Why magic for your self isn't always effective

I was asked by someone why magic he was doing for himself was less effective. He told me that that until recently the magic done for himself had worked fine, but that then suddenly became less effective. He wondered if it was because he had put a shield up or if the magic was less effective because it as an attempt to avoid self sabotage. Finally he asked what could be done when your magic seemed less effective.

I don't know the specifics of what he was trying to do with his magical work, but some thoughts did come to mind, based on my own experiences and helping other people diagnose issues they are having with their magical practice. I find that when a person isn't getting a result or their magic is less effective, its usually because they are self-sabotaging in some way. They may not really want what they think they want. Or they may not feel they are worthy of what they want. Additionally there may be some internal resistance because what they want goes against some moral or ethical code.

How Magic can help with Executive Dysfunction

The other day on the Magical Experiments Facebook page one of my commenters asked whether or not magic could help with executive dysfunction. I asked her to explain what executive dysfunction was because I'd never heard of the term before, and she explained the following,

"Executive dysfunction is a term for the range of cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties which often occur after injury to the frontal lobes of the brain. Impairment of executive functions is common after acquired brain injury and has a profound effect on many aspects of everyday life."

"It is often associated with ADHD and other similar disorders. It is basically a clinical form of struggling to initiate any tasks, even every day ones. It's a bit like putting the key into your car's ignition and turning it, hearing the engine struggle to start again and again. Even if you really, really want to, you just can't get yourself to initiate anything."

How to understand magic intellectually and spiritually

The other day on the Magical Experiments Facebook page, a commenter summed up his challenge with magic by sharing, "I'm trying to find an intellectual understanding along with a spiritual understanding of it without losing myself to it."

I think this is a challenge many people experience on their journey with magic as a spiritual practice. We can try to define magic as a set of practical techniques or describe it as a way to exercise our will, but at a certain point, in my experience, you move beyond such definitions when you recognize that magic moves and shapes the practitioner as much as the practitioner seeks to move and shape it.

Sometimes you just have to let go

Recently I binge watched the last season of 12 Monkeys and as a result I had this dream of a time paradox I was trying to solve and every time I thought I solved it, it would change and I would try to solve it again. Finally I came to a point where I realized it couldn't be solved and that the only solution was to let go. Yet it was such a hard decision, because letting go went counter to everything telling me I could solve this time paradox. But the longer I kept trying to solve something the harder it was.

So eventually I let go. I stopped trying to solve the time paradox, the problem, and just moved on. And when I did that, the dream ended. The stress went away. The problem was solved.

The Elemental Balancing Ritual Stability Month 9

6-24-2018 I think one challenge people have with stability is the ideal that stability is illusory. I can appreciate that perspective, because in truth the trappings of stability are illusory. Under the right circumstances everything can be taken away. But those are the trappings. Real stability comes from within and its not about being in one place or having everything work out just fine. It's really about being able to adjust and adapt to whatever situation comes your way and still keep some sense of purpose and drive. 

I've had to learn a lot about this in the last 9 months to a year. So much has changed externally, and I've had to adjust and adapt and also find myself all over again. I'm still finding myself in some ways. There are days where it is really hard, and yet gradually the coal is being polished to a diamond, the facets are being revealed, and I'm discovering what really matters. As hard as everything has been, I actually see what happened as a blessing, because its forced me to re-evaluate what matters to me and ask myself what I really want. 

How to break your magical workings into steps

When I look at a given magical ritual or working or spell I can break it down into steps. It may not be written that way, but realistically a magic spell or ritual is a set of step by step instructions that you are using for the purposes of doing some type of spiritual work. And when you approach you own magical work that way and organize it into specific steps it can help you get perspective on what you're doing and start seeing the underlying process of magic.

The Process of Magic is now Available

My newest book, The Process of Magic: A Guide to How Magic Works is now available.

The Process of Magic was originally a class I taught I took the 26 lessons, plus some bonus material and converted it into a book.

In The Process of Magic, we explore how magic works and what you can do to improve your magical workings as a result. I also show you how to troubleshoot existing magical workings. The goal of the book is to help you create a stable foundation for your magical practice.

How to turn your Memorization into Ritual

For the last half year I've been memorizing a ritual. What that process has looked like is I would spend a week memorizing the lines for one particular segment of the ritual and making sure I really had those lines memorized. Then I would move on to the next segment. In the midst of this memorization I also ended up modifying the ritual and adding some additional lines of my own, so those also needed to be memorized and integrated into the working. I needed to get a feel for how what I added fit into what already existed.

8 Book Reviews

Book Review: Lessons Learned from Occult Letters by William G. Gray

This gem of a book was recently republished and it features letters William G. Gray received from one of his mentors, as well as commentary from Gray about the contents of the letters. For that reason alone this book is valuable because it offers a bit of history and perspective. But what else makes this content so valuable are the insights hidden in the letters and commentary. For someone new to magic they are extremely important, but even the seasoned practitioner will get a lot from the book. It's certainly a book I will read again and again and each time I have no doubt fresh perspectives and insights will yield themselves. 

Elemental Balancing Ritual Stability Month 8

5-24-2018 I finished reading Lessons Learned from Occult Letters today. My first reading of it anyway. Its one of those books I'll come back to and read again because of the insights offered in it. You can learn some profound perspectives from something which seems basic on the surface but actually goes much deeper underneath. It's why there are some books I come back to again and again because one reading is simply not enough. I think when you can choose to spend time with something, go deep with it, what it can offer you is a not just a brief moment, but a part of the path you walk.

5-27-2018 I've been reading Letters of Light, which were letters written by William G. Gray to one of his students. I think what I find most relevant in these letters is that they speak in some ways to my own changing circumstances. I have pretty much withdrawn from active participation in the occult/Pagan community and my reasons for doing that have primarily been a realization that I need to focus less on what's happening around me and more on the spiritual work I'm doing and the writing that goes with it. That change in focus will likely result in a couple more changes along those lines. It's ironic because I've done the author schtick and I'll continue to write books, but the author schtick itself doesn't matter so much any more. It's more about the work and the writing and giving myself over to that work in complete trust of where it can take me on my spiritual journey.

Elemental Balancing Ritual Stability Month 7

4-23-2018 Today I was sitting with a feeling of embarrassment and humiliation that I felt and I read When Things Fall Apart and it was the right reading for the moment, because she talks about that moment of feeling squeezed, of feeling like a failure and that's the moment when your mind opens up, if we allow it to. And I felt that way, and yet in that moment of embracing it, I then felt this deeper acceptance of myself, this deeper sense of stability. Yes I'm feeling this way because of x, y, and z. And yes being in the moment can be hard, to feel a sense of shame is never easy, yet embracing that feeling is also liberation. You aren't bound to that shame, instead you use it to free yourself of the narrative.

How Chi and the Human Biome interact

One of my current magical projects is the expansion of my work with the human biome*. One of the explorations of this work focuses on the connection between Chi (energy) and the human biome and how Chi can be used to communicate with the human biome (and how the human biome may already be using Chi to communicate). In this short article I thought I would share some of my thoughts and experiences, as much to organize these ideas into written form as to share them with anyone who cares to read them. 

What made me first think of the connection between Chi and the human biome is that the cells of the body actually use the metabolic processes and energy released by those processes to communicate with each other. While that communication is radically different from our own understanding of what communication is, it nonetheless is something that happens in our bodies everyday.

Elemental Balancing Ritual Stability Month 6

3-23-2018 In Nine Poisons, Nine Medicines, Nine Fruits the author talks about how self-images define us and create karmic patterns, and how in turn a fixation on an image of success can distract us from being truly present with what you're doing. And I'm inclined to agree. I think a lot of the enjoyment I might have experienced with various activities got sucked away by getting focused on certain images of success. Since those images are no longer relevant, I've experienced a deeper, and more open enjoyment of my writing and magical work than I've experienced in years. There is nothing to be recognized for, nothing to live up to and so all images fall away to leave in place a more open and vulnerable experience.

And she reminds me that inevitably a person experiences loss, disappointment and failure. It's simply a reality of life, but how you adapt to it and learn from it...that's your choice. I think what I've learned from the last six months is how to deal with experiencing a crushing disappointment by resiliently adapting and learning from it. Of late, I've just been feeling more open to the fear I wake up with each day and it somehow has become I can just be more gracefully present with. I can relax into it, work through it, accept it, instead of resisting it and creating tension. And I can work with that because I'm not fixated any longer on trying to achieve some standard of success. When success doesn't matter, life suddenly becomes a lot easier to live because you can adapt to the moment and roll with the circumstances and continue on your journey. And that's where I'm at, just rolling with the circumstances, adapting each day to each situation that comes up and seeing where it takes me.

Elemental Balancing Ritual Stability Month 5

2-22-2018 I've started reading Nine Poisons, Nine Medicines, Nine Fruits by Shabhavi Sarasvati. It speaks to me. I was reading about the first poison, which is self concern at the expense of others, and I could relate to it because sometimes, many times, that's been me. I've been so focused on my own needs or issues or whatever else and have focused on fulfilling them without really considering the impact I'd have on other people. This is something I've been changing as a result of reading and working through Brene Brown's work, but it nonetheless is a good reminder to me that it is something to be aware of.

What the author reminds me of is that self-concern comes at the expense of other people, because self-concern is about validation of yourself through the interactions you have with others, without necessarily recognizing their worth. Sometimes I've been that person and sitting with that is good because I can recognize it as a pattern of tension in my life and continue undoing it.

7 Book Reviews

Book Review: The Physics of Angels by Mathew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

This is a fascinating book which explores the mythos of Angels and relates the description of Angels to contemporary Physics. I enjoyed learning more about the mythology of Angels, though I did find the physics metaphor to be a bit of a stretch. Thankfully they focused mostly on them mythology of the Angels, and specifically in regards to three classic perspectives on Angels via Dionysus the Areopagite, St. Augustine and Hildegarde of Bingen. I found the quotes and commentary to be interesting in relationship to understanding Angels, but would note that the focus of this book was Christiancentric and didn't really represent any other perspective on Angels from Quabalah or Islam. That said, if you're interested in learning more about Angels, this is a useful book to read.

Book Review: Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Do you ever feel like life is too complicated or like you're going in too many directions at once? If so, you need to read this book. The author does an excellent job of portraying the discipline of the essentialist, the person who only focuses on what is essential and eliminates the non-essential in the process. In this book the author shows what the difference is between the essential and non-essential and provides suggestions on how to implement essentialism in your life. I've found it to be very helpful in my own life as I've been undergoing changes, and I recommend this book to anyone who feels like life is overwhelming and complicated.

Book Review: The 7 Secrets of the Prolific by Hillary Rettig

The 7 Secrets of the Prolific is an excellent book for writers who have writer's block or have troubles with procrastination. The author does an excellent job of exploring what stops people from writing and helping them figure out what actions to take. Even for someone who is prolific, this book will have some valuable insights. I found it helpful for recognizing some behaviors that have stopped me from being as productive with my writing as I'd like. She also does a good job of exploring the realities of being a published author and how to think of your writing as a business. If you want to be more productive with your writing check this book out. 

Book Review: Western Inner Workings by William. G. Gray

This is another excellent by William G. Gray that explores the inner workings of Western Mystery traditions. It's as comprehensive book that explores a number of salient issues, such as sacred kingship, the function of ceremonial tools, mediation and ties all of them together in a way that enables the reader to go deep with Western Mystery traditions, while also developing their own cosmological models. I've found this book to be very useful in some of my own ongoing work and would recommend it as well as Gray's other books to anyone serious about developing their magical practice.

Book Review: Welcome to your World by Sarah Williams Goldhagen

Welcome to your world is an intriguing book which explores how the environment we build around us affects us, as well as how we navigate that reality. What I find really fascinating is how the author integrates cognitive and bodily experiences into the book so that we're not just looking at the environment, but also our own place in space. If you want to understand space, building designs, or how you navigate the world around this is an excellent book to read because it provides you a way to look at your environment from a unique perspective and consider how you situate yourself in the world around you as well as how bring good design into your life and improve your circumstances as a result.

Book Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is a must read book for any artist, writer, musician or creative. What I like about it is that author walks you through the life of being a writer, the challenges and the joys and reminds us that any creative act is really a communion with the divine, with the writer as the mediator. Reading this book helped me re-examine my writing practice in terms of how I approach and appreciate the ideas that come to me. I would highly recommend this book to any successful and aspiring writer.

Memory, Embodiment and Exercise

In the last couple of months I've been memorizing some chants for some work I'm doing with the Elemental Archangels. The purpose of memorizing the chants is to embed and embody specific associations with the archangels and the correspondences that they mediate. By memorizing the chants, I'm not just learning the words, but also developing an understanding of what those words represent and creating and deepening my connection with the archangels.

I find that memorization is a skill that isn't always appreciated in magical work. The idea of memorizing correspondences or chants can seem like a lot of tedious work, from a surface perspective. The value of memorizing chants and correspondences is that its actually a process that allows you to intimately connect and get to know what you are working with.

Elemental Balancing Ritual Stability Month 4

1-23-2018 In the power of TED The author shares that how you approach life creates the experience you have and that makes sense. I can recognize when I'm approaching my life as a victim or as a creator and how I feel in both situations. I think the real takeaway, emphasized as much by other things I've been reading, is pick the problems that best serve your outcome. And that only happens when you define your outcome. I've been redefining my outcomes in a couple areas of life and I already see some key differences that are helping me be much more productive and happy. 

1-24-2018 I had a 2 hour conversation with another of Gray's students. It was fascinating to hear more stories about Gray, but also to discuss my ongoing magical work as well as learning about that student's working. I felt another connection click into place through that discussion and I'm very excited to continue the relationship and perhaps collaboration as well. Finding like minded magicians who get my work on a deep level and have a shared spiritual foundation is truly exciting.

The Creative Genius as a Spirit

One of the books I'm currently reading, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear offers an intriguing idea about the nature of creative genius. The author shares that the ideas a person gets and acts on are the result of the genius, but the genius is a spirit working through you.

Kind of like A Genius Locii (a spirit of place), but instead its a spirit of creativity.

I think its an intriguing way to look at one's own sense of genius, because instead of claiming something as you're own, you acknowledge its a gift that's been given to you, an offering that you've been allowed to express (should you take it up). It's an opportunity to be humble and recognize how your creativity is inspired.