Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dangers of Compartmentalization

For protection against flooding, one of the most important safety precautions is to divide a ship into a large number of separate, watertight compartments.

If there is a breach in the hull at one point, the water is contained and the entire ship is not flooded. This is a key precaution to maintain overall integrity and structure of the ship.

Compartmentalization also works well to maintain the structure and integrity of your life structure and worldview. In fact, for many people, keeping the different facets of their life carefully separated is the only way they can maintain the current structure of their lives. We can present one face to our friends, another to our family and a third to our boss and co-workers. We rightly or wrongly fear that if these disparate strands of our life were brought together that problems, conflicts and even a threat to the continuation of the current course of our lives may take place. Often we do not even bring the possible consequences into consciousness, we simply keep all of these different areas separate.

Now, sometimes compartmentalization is wise. Many years ago when we were in DC I had a friend at a large, very conservative lawfirm that I had been fired from. My friend was probably correct not to flaunt in front of his boss his friendship with such an egregious rebel. One of the downsides, however, of compartmentalization is an inevitable fracturing and at least mild schizophrenia. We are never free to be who we are, but must always conform to the requirements of our surroundings.

I've also encountered another very interesting example of compartmentalization which is the significant number of people who are otherwise entirely conventional, with one exception, be it ceremonial magic, or Zen, astrology or some other spiritual or esoteric interest or activity. For example, again, in DC, I met a guy who said, "I'm just a regular, run of the mill programmer, who does Goetic magic in the evenings and on the weekend." Similarly, this is fairly prevalent with Zen, as my experience is that Zen practitioners are otherwise totally ordinary plain vanilla liberal Democrats.

This compartmentalization of spiritual, magical or esoteric practice has several practical uses. It can be seen as a purely practical measure as old aunt Zelda or your boss might react badly. But in fact there is a deeper purpose here as the spiritual or esoteric practice can be partially taken on board without disrupting the existing mental structures and worldview. This is, in fact, another very significant drawback of compartmentalization. For me the practice of first astrology, then astrological magic, then Zen meditation and awakening through Zen & Non-Duality all had an incredibly wide and deep effect on all areas of my life. These combined practices changed my worldview and my reality.

Take horary astrology. In horary we look at the chart of a question and from the position of the planets at the time of the question, we can accurately judge the answer. Not always, but at least 80% or so and sometimes the level of accuracy is amazing. Now we can toddle along with that, unconsciously sticking with the underlying atheistic/materialistic worldview that we are fed by our culture, but just start contemplating the implications. If horary works, which is most definitely does, then there are spiritual cycles that underlie the material world and there is more than simply matter and energy. Existence is not random, the Cosmos is completely patterned and meaningful. Not just in a poetic, vague way, but very practically and concretely, such that a client can ask, "Will I get the job at Y corp?" and I can say "yes" and be right the vast majority of the time.

Compartmentalization allows us to be irrational, for the left to know something that the right can simultaneously deny. It's one thing to not mention you are an astrologer to old Aunt Zelda, it's another to deny the implications of it to yourself. As much as I enjoy predicting the future, in fact the most important thing I've learned from astrology is that the modern worldview is so full of holes as to be almost unusable. The self is quite threatened by this sort of knowledge, which upends its worldview and turns its reality topsy turvy. It sees this knowledge as a danger, a flood that compartmentalization is needed to protect itself from. But if we are to see things as they really are, we have to be willing to be changed. These walls that seem to protect are in fact dividing us and walling us in. Be willing to be other than you are!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Natal Readings and Talismanic Prescriptions

I wanted to talk about Renaissance Astrology natal readings and talisman prescriptions.

When people think of astrology they almost always are thinking of natal (aka birth chart) readings where an astrologer looks at the time of birth of a person. This is because modern astrology focuses almost exclusively on natal readings. Of course, traditional astrology also includes horary readings based on the chart of a question as well as electional astrology, which picks astrologically auspicious times to take action. In addition, mundane astrology looks at long periods of time, whole countries and weather.

Traditional astrologers have really been much more focused on horary astrology, but Robert Zoller helped raise the profile of traditional natal astrology, particularly through Guido Bonatti's medieval Liber Astronomiae. What distinguishes traditional natal readings from modern is more attention to concrete prediction, while modern is more attuned to psychology.

What is somewhat ironic is that while for a long time I considered myself to be a very traditional, traditional astrologer, I have found that I really have a talent for reading psychology in natal charts. Now this is not untraditional just really a change in terminology because traditional astrologers were doing the same thing, just referring to it as character or manners. This is an excellent example of how important it is to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge that the modern astrologers were right, you can learn an incredible amount about the native (person whose natal chart is being read) and their psychology from their chart.

I'll just blow my own horn a bit and relate that it has become almost routine for clients to comment on their natal readings by saying, "Wow! That was incredibly accurate, you've really laid out the key psychological patterns in my life" I guess close to 20 years of practice and hundreds and hundreds of natal readings has paid off with some real insight. I have to say that I think I enjoy most understanding and explaining psychology in natal readings, maybe followed by looking at income and career (predictively not psychologically!).

Of course, this also dovetails with my spiritual work and the increasing amount of spiritual counseling that I am doing. For clients while there is an understandable desire to look at income, career and relationships, among other areas, more and more clients are coming to me looking for insight into themselves, their motivations and psychology. I'm really happy when I can help clients with readings!

Renaissance Astrology offers three different types of natal or birthchart readings

The Astrological Checkup $69.95 this picks 3 major life areas or 3 houses

The Spiritual Path Reading $69.95 this looks at spiritual issues and spiritual path

Full Natal Reading $199.95 this is a complete natal reading

The second thing I wanted to talk about was the talismanic prescription, which is included with all natal readings. Now it is very useful to understand life patterns through the natal chart, but astrological talismans provide a way to actively work with these patterns. Whenever I do a natal reading I look carefully at the patterns that are revealed and explain to the client what possible talismanic or planetary charities might be helpful. Now we cannot simply expect to plunk our money down and overthrow our chart, but we can definitely work with the celestial spirits to enhance the positive energies in our chart and ameliorate the negative patterns that have become clear.

Every natal reading includes the Talismanic Prescription and talisman suggestions, but if you are serious about getting a talisman or talismans I also can do a quick free Talismanic Prescription if you send me your day, month and year of birth Use the Renaissance Astrology Contact Page Remember that this takes time and energy on my part, so the free Talismanic Prescriotion offer is just for people that are serious about actually buying a talisman, not just asking out of idle curiousity.

Remember also that all clients who have had a Renaissance Astrology reading are eligible to be members of the Inner Circle and to purchase Renaissance Astrology talismans.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Astrology as a Zen Koan

I have a Facebook page. I use this to post my "Astrological Talisman Weather" and focus on a current astrological configuration. This time I focused on Mars in the 2nd Face of Capricorn, "The 2nd face is of Mars and is a face of seeking things that cannot be known and seeking after such things that cannot be attained..." Johannes Angelus

This is one of my favorite examples of a Face/Decan. First, it is very lyrical. I'm sure all of us have had experience with seeking what cannot be known or cannot be attained. "But what possible good would this talisman be?" the student asks, "This is not a result that I would want' Very interesting! This assumes that the purpose of the creation of the Heavens, this infinite Cosmos, was to satisfy my needs and ego desires. Not so! We were created as parts of the universal Whole and it is we who serve it.

Furthermore there is the real quality of a Zen koan here (Google it!) A koan is not nonsense, is not a puzzle to be solved or information to be known. A koan is a pointer for enlightenment and for awakened minds. What is it that is sought but cannot be known and cannot be attained? Answer: enlightenment by the separate self. So the picture above is of a famous pilgrim St James. Seek and ye shall find! Knock and it will be opened, but you will not be you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Renaissance Astrology Inner Circle

Folks, I am very pleased to launch the Renaissance Astrology Inner Circle!

As you may be aware we no longer sell talismans to the general public, but we will now sell Renaissance Astrology talismans by private sale through the Inner Circle. Here is more information on buying talismans, pentacles and magic mirrors through the Renaissance Astrology Inner Circle.

The Renaissance Astrology Inner Circle is a private group limited to those seriously interested in the study and practice of authentic Hermetic astrology and astrology magic. All students in Renaissance Astrology courses are eligible to be part of the Inner Circle, as are clients who have previously bought a Renaissance Astrology talisman or pentacle or had a Renaissance Astrology reading. Other Inner Circle members are by invitation only. For a limited time, the Inner Circle is free to all those that are eligible, but starting January 1, 2017 there may be an annual subscription fee, depending on your eligibility. If you are interested in becoming part of the Inner Circle please read the rest of this section and then Contact me. Let me know if you are a student of mine and what course or what readings I've done for you, if you have previously bought a Renaissance Astrology talisman or pentacle or what study and experience you have with astrology, magic and the esoteric. If accepted you will receive a link to the private Inner Circle webpages as well as a username and password

In addition to being able to buy talismans, pentacles and mirrors, Inner Circle members have access to my Daily Planetary Practice invocations, a potent tool for celestial theurgy, spiritual growth and increasing practical astrological magic power.

Let me say a bit more about the Renaissance Astrology Inner Circle, its origins and purposes. First of all, I lost my original jeweler which caused a great deal of upheaval and reduced my inventory considerably. However, I now have a new jeweler/mage Muhammed Ajmal who is an excellent astrologer (after he is one of my students!). He does beautiful work, particularly with Arabic talismans. This makes me very happy because I am a Sufi and in addition, it is so important right now to have peace and goodwill between Western and Middle Eastern practitioners of the esoteric arts.

I have stopped selling to the general public because, even though the vast majority of talisman and pentacles customers were great, we had problems with the occasional naïve newbie client who expected that the day after purchasing a talisman they would win $1million in the lottery or that they would get Harry Potter effects like lightning coming out of their fingertips. Also some clients thought that the effects should be guaranteed and that they should be able to return talismans or pentacles that they were unsatisfied with. The childish, naïve and unreasonable customers are best screened out to avoid dissatisfaction.

I can’t tell you how many positive testimonials I have gotten from talisman and pentacle customers and how unhappy people were that Renaissance Astrology talismans were no longer available. Sophisticated clients know how much effort it takes to find good elections and how difficult it is to cast talismans in the short window available of auspicious times. Wise clients understand that the effects of talismans and pentacles cannot be predicted and are different for everyone, in quality, quantity and timing.

There is a subtler problem as well. I am very happy to do astrological readings because as much as possible, I tell people the truth, good or bad, about their situation. Knowing what is likely to actually happen, they can chose their response. Selling talismans, however, can feed the illusion of control, can convince people that if they simply spend money, they can have anything they want.

I've realized more and more that my ambition is to be a celestial priest, working in harmony with the astrological spirits, rather than an astrological magician ordering up the results I or my clients desire. Theurgy, literally "god work" as a path to spiritual growth is more and more my focus. This is not to say that we cannot have very significant positive effects from talismans, but that focusing on using these spiritual means for spiritual effects, as opposed to seeking only material effects may be more fruitful. In addition, we can seek to change ourselves to conform to the celestial powers, as opposed to trying to use these spirits to rearrange the outside world to suit us. Through the power of Venus, for example, we can ourselves become more love and thus attract love, as opposed to trying to lure in someone to meet our ego's desires.

This focus on more on spiritual growth is what motivated me to provide the Daily Planetary Invocations to Inner Circle members. This is one of my primary magical/spiritual practices where everyday I invoke the spirit of the planet ruling the day. After over 15 years, my connection to these spirits is quite strong.

Eventually I hope to expand the offerings, but for now I am very pleased now to launch the Inner Circle. Thanks so much to all my clients, customers, students and fellow travelers on the magical/spiritual path! Again here is the main link to the Inner Circle.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Don't Do This At Home: Innovation within Traditional Astrology

I recently had a combined planetary/fixed star electional posting on Spiritus Mundi my discussion group. I've been getting a lot of great elections, though some have problems.

This one was interesting as the poster was looking to combine a Jupiter planetary election with a Spica fixed star election. In the election Jupiter and Spica were a ways apart, within 8 degrees, but not closely conjunct.

I told the poster that the election didn't quite feel right to me. I realize, I said, that this is all a bit idiosyncratic and I apologize, but for these combined planetary/fixed star elections I use the usual planet to fixed star orb which is 1 degree.

Ok, why then do I use a much bigger orb for the Moon in fixed star elections? Well, these are not Moon/Spica or Moon/Regulus, etc., combined planetary/fixed star talismans. The function of the Moon in a regular fixed star election is simply to get in contact with the fixed star and do her usual thing of passing their influence on to the sub-lunary realm. We need her to do this because the fixed stars are the highest sphere and so far from us. We don't actually invoke the Moon in a normal fixed star talisman consecration, she's just acting in a subsidiary role. Plus from a practical standpoint getting the fixed star rising and within 1 degree of an applying Moon would almost impossible.

So, this is definitely getting into the weird, weird world of how Warnock does it, without necessarily being the "best" or the "right" way to do it. If there was another master traditional astrological magician who had done hundreds of talismans and said, "hey, no problem, use an 8 degree orb for any time you work with planets and fixed stars" that would not violate the tradition, but would be their own idiosyncratic approach.

I'd caution students against immediately innovating, however. Do a hundred talismans following the rules, immerse yourself in this sublime art and then when the principles are mastered, then you can do some individual riffing that still stays in the tradition.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Chandra Levy Case and the Gold Standard of Astrological Prediction

The Chandra Levy murder case is once again in the media. Here is the NY Times article.

This was a 2001 murder that took place in Washington, DC. Chandra was an intern who had an affair with a congressman and then was murdered. A suspect was found guilty, but recently charges against him were dropped.

At the time I lived in DC and the events of the case took place less than a mile from where I lived. I don't normally do "celebrity" charts, but this one was so close by that I went ahead and took a look at the event charts. At the time, Chandra had disappeared and no one knew whether she was alive or dead or what had happened.

You can see the charts and actual written prediction I made in advance of knowing the results

A couple of comments. First, as far as I am concerned this sort of analysis is the true gold standard for astrological prediction. To be a traditional astrologer and do a real prediction, one must work from a specific chart that applies to the situation, use traditional techniques and have a written prediction, made in advance, before the results are known. That written prediction then needs to conform to the results.

This rules out looking at Hitler's, Einstein's, presidents' or other celebrity charts, where the native or querent and their career and life are already known. This rules out the "psychic" astrology reading that may well get it right, but doesn't actually use astrological technique and is not replicable by others; instead the astrologer used the chart like a crystal ball or tarot card spread as a means to access their psychic abilities or a reading where a chart is not provided or even used. This rules out the oral reading that is accessed by fallible memory later, "oh yeah, I'm sure I predicted that perfectly"

This is not to say that I always perform up to the gold standard. I'm fallible, I don't always get predictions right. And I have to say that the Chandra Levy predictions did involve the use of intuition, judgment and psychic ability. For about a week after I made these predictions, I kept looking at people's faces and seeing skulls. Nevertheless, this was psychic ability exercised within the parameters set forth by the chart.

It's very important to set these high standards for ourselves as astrologers. It keeps us from being lazy and keeps us from fooling ourselves into thinking that we are predicting when all we are doing is reading what we already know back into the chart. But it is also important to realize we can't always get the prediction right. We set the bar high and we keep our eyes open!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Example of Financial Trading Horary

Folks, I get a good number of inquiries about using astrology for gambling, in particular lottery, and for the middle and upper class version of gambling which is financial trading, in particular stock trading, day trading and foreign exchange trading (the permutations are endless).

I've probably had over 5000 e-mails and phone calls from people that somehow came up with the exactly the same great idea that no one else has ever thought of which is, "HEY! I can use astrology to [pick winning lottery numbers, stocks, bonds, derivatives, forex, etc.]" There is certainly a great deal of money to be made selling gambling or financial trading systems, but I always wonder if it is so effective, why sell it, why not simply do a few trades using it and retire? But hope springs eternal.

So I'm always leery about doing gambling or trading readings. One problem is that to get a good horary you need to really care about the question. If you ask "Will I marry X?" obviously this is a very emotional, very visceral question. "Should I sell stock X at 10?" I'm sure the querent cares about the profit, but I doubt whether they have a close, personal relationship with stock X, again other than whether or not it will make them money.

All this being said, I have had a reasonable amount of success with financial trading horaries, so long as the querent is savvy about how to use the information and understands the results are not guaranteed. Here is a recent example:

Question: Will stock X increase in value over the next 30 days?
Time Question Received & Understood: 12:11 pm CDT July 10, 2016
Place Question Received & Understood: Iowa City, IA 41 N 39 91 W 31

The meaning of the astrological factors are fully explained in the analysis below.
Astrological Factors Considered:
In this chart 11 Libra rises and it is Saturn hour. As Saturn rules air signs by day the chart is radical or rooted which means it has internal signs of accuracy. As Libra rises you are signified by Venus who is peregrine and thus weak in the 10th house. The Moon is in detriment in the 4th house. Stock X is signified by the 2nd house which is ruled by Mars, who is slow, but well dignified by sign in the 2nd house. The Moon sextiles Mars significator of the stock, then opposes the Sun and changes signs.

Your significator Venus is weak, an indication that you don't have a lot of control over the stock price, which certainly fits the situation. The Moon is afflicted, which can show a problematic or stressful situation. The key is the state of the 2nd house and of the 2nd house ruler Mars. Mars is slow at the moment and in a fixed sign, but well dignified by sign. This indicates that the fundamentals of the stock are good, but that it is currently underperforming and will improve as time passes. Mars also rules the Part of Fortune, emphasizing these same indications. So my sense is that the price slowly improves over the time period of the question.


Good call on the X stock! It went up. I had some doubts on the reading since technical and fundamental analysis were full of uncertainty and didn't quite align with your horary. The stock had some good news with positive earnings report. We'll see how it goes over the next 30 days.

Here is more on Horary Readings.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

What Does Lilly Mean by Possessing?

I got a very interesting question today. "On page 641 of Lilly's Christian astrology, chapter CLIIII, whether or not adversaries shall be overcome. He states, 'the lord of the seventh possessing the tenth or the lord of the tenth possessing the seventh, the native shall overcome his enemies. The lord of the twelfth in the tenth, or the lord of the tenth in the twelfth argues the same.'"

Does he mean the same thing by the lord of a house possessing another house as he means by the lord of a house being in another house? Or are these two distinctly different set of directions. What does he mean by the term possessing? Very good question and not one that I had an immediate answer to. Let's look at more uses of possession.

Lilly at Christian Astrology page 36, "That if on the Cusp of the tenth house you find the Signe Aries, then on the Cusp of the fourth the Signe Libra; and look what degree and minute of possesseth the Signe of the tenth house, the same degree and minute of the opposite Signe must be placed on the Cusp of the fourth house"

Lilly at Christian Astrology page 206, "[Tenants, good or ill.] If an Infortune possesse the Ascendant, the Tenants or Occupants are ill, deceitfull and unwilling the goodnesse of the ground should be discovered: if a Fortune be in the Ascendant judge the contrary, viz. the Tenants are honest men..."

Lilly at Christian Astrology page 230 "but if a fixed Signe possesse the Ascendant or 5th house, or any moveable Signes, and the Sun and Moon be therein, viz. either in fixed or moveable Signes, and in the 5th or 1st house, it’s a certain argument the Woman is with child but with one:"

Lilly at Christian Astrology page 239 "South Node also possesseth the Ascendant; a strong argument of barrennesse" [South Node is rising]

Lilly at Christian Astrology page 264, "If the Significator be in the middle of the Signe, the middle part of the Member is distressed, and so the lower part of the Member, when the Significator possesseth the lower degrees of the Signe."

Lilly at Christian Astrology page 267, "I usually observe, who is the Lord of the Ascendant, and which of the benevolent Planets he is in aspect with, and how many degrees there are distant betwixt them, in what house they both are in, viz. whether Angles, Succedant, Cadent, what Signe they possesse, whether Moveable, Fixed or Common"

Lilly at Christian Astrology page 422 "If in this house good Planets have either government, or are in possession thereof, or aspect the same without the testimonies of the Infortunes, it signifieth good, or is an argument thereof in all questions concerning this house" [9th house]

Lilly at Christian Astrology page 550 says, "If the Lord of the ascendant is beheld by no Planet partilly, judge by that mediety of the signe which the Almuten doth not occupie or possesse."

Lilly at Christian Astrology page 580-1, "Briefly, let him consider whether the Significator be happy or unhappy, secondly, the Signe he occupies: thirdly, the Infortune that afflicts the Significator: fourthly, the Signe he possesseth."

Ok, I should say at the outset that Lilly and his 17th century contemporaries were not always consistent in their use of terminology, jargon and terms of art. House, for example, is confusing because sometimes it means sign and sometimes it means one of the 12 houses.

Possessing definitely seems confusing! There does seem to be a tendency to use the term possessing with signs. This can be used of a sign possessing a cusp, which means that sign is on the cusp. More frequently we see a planet possessing a sign, which generally seems to be used to mean that the planet is in the sign. What is very confusing is that Lilly on several occasions contrasts occupying a sign with possessing it.

It is interesting to just considering the term possess


1 a : to have and hold as property : own b : to have as an attribute, knowledge, or skill

2 a : to seize and take control of : take into one's possession b : to enter into and control firmly : dominate c : to bring or cause to fall under the influence, domination, or control of some emotional or intellectual response or reaction

So to posses is to have ownership of something, but also has a sense of presence, of entering into and even of physically holding.

So we can see how possess could plausibly be applied either to house or sign rulership and simultaneously to emplacement in a house or sign. And in fact, house rulership and house placement both show the involvement of a planet, node, etc. with the affairs of that house.

So very interesting question and another example of the need to flexibility and tolerance of ambiguity in our traditional sources.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Almutens vs. House Rulers: Deep Practice

I recently had a question about my evolving use of almutens versus house rulers in elections. An almuten is the planet that has the most dignity over a particular point in the chart or selection of points.

You look at the house, exaltation, triplicity, term and face rulers add up their points and subtract if it is the planet's detriment or fall.

So for example, if the point we are looking at is 1 Aries by day, Mars gets +5 points as sign ruler, Sun +4 as exaltation ruler, the Sun gets +3 points as day triplicity ruler of fire signs, Jupiter rules the term and gets +2, while Mars rules the 1st face of Aries where 1 Aries is, and gets +1. We add the points so Mars is 6, Sun is 7, Jupiter 2 points. Since the Sun is 7 he is the almuten. It is possible to have co-almutens, if the planets tie their score.

In 9th & 10th century Arabic astrology, which is direct ancestor of European traditional astrology, they are very big on almutens and use them for all sorts of purposes. The medieval astrologer Guido Bonatti, since he is closer to the Arabic astrologers in his practice, tends to use almutens a lot, so our contemporary traditional natal astrology which is heavily based on Bonatti, due to Robert Zoller, is also a big user of almutens. Horary astrology, based as it is more on Lilly who is much later, uses almutens a lot less.

One of the possible uses of almutens is as substitute house rulers. So, using our example, if Aries rises, the standard house ruler of the 1st house is Mars, since Mars rules Aries and Aries is on the cusp of the first house, but if 1 Aries rises, then the Sun is the almuten of the rising degree and thus almuten of the 1st house. Probably my biggest use of almutens was in marriage elections. These are hard to do because you need the 1st ruler and 7th ruler dignified or at least unafflicted, and the only possible pairs of 1st/7th rulers are Moon & Saturn, Sun & Saturn, Mercury & Jupiter, Mars & Venus. So I started doing marriage elections where, for example, Cancer rose, so the Moon was the house ruler and afflicted, but Venus was almuten of the rising degree and dignified.

I'm not sure it is a case of almutens not working, but I started realizing from a practical standpoint in doing readings that you need to focus and not have too many significators. For example in a relationship reading you look at the rulers of the 1st and 7th and planets in the 1st and 7th, but Lilly also says look at the Sun for Men and Venus for women. You end up having way too many planets to look at. Adding almutens into the mix just meant too many planets. Also I started feeling like I was "cheating" a bit when the house ruler was afflicted to use the almuten.

Here's what I think. Ultimately what we are doing is trying to look through the chart to see underlying spiritual patterns and cycles. While I don't think it is anything goes and you can do anything at any time and justify it astrologically, I do now feel that if you are working within the tradition you can have your own idiosyncratic approach so long as that approach is consistent. To do this requires a long immersion in the study of the tradition and then significant practical application. But after this you start to get guided in your approach. So I started feeling like I should stick with house rulers. Now it would not be irrational to end up just using almutens, they are really big in 9th-10th century Arabic astrology that is the root of European traditional astrology. But I started feeling, as I said, that generally using house rulers and then when the house ruler was afflicted, switching to almutens, was not a good way to accurately reflect the underlying spiritual cycles. My sense is that you could go with house almutens, but if you did you would need to feel like "yes, this is the way to go" and be consistent, not just switch to regular house rulers to avoid an afflicted house almuten.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Astrology in the News!

Always interesting to see how astrology pops up in the news. First mention is today in the Washington Post

Note that the heliocentric perspective is presented as objective truth while the geocentric perspective is simply an illusion. In fact, if you watch Mercury in the sky from Earth it will indeed appear to move backwards. Of course the video itself is an illusion, being a series of still pictures that change so quickly that they appear to move. Clearly everything we see via video is therefore also false!

I, along with Plotinus, agree with astronomers that the planets and stars are not actually causing effects on Earth. Instead the underlying spiritual cycles control both the cycles of the Heavens and cycles on Earth. Either that or the planetary archangels!

Finally it is very cute of the Washington Post to have it both ways, they report Mercury retrograde, explain what it is, give useful information on when Mercury is retrograde, all definitely aimed at an audience who are receptive and interested in astrology, then in the end denounce astrology. Same old media strategy, as Billy Bragg says, "Where they offer you a feature On stockings and suspenders Next to a call for stiffer penalties for sex offenders"

Next example is the New York Times continuing expose of the evils of fortunetellers

And yes this appears to be pretty heinous fraud. But this story links back to an earlier one on fortunetellers who are not simply using this as a con, but believe in what they are doing

The NYT's attitude is the traditional one, all fortunetelling is fraud, no matter what the fortuneteller themselves believe. Under New York Penal Law §165.35, entitled, "Fortune telling"

"A person is guilty of fortune telling when, for a fee or compensation which he directly or indirectly solicits or receives, he claims or pretends to tell fortunes, or holds himself out as being able, by claimed or pretended use of occult powers, to answer questions or give advice on personal matters or to exorcise, influence or affect evil spirits or curses;  except that this section does not apply to a person who engages in the aforedescribed conduct as part of a show or exhibition solely for the purpose of entertainment or amusement.

Fortune telling is a class B misdemeanor."

So as long as you admit it is fake, you are ok. If you believe that you can predict the future and charge to do so, you are a criminal in New York.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Magic, Astrology and Superstition II

Let's kick off with a Stevie Wonder video and the "official" definition of superstition from Wikipedia "Superstition is the belief in supernatural causality—that one event causes another without any natural process linking the two events—such as astrology, religion, omens, witchcraft, prophecies, etc., that contradicts natural science."

Well that wipes out everything spiritual doesn't it? No magic, no astrology, but also no religion, no gods or God, nothing but atheistic materialism. And in fact, much of what passes for the ideology of "Science" since the so-called Enlightenment has been a relentless attack on the spiritual in all areas. Most mainline Christian denominations have been happy to join in on attacks on astrology and magic, without realizing that their own raison d' etre was also implicated.

So clearly as an astrologer and astrological magician, I don't reject spiritual causality. The Hermetic philosophy that traditionally explained astrology and magic sees the Cosmos as one great unified Being, connected by bonds of sympathy and correspondence. I therefore don't see any chance or any coincidences, everything happens for a purpose. The problem is that since we can't always see the causality that is taking place. Two events having simultaneously or in close proximity are connected but don't necessarily cause each other. Science itself has problems with this. Just because people that only drink one drink a day are healthier overall doesn't mean drinking is healthy, it's actually that people that are so moderate as to only drink one drink a day have a lot of other healthy habits. A deeper underlying pattern that we often don't see or understand is what is providing the connection.

Horary astrology is an excellent example of spiritual causality and connection. The cycles of the stars and planets are easy to see and can be mapped thousands of years in the past and into the future. In the Renaissance view a person's emotions and body cycled with the Heavens. By asking a serious question, one that is emotionally important, the querent fixes a moment when their situation corresponds to the Heavenly cycles. The astrologer can then see through the chart to the underlying spiritual cycles, and then map these cycles back to the querent's situation, making an accurate prediction of future events. This is all spiritual causality and yet horary astrology can make astonishingly accurate and precise predictions. Horary was what really opened my eyes to the reality of the spiritual and the spiritual causality and connection that underlies all material things.

However, the atheistic/materialist skeptics have a point, it is definitely possibly to start seeing connections that don't work and causality that doesn't exist. "Step on a crack, break your mother's back" is classic superstition. I've stepped on a lot of cracks and my mother is still in pretty good shape.

This is where it gets tricky, particularly for magic. Science has taken all the material phenomenon that work 100% of the time. We are working with much more abstract forces that work sometimes, but not all of the time. Much of the time we have to judge by synchronistic means, I do a Jupiter talisman and 45 minutes later I get a check for $3000 in the mail. Jupiter = wealth and the timing fits! I typically do a 3rd and a 7th Mansion consecration each month when the Moon is in the 3rd and 7th Mansions. Often, and it happened this month, I get a big surge of business around these days. But not always.

So given the difficulty of actually seeing spiritual connections we do get a lot of false positives, which I think are legitimately branded as superstition. A key example that recurs over and over in astrology is relying on a single astrological factor that affects every single person in the world equally. For example, Mercury retrograde. Now Mercury is retrograde for all seven billion people on the planet, but somehow 99.99% of phone calls get through, 99.99% of flights don't get cancelled and the Internet doesn't shut down. In fact many people will be having the best day of their lives under Mercury retrograde. The proof is that no one can make any specific predictions in advance about the effects of Mercury retrograde, other than "it's bad, it's really, really bad" Actually the flavor of the month right now seems to be the void of course Moon. I've gotten people e-mailing me asking about the void of course in horary questions, in their natal charts, in elections, and worrying about it in non-lunar talismans. The unifying factor is that they are frightened and don't exactly know why.

On the other hand, I really don't like the number 13. I skip when numbering slides for lectures, for example. It just makes me nervous, I'm not really convinced there is a causal connection here, i.e. this is basically superstition. Nevertheless, I make it easy on myself and don't use the number 13, except in situations where it would be excessively difficult to avoid. Superstition is fine, so long as we recognize it as superstition and don't let it run our lives. There's nothing wrong with preferences and even superstition, except insisting they that are objective fact!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Testimonials & 3rd Mansion Ritual Picture

Folks, every time someone reports back their results I save them as a testimonial. I literally have 47 pages of testimonials. Here's a pretty incredible one I got this week:

"Was checking my mail and as soon as I opened my letter my Apple Watch buzzed and notified me of the moon about to enter the 3rd mansion. I looked at my check and it was for $33,000. What do you know! GK"

Plus the client sent the 3rd Mansion ritual picture you can see above. Check out the face of the woman in the smoke of the incense! Cool!

Check out 3rd Mansion Mirrors! One of my favorite talismans for "all good things"

Monday, March 7, 2016

Very Superstitious!

It might seem funny for a blog on astrology and magic to urge people to be aware when they are superstitious, but it turns out to be necessary.

Of course, to the modern atheistic materialist, anything relating to the spiritual is superstition, but that's not what I mean.

I'm following the dictionary definition, superstition is "a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like." Of course again, a modern atheistic materialist would say that the spiritual is automatically irrational, but that's only because their worldview excludes magic and the spiritual. See the Modern World View.

So for me the classic superstition is "step on a crack, break your mother's back" A seemingly innocent action that somehow has terrible consequences, so you'd better watch out. Just as the definition indicates superstition is inextricably tied up with ominous overtones.

Now, I am not condemning superstition. I'm rather superstitious myself. For example, when I number exhibits in a legal case, I don't like to have Exhibit 13. I don't walk under ladders and if I spill salt I throw a bit over my shoulder. I follow these superstitions because to not makes me a bit uncomfortable and because following them doesn't interfere with my life or work.

The problem we fall into is having a self image that is "rational" This means that we don't like to acknowledge our irrationality. Superstition can often have a neurotic or obsessive compulsive twinge to them and we don't want to accept that. What this means is that we can't quite get out of the grip of the superstition, but we can't accept that it is superstition either, so we have to rationalize it and turn superstition into a "real" problem.

Here's a classic example of what I would term superstition. It is very hard to get even decent cords for talismans. It is even harder to get cords that fit over your head and don't need to be clasped and unclasped each time. And finally numbers of people don't like leather. So the long, non-leather cords I could find are not that great and tend to break. Some clients find this very upsetting and are convinced that the cord breaking was a very bad omen. In fact, they are just cords that tend to break.

This is not to say that everything is not connected to everything else and every event is significant. It's just that every event is not of cosmic significance and every event that doesn't go our way is not foretelling disaster. !#$!% happens! Personally, I am very reluctant to claim that I know exactly what the spiritual or magical cause of a particular event is or what effect a talisman or invocation is likely to have. I do elect astrologically major events like filing a class action, otherwise I try to have faith that my ritual and invocations, done repeatedly over years, have produced a strong connection to the celestial spirits, who will then watch over me and provide me with what they in their great wisdom know is best for me, not what I might personally want.

So, in my view it is fine to be superstitious, so long as we recognize it and don't let it get in the way. The last case I had, had an exhibit 13 and I still won the case!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Looking at Stars and Charts by Hand?

Today I wanted to talk about a couple of issues that come up occasionally. I've learned that the best thing to do when this happens is to write up my thoughts and post them as a blog or on my website.

The first has to do with the actual physical observation of the stars and planets. This is an area where the basic confusion between astrologer and astronomer comes in; a mistake that amuses astrologers, but enrages astronomers. An astronomer studies the physical makeup and characteristics of space and celestial bodies. An astrologer looks at the relative position, speed, relationships, etc, of celestial bodies and makes predictions based on them. The basic tool of the astrologer is the horoscope or astrological chart. Until 1700 astrologers needed to be able to do some astronomy, they had to be able to calculate orbits and positions of planets and stars in order to create charts. Some astrologers even did physical observation of the movement of planets because logging these positions over a long period of time is how an ephemeris, which is a book containing the daily position of the planets is created. By the 17th century however, reasonably accurate ephemerides existed and most English astrologers just looked up planetary positions, rather than doing actual observation.

Again until around 1700 most astronomers were also astrologers and did prediction as a matter of course. Nowadays, astronomers almost froth at the mouth when confused with astrologers and have absolutely no knowledge of or desire to make astrological prediction. Recently I told someone in Iowa City I was an astrologer and then asked me if I worked at the University of Iowa! I was amused, but not apoplectic.

Ok, this leads to the next issue. As noted the key tool of the astrologer is the horoscope or astrological chart. This is a very accurate representation of the position of the planets, specific fixed stars, etc., at a particular time, date and location on Earth. A chart is a flat two dimensional representation of what you would see three dimensionally if you were actually standing at that particular time, date and location (with no clouds, other obstructions or the Earth in the way for objects below the horizon). In this the astrologer is much like a radiologist. They rely on x-ray or CAT scan or MRI charts which they use to interpret the health of the patient, but never see the actual patient. Similarly, astrologers don't need actual observation which is a good thing since we couldn't look at birthcharts without traveling all over the world or going back in time.

It is not uncommon for potential students to insist that they have to create astrological charts by hand and I have had potential students refuse to study with me out of concerns about using computers for astrology. Ironically all these potential students corresponded with me via e-mail!

Ok, I think there are a couple of issues mixed in here. First, a certain number of people are computer-phobic or find software difficult to use. While not a Luddite, I am not exactly a whole hearted fan of the unbridled use of technology. I tend to be a late adopter myself. I am also sympathetic to the endless effort necessary to learn new software and then keep up with it as the tech gods endlessly change it. Nevertheless, astrological software is a godsend!

Let's look at what is necessary to create a chart by hand. First you need a chart blank and a pencil to mark in the planetary positions. Then you need a book of tables, which includes the the necessary tables for houses and explains how to do the calculations. You also need an atlas that has accurate longitude and latitude information plus information on timezones and Daylight savings time changes, usually you need a US plus International Atlases. Plus you need an ephemeris that gives the daily position of the planets. You need to convert the time for the chart into local/Sidereal time, then calculate the house cusps, then interpolate the position of the planets. In my Michelsen Book of Tables, there are 22 pages of instructions!

As you can imagine these calculations are time intensive and if you make a mistake you mess up your chart. Very early on in my astrological career I calculated a few charts by hand, it took me about 45 minutes to an hour. I think if you got good at it you could perhaps do a chart in 15-30 minutes.

Compare this to using astrological software. All you need to do is enter the time, date and location. The software looks up the location, checks the timezone and DST and in less than a second gives you a super accurate chart. And there are FREE online chart drawing programs like Astrodienst pick chart drawing, Ascendant!

William Lilly, the famous English astrologer, used to send his charts out to be calculated by another astrologer. He would have loved astrological software! And since what an astrologer needs is an accurate chart, how it is produced is really irrelevant.

Now, the anti-astrological software partisans tend to fall into two camps. The first are typically non-astrologers who dislike computers. While I am sympathetic, in this situation, for the reasons stated above, I wholeheartedly embrace astrological software.

The second camp is represented by astrologers who learned astrology before the advent of astrological software. Pre-1980s you had no choice but to calculate charts by hand. Thus these older astrologers learned the laborious process of hand calculation and were loath to give it up. I have heard astrologers insist that calculation by hand was important because you learned from it. However, the process of hand calculation just teaches you how to calculate by hand, it does not teach you much of anything about celestial mechanics or anything else.

There is a valid point that computerized chart interpretation, commonly known as "cookbooking" cannot substitute for individualized interpretation by an astrologer. Very true! But this has no bearing on how the chart is created. I do 100% of the interpretation of all my readings individually, but I use charts created by computer. This gives exactly the same result as far as the interpretation is concerned as if I created the chart by hand.

So, yes when wide accessibility of computers ceases, astrologers will have to return to hand calculation. I have stockpiled all the necessary reference materials for chart calculation, but actually without a computer I'd probably shift to geomancy and I ching. Until that point, however, it is highly advantageous to use astrological software. Interpretation is not affected at all, and in fact likely enhanced by the accuracy of computer generated charts over hand calculations.

Additional Comments: I wanted to add some thoughts triggered by comments on this post. No reflection on the commentator whose points are good!

The issue I wanted to comment on was, "doing charts by hand is good for you" This is another point that I have seen raised with regard to charts by hand, but also to being fluent in Latin or Greek or Arabic, or any number of other useful or potential useful skills or types of knowledge. There's a whole lot of things that if you knew how to do might be useful as an astrologer. For example, I am an attorney with 25 years of practice which is very helpful in doing legal horary questions.

The problem is mistaking useful for vitally necessary. Latin would be nice since you could read all those untranslated astrological works. It is not necessary since you can learn and master traditional astrology just reading English. Using my example, sure it helps when doing legal horaries to be a lawyer, but it certainly is not necessary to be lawyer to judge a chart with a legal question. What I do as a teacher is to strip down the material to the bare minimum necessary to function as a traditional astrologer. I do this because this bare minimum is a pretty significant amount of knowledge and technique, that all by itself takes a good deal of time, energy and determination to master. Start throwing in the merely useful, and you are loading students with extra, unnecessary obstacles.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Name Change Horary

I got an interesting horary question today with a very clear answer that I thought I would share.

Question: "Should I change my name?"
Time Question Received & Understood: 10:00 am CST February 21, 2016
Place Question Received & Understood: Iowa City, IA 41 N 39 91 W 31

The meaning of the astrological factors are fully explained in the analysis below.

Astrological Factors Considered:

In this chart 18 Taurus rises and it is Moon hour. As the Moon is the night ruler of Earth signs the chart is radical or rooted which means it has internal signs of accuracy. As Taurus rises you are signified by Venus who is dignified by face in a fixed sign in the 10th house. The Moon is peregrine in a fixed sign. The Moon squares Mars and opposes the Sun with reception. Venus, your significator sextiles Saturn.


As Taurus rises you are signified by Venus who is weakly dignified by face in the 10th house. This shows only a weak ability to change names. The 1st house is the house that signifies the querent, the person asking the question. We look to this house for the appearance of the querent and questions involving their body. Lilly, Christian Astrology, page 60-1. John Frawley used the 1st house for a question involving a change of name. Horary Textbook (Apprentice Books, 2005) page 142. So we note that there is a fixed sign rising and that Venus ruler of the Ascendant and significator of the querent is in a fixed sign. In addition, the Moon is in a fixed sign. Lilly says of fixed signs, " Let us admit the Ascendant to be fixed, and the Lord of that Sign also in a fixed Sign, you may judge the party to be of firm resolution, no changling; or as we say, one that will stand to maintaine what he hath said or done, be it good or ill." Christian Astrology, page 89. With the Ascendant, Ascendant ruler and Moon all in fixed signs, this indicates that you should not or will not change your name.

Friday, February 12, 2016

These are the KEY Traditional Astrology & Astrological Magic Texts

I was correcting homework today for a very serious student taking multiple courses when I realized that Lilly hadn't really covered a particular question, but I had the solution, Bonatti!

I knew that this student would benefit from getting exposed to Bonatti and was both willing and had the resources to add Bonatti to their library.

Then as I thought about it, I realized that Lilly, Bonatti, Ramesey and Al-Biruni were my key texts for traditional astrology. That's William Lilly's Christian Astrology, Guido Bonatti's Book of Astronomy/Liber Astronomiae, William Ramesey's Astrology Restored/Astrologia Restaurata and Al-Biruni's Book of the Art of Instruction in the Elements of Astrology. While I do have a much larger library of traditional astrology texts, these are the ones I rely on and actually refer to in my practice. Lilly for horary and natal, Bonatti for horary, natal and electional, Ramesey for electional, Al-Biruni, as a basic astrological source.

For astrological magic, the key texts are Picatrix and Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy.

If you are serious about traditional astrology, you need to have a copy of all these books!

Lilly, Horary books 1&2

Lilly, Natal, book 3

Ramesey, just google search the pdf, or if you like having a printed copy, like I do for reference, plus a bunch of other electional books you can get my Renaissance Astrology Electional Compilation (this is the textbook for my electional course)


Bonatti, you have to get these individually, but well worth it

Bonatti on Horary

Bonatti on Electional

Bonatti on Natal

Bonatti on basic astrology

Bonatti 146 considerations

These are also available directly from the translator Ben Dykes, thanks a million Ben for making these available

Finally Picatrix

Three Books of Occult Philosophy

or Eric Perdue's excellent translation of Book one

IMHO you definitely need these texts, but once you have them, you've got about 90% of what you really need.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Harranian Planetary Magic/Religion: Post 2

This is the second post on the astral religion of the Harranian Sabians as exemplified in Picatrix.

As I've mentioned I am finding myself pulled towards this more devotional approach, as opposed to regarding the talismans as essentially empty mechanisms or the spirits as existing to fulfill my personal desires.

Of course we can immediately see that even Picatrix lends itself somewhat to this approach because the rituals enumerated are focused on petitions, ie asking for specific goals. This is not the "wrong" approach, but it is useful to recognize the underlying astral religion and the possibility of taking a stance towards the spirits that venerates them and is part of a spiritual path.

In addition, by looking carefully at Picatrix we can enhance the power and effect of our ritual and talismanic work.

"How to speak with Saturn. When you want to speak with Saturn and ask him for whatever you wish, you must wait until he enters into good condition, of which the best is when he is in Libra, which is his exaltation, next in Aquarius, which is the house of his rejoicing, and last in Capricorn, which is his second house. If you cannot have him in any of these three places, put him in one of his terms or triplicities or in an oriental angular or succeedent house (among all of which the angle of the midheaven is to be preferred), direct in his course, and in a masculine quarter, being oriental as mentioned above. Beware of his detriment and unfortunate aspects, of which the worst of all is a square aspect with Mars, and do not let him be cadent."

Picatrix Bk III, ch 7.

This passage is interesting because it directly contradicts the tendency to ignore astrological conditions when doing planetary or other celestial ritual. I know that this is a sore point with some contemporary magicians who insist they can do a planetary ritual whenever it suits them. My point would be again that this is not "wrong" but I can't help but believe that the power of planetary ritual would be enhanced if properly timed.

The next section is particularly interesting,

"The most important point (of which you should take diligent care) is that you should see that the planet is in good condition and quality, and remote from infortunes, because when he is like this, he is like a man of good will and a lively heart and a great and ample mind, and if another person seeks something from him, he cannot find it in himself to deny the petitioner. When the same planet is retrograde in his course or cadent from the angles, he is like a man full of anger and ill will, who is most ready to deny a petition."

Picatrix Bk III, ch 7.

I like the approach here very much. The planets are shown as having personalities. One has a relationship with them. The planets are not employees or some celestial that you can simply log in to 24 hours a day seven days a week and insist on immediate service and expedited shipping. The planets have moods, they are happy sometimes and cranky, weak and even feeling sickly other times. We can see how they are feeling by their astrological condition.

Again this approach conditions our ritual and talisman creation timing. We wish to be polite to these powerful being, we show respect to them by contacting them at appropriate times, when they are most ready to receive us and most ready to accede to a request.

As I've said, this is only one possible approach, we can see the Solomonic grimoires take a much more threatening and commanding approach. Even in the Renaissance, this approach was more popular. Nevertheless, Picatrix directly points to the possibility of a more devotional approach. I feel more comfortable with it and I can also attest that I have been the recipient of an incredible number of celestial gifts, both material and spiritual.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Harranian Planetary Magic/Religion: Post 1

Picatrix, while being a compilation of a wide variety of magical, religious and astrological practice, is heavily reliant on the celestial religion and magic of the Harranian Sabians.

The Harranians, whose antecedents and actual practice are mysterious, appear to be pagans, who survived into the Middle Ages under the Christians and then Muslims. While preserving indigenous beliefs and practices, they also venerated the stars and planets.

While Agrippa included summaries of many astrological talisman recipes from Picatrix, what he generally left out were the celestial rituals necessary to invoke the spirits of the stars and planets and to consecrate talismans. The most prominent example of the rituals and ritual practice of the Harranian Sabians is found in Book III, chapter 7 of Picatrix.

When we return to these recitations of the rituals and invocations of the Harranians, we see that while they can be used as petition for things or events desired, that they are at their root, religious and an expression of devotion to the celestial spirits.

Here are the introductory instructions,

"When you desire to speak with any planet or ask it for anything that you need, first and above all else, purify your will and your faith in God, and beware especially that you believe in no other; then cleanse your body and your garments of all dirt. Then determine the nature of the planet to which your petition corresponds. When you wish to address the planet to which your petition properly belongs, dress in clothing dyed the color of that planet, and suffumigate yourself with its suffumigation, and pray its prayer. Do all this when the planet is established in its dignities and called superior in its dispositions, for by observing these things, what you desire will come to pass."

Picatrix Bk III, ch. 7

Note that these instructions are for when you wish to speak with the planets OR ask them for something. It's a good idea to build up a positive relationship as opposed to just invoking them when you want something. The religious aspects are indicated by the need for both physical and spirituality purity. This is very common, in Shinto practice, there is always a chizuya, or water purification font, at the entrance to a shrine so you can wash your hands. See Chizuya.

Next, if you are asking for something you need to figure out what planet rules that thing. No use in asking Saturn for love!

Then the basic ceremonial preparation. One classic Harranian method is to wear appropriate clothing, in particular to wear the color associated with the planet. These can be widely variant, but often Saturn is black;Jupiter blue, green or purple, Mars, red; Sun yellow, orange or saffron, Venus, white, green, pink; Mercury, mixed colors; Moon, white or silver.

Then the suffumigation, this is appropriate incense. Again there are many different planetary incenses. If possible, however, it is important to use some kind of incense. If you have respiratory problems, you can pass on it, but even though I am sensitive I still use a very small amount.

Finally, and this is key for astral religion and astrological magic, we invoke the planets at an appropriate time. Planetary days and hours appear in the Greek Magical Papyri, but the Harranians appear to have been the most sophisticated users of electional astrology for magic and religion, timing their rituals and talisman making with full chart elections.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Kamidana: A Devotional Approach to the Astrological Spirits

Much magic, both traditional and modern, is of the "Hurry up and give me X, Y or Z?" variety.

Certainly in the Solomanic and Goetic grimoires the magician never flinched from ordering the spirits to show up pronto and give him what he wanted. I can't say this is untraditional nor can I really condemn the approach, but I've increasingly been pulled towards a more devotional approach to the celestial spirits.

Partly this comes from the approach of Picatrix. In fact the most detailed planetary invocations found at Bk III, chapter 7 of Picatrix are explicitly said to be from the astral religion of the Sabians of Harran. There's a certain amount of asking for specific stuff, but not much "get going" instead there's a lot more listing of the attributes of the spirits and being respectful and complimentary.

I've also been quite influenced by my immersion in Japanese culture, first through Zen and then through frequent trips to Japan. This year I decided to put together a kamidana, which is a small household Shinto shrine. You can see more about my kamidana.

In Japanese practice, you can definitely ask for stuff and both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples have talismans. But there's very little coercion here and a lot more respect and devotion. I certainly wouldn't say it's the only way, but I can tell that this is the way I'm drawn to.