing.

What a Shaman sees in a mental hospital. Interesting reframing of mental conditions through a spiritual lens. (Though I’m not a fan of people who say all mental/cognitive conditions and illnesses are spiritual awakenings.)

A piece on why the tarot has/needs structure. A bit controversial to some, but I wouldn’t say it’s wrong. It’s not a judgment about tarot v oracle decks, but just clarifying that they’re different things, and there is only so much you can change in the tarot until it becomes something else.


Pendant Sale on Blue Flame Magick Supplies

2014/02/11

So I announced this on twitter, but forgot to make a blog post about it.

There is currently a sale occurring at my etsy store

I feel it is a time for me to change my focus. My malas will still be there, but now it’s time for me to move away from the pendants I’ve been consecrating, so they’re on sale.

So because of this decision all my pendants are marked down to $20, in some cases that’s more than 50% off.

So if you’re looking for healing, help with chronic health issues, or help preventing health problems there are my Medicine Buddha pendants

If you’re looking for help with the financial, increasing wealth and over-coming obstacles to wealth (specifically when poverty prevents spiritual practice) there are White Mahakala pendants

Lastly, more abstract are my Machik Labdron pendants. It is through her practice that “karmic debts are purified” and “sickness, demons, and obstacles are pacified into space.” The idea is that chöd, the practice of Machik Labdron purifies karmic debts, and asks for the blessing of a variety of spirits to help you on your path. While these blessings can be useful for almost anything, I find they’re best for overcoming chronic issues, as they tend to be karmically rooted. So if there is a specific problem that keeps reoccurring without a physical/mundane cause, perhaps a Machik Labdron pendant would be useful.

More information on each pendant is available in the links, including more on what they do, and how they were consecrated. Since I’m getting out of the pendant business (at least for a time) this may be the last time to get some of these. They’re all marked down to $20 –Canadian too, a deal for Yankees 😉 – and supplies are limited. Get them while they last, and help me build up some capital for my next endeavour.

(And any signal boost would be appreciated)


Review: Chöd Practice in the Bön Tradition – Alejandro Chaoul

2011/07/07

Chöd Practice in the Bön Tradition: Tracing the origins of chöd (gcod) in the Bön tradition, a dialogic approach cutting through sectarian boundaries – Alejandro Chaoul, Forewards by Yongdzin Lopon Tenzin Namdak and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Snow Lion. 2009. 116 pp. with appendices. 9781559392921.

Chöd is a fairly obscure practice from Tibetan Buddhism and it also appears within Bön, the pre-Buddhist “shamanic” religion of Tibet. It is generally conceived as a Buddhist practice, framed in Buddhist imagery and philosophy, and the mythology places it firmly within the realm of Buddhism by use of its founder Machik Labdron, a Tibetan Buddhist saint. Yet in Bön the philosophy and mythology are a bit different though the practice is largely similar. So where did chöd come from?

Chaoul makes, what he believes, to be the first real study of chöd within Bön tradition. The book based upon his MA thesis at the University of Virginia, where he tried to find the interconnection between the two chöd practices. He did not focus on trying to find an origin for chöd but instead focused on how the practice has been shared and exchanged and developed between the two traditions. One tradition was not viewed as more legitimate or superior, instead Chaoul states “that the beauty of this rich, intricate, and often misunderstood practice, is to be found in the coexistence of many different views, which can expand beyond the traditional horizons delimited by social, academic, and sectarian boundaries.” (4)

I find this a curious and interesting case; as a perfect example of what he was studying Chaoul included in the book the sadhana called in English “The Laughter of the Dakinis” which is a sadhana within my lineage as well, even though his source is Bön and my lineage is Buddhist. So there I find not just the general sharing, but a specific ritual within both traditions. Personally it was a great book to read because of my lineage, my lama taught me (and understands this) through the Buddhist perspective and it was great to see the other, less common, perspective.

In fact in my initial chöd training I learnt that chöd had incorporated aspects from Bön, as it had from tantra and sutra traditions and even Hinduism, but I was unaware that there was a full chöd tradition within Bön. Most of this book made sense, and I could see the exchanges and changes, and some parts had me really wondering. For example when describing the tools the damaru (drum) is described as being made from two skulls (53) whereas I was taught, quite emphatically, that the damaru is to be acacia wood and the skull drums are from an unrelated tradition but due to similar appearance get associated with chöd, but should never be used for chöd. (Sidenote: The damaru shown on the cover is quite clearly not made from skulls) Things like this intrigue me, I want to learn is this a difference between Bön and Buddhist chöd, or is this lineage specific and my lama was speaking from his bias?

This book is highly academic, as mentioned it was based upon an MA thesis, it has 299 endnotes (to help make the point), so if you’re looking for an easy read, this isn’t it. This book is not appropriate for someone curious about chöd or looking to learn it, too much of the knowledge, history, mythology, and philosophy is chöd specific. For those studying chöd the complete sadhana of “The Laughter of the Dakinis” is included and “intended for use by those who have received transmission and explanation from an authentic lineage holder” (69) and if you are a chödpa (Buddhist or Bönpo) with an academic or bookworm leaning, this book is an excellent read and resource.


Review: Hundred Thousand Rays of the Sun – H. E. Lama Tsering Wangdu

2011/05/25

Hundred Thousand Rays of the Sun: The Sublime Life and Teachings of a Chöd Master – H. E. Lama Tsering Wangdu, translated and edited by Joshua Waldman & Lama Jinpa
Lulu. 2008. 213pp. 9780557004096.

Finding and reading this book was an unusual and humorous event for me, my lama would probably read into it more -that I’m on the right path- I’ll just say it happened. So I saw the cover of this book from a distance and my first thought was that it looked like the various covers and handouts created by Lama Jinpa, only when I looked closer did I realize it was about our Lama and Lama Jinpa himself had helped with the book. That is all I needed to decide to get the book.

This book is an autohagiography of H.E. Lama Tsering Wangdu, a beautiful and gentle soul, as well as a wise and forceful ch‏‏ödpa. This tale follows him from the events of his crazy wisdom life from birth to the present day, including a meta-story section about being approached by Joshua Waldman to write the text.

Now as someone recognized as a master of his tradition it should not be surprising that parts of his story seem pulled straight from the tales of the Boddhisattvas and great yogis of the past. Born with a caul on his face and teaching his mother the mantra of Buddha Amitabha when first learning to talk (9) you can expect he would lead an interesting life.

In his youth he was transferred to a monastery and in his tale you see the political side of power in a temple that one might not expect. He came to age balanced between his family life and his religious life during the time of the Chinese invasion. Though lucky enough to be out of Tibet at the time you can read of the pain this caused him and his family.

Much of the book is focused on his wanderings as a chödpa performing chöd in the wilderness of Tibet, Bhutan, and India. The miracles, visions, and events he experienced were fascinating, if at times hard to believe. This section of the book proved to me very insightful because it showed me the role that chöd has in the life of the master I’m studying under; it takes it out of realm of the “classroom” and into his life.

The Dalai Lama said to Lama Wangdu “Padampa Sangye has no community of practitioners. It’s important that you establish one for the tradition” (164) and this book is part of that process as well as detailing the amazing events that led to Lama Wangdu founding his temple and then seeking out students to train in the dying practice of chöd. What surprised me is this book contains some basics on performing chöd, which in personal correspondence was warned against attempting without having received the blessing of Machik. None the less I will trust that the bare basics revealed in the text are nothing that could harm a practitioner if they did not have the blessing and that Lama Wangdu knew what he was doing.

While the story itself is quite engaging Lama Wangdu is not an author and the book doesn’t read like a story. In fact the best analogy I have is the type of rambling tale your grandparents tell you. It’s interesting, has lots of information in it, but doesn’t always follow a coherent narrative and occasionally a detail is lost. For example at one point Lama Wangdu mentions meeting his wife in a specific town, but we never hear of her or their relationship again. It took me a bit of time to get used to this style but once I did I found the cadence almost endearing.

For students of chöd and chödpas this is a great look into the life of one of the masters of our practice, but students of Buddhism in general it is still a great tale of a wandering yogi and his spiritual journey.


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