Love & the Devil

Today’s topic has to do with my daily tarot reading. I’m currently in a program that uses the Thoth deck, which I’ve never used until now. I resisted it for a while because the energy is entirely male to me. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just never felt comfortable with it. The deck is a combined creation of Aleister Crowley and the art of Lady Frieda Harris. The alchemical symbolism is rich and the artwork quite stunning. I’m warming up to the deck as I embrace the fact that I need to integrate my animus and celebrate the masculine energies within – this is not easy for me. But I have found it’s a bit easier now with Mars currently direct in Aries. Now as I see that in writing it sounds like a euphemism for something dirty. I’m going to leave it there anyway because it’s astrologically sound.

I balance the male energy of the Thoth deck with what I sense is the female energy of the Tarot of the Holy Light deck. This is a Marseilles based deck, which is also alchemical and rich in Gnostic and Sophianic symbolism. It was quite painstakingly researched by Christine Payne-Towler with artwork by Michael Dowers. I find that when the Thoth deck throws something at me that I don’t quite understand, the TotHL deck offers a deeper understanding to make more sense of the reading. And if I fret over the Thoth card, like a mother she tries to guide me back to reason, often times with a dose of tough love. Other times, the cards simply complement each other and rhyme. I’ve fallen into a daily morning routine with them that sets me off on my day.

Today’s card from the Thoth deck was the Two of Cups: Love

The card’s divinatory meaning is marriage, love, pleasure, harmony of masculine and feminine united.

Interesting in its own right, as that is how I view the use of the two decks in my daily life and this is my chosen topic for today’s post. I do understand that I picked the topic after the daily draw, yes. Other rhymes for the day include the finalization of my hiring process at work from contractor to full-time employee; a great conversation with my boss, whom I love; and she bought me a new headset for remote use when I work at home. I also had a great lunch with my partner today and it’s the Full Moon in Aquarius. What’s not to love!

The daily draw for the TotHL deck was The Devil

This deck has a Gnostic view of the devil, which I love. Had I pulled it from the Thoth deck the meaning would be a bit different, while maintaining a similar resonance, I think. But here the devil is Venusian. It is the awakening of the suppressed self. As the book that comes with it notes, it is the “light-bringer uniting the reborn anima and animus.” The Latin words on the Hermaphrodite’s arms read “Solve et Coagula.” This is the alchemical act of disolving the elements, refining them, and then recombining them into alchemical gold. The alchemical symbolism on the card is plentiful. We see the union of the woman and man, the sun and the moon, the Alpha and Omega, the peacock’s fan symbolizing alchemical perfection, water and fire emanating from the same source, and something about disembodied rainbow eagle feathers. It’s a Divine union of opposites. This card represents the end of duality and a shift into polarity. For our world and so many among us who have lived our lives in the absence of the Goddess, it is a celebration of the re-emergence of Goddess energies.

But today, for me, it’s more about the union with the animus.

The challenge I was given for this month is to write something of significance everyday on social media. This is to let out my Leonine spirit for Leo season. This is the Coagula part of this month’s alchemical process. The Solve aspect will be letting go of some bad behaviors, fears and resentments I’ve built up over the past few months. But taking this time to get back into the swing of writing and celebrating myself as a writer with something worth saying is something I’ve been denying myself for a while now under the guise of too much else to do. So, this month, I’m going to embrace my animus and let it all out!

Happy Leo Season!

Trip the Light Fantastique

I hope everyone reading this is well. If you are not well or if you are caring for someone who is ill, I wish you and yours a speedy recovery.

 Sometimes, even in these uncertain times, a little sun shines down upon us. This happened for me last Tuesday evening when I conducted my Aries New Moon ceremony.  The New Moon is an eclipse after all, so the Sun plays its part and for me it was the final revelation I needed to put everything together. Everything I’ve studies over the past twenty-five years, all conversations I’ve had, the gurus I’ve listen too, the countless books, the writing I’ve done and the inward journey – it all paid off in a five minute mystical experience where it all came together simultaneously in one magnificent cosmic knowing.

Mystics often state that the experience is ineffable. It cannot be sufficiently related or described in a way that helps others understand it. They are correct. I tried to relay the experience to my partner and found it fell flat. There was just too much to translate in a linear fashion. I know I need to work on the processing portion of the experience a lot longer, but here are the major highlights:

* Each individual is a microcosm of God consciousness. We hold an entire universe in our mind. This is the first principle of Hermeticism – All is Mind. But it was the unquestionable experience of that reality that occurred for me. I know this now, it’s not theory or a quaint view. I know it.

* I attained union with my Higher Self. Through this I understood things like how my intuition works, how magick works, what it really means to be an empath, why my tarot readings have been so accurate and why they go amuck when I freak out. It was like a download of information that happened so fast, I’m still unpacking it all.

* Perhaps the most beautiful part of the experience was the sudden realization of why Venus chose to work with me over the past few month – nearly a year now. It was something I never understood because I never had an affinity toward her before that moment when she stepped forward and made herself known to me. It was out of knowhere that I heard her voice telling me she was the one who could take me the furthest. That night I had sudden and fast revelations about myself that I had never understood before. I intuitively knew I was on the right path with her. 

So, this New Moon, I finally realized that she represents the self-acceptance I was missing in my life. All the beauty and love and jealousy and envy and grace and femininity and wrathful anger and the proclivity towards getting in a snit over small things, and divine forgiveness, all these wonderous paradoxes that Venus represents that I refused to allow myself to acknowledge – that was the Great Lady simply reasserting herself in my personal pantheon. Venus is Self Love. She had long been telling me: Know Thyself.  It finally all clicked.

I could now with total awareness incorporate these earthy aspects of sexuality, sensuality, beauty, the physical – these things I was taught to be ashamed through experience and hard lessons. All those years of internalization that I was trying to deprogram, just fell away in an instant!

* And finally, your truth is yours. If it gives you energy and helps you grow, then embrace it! If it causes you pain and suffering, then let it go. It’s not as easy at it seems. So many of us hold on to destructive beliefs because we’ve been told it’s the path to salvation.  But if you aren’t thriving, you are still in pain, and you are not growing, it’s not be the right path. There is no right religion or belief.  Some are more conducive to growth than others. Some are more restrictive.  Some are downright harmful.  Find something that brings you happiness and light. But most of all, find what helps you to grow in spirit. If it shuts you down, walk away. There’s something else out there that’s better suited for you.

Anyway, that’s my peace for today.

Stay safe. Stay indoors. Be kind to each other.

~Stephanie

Processing the Work

It’s been a while since I last posted a blog entry. A lot has happened. I haven’t so much as cocooned this time around as I’ve been processing the results of some powerful magick in my life. The results have forced me to hit the ground running and have given me time for little else in my life right now. It began in August with a trip to Pasadena to visit my dear friend Nick. The intention was to figure out where we were heading with our new business, but it turned into something a bit deeper than that. I can only speak for myself, but it became a trip of self-realization. I figured out more things about myself and why I was so stuck in my life.

“Know thyself”

This was probably the most difficult part of the transformative process that I’ve gone through, because I realized that there was a lot of self-hatred that I had never understood before. I brushed it off because I didn’t understand it for what it was. How often have I taken the time to write “Know Thyself” in this blog? It’s one of the reasons I was so stuck and unable to move forward. I annoy the hell out of myself and I often project that annoyance on to others. So, stuck I was and I wasn’t budging until I dealt with it.

One of the important aspects of the transmutation process is learning to love all the things about yourself, even the things you hate. It’s an oxymoron. How can you love the things you hate? But it is possible. One method is to see it in others. When you can see it in them and you can love them for it, you can look within and turn that expression of hate into the same type of love you have for the other person. We’re so much harder on ourselves than we our with other people in our lives. We don’t cut ourselves the same sort of slack we would for them. But if you’re like me, sometimes I don’t recognize how pissed off I’m getting at such minor things that I do. I build this list and it turns into a giant pile of “God damnit! Did it again!” Each little thing turns into a litany of failure to change that annoying thing I do. Then I see it in a friend or that others do it so often it’s been turned into an online meme and I think, maybe it isn’t so big after all. Maybe most of us are just goofballs and it’s nothing to get so upset about. Maybe I ought to just chill.

A Gila monster

Or maybe we actually are we’re blowing up at others and becoming screaming Gila monsters, but we don’t immediately see that because deep inside we know it’s something we do ourselves and it pisses us off. Our relationship with others is a mirror reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves. When we work to repair the relationship with the other person or when we work to repair the relationship within ourselves, we repair the whole of it.

So that happened for me.

While I still have moments where I get angry with myself, I’m also much quicker to forgive myself. As a result, I’ve found my relationships with friends and family have improved. I’m far less likely to explode or act out in anger or frustration. When I do, I move quickly to resolve the problem. Mostly, I’ve learned to let things go. If I make a mistake, I learn how to correct the problem, let go of the anxiety and move on to bigger and better things.

I have much gratitude to Nick for giving me the time and space to sort that out for myself. We had a lot of fun and got into all sorts of shenanigans. I also learned that Nick was my true soul brother, so this trip was priceless. It took me about six weeks to unpack everything I learned on it. That’s how you know it’s good, it takes a while to process all of it.

The Venus by Michael Parks

In September, I had a revelation about how poorly I treat my body by not taking care of it in terms of what I eat and ignoring health care. This relates back to that self-hatred. This came through my work with Venus one Friday in mid-September when I was feeling great self-pity because I hated my work, I wasn’t feeling well and nothing good seemed to be happening.  Venus took me by the scruff and basically told me that I was killing myself! I had to get off of my ass, stop eating sugar, get myself to the doctor and start making the changes I wanted to see in my life. Otherwise, I could just walk out into traffic and die already because that is where I was headed! And she was right. Venus takes no shit and definitely has no time for self-pitying bullshit. It came through intuitively, but the feeling was quite palpable. I can feel it now as I type the words. She was angry with me and rightly so.

That Saturday I made a few appointments to visit some doctors. I started eating better and threw out all of the sugar in the house. I began treating myself better, exercising more, drinking lots of water, getting my work done on time, working out a daily schedule and just basically getting my shit together. Next Friday, out of the shear blue, I received a job interview from a third party I never heard of before. One month later I had a job that I liked that paid well with benefits. Along the way there were a number of other moments of magick and synchronicities that I won’t write about here, but it’s made the experience quite spectacular and beautiful. I put in the work, made a few sacrifices, and Venus had my back.

It’s also been exhausting and, in some cases, frustrating, but I’d rather have it this way than what went before. Change isn’t supposed to be comfortable, that’s why so many people resist it. I can’t say I welcome change with wide open arms yet, but I do see it as an opportunity rather than a sentence. That is worlds apart that what I would have said just a year ago.

What continues to amaze me is how much I am learning along the way. In terms of magick and my work life, I’ve come a long way baby! I couldn’t have imagined I’d be here now when I started this journey back in April 2018. The changes have been felt in body, mind and spirit, and I am so grateful that the Universe kickstarted this transformation. Now I am planning to work on a deeper spiritual transformation for 2020. I want to hone my witchy skills in plant medicine, but also dive deeper in to the mystical knowledge of Hermeticism, Gnosticism, and Sophia and the Divine Feminine. I have a feeling as we head into 2020 and beyond, we will need more healers and lightworkers in the world to help with the rifts that have developed over the past few years. I feel more ready for it now that I ever have before!

The Buddha didn’t really say this, but kinda he did.

The Long Hot Mess of Summer

I haven’t been blogging of late as July turned out to be a rather difficult month. Five planetary retrogrades, Chiron in retrograde (the Wounded Healer is strong in my natal chart), and a solar and lunar eclipse – oh my! You could say that this month was full of important lessons and growth. You could also say it was like getting hit with a meteorite traveling at the speed of light and you’d be right as well.

I wish it were this benign!

 Last year on this date, the universe gave me an important lesson. You can read about it in my first blog post. And up until a few months ago, I thought I learned it. I did actually learn it, but we don’t always follow the lessons we learn, do we? Intellectual knowledge requires life experience to truly drive home the point and transmute itself into Wisdom. Obtaining Wisdom is often done through challenges, obstacles and pain. During this eclipse/retrograde season, the Universe sent another loud message to get my head out of my ass and to stop falling for all of the shinies. All that glitters is not gold and all that.

Touché, Universe.

I am living through a financial scare right now. This summer I lost a good portion of my income temporarily as a number of my courses were canceled due to low enrollment. I started sending out application to schools all over the state. I stopped working on my new projects, the ones I love, the ones I believe will lead me to a better, more authentic life. I abandoned my pursuit of my Personal Legend, as Paulo Coelho called it in The Alchemist. I did this out of fear. I retreated back to what was old and familiar. To a place I already know no longer serves me.

Double punch!

The Universe sent me another big fat HELL NO! And then rerouted me to where I need to be again. Last year it was wrapped in a massive hail storm. This year, I was left with a much longer lingering affect which won’t be lost on me anytime soon. It’s been said that stupidity should be painful. This was physically and mentally painful. It left me sick, beat-up, worn-out and drained of energy.

This time around, however, I was able to reap the benefits of the growth I experienced over the past year. I’m not wallowing in this mistake as I would have before. I’ve been able to forgive myself. It wasn’t immediate, but it wasn’t months longs either as it would be in the past. I gave myself a few days to recover from the blow and nurse my wounds. Then I started a routine to get myself reoriented and back on track.

Here’s the gist of my lesson. Self-transformation cannot begin with giving in to old patterns, old ways of thinking, old jobs, and old thoughts about self. That will only breed more of the old. Self-transformation begins with deep self-reflection and taking steps in new directions. It’s far more than applying intellectual knowledge. In some ways, intellectual knowledge can get in the way. It’s about developing intuition and applying the lessons of lived experience. In other words, cultivating Wisdom. How often have I written in this blog, Know Thyself?

Fear, Doubt, Uncertainty, Anxiety, these negative thought patterns that ego clings too, need to be ejected. Easier said then done, right? But not impossible. Meditation helps quite a bit. It lead me to the realization that I had to realign my goals to place personal transformation at the center of everything. When I placed my income and financial prosperity as my stated outcome for my transformation — out of fear and a sense of lack in my life — what I got back was more fear and lack in my life.

I tell my students, don’t focus on the grade, focus on the learning. If you focus on the learning, the grades will follow. They resist this. I often hear, “I need to get an A in this class! How do I get an A?” I tell them to focus on learning and understanding the content. Read my feedback on your assignments. Apply that feedback. Ask questions if you don’t understand. There is no other magic pill for getting an A in the class.

What I learned was that I was doing the same thing as my students: I focused on the financial outcome rather than the personal transformation required to live an authentic life.

But this set back isn’t without it’s gains. For one, I have much more empathy with my students. I can get very frustrated with them when they don’t heed my words. What I learned is that it’s quite hard to do when there is so much at stake. Fear, Doubt, Uncertainty and Anxiety rear their hydra heads and scared the bejesus out of me! It is the same for my students when the fear a bad grade will keep them out of a certain program or that they will lose financial funding. Or they won’t meet the impossibly high goals they set for themselves. I understand that one more as well.

I also learned to trust in my instincts and the synchronicities around me. Everything within and around me told me that I was going backwards. I convinced myself otherwise. I convinced myself that it was just a temporary setback to my ultimate goal until I got back on my feet. When ego is scared, ego lies. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but an important one.

The most important lesson, was that once I released the death-grip I had on controlling my finances, opportunities started to flow towards me. Ideas that I previously found elusive started to flow from me. I feel like for the first time in my life, I know what I want to do and how to get there. What it took was a realignment of priorities. Focus on the personal transformation, let go of my attachment to results, and the results that I need in my life will manifest.

It’s been a long, hot mess of a summer. But it’s also been quite productive. I know what I need to do and I’m getting on track with how to do it. The witch has finally awakened, let the magick begin!

Mystical Persuasion

Mystical Persuasion

One of the major discoveries I made about myself on my journey over the past year, is that I’ve always been drawn to the mystical. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I never thought about it deeply before. I am aware of my interests while growing up, but I never bothered to follow all of the crumbs to see where they could lead me. In retrospect, more self-awareness at a younger age could have saved me a lot of heartache and pain, but I also wouldn’t be where I am at today if I had made the connections then. The destination is only a small part of the journey. The fun is in the road trip.  

Our Lady of Medjugorje

As a kid, I was first fascinated by the religion I was born into, Roman Catholicism. I was the kid who knew all of the holy days of obligation, collected prayer cards like baseball cards, knew all of the mysteries of the rosary and prayed them obsessively, and I got into Marian apparitions. I even took a trip to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia when I was seventeen years old. The Virgin Mary is alleged to appear there to this day.

When I went to college I started to shift away from Catholicism, though I clung to it for a while. Much of the beliefs and dogma didn’t add up for me anymore. It was a difficult time as I was introduced to so many different religions and philosophies. I felt like I kept having the rug pulled out from under me. I found something that would make a little sense, but in the end, it would always leave me cold. You could say I became a temporary atheist then, though I’m not sure that is entirely accurate. I even called myself a non-practicing atheist because I didn’t know what else to call it. I had no idea what I really believed; I just knew what I didn’t believe any longer.  But my spiritual life dwindled to occasionally playing Magic: The Gathering with friends. This mostly consisted of me creating my own decks and watching others play. I was more concerned with certain colors and spells that appealed to me than creating a competitive deck, so I lost a lot when I bothered to play.  

Apparently, an entire deck of blue cards is pretty useless.

Philosophy of science and 20th century existentialism where far more interesting to me than religion during my undergrad years. I studied philosophy, cultural anthropology, archaeology, geology and paleontology. These things resonated with me and they still do today. But something was missing. Even then, I felt a soul-sucking hole in my life and it ached.  

I would occasionally try to go back to Catholicism, but I didn’t feel moved by it anymore and I felt guilty engaging it it. I stopped going to church completely, which still upsets my mother. But if it’s not there, it can’t be forced. I didn’t feel any connection with any other denomination in Christianity either. And it felt like cheating. I didn’t have a beef with Catholicism in terms of a bad experience, I just couldn’t connect with it anymore. I felt nothing at all for Protestant Christianity or non-traditional forms of it. It was the mysticism I felt an attachment for, and outside of Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity, there’s not a lot of it in the other branches.  

When I decided to go back for graduate school, I opted for a religious studies program that focused on the academic study of religion rather than a theological approach. It is during my tenure at grad school that I began to slowly find my way back to a spiritual pursuit. I remember being asked what I believed and I couldn’t answer the question. I pulled out the ole non-practicing atheist spiel, which made people laugh, but left me feeling rather empty.

I also noticed that I’d drift back and discuss my Catholic upbringing when I would be asked about my religion. I had nothing to offer in terms of what I believed, so I mined my past. But it said nothing of what my current beliefs were.

Time went on, I graduated with a masters in religious studies and I procured a few jobs in academia. I still felt no real connection to any belief systems. I felt adrift. Students would occasionally ask me what I believed, and I still couldn’t tell what it was. I knew by then it wasn’t atheism. I started to embrace a form of pantheism, but I wouldn’t classify it as Hinduism or Buddhism. It was more of a scientific pantheism in which there was no real difference between God and the Universe. But for that matter, it might as well be atheism.

About two years ago or so, I woke up in the morning when a desire to find out about the Egyptian god Thoth. I’ve always been fascinated with mythology, particularly Celtic, Nordic and Greek mythology. As a child I was interested in Egyptology (I had a great love for Indiana Jones, I wanted to be an archaeologist), but not so much in the gods of Egypt. I knew them in passing only. So, it was out of the blue that I felt this urge one morning to look up the Egyptian deity of communications, magic, wisdom, the moon and invention. I did what most of us do, I looked up the Wikifile on him.

Thoth and the Crocodile Eater of the Souls sitting behind him.

Which led me to Hermeticism and all of the mythic stories surrounding Thoth, Hermes Trismegistus, the Emerald Tablet and the Kybalion and… here I am today. I quickly started to obsess over the hermetic tradition. I searched the internet for information, bought every book I could afford, bought tarot decks, took classes, and fell in love with everything I learned. Since I’ve been on this road, I’ve experienced magic through a series of synchronicities that I would never have believed if I hadn’t experienced it myself.

Hermeticism gave God back to me in a way I could understand and follow. All of the paradoxes I could never resolve were resolved under this ancient philosophical tradition. I could even reclaim bits of Christianity through the lenses of Gnosticism and alchemy. Divinity wasn’t outside of us, but within us. All religions, understood through the hermetic lens, blossomed with a new comprehension. The ancient symbols of the gods and goddesses, both east and west, revealed their power. The myths and legends from antiquity were — and remain — the magical alchemy that help people, then and now, to understand the divinity within the soul. These symbols, internalized, empower us if we are able to turn them from ideas into action.

Hermes Trismegistus

It’s been quite the road trip to get to this point. I don’t think I would have gotten to this place right here, right now, had I not gone through the badlands of confusion, and the climbed a few mountains to nowhere. Most of us learn our lessons the hard way on a road paved with blood, sweat and tears. I’ve stopped beating myself up for not understanding it all earlier. We start to understand when we’re able to and not a moment before. The point is to be open to that understanding when we are able to grasp it and act on it.

Thoth came to me in a dream and put me on this path. Here I am.

Road Trippin – Red Hot Chili Peppers

“These smiling eyes are just a mirror for the Sun…”