If you want to catch lighting in a bottle you have to stand in the rain.

Hello and welcome to TaoCraft Short Sip: a Tarot contemplation for your day in the time it takes to sip from your coffee.

Today’s card is Lightning in a Bottle, one of the expansion pack cards created for the Alleyman’s Tarot deck by Seven Dane Asmund. It’s one of two lightning in a bottle cards. It is interesting to compare the two. You can see the other in the April 2022 blog post “The Makings of Magic” The other card is more ethereal while this one has almost a steampunk, industrial feel. The other card emphasizes the luck aspect of success, this one emphasizes the action part of it.

This card is akin to the famous Thomas Edison quote that “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Anything is possible but not everything is remotely probable. Tarot is a little like that. It doesn’t predict – it inspires us with the possibility and guides us with practical probabilities, but never exact certainties. You can’t predict exactly where lightning will strike. But you can read the weather report to see where the rain will be.

According to the national weather service, lightning can strike 10 miles or a little more away from a storm. So sure, it’s theoretically possible to be hit by a bolt of lightning while you are sitting in your back yard on a sunny afternoon, but it is far more likely to happen if you climb a tall tree in the middle of a thunderstorm.

If we think of this metaphoric lightning as creative inspiration, you can just sit around waiting for an idea to hit. Especially if just sitting around is part of your personal creative process. But that’s the trick isn’t it? That’s the climbing a tree in the rain part. That’s the perspiration part. It isn’t the sitting around in and of itself that sparks the genius. It comes from knowing what inspires you. It comes from thinking about and understanding your creative process, whatever your creative process might be. When you know yourself and know your process then you can put yourself in circumstances where the lighting will find you instead of you constantly chasing it.

So now you have your spark in a jug. What are you going to do about it? Anything? Or is just knowing you captured it enough?

It might be. Happy is the person who defines success in their own terms and achieves that instead of striving for other people’s expectations.

But let’s suppose that your success includes other people. What if you want to show or share the lightning? That’s when the work starts. That’s when climbing out of our imaginary tree and doing something with the bottle comes into play. This is the part of the process where the makers are going to make and Thomas Edison starts to sweat.

It takes work to do anything else but sit in a tree with your lighting bottle. If abiding with your lighting bottle what you want and need, by all means do that. There is a great deal of light and satisfaction in doing that and it is 1,000 percent enough. In this scenario, I think of the lightning bolt as being a metaphor for Zen style enlightenment. It is for you alone. It is for you to take home, make a part of your life, and let it light your way from now on.

If the lightning represents creative inspiration, then there might be more that needs done, a different tree to climb so to speak. Catching the idea is the first stroke of luck, making it exist in physical reality is another tree climb. If the thing you create is popular with other people, then that becomes another lucky lightning strike altogether.

Both bolts require us to spend time out in the rain.

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TaoCraft Short Sip Tarot: Silent Light

Thank you for watching, reading and listening to TaoCraft Short Sip: Tarot for your day in the time it takes to sip from your favorite morning drink.

Today’s Card is the Hermit from the major arcana

Light is silent.

The thing making the light might make a sound, like a crackling fire or humming street light, but the light itself is utterly silent.

Most, if not all, Hermit cards have a lantern or some symbol for light on them. Hermits choose to be alone. This combination brings to mind classic tropes like the candy suggesting guru on a mountaintop or the tea plucking wise master in a bottled tea commercial. It also brings to mind the mythic association between silence, solitude and enlightenment. Gautama Buddha meditated alone at night under a bohdi tree. Bohdidharma meditated alone facing a cave wall. Micheo Usui meditated alone to realize the Reiki symbols, and so on.

Enlightenment is a quiet thing.

Evangelism is, however, not. It is a normal human thing to be noisy and enthusiastic and want to tell everyone about this nifty new thing you found so the people you care about can benefit from it too. It’s primal. It makes evolutionary sense to put up a screech when you find the clear water stream or the full fruit tree. That’s great that you care enough about people that you want to share your best found treasures with them. But at some point it has to grow up beyond that. At some point it has to ripen from the joy of discovery to the depth and security of lived experience. At some point, deep truths become a silent stream of light lest they be reduced to pearls before swine or gnats around the heads of others.

Some days it is a service to shout to the tribe about the good that you have found. Lights are a signal in the dark as much as a shout. Sometimes the best signal is a silent light.

Darkness of the Devil’s Night

Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.

And so it is with this Devil’s night.

The only darkness is that within.

Who says what is dark? Who says what is wrong?

Not the culture to which we belong.

Only you.

Only your heart.

The only devil that matters is the one we face in the mirror.

If it spills out beyond, then it is doubly wrong.

Dark defines light.

It allows sight to exist.

Look in that midnight mirror

To see the inevitable darkness is a way to see the inseparable light

Look your soul in the eyes this Devil’s night.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” 

Carl Jung (via goodreads.com)

in memoriam DGC

Today’s Tarot: Wordless

Connect your heart

Some things are beyond words.

Mat Auryn superbly and poetically describes the idea of mystery tradition in magick (and in some ways, I might add, Tarot.) There are some things that can only be directly, wordlessly experienced. That is the essence and definition of spirituality to my mind. Spirituality is our individual experience of the wordless and intangible parts of our human experience. Religion, on the other hand, is exernal experience, not internal. Religion is social, and group focused. Spirituality is wordless, expressed from the inside out. Religion is codified, group behavior that influences from the outside in.

Expression, experience and wordless are the key words here.

The High Priest and High Priestess cards also deal with these great wordless mysteries. Although this and other contemporary Tarot decks don’t have the explicit Christian religious imagery for the High Priest/Pope/Hierophant card that you see on the Marsielle, RWS and other older decks have, the nature of the tradition keeper and even the mystery seeker priestess cards are outside-in, just a hairbreadth on the religious side regardless of their visual depiction.

So what does any of this have to do with the Knight of Cups?

The Knight of Cups has always had some degree of spiritual connotation. He carries a message. Cups are associated with water (deep water is often a symbol for deep spiritual and cosmic mysteries) and intuition (often a wordless experience.)

Knights are associated with action. We are three dimensional creatures. Even the purest, wordless, silent, direct experience if the spiritual and intangible still has some physical third dimensional corollary or action. To have direct spiritual experience requires some action or doing be that sitting in meditation, gazing at the sky, performing a ritual, or taking a shower. Whether you call it spontaneous enlightenment or simply a moment of insight, this direct, wordless experience of emotion and insight is a normal, natural, inherent part of being human.

If you have chosen to read and watch this, if you have chosen the knight of cups card today, there is a sense of urging. There is a strong push to do the spiritual things that put you in a mental and physical space where wordless experience of the profound and spiritual is an open possibility. Follow your heart to the doing of it. Do the thing that connects your heart to the wordless.

YouChoose Interactive Tarot Reading 10-16 May 2020: Learn, Roll, Laugh


If you need more time to choose a card, pause the video then restart for the reveal and see your reading below.

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Left: Page of Wands. This is the Witches Tarot deck by Ellen Dougan with artwork by Mark Evans. To be honest, the artwork is what makes this one of my favorite decks. This particular Page of Wands captures the happy, good news, almost playful quality that a lot of readers associate with the card. Pages have to do with learning, Wands with the inner world. Rather than predicting an external message that makes you happy (which could happen, not saying it won’t) but today’s impression is more like an internal happy message, where dots connect, and the lightbulb goes on over your head, and there is a sense of happy relief as pieces fall into place and something suddenly, delightfully makes sense. Don’t expect to happen by noon on Monday. Sometimes this is a slow process, like a good stew in you slow cooker. Sometimes, the less you try the better the dot-connecting works. Sleep on things a day or two and let the thought drop in at 2 am or during your shower or however these things happen for you.

Center: Eight of Wands. Be patient. This card classically signifies something up in the air, something that is in process and out of our hands, like an arrow in flight. I always think of that scene from Doctor Who where Melody says “Penny in the air” as Amy takes a while to process a thought. Then when she connects the dots and has her realization (like the Page of Wands above) Melody says “and the penny drops.” This card is the penny in the air part. Something is in the air, so you might as well roll with your situation this week until the penny drops. 

Right: Page of Cups. One of my favorite cards. Don’t take life so seriously. Yeah, I know the fish in the cup is supposed to mean deep and hidden mysteries coming to light. Sometimes that is exactly the message. Not this week. Life can be absurd, like a fish in a cup. Yes, mysteries and deep thoughts are warranted, but don’t let that process become to ponderous this week. Here my thoughts go to “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman, when Socrates speaks about “the laughter of an enlightened man.” Spirituality, mysteries, insights, enlightenment – none of it has to be dour or ponderous or unpleasant. The enlightened man laughs. Lighten up and let yourself laugh this week.

12 Second Tarot: Three of Pentacles (19 Nov 10)

Not every day is mystical, spiritual or blissful. Some days being immersed in the utterly mundane is a sacred act unto itself. “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water” – proverb.