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The Tao of Craft by B.Wen.

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Meow all:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Tao-Craft-Talismans-Esoteric-Tradition/dp/1623170664

 

Did anybody used this book for practical purposes? I checked the author, and there is a mismatch ( energy wise) between what she is and what is written in the book. It is likely the book is "channeled" or written by someone else ( grandparents?). 

 

Any thoughts/experiences?

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Fascinating subject, the book has lots of good reviews. Considering buying it. Would be interested to hear of reviews from bums.

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Fascinating subject, the book has lots of good reviews. Considering buying it. Would be interested to hear of reviews from bums.

 Yes, I bought the book on amazon as well. Started reading it and got interesting energy vibes. However, did not do any practical stuff in that lineage. She describes theory way too well for an "americanized girl". There is something deeper for sure. But perhaps I have a strange way of reading books... who knows... 

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Btw, I've been "warned" about this kind of books. For example, so I heard, all JAJ's books are "loaded" if you have the key... 

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I posted about this book here and here, and as noted in the second link, received it as Christmas present (It does help to have strange friends).  I have been far busier in the new year than I thought and so I have not had a chance to do a detailed analysis, but it seems to be a good introduction to the topic for a medium to advanced beginner in magic.  As for Professor Johnon's Book, Daoist Magical Talismans, it is certainly loaded with valuable information, but none of the Daoist Magic series is intended for beginners.
 
If I have time I will try to work up a more detailed review.

 

By the way, the friend who gave this to me also ordered Benebel Wen's Tarot book and really likes it.

 

ZYD

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How do you mean loaded? With energetic messages?

it's loaded with information. How do you perceive it( if at all) - that's your own business...

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I am a friend of the author and I can attest that beyond the book, her knowledge is immense and yet her humility in it all is very admirable. She is very informative, but holds back a lot to make sure that while you do get scholarly and legalistic language that spells things out clearly, it isn't something that spoils the experience for you. This is especially true in her tarot work. 

Edited by Earl Grey
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I bought this book mostly to learn how to design my own fu, which is a Chinese style talisman, and in that regard I am not disappointed, in other regards it is a little disappointing, but these are more because of personal inclination, and should not dissuade someone else, but more of that later. As a reference work for creating fu, this book is very useful. It discusses in detail the traditional forms that fu take, In other words the basic blueprints with which fu are designed, and then provides a very complete guide to the symbols with which these blueprints are then filled in to “furnish” the fu, these are apt metaphor's because one of the traditional forms that a fu takes is called its “house”.

The book itself has a detailed Table of Contents and an index, both of which are useful in actually studying a book on a practical level. The detailed notes at the end not only provide extra elucidation to the text, but valuable online links to such sites as the Chinese Text Project, for some of the traditional texts that she cites, greatly increasing the value of this book as a starting point for more profound levels of study.

A fu is a Chinese talisman, and it is useful to ask what a talisman is, in this regard the etymology of the Western term, talisman, is rather interesting and also provides insight into a deeper level of understanding of what a talisman should be. Talisman comes from the Greek work telos, meaning end or goal, and as talismans are also symbolic in nature, the talisman can be considered to be a “wish list” of sorts in symbolic form, but if that was all it was, well it wouldn't be much would it? No, a talisman is intended not merely to be a wish list, but something which helps to make those wishes come true, and this is where the magical part comes in, because this symbol once decided upon and prepared physically, must be made efficacious, or “ling” (灵, líng, efficacious / effective / to come true / spirit ) as the Chinese call it, and this is where the various methods of “empowering”, to use Ms. Wen's term, and a fairly good one it is actually, because it covers a lot of more specific procedure's, such as “charging”, “consecration” and others very well, and she also provides in her books some good basic beginner methods to empower talismans. Now this business of empowerment is important because the whole idea is to make the talisman from a symbolic representation into something that has “causal” power to bring something about, in this case the fulfillment of ones wish to obtain a desired goal, which brings us back to telos and the notion of “final causes”, at its most profound and interesting a fu, or talisman, must become empowered to act as a “final cause” within ones magical activity, but more about final causes at the end of this discussion.

How are fu empowered? They are empowered through ritual actions, and Ms. Wen provides a good enough introduction to basic ritual, including a large selection of tradtitional Chinese tools of magical ritual, as well as basic ritual procedure, as well as invocations, mostly in mantra form, for calling upon higher powers, ritual “movements”, which in Chinese magic will often involve actually stepping through various cosmic patterns related to such important sources of power, such as the stars of the Big Dipper, or the Nine Stars of one form or Chinese astrology, and a short discussion of “mudras”, or “hand seals” as Professor Jerry Alan Johnson calls them, which are used to control and direct the flow of qi in the ritual. Now ritual is a very misunderstood aspect of these types of activities, and now is hardly the place to get into the details of how and why it is a good thing to know and practice, but having literally decades of study and experience in the practice of magic, I can only say that it is definitely worth the time and effort to master. 

Now as to what disappointed me about this book. Well, since my personal bent is Daoist, there is simply not enough Ritual Daoism in it. No Heavenly Lord Taiyi, who is an extremely important god in Daoist work, a god of compassion, who protects and saves, his closest comparison functional comparison in the West would be Jesus, and he can be viewed as the male equivalent of Quan Yin, though rather than being a Buddhist borrowing he has a long history in China, having been among other things the most important deity in the Han Dynasty. He is very powerful and as a patron for the independent practitioner of Chinese styles of magic, a great ally to have. Most of the mantras are for Buddhist and even Hindu deities, though granted most Ritual Daoists don't use mantra that much, I would have liked to have seen more treatment of native Chinese deities and practices, though she does discuss several Chinese deities of importance, and such popular shen as the Eight Immortals. In her defense, such a discussion would have added to what is already a very long book, and I can understand why she didn't make space for more, at almost 600 pages, this was a lot of writing on here part, and a lot of reading and study on the part of the prospective fu practitioner, but t about $20.00 this is a great place to start one's study of the craft of fu, though as I mentioned in my previous post, this is for medium to advanced beginner's, the study of fu is not a study for complete beginners.  If people are interested I can post more about what one should study in order to practice fu successfully.
 
Earlier I mentioned "final causes" as an important part of talismanic magic, whether of East or West, and a short discussion of final causes might be a good way to end this, while pointing in new directions.
 
While the notion of final causes is a Western idea, being part of a system called "the four causes", which was explicated and formalized by Aristotle, I have found it very useful in thinking about magic in general and talismanic magic in particular, and while Chinese philosophy doesn't have these four causes worked out in detail, many aspects of Chinese magical practice lend themselves to such analysis, especially since the Chinese already have as an important part of their thinking the notion of li (理, principle, inner essence), a fundamental part of Chinese cosmology, which corresponds to what in the West are called "formal causes", which are part "the four causes", which I mentioned earlier.  I have posted on this is several places on the Dao Bums, and in particular its importance to understanding traditional Western magic here:

Agrippa and Aristotle: the Aristotelian background of the Occult Philosophy
 
Which among other things analyses the Daoist concepts of De or virtue and Wuwei or nonaction in terms of the four causes to demonstrate the usefulness of such ideas for the integration Chinese and Western esoteric philosophy and practice.

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If people are interested I can post more about what one should study in order to practice fu successfully.

 

Please do post in detail on this topic.

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 zhong yong daoist reviewed it extremely well. I agree with their points, and will add that I found it incredibly useful for developing my very beginner fu practice. I especially enjoyed that she showed so many different systems and really helped you find ones that resonated more with you. It was a great starting point on what previously to me was such a intriguing but confusing subject.

 

Highly recommended as a beginner!

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