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!

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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.