Tag Archives: tarot

HIIT Parade: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #151

Last week’s T.I. was a double-down.  So this week we’re going to take it down a notch — see below.

This month’s internal focus is The Book, a.k.a the Tarot.  The Tarot is essentially an encyclopedia of symbolism in the form of a deck of cards, a way to train your mind to see the world in terms of story and symbol.  When used as a tool for reflection and psychoanalysis, Tarot is fun and beneficial beyond measure.

Tarot cards are not dangerous and scary unless you use them to tell fortunes.  I’m in seminary, and neither of my bishops see the slightest thing wrong with using Tarot cards to gain insight into oneself or as aids to meditation.  The finest Tarot book ever written was penned by a devout Catholic.  Divination and magic, on the other hand, will get you into hot water.  I advise against it.

Here’s an example of how Tarot can work, using songs instead of Tarot cards.  On the right is a copy of a CD I made for a coworker back in ’07.  Chuck was leaving the company headed for greener pastures, and I said goodbye to him with a CD.   I liked it so much I made a copy for myself.

Give it a listen.  Pretend it’s a concept album and see if you get the story that’s being told by the various tracks.  Here’s the YouTube playlist.

That’s kind of what you do with Tarot cards.  You lay out a spread of cards, look at the pretty pictures and amazing symbols, and see if you can follow the story.

HiIt Parade: Cabal Fang Training Involution #151

A parade is a “succession, series, or display of items.”  The origin of the word parade is the Latin paro which means to prepare, provide, or resolve. 

Let’s do this.

  • Warm up thoroughly — that’s 8 minutes minimum.
  • Cabal Fang Grappling Conditioner #2. Set timer for 3 x 3:00/1:00.  For each 3:00, Splay-n-Punch 1-2, Splay-n-Punch 1-2-3-4, Splay-n-Punch 1-2-3-4-5-6, etc. up to Splay-n-Punch 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, then start again.  If you’re not dawdling you should be able to get at least 5 climbs done during every 3:00 round — that’s 25 Sprawls and 150 punches.  For the 1:00 “rests” body-lock a heavy bag and squeeze it as hard as you can.  Take as many 12-count breaks as you must in order keep from upchucking.  Just breathe.  I promise it’ll be over in 12 minutes.
  • Scuffling, grappling and wrestling HIIT. Set a timer to beep every 40 seconds. Whenever it beeps take a 10-second break and then start the next exercise. Cycle through the following 6 times for a total of 16 minutes, each as many as you can for 30 seconds: Smearing Push-ups, Cross-arm Clinch Lunges (maximum cutting power!), Leg Triangles and Splay-n-Punch. See video below for details.  Look familiar?  It should.
  • Tell a story. Shuffle your Tarot cards and deal out nine cards, all face up, in a 3 x 3 square.  Think of them as panels in a comic book of your life — the top row your past, the middle row your present, the bottom row your future.  Come up with a plot that connects the pictures.  Spend some time asking yourself questions about the little story you made up.  Which episodes from your childhood are brought to mind by the first three cards?  Do you know why?  Does the story have a good or bad ending?  What could you do to change it?
  • Record everything you learned in your training journal.  If it ain’t in the journal, it didn’t happen.

Judgment Day: Training Involution #103

This is the last weekly T.I. in the month with internal concentration The Book (a.k.a. the Tarot) and external concentration Basic Self-Defense.  I guess you could say it’s judgment day.

Judgment Day: Training Involution #103

  • Are you ready for Judgment Day?  Three questions: (1) If there’s a natural disaster or your employer goes belly up and you’re unemployed for a few weeks, it’s a good idea to have some back-up resources.  Check your pantry.  Do you have at least 1 month of food and water on hand?  (2) If you get lost and there’s no gas station around you’ll be sorry if you’re driving on fumes.  Go check your vehicle.  Do you have at least a quarter tank of gas in the tank?  (3) You’re going to feel pretty dumb if your vehicle breaks down and you haven’t been maintaining it. Have you had your oil changed and any other scheduled maintenance done?  Count your “No” answers and hike 1 mile for each.  Beginners use a #10 pack, intermediate #25, advanced #40+.
  • Tarot meditation on XX: Judgement.  Why do Tarot card manufacturers seem to like the British spelling that includes the letter “e” in the middle?  Oh well.  Set up the card (or a printed photo or your tablet) so that it’s at eye level when you’re in your meditative posture of choice.  Set a timer for 3 to 5 mins.  Regulate your breathing as you look at the card.  Imagine that you are stepping into the card, that you are becoming one of the characters in the scene.  Imagine all of the sights, sounds, tastes and sensations of the scene.  When the timer beeps, watch the video below.  Record your thoughts and realizations in your training journal.

Scramble: Training Involution #102

This month’s external focus is General Self-defense and the internal one is The Book (Tarot).  So this week there’s more hardcore, targeted self-defense material in store — plus some preparation checking and some esoteric quizzing.  But first, here’s a little promo video I put together to promote Cabal Fang martial arts.  Dig it.

And now on with the show.

Scramble: Training Involution #102

  • Scramble through your purse or pockets.  What if you get stranded have to scramble for shelter, warmth, food, or a ride?  Do you have a knife or multi-tool, a way to make fire, and enough cash money for a cab or Uber ride?  If not, shame on you.  Fix that ASAP.
  • Scramble for your life.  What if you have to fight in a cramped place, like a car, closet or bathroom stall?  Get knocked down and have to get up?  Have to wrestle?  Beginners: Do 25 reps each of: Bodybuilders, Sit-outs, Get-ups and Crunch-n-Punch.  Intermediates, you do 33 reps and add Splays/Sprawls.  Advanced folks, do the intermediate version plus Drop Duck-Unders.
  • “Do you read Tarot?”  What if somebody finds out you have a Tarot deck and you have to scramble to answer that question?  Last week I tested you on your number symbolism.  Now for the suits.  Can you name at least one association or correspondence for each suit, such as element (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), Sphere (Matter, Ideals, Drives, Emotions), Quaternary (To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent), etc.?  No?  If not, pull 10 cards and do the number of Push-ups on each face (Pages = 10, Knights = 6, Queens = 3, Kings = 2).

Dogs Kill (and WOOTW #87)

Sheriff: 22-year-old woman found dead in woods was mauled to death by own dogs

As soon as the story broke that 22 year-old Bethany Stephens was killed and mauled by her two beloved pit bulls, conspiracy theories started flying.  A “Save the Dogs” campaign was launched.  One news station even found a veterinarian to go on camera and say “there has to be another explanation for her death.”

But when the Sheriff’s office got permission from the family to release details they dispelled all doubt.  It turns out that the dogs were gnawing on her rib cage when they arrived on scene.  And yet, some people persist in saying that “there has to be more to the story.”


The story is that two pit bulls killed and ate their owner.  As tragic as that is, it’s still a fact.  Dogs kill about 40 people a year in the United States.

I’m an early morning runner, walker and hiker who likes to go the park and do calisthenics.  So I’ve had five dog related incidents.  The breeds were: German Shepherd, Mutt, Golden Retriever, Chow and Black Lab. I escaped bites in three cases. The Chow got me on the thigh, the Retriever on the hand — and these were the only two that were leashed.

No, I’m not just super unlucky.  Here are some statistics from DOGSBITE.ORG:

  • Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States.
  • 65% of the 392 dog bite deaths from 2005 – 2016 were attributed to Pit bulls.
  • In 2015, more than 28,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs.
  • Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2016, costing more than $600 million.

I really wish that dog owners would maintain control of their pets, obey leash laws and be mindful that millions of their fellow citizens have been previous victims.

With all of this in mind, here are my self-defense recommendations with regard to dogs.

Prevent and Prepare

  1. Carry a weapon and practice using it. I walk/run/hike with either a tactical pen or a walking stick. I train regularly with both, hitting actual objects to maintain command and mastery of my weapons.
  2. Pocket your cell phone and don’t wear ear buds. Use your full attention and all senses to monitor your surroundings.
  3. Treat all dogs over 30 lbs like loaded guns.  
  4. Don’t trust dogs on leashes. Owners often cannot control their own dogs. The Chow that bit me easily yanked the leash from his owner’s hand to get his teeth into me.
  5. Maintain distance. Skirt all unfamiliar dogs by at least 30 feet.  If a dog enters your space, ready your weapon and be prepared to take action at first contact.  Assume all dogs are going to bite you.
  6. Disregard social conventions. If an unleashed dog over 30 lbs approaches you and you feel threatened, move away, present your weapon and loudly inform the owner that if the animal comes any closer you will kill it.  Owners usually grab their dogs and put them on leashes when you do that.
  7. Assume that any dog coming toward you is a threat. If shelter is nearby — a car, house, shed, high fence, etc. — get there.  But walk, don’t run.  And don’t turn your back.

If you are attacked

  1. If caught in the open, ready your weapon. Raise your free arm and shield your face and throat by grabbing the cloth of the opposite shoulder.
  2. Turn your body at right angles to protect your groin. Do not run. Stand your ground and very slowly advance toward the animal. Imagine and visualize you are going to kill it — that you are going to rip it limb from limb like a stuffed animal — even if you are unarmed.  Your body language will reflect your mindset.  Note that this advancing and visualization piece is at odds with expert advice. But I deterred a large German Shepherd using this method, and I think it works.  You need to make your own choices.
  3. If the dog attacks you, do not pull away.  That will only injure you more and, even if you get free, you’ll just get another bite.  Let it stay latched on while you strike at it repeatedly, yelling with each blow, until it lets go and runs.
  4. A strong dog can easily drag you off your feet.  If that happens, assume safety position.  Get on your hands and knees with your forehead on the ground, interlace fingers behind your head, pull your elbows in, and tuck into the tightest ball you can until the dog leaves or help arrives.

And now for the workout of the week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #87

* 40 x 20 HIIT — see video below.  Set timer for rounds of :20/:10 or just set a timer to 30-second intervals and rest for a 10 count whenever it beeps.  For the first 20 rounds, cycle through Leopard Walks, Shrimps, Tiger Push-ups, Scorpions and Bear Walks (4 cycles through those 5 exercises = 20 rounds).  For the next 20 rounds, go at your heavy bag with full power — as if your life depends on it!

* Tarot Meditation.  Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes, stand up The Moon card from your Tarot deck at eye level and spend the time stepping into the card.  As you regulate your breathing and stare at the card, allow the image transition in your imagination from artwork to photograph and from photograph into a movie.  Allow your experience to unfold in your mind’s eye.  If you don’t have a tarot deck buy one here.icon Or just print out the photo above and use that.

The Very Occult Mighty ReArranger

I don’t know why I never listened to this 2005 Robert Plant record, but I’m sure glad I did so yesterday — for two reasons.

First, it’s good.  Really good.  A mixture of blues, world music, and house remix tracks that somehow — to my utter amazement! — manages to homogenize instead of settling into oil and water.

Second, it’s deeply occult.  That’s refreshing, especially when actual, quality, mainstream occult rock is as rare as an honest politician.  Before you cry foul, I’m know that there’s lots of stuff that has pentacles plastered all over it or that makes overt references to topics and theories that some might call occult.  That’s not occult.  “Occult” means hidden.  You ought to have to dig a little!  Mainstream, quality occult rock is on life support.

Thanks to Robert Plant and the Strange Sensations for putting the paddles on it and shocking it back to life.

As proof that the record’s themes are occult I point out that the Wikipedia article totally missed them, saying only that, “It contains a blend of world and Western music influences, with mystical, oblique and somewhat cynical references to religion and destiny.”   Cyclical would’ve been a better word than cynical.  Clearly the occult material was too well hidden for most listeners to notice.

This record is an esoteric, audio grimoire on the natural, recurring cycles of personal and planetary evolution in general, and on The Fool’s Journey in particular.

How it Evokes Recurring Cycles

  • There are twelve tracks — equating to twelve hours in a day, twelve months in a year, twelve houses of the zodiac, and so on.
  • After the 12th track there is a hidden 13th track.
  • In what way can 13 be said to equal 12?  A year isn’t just 12 months — it’s also measurable in 13 cycles of the moon.  So this 12-13 album conjures up the 12-13 measurement of a year (a very occult way of looking at a year, to be sure).
  • The hidden 13th track is a remix of the second track.  So this track pushes us right back into a 12-count cycle, skipping track #1 so that we get 12 steps — over and over and over again, like the ever-spinning wheel of the year.

How it Evokes The Fool’s Journey

What’s the The Fool’s Journey?  As Eden Gray said when she coined the phrase “Fool’s Journey,” in her book “The Complete Guide to the Tarot”:

“The Fool represents the soul of everyman, which, after it is clothed in a body, appears on earth and goes through the life experiences depicted in the 21 cards [22 if you count 0 The Fool.  -ed.] of the Major Arcana, sometimes thought of as archetypes of the subconscious. Let each reader use his imagination and find here his own map of the soul’s quest, for these are symbols that are deep within each one of us.”  [Thanks to Mary K. Greer for the quote.]

Now let’s go spot The Fool’s Journey on the record.

  • Each of the 12/13 tracks equates to a kind of abbreviated Tarot, which is just another version of the Fool’s Journey.
  • Track #1 is 0 The Fool, Track #2 is XIX The Sun, Track #3 is V The Heirophant (reversed?), Track #4 is The Emperor, Track #5 is IV The Emperor, Track #6 is II The High Priestess, and so on.  Don’t believe me?  Listen to the record and you can hear all of these characters speaking.
  • The hidden 13th track is  XII The Hanged Man.  Note that XII The Hanged Man is actually the 13th card in the Major Arcana.  It’s the sacrificial step, the Christ/Buddha/Savior card that comes right before change (XIII Death).  Here we have death, rebirth, and reincarnation.
  • And here again we have the 12-13 theme, thereby linking together the players (the 12-13 songs) to the grand repeating play (the 12-13 year).
  • What’s the “Mighty ReArranger?”  Well that’s God, The One, the Supreme Ultimate.  It’s both the original Arranger (notice how the word has a capital “A” part way through?) and the re-arranger — the First Cause-Prime Mover-Creator-Arranger  and the Teacher-Savior-Redeemer-ReArranger all rolled into one.

What a truly excellent, thought-provoking, amazing record.  Very highly recommended!


1-in-4 Americans, RVA Zinefest, and WOOTW #21

Today’s post is a little ADD.  I’m hopping around like a bunny rabbit jack-hammering a hole in a hot tin roof!

Once again, as I have every year since 2011, I’ll be tabling at Richmond Zinefest on Oct. 1..  Come out, say “Hi!” and buy some of my stuff.  Heck, I’ll even autograph it for you.

1-in-4 Americans will probably not be interested in RVA Zinefest because, according to a recent Pew Research poll, 1-in-4 Americans didn’t crack a single book last year.  Who are these people?

Now for the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #21.

  • Grappling Conditioner #3.  Warm-up well first because this is a real doozy.  Set timer for 10:00 and complete as many sets as you can of 5 Bag Lifts, 5 Splay-n-Punch, and 5 two-punch combos from mount.
  • Walk your heart rate down to normal for at about 3 minutes.
  • Tarot Meditation.  Set up the Tarot card of your choice and meditate on the image.  [Note: If you don’t have a Tarot card, print an image online.  I made a giant Tarot card using the BlockPosters app so that we could all meditate on the same oversized card at the martial arts club.  You can download and print it by clicking this link.  It prints out on 8.5″ x 11″ paper that you can tape together to make a poster.]   Set timer for 10:00 and assume the meditative pose of your choice.  Focus on the image, empty your mind, and regulate your breathing.  Try to actually enter the image.  Imagine that this image is an artistic rendering of an actual place, and that you are going to go there.  Explore this imaginal realm until the timer beeps.
  • Record your thoughts, experiences and activities in your training log or journal.  All martial artists should keep one.  Do you?

For your convenience, enjoyment and general edification I’ve included a video of the above.  Enjoy!


Physical and Spiritual Respiration and Your WOD

In response to a post by my virtual buddy Andrew, I wrote the following comment which I believe is a very important thing to keep in mind, both spiritually and physically.  Or maybe not.  I could be wrong.  Anyway, dig it and let me know what you think.

FYI, when I mention “the prophetess of the 2nd Key” I’m referring to the High Priestess of the Tarot (picture at right).


Robert Mitchell
Dec 04, 2015 @ 10:47:43

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

The prophetess of the 2nd Key sits between the pillars of Mercy and Severity, and her wisdom lies in knowing when to be severe and when to be merciful (with oneself and others). This oscillation is like breathing, and breathing is life. Cessation of respiration is death. I advise breathing life and respiration into your “dead” regimen. You might have some 20 min days, some 1 hour days, the occasional 90 minute day, and some days off. And two weeks per year you should do absolutely nothing but eat, sleep, and veg out.

My regimen: Temple rites (LBRP, LUX, and meditation) 7 days/week at dawn. Fall & Winter I train once/day and take off Thurs & Sun. Spring I take off Sun only and work out twice on Sat (one AM and one PM). Ditto for Summer except no Sat doubles. Workouts are about an hour, longer on Fri and Sat, shorter on Weds. Full week off between Christmas and New Years, another full week around July 4th, and sometimes a third week off around Labor Day.

I do not claim to be all-wise, so please take or leave this info. I hope not, but I admit the possibility that I could be completely full of shit. Have a great weekend!


20151204_070312.jpgAnd now for your WOD — a 30 minute, upper-body-crushing, all-out, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout:

  • Set timer for rounds of :30/:10.  Work for the :30 and use the :10 to transition to next exercise and/or rest.
  • For the first 27 rounds, cycle through the following resistance band exercises: Squat/Rev. Flys, Push-ups, Lunges/Press.
  • For the final 18 rounds, max power punches and hand strikes vs. heavy bag.


Your WOD — Which Includes Ground-fighting Conditioner #4

wpid-20151023_070604.jpgHere’s your 3-Part Cabal Fang WOD (“Workout of the Day”).  Intermediate players add a weighted vest to Part 2 (I used a #10):

  1. 8-minute Blast.  As many sets as you can in 8 minutes of 10 Steam Engines, 10 Zombie Squats, 10 Staggered Push-ups, and 10 Pikes — take as few 12-second breaks as you need to finish, preferably none.  I made 5 full sets with zero breaks (PTDICE are great for generating workouts like this).
  2. Ground-fighting Conditioner #4.  Put on your MMA gloves and set timer for 10 minutes.  Shin or Knee Ride bag, face post, and punch “head” 10 times.  Slide leg over into mount and strike 10 times.  Body lock back and roll to bottom position.  Push up bag with one hand and strike it 10 times with the other.  Hip escape and advance back to Shin or Knee Ride and repeat as many times as you can before the timer beeps.
  3. Tarot Meditation.  Set timer for 10 minutes and dim the lights.  Stand up Tarot Trump XII “The Hanged Man” — lean it against something like a stack of books — and meditate on the image with eyes narrowed until the timer beeps.  Fully relax and experience the symbolism.

Everybody have a great weekend

A Tarot Meditation on VII: The Chariot

VII_150320At the beginning of March I began working through Donald Kraig’s book Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts.  Part of the program is completing a daily Tarot Meditation.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a student of the Tarot since the 70s, and I’ve been meditating almost as long.  And I’ve meditated on Tarot cards before.  But it’s simply amazing the things you can find — even in terrain you think you’ve explored pretty darned well.

Last Friday I sat down to meditate on VII The Chariot.  I settled into meditation, taking note of the solar imagery and connecting that to the Solar Chariot myths found everywhere from Ancient Egypt to Denmark.  I relaxed and “sank into” the card.  Then, although I’ve looked at this card a million times in the last forty or so years, I noticed that the natural focal points of the image are seven in number.  That seemed curious and probably not coincidental.  Then, in my mind’s eye, I connected them with lines.

VII_Rev_150320The natural focal points on the card are the seven lowest Sephiroth, the ones just below the level of the Abyss.

The glowing square on the figure’s chest equates to the Sephira of Yesod, which is the vehicle through which all of the powers from the Sephiroth above are conveyed into the material world of Malkuth, which is the eight-pointed star on the figure’s forehead.  Note that the winged sun on the chariot itself equates to Tiphareth, the Christ point.  The figure can go nowhere without this power.

If you are familiar with the Qliphoth, the spheres are different.  And yet, to me at least, the overall message is strangely similar.

To me this card  symbolizes the maximum human attainment, the highest degree of achievement, the greatest victory short of attaining personal godhood.  But being upside down, it is also a warning.  It says that victory has its costs, difficulties and dangers.


Old Tarot, New Tarot

The Fool — by way of the Aeclectic Tarot website.

I’ve been using the Hoi Polloi Tarot since I bought it at B. Dalton Bookstore back in the 70s.  After almost 40 years of friendship, that old deck is very dear to me.

But it must’ve been sometime around 2001 when I realized that, while it is beautiful to look at,  there are issues with the deck.  It’s fairly faithful as Rider-Waite-Smith clones go, but the backgrounds are missing, and certain very symbolic details are different, such as the number of Yods and the colors of certain objects.  One example is The Fool.  In the RWS deck, the rose is white.  In mine the rose is red.

These differences and issues have surfaced several times before. I always gloss over them and move along with my old friend as before.

Then other day, while contemplating the Knight of Wands, it hit me that his tunic should not be green.  It was like a mallet to my forehead.  “Mitch,” the voice in my head said, “this is a test.”  But what kind of test?  Was the challenge before me to just relax and not be so uptight about details?  After all, I do struggle with being very driven and nit-picky.  Or was the test to realize that all tools wear out eventually and must be replaced, to remain focused on getting the job done rather than being sentimental about tools?

The next day, while performing the Qabalistic Cross, it hit me that the challenge was to do both.  If I was going to build a new house, would I throw away the antique hammer that I inherited from my father and replace it?  No, I’d just set it aside as a keepsake to use for hanging pictures an such. I’d go and buy a framing hammer for the new job.  As usual, the false tension of dualism is the enemy.

So I wrapped up the old cards in a scarf and put them in a pretty box to use on special occasions.  The new cards are necessary if I’m going to progress in my esoteric studies.  And I ordered a new Tarot deck.  It’ll be arriving in the mail soon.

It’s time to make a new friend.