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.  

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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.

The Call of Dreams

“Dreams are postcards from our subconscious, inner self to outer self, right brain trying to cross that moat to the left. Too often they come back unread: return to sender, addressee unknown. That’s a shame because it’s a whole other world out there–or in here depending on your point of view.”

―Chris in the Morning, from Northern Exposure, ep. Roots, 1991

End-of-Life-Dreams-and-Visions-479718794-750x485I had a dream last night that I went to visit my parents in Ohio. While I was there, I decided to buy my ticket back to Colorado. There was no explanation as to why I didn’t just buy a round-trip ticket to begin with, I assume this was a matter of dream logic. So, I went online to buy my return ticket, but I ended up getting a round-trip ticket to Ohio and back to Colorado. After I bought the tickets, it occurred to me that I didn’t need the ticket to Ohio since I was already there. I was very annoyed about this, but I wasn’t able to get a refund. My mind was so preoccupied that I had bought a ticket that I didn’t need, that I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the trip with my family. I kept shaking my head and thinking, why did I waste money on something I already have?!

I didn’t realize the multilayered meanings to this dream until I shared the dream with my partner over breakfast. She thought about it for a moment and said, “That’s great! It’s not often you get a dream with such clear meaning.” She was right. I had to say it out loud before I could really dig into it.

Bookcase

One of my smaller bookcases still under construction

I have a lot of shit. I mean, a LOT. Clothes, books, crystals, knickknacks, tarot decks, stuffed animals, electronic gadgets, candles, jewelry, art supplies, beads, and bits and pieces of things I no longer know what they go to anymore. If I am honest with myself, I would have to say that with the exception of food and toiletries, I could go several years without buying anything new. Maybe new books. Knowledge is always a good thing, after all. But the rest? Don’t need it.

On another level, it occurred to me that I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy wanting to be something I already was. I am a spiritual person. I am a witch. I am a powerful woman. I just didn’t realize it yet. I wasn’t confident in my own skin and I allowed other people, things, and fear to define me. I worried so much about what others thought of me that there wasn’t really a me. At least not a me that I allowed to shine through. And how much of the stuff that I bought was just to make me feel more spiritual and witchy, when all of that comes from the inside.

So, no more buying things I don’t need to clutter up my home. No more wasting time and energy on wishing I was the person I wanted to be. It’s time to live it.

hg-wells

 

Waking

A few months ago on my birthday I had a sudden and startling revelation about my life that led me on a journey of self-transformation. The moment was crystal clear and felt like the explosion of a star. blue-crystal-explosion-6606497While it was a momentary flash of understanding, the events leading up to this moment were a long time in the making and it would take several more months to unpack it all. One thing was clear, it was time for me to awaken to who I truly am in this life and to leave behind the fears that I had of what others thought of me. It was time for me to start healing myself so that I could be strong and face the challenges ahead. It was time to start listening to my intuition and to embrace a love of self that was missing all of my life. It was time to understand that the painful events of my past were not my fault. But more importantly, they also contributed in shaping who I’ve become. Since that fateful birthday, I’ve started to learn to re-member myself and bring in all the love, the joy, the pain and anguish, the hard work, the lessons, the people who have been there — and with these gems — find my center.

For a long time, I’ve known that I am a witch. It’s been difficult to say that out loud. Fear is a strong motivator to keep quiet. What would people think if they knew I thought this? But I don’t just think this. I AM A WITCH! as-above-so-below2It is who and what I am. It’s as simple as that. More specifically, I am an initiate on the Hermetic path. I believe that all religions contain an understanding of the Divine, which can be found once the trappings of the cultural metaphors are shed. I believe that all beings are Divine and that each Human has within them the ability to come to know their own divinity by coming to understand their immortal Soul, created by God.

I am by no means at the end of my journey. It’s only just begun. This blog is intended to chronicle that journey of initiation. I would also like to thank Witch Lisa ListerLisa Lister for her book Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic, for encouraging all of the women to go forth and embrace their inner witch. She provided an excellent guide to help me get out of my mental rut and embrace my true identity without compromise.