Multicultural Magic: Meet Fiona Benjamin

What is your name? Do you go by any aliases?

y name is Fiona Benjamin, and I don’t go by any aliases. I have a Chinese name but that’s something that is generally only used when a relative is particularly mad at me ;)

hat is your cultural background?

ith my cultural background, bear with me- My parents are descendants of Chinese immigrants who immigrated to Malaysia and stayed there for several generations. Then my parents immigrated to the USA- so, we’re Chinese, but culturally, there are a lot of Malaysian influences. I don’t personally know all the differences, but even within the Chinese community, people are very specific about what “kind” of Chinese they are. 

Where are you currently living?

am currently living in Camp Lejeune, NC. I’m originally from Staten Island and spent the last three years in Okinawa, Japan. 

What type of divination and/ or magic that you practice?

I read several types of cards and read the bones. The magic I practice is drawn from several influences, since a lot of my friends come from different backgrounds. 

When did you first starting learning divination and/or magic? 

n terms of magic, I was raised in Shenism, which is Chinese folk magic. (True fact: I had no idea there was a name for this until last year when I was having a conversation about how translating words into English loses a lot of cultural context. I was giving several Chinese to English examples and suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. My non-Chinese friends who are familiar with the practice were rather amused that it took me this long to realize it). My mother is what people would call “highly superstitious” but I see it as, she was a spiritual person. Every year, I was dragged kicking and screaming across Chinatown to have my Eastern astrology done, so I’d know what charms and stones I needed to wear. I carried red enveloped filled with talismans. Our house was filled with all sorts of crystals, Buddha’s, and elaborate altars.   My mother didn’t see it as witchcraft or magic- and she will squirm whenever those words leave my mouth, but Shenism is a way of life. I actually assumed all Chinese people did these things until I met other Chinese American kids who were like, “Uh, no, Fiona.” 

As for divination, there was a boy I liked when I was in middle school. Like any shy little girl, the logical way to find out whether he liked me back was to take my happy ass to Border’s (the bookstore, before Barnes and Nobles was a thing) and buy my first deck of cards. I would bring it to school and my friends would join in and ask questions about whether boys liked us or not. Don’t judge me.

What obstacles did you face when you started practicing your divination and/or magic? How did it affect your cultural beliefs? 

The obstacles I faced were mainly when I approached Western magic, especially in the beginning. I loved people like Michael Ford and EA Koetting who are notorious for being “left hand path” magicians. I scoured their websites for information and wanted to learn more. There’s a saying that ‘hurt people hurt people.’ I didn’t have the happiest childhood and these type of magic seemed to be the answer. When you’re 16, 17 years old and you’re bullied in school, cursing your enemies looks like a really good idea. However, aside from people in school thinking I was a freak, people in online magical communities usually look down to these forms of magic. In the military community, sure, I had people call me names like “Harry Potter wannabe” and bullshit like that, but here’s the thing… I really don’t give a damn what people have to say about me or my practice. I live in it. I work with it. If they want to spend their time focused on me and what I’m doing, they’re hoping to distract themselves from whatever misery lurks in their own homes. 

This didn’t really affect my cultural beliefs. My mother always knew I gravitated more towards the darker arts because of my fascination with the macabre. She would try to bring some more Buddhism into my life and love and light me to death, but she gave that up a long time ago. I’m allowed to have my Buddhas running around the same house as I have the spooky ghosts. 

ow do you bridge your cultural beliefs with the usage of divination and/or magic?

he main cultural belief I abide by is ancestor veneration. While I don’t use cards to speak to my ancestors, I believe cards are an incredible medium to help people speak with their dead. They may not know the meanings of the cards, but people- living and dead alike, respond to colors, imagery, and symbolism. Oracle and tarot cards are excellent for that. 

Do you have a website? 

I do have a website. www.modernfortuneteller.com

What are your social media handles (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc)?

My social media handle for Facebook is www.facebook.com/modernfortuneteller
Twitter is www.twitter.com/fionabenjaminva