How to cast wildly effective spells

(your magic will never be the same again)

In my last post, you learned how to come into Self, the divinely whole, healing essence within that can never be damaged, divided or destroyed, no matter what. 

Today, let’s tie this into spellcasting

…looking at how the Self can turn ho-hum magic into electrifying satisfaction that will ripple outward, touching every area of your life (and beyond). 

The Self, as I mentioned last time, is the archetype of psychic wholeness.

This means that it possesses wisdom beyond the scope of the ego, and this wisdom is always leading us toward a remembrance of our wholeness. 

The ego, on the other hand, deals with separation

This versus that, I versus other, and so on. 

Now, the ego can only hold so many pieces at once…

…and if any of those pieces contain paradox (the true nature of life at its hidden, non-dualistic core)–forget it.

The ego simply doesn’t know what to do with this.

(If you’ve ever felt torn between whether you should do x or y, and analyzing only produces a flurry of contradictory thoughts and emotions, you know precisely what I’m talking about here.)

So while we definitely need the ego’s ability to differentiate this from that in order to function in the world…

if we cast spells primarily from the ego, this is like setting out on a trip with only a torn-off corner of the map. 

We might eventually get where we want to go, but we’re depriving ourselves of the skills, insights and gifts that are our birthright

…making the journey much more difficult than it needs to be. 

And let’s face it, life already offers plenty of challenges; there’s no need to play it on hard mode.

Remember those inner mandates and prohibitions (IMPs) I mentioned a couple of posts ago, the inner, unconscious rules that dictate what we believe is “good” or “bad”? 

When the Self reconnects us to our map of wholeness, this reveals, in stark contrast, those very IMPs that have prevented us from feeling our inherent wholeness…

…falsely convincing us we’ll only be loved and accepted if we follow their rigid (and bafflingly contradictory) dictates. 

This is where we become stuck in nagging self-doubt and pointless mind loops. 

But when the Self connects us to a genuine experience of Love…

…now, the inner rule claiming, for example, “I’m only worthy of love if I cater to other people’s needs,” is revealed for what it is: a complete and utter falsehood. 

The ripple effect of this is often nothing short of miraculous:

In my case, as I recognized and shifted (or stepped away from) relationships where I was fixated on meeting the other person’s needs at my own expense,

seemingly unrelated things spontaneously shifted as well, such as…

I found myself no longer interested in comfort shopping on Amazon, and this “newfound” cash enabled me to pay down my student loans in rapid time. 

My sugar cravings, which I’d tried everything under the sun to curb, and had resigned myself to a life of crankily white-knuckling my way through, began to dissolve. 

Writer’s block gave way to a steady stream of creative ideas and the energy to actually pursue them.

I could go on, but the point is…

…from the vantage point of the ego, previously I’d set out to cast spells to tackle each of those symptoms above. 

I had no clue they were intimately tied to my codependent relationship patterns, and thus my spells’ success was short lived. 

In my Jungian Spellcasting course, Enchant, you’ll learn how to recognize the energetic threads weaving together destructive IMPs with seemingly disconnected and chronically frustrating symptoms.

Left up to the ego, these experiences will forever appear distinct, and you’ll be stuck trying to address them one by one by one…ad infinitum.

But when you learn how to combine the power of Self with potent spellcasting, you can unravel these unwanted experiences at their core.

Enchant opens for registration April 11.

Learn how to release self-limiting IMPs that fuel frustrating cycles of pain + reaction…

…and channel this liberated energy into spells that work.

It’s time to stop chasing after the life you want, and it’s time to start living it.

Learn how to work with, not against, your psychology, and claim your magical birthright of power and purpose.

Sign up here to get an email with your early-bird discount as soon as registration opens.

A guided meditation for powerful change

(transform any issue, big or small)

In my last post, you met examples of inner parts that can block even the most well-meaning attempts at change:

the Body Shamer and the Self-Love Enforcer 

We learned that polarized parts keep us trapped in an endless loop of pain-reaction-pain-reaction…

…in this example, as we flip-flop between wallowing in body shame versus drowning it out with self-love affirmations.

I also shared that most approaches to change involve the ego choosing which part is “better” (like the Self-Love Enforcer, for instance) and helping that part “win” by overpowering the other part. 

In fact, conventional spellcasting often takes this approach, too.

For example, we might cast a spell to increase self-love or diminish body shame. 

Both are worthy aims, to be sure, but if we’re not working with the underlying patterns (and the associated inner parts continue to go unseen and unheard)…

…change is often temporary, and it comes at the cost of forcing aspects of our psyche into the unconscious

This is truly a case of winning the battle and losing the war. 

Today, let’s introduce the healing presence of the Self, the divine, whole-ing essence within each and every one of us that has the power to heal inner parts and reintegrate them with the rest of the psyche. 

Here’s the quick-and-dirty reason the Self is so profoundly healing:

The Self is an archetype of psychic wholeness.

Archetypes, in general, exert a powerful influence on anything within their reach.

And the Self, in particular, is an archetype that magnetizes whatever it touches toward psychic wholeness

If we think of our inner parts like a classroom of kindergartners who have gone Lord of the Flies, the Self is the warm, calming presence of a skillful, loving teacher. 

Whereas before, all of these inner parts felt unseen and alone, left to fend for themselves in situations for which they don’t have the necessary skills and maturity…

When the Self arrives, everybody exhales a huge sigh of relief. 

Instead of a chaotic band of five-year-olds desperately trying to figure out how to find food, skillfully negotiate classroom infighting, and a million other impossibly adult things

…they can now gather ’round the Self to receive whatever they require to heal and mature. 

I want to show you how to connect with Self, right here, right now

…because the Self isn’t just a nifty idea–it’s meant to be experienced.

You can read the following instructions and then go into meditation on your own, or you can use this free guided audio. 

Find a comfortable seat, free of distractions, and close your eyes.

Breathe for a few rounds, bringing your awareness to your body and the gentle rise and fall of the breath. 

Bring to mind a recent triggering situation. Spend a few breaths thinking about this situation. 

Where in your body do you notice sensation starting to localize? Perhaps there’s a clenching in your jaw or a fluttering in your belly.

Bring your awareness to this sensation.

As you focus here, do any images or words come to mind, however abstract they might seem? For example: splotchy purple lights, jagged sounds, or a towel waving in the wind. 

Bring an awareness of gentle curiosity to these images or words. This is an inner part. 

As you focus on this part, check in: How do you feel toward this part?

If you feel some mixture of caring, curious, calm or compassionate, you are in Self. 

If you feel something else, that’s okay–just notice it. What are you feeling? For example: worry, judgment, or impatience. 

This is also an inner part (and there may be more than one, such as a worried part and an impatient part). 

Focus on one of these emotions at a time, and see if the part takes shape in your mind. 

Whether or not you can see it clearly right now, ask this part if it would feel okay relaxing a bit so you can get to know it better. (This is called unblending from a part.)

Repeat this process with any other parts that have appeared, asking each one to step back or relax a little so you can get to know it. 

What remains, once you have unblended from any parts, is the Self. 

What does it feel like to be in Self? What does it feel like to see your inner parts through the eyes of Self?

If you like, spend some time asking these parts what they want you to know. 

What do they need from you right now?

Before you finish, thank these parts for being willing to talk with you.

See them in the presence of the Self, in whatever way makes sense to you. (I envision a glowing, loving presence with them.) 

When you’re ready, open your eyes. 

Working with the divine Self

I encourage you to journal on this experience, taking note of any parts you met and what they need from you. 

You can always return in meditation to meet with these parts again, experimenting with unblending and remaining in Self, your divine healing essence. 

With practice, you can check inward and be present with parts from the Self in any situation, without needing to do a formal meditation.

This is an invaluable skill to have.

Shifting into Self puts you into immediate contact with your inner gifts, skills and intuitive wisdom, when and where you need them most. 

Imagine coming into Self during an argument or when you’re making a big decision, instead of letting the classroom of kindergartners handle things? Game changer, right? 

In my next post, I’ll show you how this connects to spellwork, which is, after all, just an ancient (i.e. time tested) method for creating change. 

And when you spellcast from the Self?

Let’s just say the results are often nothing short of miraculous.    

See you soon.

With love,

Melissa

The pesky hidden force that blocks change

(yes, you can outsmart it)

In my last post, I introduced the concept of a matrix of meaning. If we were fish, this is the water we’re swimming in. 

It affects everything we think, feel, say, and do…yet the majority of us have positively no idea it exists. 

Needless to say, this can pose some pretty significant roadblocks when we want to create change, and the more we experience frustration around our attempts at change, the more we start to believe it’s just not possible. 

Today, I want to explore a very specific aspect of the matrix of meaning…

…one that plays a major role in feeling trapped by maddening, self-limiting patterns. 

And then in a couple days, I’ll give you a very effective tool for stepping out of this frustrating cycle, a way that’s so deceptively simple, you might be a little suspicious at first. 

I won’t ask you to take my word for it, but I will ask you to give it a try and see for yourself. 

What about this matrix of meaning confounds even our sincerest efforts at change?

It’s something I call an IMP: an inner mandate or prohibition.

In my Jungian spellcasting course, Enchant, I’ll be giving you specific exercises that will uncover your unique IMPs and teach you how to heal them…

…but for now, let’s look at what I mean by an inner mandate or prohibition. 

IMPs are the rules that define your matrix of meaning.

Recall in my last post the example of hearing a hard edge of contempt in your dad’s voice whenever someone was “too emotional.” 

This experience can easily get translated into an IMP, like:

“Expressing emotions (or maybe even just having emotions) elicits contempt.”

And then this ensnaring cycle is initiated…

Parts of your psyche are tasked with upholding this rule or IMP of avoiding emotional expression, because these parts (understandably) want to protect you from being a target of contempt. 

While this rule might not be activated 100% of the time, in certain situations, enough of the components of your matrix get triggered, and boom

…inner parts rush in to shut down emotional expression to protect you from contempt (both inner and outer sources, btw). 

When this rule is unconscious (as the majority of IMPs are), this tends to happen next…

One. We’re apt to be strongly drawn to people who are contemptuous of emotions.

And two. We’re less able to see when this is happening. We might notice we feel crappy around them, and we might even have a long list of other reasons why this is so, but the fact that they exhibit contempt toward our emotions will be much harder for us to spot.

(And even if we do spot it, refer back to point one: We’re still drawn to them.)

Remember the toxic-waste gardening example from my last post

Well, this is similar:

When we aren’t aware of the deeper reason this person triggers and/or fascinates us, it’s really, really hard to address the issue in any meaningful way…

…and we’re more likely to spend inordinate amounts of time addressing symptoms in the relationship, like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.

Plus, inner parts will be busily initiating our own pre-scripted reactions in these situations…

…perhaps starting an argument; giving someone the silent treatment; or becoming infatuated with a disastrous love-match, despite our best efforts to resist. 

We might feel powerless to stop our reactions, which can then become a source of shame.

So that’s one reason why IMPs are so damn destructive:

They’re typically unconscious. 

But here’s another reason, one that we tackle head on in the spellcasting course:

99.999% of the time, you and I and everybody else have multiple IMPs that directly contradict each other. 

For example, let’s say you have the following IMPs:

One. You’re only allowed to feel good about your body if you’re thin. 

Two. You should feel good about your body regardless of how you look. Just love yourself! 

Now imagine different inner parts, like characters in a movie, each tasked with upholding one of these rules.

Let’s name these parts the Body Shamer and the Self-Love Enforcer. 

If you try to free yourself from the first rule, perhaps through punishing diets + exercise fueled by self-loathing…

…Self-Love Enforcer will eventually step in and try to force Body Shamer out of the picture with “self-love.” 

For a little while, Body Shamer gets shoved into the shadows.

But in this scenario, Self-Love Enforcer is still just a part of you, it’s not the Self with a capital S. 

Why does that matter?

This is super important:

And we’ll go into more detail in my next post, but the short version is that when the Self takes over, we experience healing. 

But when parts take over, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, we feel fragmented

In other words, while Self-Love Enforcer might seem like a better option than Body Shamer, it’s still not the Self, so its presence isn’t genuinely healing

It’s more like an itchy bandaid, and before long, tiring under the inner tyranny of the Self-Love Enforcer…

…your system flip-flops back to the opposing part, Body Shamer, and the cycle continues.   

Most conventional models of change are aimed at taking sides in these inner wars and helping the “better” part win. 

But what this fails to take into account is that neither side will ever truly back down until:

1) they feel deeply seen and heard 

2) the Self helps them release their one-size-fits-none rules

3) they’re allowed to reintegrate with the rest of your psyche

(Maybe this also sounds a teensy bit relevant to the polarizations raging at a societal level…?)

And healing this inner conflict is precisely what I’ll show you how to do in my next post. See you soon. 

With love,

Melissa

P.S. Working with conflicting IMPs (and healing their frustrating opposition to positive change) is a big focus of my Jungian Spellcasting course, Enchant. Sign up to get an early-bird discount here.

What to do when change feels impossible

(and you’ve tried everything else you can think of)

To me, there’s nothing more frustrating than knowing I’m engaged in unhelpful patterns (codependent people pleasing, shaming my body, etc)…

And I maybe even have a clear idea of what needs to change and how…but I just can’t seem to make the change stick.

To give one example in which I basically have a PhD at this point:

Relationship Drama Bulls*%t

There aren’t enough numbers in existence to count the times I’ve thought:

“This person is driving me NUTS–I can’t do this anymore.”

Followed immediately by the ice-cold fear of:

“Oh god, what if they dump me/don’t like me/talk shit about me?” 

For years, I felt trapped in relationships where, together, our wounds were inflicting so much collateral damage on everyone involved…

yet I was so filled with a tangly web of terror-relief at the thought of losing the relationship that I couldn’t see a way out.

(Or if I did, I’d just repeat the same old drama-rama with the next person.) 

Maybe you can relate? 

Or finances. Ohhhhh, finances. Where to even begin.

Perhaps you know what it’s like to crawl out of one angry hornet’s nest of money angst, swearing this is the last time.

From now on you’re going to save more, ask for that raise, STAY AWAY from Amazon when you’re bored…

Only to find yourself, before long, waltzing face-first into the very same trap.

Your car’s transmission craps out, and there goes $4,000 you didn’t have in the first place.

Or Amazon boxes start landing on your doorstep, followed shortly thereafter by a credit card bill that maybe it would be okay to burn  without opening. (Just this once.)  

For me, these patterns had me convinced that I clearly, obviously sucked at life in some fundamental way.

I mean, otherwise, all of the things I was doing—meditation, yoga, therapy, journaling, etc etc etc—would actually be working…right?

If I just did them enough or the right way, maybe I could finally feel confident in my ability to change, release badgering thoughts, and not be so overwhelmed by my emotions all the damn time. 

Well, here’s the thing:

None of us are actually taught how to do this stuff. 

It’s kind of astonishing, when you think about it. 

I remember back in grade school, arriving to class one morning to find a blank, white envelope waiting on every desk. 

We were instructed to take out our ruler and pencil, and the teacher showed us how to make neat penciled rows: one for the recipient’s and one for the sender’s address.

We learned where to affix the stamp (this was back when you had to lick them, and I was one of those kids who fiendishly loved the taste) and how to properly format the address.

I can’t count how many times I’ve used this knowledge. (Thanks, Mrs. Kern!)

So why, then, was I never taught what to do when it felt like anxiety was going to make my heart actually, literally explode?

Or how to set boundaries in my relationships so I could feel safe and connected at the same time? 

Or ways to recognize when my “self-care” practices were actually causing me more harm than good (and what to do instead)?

But then again…we are taught these things, aren’t we?

Somehow, we figure out a way of dealing with the anxiety, the boundaries, and the self-destructive patterns. 

And we do this by watching what the people around us are doing, especially our family, soaking it all in like a dutifully attentive sponge

We see how our dad gets that sharp edge of contempt in his voice when someone is being “too emotional.”

We take mental notes when our grandma laughs off (a little too loudly) someone’s hurtful comment instead of speaking to it. 

We memorize every nuance of the panic and loneliness when we’re sent to our rooms for a timeout, right when we most need to feel held and accepted. 

All of these lessons get absorbed into our being…

…creating what I call our matrix of meaning

If we imagine this matrix as a props list for a play, we might have things on our list like:

“contempt toward emotions”

“giving people the silent treatment”

“that weird, clenched feeling when I think someone’s mad at me.”

And throughout life, an unconscious part of our psyche is always scanning our surroundings, making sure everything on the list is present and accounted for. 

Do we and/or someone in our life exhibit contempt around emotions? Check! 

Do we and/or someone in our life engage in the silent treatment when hurt? Check! 

Much as we might consciously hate these experiences…

unconsciously, something feels unnervingly amiss when they’re not present and accounted for. 

When this matrix is unconscious, as it is for everyone until we learn how to coax it into the light of awareness, we have zero control over it. 

This isn’t because we’re weak or broken or lacking in some way. 

It’s because the matrix is unconscious. 

I’m going to go Captain Obvious for a moment, but it took me ages to truly understand this:

We can’t do anything about a thing until we’re conscious of its existence.

If, 30 years ago, someone dumped a bunch of toxic waste in my yard, and now, when I’m trying to grow vegetables, they just aren’t doin’ so hot or when I eat them I don’t feel so great…

I can address things at a symptoms level all day long—maybe taking some digestive enzymes to ease that weird cramping or getting some high-end organic fertilizers…

And some of these things might even create change. For a little while, at least. 

But the fundamental issuethere’s freakin’ toxic waste in my yard!—isn’t something I can effectively address until I know it exists. 

And I’m not an idiot for not knowing—I just don’t know what I don’t know. 

There might be parts of us that think, “Oh man, how the heck am I going to deal with toxic waste??These parts might believe it’s better to just not know. 

I hear that. I really do. 

I’ve spent decades feeling terrified of knowing what I don’t want to know.

But here’s the thing: When you actually understand what you’re dealing with, you can…well, deal with it. 

Your belief in your ability to change might be rock-bottom low, and I can relate, believe me. 

But is it really that you’re hopeless at change…

…or could it be that, just maybe, you’ve been spraying fertilizer on some tomatoes that are trying their lovely tomato-y best to grow in toxic waste?

Chances are good (very good, in fact) that as you start learning what’s really underpinning your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, you’ll be in a much, much better position to deal with them, no matter what comes up.

You already possess the ability for utterly gobsmacking change. 

I realize this might sound like hooey, and that’s okay. It’s more of a “you gotta feel it to believe it” sort of thing. 

So I’m not asking you to take my word for it. 

What I do ask is that, for the next week, you allow me to share some of the insights and tools that have helped me believe in myself…

…and that fill me with absolute confidence that you have every reason to believe in yourself, too. 

Deal? Fantastic.

I’ll be back very soon with Part Two.

With love,

Melissa

Just think positive! (and why this is crappy advice)

I was getting ready to head to the office when I noticed a fiery knot tangling in my belly. 

Emails were flying around the night before, and I knew I was walking into a category 3 shitstorm.  

My mind raced with all the ways in which this day was guaranteed to go sideways:

Ethan would do that passive-aggressive thing that always gets Sela super riled up, and then I’d have to…

And on and on it went. 

I tried to explain some of this to my husband as we were saying our morning goodbyes, and as I heard myself stress rambling, something in me locked down like a steel trap, and I forced a grin:

“I’m just going to think positive!” [cheery thumbs up]

Years later, I’m still thinking about this scenario…

…because as it happens, it marked a turning point that I was totally unaware of in the moment. 

The turning point was one in which I shifted from:

I will only be okay if other people act a certain way (e.g. if Ethan doesn’t get passive-aggressive, Sela doesn’t fly off the handle, etc.)

To:

How can I respond from a place of internal wholeness, regardless of what other people do?

Previously, I’d find myself jacked up on anxiety, wondering what was going to happen if so-and-so did such-and-such. 

And this became mentally framed in stark terms: Are they a good person? Can they be trusted?

The Doom Loop

I felt wracked with doubt if they did anything that seemed challenging or “bad” (Can I really trust them??)

…and then I’d agonize over whether my perception was accurate or “all in my head.”

If they did anything to contradict my assessment (and they invariably did–humans are complex, after all), I’d be back to the hellish drawing board, trying to figure out whether or not they were good and mentally “building my case.”

No surprise, this drama played out internally as well, and I constantly evaluated whether I was a “good” person or not, all based on whether I had a perfect track record of so-called goodness.

If anything tarnished it, like, you know, my human fallibility, cue self-recrimination.

This is a loop I was lost in for years, and it felt impossible to step away because–my thinking went–if I wasn’t asking these questions, I could end up letting people treat me like crap. 

The saying, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow,” rang in my ears, urging me to analyze relationship dynamics even harder to keep myself safe.

Of course, there’s truth to that saying, but how I was going about it was a wee bit problematic. 

The Replay of Powerlessness

My anxiety circled around the (often unconscious) belief that I would only be okay if I could anticipate and/or control other people’s behavior.

And life, being largely un-anticipatable and uncontrollable, kept getting in the way. 

This dynamic kept me stuck in a childhood pattern, one where I was powerless to control, or even really impact in many cases, the events around me. 

As an adult, by adopting a stance that required me to do the impossible–fully anticipate and control other people’s actions–I was guaranteed to feel the way I did as a kid: powerless.

Over and over and over again. 

In the childhood scenario, my power was taken away, and with it, any sense of responsibility. 

So it was miserable, but it was also comforting, in a weird way.

Whatever horrible things happened weren’t my fault because I wasn’t given any choice in the matter, thus I could remain safe in my innocent “goodness.”

As a kid, this made a sideways sort of sense. As an adult? Not so much. 

As an adult, I do have choices, I do have responsibility. 

And by focusing on other people, I was abdicating both. 

Making the Shift

It’s our responsibility to choose how we want to respond to the unpredictable circumstances of life.

When we short circuit this process by tossing a blanket of “Just think positive!” over everything, we give away our power, which can only lead to resentment. 

Instead of:

Can Ethan be trusted or will he do that stupid passive-aggressive thing again?

We can take back our power by asking:

If Ethan behaves passive-aggressively, what are some ways I can take care of my wellbeing in this situation?

And then, we need to do the work: to develop those possible responses, to work with our inner world so we feel capable of actually using those responses in the moment, etc. 

All of this juicy work is easy to overlook when we’re focused on what the other person is or isn’t doing

…but when we choose to retrain our focus self-ward, we gain wise insight and have access to our inner skills and gifts. 

Will we disconnect from our power from time to time? Yep, totally. We’re human.

But in every moment, we’re given a new opportunity to choose. 

This allows us to step out of the loop of codependency–what will other people do???

…and into our magical power. 

P.S.

Next month, my Jungian Spellcasting course, Enchant, opens for registration. 

If you want support and detailed guidance on how to do the inner work of uncovering your magical power and channelling it into radically effective spells, be sure to get on my mailing list.

You’ll be the first to know when doors open!

Spring Clean Your Intuition: Here’s How

Have you ever wondered, is this actually my intuition…or is it my ego leading me down a path of fear, self-doubt, etc? 

To answer this, we need to take a super brief detour and look at what intuition really is (beyond all the buzzy hype).

The intuition is a bit like your sense of hearing or sight. It’s a way of taking in information and translating into an understandable form. 

In fact, the five senses are often one of the pathways used by the intuition to help translate otherwise unknowable information into graspable messages. 

You’ve likely heard of the “clairs,” the different forms intuitive messages can take, such as clairaudience (psychic hearing), clairvoyance (psychic seeing), etc. 

The intuition is like the “master sense” that makes all of these different flavors of intuition possible. 

tree and morning sky

And what is the intuition sensing? Unconscious material. 

If it was conscious, we wouldn’t need the intuition to sense it. It would be the plain-to-see text and not the subtext. 

All of us have intuition, but where things can go awry is in the little, often-imperceptible space between the arrival of the intuitive message…and the stories our ego begins to spin out in response. 

Most of the time, we’re not aware of the tiny gap that exists between message and story, and instead, they glob together into one (confusing) inner experience. 

Perhaps we walk into a room of people, and something feels off.

That’s our intuition. 

But a split-second later, our mind jumps in and begins to churn out thoughts and stories about why it feels off, what should we do, maybe these people don’t like us, and on it goes. 

Amidst all of the mental chatter, we lose sight of the intuitive message: something feels off in this room. 

To begin recapturing more of that space between inner message and story…

…what I like to call the Pause of Power, try this practice:

When you notice your intuition lighting up, take a moment. 

First, note what you felt before any of the thoughts kicked in. Excitement? Trepidation? Dread? Desire?

Don’t worry if you can’t explain it–just name it. 

Now, see if you can identify the thoughts that arose in response, and when you do, reframe each one as follows.

Let’s say you heard the thought, “I think Chun is irritated with me.”

Reframe it as: “I have a part who thinks Chun is irritated with me.”

See if you can get a sense of this part right now—can you visualize or feel in your body this part who believes Chun is irritated with you?

The simple act of trying to see this part requires you to step out of the part, to create a space between You and the part who is carrying this thought. 

You’re no longer a person who is synonymous with the thought of Chun being irritated.

You are the You who’s aware of this thought. 

See if the part can feel your watchful presence, and breathe into your heart space, connecting with a little curiosity or compassion toward this part. 

Repeat this process with any other thoughts that arose.

For instance, if you noticed the worry, “What am I supposed to do right now?” Reframe it as, “There’s a part of me who’s wondering what to do right now.”

The You who remains, after you’ve “disrobed” from any parts who’ve stepped onto the stage of the ego, is your capital-S Self. 

This is the Self who is one with the intuition, who simply knows what it knows without endless inner debate. 

If you practice coming into this Self by stepping out of whatever ego parts appear, now you can be present with them—for example, the part who’s worried about what to do.

This presence, in and of itself, is healing and makes room for wise insight.  

You don’t need to fix these parts or make them go away; you simply need to be present with them from the Self.

Can you hear what they’re saying without becoming them?

When your parts feel the presence of the Self, when they feel lovingly seen and heard…

…they begin to feel safe enough to drop their rigid, one-size-fits-none reactions to life. And in the calm that remains in the absence of this frantic activity, you can truly hear your intuition. 

Today, and in the days to come, keep practicing this process of “disrobing” from the various parts by reframing your thoughts. 

Create a little helpful distance between the Self and the ego, and see what your intuition has to say in this space. 

One more thing…

As a (major) bonus, when we stop relating to our inner parts as issues that need fixing, something remarkable happens.

We begin to understand that these parts are aspects of our Self that have been temporarily cut off from the whole, and it’s this rejection that is causing our pain and confusion. 

When we’re able to be present with these parts from the Self, they no longer feel like—and they no longer are—a problem that needs to be fixed. 

You are not a problem that’s meant to be fixed.

You’re an amazingly fluid dynamism that’s meant to be experienced

And you do this…by staying curiously present with whatever arises. 

Here’s to wholeness. 

Happy Equinox!

Finding Your Personal Tarot Card (free correspondence chart)

The tarot practice I’m about to share can be used any time of year, but here’s why I find it particularly potent at the Autumn Equinox:

In Jungian Magic, the interplay between the conscious and unconscious selves is of prime importance. 

It’s what drives everything in your life, especially your magic. 

At either the Spring or the Autumn Equinox, access to this dual nature of your psyche is a bit more accessible. 

The veil between these two realms of your inner world becomes a bit thinner than usual…

and it’s easier, if you know how to look, to see things about yourself and the world that might otherwise remain hidden.

The power of shadow work + the Autumn Equinox

At the Autumn Equinox, this thinning of the veil precedes a phase (in the Northern Hemisphere) of increasing shadow…

…meaning our normally-quite-slippery unconscious energies will be easier to grasp. 

Again…if you know how to look. 

If you don’t, this could mean feeling as if things are happening to you, as if you’re more subject to the whims of fate.

For as Jung famously said,

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate.”

Thus, it’s incredibly useful, particularly at this time of year, to understand some of the deeper forces within that, if left unexplored, could exert a heavier hand during these fall and winter months. 

So, that’s the why. Now, let’s look at the technique.

How do you find your personal tarot card?

Many practitioners and schools have linked tarot with astrology, and here, I’ll be using a specific set of correspondences popularized by the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley. 

I prefer to use Crowley’s Thoth Tarot Deck with this technique, but I’ve also experimented with applying it to other decks, and the results are just as useful, so do what feels best to you. 

First, grab a copy of your natal chart, which you can get online for free. 

I love the work of astrologer Chani Nicholas, so I’ll recommend her free charting service here.

Bonus: Nicholas’ charting software was built by “AnnieCannons…a queer-led software development agency that trains all of its engineers from among survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence and pays these newly trained engineers a living wage to build software.”

Hell yes to that!

Once you have your chart, look at your Sun sign. 

There should be a degree number associated with it. The degree shows the position of a planet—in this case, the Sun—within a particular sign. 

So, if your Sun is in Libra and the little number near your Sun is 18, then your Sun is positioned at 18 degrees in Libra. 

Some charts might show another number with what looks like a single quotation mark—this is called a “minute”, and you can disregard that number for this technique. 

(The chart I provide below will indicate what degree your Sun is in based on your birth date, so you don’t have to download your chart, but I find it useful to understand where these numbers are coming from.)

Now, it’s time to find your decan.

The zodiacal year can be divided into shorter chunks of time known as “decans,” each made up of ten degrees (roughly equivalent to ten days). 

Each decan has a corresponding tarot card associated with it, specifically one of the minor arcana or “pip” cards. 

When you know which decan your Sun is in, you can see which tarot card matches with this decan, and this is known as your “personal card.” 

The chart below will show you how to match up your decan with a specific tarot card.

Click the image to download your free chart.

I see this technique as one way of plumbing the depths of your Sun sign…

…and as we enter this shadowy, post-Equinox phase, the energetic currents really support this form of deeper exploration. 

Once you know your card, it’s time to figure out what it means for you personally. 

I mentioned above that you’re welcome to use this technique with any tarot deck, but here, I’m going to talk specifically about the Thoth deck.

If you’re new to this deck, I highly recommend Lon Milo duQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, as it breaks down somewhat complicated topics in a very engaging way…

…and it will give you an excellent place to start meditating and journaling on your personal card.

Here are some points to consider when sussing out the significance of your card.

Consider the card’s title.

If you’re brand new to the Thoth deck, you might find the titles of the cards illuminating or challenging–or both!

When I first started using it, many of the titles seemed to clash with my previous understanding of the cards…

…but in meditating on their meanings, the titles have challenged me to peel back another layer of depth that’s quite exciting. 

Consider the card’s elemental association.

Wands are associated with Fire, which corresponds to life force, the will, ambition, and “I want.”

Cups are associated with Water, which corresponds to understanding, love, the emotions, and “I feel.”

Swords are associated with Air, which corresponds to intellect, the thoughts, discernment, and “I think.”

Disks are associated with Earth, which corresponds to the body, resources, practicalities, and “I need.”

Consider the card’s astrological quality.

Based on the number of your personal card, it’s associated with a different quality: cardinal, fixed, or mutable.

Twos, Threes, and Fours: Cardinal

Fives, Sixes, and Sevens: Fixed

Eights, Nines, and Tens: Mutable

Cardinal signs are associated with initiating, leading, and taking charge, but they might struggle with sustaining energy over the long term.

Fixed signs are associated with endurance, seeing things through, and stability, but they might struggle with stubbornness or inflexibility.

Mutable signs are associated with change, adaptation, and stimulation, but they might struggle with making decisions and being still.

Of course, all of these descriptions are a taste, not the entire picture, but they can give you a place to start your own explorations.

What if I get a shitty personal card?

Well, first off, I understand.

My personal card is the three of swords.

Let me show you how what could have been a monumental bummer ended up leaving me feeling deeply seen and aligned with my life’s purpose.

First, check out the card’s image from the Smith-Waite deck. It’s quite a party, ain’t it?

The Golden Dawn title, which Crowley adopts for the Thoth Tarot, is Sorrow or the Lord of Sorrow.

Fun, eh?

In thinking about it Qabalistically, though (duQuette’s book mentioned above is a great springboard if you want to learn more)…

…a couple of key points emerged:

All of the tarot three cards have connections to the third sephira on the tree of life, Binah…

…and Binah, residing above the Abyss, is beyond the grasp of the finite human mind (see diagram below). 

The suit of Swords, however, is associated with the intellect, so here we have a card that combines human understanding with that which cannot be grasped by human understanding

A bit of a pickle, yes?

adapted from A Kabbalistic Universe by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi

And then there’s the connection between the tarot suit of Swords and what are known as the Qabalistic Worlds.

While this is too complex to cover in depth, here’s a (delightfully retro-colored) way of viewing the different Qabalistic Worlds, Azilut, Beriah, Yezirah, and Assiyah.

adapted from A Kabbalistic Universe by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi

The Swords relate specifically to the world of Yezirah, or the World of Formation. 

And this yields another sticky situation, because the three, existing above the Abyss, is beyond the world of forms, so we’re stuck in the paradoxical formation of formlessness. 

In meditating on this card, I felt profoundly seen and understood on a deeper level than I ever have before. 

How?

Well previously, I couldn’t quite put my finger on the exquisite pain-pleasure of never being able to fully articulate the ideas, energies, and living impulses that arose within me.

Essentially, I am drawn like a moth to a flame in trying to express the inexpressible, and the tension this creates fuels all of my creativity. 

In my darker moments, this tension feels overwhelming, bordering on hopelessness…

…but more often than not, I feel energized by the quest to endlessly keep trying to cast temporary forms and shapes onto the ineffable, learning more about myself and the world with every new attempt. 

And when I surrender fully to this desire, I feel enveloped in the divine…

…which Lon Milo duQuette speaks to in his summary of the Three of Swords:

“Without forms or reason, the mind must give way to a consciousness higher than itself. The Three of Swords represents the wondrous trance of sorrow that first enlightened the Buddha.” (243)

Does this give you a sense of how your personal card can illuminate your unique gifts and how you’re seeking to express them in this lifetime?

This is potent stuff.

I hope this brief introduction will give you plenty of juicy material to work with as you uncover how truly dazzling and magical you really are. 

Autumn Equinox blessings!

Working Magic When You’re Overwhelmed + Doubting Yourself

Have you ever reread a book from childhood and discovered secret keys

…that happen to be precisely what Adult You needs right now?

Well, I recently got a hankering for my old John Bellairs books, starting with The House With a Clock In Its Walls

Most of the book was comfortingly familiar, and I was amazed at how even tiny details in the illustrations came back to me…

like it was just yesterday I’d been camped out under my rainbow bedspread, reading by flashlight.

(Man, that was the best.)

But what I had somehow entirely forgotten was the climax of the book…

…specifically, how the main character, Lewis, managed to turn around seemingly unbeatable odds through a very peculiar strategy. 

Without losing ourselves in the plot weeds, the gist is that Lewis and his Uncle Jonathan (a wizard) and their good friend Mrs. Zimmerman (a witch) are faced with an evil genius who wants to end the world.

[Dum, dum, DUM…]

It seems as if all is lost, because the villain appears to be an exceedingly powerful magician who is always two steps ahead of them. 

But then, something happened that adult me didn’t at all remember reading as a kid. 

Mrs. Zimmerman had painted a rather dour picture of their chances…

…saying that the villain’s “magic is logical. It proceeds from A to B to C in nice, neat steps. As logical and neat as the movement of a hand around the face of a clock.”

In a flash of inspiration, Uncle Jonathan replies, “Then there’s no point in our being logical, is there?”

edward gorey house clock walls

The others are totally confused, so he explains…

“We’re no good at that sort of game. Our game is wild swoops, sudden inexplicable discoveries, cloudy thinking. Knights’ jumps instead of files of rooks plowing across the board. So we’d better play our way if we expect to win.”

He continues,

“It all seems clear enough to me. Lewis, what I want you to do is this. Get a pencil and paper, and dream up the silliest set of instructions you can think of…Make it as goofy as you can.”

Lewis runs with the idea, sequestering himself in the study for fifteen minutes…

…before emerging with a list of instructions, the first of which made Jonathan “throw back his head and laugh loudly.”

And here’s the thing:

Those “nonsensical,” laughable instructions ended up winning the day and saving the world.

How? 

Here’s what I noticed while reading the text as if it’s filled with secret magical wisdom (‘cause it is). 

First, the whole group got on board without reservation or sarcasm.

No one was bitching about how stupid the plan was. They were all enthusiastically, whole-heartedly participating as if this were exactly what the situation called for. 

And so it was. 

When they acted as if, they called into being the reality they had imagined. 

Viewed another way, they took the intuition and the messages of the unconscious seriously. 

How often do we dismiss our dreams as merely “random” or “weird,” or our gut instincts as a case of “just being too sensitive”? 

But here, the non-logical (though not, what I would call, illogical) was highly valued.

Second, they trusted that things would become clear after they began engaging with the process. 

After rushing through the house, carrying out the first batch of oddball instructions, the three regrouped in the parlour, and Uncle Jonathan asked Lewis, “What’s next?”

To which Lewis replied that they needed to play a game of poker until the “Ace of Nitwits” appeared.

Jonathan replied, “And what, may I ask, is the Ace of Nitwits?”

“I don’t know. It just came to me. I guess we’ll know when we find it.”

Genius.

And so they proceed to play–again, whole-heartedly–and what do you know? A half hour into the game, Lewis “picked up a card and found that he was staring at the Ace of Nitwits.”

How often do we hem ourselves in, fearful of taking the first step without knowing the fifteenth? 

Trusting that guidance will appear when we engage with life beyond the confines of our mind is a powerful act of magic. 

We’re giving the Universe potent energy and intention to which it can respond with equal gusto and enthusiasm.

Imagine the reverse, a situation we so often find ourselves in: 

We’re hesitant, maybe even a little suspiciously pessimistic about our chances…

…and we become stuck in our heads, trying to micromanage the details before we’ve even begun.

Here, the Universe is offered constricted, circular energy to respond to…and it does.

In these scenarios, it’s easy to start seeing obstacles everywhere we look, and our self-doubt is amplified with every pass around the mental track.

And this isn’t because the Universe is “out to get us.”

It’s simply responding to what we’re broadcasting, magnifying our energy with more of the same.

So, when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck in patterns of self-doubt, take a cue from this magical text:

Listen to the nudges of your intuition,

engage with them whole-heartedly,

and trust that, when you do, guidance will emerge, precisely when and how you need it. 

P.S. Want to amplify your magical power even more?

Check out my free course, How to Alchemically Transmute Difficult Shit Into Electrifying Satisfaction.


The magical key hidden in the movie Labyrinth (part 2)

In yesterday’s post, we talked about the importance of asking the right questions…in magic and in life. 

Today, we’re going to look at three common dead ends and how to get unstuck.

When your questioning is aligned with your true will…

…the universe responds and you experience a flow of positive synchronicity, so it’s well worth honing this magical art. 

Let’s get started!

1. Are you asking a question that’s so big, there’s no way you could answer it (nor would the answer be useful even if you could)?

Prime example:

What am I supposed to be doing with my life?

Woah, nelly, that’s a big question. 

Really, truly, if I were to ask you, “What are you supposed to be doing with today?” 

…as in, on a divine, soul-inspired level, how are you meant to be spending today—would you be able to easily answer that?

Most of us have no problem ticking off the laundry list of things our ego thinks we should be doing from the moment we wake up until our exhausted head hits the pillow…

…but that’s a far cry from knowing what we’re being called to devote our precious life force to on the level of the true will.

This isn’t to say we should never ask these big questions, but if we routinely find ourselves stuck and overwhelmed, it’s time to zoom in and focus on our next step.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, this is known as focusing on the “next indicated thing.” 

If Sarah were to become fixated on, “How do I defeat the Goblin King?” Her eventual task once she reaches the center of the labyrinth, she’d never even get her foot in the door. 

Oh, David Bowie, how I love thee…

First, she needs to focus on the next indicated thing and just find her way into the damn labyrinth. 

Another way to approach this that might trigger some useful insights for you:

Are you focusing on a question that, on some level, you know you can’t answer, as a way to stay hemmed into your comfort zone?

This could be something that you won’t know until you take actions A and B, because…

…those actions will change your trajectory and thus your future awareness and decisions.

…you won’t know how you feel about the situation until you take those actions.

In this case, your soul is urging you to just take the next step, rather than worrying about the entire map. 

2. Are you asking about things you have zero control over, which is another way of staying safely within the comfort zone?

If you’re asking how you can change other people…well, I hate to be the bearer of frustrating news, but this is a sure fire way to stay stuck. 

We can’t force someone else to change, but we sure as hell can evolve ourselves.

And if you think this is a selfishly introverted approach, let me offer this:

The collective consciousness (and unconsciousness) is made up of you and me and everyone else. 

Arguably, if I don’t change, if you don’t change—there’s no hope in changing the collective. 

We have to start with ourselves, as Jung writes:

“Too many still look outwards, some believing in the illusion of victory and of victorious power, others in treaties and laws, and others again in the overthrow of the existing order.

“But still too few look inwards, at their own selves, and still fewer ask themselves whether the ends of human society might not best be served if each man tried to abolish the old order in himself…

“…and to practice in his own person and in his own inward state, those precepts, those victories which he preaches at every street-corner, instead of always expecting these things of his fellow men.”*

(Jung wrote this back in 1918, by the way.)

3. Are you asking what your ego thinks you should want, not what you actually want?

Here’s an example from my own life:

I was in a (long) string of train-wreck relationships throughout my teens and 20s. 

Like, truly soap operatic levels of chaos and dysfunction, and unfortunately, I didn’t know how to change the channel. 

I was really fixated on the question of, “How can I finally enjoy a healthy relationship, for the love of all that is holy???

Here’s the thing, though: Deep down, that wasn’t at all what I was interested in knowing. 

What I was really asking was, “How can I feel worthy of love?”

Now, this deeper question led to an entirely different chain of events than that healthy-relationship question, which didn’t actually have any magnetic oomph in my life at that point.

The deeper question led me to unconsciously seek out partners who were like my parents…

…because if I could figure out how to get my partners to love me…

…then I could figure out how to get my parents to love me…

…which my childhood-imprinted self equated with feeling worthy of love.

Now, I don’t delude myself that I’ve completely worked out these patterns (progress, not perfection!)…

…but I do know that I’m twelve years into my marriage, and I still love and adore my sexy husband and am hoping to have many more decades together. 

A far cry from my crash-and-burn relationship history. 

When I started to shift to authentically asking how to have a healthy relationship, this led to its own entirely different chain of events, like…

…getting my ass in therapy.

…learning how to communicate in a way that truly facilitated intimacy (rather than just mimicking my parents’ communication patterns in an attempt to recreate that situation).

…and a whole host of actions that were radically different from those inspired by the “how to feel worthy of love” line of inquiry. 

Admittedly, it can be a little trickier to suss out the deeper question, but one way that works remarkably well is to do a little reverse engineering. 

In my case, if I were to look at my hot-mess relationships and describe what I was repeatedly experiencing, such as:

Emotionally violent, chronic arguments

Being lied to and gaslighted

Being ignored and rejected

…and I asked myself, if these experiences were exactly what I needed to fulfill a certain belief, what might that belief be?

That I deserve being in situations that feel scary and totally out of control.

That it’s okay to lie to and manipulate me for your own purposes. 

That I’m not worth anyone’s time and love. 

And when I explored where, early in my life, I had felt these beliefs taking shape…

…it didn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to see precisely how I was trying to redeem myself by repeating these childhood situations in the hopes of somehow “getting it right this time.”

But once you know the question you’re actually asking (in my case, “How can I feel worthy of love?”), then you can go about answering/responding to it consciously…

…instead of allowing it to unconsciously drive your life. 

Here’s to your innermost seeking.


*Preface to second edition of the Collected Works 7

The magical key hidden in the movie Labyrinth (part 1)

I don’t know if you’re obsessed with the movie Labyrinth like I was as a kid, but (oh, who am I kidding? I’m still obsessed with that movie)…

…there’s something quite fascinating (and relevant to magic)  in one of the opening scenes.

Sarah, the main character, must figure out her way into the labyrinth (the unconscious) that she’s been tasked with solving if she hopes to save her baby brother. 

There’s a strange little figure, Hoggle, puttering around outside the wall, and Sarah hopes he can help her find the entrance. 

Here, and elsewhere in her journey, Hoggle serves as a sort of guardian at the threshold and a psychopomp, helping Sarah pass from one realm to the next. 

And like all liminal figures, securing his aid isn’t a straightforward matter:

“Excuse me, I have to get through this Labyrinth—can you help me?”

No response as Hoggle busies himself zapping the biting fairies.

“Do you know where the door to the labyrinth is?”

“Oh, maybe…”

Her impatience growing, “Well, where is it?”

Again, Hoggles pointedly ignores her while carrying on with his work.

“I said, where is it?”

“Where is what?”

“The door!”

What door?”

In a huff: “It’s hopeless asking you anything.”

Not if you ask the right questions.”

Finally, in exasperation, “How do I get into the labyrinth?”

“Ahhhh, now that’s more like it. You get in,” he sweeps his finger toward the entrance, “there.”

Interestingly, the doors are huge, and you might wonder how Sarah ever could have missed them…

…but such is the nature of the unconscious (especially coupled with the limiting belief that we cannot possibly know a thing for ourselves and require an external authority). 

But what I find so interesting is what seems, on the surface, like a lack of meaningful distinction between the questions that got her exactly nowhere and the one that finally unlocks the labyrinth.

What gives? 

Notice how, at first, her questions are all about finding the door. 

Which makes sense, right?

Perhaps…but on another level, these questions aren’t quite what she’s really after, indicating that Sarah doesn’t fully know what she wants yet. 

Because, after all, she’s not interested in knowing the location of the door simply for curiosity’s sake, right?

No, what she really wants to know is how to get into the labyrinth.

When she formulates a question that is a true reflection of her desire, the universe responds. 

The same is true in our magic. 

When we cast spells or set intentions that aren’t a reflection of our true will…

…there simply isn’t enough magnetic oomph to these magical expressions to elicit much of a response from the universe.

Thus, it’s so important to craft questions that lead us deeper into our authentic nature, otherwise we’ll remain scratching about on the surface, frustrated by the lackluster results.

How do we ask the questions that really matter, then?

In part two, we look at three ways to do just that. 

P.S. This idea of crafting powerful questions has been on my mind more than usual lately, as I just finished writing the divination lesson of a new Jungian Magic course, which will be coming out later this year. 🙂