30 Days of Magic – Day 21: Reflections

I recently began studying with a Feri group and it has revitalized my daily practice. Each morning, after feeding the dogs and putting on the coffee pot, I move to the altar to get my day started. As part of my daily practice, I pull an oracle card to see what lessons the day has in store for me.

Lately, I’ve been using the Sacred Rebels Oracle by Alanna Fairchild and Autumn Skye Morrison. Today, I pulled the “Visions of Life Beyond Death” card. While the standard interpretation of the card speaks to embracing what they call Sacred Vision. However, what stood out to me was the peacock featured on the card. In some of the reading I’ve done on the Melek Taus as the Blue God of Feri, he is referenced as the balance of earthly and celestial realms. Meditating on this led me to contemplate the Iron Pentacle. So, I decided to work with the Peacock Angel and the point of Self on the Iron Pentacle.

I cast my circle and lit two candles, red and blue, on each side. In the air above my altar, I drew the Iron Pentacle. I saw the point aligned with the powers of Self grow brighter. I breathed in this energy deeply and exhaled the energy onto the face of the mirror placed on the center of my altar. On the face of the mirror, I visualized an all-seeing eye burning brightly and willed the mirror to help uncover the pieces of myself that I try to leave below the surface.

At once, the images flashed behind my eyes. I saw my positive aspects balanced with my shadow aspects. I saw being kind and generous juxtaposed with my tendency to be accommodating even when it is to my detriment. I saw my drive for success pair with my fear of failure and my desire to make new friends with my fear of being judged by others.

As the experience ended, I recorded my thoughts in my Book of Shadows. I saw the Iron Pentacle fade from view and thanked the Peacock Angel for attending to my circle. As I snuffed the candles, I whispered: “I would know myself in all my parts.”

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30 Days of Magic – Day 10: Creating Opportunities

I have worked in training and development for over a decade. Teaching people new skills, developing their talent, and helping them move forward in their careers is my passion. When I accepted my current position, it was because the company didn’t have a training and development department. Instead, they asked each department manager to train their own staff. When I was hired, the plan was for me to start with one department and slowly branch out to others. Sadly, during my time spent with our contact center, I became a pivotal member of the team and subsequently have had little time to dedicate to other departments.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the impact I have on the contact center team, but this wasn’t what I signed up for. I’ve made small moves and have been successful at getting into other departments to train their employees, but I keep getting pulled back to the contact center. Things came to a head today when I was asked to have a team of contact center employees report to me. This would permanently change my career path, and I know I wouldn’t be happy in the role.
I wandered to the third floor, which is currently under construction, and ducked into the restroom. I glanced down at the Ganesh tattoo on my forearm and began to pray. I expressed my gratitude for the success I have had so far but asked him to open the door for what I truly wanted to do. I asked for an opportunity to show my skills to the decision makers of the company in hopes that they would opt to use me in other departments.
I headed back to my desk and got lost in work. As I was packing up for the day, my phone rang. It was a program manager for the safety department of our parent company. She told that there was a safety training initiative and needed someone to lead the training session for our company. She said she already cleared it with my boss and that I would need to work at our corporate headquarters for a few days to learn the material. Afterward, I would begin training our entire organization, including the decision makers.
I floated out of the office and was on a high the entire drive home. Though prayer isn’t magic in the traditional sense, my plea to Ganesh did help me to co-create my reality. I think the best magic is magic aimed at creating an opportunity, rather than simply manifesting the desired outcome. I’m so excited for the opportunity I was able to (co)create today.

30 Days of Magic – Day 4: A Sober Witch

My friends like to drink. More importantly, I like to drink. My friends and I generally meet up for happy hour a few times a week. We usually pair our cocktails with dinner or a board game. We spend a few hours together, and in the that time, I have a cocktail or two. We save our nights of crazy debauchery for special occasions.
This past month has been crazy though. One of my best friends was visiting from South Africa, another friend’s work schedule finally opened up, and another finished his degree. This led to several nights out on the town. The booze flowed freely, and we partied our faces off! While fun, the days after were miserable. I was spending so much time laying around or just going through the motions the days after a night out. More disturbing, I felt like I was having trouble cutting myself off.
In my younger years, I loved being the life of the party and had my fair share of drunken nights. I’ve always been able to stop drinking after one or two drinks. In fact, I would often offer to play designated driver and be the only one not drinking. This is what made my alcohol-related behaviors so concerning. Maybe I’m using alcohol to distract myself from something that requires my attention, but that I’m not ready to fully deal with.
With this realization, I decided that I was going to take some time away from drinking. Not only will this give me time to deal with whatever lies just below the surface that I’ve been ignoring, but it will give me a chance to make sure that I am still in control. Not to mention, a break from drinking will probably make my weight-loss efforts more fruitful.
Today, I charged a piece of amethyst, the stone of sobriety, to help me in my work. I visualized the energy radiating from the stone as lavender electricity. I let this electricity charge my aura and remove anything that was counter to my intentions. I then visualized myself sitting at the bar with my friends, still being the life of the party while drinking water. I saw myself at work the following day being productive and present in my interactions with everyone.

I then charged a piece of selenite to help me clear any blockages and to help me uncover the issues that need to be dealt with. I then said:

“I open myself as a vessel of light, truth, and transparency.
Let what is hidden within rise to the surface.”

I placed both of these stones on my altar with as a reminder of the oath I made to myself. So, I raise my glass (of soda water and lime) to this practice in self-control and self-discovery.

My Current Strengths as a Witch

I frequent Kelly-Ann Maddox’s YouTube channel, and in a recent video, she mentioned her Solitary Witch reading that she offers on her website. Clumsy segue – I’ve gotten a few readings from Kelly-Ann, and she’s amazing. Check her out!

When she mentioned her Solitary Witch reading, Kelly-Ann mentioned that the spread meanings where also great journaling prompts. The first card in her spread represents your currents strengths as a witch. As a journaling prompt, this got me thinking.

A few years ago, I would have listed my success with magic as my greatest strength. Whenever I work a spell, I usually see immediate results (even if they may be unintended). Due to this success, my spiritual path was dominated by operative magic.

Don’t get me wrong; I think magic is an important part of my spiritual practice. Magic allows you to co-create your reality, which in turn can help build confidence and self-reliance. However, over the past few years, I’ve realized that my spiritual practice has gotten a bit out of whack because it did not include the celebration of life, communion with Divinity, or personal growth and responsibility, all of which are aspects of Witchcraft that attracted me to the practice initially.

For the past year, I’ve tried to direct my spiritual practice to the area of self-development. Rather than try to react to my environment through magic, I’ve begun to use self-reflection and identify what lessons I can learn from the obstacles. I’ve also adopted a daily practice that has helped respond to life through my spirituality rather than my gut instincts. As a result, the survival instinct that caused me to react to pressures from life with resistance has transformed into an instinct that causes me to pause and find the reaction that is best for everyone involved. I’m not great at it, but I’m far from the place I was this time last year.

To support me on this path to self-mastery, I’ve found a teacher of a tradition that aligns with my practice. I begin work with her in June, and I’m excited, though I know it will be a lot of work.

So, what are your strengths as a Witch and how can you capitalize on it to dive deeper into your spiritual work?

 

Reframing the Enemy Pt 2 – Recognizing Your Shadow in Others

When I started work at my current company, I met Julie and knew that we’d have problems. As we began to work together, we immediately started butting heads. We questioned each other’s motives, were skeptical of one another’s abilities, and even had heated public conversations. It was a terribly unhealthy work environment.

Mundanely, I distanced myself from Julie at work. I communicated with her through email and committed to following her lead on projects despite any concerns I might have. Magically, I worked spells on myself to be more patient and worked a spell on Julie to make her more open to working with me. Unfortunately, none of this worked.

I was approaching the end of my resilience and vowed that is something didn’t give; I’d have to begin a search for a new job. In meditation one day, I began focusing on how I could build a working relationship with her. That’s when I made a discovery. Julie embodied pieces of my shadow which was why I was hesitant to work with her.

First, the company we work for is a boy’s club. All of the senior leaders are straight, white men. While most of them hold the title of Vice President, anyone who doesn’t exactly fit their mold holds the title of Director or Manager. As a gay man and a woman, Julie and I both feel like underdogs at work. Furthermore, we’re both emotionally-driven people who can’t help by say everything that pops into our head. Finally, we’re both insanely competitive and driven towards success.

With the realization in mind, I was able to temper my reaction to Julie. When she said something flippant to me, I was easily able to shrug it off because I understood that she was probably stressed about something. Over time, by changing my reaction to Julie, she began to change her reaction to me. Now we work together with little to no problems. In fact, we routinely bounce ideas back and forth when we’re stuck on a project.

Next time you find yourself overwhelmed with animosity or trepidation with someone you don’t see eye to eye with, consider what aspects of their personality lie within your own shadow. Once you’ve identified these traits, it becomes easier to manage difficult interactions with them and can help to create a better relationship.

Feri and the Art of Curling

Let’s start off with a disclaimer. I am not a Feri initiate or student, so I am in no way an expert. I am simply a seeker who is dipping his toe in Feri. My comments are not from any official teaching; they are just from my personal observations so far. So far, based on my reading, research, and practice, Feri has resonated deeply with me. This is because I can apply Feri ideas and techniques to several areas of my life. In fact, I’ve found myself applying or connecting Feri practice in an unlikely place, my local curling club.

To give a little background, I began curling (again, the ice sport, not the weight lifting) last winter with a friend who discovered the curling club. We signed up for an instructional league, then played for a season. Towards the end of the season, I felt confident in my game and looked forward to coming back to play this season. Unfortunately, not curling for six months has left me extremely rusty. Coupled with extremely competitive (and experienced) teammates, my shoddy gameplay is a little problematic. Fortunately, curling has given me an outlet to apply Feri practice and gauge its effectiveness in my life.

  1. Soul Alignment

In curling, alignment is arguably the most important concept of delivering a stone properly. The skip, the captain of the team who calls shots, will hold his broom out to give the thrower a target to throw at. The thrower lines the stone and foot up with the broom, and if they do so correctly, the stone should stop at the desired point. If not, the stone will arrive at a random location at the other end. So far this season, alignment has been my primary obstacle.

The Feri Tradition teaches of the triune nature of our souls. The Fetch collects and manages life energy and communicates in images, emotion, and intuition. The Talker is the face through which we communicate with the world. The Godsoul is our connection with the Divine. When our souls are aligned and in communication with one another, we are much more grounded, centered, and for me, more confident and capable.

Using curling as a metaphor for spirituality, the skip’s broom represents my Godsoul giving me direction and purpose, the stone represents my Fetch, and my body the Talker. If one of the components is out of alignment, my efforts are mostly in vain.

What I find interesting is that when I practice soul alignment before curling, my mind calms down and I am better able to focus on the task at hand. In fact, there have been a few times when I have practiced soul alignment mid-game and have instantly improved. If soul alignment can help me with a trivial game, how else might it improve my life?

 

  1. Iron Pentacle

 

The Iron Pentacle is an exercise used in Feri as a way to determine where we are imbalanced in our personal energy.  The points of the pentacle represent the energies of Sex, Pride, Self, Power, and Passion. As you contemplate each point, any imbalances in your personal energy can often be easily deciphered. So, I tried to apply this practice to curling when stepping up to throw a stone. This is becoming second nature as the body correspondences of the Pentacle follow the flow of preparing to throw a stone.

Sex – The top point of the pentacle, the point of creation. This is the beginning and ending of everything. As I look at the skip’s broom to line up my shot, I focus on the outcome I want to achieve.

Pride – the lower right point of the pentacle and the right foot. This point challenges us to recognize our worth and cultivate the ability to live freely. This point reminds us not to compare ourselves to others, an important lesson when you are a newbie in a room full of experts. I remind myself of these points as I step into the hack (the foothold you deliver stones from in curling) and line up my shot.

Self – the upper left point of the pentacle and the left hand. In curling, the left hand holds either your broom or a stabilizer to give you balance as you deliver your stone.  Likewise, this point on the Iron Pentacle reminds me to embrace the balance of my strengths and limitations. Where these two concepts meet lies my personal potential to grow. Here, I embrace that I am still learning and that I can only improve if I allow myself the leeway to make mistakes.

Power – the upper right point of the pentacle and the right hand. In my right hand, I grip the stone and remind myself that through my will, I can achieve anything. It also reminds me that true power is power with others, rather than power over others. Curling teams are only successful if every team member is working towards the common goal. I remind myself that even if my team gets frustrated with my performance, it’s only because they see potential in me and want me to do better.

Passion – the lower left point of the pentacle and the left foot. For right-handed curlers (like me) our left foot is the sliding foot. The left foots has a Teflon pad that allows us to slide on the ice when delivering our stone. This is the foot that supports our weight during the delivery. Likewise, the point of passion supports me in my experiences. This point reminds me to feel it all, whether that be the elation of doing well or the frustration of performing poorly.

  1. Black Heart of Innocence

The Black Heat of Innocence is the considered to be the natural state of the soul. This state of being allows us to live fully, freely, and without fear. As I’ve talked about in this post, I’m not the best curler. It’s also important to know, that try as I might, I am self-conscious and very aware of how others might perceive me.  These attributes don’t serve me well in curling or in life.

In Feri mythology, the goddess Nimue is the embodiment of the Black Heart of Innocence. Nimue is a maiden goddess who is the first emanation of the Star Goddess. She encourages us to play, laugh, and be joyful. While I’m curling, She seems to whisper in the back of my head “Fuck these guys.  This is just a game. Get out there and have fun!” Ultimately, I’m not very good at listening to Her in these moments, but I’m trying.

For me, the most important part of any spiritual path is the ability to apply its practice to every part of my life. At this point, Feri seems universally applicable. I’m not sure I’m 100% ready to commit to formal training, but I’d say I’m at least 95% there. Only time and practice will tell.

Bless and Release Pt 2 or When They Come Back

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about releasing those who introduce negative influences into their lives. I was planning a follow-up post on tips to try if someone you released attempts to reinsert themselves in your life when the Universe decided to let me beta test my tips.

Jon, one of the people I wrote about in the original blog post, spent some time with one of my best friends. Afterwards, Jon decided to reach out to me. In his text message, he said that he wanted to “extend the olive branch.” I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

Step 1 – Ground yourself

I wasn’t sure what to do. On the one hand, I was certain that I’d be fine with completely forgetting Jon existed. On the other hand, I feel like everyone deserves a second chance. I needed to make this decision with a clear mind.

I opted to use the Feri Tradition’s soul alignment practice, but any practice that connects you with your higher self will work. After completing the ritual, I felt more confident in making a decision that was for everyone’s highest good.

The first word that came to mind was “regret.” What decision can I make that would avoid the most chance of regret for me? By meeting with Jon, I would never experience the uncertainty of what-if. As an added bonus, I would be showing my friend that I could be cordial with Jon, even if I didn’t want to rekindle the friendship.

Step 2 – Meet on your terms

At this point, the boundaries you set are being questioned by someone else. You are meeting with them at their request. This means that you have earned the right of home court advantage. Not only will creating the terms of the meeting make you feel empowered, but it will allow you to create a comfortable atmosphere for the conversation.

When I told Jon I would meet him, I explained that I have plans on Thursday at six, but could meet him before I met up with friends. He suggested that he come along with me at six. This presented me with the opportunity to exercise my new favorite magickal word. I simply said “No.” I told him that I could meet him at five or that I would let him know when I was available again. Reluctantly, Jon agreed to my terms.

Step 3 – Listen with discernment, not judgment

Jon and I met a bar and made small talk for a few minutes. When we stepped outside to smoke, he offered me his side of the story.

Jon explained that he had not been in contact with me because I treated him poorly. He said that he did not feel that I valued him as a friend. He concluded by saying that his evening with our mutual friend made him want to reach out to me to see if we could make amends.

I listened without interruption. Instead of making a mental list of responses, I just let him talk and tried to understand his point of view. I let any hints of inner defensiveness roll right off my back. When he was done, I took a deep breath before I moved to the next step

4 – Politely, but clearly and honestly advocate for yourself

In her video on setting healthy boundaries, Kelly Ann Maddox says that you have to be an ally for yourself. I agree. No one else can fight your battles or face your troubles better than you can. So, after my cleansing breath, I relayed my feelings to Jon.

“I see things differently” I started. “We’ve known each other for a decade, but in the few months, before we stopped talking, I saw a different side of you. When you needed friends, I included you in my friend group. Instead of being grateful, I feel like you systematically tried to separate me from my friends. When I needed my friends, you did things to actively exclude me. When I brought these feelings up, you told me that you had no intention to change your behavior. At that time, you’re right; I stopped valuing your friendship because you no longer valued mine. In fact, I feel like you are only trying to fix things because someone else asked you to.”

Jon was visibly hurt by this last sentence. I apologized for the directness of my statement, but not for its content. We sat in silence for a few moments before Jon finally spoke.

“I understand where you’re coming from and I want to fix things. I’ve been very lonely, and I miss my friends, including you. You don’t owe me anything, but I’d like the opportunity to prove that I can be a better friend.”

The sincerity of his words unexpectedly struck me. Jon is very charismatic, but since I’ve known him for so long, I can usually detect his bullshit from a mile away. This was different; my gut told me that I could trust what he was saying.

Step 5 – Reinforce boundaries, even if they’ve changed

Once you have listened and in turn and said your piece, it comes time to lay out your boundaries. In some instances, it is just restating the boundaries you have already stated. In others, such as in my case, you may set new boundaries. It’s important that your boundaries are clear and precise.

“Jon, it’s important for you to know that I am skeptical of everything you’ve said. I’m also a bit hopeful. Things aren’t going to change overnight, but I’m not adverse to spending some time with you. However, it will be on my terms. If a friend of ours invites us both out to something, I hope you’ll understand if I decline the invitation sometimes. I also hope you won’t hold it against my friends if they keep you at a distance for a while. They are only doing that to protect me.”

I took another breath and continued. “It’s also important for you to understand that I’m going to be ultra-sensitive to anything I consider as a slight from you. If, no when, it happens, remind me that I mentioned this and I promise I’ll try to judge your perspective without bias. And, if I do anything that you feel harmed by, bring it my attention and we’ll discuss that too.”

Jon nodded, and I ended the conversation by saying “I promise that if I decide to remove myself from the friendship, I will do so in a way that allows us to coexist among our friends. I hope you do the same.”

Jon agreed, and we shook hands. We reverted to catching up on the past year of each other’s lives and even joined my friends afterward. Overall, it was a good night. It’s still unclear whether we’ll continue on this path or if we’ll decide that we’re no longer suited to be friends, but only time will tell.