☯️ Benebell Wen is a pseudonym ♎
June 8, 2021 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Taiwanese American tarot author, occult practitioner, deck creator*, and (day gig) intellectual property lawyer Benebell Wen has reviewed dozens of tarot and oracle decks on her blog, including decks by fellow Asian diasporic creators such as Way of the Panda tarot, Morning Calm Oracle, Witchling Academy Tarot and Tarot of the Divine. Check out her suggestions on Asian tarot readers , her critiques of reiki in the West and the tarot certification process, her video on cultural appropriation of spiritual practices, and her comments on cultural alienation at PantheaCon.

*Benebell also gives a fascinating behind the scenes look at the nuts, bolts, and creativity of creating your own tarot deck.
posted by spamandkimchi (14 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for this. These decks are gorgeous. I'm not a believer in tarot, but I've always adored the cards as works of art. If I were ever rich I've always wanted to collect them.
posted by star gentle uterus at 12:21 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]

I have a copy of her first deck. It’s absolutely beautiful and clearly made from love. Also has a faint scent of incense. She apparently blesses each deck before sending it. I love that detail. Wish more companies would provide that as part of their unboxing experience.

She’s currently working on a new deck. Definitely worth getting when it comes out if you’re a collector. Glad she’s been posted here. Even if you’re not a believer—I personally am not—shes an interesting read on this subject.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:38 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]

I have been wanting a Spiritkeeper Tarot deck since I heard her being interviewed on The Witch Wave podcast. Before she decided to create a revised third edition--happening now--copies of it were going for four digits on ebay. Obviously too rich for my blood then but I am glad I am able to finally get one when she finishes this current edition.

Benebell is one of many examples of modern witches and mystics who turn the trope of New Age hippie on its head by being a lawyer, something most naysayers do not expect the spiritual to be.

I am a Tarot user and believer, and I'm often pleasantly surprised by how my intuition works in play with my readings (usually based around new and full moons, sometimes other events). I have a lot of decks and I have been trying to cull my urge to keep acquiring more, but there are so many beautiful ones out there!
posted by Kitteh at 12:48 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]

Really cool!
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 12:58 PM on June 8

'Benebell' is a beautiful change to wring out of the 'Belle' names.

I'm sure it's already not a pseudonym in a number of places.
posted by jamjam at 1:06 PM on June 8

That cultural alienation link... does not cover her in glory. But props for screenshotting your own bad social media posts, I guess.
posted by hoyland at 6:31 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's a solid line between Tarot believer and non-believer. When speaking of Tarot animism, Benebell says: "Modern day tarot readers dismiss that premise as superstition. I did, too. In the face of science and contemporary rationalism, animism—this belief that objects, such as a deck of cards, might possess an animated spirit essence—is ridiculed, even censured. To believe that a deck of cards can hold spirited life is to reveal an unsophisticated intellect. Yet that is exactly the point where I start my journey..."

I don't "believe" in the Tarot exactly, but I think it's an amazing narrative framework to improvise storytelling focused on answering queries. It's not quite psychology and not quite hokum, but adjacent to both and Truer than either. It's religious without being religious. It's getting out of it what you put into it. It's like playing D&D, except you get insight into the issues in your life. It's more like free-association journaling than astrology. Do you have to believe in journaling?

In her post about getting certified to read Tarot, Benebell makes some really great points about rephrasing impossible questions, providing support for people who need more help than a reading, and other ethical questions. A Tarot reading is not about predicting the future. At its root, good "fortune telling" is about describing someone's Now and showing them different possible connections to people, choices, events, and supports. The teller is just riffing and letting the asker do the interpreting.

I drew a few cards for a shop window display and got so many requests I ended up creating a whole deck. It's very easy to do readings from a deck you create yourself, and I hardly ever ask for money when I do readings. People always tell me that it's amazing the connections they come away with, even people who don't "believe" in Tarot. I just say it's okay to think it's fun and interesting and even helpful without being supernatural or anything.
posted by rikschell at 6:40 PM on June 8 [16 favorites]

Thanks for the post, BTW. She's an excellent writer with a lot of incredibly interesting things to say. I'll be reading from these links for days or weeks.
posted by rikschell at 6:41 PM on June 8

Superstition is so compelling. Evangelical Christians are routinely disparaged here.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:18 PM on June 8

I think Evangelicals would get a lot more love around here if they weren't so strident about enforcing their homophobic and misogynistic views on the rest of society. I've never seen Tarot folks try to impose anything on anyone.
posted by rikschell at 8:59 PM on June 8 [16 favorites]

Thank you so much for posting this! I create my own oracle decks and settlingi to chexk out these links feels lovely.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 12:03 AM on June 9

I tend to think of the Tarot as basically Rorschach blots with prettier pictures.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:46 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]

Thank you so much for sharing this. I love that she's creating her own beautiful content and sharing interesting and new information along the way.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:00 AM on June 9

I don't think there's a solid line between Tarot believer and non-believer.

Agree. I find the Tarot useful and meaningful. That's more important to me than "believing" in it in any particular way.

In general, I think the Western approach to spirituality has been way too fixated on "belief" vs. "nonbelief" for at least the past 500 years or so. So many religious people *and* atheists get hung up on the idea that what matters is accepting or rejecting various fact statements. The ensuing arguments tend to be moronic on both sides.

The most interesting and valuable aspects of spirituality have very little to do with belief, and everything to do with experience.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:42 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]

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