Recently I was having a conversation with a friend about results and consequences. Often times in practical magic workings we focus on the results that we want to achieve, but what isn't always considered are the consequences that come with the results. Yet consequences are a natural reality of a result. The problem that happens is that the result is treated as a point of closure. You've created and executed the magical working and then the result has occurred and that's the end of the story. But is it?
5-26-17 I had a dream this morning. In the dream was the dark haired, dark eyed woman that had shown up in a couple previous visions. She showed me an alternate life, where I didn't have a lot of stability. I traveled a lot and did work I didn't like and I had no deep connections. As she told me, it was really about showing me what a life without stability would be like. Afterwards I felt this radiating sense of fear in my chest and I sat with it for a while. It's that fear of being too stable, which may seem off, but when you've lived a life where much of it has been chaotic, it can actually feel strange to have stability. It makes me realize again what the next element needs to be, but also what I can do to use stillness to work on that feeling of fear of stability.
In my own magical practice I'm a real stickler for details. The reason is because I like to figure out what is working and how it's working (or conversely what isn't working). Not everyone feels this way about magic. Sometimes I'll hear people say that it doesn't matter how magic works, as long as it produces a result. I always find this response (and variants of it) to be fascinating and perplexing. "Why wouldn't you want to know how something works?" is one of the questions that I ask, along with another one, "What do you do if your magical working doesn't work or produce the results you were going after?"
I never really get a satisfactory answer to those questions.
I find that a lot of people think of magic as something you actively are doing, but sometimes the way magic works has more to do with being in tune with the flow of possibilities into reality and allowing the right possibilities to come through. What does that really mean?
I look at it in this way. Yes, sometimes the magical work involves taking action, but sometimes it involves being in a situation and recognizing how to make that situation work for you, even when it seems to be stacked against you.
Did you miss an episode of the magical experiments podcast in May? Here are all the episodes.
Magical Experiments podcast: Magical Activism Pt 4 with David Salisbury and Mat Auryn
Magical Experiments podcast: Paganism and consent with Shauna Aura Knight and Katessa Harkey
Magical Experiments podcast: Building and Maintaining Sacred Space with Ivo Dominguez Jr
Magical Experiments podcast: Conflict and Community with Crystal Blanton
Book Review: The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene
This is a fascinating book which explores the various theories about parallel universes and uses modern physics to examine the veracity of those theories. The author does an excellent job of walking readers through the physics and exploring the viability of the various theories. Whether you enjoy physics or are just curious about the universe, this is a good book to read, which will provoke some thoughts and ponderings to be savored.
4-24-17 This prior weekend I went to a spiritual retreat lead by R.J. Stewart, where we explored the Further Path...basically a Faery teaching. It was profound work and it seemed like the right time in terms of matching up with some of the changes I'm feeling internally. There's this feeling of movement...and a sense of stillness coming to an end...or maybe just a transition. There will always be stillness work to do, but ho do you come out of stillness? That's really what I'm gravitating toward at the moment. It's like this slow awakening and stretching is happening.
Whether you're building a public spiritual community or a private one, there's a couple of factors you want to consider that will help you build your spiritual community and make sure its a healthy one. In this video I share what those factors are and how to strategically approach them so you can build your spiritual community.
The other day I got into a conversation with an acquaintance who said they wanted to be successful with magic. I asked them to define success and they told me that to them success was using intention to create manifestation. It sounded like a lot of new age fluff and the problem is that it basically is new age fluff. Words like intention and manifestation have become ambiguous words that say very little while sounding very buzzy. In the defense of my acquaintance, this was a person just starting out on their magical journey. When I explained that they needed to be more specific in defining success with magic, they had trouble because they didn't know what it looked like.
The other day I was asked why so many rules of magic are made up, especially if they aren't needed. And the answer to that question really comes down to this: What is the underlying motivation for making up any rule?
The answer is power, or control, or some variant.
Did you miss an episode of magical experiments in April? Here are all the episodes, for your enjoyment!
Magical Experiments Podcast: The Magic of Poetry with Bethany Moore
Magical Experiments podcast: The Aesthetics of Magic with Rune Emerson
Magical Experiments Podcast: How to take care of yourself spiritually with Bill Duvendack
If you want to learn more about Gnosticism...
Gnostic Wisdom Network www.gnosticwisdom.net
Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio
Gnosticism: From Nag Hammadi to the Gospel of Judas: The Great Courses (Dr. David Brakke)
Gnostic Society Library: http://gnosis.org
Introduction to "Gnosticism": Ancient Voices, Christian Worlds by Nicola Denzy Lewis
Book Review: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
This book came into my life at the right time. The author shares the core skills of whole-hearted people and how any person can learn those skills. This is a book I would recommend to anyone because it teaches you how to to bring joy into you life and change who you are as a result, in a way that truly will make you a happier and more whole hearted person.
Book Review: One small step can change your life by Robert Maurer
Big isn't always better and this book explains why that is. The author makes a persuasive case for why trying to make big changes can cause you fear, anxiety, and stop you in your tracks, while if you make small changes it can actually help you build momentum and make it easier for you to reach your big goals, because you're getting around your Amygdala. I've applied some of the ideas in this book to my clients and my work and it has made a huge difference in both cases.
3-23-17 One of the most pivotal lessons my work with stillness has taught me is to stop looking outside myself for completion. Stop looking toward a job, a lover, friends, etc., because when you do that, it never satisfies you and objectifies the people. With romantic love, we're sold a myth that you can find that one true love, or multiple loves that can somehow complete us and know us. But no one can know you the way you know yourself...and yet many people do not know themselves. This is one of the challenges of internal work: It forces us to really know ourselves and to recognize that any sense of completion must come from our own ability to resolve the internal tensions in our lives, and as a result discover the true liberation of the self from all the conditioning and patterns we've previously lived with.
I've been working with the element of stillness for 2 and a half years, via daily meditations and internal work. The stillness work is part of the elemental balancing ritual that I've used to create a dedicated system of internal work, which I've been implementing in my life since 2004! Today I thought I would share why I've worked with Stillness for so long and share a stillness working with you. Check out the video:
I've lately been on a bit of a simplicity kick with my magical practice, and part of that has involved going back to basics. It may seem odd that a magician with 20 plus years experience would go back to basics. After all, don't I already know this material? And the answer is yes, and yet also no. You see, I think one of the traps I see magicians fall into is one where you take for granted what you know. And actually this happens outside of magic. If you meet an "expert" in a field they know what they know and they sometimes take it for granted. So I want to share with you 5 reasons for going back to the basics and how doing that can help you become a better magician.
What you know becomes its own prison.
And if you enjoy these episodes, please donate to the magical experiments fundraiser. Your donations allow us to continue putting shows liek these on, for the next year.
Magical Experiments podcast: The Aesthetics and process of magic with Taylor Ellwood
Magical Experiments podcast: Magical Activism Pt 1 with Crystal Blanton, Jacki Chucalate, and Felix Warren
Magical Experiments podcast: Magical Activism Pt 2 with Tallah Hovisdottir and Katessa Harkey
Magical Experiments podcast: Magical Activism Pt 3 with Shauna Aura Knight and Joseph Robicheaux
Book Review: Inner Traditions of Magic by William G. Gray
This is an excellent, must read book on magic. In it Gray walks readers through a number of magical operations and shows you how to take those operations apart and work with them. I like the depth of theory he explores and find that his approach really makes magic easier to understand. I will note that his writing style does tend to be ponderous at times, but if you stick with it, you will get a lot from his work and be able to significantly improve your own magical practice.
In this case study, I share a recent working I did with Glasya-Labolas that shows how focusing on the influence aspect of a spirit can produce great results. To learn more, watch the video below.
2-23-17 What stillness teaches me in the moment is how to recognize when I'm putting myself in a situation where I need to take a moment and ask myself if the course of action I'm engaging in is the best choice. It's also helping me step back and recognize feelings of irritation and frustration I feel in everyday situations such as driving. I hadn't realized how often I've felt those feelings until I started practicing my stillness work in everyday situations, but recognizing those feelings also helps me realize I need to be consciously aware of how those feelings show up, so I can work through them, instead of reacting to them. I would rather be consciously aware of them and be able to sit with them, than just react because I'm feeling them.
3-3-17 I was reading the Gifts of Imperfection while vending at NEWTS. She brought up some really important perspectives that helped me understand some of my issues around positive emotion. She discussed the importance of a gratitude practice...and I'm going to start doing that everyday because I see some real value in taking a moment to state what you're grateful for. And as the author points out, it can enhance the joy in your life. She also makes a distinction between joy and happiness, noting that happiness is situational, while joy comes from a deeper place, but also how vulnerable a person can feel with joy, because it can also bring up a fear of loss. I realize that's what has stopped me from sometimes stepping into my joy more fully, that fear of loss...you can feel so vulnerable that you try to find some way to shut down that feeling.
That's been me sometimes...and realizing that's why is helping me approach my positive experiences and feelings from a different place, one where I'm allowing myself to be vulnerable and work through whatever fears arise so I can step into the moment and let it be what it can be.
3-6-17 I've been paying closer attention to who I am and what I'm feeling. I guess what that really means is that instead of putting on masks for myself, I'm taking them off, so I can really be present in the moment. I may still put on a mask for someone else, but the days of not paying attention to what's going on internally are over. Stillness has given me that gift.
3-8-17 I was feeling some anxiety today around the work I'm doing. It seems like every time I'm close to finishing it up, I discover another layer that needs to be factored in. And then I worry...will this even work? I can choose to listen to those fears, express them and/or use them to motivate me. I can also be still with them and get to the real heart of the matter, which is about worthiness. I'm choosing to do some of those actions today and reminding myself that it's my first time doing this work and that I'm not just doing it, but learning how I can do it better the next time I do it. So be patient and dedicated and iterate.
3-9-17 Yesterday I was telling Kat that I want to help people through my content. I want people to get value out of what I create as opposed to having people try and get value out of me. when I used to have much worse boundaries than I have now, I wouldn't always recognize when people were coming into my orbit with ulterior motives. I've gotten better at paying attention to the details, and also recognizing that what I want to give people is the gift of my experiences and knowledge, but also have the right boundaries in place for myself.
3-15-17 When you can talk with someone about what is uncomfortable, and settle into the conversation, it brings with it, its own form of stillness. I've only recently discovered how to be comfortable talking about uncomfortable subjects, with someone. Seems odd that its taken me so long, but given how guarded I've been my entire life, maybe not so much. Relaxing into the stillness of the moment is what liberates you to discuss what needs to be talked about.
3-21-17 This month has really been about details. What stillness is teaching me about details is how to be present with them, without letting them get to me. I look at all this work I'm doing right now for my businesses and my life and there's this feeling of readiness...The details are getting attended to so that I can make that move out of stillness into wherever I need to go. And this makes me glad I devoted a 3rd year to Stillness. I needed to get to this place with Stillness (and a bit further) in order to go to the next step of my spiritual journey and life. That's the value of Stillness. It helps you stop long enough to figure out where you need to go instead of continuing to react. You break out of the patterns and start developing your own.
Hello magical experimenters,
Update: The magical Experiments podcast fundraiser is closed! We reached our goal. Thank you to everyone for the support. Tune in on Monday 4/24 where I'll be thanking everyone who contributed.
I'm doing a fundraiser for the magical experiments podcast. I'm seeking to raise $399 to cover the costs of the podcast. The $399 will be used to pay for the Blogtalkradio premium account, which allows me to schedule shows at premium times (for example 6pm) and for longer than a half hour at a time, which is important because our shows usually run an hour in length.
If you've been listening to the show, you know we've covered a variety of topics including pop culture magic, social justice magic, working with spirits, space/time magic, and much, much more. We've also had a number of guests including Frater Barrabbas, Benebell Wen, Felix Warren, Rune Emerson and many other quality guests who have offered their wisdom and ideas about magic.
The benefit for the community is that it allows me to continue creating great programming that you don't find anywhere else. We don't just talk about magic on this podcast. A lot of our shows also focus on social justice issues in the Pagan community as well as mainstream community. Additionally instead of just interviewing authors, I bring on different people with different experiences, not all of them well-known so that a variety of voices and perspectives are shared.
Your donations support this mission and allows me to continue doing the podcast and offering it to the magical and pagan community at large.
If you've gotten value from the podcast, if you've enjoyed the shows, please donate. Your donations support the podcast and programming I put together.
And if you donate, I have some special offers as a way of saying thanks.
Donate $1 and you have my thanks and appreciation.
Donate $5 and I will do a livestream where I personally thank you for your support.
Donate $10 and I will write an article about a topic of your choice.
Donate $15 and I will give you a one card tarot reading to one question you have.
Donate $35 and I will give you an autographed copy of one of my books.
Donate $50 and I will give you a half-hour Tarot consultation.
Donate $60 and you'll get your choice of either the mad science + Magic = Magical Experiments t-shirt or the Evil Eyes t-Shirt
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When you donate, I'll contact you privately to thank you and set up arrangements.
And again thanks for your support.
Here's a graphic that shows where we currently are with our donations:
Thought I would share an update on my current writing projects: Pop Culture Magic Systems and Alchemy of Life
Did you miss an episode of magical experiments in February? All the shows are below.
Magical Experiments podcast: The alchemical balance of positivity and negativity with Bill Duvendack
Book Review: Advanced Magical Arts by R. J. Stewart
Advanced Magical Arts is a follow up to Living Magical Arts, with a particular focus on visualization, ritual and mediation and how these techniques can be used in conjunction with each other as well as what precautions to take when employing them. The author does a good job of explaining the techniques and showing how they can be used to develop a system of magic. I also like that he includes some sample workings in his tradition that you can use to implement these techniques. I found it easy to take the concepts shared and employ in my own workings and systems of magic. I recommend this book as a good resource to learn more about these techniques.
1-25-17 The other day I attended a lecture about Gurdijieff's work. It was quite fascinating, especially when the person giving the lecture talked about a person's actions were essentially just reactions to everything that had had influenced the person. While my initial response was to be skeptical, when I considered the idea, I found it made sense in a way. When I look at all my choices, there's a history behind those choices and there's environmental factors. It doesn't take away from my responsibility for those choices, but recognizing that your choices aren't solely based on internal motivations can be helpful...It's too easy to take on so much responsibility that you ignore the other factors. There's a balance to be struck and when it is, it can help a person with internal work in a way that actually helps produce genuine conscious change that can be acted on.
1-29-17 I had a couple of interesting dreams last night. In the first dream Jim N, an old roommate showed me a videoclip with the title, "Now isn't this awkward". In the video clip Richard Nixon and Jim's dad were walking very closely next to each other and Richard Nixon looked uncomfortable. Not sure what the dream means though I suppose in some ways its a comment on the current regime in power. The second dream was much more involved. This family tried to steal my car, but I wouldn't let them and then it turned out their son had a spiritual illness, so I offered to look him over and help him out. Both dreams were very vivid (hey normally aren't) so I felt I should record them and consider them.
2-2-17 I was reading the section in the Gifts of Imperfection about perfectionism. I don't think of myself as a perfectionist, per se, but I do recognize certain traits that have shown up in my thinking, especially when I tell myself where I "should be" as opposed to where I am. One of the gifts of the stillness work has really involved learning to accept where I am with grace and compassion toward myself as well as asking myself what the real motivation is for wanting to be in a particular place. And accepting where I am doesn't mean I stop doing the work, but what it does mean is I stop holding myself to impossible standards and instead celebrate the journey while continuing on it.
2-8-17 Had dinner with Felix tonight, where we got into an interesting conversation about the aesthetics of magic Something clicked into place and I realized its something I've talked about, but from a different angle, and recognizing that different angle, just made things much more interesting as a result, when I think about how and why magic works.
2-9-17 Something the last couple of years the stillness work has gradually taught me is how to be open with myself. I could never open up to anyone else, because I didn't know how to be open with myself. I was terrified to be open, in all honesty, because being open meant sitting with all the parts of me that are vulnerable and hurting, all the damage that's been done to me and yes all the damage I've done as well to myself and others. As I've opened up more, I've been able to hold space with those parts of myself and to hold space with other people as well. And what I've discovered is a gradual loosening of the fears, doubts, and shame, and a replacement of a kind of warmth that lights me from within and allows me to connect intimately to the people who matter in my life. The work is hard, but doing the work is also liberating, if you stick with it.
2-17-17 Today I meditated on my early 20's. It was prompted by coming across someone I used to know through Facebook. In my early 20's I was a clueless guy when it came to relationships. I didn't know how to handle genuine interest from other people and ended up pursuing people I knew would reject me. I would often hide my insecurity by being flirtatious because flirting was easy to do, and it kept me "safe" or so I thought. But really I just didn't know how to interact with other people. And part of me didn't feel worthy of being with other people. It was easy to chase after people who didn't want me. They just confirmed the feeling of unworthiness I already had. So today I meditated on those feelings and showed some compassion to my younger self. It made me realize how you can think you're over a period of your life and then discover that in fact there's some buried stuff you still haven't worked through.
2-20-17 In the Gifts of Imperfection the author talks about numbing and how people will engage in addictive behavior to numb their pain. That addictive behavior can be the classics of alcoholism and drugs, but can also be workaholicism...really any behavior where you're trying to avoid feeling anything. What I find fascinating is that she explains that when you seek to numb your feelings, you also numb the good feelings, joy, love, etc. And yet in meditating about it I came to see her point. When I look back at periods of my life, when I numbed myself, I ended up numbing all the feelings I had. She also points out that feelings of joy and love can make a person uncomfortable because of how vulnerable you feel and again that makes sense to me, because I've actually felt that way before in my own life. Until Kat I wasn't comfortable with feeling loved.
In my stillness work, I've found that embracing uncomfortable feelings is what leads to resolution. When you numb your feelings, you ultimately make them stronger. But when you lean into them, when you choose to feel them and be present with whatever comes up, it liberates you. And yes the bad feelings are comfortable, but sometimes the good feelings are as well. My choice to be present, to lean into and accept the feelings has played a big part in no longer numbing myself, but instead stepping into the joy and bliss of life.