The Key to Our Collective Liberation

The Key to Our Collective Liberation

The key to our collective liberation: we're all together in this and we're all interconnected.
It sounds very generic and cliche, I mean it quite literally.

I’ve been talking about this for decades, and I will continue to talk about this for decades, because it holds the key to our collective liberation: we’re all together in this and we’re all interconnected.

It sounds very generic and cliche, I mean it quite literally.

When you have a problem that is not yours, but it’s ours, you alone are not going to be able to solve it.

I was coaching this leader of a team today, and they’re having some issues with the team. And as I’m learning about the issues, I had to tell them: “Listen, I can coach you until you’re blue in the face… And you might develop some incredible managerial skills, incredible leadership skills, you might really improve your interpersonal communication game, you might become a lot more present, a lot more aware of how you relate with others, you might become a lot more careful about your relationships with your team members, and none of that is going to move the needle enough, if the problem is systemic”.

If you are the only one that’s doing the work on a systemic problem, it’s gonna be r-e-a-l-l-y hard to make a change. Because you can only do so much. I’m not saying it’s not going to help. It’s definitely going to help. It’s just not gonna help as much as you would like it to help.

The same is true for larger systems. For example, if you’re struggling with depression, and you realize that your depression is because the system that we live in doesn’t support you. It’s designed to keep you down. It’s designed to alienate you. It’s designed to marginalize you. You can take the best pharmaceutical medicine on the planet, you can take the best plant medicine on the planet. You can have the bestest shrink or coach or psychiatrist and you’re not really gonna get long term relief because the moment you’re back out in the world, everything that’s designed to, quite frankly, fuck you over, is still gonna be there…fucking you over. I’m not saying this to make you lose hope at all. I’m one of the most optimistic people I know if I may say so myself. I am saying this to emphasize that you need to take care of yourself. You need to get all of the external resources you can, you need to follow people on social media that are talking about how to look after your own mental health, you need to find help for yourself. AND. Big huge “and”. And you might want to get involved in efforts to shift the system also, because you may not make the change for you at a systemic level right away, but you’re starting to make that change.

When YOU start to make that change, the next generation of people like you have a little bit lighter struggle or even no struggle. Imagine that, liberation is accessible. I believe it’s happening and it can happen. This is what our ancestors have done since the beginning of humanity. They have not left the world in an amazing shape…but they have tried (some of us have). This is why we’re still here. Otherwise, we could have probably obliterated one another a long time ago, we’ve had plenty of opportunity.

So I just want you to think about: is my struggle individual? To what extent is my struggle collective? To what extent? There is a spectrum that moves between the exclusively individual, and the totally collective. Where in that spectrum does my challenge sit? At what level do I need to approach this first? What’s gonna be the most effective action for me to take? I’m a firm believer putting on your oxygen mask on yourself first, and then on your favorite child and then on your second favorite child, because if you’re not breathing, both kids are going to pass out from hypoxia, right?

When you’re thinking about at what level am I approaching a challenge or an issue, the question becomes, what’s killing me the fastest right now? And spend some time on that. Sometimes that looks like reading a self-help book. Sometimes that looks like organizing a book club to read the self-help book. Sometimes it looks like lobbying city officials for better access to mental health resources for the community.

Don’t take systemic shit personally. If you’re poor, for example, it may be because you’re “fucking around”, sure. But it’s probably for a gazillion other reasons that have nothing to do with you. And your job is to keep your soul intact and to not believe the story that it’s on you individually because the entire neoliberal capitalist system is designed to exploit you So if you’re actually being exploited, and you’re having a hard time making ends meet, I’m so sorry. It’s fucked. It should not be that way. But it’s definitely not your fault. That doesn’t mean that there’s not something that you can do about it. Even in this system, we have cracks that we find that’s how the light gets in.

What can you do for yourself? Where can you find allies, comrades, that can behave with solidarity to support you as you try to get access to a better situation for yourself, while not blaming yourself? For stuff that is not your fault? Find them, and then look for other people that need the help and help them. It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility. It is all of our responsibility.


God is not Santa Claus

God is not Santa Claus

Woman in red dress facing the sunset with her arms raised high
There is no seeking God without finding myself.

What if every single day of your life you woke up in the morning with the absolute power to make your life easier, more tolerable? Maybe even better and more enjoyable? Wouldn’t you take it? To me, that is what God is: the daily choice to live as if. To live as if love was the deepest influence in my life, to live as if meaning was embedded in everything that happens, to live as if I have power over myself and choose to do wonderful things with it. 

Many people who know me, know my commitment to human rights, know of my love for all beings, are surprised to find out about my strong relationship with Life, the Goddess, and all things Spirit. This is because they are used to a God that has taken too much airtime over the past few centuries – the bearded dude in the sky that is tracking your every move like a perv and that is not a whole lot of fun. So they can’t imagine me being close buddies with that one. And they are right, I’m not. But I’m besties with a Life Force that is constantly hooking me up in life – which does NOT mean she’s like Santa Claus. 

Folks disappointed with religion and spiritual life tell me that they can’t believe in God given the state of the world. “If God was all powerful then why is the world so messed up?” Part of the problem with accessing spiritual power is that many folks have been taught about a God that has been colonized, stratified, and removed from daily life. In my practice, there is no God “out there” without Her being in here. There is no seeking God without finding myself. There is no sin other than the ways in which I still need to surrender to Life herself and what she’s teaching me. But many people would like their God to be like Santa Claus: does no wrong, knows all of our wishes, and makes them come true. What if instead of Santa Claus, you understood God as the Mystery, the Life Force, the Source? 

If you expect a Santa Claus of a God, you will most certainly be disappointed. I would be too. Looking around the world it is so obvious that there is no omnipotent being making sure justice prevails. In fact, it seems quite the opposite. Bullies at the global level get away with despicable acts, the natural world continues to be destroyed with seemingly very little each of us as individuals can do, and, in just plain English, shit is fucked.

The fuckedupness of the world is real, and it is something that I work on transforming and alleviating every day of my life. But I don’t believe that humans do horrible things because there is no God. I believe we do horrible things because that is part of human nature. I believe in free will AND in destiny. I believe in the inherent goodness of people AND in our boundless ability to do harm to each other. I believe that paradox is Life’s organizing principle, and the fact that we have messy, painful, unfair lives doesn’t mean that they are devoid of Spirit. It means that they are human lives on Earth. For me, when I make a choice in the morning to act as if there is Love all around me, life gets better. God can be as simple as that. But if you expect a Santa Claus of a God, yeah, then there is definitely no such thing, and be ready for disappointment.

The Magic is Back

The Magic is Back

Neoliberalism was born and dies in Chile

It was never really gone, but it is now front and center, proud, visible. Not hiding. Taking it’s righteous place.

I’m talking about what happened last weekend in Chile. After 30 years of a democracy that didn’t feel inclusive, equitable, diverse, or fair – a direct result of Chile being the first lab in the terrifying neoliberal experiment that prioritizes things over people, people are changing things. And they are not changing them a little bit, on the edges, in the periphery, with apologies. No, no, no, no siree, this time we are changing things deeply, transformatively, from the ground up.

I am talking about the first ever modern nation state that has agreed to write a brand spanking new Constitution, crafted by the first ever democratically chosen group of 155 people that embodies gender equity, diversity, and thank Goddess, left leaning tendencies. And by left leaning I mean an understanding that we are all in this together, and that government can and should serve the people. I mean left leaning as opposed to “If you don’t have money, tough shit” which is the more common right leaning approach. That’s all I mean for these purposes.

Even a short few years ago, the idea of creating a Constitution sounded absurd. “You can’t just rewrite the most basic document of governance in a country!” Oh yeah, hold my drink, why the hell not? If it’s not serving the people, if it’s corrupt, if it’s hurting us, TEAR THE MOFO DOWN!!!! When I was young, the most infuriating thing I would hear about why progress couldn’t happen in Chile was that some ideas were “unconstitutional”, and I’m like, “Yeah but a dictator wrote the Constitution (not quite, but basically), so can’t we just get rid of those bits?” And I would be met with eyerolls and sighs of “poor baby – no entiende nada.”

Anyway, time went by, and “all of a sudden”, after 30 years of trying to tweak things and try social and political change by any and all means possible, Chileans realized that there’s no way to eat a turd that will make it taste good. We need to get an actual meal. In October of 2019, a “social outburst” aka estallido social, began (you can read my writing about it here and here) and ended with a democratic referendum for the country to go through a process to write a new Constitution. But not just any ol’ Constitution, a Constitution to be written by a Constitutional Assembly of real everyday people that actually represent their peers, not a bunch of corrupt career politicians. 

Once the referendum took place (which had to be delayed due to the pandemic), EIGHTY percent of Chileans who voted expressed their desire for a new constitution written for and by their fellow countryfolk. Those 155 people were elected last weekend and they now have 9 months – the same time it takes to create a new life) to deliver the document. They may be able to get a one time only extension of 3 months, which means that in a year we should have a new Constitution that then will be taken to the polls for a Yes or No referendum. 

And who’s in charge of this massive job of writing a new Constitution? By the numbers:

  • 77 women and 78 men
  • 60 lawyers
  • 45 years old on average
  • 41% under 39 years of age
  • ⅔ quorum needed, meaning that consensus building will be necessary and no one will be able to impose their views without negotiation, collaboration, or compromise.
  • 17 are representatives of Indigenous people. 

How this will all turn out, we will not know for another year. This is what we do know: what we’ve been doing until now has been failing miserably. The fact that the first place that was subjected to the neoliberal model is the first place to take radical action to reject it, and embrace an open, democratic, and fair process to try something new, is poetry. I also don’t think it’s an accident. Chile has had it with this because we’ve been putting up with it for the longest. May the transformation that we are engaged in lead us to a better tomorrow, may it inspire other nations, may it center Life and Love and Human Rights. I have no doubt it will.

So mote it be.

How (and why) to cast a magical circle

How (and why) to cast a magical circle

Inti, the Incan Sun God


A circle is a psychic space where we transform the world. A circle is a sacred space where we transform ourselves. A circle is also a physical place, and can even be physically traced on the ground, and visible to the regular observer, or exclusively energetically, only visible with the mind’s eye. Most importantly, a circle is a space separate from our ordinary lives, it’s a purposefully designed container to work magic. 

I have cast circles with groups of hundreds of people, and online on Zoom with a handful of others. I have also cast circles by myself, for just my own personal magical workings. The main point of a circle is to designate ritual time and space, and to contain energy so it can be most powerful and effective. In other words, it’s a way to focus, an invitation to concentrate on the work at hand.

When we cast a circle, we are spiritually and energetically designating a space and a time to be focused on ritual, to be protected from negative influences, to feel safe and powerful – even safer and more powerful than we normally feel ;p There are many ways of casting a circle. When working in North America with other people, I use a circle casting method heavily influenced by the Reclaiming Tradition which is in turn, an offshoot of the Faery Tradition. When working solo, I use a much more eclectic version, infused deeply with brujerías del sur (witcheries from the south). My version has also a lot of room for “winging it”. I love the turn of phrase winging it because it implies something will fly. But I digress.

To cast a circle:

We begin by invoking the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the four directions, and it’s associated elements. We start in the East and call in air and the power of thought, then we call in South, for fire and passion, West with water and emotions, and finally North, symbol of Earth and our body. Then we call in the Center and any other Goddesses, Gods, Guardian Spirits, Ancestors, Protective Energies that may be helpful to the work and available.

But first: we go East, then South, West, then North in the Northern hemisphere because that is the direction of travel of the sun. It rises in the East, it travels across the sky tilted South, it sets in the West, and North is the direction further from the sun – cause astronomy. The sun is the most obvious and powerful Life force we have identified for millennia: it gives us daylight, food, warmth – so it makes sense to emulate the sun when we are working energy.

In the Southern hemisphere, however, we go East, North, West, South, because while the sun still rises on the east and sets in the West, it’s tilted toward the North most of the year, which makes the South the direction of the Earth instead of Fire, as it is in the Northern hemisphere. If I’ve lost you, please scour the interwebs for better astronomical descriptions, that’s not my forte. But suffice it to say that the order we call in the directions and what they symbolize varies in different traditions and are not written in stone. Research and experiment with what speaks clearest to your soul.

(So: north of the equator, waxing direction is clockwise – meaning this is the positive direction of creation, as we follow the sun, and waning – for when you want to banish something, or get rid of what doesn’t work, you go counterclockwise. The exact opposite is true in the southern hemisphere. Also, my lived experience is that the Goddess doesn’t really care if you mess this up, as long as your intention is clear, but this is definitely in the “very good to know” category because sometimes we need all the help we can get, and having our intentions aligned with the astral bodies can only help).

OK, now that we got that out of the way, the circle casting would go something like this:

Facing the East, holding an athame, or just your hand, above your head pointing East, say:

“Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East,

Element of Air

Power of our mind

Clarity of thought

Spells from the Word, 

Be here now!”

Turning to the South, still holding your athame or hand (you are “drawing” the circle with this tool as you do this), say:

“Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South,

Element of Fire

Power of our will and passion

Spark of our spirit

Energy of our lives, 

Please come!”

Then you turn to the West (still drawing the circle with your hand or athame) and say:

“Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West,

Element of Water

Power of our emotions

Flow of our hearts

Rivers of connection, 


Then turn to the North and say: 

“Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North,

Element of Earth

Power of our bodies

Mysteries of abundance,

Silence of strength,

Join us”

Then, turn back to the East and finish drawing the circle.

At this point, the circle is cast, but I usually also invoke Center and its mysteries, as well as any other deities or Spirits I would like to work with, before beginning the work at hand.

After the ritual, thank everything and everyone for coming, in the opposite order that you invited them in, (Center, North, West, South, East), and close with something like: 

“The circle is open, but unbroken. May the love of the Goddess be forever in our hearts. Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.”

Take a moment to make sure you’re fully in this present moment before moving on with your day/ evening/ regularly scheduled programming. Going about your life in a trance is not advised as a general practice, so make sure you’re fully back by the time the circle is opened. 



How a Witch Works Energy

How a Witch Works Energy

Working energy before a street performance

My version of witchcraft is deeply experiential. I don’t read about it, or think about it, or talk about it, as much as I experience it. I live it. Of course, I have read and thought and talked about witchcraft and magic a whole lot throughout my life, and that has been interesting, useful, and fun. But it has not been the experience of BEING a witch and WORKING magic.

There are as many practices, tools, and rituals as there are witches. Because there is no doctrine, no guidebook, no rules, a curious newcomer to the Craft can get easily overwhelmed. Astrology, Tarot, colors, days of the week, numbers, plants, animals, goddesses and gods, metals, stones, crystals, angels…there is so much to choose from! So many things can aid our work. These things are extremely helpful, and really fun as well – at least I think so.

But my foundational approach to magic, and to being a Witch, is my relationship with energy. The mysterious life force that keeps me breathing without me having to consciously will it. The “capacity for doing work”, as they say in physics. The quality of someone’s being. I start with my own energy. Being as self-aware as possible is a critical piece of working powerful magic. I need to know how much energy I’m running, what’s the quality of it, if it is being projected to others in unconscious ways, how I’m using it every waking (and even sleeping) moment. As I become more conscious of how the Life Force is embodied in me, I can also become a loving observer of how energy is manifesting in all the things in the Universe: other people, plants, animals, ideas, relationships…all of the things!

Here is a quick exercise for you to start noticing energy. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.  Notice how you are feeling in your body: are you cold, warm, too hot, just right? Are you joyful, bored, excited, sad? Are you worried, or at ease? Are you aware of the you that is not you? Are you feeling a part of you that is not your body, maybe not even in your body? Breathe through this exercise for a few minutes, and see if you can connect with images, sounds, smells, textures, or flavors that seem to you to capture the whole essence of how your energy is today. Remember that this exercise is more like poetry than empirical observation, so the important thing is for you to get a clear sense of your own whole energetic body, not how “accurately” you’d be able to describe it to someone else. One you get a hit of your energy, come back to it throughout the day and see if it’s still the same or if it’s shifting, and start to pay attention to how the awareness of your energy affects your interactions and behaviors.

Over time, you will be able to connect very quickly to how your energy is, and also to will it into being different, which is what I call energy work. Then, you can start sensing others’ energies, and even working into shifting those energy patterns as well. Witches are deeply skilled at the dance of perpetual interaction and deep interdependence. The beauty of this is that while energy is the “capacity for doing work” and power is “the rate at which work is performed”, you can only imagine what knowing how to work energy can do for someone’s power. And power is also the ability to do, act, or have influence. You can see how energy work cannot be fully described or captured in a short few paragraphs, but I’m sure you begin to get an idea of why working with energy is an important skill: it will allow you to shift your shape to your own liking first, and then expand that reach to help shapeshift the world into one that welcomes and supports all.

How I Use My Altar

How I Use My Altar

My current set up

I have had an altar in my home for most of my adult life. The most recent incarnation of my altar is about 15 years old, it’s an Ikea coffee table that is totally beaten up and has lived in my bedroom, living room, or spare bedroom when I’ve been lucky enough to have one. An altar is to a witch like a desk is to a business person. I am both, and I can’t imagine trying to write proposals, facilitate meetings over Zoom, and deliver projects without my desk. I could, but I’d rather not.  

My altar is the same thing: a workspace. I’ve talked about why I like the turn of phrase “working magic” because it is actually work, and having a dedicated workspace is such a luxury. When it comes to energy work, it matters even more because coming back to the same place over and over for all things witchy creates a certain habit and energetic pathway in my being that is quite helpful. My deep spiritual knowing, my ego, my Highest Self, the Goddess, all Spirits I may be working with, my subconscious mind, my personality, even my boyfriend, they all know that when I go to sit at the altar, something special is about to happen. 

My daily routine at my altar is super straight forward: I do a few simple basic offerings, as a show of gratitude to the Universe for having me be a human at this time (and what a time it is!). I pull a card, which is a focal point for the day: something I need to develop, something that will be salient, something that I need to be aware of. I’ve used different decks over the years for my daily card. For about 11 years I used the Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue (whom I just found out is now a born again Christian!! And I think it’s awesome, that’s for another time), but I gave them to my Melboourne bestie Rainbow Brownz when I left Australia, and now I’ve been using the trusty Rider Waite Tarot deck for a few years.

After I pull the card, I journal for a while. I usually record noteworthy events (because my memory is shit and if I want to remember something, I have to write it down or take a picture of it), write about how I’m feeling, what magic I’m working, and how I want to be a channel of love and transformation and courage and faith and truth and action and joy. And other things along those lines. Sometimes it’s about gratitude. Sometimes it’s about the people I wish were getting ready to leave this earth ASAP. Sometimes it’s about what I want, my deepest desires and most horrifying fears. It’s always about revealing the truth to myself and embracing the paradox of life.

Finally, I meditate for 20 minutes. How I meditate changes depending on what I’m working on and what I want to accomplish, but the main point of it is that it’s a practice that I’m committed to and will do every day for 20 minutes and I haven’t missed a day in many many years. Which is super shocking to me, I can’t believe I’ve stuck to it for so long. E-v-e-r-y day. Damn. But I do it because it helps me enormously and I’m committed to the practice and knowing how to see a commitment through makes me a more powerful Witch #protip.

Another layer of activity is added if I’m doing spellwork, or healings, or energy work, or other stuff. But this is just my basic daily practice. So yes, it takes at least 30 minutes, and sometimes longer if I need it, want it, or have the luxury of extra time. But half an hour a day is really not that much when you think that it allows me to show up for my life present, clear, grounded, powerful, and filled with visions for a better life for myself and a better world for everybody.

You may wanna try it!