Did you miss an episode of Magical Experiments podcast in January? All of them are here, for you to listen to, plus a book review.
Book Review: The Tao of Craft by Benebell Wen
In this book, Benebell shares an Eastern esoteric tradition of charging and casting sigils. It’s a fascinating book to read, and the author does a great job of making the material approachable. I particularly like how she breaks the process down and then explains how each principle works. She also provides historical resources and references which is helpful, but most of all she encourages readers to experiment and make the work their own. I felt like this book explained and filled in some gaps of knowledge I had about Eastern esoteric practices, while also enhancing the magical work I’m doing. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in understanding Eastern esoteric practices or wanting to integrate such practices in their own spiritual work.
12-23-16 Patience is something I’ve been meditating on lately in relationship to stillness. I am both good and not good at being patient…it depends on the context I suppose. I’m currently working on a couple projects and really want the work to be done, but feedback I’m getting suggests some further refinement, so I’m reminding myself I need to be patient and focus on getting it right because that’s what will matter most. That can be hard for me. Conversely though I can be patient for years and years, waiting for the right moment to make something happen. I learned that early in life, because I had to bide my time due to circumstances where I had little to no control. So meditating on patience makes me appreciate how patience can be its own form of stillness, the potential waiting for the right moment to be unleashed and realized.
Sometimes your magical working fails. It happens to all of us, but if you don’t understand why it fails, you can’t do much about it. However if you’re willing to take a step back and look at why your magic might be failing, then you can start to address that problem and make changes that help you get consistent results
In the video below I share the top 5 reasons why your magic fails and how to account for those variables.
Sometimes what stands out to me about why someone is having problems with their magical work is that the person is complicating the magical work. It likely doesn’t help that in your average book on magic you find tons of information about magical tools, herbs, crystals, and candles that you are supposed to have in order to do magic. Throw in a magical grimoire and now you need to get golden tablets, and various other arcane tools that the author assures you is absolutely essential to doing the magical working.
Let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. And if you come away reading a book that suggests you use a specific tool or do a specific activity, but it’s not clear why you should do it, then you need to back up and liberally douse that book with a bar of salt before doing the working.
The reason why people complicate magic is because there’s a tendency to take whatever is presented and treat it as the final word on the subject. But here’s a little secret for you: You are the ultimate authority of your spiritual practice and you don’t have to do magic the way people tell you to do it.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t read books on magic or try the exercises, spells, or whatever else, but if you find it isn’t working, it’s okay to try something different or take the working apart and figure out what part of the process doesn’t actually make sense. To this day, I do this with much every practice I read about. I try it, figure out what makes sense and get rid of the rest. And the practice consistently works without the unnecessary information.
So how do I simplify my magical work?
I’ve already explained that if you don’t know why you’re doing something or what the purpose of something is, it can be useful to consider discarding it, but let’s explore 5 other ways you can simplify your magical work.
1. Design your own tools. Magical tools have a place in magical workings, but it can be helpful to design your own tools. There’s nothing saying you have to use an Athame, wand, or whatever else. They can be useful tools, provided you understand their purpose, but what if you need a specialized tool?
For example I created a memory box, a specialized magical tool for the purpose of helping me do space/time magical work. No conventional tool would have worked, but the memory box helped me connect with past memories and future possibilities, providing a model I could work with. By designing my own tool, based on my needs, I was able to simplify the magic and get more from the workings.
2. Develop your own list of correspondences. Lots of magic books come with correspondence charts. The purpose of a correspondence is to help you understand how a crystal, plant, etc. is connected to a specific spiritual power. However there’s nothing saying you can’t come up with your own correspondence list, based on your own experiences. In fact, developing you won correspondence list allows you to personalize your understanding of the spirits and forces you’re working with, which simplifies your magic because you aren’t having to remember someone else’s correspondences.
3. Take a critical look at the ritual you want to do. When I learn any given magical technique, I like to take a critical look at it and ask myself what each part of that technique or ritual is supposed to do. This helps me determine what I do and don’t understand about the technique or ritual. And then I can either do further research or cut out what doesn’t make sense and see what happens. Either way by taking a critical look at the technique or ritual I’m simplifying the magic because I’m taking time to figure out what I know and what may need to be modified.
4. Take out elements of a working that are optional. Sometimes you’ll discover that a magical working has optional elements. Well optional for you anyway. The person who put together the original working might disagree and say everything is required, but in my experience you can likely get the same result doing a stripped down version of the working. You can always do the full version of a ritual and then strip out what you consider is optional and see if there is a difference.
For example a meditation technique I was learning had a lot of visualization in it. Trying to remember all the visualization became a real distraction from learning the technique, so I stripped the visualization out and focused on the sound and tactile sensations. As a result I was able to hit some very deep spaces of altered consciousness that were consistent with what the defined outcome of the meditation is. By simplifying the technique and getting rid of what I felt was optional, I was able to focus on what was essential for learning the technique.
5. Use your talents in your magical work. We all have our own talents. I think it’s a good idea to apply your talents to your magical work. For instance, I use my creativity in my magical work, in the form of paintings and writing, collage art and song. By taking what I’m good at and applying it to magic, I am able to develop my own processes and practices. I simplify the magic by using my talents to connect with it.
One of the ways I’ve simplified my magic work is to create paintings that are evocation portals. The paintings contain the sigils of the entities I’m working with and when I need to evoke one of the entities, I can simply use the painting to connect with the spirit and call it forth.
If you want to learn even more about about how to simplify your magic, check out my 5 secrets for personalizing your magic that gets you consistent results.
The other day, in the magical experiments newsletter, I shared a story about why I walked a way from a mentor I was working with. In short, his biggest lesson was showing me how close-minded he was. I don’t have time for narrow perspectives of magic, but it got me thinking about how you choose to work with someone magically and what you do to recognize the warning signs if a person isn’t a good fit to work with. I share more in the video below.
My magical theme of the year is process. I explain why in this video:
2016 has been a really interesting year for me, all across the board. I think what I appreciate about this year we just exited it how much I ended up growing because of my willingness to step away from what I knew to embrace the unknown.
Embracing the unknown is a fundamental part of magical practice.
For 2016 I created the theme of respect. At the end of 2015 I called out the Pagan conference organizers on what I considered a lack of transparency around which presenters were compensated for their efforts, and which were expected to pay to present. That choice made me realize that I needed to reevaluate my relationship with respect, and so 2016 became a journey into respect. I learned 5 magical lessons as a result that I’ll carry with me through the rest of my spiritual journey.
Lesson 1: Respect begins with you and you must hold to it, if you want others to respect you.
If I wanted respect from other people, I needed to respect myself and I realized that in some ways I really didn’t. I made compromises because I wanted to fit in or because I was told it as better to toe the line and not stir up trouble. I disrespected myself and my feelings on certain matters because of that and in 2016 (and the end of 2015) I realized I could no longer disrespect myself, especially because it was clear I wasn’t getting the respect that I felt I deserved.
I confronted the Pagan conference organizers and then stepped away from the Pagan conference scene because it was clear that the desired changes and the requested transparency wasn’t going to be provided on their part. And in doing that I made the choice to respect myself and my work instead of continuing to toe the line and go along with the status quo.
And you know? It’s forced me to become more creative, challenged me to step up my game as an author and presenter, and I love it. I am happier (and more profitable actually) getting away from the Pagan conference scene than continuing to be a cog that is basically used, instead of being a person that’s appreciated.
Lesson 2: Create a space for your tribe and they will come.
Part of my journey toward respect involved recognizing that I needed to capitalize on one of my strengths: Creating and sustaining community. Instead of going out into the larger community, I decided to create my own communities around the interests I have and focus on working with those people. My first attempts weren’t very effective, but I learned and ultimately came away with two online communities where people are engaged and actively working on what excites them, and where the space is safe, because the focus isn’t on tearing people down, but rather on helping them become better at their magical practices.
Creating community showed me that the best way to reach the people I’m called to serve is to provide them a space to gather. I’m already thinking of new ways to continue creating that space and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens as a result.
Lesson 3: Sacred time and space for yourself is essential for divine connection and inspiration.
I took the last couple months of 2016 for myself, to really drill down into some work I’ve been needing to do, both internally and process wise. Stepping away from writing and content creation was good for me because it really helped me get clear on what the purpose of any and all my activities should be for. I still have a lot of work to do, but you’ll soon be seeing some of the fruits of my work and I’m really excited about this year will bring.
Lesson 4: What you feel resistant toward learn from.
This year I learned how to work with the temple of memory and the value of correspondence charts and oral chants. I felt some resistance toward working with these concepts, and so I decided to challenge myself to learn about what I was feeling resistant toward. The end result: It’s provided me a new approach to how I work with spirits that feels more intimate and connected. I still have a lot of experimentation to do around what I’m learning, but opening myself up to what I felt resistant to lead me to some new magic, some new work that really excites me.
It’s important to honor the resistance, but its also good to challenge it and see what you learn as a result.
Lesson 5: Embrace your shame to discover your respect.
This was perhaps the biggest lesson I learned this last year. By choosing to really sit with and embrace the shame I felt, I could respect myself. This internal work was hard and it really put me face to face with some of my demons and made me recognize how I had hurt other people in my life, as well as myself. But out of that work I could make changes and respect myself as a result.
This is why a consistent regime of internal work is so important. When you put the time in to take care of yourself, to really see who you are and how you show up and then make good changes, it frees you from the burdens of guilt and regret that can other wise hold you back and keep you mired in the muck.
What lessons did you learn from 2016 and how you are applying them to your spiritual work and life?
Magical Experiments podcast: The introduction of magic to Pagan children with Rowan Moss and T. S. Lamb
Book Review: Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans by Ivo Dominguez Jr
If you’ve wondered how to apply astrology to magic or how astrology even applies to Paganism, this book is a must read. What I like about it is that Ivo does an excellent job of explaining astrology and showing how you can apply it to your magical work without a lot of esoteric jargon or technical terms. When he has to use such terms, he does, but he also explains them. Ivo also provides some exercises that can help you apply the information in the book to your magical practice. This is a certainly a book for someone who has astrology background or magical background and wants to apply astrology to magic, but if you, like me, don’t know much about astrology, you’ll still get a lot from the book. I do recommend reading the book once and taking notes and then going back through and trying the exercises. This is a much needed resource and I highly recommend it to anyone. One down side to this book is no bibliography or suggested reading list.
Book Review: The True Source of Healing by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
In the pages of this book you will find the keys to unlocking your awareness and ability to be present with yourself. While this book is a quick read, the work is anything but and I recommend doing an initial reading, just to read the book, and then do a second reading, where you go slower, and work through the exercises. By doing this you’ll be present with the lessons of the book in a deeper way and get more from it. Tenzin approaches this work in a careful, measured manner that helps you discover your inner resources and liberates you from your inner demons. There is also an audio meditation that you can download with the book, which is helpful for doing the work. The wisdom and teachings in this book helped me a lot, but giving it a second reading was what really made the most impact.
11-24-16 The other day I told Felix that sometimes I felt like I was climbing up a very steep pit, when it came to the process of self growth. It takes a lot of effort to change and sometimes it seems like it would be easier to slide back down the pit. The only problem being what you land in isn’t very appetizing. Since I began this work over a decade ago, I’ve had some slips and falls and I’ve definitely come face to face with my shadow. Yet I continue doing the work, because while the path is hard, the rewards are worth it. When I struggle I remind myself of this because while the struggle can be hard, the work is worth it in the end. Its only when we give up that we fail.
In December’s magical success I’ll be teaching about sigils. In this video I share a little taste of what we’ll be learning about in regards to attention stacking and how it can help your sigil work. Learn more about the class and sign up.« go back — keep looking »