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”

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.

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.