What Magic Is and Isn’t

What Magic Is and Isn’t

My trusty 11 year old wand

I live a very magical life and I am so deeply grateful for it. A magical life is a wonderful and wonder-filled existence. It’s a life of delight, of gratitude, of beauty and of power. A magical life is a life of growth and joy, of surprise and rhyme. Of rhythm.

What it is not is an easy life. A painless life. A secure life. A smooth life. A magical life is not a small life, or a predictable life, or an acceptable life. And as I already said, it is not an easy life.

I say this because when people think of “magic”, sometimes they think of it as an instant, process-less, lazy path. As in, you snap your fingers and boom! There you have it. Which is actually true, but do you have any idea of how much work is going on unseen, beyond the veil, underneath the surface in order to make the snapping of the fingers a powerful spell that makes shit happen? Unless you are a seasoned witch, no you don’t, so let me tell you.

Our human meatsuits need polarity to make sense of the universe and life. Day and night, male and female, good and evil, these are all helpful constructs to navigate life. They are also illusions, as we are all one, and the unity of everything is the ultimate reality – but this truth is not helpful when we’re trying to get the grocery shopping done, raise the children or run the businesses, because our human brains would be in a constant state of awe and implosion at the beauty of infinite love and that is not a very functional state from a meatsuit perspective. So, we use polarity as markers for navigating our human existence.

And to be a powerful witch, you need to surf paradox on the daily: get to know, accept, and inhabit all the polarities within you: your “good” and your “evil”, your “male” and your “female”, your “analytical” and your “creative”, your “conscious” and “unconscious”, your “victim” and your “perpetrator” – and these are all in quotes because the boundaries between them are not and have never been all that clear. In fact, I would argue that a whole lot of our current disease as a species stems from trying to hold these false dichotomies. So integrating them in your whole system – your body, your mind, your soul, your spirit, your emotions, your thoughts, etc. is what will give you access to magic that is transformative and a snap.

Again, do you have any idea how much work that is? First of all, the tools, methods, and practices that help us do that have been ridiculed, banned, persecuted and shamed for a few thousand years (because they work and if we all have access to Deep Power it makes it harder for a few to hoard other kinds of power). So this wisdom is not super easy to access. Second of all, once you have an in to the knowledge and wisdom of the Old Ways, you need to actually walk the fucking Path. Do you have any idea what it will take for you to face your deepest fears, to accept the most disgusting and shameful aspects of yourself, to release your closest held traumas, to truly understand that your pain is the world’s pain and that the Earth’s healing is also your own? 

Let me give you a taste, at least from my experience: a shitton of crying, of dancing in the rain, of writing, of hugging my friends, of feeling uncomfortable so much and so often as I speak the truth that no one wanted to hear but had to be spoken, days of loneliness, weeks of loneliness, months of loneliness, years of loneliness until they transmuted into solitude, physical pain, fear, fear, fear – and doing it anyway, fasting, spending several nights in the woods alone not talking to anyone, journaling, hours upon hours of meditation, trance work, energy healing…and that’s just what’s at the top of my head.

So when folks are like “OMG!!! You are so lucky!!! Your life is so amazing!!! You do all the fun things!!! You get the parking spot in front of the venue every time!!!!” and so on, they have no idea the kind of work it takes to clearly and righteously own your power.

And also: I don’t believe I would be as powerful a witch as I am if I wasn’t also an activist. Because like I mentioned, the power comes from integrating the poles, the extremes. And I can’t claim my own power without looking at the context. My own focused attention and agency and practice can only go so far if I don’t address the system that wants to exploit me until it disposes of me. I am not immune to all of the isms just because I “think positive”, or cast spells. So when some folks out there tell you that you “create your own reality” and can “think your way into the life of your dreams”, (while I 100% believe that they are correct), if they are not also telling you that the system is rotten and toxic and needs to be transformed you can tell them to shove their crystal and green smoothie because these are not witches that are walking their own path of integration. And as such are not in a position to tell you shit.

So, when I say I WORK magic, it’s because it’s work. The most joyful, fulfilling, beautiful, powerful and enjoyable work humans get to do, but work nonetheless. I strongly suggest you consider working magic if you don’t already, because as humans, work is unavoidable. Please don’t buy the story that work is a bad thing. It’s been a bad thing for many of us because we work in exploitative and abusive systems, but actual magical work is the path of liberation. May you find it and walk it in grace. So mote it be.

 

50 reasons why I work magic

50 reasons why I work magic

With my card of the day and some tools of the trade.

Why do I work magic? Well, there are literally countless reasons, but let’s start with 50, off the top of my head, in no particular order:

  1. I work magic because the world doesn’t make sense.
  2. I work magic because it helps me make sense of the world.
  3. I work magic because it is a balm for my soul.
  4. I work magic because it makes me happy.
  5. I work magic because I find laughter in it.
  6. I work magic because it’s more real than reality.
  7. I work magic because it helps me heal.
  8. I work magic because it gets me laid. 🙂
  9. I work magic because it makes me money.
  10. I work magic because it opens my heart.
  11. I work magic because it transforms my life.
  12. I work magic because it finds a way out of no way.
  13. I work magic because it keeps me safe.
  14. I work magic because it makes me powerful.
  15. I work magic because it changes things.
  16. I work magic because it’s all we have.
  17. I work magic because it’s the best thing ever.
  18. I work magic because it relaxes my muscles.
  19. I work magic because it makes me creative.
  20. I work magic because I want to forgive.
  21. I work magic because I want to grow.
  22. I work magic because I want to learn.
  23. I work magic because I want to be a good leader.
  24. I work magic because I need compassion.
  25. I work magic because I crave connection.
  26. I work magic because I live for meaning.
  27. I work magic because it keeps me healthy.
  28. I work magic because it keeps me hopeful.
  29. I work magic because it helps my loved ones.
  30. I work magic because that’s how I remember the Goddess is on my side.
  31. I work magic because it’s how we’re gonna change the world.
  32. I work magic because it works like magic.
  33. I work magic because it’s how we heal.
  34. I work magic because it’s one of the highlights of being alive.
  35. I work magic because I like making shit happen.
  36. I work magic because I wanna get on the side of Divinity.
  37. I work magic because my Ancestors demand it.
  38. I work magic because my Descendants expect it.
  39. I work magic because I can’t afford not to.
  40. I work magic because I like the feeling of it.
  41. I work magic because I like the results of it.
  42. I work magic because I like the ritual of it.
  43. I work magic because life is too hard without it.
  44. I work magic because it’s the fun way.
  45. I work magic because I trust it.
  46. I work magic because it is my duty.
  47. I work magic because it is my privilege.
  48. I work magic because it is my path.
  49. I work magic because I’m a Witch!
  50. I work magic because it works.

Why do you work magic? Or, how do you do it if you don’t?

The Liberation in Discomfort

The Liberation in Discomfort

Gentrifiers for social justice – one of life’s many paradoxes

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be uncomfortable and why folks are so terrified of the idea. The illusion of certainty (even if the certainty is not of something appealing) is reassuring, while the reality of how messy we are as humans can make us very uncomfortable.

For the last couple of thousand years we’ve done a phenomenal job of denying our nature, exiling parts of ourselves that would have made it impossible to develop an extremely patriarchal, misogynistic, racist, neoliberal capitalist system that has us struggling for liberation. We’ve bolstered a system that favors some kinds of ideas over others: the idea of being male, straight, able bodied, wealthy, being somehow superior. That system only works if we embrace the idea that some humans are better than others, and that we are all too different.

But no humans are better than others, and we are all the same. This is not about gender, race, sexual orientation, class, income, wealth, or any other category we put each other in. This is about the fact that putting each other in categories to the extreme that we have is toxic for our souls, and destructive to communities and societies. Only when we box each other as an “other” can we abuse and exploit the shit out of each other (which is how all “isms” operate).

And yet, of course we are all different, and those differences make life amazing.  Those differences also have made some of our lives a living hell for generations, simply because we are in the wrong box. My point is that we are not so different that some of us “deserve” better or more than others. Both things are true: we are all unique and we are all the same, we are all different and yet we are all one. Life is a paradox. Paradox is uncomfortable.

I’m deeply fascinated by the intersection of spirituality and activism, because we have got to embrace the paradox that I’m describing to make any real change. We have got to consider that we all have different visions, wants, and needs, and yet we are the same in that we all want a way to fulfill those visions and wants and needs. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe paradox to be Life’s organizing principle, and the only way I know to come to terms with paradox is spiritual practice.

My brain can’t easily accept paradox, not in the way my heart and my spirit can. The truth is, every single category that we use to alienate and abuse one another is present in all of us. Some people might look perfectly healthy and be struggling with disease or disability. I am a woman and yet have many of the characteristics that are traditionally associated with men. Men are also suffering from not being able to express their full selves in a system that discourages them from owning every aspect of their being. And all other genders under the sun are fighting to even be acknowledged and seen. What is wrong with us?!? I am horrified by what overconsumption is doing to our bodies and souls and the planet, yet I definitely have a greedy streak in my being. You do too. We all do.

So as long as we don’t get comfortable with paradox, we’re gonna continue to put ourselves and each other in tiny little constraining boxes of good vs. bad and us vs. them, forgetting that we are all victims and we are all perpetrators, that we are all divine and also evil at the same time. All of us. These boxes are not moving us towards liberation. At all. They are keeping us imprisoned. 

And yet, our identities are critical and sacred and we can’t lose them, and we shouldn’t lose them. But we really need to stop weaponizing them. We can’t hold who we are against each other. We need to keep the boxes in the way they elevate who we are and we must dismantle them in the ways we use them to abuse each other. Both are true. This is a paradox, and it can be uncomfortable. It’s more comfortable to hang on to the illusion of certainty than it is to accept the reality of paradox. Paradox is uncomfortable. But it is in that discomfort that we walk the path of liberation. I’m not suggesting you enjoy it, I just encourage you to get comfortable enough with it so that we stop self sabotaging our liberation. In this way, we truly are all in it together.

Witchy Tips to Talk About Race with your Racist Loved Ones

Witchy Tips to Talk About Race with your Racist Loved Ones

tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones

Witchy tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones.

I believe that change happens from the inside out, and from the outside in, that we need systemic transformations as much as personal evolution, that all we can do is what we can do today but that we can’t not do it. You with me?

So this week Imma tell you about how to handle your racist loved one. This is NOT instead of doing your part on the systemic change: being an active civic participant at the local and federal levels, buying from Black-owned businesses, protesting, signing petitions, etc…you can find so many resources online on how to engage in this moment. Make sure you do that as much as possible.

But today, I’m focusing on helping you survive the next family gathering, or tonight’s dinner, with your racist loved one.

 

Tip #1: Listen (people rarely change their minds because they’re told to).

When your loved one says some fucked up shit, it’s usually to serve a purpose – that idea has a function in their life. It’s a way of making sense of the world, of justifying how messed up things are, of feeling better about themselves. Just listening for the subtext of their racism will help you deal better with their idiocy (remember, we’re talking about loved ones, you’re even bothering engaging with these people because love is love). It will give you some insight about what fear their racism is actually masking. On occasion, it seems like some people just wanna hate for no reason. However, no baby is born racist, we all had to learn it. There is something else going on beneath that racism. Listen for it.

Tip #2: Empathize (people wanna feel understood – even racists)

Once you get a hold of what’s actually going on that’s making your loved one say unspeakably fucked up shit, you’ll be better equipped to engage in true dialogue with them. Reassure them that you are understanding the underlying fear/ need/ worldview that is leading them to speak as they do, despite the fact that you disagree with it 100%.

Tip #3: Find common ground (people want the same things, we just disagree on how to get there)

From Tip #2 you should have a good idea about what the underlying fear/ need/ worldview your racist loved one is holding that’s feeding their racism. For example, they want to feel safe, they want to have financial security, they want a bright future for their families. Make sure you share with them about your own desires and aspirations, fears and needs, and agree that these are all very human needs to have, but…

Tip #4: Offer new ideas (people can and do learn)

…being racist is not gonna make your life any better off just by fucking up someone else’s. Human rights are not pie, we’re not gonna run out if we all have them. Make sure you’re versed enough on the basics of systemic racism that you can build a compelling argument about why not being an asshole won’t hurt them.

Tip #5: Know when to STFU (people sometimes need to be left alone)

Some people don’t really wanna listen -yet. They’re not ready to evolve. That’s cool. You wouldn’t shame a sapling for not being a tree, but the water and sunshine you bring to them will in fact come in handy down the road. Just trust.

Tip #6: Let go of the outcome (people do change the world, but rarely in the way they think)

The point of talking about race with your racist loved one is not having them become anti-tracist overnight, but of you being the best anti-racist you can. And who knows, a few years down the line this convo might be remembered by them as the first step on their own journey for liberation.

Tip #7: Keep going (you can’t change the world, but you can begin to change it)

Again, we have no idea what actual role we’re playing in life. We don’t know who we are helping change. We can’t tell how far our love will reach. We just do the right thing anyway, because being that way is the best way to be, and not because we get a cookie at the end.

So there you have it, 7 tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones. If you want to join the upcoming workshops with way more tools and resources to do this gracefully, let me know here: 

4 + 4 =

Productivity: Personal & Political

Productivity: Personal & Political

When it’s macro, this is what the solution looks like

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about productivity recently. For one, it seems to be in the ether – given the pandemic, people are trying to figure out how to “do it all”. If you are fortunate enough to still have a job that you can work from home, how do you get it done while juggling housekeeping and childcare? Or if you need to still go to work, how do you stay safe and keep your family healthy? If you no longer have a job, how are you gonna make ends meet? Folks are struggling with a terribly long and challenging to do list.

I am in the ridiculously privileged situation of having work to do, doing it mostly from home for years (pre-dating the plague), and living alone. Which means that right now I don’t have to travel for work at all and I just get to stay home and work, cook, work out, eat, work magic, sleep, whatever. All from home, but with no distractions other than the ones I choose for myself.

And yet, I’m having a really hard time “getting it all done”. So I’ve been sitting with the question of what “it all” is, and what the value of getting it done actually is. For me it looks like this:

Everyday, I need to sit at my altar. I pull a card, I journal, and I meditate for 20 minutes. Sometimes I work on other witchy stuff as well, but those three actions are non-negotiables, which means that I sit at the altar for at least 30 minutes everyday. I do this because my relationship with Spirit is what guides everything else in my life. Also because if not other people are more likely to get The Look™ from me, usually for no good reason. So I do need to start the day with spiritual alignment and mental and emotional hygiene.

A month ago, I started working out at home. I did a 30 day challenge of working out for 15 minutes e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y and I actually completed it, so I graduated to the 90 day version and while I’m freaking exhausted all. the. time. I’m going for it. Because I know I wanna be able to reach my knees 20 years from now, and also the endorphins do help the mental health. It’s boring and I hate it but I do it anyway cause I trust it’s the best thing for me in the long run. So I’m looking for a way to really build this into my routine. Today I got around to it at 3pm. Ha.

My consulting work has me working with folks that wanna get the current clown out of the White House and reform democracy in the US, and another group that wants to accelerate global ecosystem restoration. I love both ideas, I’m happy to help, feel great to be able to contribute…and they pay my bills. So this takes a whole lot of my waking hours. As it should.

I also want to write more, do more tarot readings, finish the online course I’m developing, sell the script I FINALLY completed after talk to my mom, see my little niece online, hang with my friends, spend time with my partner. All of this feels like a lot to fit into a day or a month. And I don’t even have the added burden of having to look after a family or have to look for a job or feel at constant risk of getting sick (not any more than anyone else following all the precautions). And yet the feeling that it’s all “too much” is still real.

A smart friend once told me that if you’re not happy with something there are two options: the problem is micro, at the individual level, in which case get help (i.e. go to the shrink, a support group, read self-help, work magic, etc.) or it’s macro, at the systemic level, in which case – organize!

I believe that right now the transformation underway is asking us to look at our lives from both perspectives. From a personal standpoint: what do you really care about? What do you actually need? What do you value most? Is your life set up to deeply nurture those things? How can you get support? From a systemic perspective: you are not imagining it, you are a pawn of the powerful, your needs are not being considered, and you are in fact being asked to do the impossible – and somehow you are doing, holy shit you’re awesome! But enough is enough. 

Please consider what is feasible, and what is definitely asking too much of a human, and decide if you need to address it at the individual level or at the macro level. Do not be afraid to share with others where you feel at your capacity – chances are others are feeling it too. Do not feel inadequate that you can’t “do it all” – no one can! And why would you want to? For me, I’ve realized that a lot of what I really value most are things that don’t pay the bills, and that most folks would consider a waste of time. Luckily, I have been able to find ways to support myself financially that I don’t mind at all, and I am free to spend the rest of my time witching the fuck out, not having to justify it to anyone. But the logistical work to get here on the practical level and the emotional work of getting right with myself to value what I value and like what I like and do what I do was not easy. Or fast. And so worth it. Still, we have a shitton of work to do on the macro level. See you there.

On Being OK

On Being OK

Red Rocks Canyon State Park in CA, the most OK place on Earth

Over two weeks ago, Bay Area residents were asked to please stay in their homes as much as possible in an effort to curve the global pandemic that is wreaking havoc with people’s health, bank accounts, and moods worldwide. I am in the super privileged position of being only minorly inconvenienced by this situation. Yes, I miss my friends, and human interaction, and stuff to do outside the house, but I love my living arrangement, I work from home, luckily I do have work, and I’m healthy. Which is, actually, what all this disruption is about: trying to stay healthy, or at least not all of us getting sick at the same time. So I’m feeling pretty grateful. I’m “objectively” OK.

Being the witch that I am I do play a special role in my community, and Priestessing in the shape of emotional support or spiritual guidance is something that I’ve been doing a whole lot of in the last few weeks. The pandemic is a huge piece of it, and the fear that it brings up, but “regular” life still goes on. A friend who left her partner because she found out he had several other lovers (not part of their agreement), another one who discovered her husband is a drug addict and asked him to leave the house (“I don’t give a fuck about coronavirus – OUT!”), friends actually sick with covid19, clients who have lost staff…the list goes on. And yet, we keep hearing, and saying, those of us who are optimistic: “It’s gonna be OK”, or “We’re gonna be OK”.

Really, now?!?! Cause this shit ain’t OK. It’s just not OK that extraordinary women are put through the wringer by mediocre men, it’s not OK that people are gonna go megabroke and we really have no freakin idea how we’ll all transition from this shitshow into a workable system for all, it’s not OK to be in so much pain.

And then, when you really think about it, you realize that being OK is a choice. Being OK is never about external circumstances, it’s about remembering that the experience of life is full and often unpleasant, even unbearable, but that being OK is not about that. This is the bottom line – we’re all gonna be dead before we know it. I just turned 45 last week so I’m definitely, officially, at least half way done. Fortyfive years fly the fuck by, especially the second fortyfive. So how I know I’m OK is because I’m still here. I may not be having fun, I may not be having an easy time, but the breath that is breathing me is still inhaling and exhaling, and that is quite OK. (As a side note, I don’t believe that dying is no longer being OK, but that is another topic).

Being OK is never circumstantial, it’s always intrinsic. Being OK is not about what I call “the promised land of tomorrow”, whether that is the end of the plague, or economic growth, or getting the raise, or buying the house, or paying off the debt, or getting married – or divorced for that matter. Being OK with all that is, with the full insanity and intensity and intimacy of Life, including her super generous servings of pain without turning it into an extra side of suffering is a choice.

In the grander scheme of things, everything is OK. Yes, some times are rougher, but when you really get metaphysical about it and you dig into what it actually means to be OK, you realize that it is a choice you get to make. It’s a choice about the attitude you have towards the reality of what is, of what is really going on. Choosing to believe that it’s gonna be OK is super simple and might stand against all evidence, but it is the most transformative decision you’re gonna make in your life. Just choosing to believe you’re gonna be fine is gonna change how you perceive your reality and may even have an impact on your circumstances and your attitude and your perception. It’s the most revolutionary choice.

What will it really take for you to be OK? What if the answer was NOTHING, cause you’re OK just now, simply because you are? The simplest thing is the hardest thing to do. When we don’t believe we are inherently OK, we keep chasing it out there and there is no arrival place for something that is within us at all times anyway. 

I am not saying that my friends’ pain and my client’s death and the world’s impending economic collapse is OK. What I am saying is that we can be OK despite all of it, and that is a sacred practice. We won’t get it perfectly at all every time, in fact, probably ever, but in that practice there is freedom. Even liberation. And that’s OK.

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