Of Miracles & Natural Order

One of the great questions of philosophy is, can a miracle truly occur? For some, it depends on how the term is defined. If a miracle is merely an unlikely occurrence, then the answer is easy. Yes. We all witness rare occurrences from time to time. From a sports team coming from far behind to win a championship no one thought them capable of, to accidents where someone narrowly escapes death. We often call these “miracles”, when perhaps they are more closely identified with chance occurrences with low probability.

More often we associate a true miracle when the laws of nature are broken. For instance, Jesus turning water into wine, walking on water, curing the sick, and his own resurrection from the dead. The Buddha was said to have the power of teleportation, the ability to duplicate himself, and manipulate the elements. The Prophet Muhammad was purported to manifest water, heal the sick and also had power over the elements. Today we also hear of modern day miracles which defy nature, such as shrines where people go to be healed or people claiming to see visions of God, saints or other types of entities.

So the question remains, do miracles really exist or are they just human projections on certain events? While we do have many reports of miracles, there are no proofs of miracles occurring to date. I think that’s a powerful statement in itself. There is no proof that has ever been recorded of a real, bonafide miracle.

Many theologians and theist philosophers, including Immanuel Kant, thought miracles didn’t matter. In fact, Kant though that miracles were actually a distraction from having faith. For Kant, miracles were the exception to the rule so it was better to not count on them in your life. Looking to the message of one’s faith was preferable to signs and wonders.

Philosophers such as J. L. Mackie and Michael Martin argue that interference with the natural order from God would prove that God wasn’t perfect. Why would God need to create miracles in the world if everything is going according to plan? Why would God play favorite and help some people and not others? Why would God let some people starve to death or be horribly injured, but save others from that fate through a miracle? Martin also suggests that somethings that appear as miracles to us, may not be God but anomalies that occur in nature that we simply cannot explain yet.

In Hermeticism, when one perfectly aligns themselves (the Below) to the Source Consciousness (the Above), they can achieve the Philosopher’s Stone.

I buy this. I think when we witness synchronicity, this has something to do with consciousness and quantum entanglement. It’s part of the natural order. I do not think a miracle has occurred. In fact, when I think of how magic, astrology and tarot work, I don’t think any of that is miraculous, but more of just how the world operates. I think our individual consciousness is connected to our higher-self or a higher state of consciousness, which may be thought of as our spirit. It’s the entity which keeps sending our soul on mission in the material world. Beyond that, I believe there is a collective consciousness that is societal which we all tap into on a planetary level, and a Source Consciousness which is singular, which all things in the universe share in as well. We share an archetypal bond and this is how things like astrology and tarot work and evolve over time. When we align with our higher-self and Universal Consciousness, we begin to notice synchronicities occurring in our lives. These may appear miraculous, but it’s merely part of the natural order unfolding.

Do miracles occur where the laws of nature are broken? I don’t think so, no. I think when they occur in sacred texts they are meant as metaphors to explain deeper truths. Does the death and resurrection of Jesus mean more if Christ was killed on our behalf as a sacrifice? Or does it mean more that Jesus was the perfect example to show us how to transform ourselves? The Christ story is the path we take to die to our old selves and be reborn as Divine spirits. It’s not about a physical miracle, but rather our spiritual reality if we choose that path.

Alchemical Love

I was listening to a video from Carolyn Elliott the other day regarding the topic of love. In it she talks about how many of us miss the love around us because we are seeking to find ourselves worthy of it. Am I worthy of love? What must I do to be worthy of love?

But this is the wrong way of looking at love. It’s not about making the grade or getting to the final cut where we’ll finally grasp the golden ring and be found worthy!

Nope.

The most humbling aspect of love, she says, is that worthiness has nothing to do with it. Alas, love just is for no reason at all.

This is the truth about love. It’s unconditional or it’s not love at all. One loves everything; the ugly, scary, awkward, weird bits alongside of the ordinary, milquetoast, mediocre bits, and the beautiful, fabulous, glorious bits.

When it comes to ourselves, I think it’s difficult and often even terrifying to love the whole of ourselves. I know it is for me. I can be mean, nasty and petty sometimes.  I can also be quite awesome and a cool person to be around too. I’m both of these people. It’s been hard for me to love my dark side. But I’ve learned to over the last few years. My shadow is part of me and she’s gotten me through some tough spots. I’ve learned to stop shunning her so that we can become better partners and work through the rough patches with greater ease and less drama.

The one I still have trouble with is Awkward-me. The one who has ADD, poor coordination, brain fog, and freezes at the thought of small talk. She’s the introvert that trips me up and makes my life extraordinarily difficult. She’s why I suck at job interviews and have such a hard time in front of cameras. She’s a big reason why Shadow-me can be such a monster. I feel like I’m always paying a huge price for Awkward-me, so loving her has been so very difficult. It’s a hell of a lot easier for me to love my shadow!

This awkward part of me is why I’ve had worthiness issues in the past. When I get frustrated with myself, I still scream, “Why can’t I do this?! What’s wrong with me?!” But the simple answer is, this is the body I have. These are the chemicals in my brain. I have these challenges and they shape me into who I am. I would likely not be on my current path had it not been for these challenges. As frustrating as my challenges can be – I love my path, I love how I think.  What I really don’t like are the bumps in the road. Welcome to the human condition.

I’m may be the fire breathing unicorn, but she’s the gun toting cat!

Love is not about being worthy. Love is about embracing the whole, even the stuff you hate. Maybe especially the stuff you hate. That’s the stuff that carves us into the magical creatures we become.

I know I’m a unicorn. My beloved told me I was this morning and she never lies.

Gratitude

One of many fine spirits!

A year ago, I was in a serious financial and spiritual rut and my good friend and spirit brother, Nick, helped me out. He thought it would be good for me to get out of my house in Colorado and visit him in Pasadena for a change of pace. So, I did and it was awesome and healing and everything I needed when I needed it. We took a long walk down Venice beach, rode down Sunset strip, jeered at the Scientology building, visited some awesome museums, bought Day of the Dead souvenirs on Olvera Street, picked up all the minerals and crystals in the metaphysical bookshops, and binge watched Rick & Morty and the Twin Peaks reboot while in altered states.  He bought or made me dinner every night and boy did we drink!

We also engaged in a night of ceremony and I had a fascinating experience that has taken me some time to unpack. The experience gave me great insight into my own mind and even now I find at times I come to new realizations about myself and my perceptions.

On the road trip back we stopped in Quartzsite, AZ and touched all the crystals even though was 5 billion degrees and you could cook an egg on the big ones.

Nick was the perfect host. I have great gratitude for all that he did for me last summer. It was certainly what I needed and when I got back to Colorado (we road tripped it back), I was refreshed and able to start everything over. I started working on my magickal practices and getting my shit in gear. I started working with Venus again (I was working with her prior to my vacation) and she provided!  By the end of September, I had a new job interview that came out of the blue in a field I never would have applied for on my own.  By the end of October, I was working as a contractor making decent money after two years of bad adjunct teaching jobs.

The job unexpectedly took me to Memphis in January for a week, which was quite awesome. I had a chance to visit Beale Street, eat fabulous Memphis BBQ, visit the Civil Rights Museum, and learned how to conduct a 5-day training event for a group of middle-aged men than really just wanted to be at the bars.

The Lorraine Motel where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, part of the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Then a few weeks after getting back, coronavirus hit. I’m currently working in one of the very few industries not rocked by the virus. I was still on the books to teach online classes in the summer and fall – all of those courses vanished. While things were drying up elsewhere, I was asked if I wanted to move from a contractor position to a full-time position with the company. Um, YES! I received a raise and a much better benefits package.

 I’ve blogged a number of them, not the least of which was the great hailstorm that shredded the flower garden.

This journey is by no means over. I have so much more to do. This job I have now is nice. It pays my bills and keeps food on the table. I find it far more enjoyable than the endless grading of an adjunct. But I also know it’s not my life’s work. It’s what I have to keep my family and I afloat until I’m ready to move on to my life’s purpose work. I think it is coming in this next phase. It’s what I’m working toward now with my research and writing.

My alter to Venus and the Divine Feminine

But for right now in this moment, I am so grateful for everything! For my beautiful partner, Lisa, my brother Nick, and my family and friends who do so much to support me. I have so much when so many do not. I know this. I’m giving back what I can to my community in as many ways as I can think of to help.

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

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.