Magic Works When You Do

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Dear Miracles,

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is: what can I do to make my magical work, or the ritual work you are doing for me, stronger?

My answer has become more and more simple throughout the years. The bottom line is that magic works when you do.

When we look at the history of magic-making and sacred ritual we see this very clearly. Never is there a time when the client on whose behalf ritual is performed is expected to just sit back and let their ritualist take care of everything.

Engagement…in your personal spiritual practices, in any follow up directions the ritualist has provided, and in practical actions that increase your chances for success and happiness are all required, they are part of the magic.

I would like to illustrate this point briefly with a tale of two clients: The first client was a lovely soul who wanted more financial support for her and her child. After assessing her situation I agreed to take it on, performed the work, and followed up with her including in my follow up a specific list of directions for what she should do next.

Months went by and I never heard back from her, only to receive an email last week telling me that nothing worked and she did not believe in magic.

I responded immediately asking her about her follow up — had she contacted the person in question, had she opened the road of communication by being kind yet firm, had she taken certain actions at her own place of employment in order to secure more prosperity on her own?

Guess what the answers were?

No, No, and No.

Contrast this to another client who was recently working on her financial situation. Specifically she was going for a very high-end job that had fierce competition and numerous interview stages. This client chose to work with devotional candles. She got in touch with me after ordering her candle with the names, dates, and specific intention she had — and she did this for each phase of the (increasingly difficult) interview process.

Any recommendations I made to her were followed to the letter. She did not order work at the last minute but gave me plenty of lead time, and kept me updated on all of the changing dynamics.

Guess who got her dream job?

Does it always happen like this? I’m the first to admit that it does not. Sometimes we can pour our everything into a dream and the answer is still no. But I do know this: the best thing to remember when engaging in sacro-magical practices?

Magic works when you do.

with love and sparkle magic~

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What are you really banishing?

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Dear Miracles,

On Sunday we performed our weekly house cleaning followed by our house blessing. It is a wonderful family ritual that we all get involved in. As we went through the house with our white sage I was standing at the wide open back door repeating my mantra for banishing:

I banish thee, I banish thee, I send thee out and set thee free to dwell in river, air, and stone and never through our home do roam.

As I banished anything that was not welcome I called it out by name:

envy — be gone
fear — be gone
lack — be gone
wrongful pride — be gone
anger — be gone
greed — be gone
miserliness — be gone
selfishness — be gone

We are a happy crew at my house and I wouldn’t say that I/we have experienced  many of these feelings and thoughts in a significant way over the last week, but they are always there and they are never useful, good, or loving.

All too often we sacred artists think of banishing external funk and negativity — vibes that are just hanging out around us and need to be cleaned out. That is not wrong or bad but it is incomplete. The next time you banish ask yourself: what inner states do I need to let go of too?

Then…bid them farewell.

 

With shiny clean sparkles,

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Need protection magic that works? Be like Iron.

Tone Vigeland feather necklace. Made of hammered black iron nails. On display in the jewelry rooms at the V&A Museum

Tone Vigeland feather necklace. Made of hammered black iron nails. On display in the jewelry rooms at the V&A Museum. This is such a beautiful piece and a testament to the potency but also alchemy of iron.

Dear Miracles,

When I was pregnant with Jasper, I would get up early in the morning with my one legal cup of coffee and swing under the stars. As I rocked back and forth, feeling the wind on my face, I would also pray. I prayed that my little one would be healthy and strong, that he would be protected from all harm and suffering, and that no evil would befall him. It was good prayer, because I meant well; but it was not a true prayer. There is a difference.

The longer I carried him and felt the flutter of his little hands and the sure kicks of his little feet, the more I felt the need to reckon with a single fact: there would be suffering, affliction, and fear in my little one’s life – it was an absolute truth, even if I may not like it. So I decided to change my prayer.

Lady of the Moon, who dances among the stars, help me accept the dangers that come with my child’s living and give him the strength to survive the harms that will fall upon him and the endurance not only to survive, but to flourish in his darkest hours. May they be few and far between. May he weather them well.

I still pray a version of this prayer for him and for all of my loved ones. It is the truest protection magic I know.

I am often asked about protection. What is the best formula, ritual, or talisman to keep one safe and sound?  The desire for protection is perfectly natural.  But for any magic to really work, we cannot stop at a surface desire.  We must, in all ways, go deeper.

Often the desire for protection is really a wish that no affliction, no trouble, no difficulty, and no hardship will befall us. Understandable? Yes. Useful or wise? No. In this version, protection is something we view as solely external to ourselves – a bulletproof vest, a helmet, force field, a shield. Protection like that can work for a time, but here is the truth: there will come a day when we must go into danger without our vest, when the helmet cracks, the force field falters, and the shield is dropped onto the dusty earth. Then what?

Then we come to know the nature of true protection. Then we understand that protection has less to do with this or that magical charm or talisman and much more to do with the condition of our mind, heart and spirit – our inner state, our virtue, the stuff we are made of. So when you find yourself in that place, where you are contending with real risk and danger without a net, be like iron.

Iron is the metal belonging to Mars, ruling planet of the sign Aries, the sign that our beautiful Full Moon will shine out from on Wednesday. In the old traditions, Iron was called on for its unique protective qualities.  One could tap an iron nail into a dying fruit tree, or use iron to nail down and protect a piece of land, or even insert bits of iron into a baby crib to keep the little one safe as they slept. To many, such rituals smack of ignorant superstition, but you all know that I think differently. I believe our ancestors often had surprising insights into the gifts of nature that we, despite all of our sophistication, often miss. I find it fascinating that they already chose to work with a material for protection that is so tied physiologically to our own well being. If you have ever been low on iron in your blood, you know what I mean. Too little iron? Pale, listless, and lifeless. The right amount of iron? Rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes, healthy, robust, and vital.

Iron makes sense as a protective talisman because iron is strong, reminding us that in times of danger, we too must be strong. We must elicit internal strength. Iron is life giving and tied to vitality, reminding us that what we are looking for is never mere survival, but thriving, flourishing – rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes, and good strong laughter from the belly. What we are looking for is a certain quality of soulful, spirited living. Besides being linked to strength and vitality, Iron endures. Over time it will change its shape, become more twisted, gain interesting colorations and qualities – just like us – but turn up the heat, and melt it down as you’d like, and you will never destroy it. It merely changes shape. Like iron, we must be ready to take on new ways of being in the world.

It is not that working with talismans or rituals for protection is a bad idea: it is not! It is only that when we work with magic externally, we must pay attention to our internal state. And above all, we must realize that no application of magic, ritual or ceremony can take the place of work, attention, and attendance to what matters most.

Love and Iron,

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10 Ways to Rock Mercury Retrograde

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Dear Miracles,

Mercury Retrograde is upon us once again. This time pretty much the entire month of October will be affected by the wily little planet (from 10/4 — 10/25). So, what better time to focus on keeping communication clear, concise, and kind? Behold, 10 of my personal favorite techniques to master Mercury RX.

1. Review and follow the Golden Rule: If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say (or write, text, email, Facebook message, etc) anything at all.

2.  Know that October has some difficult conversations in store? You need a clear communication devotional candle lit for you stat!

3. Remember to bless yourself and others.

4. As Mercury RX does not just effect communication but also all intellectual endeavors keep this list in mind.

5. Don’t forget that lists are only helpful to a point, your essence is vast and cosmic.

6. Follow Paul’s advice (always, but especially this month) and do what you say you’ll do.

7. If October finds you with a broken heart, I’m sorry. Also, know that there are ways and means of healing available to you.

8. Be sweet(er). Create a sugar jar for you and your compadres so that your words, thoughts, and actions this month are meant and taken with an extra dose of kindness.

9. For all of the writers out there (which these days means all of us) read this lovely piece by Alexandra Franzen.

10. There is a lot of magical mojo in your kitchen. This is a good time to work with it.

 

With love and Mercurial Mojo,

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Meditation not working? It’s not you, it’s your process.

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Dear Miracles,

One of the most common complaints I hear from students is that meditations and visualizations (guided and otherwise) don’t work for them. For those unfamiliar with the idea, a guided meditation is a scene or series of scenes that is narrated to the participant by a guide or leader.

Guided meditations (also known as guided visualizations or guided journeys) can be incredibly useful in both sacro-magical and therapeutic contexts. Sacred artists have been working with different kinds of spirit journeys for thousands of years to foster and deepen their relationship to the other world, the worlds beyond time and space.

However, the truth is that for a many people they don’t work and the reason why is pretty simple: most forms of meditation begin with the observation that we are too connected to our thoughts and our feelings; that our mental, emotional, and psychic contents are so intense and present that it is very difficult to see where we end and they begin. This is not necessarily a problem and is often a true observation — we have all had the experience of feeling something so deeply that it takes us over completely, so that we are literally “out of our minds” with anger or lust, for instance.

But when it comes to sacro-magical work meditation is used traditionally to bring us to a “zero point” — a place where we can look at even the most intense personal experiences with objectivity and learn what is really true about them.

When we work to engage with the Other Worlds we are doing something very different. We are not trying to go beyond ourselves; we are working to both broaden and deepen our daily habits of perception. Because we are working with expanding our envelope of perception it is a good idea to begin from a “zero” state, a state of nil, or of stillness and silence. Meditation can help us achieve that. But meditation is not going to take us into the Other World, to do that we must go down and deep…into our memories, our ancestral knowing, and our imaginations. This is not a process of meditation and it is not a process that any one can narrate for you, it is instead, quite literally, Active Imagination.

Active Imagination is the act of turning and attuning to the realm(s) we might best name time beyond time and space beyond space. A great “mystery” is that these realms exist both within us and also outside of us. The term itself comes to us by way of an earlier term, imaginative cognition, literally meaning to “come to knowing with/through the imagination”, which may be found in medieval contemplative prayer practices, the alchemical traditions of Europe and the Middle East, and Islamic and Jewish traditions as well. Imaginative Cognition came into the 19th and 20th centuries through the writings of Rudolph Steiner and was further developed into the concept of Active Imagination most notably by Carl Jung.

So what is active imagination? The imagination is the faculty within us that is able to produce images and ideas, the part of us that is able to make connections and offer up insights that are new, fresh, and original as well as universal and ancestral in memory. In other words, the imagination is not the recycling up images we are already familiar with but rather the place where new (or at least new to us) ideas and images spring forth. To work with our imaginations actively then is to build, create, and participate in a specific kind of image making. In sacro-magical work we understand these images, and all that they open out onto, to exist both within us and also independently outside of us.

So the next time you sit down to experience a guided meditation remember to get clear on what is actually happening: are you emptying yourself out and returning to an objective “zero” point or are you searching to fill your deep well with waters of imagination, memory, and other world alliance? Answer that question and your road will become much more open.

 

In love,

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New Moon in Libra: Peace passeth all Understanding

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Dear Miracles,

In these days of the Dark Moon leading up to a Libran New Moon on 9/24, it is a good idea to turn our attentions and intentions to peace. Not peace in the sense of covering things up or looking the other way when faced with injustice. Not the false peace of holding our tongues when we would do better to speak out, but deep peace, abiding peace, peace that truly does surpass our reasoned understanding or expectations.

I chose the image of two otters holding hands because first of all: Otters holding hands! And secondly, I think this is such a true image of peace. Two creatures, content for the moment, holding onto one another as they drift in mamma ocean. The ocean, like the world in which we live can be full of wonder or terror and we all know that calm seas can turn stormy in an instant. The otters know that peace is often found in partnership — with a friend, a loved one, a generous ally. So it is for us too, when we are in right relationship, with our loved ones, our body, our work, our creative aspirations, then there are moments of peace.

As many of you know, the New Moon in sacro-magical work is the time of beginnings. It is the time when we can plant the tiny seeds of our intentions for the month, the next quarter, or even the entire year. One time honored way of “planting” is through ritual. So what seeds, what rituals are most appropriate for this particular New Moon?

Peace obviously is one good focal point. Libra, the sign of balance and harmony, chooses conversation over conflict and diplomacy over threats. Mars in Sagittarius places his discipline and drive for perfection in the areas of learning teaching, philosophy, and exposure to other ways of doing things — together these two can work beautifully especially in the areas of international relationships. Whether you are dealing with family drama or concerned about geo-political crisis, this New Moon offers a cosmic “reset” button…allowing us to change approach and strategy to create more collaboration and less strife.

Those of you dealing with court case or legal issues may find that intentions and desires that are ritualized during this New Moon carry great weight and do much to bring any legal troubles or stresses to an end. (Libra is, after all, the sign of law).

Love is another good area to explore under the aegis of this beautiful New Moon. Specifically mending and healing broken love relationships of all kinds, working towards reconciliation, and infusing fireworks and fun into already existing and solid relationships is an excellent idea.

Money/Career affairs can receive an extra dose of brilliant insight at this time due to the lovely trine between Jupiter and Uranus. If you have been stuck on a money situation or feel like the financial sector of your life needs a boost then work this alignment by giving yourself a few days around and including the New Moon to brainstorm and delve deep into your relationship to money, work, and abundance. You are guaranteed to discover treasure.

Because Sagittarius has a dreamy, wildly psychic and creative side, this New Moon is quite good for sign and synchronicity watching as well. If you have been waiting for the right time to ask the universe for a sign, this period would is hard to beat!

Two good divination questions to ask during this beautiful black moon are:
Where in my life and/or what in my life needs peace now?
How can I provide or make space for that peace?

 

Wishing you deep, meaningful, peace,

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PS: Don’t forget that registration for Three Ways of Wisdom closes on 9/22. If you want to take a tarot class with me this year, this is the class and now is the time!

The Introverted Aries and other Astrological Anomalies

Dear Miracles,

An introverted Aries.
A Taurus who is chatty.
A shy Gemini.
Cancers that never dream.
A Leo who prefers to be NOT in the spotlight.
Disorganized Virgos.
The Libran who doesn’t get along…with anyone.
Mainstream Scorpios.
The Sagittarius who likes to stay home.
Capricorns who aren’t competitive.
Aquarians who are decidedly not social.
Loud-mouth Pisceans.

Sure, these are not the typical descriptions for each sun sign, but I have met folks who fit with each description. I’m often told by a client…this is my sun sign, but it doesn’t fit me, I’m nothing like that! Maybe so and maybe no. The whole point of astrology, really the whole point of any sacred art, is that we are not reducible. We cannot be reduced to our genes, our address, our education, our family, our talents or our weaknesses.

The whole is always greater than the parts.

That’s what astrology teaches. So does tarot. Both disciplines should encourage an aerial view…one that opens up and expands on possibilities, not a view that leaves you feeling trapped in a category that doesn’t work and doesn’t resonate.

More love.

More possibility.

More promise.

Never less.

This is how we heal

Love Amongst the Ruins by Edward Burne-Jones

No sooner did I start pondering this month’s lunar letter, than it occurred to me that healing would have to be its theme. For the Full Moon shines down on us from Pisces, and the Fish is the healer of the zodiac, ruling over the 12th house of our charts, the area where we confront once and for all the beliefs, traumas, ideas, and habits that cut, wound, and tie us down, leaving us feeling broken, scarred, and scared.

Healing is a word we bandy about with the best of intentions. How many times have we heard it said that we need to heal, or that we need to be open to healing, or that what is needed now is healing? All of that is fine and good, but we may wonder, after years of healing, and perhaps even after little or no results: is it even possible to heal? What does it mean to heal?

We might turn to the icon of the Sacred Heart for help. Here we have the familiar heart symbol, but there is a fountain of fire pluming from within the heart’s division, and the heart is encircled with lines of radiance, or sometimes wings. When we see it in its radiant glory, we may easily forget that the shine and radiance is that of a heart and spirit that has been to hell and back.

In image and imagination every possible wound has been inflicted on the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart speaks to the scarred heart — pierced by a thousand swords, cut by a thousand pieces of glass, wrapped in rusty barbed wire and a crown of thorns — and sometimes, at first, we think that those scars are something to hide from the world, something to keep quiet, keep covered up.

The Sacred Heart speaks also the scared heart, afraid because we know we can be harmed, frightened of our worst dreams coming true, scared that the wounds Pisces asks us to face cannot ever, really, be healed. Experiencing the traumas to body and spirit that cut so deep, the ideas that bind us to a limited view of life and love, the habits that keep us from not just living life, but living life well, we are afraid that we will only ever be broken.

Fleeing from our pain, we will reach out for healing far away from the scars and brokenness, to cover it up, to be free of it. But to flee from our condition in this way is to flee from what makes us sensitive and alive, from what transcends and supports our own mortality. To the Sacred Heart, those salves and remedies for which we reach are a mirage: the greatest healing power comes from within the very darkness and brokenness of our condition, just as a lily flower blossoms from out of the muck. To the Sacred Heart, what we call broken shards and scars are for it the crown jewels which bedeck and bedazzle.

The Sacred Heart will not be covered up nor will it be silenced. Like a phoenix rising up out of the ashes, it shines through fear and a forest of scars and the clothing that we wear and the protections that we weave about ourselves. None of these matter to Sacred Heart for it is made to shine. And so it does. It shines out in radiant splendor, saying:

My blessedness is in and among the broken, ever, and always.

Daily Practice and Dancing Planets

Daily Practice and Dancing Planets

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Dear Miracles,

As we usher in September I am preparing for my favorite season — Autumn — with the celebrations, the remembering of our ancestors, the magic making, and pumpkin everything! I find that September, at least after the first week when we get into the swing of school time rhythms, is a wonderful month to assess and remember where we are, what we are committed to, and what we are doing with ourselves in our sacred arts work.

To me the best place to begin this investigation is to look at our daily practices — what practices are speaking to us strongly, resonating more often than not, and what practices feel dull, lifeless, and no longer vital? Right now taking the time to ask these questions is especially appropriate because we have two potent retrogrades happening in the heavens — both Uranus and Neptune are retrograde. Uranus will be retrograde until Winter Solstice and Neptune is retrograde through November 16th.

Longtime readers know that I often say that the key to working with a retrograde rhythm is to remember to “re”. Re-member. Re-assess. Re-structure. Re-view, You get the idea. The specific planets that are in retrograde provide us with a focus for all of this “re” activity. So in the case of Neptune, the planet that is attuned most potently to memory, intuitive knowing, psychic skills, deep feeling, and powerful dreaming, we can look at our daily practices and ask about these elements. Are they absent or present? Is there a way that they can be better honored in our daily rites?

Uranus in some ways is a polar opposite of Netpune but they are both planetary forces adept at walking and working between the worlds. In the case of Uranus (whose name means “heaven” in Ancient Greek) the key idea is visionary. Whereas Neptune looks back, Uranus looks forward and asks, what is possible here, now, going forward? Mercury is often aligned with intellect and intellectual capacity as well as successful travel and skills of mediation. Some find it helpful to conceive of Uranus as Mercury writ large — so that our inner brilliance is called forth, travel takes on a deeper meaning, and we each have the opportunity to mediate between heaven and earth. When Uranus retrogrades we have the chance to look at our daily practice and ask: where is the brilliance here? What travels, what adventures am I open to at this time? What am I mediating on a daily basis? Are my ties to the celestial and terrestrial strong and sure? If not, what blessing way might help with that?

People often ask me what a daily practice looks like. Well first and foremost it is something you do DAILY. Not weekly, not monthly, not once a year when you feel like it/remember it, but daily. Because consistency is the key to deepening your sacro-magical work we want our daily practice to be accessible. If you only have ten minutes a day to dedicate to your sacred art then let’s make those ten minutes count! Everyone has a different way of creating their daily practice, but here are some key components I find helpful to keep in mind:

1.) Stillness and Silence. If there is only one thing you can do let it be this. To be still and to be quiet—even for a couple of minutes—it is like a power nap! It leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to go forward with clarity.

2.) Prayer/Blessing. Blessing our selves, our precious bodies, minds, and spirits, and blessing those we love allows us to commune with what we most revere. To expand upon this consider blessing the home in the morning when you awake and in the evening before bedtime.

3.) Communion. With your guides, your allies, the Divine, or your own inner knowing. Communion often looks like stillness and silence but it is different in feel and technique because communion is actually listening closely and carefully.

Two possible additions to make to these guidelines at this time, given the dance between Neptune and Uranus would be active imagination journeys (mediating between this world and the worlds beyond in honor of Uranus) and developing or re-developing an intuitive sacred art like tarot in honor of Neptune..

And now Miracles, it is your turn! Tell me what aspects of your daily practice are running strong and/or what snags have come up for you all.

Happy September and Happy Practice! 

Breaking for Beauty (and summertime fun)

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Dear Miracles,

Hello, hello gorgeous readers! Just a quick note to let you all know that I am taking a wee break from maintaining the blog so that I can fully squeeze the juice out of summer! I am still available for consultations and customized ritual work and will be teaching an intensive on Diagnostic Tarot for one week in June. In the meantime catch me on facebook or twitter…and of course my lunar letters will go out as normally scheduled!