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.

Things to Expect When You Dedicate Yourself to Magickal Training

At its basic level, magick is based on the principle of cause and effect. Although most practitioners of magick understand this basic concept, some overlook the effect magickal training will have in other aspects of their lives. In my personal experience, there are several things you can expect when you begin to study magick.

  1. Relationships may change or dissolve

The goal of any magickal tradition is to help the adherent discover their true will. The practice of magick will lead the practitioner to self-possession, the state of knowing and accepting exactly who you are with the strength to follow your true will. When this happens, the relationships you have with people whose intentions may be crossed with your own, will naturally change or fall away.

The same is true for toxic relationships. Once you begin to see that the relationship is holding you back from achieving your highest good, you will be more than happy to part ways with toxic people.

The reverse is also true. You will begin to notice traits in others that resonate with your most authentic self and these relationships will flourish.

 

  1. Your emotions might be all over the place

Magickal practice, spiritual development, and psychic expansion will open up your chakras and other energy centers in ways you may not have experienced before. This may result in some mood swings at first.

For example, one moment someone may disrespect you, and the fight or flight instinct of your root chakra coupled with the communication center in your throat may cause you to defend yourself vehemently. The next moment you may happen by the final moments of  Undercover Boss where the CEO of a company gives an employee a scholarship, and you’ll burst into tears. (Hypothetically of course – Okay, yeah this happened me).

To counteract this, try chakra balancing techniques and breathing through any knee-jerk emotional reactions.

  1. Your intuition will be on point 

The more you practice magick, the better your sense of intuition will become. That small voice inside your head gets a bit louder, and that gut feeling gets a bit stronger. There have been times since I’ve rededicated myself to spiritual practice that I’ve wanted to consult my Tarot cards or doing some scrying, but found that my inner voice would lead me down the right path.

This can be a double-edged sword though. For me, my intuition has become a precise bullshit detector. Any time someone lies to me or omits information, I get a little tap on my psychic shoulder. Sometimes it has led to me getting into an argument with a friend, but overall it has allowed me to open the door to and long overdue conversation with a loved one.

  1. Your magickal proficiency will increase

You know what they say, practice makes perfect. The same goes for magick. As cited by my few “No Frills-Magick” posts, I’ve lost the need to full blown magickal practice. In fact, I have found that when I step to my altar for ritual, I can ground and center, cast a circle, and align my energies with a few breaths, rather than with the intense visualization, words of power, or ritual actions.

You may experience times in which the very act of planning a magickal working will be enough to manifest your goal.

  1. You’ll experience a mind-body-spirit alignment

The more time you dedicate to spirituality, the lines between your different parts will blur. You’ll start to understand how your mind and body are as magickal as your spirit.

For me, this manifested in a few ways. First, I’ve become more regimented in taking care of my body. I’ve been better about eating clean food, spending more time being active, and have started the process to quit smoking. In regards to strengthening my mind, I’ve started spending more time painting and reading than I have in the past.

By honoring all parts of my being, I am becoming more connected with life as a whole.

  1. Those in need will seek you out

I believe that as you grow spiritually, you become a beacon. People will recognize your connectedness and come to you for help. These may be people you know or even complete strangers. They may need advice or simply need someone to listen. The important thing here is to listen to your intuition and allow yourself to be open to their needs.

  1. You’ll require more alone time

Until recently, I’ve needed to be surrounded by people constantly. There were times I would go out every night. Sometimes, I’d even invite friends out to the bar, but not really talk to them. I just needed someone there.

Alone time has become a huge priority for me. I attribute this to self-discovery that comes with magickal practice. The more time you spend growing spiritually, the more you understand yourself. This understanding ultimately leads to you enjoying your own company. This alone time lets you recharge and take care of yourself. It reminds me of an old Wiccan adage I read (I think in Marion Weinstein’s Earth Magick), “You cannot draw from an empty well.”

  1. Your priorities will change

 

This is related to #7. As you get closer to understanding your true will, you will start to prioritize things differently. You’ll begin to see what’s truly important and arrange your life around these things.

For me, this presented itself as a need to say no to things that I hated. It seems simple enough, but I felt that there were things that I had to do. By looking at what I really wanted from life, I could see that some of these things could be easily overlooked. For example, if a friend is having a party, I don’t feel obligated to go. If I’d rather stay home and veg out on the couch, I simply say no. No guilt. No regrets. Just focusing on what I need and want to do.

  1. You might experience a dark night of the soul

A great philosopher (okay, a video game Kingdom Hearts) once said: “the closer you get to the light, the bigger your shadow becomes.” This is totally true. When you look at your life through the lens of spiritual development, you shine the proverbial light on the things you usually hide from everyone (yourself included).

Once these things come to light, you might experience some hardships. You may even feel disconnected from your deities. This is normal. Keep the faith and keep up with your daily practice. The purpose of spiritual practice is to become a more complete person, and these hardships are part of that process.

  1. You will understand that this is just the first step of your journey

Spiritual development and magickal practice are  lifelong commitments. When you begin your practice, you want to learn it all at once. You want to become Dumbledore, but that’s not how it works. You have to start slow and build upon your practice slowly. In fact, you might get far along your path, but realize that the path doesn’t suit you. Even if you start and restart several times throughout your life, you will get closer to your destination each time.

Remember, it’s okay to be Ron Weasley.

No-Frills Magick – Banishing

Since my last post was super sad, I thought I’d go back to the No Frills Magick topic. This one has more “frills” than the previous post, but not by much.

I previously posted about the Kala rite as a way to remove a self-inflicted barrier. This spell is something that can be done to remove either a self-inflicted or outside influence, although I tend to use it for the latter.

First, identify what influence you want to remove. Then create a symbol for this influence. You may choose to create a sigil. To do this, write out the influence you want to remove in as much detail as possible. Then remove any repeating letters. Next, remove the vowels. Finally, take the remaining letters and arrange them into a witchy-looking symbol.

Next, ground and center. When you feel connected to the Universe/Deity/Higher Self/Whatever, take a deep breath. Using a skin-safe marker or pen, draw the symbol on the bottom of your foot. Then, go about your day.

As you continue through your mundane life, your subconscious will know that you are literally walking on the issue. By keeping the issue “under foot,” you will lessen its influence.

Repeat as needed.

No Frills Magick – Finding Lost Items

In my last post, I spoke about the practical, no-frills way I approach magick. This week presented me with the opportunity to “practice what I preach.” My friend Jamie has an amazing job that affords her the opportunity to work remotely. She has taken full advantage of this by spending the last several months travelling to the Czech Republic and South Africa. Jamie was home for three months, but left to continue her adventures on Sunday.  Sadly, Jamie posted that her luggage, pretty much everything she owns in the world, was lost during her flight to Prague. Nothing a little magick can’t handle.

I asked Jamie to describe something that was in her suitcase and she mentioned her travel altar, a small box carved with the image of Nuit on the front. She posted a picture of it in our study group when we were discussing altar creation. I studied the picture until I could visualize the box easily.

I sat at my altar, lit a single black candle, and asked the Goddess to guide me on my journey. I visualized the box in my hands. I felt the smoothness of the wood, the rough edges of the etching, and the power of her ritual items pulsating through the wood like a heartbeat. Once I knew I had the visualization “solid,” I looked around me and saw that I was standing in an airport in a small office just a few feet away from a row of luggage carousels.

I allowed the visualization of the airport to fade away, but kept my mental grip on the box firm. I then visualized my friend Jamie. I saw her standing before me. The relief of getting her belongings back washing over here. I handed her the box and allowed the vision of her and the box to fade from my mind.

I brought my awareness back to my room. I grounded the excess energy into a piece of hematite, thanked the Goddess for her help, and extinguished the candle.

Yesterday, Jamie posted that her suitcase was found and would be delivered to her. Sure, it’s extremely plausible that this would have happened without magickal intervention, but I’d like to think I helped clear the path for it to happen.

Magick is Seldom Spectacular Because It Seldom Needs to Be

This quote from Donald Tyson has been the tagline for my blog since I first started it several years ago. It perfectly summed up my view of magick. I repeated it this past week when talking to a friend about magick. My friend asked about my magickal technique and was surprised to see that it wasn’t as theatrical as he expected them to be.

To be fair, I’ve done my fair share of theatrical magick. Once, the coven I used to work with mixed sulfur with incense and pushed our fears into the mixture. When we “sacrificed our fears to the cauldron of the Goddess (a cauldron of hot charcoal)” the blast from the sulfur lit up the night. It was amazing! Another time, I littered my backyard hundreds of tea lights and bowls of dry ice for a full moon ritual. It was awful to clean up, but it created a magickal ritual space.

As I have gotten more comfortable with my practice, my reliance on the proverbial bells and whistles of magick has decreased. That doesn’t mean that I don’t use them, but most of my magick is based in simple breathing exercises and visualization.

This works for me specifically because the magick I use most often is for practical purposes. Since most of these things happen when I’m away from my altar, I have to rely on the most important magickal tool, my mind. When I need to avoid traffic, I imagine that everyone else on the road take an alternate path. When I’m having an issue with a coworker, I charge a packet of sugar with loving thoughts and add it to my coffee. When I need the weather to cooperate with my plans, I simply pray for it to change.

For more on how to use magick on the fly, you can check out Instant Magick by Christopher Penczak.

Back to the Basics

My practice has always been eclectic. I’ve taken what has resonated with me from various traditions and wove them into a spiritual framework that was uniquely mine. I was never drawn to a specific spiritual tradition in its entirety. Nothing seemed to click for me.

About a year ago, I read a book with a mention to a specific tradition that sparked an interest. Being a mystery tradition, I wasn’t able to get my hands on much information, so I let it go. A few months later, I read another book with mention to this tradition again. This book gave me a few specific beliefs and practices, but it still wasn’t enough. I finally found a book that outlined some basic practices of the tradition and purchased it.

I didn’t read it immediately, because I knew this was an initiatory line and I didn’t know how I would go about finding a teacher. Through a random conversation with a friend late last week, I found that he knew a teacher that came highly recommended. I was also able to get my hands on some foundational training material. So, I began reading the book I purchased last year and reading through the training.

Most of it is very basic magickal training. Several pages are spent explaining how to meditate and ground. Being an experienced witch, I skipped this. Why would I start with something so basic?

The next grouping of information asked me to set up a traditional altar. While I had all the tools required to create the altar setup used in the tradition, I pushed back. Why would I put a wand and athame on my altar, when I seldom use these tools? Why would I replace my white altar candles with a black one? It didn’t make sense to me.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday and we discussed my studies. I told her how much the liturgy of the tradition spoke to me. I told her how I loved the fact that there wasn’t such an emphasis on fertility and male-female duality that I found in other branches of witchcraft. I also told her that I was disappointed that I had to change my practice.

“Why are you being so stubborn? Just do it” she said. When I hesitated, she continued.

“Maybe there’s a reason why you should approach things differently. Maybe these practices will prepare you for the “real” work. If you want to test-drive this tradition, you need to take it seriously and do it their way. If you can’t maybe this tradition isn’t for you.”

I thought it about this for the rest of the day. Although I was (and still am) adamant that I don’t need to make these changes to practice within the tradition, I decided that returning to the basics will help me approach any new ritual practices with fresh eyes.

So, today I tore down my altar and set it up based on a picture in a book, including my wand and athame in the mix. I also am writing this after spending 20 minutes practicing grounding and centering. I think that by approaching my new studies as a brand-new student of magick will help open the way for me.

Honoring My Beloved Dead– Trish, Chris, and Jinah

 

IMG_20170520_154751.jpgI know it’s the wrong season for this, but I didn’t get around to honoring Trish during the Samhain season. Feelings of guilt, compounded by the fact that Chris and Jinah just recently passed, made me want to write about the three of them now, rather than waiting until Samhain.

 

Trish

I was working the night shift at work; something I wasn’t accustomed to. It was a rough day and I needed to blow off some steam after work. I called all my friends and they were already in for the night before I had even left the office. Despite not having a partner in crime, I decided to go out on my own. I went to my usual bar in hopes that someone I knew would be there. Luckily, Trish was there.

Trish was a regular at the bar and I saw her almost every time I went out. We didn’t talk a lot, but sometimes our smoke breaks would sync up, so we’d talk outside. I considered her an acquaintance, but after this night, she became a friend.

Another man was at the bar and he began making homophobic comments. I asked him to stop and he responded by calling me a “fag.” Like most gay men, this is a trigger word for me and I was ready to fight. Before I could say anything, Trish stepped in.

“Joe might be a fag, but motherfucker, he’s our fag. So, if you’re messing with him, you’re going to mess with all of us” Trish said. At over six feet tall, Trish was an imposing figure. The guy paid his tab and left quickly thereafter. I had never felt so protected by someone who was basically a stranger.

Not long after, I stopped going to this bar. One of my friends broke up with her boyfriend, who also frequented this bar. We stopped going to avoid unnecessary drama. After almost a year, I got word that Trish passed away unexpectedly.

A few weeks ago, my friend Jamie asked to go to this bar in hopes of running into an old coworker. I agreed and was excited that I would get to see people I haven’t seen in years, including Trish. That’s when reality hit me. Trish was gone, I would never see her again.

 

Chris

Chris was a coworker at my previous job. He was a supervisor in our inbound sales center and I was a sales coach who focused mostly on our retail locations. That being said, I didn’t interact with Chris all that often. Chris had a myriad of health problems that eventually took him away from work for a while. While he was out, I covered his team. His return coincided with another supervisor leaving on medical leave, so I moved on to cover the other team.

Chris was a lifesaver for me. Whenever I had questions or needed support, he was there. He was also one of the few people on the floor who had as much nerd-cred as me. We spent so much time talking about comics and video games. He made work fun.

When I was offered a new position at a different company, the rest of my peers were resentful. They felt that I was leaving because I didn’t want to work with them anymore. Chris was the only one who saw that I was leaving for a better opportunity. He wished me well and helped me understand that I ultimately had to do what was best for me.

Chris passed away a few weeks back. I hadn’t seen him since I left my old job. The world definitely lost a good soul when he died.

 

Jinah

“So what are you going to do when we don’t hire you” the voice said from the phone on the desk in front of me. I was caught off guard. I answered the question and eventually this portion of my interview ended.

Jaime, the manager who was present in the room with me, shrugged afterwards and said “Sorry about that. Jinah’s just a little rough around the edges.” I left the interview knowing that I didn’t get the job. Fortunately, I received the official offer the next day.

When I began work, I sat a few seats away from Jinah. She was a middle-aged woman who had recently returned from medical leave. On my first day, she handed me a $10 bill and said “go get me Jimmy Johns.” I was shocked, but ultimately complied, because I wasn’t going to make a woman in a wheelchair go get her own lunch.

Over time, her rough demeanor softened and we became close. I enjoyed her candor and her impatience with stupid people. She made me laugh every day. Her battle with cancer was tough, though she tried to hide it. Over the past six months, I watched her deteriorate mentally. I knew she was sick, but I didn’t realize how bad it was.

Last week, Jinah went on short-term disability at work. By Thursday, she was moved to end of life hospice. On Monday, she passed away. It hit me harder than I expected.

I was cleaning my desk out at work and I found a card from Jinah. I had the flu a few months ago and she gave me a get-well card. It was amazing that Jinah, who was struggling with her own health issues, took the time to wish me well on a trivial concern.

 

Today, I lit three candles on my altar.

Trish, I thank you for your protection and your laughter.

Chris, I thank you for your wisdom and your support.

Jinah, I thank you for your candor and your guidance.

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