Walpurgis Night + Beltane Ritual for Power

The night before Beltane is known as Walpurgis Night, Hexennacht, or Witch’s Night

…a time when witches ride upon broomsticks and black cats, meeting in secret to celebrate the thinning of the veil between worlds and the concomitant rise in their witchy powers. 

In paintings of Walpurgis Night and Beltane, women are often shown dancing round a fire with ecstatic abandon, released from an ever-watchful patriarchal gaze, if only for one night.

It’s a time to remember what it feels like to be utterly free within oneself, to come into the fullness of your being, not whittling it down to a societally acceptable sliver. 

If there’s one thing all Beltane imagery has in common it’s the vividness of the emotional energy, practically dripping off the canvas.

Nymphs Dancing to Pan’s Flute, Joseph Tomanek

This isn’t a night of steely, rational restraint.

It’s a time to feel, deeply and with every cell of your body.

In our daily lives, when we come to fear and avoid our emotional experience, the ego becomes brittle, ever watchful for potential outbursts.

This emotional energy doesn’t simply disappear, though; it bottles and builds, fueling an eventual, predictable explosion. 

Sometimes that explosion takes the form of an argument, but it can just as easily erupt as:

binge shopping

a bout of ravaging self-doubt

compulsive exercising (or compulsive anything)

devouring news stories that outrage us

…and other ways of blowing off steam without having to really feel the original feeling. 

This can further the ego’s fear of emotions, and it tightens down its control even more, not realizing that this rigid control is precisely what perpetuates the inevitable backlash. 

La nuit de Walpurgis, Constantin Nepo

If we learn how to welcome our emotions as they arise, we learn to trust the psyche’s innate intelligence, which knows how to return us to equilibrium without repressing our life force.

Rather than trying to achieve the ego’s illusion of remaining consistently even keel, no matter what, we allow ourselves to feel what we feel, when we feel it. 

The energy not spent trying to ward off our emotions can now be channelled into having the strength to stay present with them.

That thinning of the veil I mentioned earlier?

We can think of this as the blurring of the boundary between conscious and unconscious, which is what our emotions usher us into relationship with.

Far from sapping our power, the emotions bring us up close and personal with it. 

The following practice is one that you can initiate during the powerful energetic current of Walpurgis Night and Beltane, when the cosmic veils are thinning, with the hopes that it will feel so liberating, so intoxicatingly alive, you’ll want to continue it well beyond this night. 

The practice centers around one of the most common resistances to feeling our emotions: the false belief that if we feel a certain way, we must need to do something about it. 

One way this shows up for me is finding myself missing someone who is no longer in my life, and for very good reasons, reasons that support my mental health.

It’s easy to mistake these feelings as a sign that I need to rekindle the relationship…but this then brings a flood of anxiety at the remembrance of all the unhealthy patterns that I don’t wish to revisit, and around and around it goes. 

Eventually, it occurred to me to just feel the emotion of missing. 

In one instance, I actually sat down on my home office floor and let myself sob for a few minutes, and then, unexpectedly, the emotions began to ebb of their own accord, leaving behind a sense of clarity and calm.

The letter that just moments before I was anxiously debating whether or not to write–it now felt like a non-issue. 

I didn’t need a letter, I didn’t need to rekindle things; I just needed to feel. 

So this Beltane, when your power is at its height, can you practice feeling what you feel, gently detaching from any ego narratives about what you “should” do? 

Trust that, if you stay present, letting emotional energy course through you, it will naturally ebb, leaving behind, like the tide revealing shells and other deep-sea treasures, the gifts of clarity and insight. 

Your emotions are a throughway to intuitive wisdom…

…but we need to dance around their fire until the heat dissipates, suspending the linear, patriarchal agenda to hurry up and “figure it all out,” just for tonight.

Just long enough to experience that thinning of the veil, where all is made clear, and we feel whole unto ourselves. 

Beltane blessings!

(Featured image by Luis Ricardo Falero.)

Archetypal Dream Interpretation (part two)

Archetypal time travel

In my last post, I laid the groundwork for today’s discussion, and we left off by talking about how a complex gets triggered in daily life…

…and when this happens, it can flood the ego with archetypal energy.

A common experience of this is finding our thoughts or feelings suddenly imbued with the energy of ABSOLUTE RIGHTNESS or ABSOLUTE WRONGNESS.

“This is just how things are done!”

“I’ll never be good enough.”

“Everybody knows x.”

“This will never change–it’s pointless to try.”

Because archetypes are so damn massive compared to our finite egos, their presence carries an overwhelming sense of THIS IS SO…

…and whatever is influenced by their energy can feel like THE ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL.

(And for examples, see just about every political battle throughout history.)  

So in daily life, perhaps what begins as a mildly cringy feeling of embarrassment, one we could easily manage and laugh off, activates a complex

…flooding us with archetypal energy. And now, suddenly that cringy feeling starts to grow…and linger…

…and then here we are, still replaying the embarrassing thing we said at 2 in the morning.

And over breakfast the next day… 

And now there’s a nagging, building suspicion that maybe we’re just shit and no one will ever let us move past this for as long as we live.

We find ourselves recounting all of the other times we’ve embarrassed ourselves, and completely shutting down and bottling up our authenticity seems like probably the only logical way forward…

…and down and down the spiral we go. 

By the way, this can easily travel the other way, too, where we start out with something we feel passionate about…

…only to find archetypal energy flooding us into a state of grandiose inflation where we feel immune to risk and accountability, and we careen off into the sun like Icarus with his rapidly melting wings. 

Okay, let’s bring this back to dreams and our two-faced guide, Janus. 

In modern chemistry, there’s something known as a Janus molecule, which is a compound that can be toxic or beneficial–it’s all about proper dosage. 

Archetypes, too, can be “toxic” (i.e. splintering) to the ego due to their vastness, but they can also be extraordinarily beneficial. 

One archetypal gift is being filled with inspiration. Great art of any kind is a channeling of the archetypal into tangible form. 

Archetypes can also show us our future.

The reasons are complex, but here’s the nutshell version: 

First:

The collective unconscious is a realm of creation, as in, things coming into existence.

Archetypes are the framework of the collective unconscious, so they’re intimately tied with things that are coming into being, i.e. the future. 

Second:

Archetypes appear in our lives in response to an as-yet-unconscious need.

In other words, we conjure them up from the depths when, deep in our unconscious, a compelling need arises.

Thus, if we pay attention to the archetype, we can deduce the unconscious need that will soon be bursting into conscious awareness, influencing our waking life.

Quick example:

Before I consciously realized I needed to make a dramatic shift in a family relationship, archetypes connected to this relationship’s themes began populating my dreams, indicating that big change was approaching in this area. 

When archetypes appear, we can be certain that elements within us are preparing to mobilize in that direction.

We might not know the specifics at first, but the more we pay attention, the clearer things will become.

(And if we ignore these signs, they’ll start showing up with increasing intensity–and sometimes downright destructiveness–in our waking life.)

And third:

Archetypes unfold in patterns.

Fairy tales are a great example of this. Not only are they populated by archetypal characters, such as the Witch and the Helpful Animal, but the events occur in an archetypal order

For example, a colleague of Jung’s, Marie-Louise von Franz, recognized that whenever helpful animals appear in a fairy tale, if the heroine accepts their aid, she is assured of success. 

In more ordinary terms, when the “helpful animals” of our instincts gift us with guidance, if we know how to honor these messages, we are assured success in our endeavors.

But if we ignore them and rely solely on intellect, we get eaten by the troll.

So in dreams (and waking synchronicity), when an archetype appears, it gives you a potent clue as to what theme of occurrences you’ll be experiencing next…

…and by looking at the context of the dream, you’re given further clues as to how you’re being called to respond. (More on this below.)

For fellow tarot nerds:

Check out the Major Arcana, which is a map of archetypes.

Does one of these figures relate to the archetypes showing up in your dreams? If so, what cards come before and after it? These are clues as to where you’ve been and where you’re headed. 

In my case, Janus is ushering in a period where I need to pay extra attention to where I tend toward “ego splitting”…

…refusing paradox in myself and others, grasping for either/or certainties at the expense of psychic integration. 

And the context in which Janus appeared in my dream gives me additional clues.

For instance, he manifested in relation to food and nourishment and also to seeing what others around me cannot or will not see.

It’s beyond this post to sketch out the particulars of my dream, but based on my journaling, meditation, therapy, and other tools of self-inquiry over the past few months, these clues make sense to me. 

In the same way, you can interpret elements in your dreams…

…that carry a known mythological significance, like Janus (this is where reading myths and fairy tales is a very useful witchy habit, indeed)…

or things that feel numinous to you, personally. These are the dreams that carry a higher-than-usual emotional charge; perhaps they’re harder to wake or disentangle yourself from the next morning, or you find yourself thinking about them at “random” times.

You might also experience daytime synchronicity: meaningful coincidences related to the dream’s theme. 

Pay close attention.

Start journaling these things and any personal associations that come to mind so you can recognize the developing picture. 

Our primary task when archetypes appear…

…is finding a way to personalize them, to translate their collective energy into something useful in human, lived experience.

You aren’t integrating them into your psyche (archetypes are simply too massive and collective for the ego to integrate and stay sane)…

…instead, you’re being called to learn new ways of productively channelling their energy into your life. 

For example, my dreams are not calling me to become Janus, as this would lead to a psychotic break.

But I can answer his invitation to embrace paradox and duality, to see both sides while remaining whole, to cross into new ways of thinking and being by holding multiple truths.

Thus, it will be useful for me to get curious when I’m feeling the urge to create tidy categories of right/wrong, and treat them not as finalities but as thresholds to an expanded reality.

Now, interpret your dreams:

What are the prominent archetypes in your more emotionally charged dreams right now?

What personal associations come to mind when you think about or research these archetypes?

What contextual clues does the dream offer regarding how or in what life areas these energies are influencing you?

What are you feeling called to learn or embrace as you move into this next archetypal phase?

By working with your dreams in this way, you’re opening up to unconscious messaging while it’s still a guiding whisper…

…rather than forcing it to reach a yelling crescendo in waking life in the form of unwanted circumstances and chronic patterns.

This allows you to work with, not against, your inner tides, which naturally seek to balance and support you in all things.

Not only does this make life a helluva lot easier…

…it gifts you with a deeply embodied knowing that your Wise Self, in every moment, has your back.

You’re never alone.

You are guided, you are loved, and the wisdom is always within you.

Archetypal Dream Interpretation (part one)

Last night, I dreamt of Janus…

…odd, because I don’t really work with this deity, and significant because the dream had clear signs of “archetypal numinosity.”

Recognizing when your own dreams indicate that powerful archetypes are afoot is a vital magical skill, because it serves as an omen of your future. 

Janus, due to his rulership of time and liminal spaces, one face focused on the future, is connected to auspicious signs such as these.

In this and my next post, I’ll break down how to recognize and interpret these archetypal dream encounters for yourself…

…and how doing so will integrate your psyche and supercharge your power and magic in waking life.

First things first:

We can think of our psyche as existing on a gradient from conscious to unconscious with infinite shades in between

The more something (a thought, feeling, image, what have you) travels from consciousness toward the unconscious, the more archaic, mythical, and larger-than-life it becomes. 

An example…

We’re seven years old, and dad is taking us out for ice cream as a special treat. 

We’re extra grown up today, because we’ve been allowed to order for ourselves, and we even get to reach up and take our chocolate-dipped cone directly from the server. 

The air just beyond the sliding window is arctic-ly AC, giving us a trippy sensation of reaching into another realm while the rest of our body is firmly planted in sweltering summer. 

And then…we drop it. The cone catches the counter’s edge, leaving a chocolate-y smear before it splops on the concrete. 

The kids waiting in line snicker and whisper, and dad, exasperated, with a sneer of contempt: “Are you serious? Jeee-sus…”

Our face burning as we realize how utterly, hopelessly un-grown up we are–it’s only fitting we’re not getting ice cream today because we’re clearly undeserving.

Okay, so what just happened here?

Well, this is an example of an emotionally charged, formative situation. 

We could pick out any number of “slices” to focus on from this one memory, but let’s choose the high of feeling capable, confident, and grown-up…

…followed by the crash of humiliating failure and helplessness.

If this little slice stays conscious, it can change and adapt over time. We might gain perspective as we mature, seeing that we were just a child, it was purely a mistake, this sort of thing happens to everyone, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.  

But if all or parts of this slice sink into the unconscious, it can form what’s known as a complex…

…drawing to it other associations, like the sound of dad’s voice, the experience of being laughed at, the weird hot-cold sensation as we reached from summertime into ice-cream frigidity, etc.

If any of these elements are activated in daily life…

…we might experience the original wash of humiliation and shame, ranging from mild to intense.

When this happens and we’re not conscious of the underlying complex, we’re temporarily thrown back in time to our seven-year-old skills and maturity, without realizing what’s happening.

Complexes are a topic too…well, complex to fully go into here, but suffice it to say that when complexes get activated, our responses are less conscious and more compulsive.

These are the moments, if we remember them at all, that we might ask ourselves, “What the hell came over me?”

In Jung’s word association tests, where participants offered whatever word came to mind in response to a cue word, when a complex was triggered, people would take longer to respond and they might not have a clear memory of their response later.

In short, complexes can overtake the ego, sometimes for a mere blip of a second, other times longer, and we’re temporarily ousted from the driver’s seat, even though the car is still moving. 

To connect this to archetypes…

All of the complex’s associations orbiting around the original ice cream memory are now also related to an archetype. (The short version: This is because all complexes have an archetypal core.)

Let’s say this particular complex gathered around the Father archetype.

Archetypes are ANCIENT. They’re primordial and they’re collective, meaning, they do not live on an ordinary, individual human scale. 

The archetype of Father is the grand totality of ALL energies related to the concept of Father throughout all time.

If we compared this to an actual, human father, the difference in scale is truly beyond comprehension. 

Due to this complex, we now have a massive, archetypal conduit plugged into a personal memory…

…and when something triggers this memory, consciously or unconsciously, it can potentially release larger-than-life levels of energy. 

The more unconscious this memory becomes, the more our human father’s contemptuous tone of voice takes on epic proportions…

…potentially shapeshifting into an unconscious soundtrack, lurking in judgment of our every move.

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll look at how this shows up in daily life (trust me, you’ll be able to recognize how often this happens as soon as you read this)…

…and how spotting it allows you to see your future in your dreams.

Stay tuned.

Scorpio Full Moon Ritual

As a Scorpio Moon myself, I know all too well the emotional, er, intensity this sign can bring. 

But it also reveals insight-rich pathways to our shadow side…

…helping us identify where and how we’re being called to cut ties with the shit that drains us dry.

Fear of missing out can be a toxic magnetic charge…

…compelling us to stick around for things that have long overstayed their welcome. 

Whether it’s relationship patterns that leave your energy feeling like a wrung-out sponge,

money stressors that make it hard to think about much else,

or anything that no longer serves you…

…the Scorpio Full Moon provides an energetic boost to do what I like to call quitting cleanly.

When we’re stuck in a loop, chasing all the things we think we should be doing…

…it’s hard to have the clarity or energy to truly devote ourselves to our soul’s calling. 

And this, in turn, results in our efforts not having anywhere near the impact we’d like.

We’ll feel as if our wheels are spinning as we dabble in this or that, never really sure how to create inspired, forward-moving traction. 

To shift this, we need to get clear on what we’re not choosing to do. 

Think of this like a powerful energetic pruning.

When we have a dozen options simmering on the back burner, our stove ends up looking like a hot mess, and this can manifest as:

Having loads of ideas but little clarity on where to start

Insufficient energy to see projects through to completion

Ending every day feeling like we barely scratched the surface of our to-do list

Struggling with envy towards people who appear to be living the life we want

The Scorpio Moon Ritual

On this Scorpio Full Moon, grab a sheet of paper and do something to mark the occasion:

Light some incense or a candle, cast a witch’s circle, ring a bell–whatever works best for you. 

Center yourself with a few rounds of slow, steady breaths, feeling yourself coming more fully into your body.

Now, list on your paper all of the things hanging over your head in an amorphous cloud of options…

…all the things that you could do, maybe, someday, you just don’t seem to have the time or money or whatever for them right now.

If there’s anything you’ve been trying to “should” yourself into doing, but you just can’t seem to start (or finish), add it to your list. 

As you write, you might notice areas in your body where this tangled up, constricted energy has been stored, perhaps a clenching in your jaw or a gripping in your belly.

Simply notice these areas with gentle curiosity and send a little breath there.

When your list feels complete, close your eyes, and take a few moments to connect inward. Then, thank all of these options for existing, expressing gratitude that they’ve inspired desire and passion. 

And now, it’s time to say goodbye. 

If you’re already feeling separation anxiety, know this:

You are not cutting these things out of your life forever and ever. You’re simply releasing them for now, freeing stagnant energy so it can return to your life in new, more relevant ways.

Gently open your eyes and read each item on your list with a farewell. 

“Thank you and goodbye, videography class.” 

“Thank you and goodbye, guilt over not wanting to be friends with Zane anymore.”

“Thank you and goodbye, community coalition position.”

You can burn the paper if you have a means to do so safely, or tear it into tiny shreds and flush it down the toilet or put it in the recycling bin.

Then, close your eyes once more and feel the Scorpio Full Moon bathing you in its energy, dissolving any energetic cords and attachments to things that no longer serve. 

I sometimes receive a vision of Scorpion deftly severing energetic ties as it moves, 360-degrees, around my aura. 

When the experience feels complete, intend that your energy returns to a state that is correct and good for you. Thank the Moon and Scorpion for their power and guidance. 

Following this ritual, pay attention to + journal insights that arise regarding follow-up actions you need to take. 

For example, you might receive guidance for your community coalition resignation email/call, or suddenly see how to exit your friendship with Zane in a way that is emotionally clear and kind to both of you. 

It’s important to take these actions in order to maintain your newly clarified + balanced energy…

…and don’t be afraid to ask for help–from the Moon, Scorpion, your Wise Self, any guides you work with, or the other humans in your life! 

There’s no need to walk this path alone, dear witch. You are supported in every moment by forces seen and unseen, and you have only to ask. 

Saying goodbye to what no longer serves is a radical act, communicating to your entire being: “I am worthy of care and love.”

The more you adopt this inner stance of self-care:

the more clear your next steps will be,

the more energy you’ll have to take them,

and the greater your impact will be.

Happy Scorpio Moon!

Enhance Your Psychic Sense: An Earth Day Meditation

In this free meditation, you’ll tap into the power of mycelium…

…a vast underground network of fungus (aka, the “wood wide web”) that communicates nutrients and chemical messages throughout huge swathes of forest. 

In this witchy twist on mycelial messaging, you’ll access guidance from the cosmic web of information. 

You can start with a specific question in mind (e.g. “What do I need to know about my relationship with Ari?”)…

…or open yourself to general guidance (e.g. “What’s most important for me to know right now?”).

Inspired by the witchcraft technique of shapeshifting…

…this short audio meditation will help you energetically shift into tree form, connecting your roots into the mycelial network to retrieve relevant insights

Free Earth Day meditation:

P.S. Want more? Check out another free audio: A Guided Meditation for Powerful Change.

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!