Embracing the Magic

Yeah, that’s all gonna have to come off.

For a while now I’ve been contemplating the reality that so many of us deny our own magic. Why is it that those of us who seek to recognize the magic in our soul, must go through years of intense shadow therapy to scratch the surface of our nature’s true core so that we can create a united will that will let us shine in our magical brilliance? One would expect that this shadow work needs to be done for anyone wishing to embrace the magic within, but it seems that we run into what I would term as excessive muck. Even once the outer layers of filth are removed, one must apply the proverbial scrapers and picks to skin off the tar, plaque and barnacles that have accumulated over years of systematic abuse and societal programming. The work, it seems, is never truly done.

A good friend of mine, Nick Mather of Dreaming Green, sent me a video from the movie, Samsara, that perfectly nails the visualization of how our psyches are attacked and taken over in a constant barrage of promises of wealth, happiness and beauty that give the illusion that we have some control over our lives. But this is a demonic spell we are under. The message, it turns out, is nothing more than layer upon layer of fear and crippling self-doubt, which keeps us working for the machine. We believe that if we work hard enough, keep our noses clean and don’t make too much noise, we will be rewarded. Except the reward never comes.

Office Man, from the film Samsara

I’m sure the behemoth looks like something out of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

So here we are. Just a handful of shamans and witches in a world full of demonic forces in which most of the people have been scooped up into the behemoth industrial structure. I imagine some mechanical monstrosity held together now mostly with duct tape, rust and wads of chewed gum. And as insanely terrifying as it is, people believe in it and serve it. They can’t get out of its demonic thrall. My friend Nick likened our modern fascination with ourselves to the myth of Narcissus, who wasted away in the thrall of his own image in the water. But today it’s not even our own image, it’s an artificially constructed image. I think the key is there and why it is so worse now in the digital age than ever before. It’s the deception of a false image being made to appear as our own. We’re not looking at ourselves, we’re looking at simulacrum, which is distorted with false ideals of beauty and success. If we stripped off the veneer, we’d be left with something that more accurately depicts the portrait of Dorian Gray; something terrifying and wrought with its own corrupt, corrosive forces. Basically, we’ve each been lured into the trap with our own shadow, which is why it works so well.

Dorian Gray, by Ivan Albright

So, how did we come to this and what can be done about it?

I’ve discovered that much of the spiritual work I’ve done through my whole life has left out the physical world and concentrates on the spiritual realms. That’s really been the main problem all along. Spiritually, most of us have been taught to value the higher realm of God. We ignore the physical world around us at a great cost. The feminine, worldly aspects of spirituality have been stripped away in so many belief systems because it is viewed as lesser rather than the equal partner of the masculine, mystical aspects. This has left our world with a severe hormonal imbalance that is life threatening to the entire planet.  

A colorized version of the Above and the Below. Opus Medico Chymicum, by Daniel Mylius

In Alchemy, we often hear the principle of correspondence translated to “as above, so below, as below, so above.” However, this is not how it’s written in the translations we have of the Emerald Tablet, which is reputed to have been written by Hermes Trismegistus (the tablet has never been found, but many translations of it exist). The Emerald Tablet words this carefully because it is an alchemical formula for us to follow. It states, “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.” 1 We too often forget that we need to start with the Below if we’re going to work up to the Above. We exist in the physical world and it is here where we begin the whole process. Acting as though we are already lofty entities of great spiritual power is not only hubris, it’s psychotic. The act of world-creating demands that we unite the Below and the Above; these two worlds reflect each other. So, valuing only the Above and treating the Below as though it is trash, leads us into the scenario we are living out today.

Embracing the Divine Feminine and witch within has allowed me to pull the physical world into my spiritual practice. Witches, warlocks, shaman, medicine men and women, spiritual gurus, light workers and warriors, all know that we start in the physical world. We begin with Gaia and connect to the Anima Mundi, the World Spirit. It is from there that we can connect to the spiritual world of the Above to create our world Below in its image.

What I’ve learned from this process is to do away with ideas of sin and shame, which are completely unproductive and only work to sabotage us. Sin and shame, these two twins of destruction, keep us immobilized and trapped in the demonic snare of our current system. This is the muck that covers us unless we commit to the work of freeing ourselves from them.  It’s taken me nearly my entire life to learn this lesson so that I can just begin the process of shadow therapy. I’ve already cleared so much of it; I feel lighter and happier. But there is more to do. I have so much gratitude for witches like Carolyn Elliott and Lisa Lister for helping me to see how to embrace my inner witch — that lushes, gorgeous, powerful. magician within — and bring her forward. They taught me that the physical world is necessary, beautiful, and magical, but we also must remember to be a fully immersed part of it.

The Magic Circle, by John William Waterhouse

1 Hauck, D. W. (1999). The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation. New York, NY: Penguin Compass.  

The Fine Art of Detachment

One of the most difficult skills for me to develop as I work on increasing my magical abilities is detachment from the results of spells. It’s a skill one must master to receive the desired results, and with good reason. If one is constantly worried that a spell will not work, it sets up a resistance to it and the synchronicities required to deliver the results fail. It makes a lot of sense. Doing magic requires a faith in the deity or entities invoked, a faith in one’s own ability, and the knowledge that the universe is looking out for us because the universe is awesome like that. The worry does nothing to help that along and it causes suffering.

Unfortunately, I have a learning disability that causes me to overthink everything and it sets my mind in a feedback loop similar to obsessive compulsive disorder. I needed a little help with this issue and found it quite by accident with the planetary deity, Venus.

Lemme explain.

I started working with Venus in April to help me with issues of lack. A lack of prosperity, a lack of self-confidence, a lack of deep understanding of myself, a lack of all the good things in life that are causing hardship. She’s been a brilliant and supportive ally in my quest and I am grateful for all of her guidance and help! Last week, during our Friday chat session, she offered me tremendous insight into the art of detachment.

I’ve studied detachment – or non-attachment as it is also called – for years as applied to Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Jainism. Annnnd what I actually found out is that I only thought I understood it. Intellectually, I understood it as best I could and I taught it in my Comparative Religion classes. But what I discovered, was that an intellectual understanding of it and the practice of it are not the same thing. Not. Even. Close. In fact, I now believe that detachment can’t be truly understood unless one practices it and lives it daily. 

For the purpose of this blog post, I’ll give a brief definition. Detachment is the release of all desires from this world. One ceases to cling to people, objects, and ideas. The clinging attachment to things of the world creates suffering in a person as their focus is on having what is always in the process of changing. Consider falling in love with an idea you have of someone. What happens if they change and no longer meet that idea? What happens if they decide to leave you or if they die? By remaining detached, you are able to experience the wholeness of that person rather than the small idea you may have built up around that person. All things in this world are ephemeral. A detached person desires nothing and lives entirely in the moment. They don’t concern themselves with the past or the future. They achieve a heightened state of awareness which allows them to live a more complete and fulfilling life.

Easy enough, right?

I couldn’t get my brain to release the whole living in poverty thing. So, I found that every time I even read about the need to become detached from the results of my spell, my mind would enter a feedback loop on how desperate I need it to work.  I’ve done powerful magic before that worked. It worked because I wasn’t in a desperate situation, so my mind was able to release its hold on the consequences and I had beautiful results.

My altar to Venus during one of our chats

Venus, the Goddess of Love, Beauty, Sexuality, Art, Prosperity and Desire itself — and the last deity I would think to invoke for learning detachment — gave me an up-close, personal, direct, ineffable understanding of what it is to release all desires.

Perhaps she knows a few things about the destructive nature of clinging to what we want and desire. She can offer a far more constructive way for us to experience the fullness of life, when we let go of the choke-hold we have over the little things we’re able to cobble together and cling to for dear life.

When a gardener loves a flower, do they pluck it from the ground, or grow and nurture it in a garden? Do they weep bitter tears when it dies when the season is over or when it’s destroyed by bad weather or do they simply wait for it to rise from the ground again next year?  What is gained by obsessing over the dead flower? Isn’t there more gained by embracing a love of all plants and flowers? By doing so, doesn’t the gardener learn better ways to nurture what they dearly love?

Remember the rose from the Little Prince and all the fretting, drama and suffering that occurred around her?

No? Then what a delight! You get to read it for the first time!

Read The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

It is difficult to put into words the experience of immediate, undeniable understanding of detachment. These experiences are called ineffable for a reason. But I can say that I understood that I had a choice with the thoughts and emotions I had on the issue of my intention for prosperity. I could see my thoughts and emotions laid out before me. I could choose to be sad, upset, and filled with anxiety over something I didn’t have much control over, or I could feel a sense of serenity that Venus and the Universe had my back. Whatever would come my way was good, because I needed it.

Even with this experience, it’s not something I’ve internalized quite yet. I’m getting there. And I understand it in a way I never have before. I am grateful for what the Goddess granted me and I work at growing that understanding every day. It’s not easy, but I no longer think it’s unattainable.

Money and the Subconscious

It’s been a while since I posted to this blog. Again. This time due to grading finals and then getting lost in thought on what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve concluded that I do not want to grade for the rest of my life, as that is self-torture. For the past two weeks, I’ve engaged in a shitload of shadow work to find out why it’s taking me so long to get out of my present occupation and into one that allows me the freedom to stand in my own power and love it! The problem as I see it is that I still have a divided will.

ShadowWork DrknessConsciousA divided will occurs when on the surface one wants all the good things in life, like a fabulous job that pays well with incredible perks, but deep down inside there is a subconscious need to fail. That need to fail can come from a variety of different forces, such as a deep seeded idea that money is evil, or the belief that one doesn’t deserve a good life with a stable income because of a past misdeed or trauma. Or maybe one wants a healthy relationship with a romantic partner, but subconsciously they feel unworthy of one so the unconscious mind desires a less than ideal relationship, even an abusive one. The problem is that we often don’t realize we have a divided will, because our subconscious wishes are buried under feelings that acknowledgement of them in the light of day is completely unacceptable. To acknowledge I want a crappy job because it lets me off the hook from dealing with all that evil money that I don’t deserve anyway, isn’t something most of us find suitable for our conscious mind to ruminate over. However, digging in the dirt to bring those desires up to the conscious level is exactly what needs to happen if one wants to transcend and transmute those shadowy desires into something more productive.

What I’ve found over the past few weeks is that I have profound problems with money and how to make it ethically. Through targeted meditation, I brought up childhood issues with money that stem from my parents always worried about household finances and arguing about it. I was already primed to think it was evil because it was a negative force in my life ever since I could remember. This began my life long cognitive bias that money is truly the root of all evil. People will exploit others to get more of it. They will lie and cheat to gather money to them.  And I looked for this to play out in every scenario. I was never disappointed. When you look for something everywhere, you will find it! And I was able to feel self righteous and superior in my lack of money. Subconsciously, I was reveling in it!

MoneyEvil

“I’ll eat your soul!”

 My meditation didn’t lead me to some great understanding that money is actually neutral and can be used for benefic purposes. That would make things easier, but that’s not what I found. What I discovered is that money is simply something one must have to live in this world. It’s a necessary survival tool. Money is not good, it’s necessary. One can do good things with money, I don’t deny that. But the history of money is abysmal. It’s a tool of enslavement.

However, not having it doesn’t make the world a better place, it just makes me completely miserable and unable to take care of my family. By meditating, I was able to bring up the unhealthy attitude I cultivated about money at a young age. I could see that much of it stemmed from the anger and fear my parents displayed as they worried about it daily. I could see that little eight-year-old girl terrified that her family would have no money and end up living on the streets without food or clean shelter. While the situation was never that dire, it was to a young girl who internalized the fear and anger her parents projected.

Moneygoodevil

Money shoulder angel, show me the right path!

Both my sister and I have the exact same fear of money and success. I thought it strange when I first made the connection a few weeks ago, but now it seems more impossible that we wouldn’t have the same neurotic issues around them.

For now, the shadow work continues, but I’m working to unite my will, transmute my money hang-up, and put myself in a better place financially. I’m learning to let go of the fears I developed and find myself worthy of financial stability and a happier life. I’m learning to get out of my own way so that I can experience the happiness and magic that is all around me!

(Well, this certainly helps my anxiety over money!)