Push Vs. Pull

Magick primarily works in two forms. You can perform magick to attract a certain influence towards you (invoking), or you can work magick to repel an influence away from you (banishing). I consider both forms of magick two sides of the same coin, but recently I’ve discovered something about my personal brand of magick.

If you’ve read previous entries of this blog, it should come as no surprise that I am not averse to banishing work. In fact, I might be more proficient at banishing work. However, when I try to banish something with magick, I meet the same resistance I would if I tried to constrict something in my mundane life. Try it yourself. Find someone you know and tell them not to do something. I’ll wait…

Are you back with me? Great. Let me guess, as soon as you told them not to something, the person probably had a nagging urge to do exactly what you told them not to do. If you didn’t get that response, that person is a saint!

Another obstacle to banishing magick is that it limits potential. When I banish something from my life, all I am really  saying  is “You can’t sit with us” in my best Mean Girls voice. I don’t tell them where they can sit, just that they aren’t welcome in my presence.

Before this analogy gets belabored, let me give you an example. My manager at work recently put in his two-week notice. This, of course, introduced a lot of ambiguity to our work environment. Personally, I was scared shitless because the shoe-in candidate to replace him is a coworker that I’ve never really connected with. The tension between my coworker and I is rooted in the fact that we’re both control freaks who are passionate about our work. Even with that realization, I’m still not sure that I could work for her.

My first instinct was to work magick to separate her from the possibility of getting the position, but that didn’t feel right. Even with my flexible ethics (flexiths?), I didn’t feel comfortable working magick to prevent someone from reaching their personal career goals. I also didn’t feel comfortable that the magick would get me the desired results I wanted. What if my coworker was the lesser of two evils? I’m sure I could use magick to successfully prevent her from getting the position, but what if the person they hired was even worse? So, I took another route.

I set my altar with components that would traditionally be used for a love spell; a red candle, rose and lavender incense, red ribbon, a piece of parchment, and a red pen. On the paper I wrote down all of the qualities I wanted in a boss; they need to be flexible, they need to be a strong leader, they had to be open to me keeping my autonomy at work, they had to be compassionate, etc. I rolled the parchment and tied it with the ribbon. I lit the candle and asked the Universe to bring me the right boss.

Not only does this increase my odds of getting the best boss possible, but it also creates possibility. Maybe a tyrant will get hired, but that means that a new opportunity will be made available to me. Maybe a tyrant will get hired, but there’s a lesson for me to learn in that situation. Whatever happens, good or bad, will provide me with what I need without limiting the Universe from answering my request.

So, next time you reach for a black candle to push something away, take a moment to see what you can pull towards you instead. I’m sure you’ll be surprised.

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Earth My Body

“Oh, it’s obviously broken,” I say as I look at the number that’s much too high. I step off the scale, let it clear, take off my shirt (because it must weigh 10 pounds, and step back on the scale. The same number taunts me from the digital screen. “Definitely broken,” I say to myself and shove another cookie in my mouth (probably).

I’ve made these excuses to myself for a while not. “Oh, these pants must have shrunk in the wash” or  “Or, I did have a big lunch, maybe I’m just a little bloated.” I’ve said to myself/ I’ve always been a “big guy.” It’s never really bothered me, though. I’ve always preferred art and literature more than sports and fitness.

Last year, I joined a curling club (the winter sport, not the weight lifting) and had a great time. However, I quickly noticed that I was the only one who would be out of breath and covered in sweat even though the room was freezing. The next day, it took everything in me to get out of bed because my legs burned from the exertion. After the season ended, I lost any desire to get into shape.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was meditating on the earth element. I focused on the strength of my body, but struggled. I held the thought that my body held the strength of the mountains, but it didn’t work. I didn’t feel the normal “click” that I always do. After some soul searching, I found that I didn’t connect with the strength concept of the earth element because I didn’t feel that way about my body.

Why should I care about being strong? That has nothing do with spirituality! I thought to myself. Again, all I needed was some soul searching to understand. My body is my ultimate connection to the world. By being mindful of what goes in my body and the level of activity that my body receives is in itself a practice of gratitude. By keeping my body strong, I’m also reaping the benefits that go with it. I’ll have more energy, a better ability to focus, and arguably, being better able to move energy.

With that being said, I joined a gym the next day. It’s been a little over a week, and I’ve been committed to working out every other day. To my surprise, I’ve found that my body is capable of more than I have ever given myself credit for. This morning, I did a few miles on the treadmill, did some strength training, and headed to the locker room. I glanced at the clock and saw that I still had 20 minutes before I had to shower and head to work. Rather than leave early, I decided to spend another 20 minutes on the treadmill. I feel that as my body gets stronger, so will my will.

Raising a green smoothie in the air, I drink to my continued journey.

The Power of No

Anyone who has been around a toddler has experienced the power of “No.” As a child, there is something liberating in saying “no” when you’re asked, or rather told, to do something. As we grow, we forget that “no” is an appropriate answer.

You see, I’m a pushover. In Mindy Kaling’s first book she said, “Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.” I adopted this as a mantra. Anytime I felt I had to do something I didn’t want to do, I would simply say “yes” and present a false sense of willing acceptance. Any time a coworker needed me to cover their shift at the last minute, I would respond with a cheery “of course,” but hate them for it later. When a friend would want to grab a drink and later reveal that they couldn’t afford their tab, I’d gladly cover it while a hot coal of resentment burned in my gut. Last week, I finally decided this needed to change.

My grandmother’s 88th birthday is approaching, and my extended family was looking for a central location to host a party. I live alone in a relatively large house that happens to be equidistance from everyone else. It was a no-brainer to have the party at my place. It was such a no-brainer that no one even considered asking my permission until all the plans were finalized. It’s an understatement to say that I was not thrilled with this scenario.

It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want my family around. My family is great in small doses and even smaller groups. There are several members of the family who don’t speak to one another. When they are placed in the same vicinity, dramatic displays of aggression tend to follow close behind. On top of all this, several members of my family are evangelical Christians that only “feel comfortable” in my home if I hide away all of my Witchy items. With all this in mind,  I took to Facebook and posted the following comment on the event’s Facebook page (Yes, they set up a Facebook event before asking me if they could use my home for the party.)

“Dearest family, I’m flattered that my home was considered to host Grandma’s birthday. It’s certainly an event to be celebrated. However, due to the short notice, I will not be able to host. Instead, I will put a deposit down on the pavilion in the park near my home. I ask that those of you who are able will help me pay the full amount of the pavilion, but I will be happy to pay what is left over after donations. I will still open my home to any out of town guests that may need a kitchen to cook for the party. I think everyone will be more comfortable with the change in location. If you have questions or suggestions, please give me a call. I can’t wait to see all of you.”

The response was not what I expected. Sure, I knew some people would be disappointed, but I was not prepared for the outpouring of hate I received. The responses ranged from relatives calling me selfish to people offering prayers for my salvation to people telling me to prepare for an eternity in hell. I chose to remove myself from the group to remove myself from the drama. My relatives were astounded to find that my decision was not changed by the pressure they put on me. Even more so, they were shocked that I would not honor the commitment I made to pay for the pavilion. This was their party, and I wanted no part of it.

The decision to stand up to my family has propelled me into saying “no” more freely. Just last night, I went out with a friend and his coworkers. This is the friend I mentioned in the “Bless and Release” post from last week. He, again, was out for a Fantasy Football draft. One of his coworkers left without paying his bar tab. The bartender asked me who was going to cover the $6 tab. I suggested that the bartender ask the rest of the table since I didn’t know this guy. The bartender agreed, and the table went into a small frenzy over who was going to pay the tab.

My friend asked if I would be okay covering it if he promised to have his coworker pay me back, I said “no.”  I stopped myself before I could explain. Primarily, I thought it might be important to verbalize the fact that I had never met this man before and would probably not see him again. Using that logic, it would be best for a coworker to cover the tab and subsequently ask that he pay them back when they returned to work. I didn’t offer this explanation, however, as I remember something that Joanna DeVoe said in her podcast; “No is a complete sentence.” My friend didn’t ask for an explanation, but simply dropped the subject and later paid for the tab.

The lesson I learned may not be profound, but I pass it on anyway. Witches, embrace the sacred toddler[1]. When you want to say “no,” say it and mean it.

[1] This idea was borrowed by Joanna DeVoe’s work on the “Sacred Bitch”

Bless and Release

I’m sitting at the table sipping my cocktail as a quiet observer. The other six men at the table are absorbed in their cell phones, as they pick their favorite athletes. My friend is hosting the annual draft for his fantasy football league and asked me to come hang out. Despite the lack of conversation, I’m enjoying myself. It surprises me to see how eerily similar fantasy football is to Dungeons and Dragons. This realization makes me giggle to myself.

During a break from the draft, I joined my friend outside for a quick smoke.

“Oh, I’ll be late for board game night on Wednesday,” he said.

“I work until six, so that works out perfectly” I agreed.

“Yeah, I ran into Jon at work today, and he said he wanted to catch up. I’m going to have a few drinks with him before I come out” my friend continued.

This revelation caused time to stop for a minute. Allow me to interrupt this story to share some of the back story.

For almost a decade, I’ve had two constant friends in my life; Jon and Kelly.  I met each of them at work, but met them at different times. I met Jon through a mutual friend. He and I were both well read, had a penchant for craft beer, and were insanely sarcastic. We were instant friends.

I met Kelly a few years later. She and I shared the same tastes in music and literature and had a knack for closing down a bar. She and I were inseparable.

A few years ago, I had a stream of bad luck. The team I was on at work was dismantled, and I found myself without a job. I found a new one almost immediately. Then, a year later, that position was eliminated due to a merger. To compound this stress, I was dealing with the pressures of pursuing my Master’s degree, dealing with several severe illnesses in my family, and ended up just feeling lost.

While in a terrible bout of depression, I turned to my friends. Most of my friends were supportive. Jon and Kelly were not. Jon, who has trouble making friends on his own, tried relentlessly to push me out of my friend group. Kelly began to create needless drama and tried to pull me into the eye of her storm. While trying to deal with their issues while trying to keep balance in my own life, I began to see that their presence was unhealthy for me.

Things came to a head one night when Jon and Kelly accompanied me to the bar for a few cocktails. I left early, while they planned to close down the bar.

When I next talked to Kelly, several days later, she explained that she spent the night with Jon. Although she didn’t accuse Jon outright, she made it clear that she felt she was too drunk to have offered consent. I confronted Jon immediately, and in his version of the story, Kelly initiated everything.

I found myself in the middle of their turmoil and couldn’t fully align myself with either of them. In my experience with Jon, I had witnessed him being aggressive with women he was attracted to, but I never saw him cross the line with any of them. At the same time, I had witnessed Kelly use the excuse “I was too drunk” to distance herself from poor decisions, but have never experienced her fabricating something as heinous as her current accusations.

After several weeks of trying to navigate the tension between these two, I realized the beauty of this situation. This wasn’t my problem. This was a blatant sign from the Universe that I needed to release these two people from my life.

I sat down in front my altar and lit a single black candle. I asked the Goddess to bless my work. Sitting in meditation, I visualized my heart chakra spinning big and green. Attached to this chakra were two silver threads connecting me to Jon and Kelly. I sent good wishes to each of them. I prayed that they would be protected, find balance, and have the best life they could ask for. Then, carefully, I cut the cords and released them from my life. As I extinguished the candle, I felt a calm come over me. I never heard from Jon again. As for Kelly, she has sent me a few texts but then fizzled out. My magick had worked on the situation, but as I would find out at the bar during the fantasy draft, had changed me.

“Do you think it’s weird for me to hang out with Jon?” my friend asked. I paused before responding. Then I gave the most honest answer I could have offered.

“I don’t think about Jon at all” I started. “Jon isn’t a bad person; he’s just not a person I want in my life. If he’s reaching out to you, he probably needs a friend. So, I hope you two have a good time, and I will see you afterward.

My friend tilted his head in confusion and headed back inside. I was confused too. A year ago, I would have been pissed if any of my friends would have associated with Kelly or Jon. Now, it didn’t bother me at all. Once I released the negativity and chose not allow it impact my life, I released its hold over me, and that’s real magick.

 

Memory Jar – 2017

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As soon as the clock hit 3:15pm, I decided it was close enough to 4pm for me to leave work for the day. I closed my laptop, locked my desk, and said a half-hearted goodbye as the door was closing behind me. I don’t think my feet even touched the ground until I was in the elevator.

Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday and that means a lot of things to me. First it means that tomorrow will be another short day at work and that I will have a cocktail in my hand by 5 o’clock. This weekend will be more of the same. Most importantly it means that it’s time to finally break out the memory jar and read through the adventures I experienced over the past year.

A few years ago, I saw a post on Facebook that a friend shared. The post was about the practice of writing down everything amazing that happens to you and putting it in the jar. Then, each year, you read through your memories to remind yourself how fortunate you are.

This has been the best part of my birthday since I’ve adopted the practice. Here are some highlights of my jar for the past year:

 

  • 8/16 – I had a huge fight with my friend, but he still showed up and celebrated my birthday and we decided just to let the fight go.
  • 8/16 – Put a terrible situation behind me and learned some responsibility.
  • 9/1 – I was offered and accepted my dream job. (I realize that I bitch about my job a lot. It’s nice to be reminded that I am incredibly blessed to have my job.)
  • 9/9 – Went to the World Cup of Hockey game and took part in a legitimate “USA” chant.
  • 9/20 – Began my Pagan study group
  • 10/3 – Went curling for the first time with my friends Garrett and Alex (The Olympic ice sport, not weight lifting).
  • 10/4 – Forgave, blessed, and released an old friendship that was no longer serving me. (A year ago, I would never have thought about ending a friendship, no matter how bad it was for me. It’s amazing to see that I have grown.)
  • 10/6 – Hired my first employee at my new job!
  • 10/14 – Developed my first training piece for my new job (the first time I felt like could actually perform well in my new role.)
  • 2/15 – Heard my mom brag to a friend about the Valentine’s Day dinner I made her.
  • 2/27 – I threw the best shot at our curling match and won the game for our team!
  • 3/10 – Received an unexpected and substantial bonus at work!
  • 4/1 – My best friend came back from her travels through Europe and Africa.
  • 6/16 – Graduated with my Masters!
  • 7/22 – Had a significant experience that let me know that I was on the right spiritual path.
  • 8/5 – Made friends with an enemy

Tonight, I will ritually give thanks for the gifts I received in the past year. After burning the memories, I will set intentions for the year to come. Here’s a (very) short list:

  • Continue to grow spiritually and professionally
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Travel to Africa to visit my friend who’s travelling abroad
  • Commit to Feri tradition training
  • Start my spiritually-based company

Here’s to another great year!

Turn Me On

I stir my cocktail with my straw to mix the vodka and Red Bull a bit more than the bartender did. “Well the Feri creation story says that the Goddess was alone, but complete within Herself. She was floating through space when she noticed her reflection in the curve of the Universe. She fell instantly in love with Herself, made love to Herself, and Her orgasm created everything in the Universe[1]I said before taking a sip of my drink. My friend blinked hard.

“Isn’t that a little, narcissistic? I mean, She was turned on by Her reflection” he asked. I paused and shook my head,

“No, not at all. It wasn’t just Her beauty that she fell in love with. It was Her power. Her potential” I explained. As soon as the words left my lips, something clicked inside my head. It was like a mystery being revealed to me.

“Did I lose you?” my friend asked? He stared at me and slowly sipped his beer.

“Dude, I think I made a breakthrough” I blurted out excitedly.

“The Star Goddess was able to create everything we know because She loved Herself, trusted in Her potential, and gave Herself the permission to create reality. That’s the recipe for real, transformation magick!”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” he asked, this time lighting a cigarette. I sighed, but decided to continue.

“My magick works, but it doesn’t always feel organic. I think this is what I am missing. Before I work magick, I must honor myself and honor the power of potential that lives within every choice that I make, magickally or mundanely. I literally need to look at my actions, work under the guidance of my own divine authority, and be turned on by my own capabilities. That’s the path of true magick”

“Did you want another drink?” he asks, still not following. He got up before I could say anything, but that was fine with me. I leaned back in my chair and enjoyed the afterglow of my spiritual insight.

 

 

[1] This creation story was taken from The Spiral Dance by Starhawk.

Honoring my Beloved Dead – Chante

I feel like I am writing one of these posts every other week. This one hits hard.

Chante and I worked together about 5 years ago. In fact, when I became a trainer, she took over my old position in Quality Assurance. We spent most of our work hours in the office together. Rather than focusing on work, we’d talk about anything and everything. This usually meant that on Friday, we’d have tons of work to complete before we could leave, so we’d “race” each other to see who could get their work done first. The winner would always stay to help the other.

I knew Chante and I would be friends when she came into work one morning and seemed a little down. I asked her what was wrong and she gave the candid response of “Have you ever had a bowel movement that just ruined your day?” I laughed. Hard. So did she.

Chante was the most genuinely sweet person in the world. Every morning began with the greeting “Happy (insert day of the week).” I don’t think she knew how much hearing “Happy Monday” at the beginning of another work week made the struggle less real for me. When I felt overwhelmed with work or was fighting the urge to leave early, she always reminded me to “be on my grind and make that money.”

Chante was everyone’s friend and she affectionately referred to everyone as “Boo.” This wasn’t because she didn’t know their names, she knew everyone’s name (and their kids, and their hobbies, their favorite food, their birthday…).

I used to tease her that she was only sweet because she ate too much sugar. She never argued. In fact, her go-to coffee order was an iced venti caramel macchiato with 8 pumps of vanilla syrup (they usually only have three). When we made coffee runs, I loved to see the barista’s face when she ordered.

Chante is leaving behind a very young daughter, but I know she is surrounded by love. That baby girl is definitely going to hear about her amazing mama.

Today, I honor Chante. Not at my altar, but at my desk at work while I’m on my grind. I am sipping on an over-sweetened coffee and greeting everyone with an enthusiastic “Happy Friday.”

Chante, I thank you for your smile, your laughter, and your sweetness.

The world is a little bit dimmer without your light, but you shine brightly on the other side of the veil.

Blessed may you be in this world and all others, Boo.