internal work

How to untangle Jealousy from Creativity

I’ve been reading The Courage to be Disliked and one of the ways this book has been helping me involves how I look at creativity and jealousy. When I look at my own experience as a writer and magician I can point to moments where I have felt jealous and have reacted to that feeling in ways which really hasn’t helped my spiritual practice or my writing. But jealousy is all too easy to feel and respond to.

2018, for me, has been this huge process of coming face to face with the things in my life that serve to destabilize my work, productivity and overall life quality. And since I switched over to creativity as my element to work with that too has brought me face to face the issues that have haunted me.

Elemental Balancing Ritual Stability Month 10

7-24-2018 The other night I did the sphere of art working again, but this time, no energy flowed in to wake me up so to speak. Once I got to the meditation portion of the ritual, I asked the archangels about that and they said, "You expected it this time and we don't want there to be an expectation built into what you do with us." This made sense to me so I consider it a valuable lesson learned in relationship to this work as much as anything else.

Today I communed with Elephant. Its always part of the daily work, but I purposely made it the only thing I did with the daily work. He reminded me to take things slow and steady, to recognize that any path I go on will be a journey and not a destination. In the past I've gotten so focused on the destination that I haven't paid attention to the journey, to my own detriment so I thanked him for his wise advice.

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 to dissolve identity

In the last few months I've been engaged in a process of dissolution. It is the dissolution of identity constructs that no longer serve me and have become burdens instead of liberators. Why I've done this is because holding on to those identities becomes a form of attachment, complete with tensions that keep a person bound in stasis.

My process for dissolution has involved a combination of meditation exercises and practical exercises where I've made changes in my life.

Videogames, Emotions and Magic

Lately I've been replaying the God of War series. It's one of those videogame series that I play as a way to process emotions and solve problems. Losing myself in the game and in the character of Kratos and his own issues with rage allows me to come to a meditative space. In that space, each push of the button is mirrored in the meditation and what is presented is a space where the problem can be worked through, while the game is being played. 

Elemental Balancing Ritual Stability Month 2

11-23-2017 I've been waking up with fear and anxiety each day. And each day I've been doing the Taoist dissolving meditation and working with Elephant to be present with what I'm feeling. I've also been reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown lately and its extremely relevant because its really a book about how you come back from failing.

And something which really stands out to me is that she explains the importance of being really present with those messy, uncomfortable feelings you have around failing. She basically says we need to be curious.

How to use meditation for internal work and magic

When most people think about meditation, the first idea that comes to mind is a person trying their best to empty their mind of any thought. And no surprise here, but the idea of doing that successfully can actually be intimidating.

But while emptying your mind can be part of what meditation is about, its not the entirety of it. Sometimes its not even the purpose of the meditation. 

I've had people tell me over the years that they can't meditate, but I'd argue that any person can meditate. However there isn't a one size fits all approach to meditation.

Month 9 Elemental Balancing Ritual with Movement

Eros 6-30-2013 I've been contemplating the astrological cycle of Pluto in conjunct with my natal chart. It's become a part of my work with the element of movement, an underworld experience of sorts, but more so with movement in my life, and movement around my life and how I handle it. It's interesting how working with an element to find balance with it in your life and really to balance your life can itself be shaped by other variables. I don't know that I would really be aware of this conjunction if not for the fact that a friend told me about it, and the question that comes to mind is: If I wasn't aware of it, would it still impact me? I don't know. The conjunction is ultimately just another pattern and while I think my awareness of that pattern is a factor, I also know that awareness or lack thereof doesn't guarantee anything so much as it demonstrates what you know or don't know about a given situation. My drive to know is part of what informs the movement in my life. I want to know, and I want to share, and that inspires me toward these experiences, which can be both painful and enlightening in terms of what I learn.

7-3-13 I'm feeling off today. There's been a bit of a family crisis of late and I'm doing what I can to support the relevant people, but I also feel some fear for the people involved, a knot of anxiousness and a recognition that what I can do is limited. I'm dealing with another situation right now, where I've brought in a consultant to help me solve a problem. The consultant called me the other day and his advice wasn't promising. I felt anxious about it, but then I chanted the name of an entity I've created to help me deal with this situation and the entity told me to call him back and have him double check the information he'd given me. So I call him back, have him double check the information, and we are back on course, all because I chanted an entity's name and focused all the anxiety I was feeling toward it. And yes I get that it doesn't make rational sense, but I don't need it to make rational sense. I need it to make sense enough to achieve a different outcome and that's what it's doing. Movement isn't always about going the provincial route, but rather about finding the best route even in the most non-obvious places.

7-8-13 I've been thinking a bit about relationships because of a book I was reading which made the point that the romantic relationships we are drawn to are ones that relate to the relationships that were modeled to us as children. And I think there's truth to that. When I look at who I've been attracted to in the past as well as actual relationships I've gotten involved in, I can see certain behavioral characteristics I've been drawn to in the past, and I see how it's replicated certain cycles of behavior as a result. And until I worked through some of those cycles, I wasn't able to break out of the relationships I was getting into. Now I'm in a different relationship than I've ever been in and it's been very healthy for me and has continued to allow me to break out of those cycles, but it amazes me how until you really examine who and what you are drawn to, how easy it can be to essentially be in a similar relationship to the one your parents modeled for you.

7-9-13 Giving up trying to control something that you have limited control over can be incredibly freeing, especially when you feel the tension in your body relax as a result of choosing to let go instead of trying to hold on so hard. Repeatedly I see this lesson illustrated in the lives of people around me, but also in my own life and although it can be hard to give up that sense of control, I also find it helpful, because then I'm not worrying about it or stressing over it. I see now how my stress has really been my feeling of trying to control something and feeling that the only control I could have was to be stressed about whatever. I know this something I'll continually work on, but I also know that continuing to do it will gradually make it easier for me to let go of the pretense of control, which in turn will lead to less stress.

7-10-13 My dad's visiting for a few days. We went to the Mummy exhibit at OMSI, and then got into a discussion about history, including the family history. He's got a civil war rifle and sword that my great-great grandfather used. I'm hoping that'll he donate those weapons and the logbook to a museum. I feel that history such as that should belong to the people, and that if we contribute it to a museum then everyone can learn from it. The visit has been good so far, but I see such a difference in him. I know that at some point it will be the last time I see him. I can accept it, but still feel an odd sense of mortality, recognizing that my time with this person is very limited. I'm glad we are going to the ocean on Friday so he can see it, makes me feel good to make sure he an I have that experience together.

7-17-13 My dad headed back to South Dakota. It was a good visit, but since then I've been playing catch up and there is nothing so frustrating as if feeling that time is slipping away, especially when you feel this need to get things done. Maybe at a different time of my life I'll feel different, but there's so much I want to do.

7-20-13 I haven't been doing much lately, other than reading through the Dragonrealms series and playing the Last of Us. I spend so much time working on projects or writing that taking the occasional break to feed myself brain candy is good as a way of renewing myself. Yes it means I'm not reading or doing anything truly stupendous, but it also means I'm giving myself some down time, which isn't something I've always been good at. I am always aware of the projects I want to work on, but I also know that giving myself over to those projects requires that I also provide myself time to just...be.

Reading Dragonrealms has been interesting, because I see this gradual evolution of the writing, the characters, and the world. It's not the best fantasy writing out there, but the author does an excellent job of bringing you into the writing. I've had this series of books since it came out in the eighties and I'm glad he's writing more books in the series. As for the Last of Us...It's like a movie, wrapped up in a game that hits you with the terror of living in a post apocalyptic world, while also hitting on the relationships people have with each other and how essential those relationships are to maintaining your connection to a sense of self.

7-23-13 Something I've realized about movement, stillness, and control is that the best thing you can do is just let go and stop trying to be in control. I know I've mentioned it above, but it can't be emphasized enough, in my opinion. There are certain experiences where you just won't have that sense of control you think you have, and if you can accept that, be okay with it, you can actually discover possibilities and experiences you never would've thought of because you were so invested in a particular view of the world and your expression in it.

Elemental Balancing Ritual Movement month 5

Eros 2-21-13 I've been meditating on movement in terms of subtle movement, both mentally and physically. For example, when I meditate, how does my mind move, and what does it move to or away from? Or when I am walking or breathing what am I noticing when I move my body? How aware am I of the movement? These are good questions to ask and they are getting me to pay more attention to movements I have taken for granted. I am going over older practices and re-doing them with a conscious focus on the movement, physical or otherwise that is involved. In turn that is allowing me to experience those practices in a deeper way than I had previously done.

2-24-13 One of the realizations around grievance that I've had is the acknowledgement that I may not get the closure I want from people. This is a hard realization because it essentially involves recognizing that those people will not take responsibility in a way that I feel provides closure. I think that in and of itself this is a wound that can haunt people. I've felt that wound and I've seen it in other people. So how do you heal that wound? You know the person or people that you want closure from won't help you heal it. They don't feel any obligation to and likely don't even fully recognize what you are hurting over. In some cases they probably even take malicious joy from it. And ultimately it's not about them, it's about you and finding closure.

The best solution I have found is one where I first acknowledge the grievance for what it is and then acknowledge that I won't get the closure want from someone else. I then focus on providing myself closure by working with the grievance, allowing myself to feel it, but also to address it and my part in it. I forgive myself, which helps because I recognize that the grievance isn't just what the other person did, but also what I did and that in one sense it is a judgment I have made about myself. It is a judgment that comes from a place of unlove, and to resolve it I need to address that judgment I have made about myself. The judgment is usually a feeling of "This person was right. What they did to me/made me feel is confirmation that I am not a good person." So when I look at it in that way I recognize that I am sustaining the grievance and that ultimately I am responsible for it. What I want from the other person I can provide by providing myself closure, by recognizing that whatever the other person did wasn't a confirmation of my judgment and that my judgment comes from a place of hurt and unlove within myself.

Doing that helps provide closure. But even so there are times where you will still hurt and angry with the person. Ask yourself if you want to really continue to give that person that much power in your life. You'll likely discover that you don't want to give that person that much power and that can be motivation to continue working on the grievance you feel.

3-02-13 Took an entire day off from my businesses. It felt good to just not work on something for a while. When you are a business owner there is this sense of always needing to be on with your business, always working on it. Actually I think that's true of adults in general because just about every adult I know is always on, always working. It's like we've forgotten how to relax and just be ourselves. And maybe we really have. That's one reason I play games...it reminds me to have fun, reminds me not to always be serious or be an adult. I don't want to work all the time, and taking a day off from work is my way of preserving my sanity I love owning a business (well businesses) but working on them all the time can get a little dull. The work needs to be done and some of it can be farmed out, but how refreshing really to just step away from being responsible for one day, just to be a kid again for a while. And when I come back, the work will be there, but I will feel refreshed and ready to do it.

Beyond that, certain situations do seem to be resolving nicely. A wealth magic working I did via a sigil game is coming together nicely with multiple favorable outcomes. The one outcome that may have changed is where the Wealth magic book gets published. I'm not even done with the first draft, so I'm not really worried about it, but I've been mulling over just how different Immanion is from the larger publishers. Pantheacon showed me that when I went to a panel for one of those publishers. Maybe I'm just too idealistic or too controlling when it comes to my writing and how I think it should be presented and how I think my target audience wants it presented, but nonetheless I think there is something to be said for the presentation and what that presentation conveys to someone.

3-08-13 I wrote a long post last night about Immanion Press and what it means to me. I think it really clarified where my occult writing needs to be and why it needs to be there. As an author I recognize that choosing to stick with a small publisher may not be the best business choice, but as a writer I recognize that it is the best choice for the pursuit of my message. But beyond that I've been thinking about movement and how the movements we choose, if chosen with an open mind, can lead us to unexpected movement. For example, I've been doing some cold calling lately. I've found that going into stores is something I'm more comfortable with, because its more face to face. As I do this movement, I sit with it, get more comfortable with it and allow myself to be present with how it makes me feel but also what it opens for me. If nothing else, I'm improving my presentation skills by giving it a try.

I recently finished reading S. M. Stirlings Change series. It's a fun post apocalyptic read, but there was a point he made that got me thinking. In his dystopic world, humanity has lost modern technology and the generation after the generation that lost the tech are called changelings. The older generation doesn't know what to make of the changelings and the changelings in turn think of the older generation as one that seems more focused on observing itself as opposed to just being and doing. And that insight interests me because I think there is some truth to it. Technology makes life easier, but it also makes life much more distant. People can hide behind screens and watch the world go by without really interacting with it. I write that with a sense of irony as I'm typing this message into a screen, but I do think that just watching the world go by, getting sucked into T.V., computers, and mobile devices isn't doing us any favors. It makes avoiding living easier. It's probably why I am so resistant to technology overall. I see it as an intrusion of sorts, even as I ironically rely on it.

3-09-13 I had a dream last night, where Kat was dressed in a suit of armor, with a sword and shield and she was protecting me from a gaunt starved lion with a mangy mane. It was a vivid dream and on consideration of it this morning I realized it meant that I was feeling more comfortable with her feeling protective of me. I have to admit that I've struggled with feeling comfortable with someone feeling protective of me. I've always had to take care of myself, so allowing someone else to be protective is really me allowing myself to feel open and vulnerable enough to trust someone to protect me.

I also had some other realizations. I ask Kat a lot if she is happy, but I realize what I'm really asking is: Am I safe? I ask that because if I know she is happy then I can relax, and yet its not her. It's reactions to the past. It's the realization that I'm asking that question because I've had experiences where I have not felt safe and the way I've gauged such safety is the mood of the person.  I'm going to sit with this realization and work through it carefully. I recognize that this has the potential to be a trip mine and if not handled carefully it could blow up in my face. When you deal with deeper issues like this it can be very important to work with it gradually. The point isn't to work through it in a day, but rather to work through it carefully and allow myself a way to heal.

The other realization I had was one of recognizing how a person's issues can be used as an excuse to justify behavior. I say that with the recognition that sometimes I've justified behavior because of my issues, but the truth it that we should never justify a behavior because of an issue. Instead we should use the behavior to identify and work with the issue so that it doesn't continue to cause problems in our lives and relationships. I've gotten better about it, but I know that I owe it to myself to be honest about whether I've used my behaviors around my issues to justify my behavior. And the same applies to other people. If you use your dysfunction to justify your behaviors, you aren't taking responsibility for them or their effect on others. It just continues the problem instead of solving it. Taking responsibility isn't easy. What it really involves is doing this careful internal work where you recognize how the dysfunctional issues are showing up in your behavior and then you work with the behavior and issues using meditation and therapy as needed to get to the root of the issue.

3-10-13 Relying on other people brings up a lot of mixed feelings in me. I've been self-sufficient for a long time because I learned early on that I needed to take care of me. Yet to some degree I've relied on other people as well. I've never been so self sufficient that I wasn't relying on someone else to some extent.  And yet purposely relying on someone does bring up both a feeling of being loved and supported and a feeling of fear. As I sit with it, I realize that it's as much an issue of trusting myself to trust someone else as it is to trust someone else.

3-19-13 I haven't had a chance to update this entry recently, but a lot has happened in the week or so. I've been having some more vivid dreams, all of which have dealt with people in my life, but all of which have also been representative of something deeper, a sense of conflict in myself which seems to be coming to the surface more. Some of the conflict is around receiving from other people, and some of it is around my spiritual work. I've realized lately that I just haven't felt as deeply connected to it. That's hard to admit, but at the same time I can't not be honest with myself. So I've been revisiting techniques that I've been practicing for a while from the perspective of a beginner, rereading the books and redoing the exercises more methodically. And its helping me realize how easy it can be to take one's spiritual work for granted.

Recently, I got a shamanic astrology reading from a friend of mine. I've had a couple of astrological readings in the past and they've always been accurate. His were accurate as well in terms of certain trends, behaviors, and challenges I've experienced or am experiencing as well as describing certain life patterns I'm working on that are more of a lifetime focus. He indicated to me that I'm about to go into the dark night of the soul. I laughed and half jokingly said, "Haven't I done enough of those?" He told me of a couple of other cycles as well that I'll be experiencing around the same time. The DNS lasts a year and a half, and it was interesting to me because I'd actually decided that I needed to extend my work with this element for another year after this October. I want to deepen my work with movement, and I've already begun thinking how I could factor in this cycle and the others into that work, as well as into the work of the next element after movement.

I'd felt some apprehension after he did the reading, but in thinking it over, I'm looking forward to whatever internal work comes my way. There's nothing inherently challenging about any cycle...and there is something to be said for the attitude that a person brings into the work s/he is doing. As I re-examine my attitude and my practices, I feel like I'm gearing up to go deeper and come out wiser on the other side.

And recently Eros has been coming into my meditations more. He has told me to meditate on the relationship between stillness and movement and suggested that it might prove beneficial to examine how the two work together and feed into each other. There's some Taoist and Western esoterica that discusses these two elements in conjunction with each other and my own meditations have gotten me thinking about how movement is sometimes used to avoid stillness, but also how stillness is at the heart of movement and an attractor of it. More next month...

The Value of Refining your Spiritual Practices

While I am an experimenter, I also believe in learning different spiritual practices. All of the practices that I study are subject to revision and I'm excited when I'm able to learn more about a tradition that will help me refine the practices that I'm doing. I'm reading the Six Yogas of Naropa right now. It's a book that is providing me insights into how I can refine the Tibetan shamanic techniques I've been practicing. Short of working with an actual lama its the best resource I have available.

I think its important to continue your practice. You can't afford to be complacent, because there is always something you could learn that will change how you practice it. A while back I was reading a book on core breathing practices for Taoist meditations and it changed my understanding of my breathing practices and how I practiced them significantly. While I was already getting a lot out of those practices, learning how to refine them and learning more about some of the context that informed those practices helped me understand what I could do to improve my workings and helped me appreciate what I was doing.

A magician should always be curious about the magical practices s/he does. No matter how much you know or who or what you've learned those practices from there is always room for refinement and improvement. And the magician who accepts that there is room for improvement spends time learning those practices and looking for more information to refine them, as well as experimenting with what s/he is already working on.

The current book I'm refining has filled in some missing pieces and provided me a way to improve the efficacy of my tumo practices. Undoubtedly as I continue to read other books and incorporate the information into my practices, I'll refine what I'm doing even further. My desire to improve what I'm doing is what helps me make the practices personal. I'm turning what I read into an experience that improves the experiences I've already undergone and improves my awareness and connection with the magical forces I work with.

Refining your practices also teaches you a lot about how to experiment. You carefully examine what you are doing, discovering the underlying principles that make your practice into a process that generates results. You test what you do, comparing it to what you already have done and evaluating it what the differences and similarities are. In short you develop a careful approach to your magical practice that helps you when you experiment because you know that you have to understand what you are doing to make the experiment repeatable and verifiable by others.

Be curious...never settle for what you've already done. Take your practice to the next level by looking for how you can improve it, and for what you can learn that informs what are doing.

The Abuse of Magic

One of the themes that shows up a lot in Terry Brooks's Shannara series is the abuse of magic. The protagonists usually have to deal with antagonists that have abused magic in some form or have even become slaves to the magic. The shadowen are a perfect example of such antagonists. They can move from body to body, and they feed on the magic or life force of the Earth. They are addicted to it and when the energy of the Earth is released they are destroyed because they have come to rely on it so much that they can't exist without it. Magic is treated as an unstable force that can never really be mastered and is something best left to specific professionals who can handle it.

In reality I don't think that magic is an unstable force that warps people. If anything, I think that what leads to the abuse of magic is the instability a given person has in his/her life. Magic has a tendency to bring out best and worst of a person, because its various processes necessarily work with a person's internal values, beliefs, and perceptions. And if a person isn't adequately prepared (i.e. hasn't done a lot of internal work to sort those issues out), then the magic will draw out the dysfunction and let it run loose.

From my own observations, it seems that practical magic is reactive magic, done as a way to solve a problem or handle a crisis. The reason I consider it reactive is that rarely is the question asked: What is my role/responsibility for this problem? Far easier to blame the problem on others...until you notice that you have a string of similar problems that shows that the issue is partially derived from your own issues.

Effective magic is proactive magic and proactive magic involves doing a fair amount of internal work to address the issues that would otherwise come out in your life. I don't think its any coincidence that the need for me to do reactive problem solving via magic (or other methods) has significantly diminished thanks to doing internal work. If you solve the problem internally, you are less likely to get involved in the external trappings of the problem. But proactive magic is more than just doing internal work. Proactive magic is planning out how you want your life to manifest. It's lining everything up so that life becomes easier and more manageable.

A magician who is in touch with his/her internal reality is a magician who can take responsibility for how s/he contributes to the problems that s/he encounters. Such work can be hard, as it involves really knowing yourself, but the rewards make your life much easier to live and much more enjoyable in the long run.

Inner Transformation

In Magical Identity, I discussed at length the importance of internal work to the magical process, and to creating an empowered identity for the magician. I also noted that at least in Western Magic there seemed to be a tendency to gloss over the internal work in favor of achieving practical results. Or on the opposite end, the focus would be on a model such as the Tree of Life, but with little focus on doing internal work. I've found a couple of exceptions, and one of those is R. J. Stewart's work. Actually reading him, in some ways, is like reading William G Gray's work, which makes sense when you consider that Gray was one of Stewart's mentors. But I think the difference I see is a much more articulate focus on internal work.

In Living Magical Arts, Stewart discusses the following about transformation: "Magic begins by changing yourself, but eventually it changes the whole world if enough selves partake of it." He goes onto to note the following about magical symbols (which would includes physical tools such as your cup, rod, sword, wand, etc.: "The main, indeed the only, real function of magical symbols is to transform the magician." This is where he reminds me of William Gray, especially in Magical Ritual Methods, because Gray discusses at length that for the magician to master a tool, s/he ultimately needs to make it part of his/her consciousness.

Now on an aside, one of the reasons I favor a paintbrush as a magical tool is because there is a level or practical work that can be done with it that goes beyond being a symbol. A paintbrush or pen for that matter is a more potent tool and symbol precisely because it offers a level of transformation that goes beyond the symbolic. There is something very magical about touching a pen on paper or a brush on canvas and consequently transforming something into something else. In fact, there's a level of internal work that occurs in such artistic expressions (more on that in a later post).

But getting back to the original topic, I think that magic becomes truly effective when you understand that it fundamentally involves change through intentional transformation, and when you also realize that the most effective magic works by changing the internal reality of the magician first, and then changing the environment around him/her. Results based magic that doesn't factor in the needed internal work is typically reactive magic, done more as a reaction to a problem and as an attempt to solve said problem. Results obtained through a reactive approach to magic don't last long. The magician will sabotage him/herself because some part of his/her internal reality doesn't agree with the obtained result.

To truly understand transformation and change, you must be willing to shape yourself as well as shape the environment around you. It might even be argued that you need to be willing to be shaped by the magic, in order to truly benefit from it. Fundamentally what is being asked is: "Are you truly ready and willing to handle the responsibility of changing your reality?" You can only answer yes when you've done the internal work that allows you to critically examine your place in the universe and willingly change that place by changing your internal reality. Place, or space isn't just a physical placement...it is a metaphysical, emotional, and mental place as well. It is the embodiment of your relationship with the universe. To change your place, work from within, and let it manifest without.

In the majority of the magical work I currently do the focus is on embodying the magic, starting from within, or bringing the desired possibility into my space, and choosing to become it and letting it move me accordingly. Genuine transformation is the understanding that you are moved by the magic and by your own commitment to doing the necessary internal work that paves the way to the new expression of reality that expresses your connection with the universe and the space you embody.

Doubt and magical workings

Mike has posted some interesting thoughts about doubt in magical works. You can find them here and here. When I think about doubt and magical workings, I think that if doubt is entering into the picture, it's better to not do the magical working and instead really examine your doubts and why they are coming up. When I do a practical magic working I don't want doubt to be in the picture, and for me it isn't. I know what I want, I understand the consequences around getting it and I'm ready to handle the reality of achieving it. Doubt is a sabotager...its that little voice that says, "You don't deserve this." And if you hear that voice, then you haven't done your due diligence.

What is due diligence? It's doing the internal work necessary to ensure that the desired result (or manifestation) is something you truly want with all of your being. It's addressing the doubts and resolving them before you even do your magical work.

It doesn't surprise me that some magicians experience doubt and have it sabotage their workings. I think this is due to the fact that they haven't done that necessary level of internal work that's needed to make sure everything is in alignment with the desired outcome. Without a process for doing dedicated internal work to address doubt and other sabotage emotions, those emotions will present themselves in your working and undermine your results. But with a dedicated process for internal work, its easy to deal directly with any doubts or other emotions and resolve them in your favor. Then do the magical working and you'll get consistent results.

This actually applies to decisions you make in general. For example, when I decided to rebrand my one business, I had already gone in and done the internal work to deal with any doubt or fear I may have felt. Once that was cleared out of the way, I started my rebranding and pursued it wholeheartedly. I didn't leave myself room for doubt, because it would've slowed me down. I knew what I wanted and I knew I could do it. The business is rebranded in terms of content and message (The visual design is still being reworked) and the previous services have been let go of.

If we look at this from a process approach what we get is assess the change you want to make. Determine if there is internal resistance (i.e. doubt). Resolve the internal resistance or make a different choice (sometimes there are good reasons not to do a magical working or life change). Do the magical working and any other actions needed to manifest the desired result. Simple, effective...and the doubt is dealt without having to continue entertaining it. There should be no room for doubt if you really want to manifest a desired result.

Healing experiment update

I posted a little while back on a healing experiment I've been doing with a patient. Since then I've continued the work on this patient's neck, with some interesting developments. One of those developments has involved working with past life memories that s/he has, which are embodied in hir neck. For example, one of the healings involved removing the sensation of a noose around hir neck, as well as helping hir work through the associated past life memories. Most recently we're working with another past life that has "come out" now that the noose has been removed.

Now I'll admit, I'm actually fairly skeptical about past life memories. Or rather while I think its certainly possible that a person's identity or soul has experienced multiple iterations of life, I'm not always convinced whether the current sense of self has access to those past lives. But in doing this healing work with this patient, I admit that I'm more open to the possibility of past life regression and experiences than before. It's been clear that I'm working with hir on an energetic and physical level, but also on a memory level. Resolving those memories has healed hir neck quite a bit. It's not nearly as sore and she has more mobility with as well as more energy in general. It's definitely layered work, in terms of the emotions that come up, but this isn't a surprise. I think that most, if not all tension, has some emotional attachments included. Working through those emotional attachments can be just as healing as resolving the physical pain.

If I had only one technique I could keep it would be...

Meditation. Jason Miller said much the same thing in the Strategic Sorcery Course. I think meditation is the most crucial skill a magician can have. It's something I do as consistently as possible. Occasionally I miss days, and I can always tell when I miss a day because I'm less focused. Meditation is similar in benefit to exercising on a daily basis: It keeps you toned.

There are some magicians who will say they can't meditate, but I don't buy that. They can meditate, but they're unwilling to discipline themselves enough to do so and they've likely bought into the popular idea that meditation is just about emptying your mind (that's one form of meditation, but not the only kind). The key is to accept that if you do have random thoughts arise, you don't give up. You note them, maybe even follow them, and then return to the breathing, letting it carry you deeper and deeper into an altered state of consciousness. It takes some work, but if you are consistent about it, you'll succeed eventually.

I think one reason people say they can't meditate is that they are so distracted by every thought and emotion, and perhaps even afraid to face those thoughts and emotions. Meditation does give you the chance to work through thoughts and emotions and sometimes its not fun. But doing it frees you of those thoughts and emotions. It gives you clarity, focus, awareness, and perspective.

Meditation teaches you to sort through the chaos of your internal reality. It's doing the internal work, so that the external work of living your life and manifesting your magic is a lot easier. Certainly in taking up a dedicated practice of meditation I have needed to do less overt acts of magic, save on the rare occasions where its really warranted. By doing the internal work, my life has gotten much easier. It didn't happen over night, buts it a cumulative effect if you are consistent.

So that's the one technique or practice I'd keep. What about you?

Elemental Fire Month 3

12-26-11 Fire burns and consumes. What you don't want can be burned away, turned to ashes. You can recycle the ashes, contribute to new growth. For Christmas, my mom gave me a picture album with lots of pictures I don't believe I ever saw. I can't remember anything about a lot of those pictures, because most of them were when I was really young, or before the age of 7. I don't have many memories from before I was seven. It's as if they were wiped clean. It's quite frustrating. I've been thinking a lot about safety and what constitutes safety for someone. What makes a person really feel safe? What does safety embody for a person? I think of fire as an embodiment of safety. The warmth it provides, and even a psychological fascination with light, and the idea that being in the light can make you safe. There's this draw to a fire and what it represents. We can be warmed by the fire, can even have a degree of visibility and protection, and yet the fire can also be a detriment. Your eyes have to adjust each time, and what feels safe may ultimately be an illusion.

12-27-11 Today's meditation focused on desire, specifically what desire for others is really about for me. I think that's such a hard question to answer in a way, because it really involves recognizing that there's some level of selfishness associated with desire, and while that seems like a given it did make me think about what that really means. Selfishness isn't bad per se, as long as it isn't taken to an extreme. It's just that when it is taken to an extreme it can go overboard, to the extent that the other person isn't even considered. In looking at my past, I can safely say that I have been that selfish before and while the short term gratification was nice, the long term result was anything but. So for the moment I'm focusing on the selfishness piece of all of this.

12-28-11 Today's meditation focused on polyamory. I've been in a closed relationship for almost two years, which has been the longest time I've been in a closed relationship. I've used the time to do a lot of thinking about poly and why I've considered myself poly. In all honesty, I'd have to say that my participation in poly is a text book case of bad poly. I've made a lot of the mistakes people make in such relationships and as I've looked over those mistakes and also what's drawn me to that lifestyle, I've come to realize that I chose that lifestyle in part based on a belief of: "There's no one person who can fulfill all your needs and its better to have multiple relationships to get all your needs met." Or if I flip it a little I get: "I've been considered to be too intense, and its better if I spread the love around so I'm not too much for anyone person." Both reasons are ones I've told myself and others and yet in considering them carefully, I've come to realize that for me, they are unhealthy reasons.

My reasoning about this matter is as follows. If I really believe I'm too much for one person and feel the need to spread the love, am I perhaps ignoring what it is that makes me too much for a person? am I perhaps displacing my needs onto other people, without examining them and seeing what's healthy or isn't healthy? And also what is it I am telling myself if I believe this message? When I've considered these questions, I've realized that poly, in the way I've approached it, has ended up being a crutch that has helped me avoid intimacy with myself, let alone someone else.

With that said, I know I'm capable of loving more than one person and I think it can be healthy to love more than one person. However, I know that even though I am capable, I also haven't really laid a strong foundation to support such relationships. I've closed my relationship with my wife, in part because I know that I can't do good poly, if I can't even do good with a single relationship. We may never open the relationship up and that would be okay, because I would rather get it right with one person than continue to get it wrong with multiple people.

1-1-12 New year, new me. Today's mediation focused on judgement. In all honesty, I can be a fairly judgmental person, but show me someone who isn't. I don't think I know anyone who doesn't in one form or another judge others. But what Dragon pointed out is that the best thing I can do is acknowledge the judgments as I make them and then question them. So I applied that to judgments I'd made, and I realized as I looked at those judgements, how many of them were informed by things I had learned or observed about parenting based off how my parents raised me. It's an eye opening perspective that is helping me view the person in question in a different light, and consequently influences my interactions with him. And I guess that's the thing about judgements...where your judgements come from is based in part on experiences, observations, culture etc.

1-5-12 To be clear I'm not suddenly anti-polyamory. I think polyamory can work, and I know people who've made it work really well. But when I think about my desires, what I see that is problematic is my communication around those desires. It's not the desire itself that's a problem, but how I've communicated about it. Part of communication is vulnerability and that's not something I've handled well in the past. When you grow up self-sufficient and think that you can't rely on others, you don't let others in. With Kat, I've been learning how to be vulnerable, how to really open up, and also how to listen. Its taken me this long to learn those lessons in communication, but then again I think its takes many people time to learn such lessons.

1-9-12 I've been meaning to write this since I realized it. I was feeling antsy the other day and when I got to the heart of my restless, I realized something fantastic, liberating really. I realized how much I've been drawn to, addicted (that could be too strong) to newness. Neophilia. It's something that plays out in multiple areas of my life. New homes every few years, new relationships after a year or two, new jobs every so often, new video games (those aren't so bad), new, new, new...And I realized I'm not really used to being stable or establishing roots. I don't have many friends from long ago that I've stayed in touch with. Stabilizing myself, getting stable that's just nothing something I've done. That search for newness has always stirred up some kind of drama and restlessness. Stabilizing with Kat, settling into a relationship and intentionally focusing on just that relationship...That's new for me, but a different kind of new. I don't need a fresh injection of something new to take away something blue. I just need to settle in and trust in what I discover as a result.

1-12-11 I'm reading the Art of War, which is about blocks to a person's creativity. One of the forms of Resistance is Sex: "Sometimes Resistance takes the form of sex, or an obsessive preoccupation with sex. Why sex? Because sex provides immediate and instant gratification. When someone sleeps with us, we feel validated and approved of, even loved...In my experience, you can tell by the measure of hollowness you feel afterward. The more empty you feel, the more certain you can be that your true motivation was not love or even lust, but Resistance."

That quote speaks to a lot of my experiences with sex. Sex to feel loved to feel approved of, but also that emptiness feeling, that hollow sense of non-gratification, that desperate air of the hungry ghost. I know that all too well. Sex, for a long time, was just the big empty. Sometimes I used it to escape from everything, and sometimes all it really did was remind me of how hollow my life was. Nowadays it's different, the sex is more about connection, an intentional conscious bond.

I've also been thinking about how I spend money. I'm mostly satisfied with my choices, but there's also a sense of: what do I really have to show for it? I'm tired of just floating in some space. I want to make definite plans, move forward, and although I have a better financial sense of things then I used to have, and can make my pennies squeak for all their worth, I've also got a feeling of wanting more for that buck.

All of these things are distractions from that internal fire, yet they are also relevant to my fire, because they are shadows cast by the flames. I feel like a lot of my life has just been a shadow. I've never really known fire...I've just known a shadowy impression.

1-17-12 One of the activities that Kat and I have committed to doing involves reading books on relationships and money together. We're currently reading Your Money or Your Life and Journey of the Heart. Both are excellent books and as I re-read them, I catch things I hadn't previously gotten in the first reading. And what it makes me realize is how important it is to cultivate your inner fire. I've only seen shadows and I'd allowed my fire to gutter out, especially several years ago. Now I'm feeling more creative than I ever have been, more inspired really, and at the same time happier than I've ever been.

Yet I think I had to let my fire gutter out. I had to experience what it was like to lose that edge, so that I could really appreciate what I have with it. When I did the Love and Emptiness workings in particular, I put myself through the abyss and experienced my shadows fully. Identity saw me crawl out of the abyss and start a path of re-discovery, which continued through the year of Time and space and has moved into this year of Fire. But a big part of that work has also been an intentional cultivation and creation of my relationship with Kat, and that very intentional focus has also spread to cultivating that internal fire that inspires my creativity.

A fire that isn't carefully cultivated goes out eventually, but if you know to feed the fire, you can keep it going for a long, long time. The books I read with Kat and the conversations we have around them feed my soul and creativity. There are perspectives she offers that I in turn apply to my life. I have a true partner, someone who is willing to walk this journey with me, and so I find that I have help cultivating that inner mounting flame.

1-20-12 There is something to be said for being in an uncomfortable space, because of the opportunities it affords you to grow. I've said that before, and I'll likely say it again, but I realize it anew in the context of choices I've made in my relationship with Kat and in my life in general. I've always had a fear of letting someone in. Most people only get to a certain level of closeness and then I keep them there. I know where it comes from. It comes from having the rug pulled out from underneath me when I was 10. One day I had a step-mom, I called mom, and the next day I had someone taking out her anger and frustration on me. And this has been a rinse and repeat cycle several times over. It's hard, consequently, to really trust someone, to really believe that the closeness you feel is genuine, or that it will last. My biggest challenge with Kat has really come down to opening up to her and telling her where I am at, or how I am feeling, when I feel afraid to be that honest. Coming from a life, where I learned early on that it was better to hide an unpleasant truth, learning to be truthful enough to no longer hide has been hard. Yet when I look at previous relationships, I clearly can acknowledge that my dishonesty hurt those other people far more and created far worse problems, than if I had simply opened up and been honest. Yes, the truth might not be something the other person wants to hear, but at least it will set us free to be present with each other, instead of just going through the motions.

Resistance and internal work

I've been reading the War of Art (affiliate link) lately and the author talks a great deal about resistance as an enemy to creativity. I think he's right, to a point. I also think resistance can indicate something that needs to change, but what's relevant here is how resistance can be used in internal work, to discover what you need to work on and dissolve.

Any time you feel resistance to doing something or you feel a need to distract yourself from what you are doing, it presents you an opportunity to do internal work to dissolve resistance. The desire for distraction is a form of resistance, even as simple dislike for doing something is also resistance. When you come up against it, embrace it and start meditating on it. Listen to what your resistance has to say, and then dig deeper. What's really underneath that resistance? What's the underlying emotion that's really prompting that resistance to doing what you need to do?

When you focus your meditation on answering this question, you may find that it uncovers a lot that you weren't facing. It's important to face the issues and deal with whatever emotions arise as a result of the dissolving work. As you resolve such emotions, you will that it frees up a lot of energy, and that your resistance will also dissolve. Resistance is not necessarily a bad thing to feel, as long as you can knowingly act on it and use it to work through what is underneath it.

Change starts from within

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves" Leo Tolstoy When I think about Western Magic, and one of my problems, this statement from Tolstoy sums it up nicely. In late teens and early to mid twenties, I remember being that person who wanted to change the world, but didn't think of changing himself. That's not surprising because within western magic there is no overt forms of internal work provided, beyond perhaps some pathworking exercises. I had to go to Eastern systems such as Taoism to really discover in-depth meditation techniques. Since learning those techniques and implementing them into my daily practice, I've found that there is much less of an overt need to change the world. In fact, usually where the change needs to start is from within.

Magical techniques such as sigils or evocation aren't focused on internal work. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is worth the magician's time to actually apply some degree of introspection in order to look at the underlying motivations behind doing the work. Such internal work can help clarify the motivations and even ensure that the working will be successful by removing any internal resistance toward it.

Internal work is an essential part of magical practice. When I take magical students on, we spend a fair amount of time initially exploring what their values and beliefs are, how they define themselves and their place in the world, as well as teaching them meditation techniques. I've found that this initial work is crucial because it helps them remove a lot of internal obstacles and most importantly helps them understand how to effectively use magic to make changes in the world around them. Practitioners who actively use internal work will also cut down on the need to do more overt acts of magic...and not surprisingly will also lower the overall level of drama and chaos as they work out their issues. Instead of having such issues come up in their lives, the practitioners are able to identify  the triggers and make changes to their behaviors. The result is a better life and more clarity about what they want and need to live such a life.

Aligning your values with your desires

Over the last six or so years, some of the most significant magical work I've done has involved doing internal work to align my desires with my values. You might think that this would be automatic, but I don't think that's the case all the time. The challenge of the magician is to know him/herself and until you know yourself, you can't really know if your values are in alignment with your desires. Thus if you try to manifest a desire that isn't in alignment with your values, it may not stay with you, because some part of you is resistant to the manifestation. Aligning your values with your desires involves examining what your desires are and seeing if they match up with your values. If the execution of your desires doesn't align with your beliefs and values, then the result will be fleetingly. You will sabotage yourself to stay true to your values and beliefs. Not all of these values and beliefs are necessarily healthy, but they are in place as much to "protect" you, as to provide a moral compass to live your life. But being safe isn't all its cracked up to be, and can sometimes put you in a miserable situation, because part of you wants to protect yourself from taking a risk.

Aligning your values with your desires necessarily means that you need to look at the origins of both your values and your desires. Where do they come from? What influences sponsored your desires and values? Asking these questions can help you understand why you hold to the values you have and why you want what you want. That, in turn, can help you begin to either resolve the conflict between desire and value or recognize if your desire or value is holding you back in some way. Until you question and explore what motivates your choices, you can't know for certain if you are making those choices because you genuinely want to/believe in the need to do so, or if you are reacting on impulse of one kind or another.