Retelling The Present

“It’s not necessarily about telling the future. It’s about retelling the present.” That’s from the introduction to Jessa Crispin’s book The Creative Tarot. It’s a nice way to sum up her story-based and pragmatic approach to Tarot reading. Crispin, a writer, literary critic, editor, and tarot reader who has co-designed a deck of her own (the Spolia deck with artist Jen May), wrote the book to fill the gap she saw in readings and spreads specifically geared to creatives.

 

The Creative Tarot is a funny, modern, down-to-earth text, intended as a starting point in a Tarot education. It contains history of the tradition, Crispin’s own spreads, illustrations from the Spolia deck, and advice for the beginner. However, it’s the card descriptions where it really shines. Based on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, each card is given one and half to three pages where the author deconstructs the symbolism and meaning as well as relates stories about famous creatives that reinforce the meanings. In addition, she gives three “recommended materials”: books, movies, paintings, etc. to illustrate her point and encourage cross-pollination across genres and mediums.
Although I have so far only dabbled in Tarot, taking an online course through the Los Angeles Public Library [http://www.lapl.org/collections-resources/online-learning] (for LAPL cardholders only, unfortunately), and doing my own readings, I’ve found Crispin’s book to be extremely useful and easy to understand. More so even, than the booklets that came with my decks (Rider-Waite-Smith and Salvador Dali). I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for down-to-earth guidance in their creative and spiritual practices. You can get a sense of her style by signing up for her Reading the Tarot newsletter [https://tinyletter.com/thebookslut].

-Katta, Magus Minion

Spiritual Practices: Morning Meditation

I’m often asked what my spiritual practices are here at Magus by guests. While I do have a set of meditations and rituals I do on a daily or monthly basis, I consider service to be a major component of my spiritual practice. Being there for my friends and family in times of need is a core ethic of mine. Working in the shop and helping people get the herbs they need or selecting the right book for them is part of my practice.

This month I’m offering you my daily meditation. It’s evolved over time, but takes elements from Kundalini yoga* and grounding and centering practices from various pagan traditions**. I know this isn’t a traditional form of mediation and isn’t sanctioned by any overarching authority, but it works for me and I find it prepares me for the day ahead.

I begin by turning off my alarm. I really don’t like silence, but in the quiet of the morning, I find it is the most peaceful time to sit and truly enjoy the silence. I sit in front of my altar. I might light a candle, depending on if I have the time to devote to it. Most mornings I don’t light a candle unless I’m going to meditate for more than 5 minutes, or do some other specific work.

After breathing deep for a few moments, I bring my attention to the base of my spine and my legs. I feel myself being grounded and supported by the earth. I’ll visualize roots descending into the ground and soaking up the dark and nurturing energy.  Then, I’ll massage my feet, ankles, and calves and with my breath draw up the energies.

I visualize my root chakra, and see what arises in my mind or body. I take note of thoughts and feelings that come up. I visualize or perceive the color or density the chakra. I do this in ascending order all the way through my body. I keep breathing up earth energy until I’m filled all the way up. Depending on the time I have that morning, I might spend more or less time in one chakra over another.

After going through each chakra and having my body filled with earth energy, I breathe it up and visualize branches going into the heavens. Each branch reaches out to the stars and draws down the cool blue fire of starlight. I continue to breathe in deep, slow, and calm. I let the star energy mix with the earth energy in my core, in the place between my pelvis and my heart. I breathe this combination into a sphere around my body, filling my space, my room, and expanding out into the world around me. I take several moments to breathe in the space connected to earth and heavens and my surrounding community. I see the ways in which I influence the world and how the world influences me. I might sense patterns or specific flows of energy.

Slowly I bring my attention back to my body, open my eyes, and journal a few notes about what I experienced with my chakras, or with my body, or where energy flowed slow or quick. I then go about the rest of my morning routine feeling centered, alive, and move with confidence through the rest of the day. I definitely notice the days when I don’t do this practice, or some variation on it. I recommend trying this, or parts of it, to anyone looking to formulate a daily meditation practice.

*Judith, Anodea. (1999). Wheels of Life. Llewellyn Publications.

**Coyle, T. Thorn. (2009). Kissing the Limitless. Weiser Books.
   Starhawk. (2005). Earth Path. HarperCollins Publishers.

 

-By Markus K Ironwood

ABRACADABRA!

We’ve all heard the word “Abracadabra” used in popular culture in films, TV shows, and maybe even in social interactions where one would use the word to exclaim a satisfactory outcome at some attempt to make something magical happen… “Abracadabra! The dishes are done! Abracadabra!” …but still they sit in the sink and every roommate groans and moans about the chore.  

The word actually has its origins in magical literature dating back from approximately the 2nd Century BCE.  According to Lecourteux in the Dictionary of Ancient Magic Words and Spells, the word was found on an amulet that was discovered and dated from the era in Greek letters.  The word was written “a ba ga da” and is said to be in acrostic (poetic, or puzzle-like arrangement) form and derived from the Hebrew version “Ha Brakha dabra”.  “Ha Brakha dabra” means, “the blessing has spoken”.  Other sources indicate that it could also be a derivative of Abraxas, an ancient Greek word attributed to Gnosticism.

Magical benefits of the word Abracadabra are said to be effective when writing the actual word out.  Etymologically the word “spelling” is quite literal, and spelling out a word or speaking words is much like doing a spell, as words have power.  Writing out Abracadabra (pictured below) was supposed to magically decrease a fever as the letters in the words shrunk down, in a form of a triangle.

-By Kyle Ford, Assistant Manager