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, 

Welcome!”

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. 

Blessings!

 

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!

As Within, So Without

As Within, So Without

The lovely Brian Truskowski interviewed me for his podcast “Illuminate”. In introducing myself, I found myself saying that I’m a witch, I work magic, and I have a bunch of spiritual tools that have allowed me to build a really beautiful life, one that I enjoy and I’m fortunate to have. And, I’m also an activist, I spend my days working on social change, and I am obsessed with the socioeconomic political context that affects us all.

These two things are core pieces of my identity, why and how I am a witch is a longer story, but I’m an activist because I can’t imagine being a witch and not wanting to influence the outside world as well. As within, so without.

In my conversation with Brian, I told him about three ideas that are important to me, that you’ve heard me talk about before but that explain my deep connection to both witchcraft and activism:

1. Paradox is the organizing principle of Life.

When I believe this idea, I can love more openly and I can love more fully. I believe that connectedness and embodiment of Love is what I need to be healthy and happy. Things that are seemingly contradictory can be true at the same time: I can be very strategic and very analytical and very sharp operating in a pseudo corporate environment and bring to it a decolonizing strategy lens, bring to it an open heart, bring to it a depth of intuition. That doesn’t make the strategy any less valid and it doesn’t make the magic any less magical. But that’s a lot of work: to incorporate seemingly contradictory things and to embody the Paradox. Owning the paradox means that I understand that I may mess up things but that doesn’t make me a messed-up person. You might not be the upstanding human that I want you to be 100% of the time, and that doesn’t make you any less human. Embracing this allows me to love you anyway, and to love you openly and with compassion. I can do this for myself first, and then for everybody else. 

2. Speaking truth is the path of liberation.

The act of speaking truth itself has magical powers. It changes consciousness, creates connections, transforms realities. There’s a reason a classic social change phrase is “Speak truth to power”. Because if there is no problem, there is no solution, and because we do certainly speak our reality into being, it is critical to search for the truth, speak, and when you think you found it, keep searching for it. Truth is direction of travel, not a location.

3. Politics matter.

The rise of fascism, of authoritarianism, of oppression and violence are real. I call it out every chance I get because the way these things happen at a political level is when we try to pretend that it’s not happening or we’re too scared of talking about it. I am terrified of the political situation in the US and while I can’t do everything about it, I can do something about it. This is not going to sort itself out, we’re going to sort it out. 

So if you think that we can love and light our way out of the current mess, please take a seat, and listen to the women and men that have been resisting for centuries and take a page out of their survival playbook. If you think you can green smoothie your way out of your spiritual thirst, you have a long way to go in your search and may I suggest your path will be clearer if you think about others as well.

You don’t have to be a witch to have spiritual power, but it helps. You don’t have to be an activist to be happy, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. I wanna invite you today to do one thing that will get you closer to spirit, and one thing that will make the world around you a little bit better. And let me thank you for that on Life’s behalf.

 

The Time for Magic

The Time for Magic

The Time For Magic

It’s time for me to teach magic. As in, formally, to aspiring witches that need guidance in bridging Earth and Fire.To those that sense Spirit, that even know it well, but realize that they can’t go much further alone. Because while magic is a solitary practice to a large degree, it is also true that no witch has ever explored the vast realms of the astral completely on her own. Even those that didn’t have the benefit of human support, they still had the guidance of the ancestors, the loud whispers of dreams, the pathshowing of visitations, and so many other channels of connection.

Connection is a big part of magic, and connection with other humans is one of my favorite kinds of connection. So I’m gonna put together a few folks that wanna learn the Craft and go for it. Super exciting! I’m doing this for two reasons, and they both relate to different ideas of time. My own personal Witch Time is a whole nother deep and dense story, but for practicality’s sake, I’ll be borrowing concepts of time from the Greeks: Chronos, Kairos, and Aion.

Chronos is linear, chronological time with a past, present, and future, the only time most of the industrialized west acknowledges. We measure it in seconds and centuries. In contrast, Kairos is about a qualitative kind of time, measured in moments, the right moment, a special moment, an opportunity. A time that is not happening because of what time it is, but because it is time.

I’ve been thinking about teaching magic for many many years. Decades, really. But there are a few things that are different now that make it the right time. The first one has to do with Chronos: I’m freaking old. Not like old as dirt, but old enough to teach the Craft. I’m 45 years old, and back in the day, I would probably have been considered Crone, more than Mother, and my Maiden days are long gone for certain. I know that when I was new in having Teachers and Mentors in the Craft, it really mattered that they knew what they were doing. And while I relate with Kairos and Aion, I also know that as long as we are incarnated in these human bodies, we do have a certain kind of relationship with Chronos, and so having a teacher have chronological experience matters. So I think it matters that I’ve been practicing the Craft my whole life which means that I don’t have a decade or two of experience, but s-e-v-e-r-a-l. Damn. 

The second reason for choosing to teach now has to do with Kairos. Kairos is calling me, because this time is indeed special. Simply, because it’s time. It’s time for anyone who is inclined to get in touch with their power, and work it in a good way for the benefit of us all. It’s time to learn to use our voices powerfully, to speak the truth and find liberation in the process, to stand up against oppression and fascism (magic is basically the opposite of fascism, and so witches are antifa by definition), to create the world anew. Right now, the intensity of our environmental, political, social, and economic challenges being exacerbated by The Plague of Covid makes this the perfect time for magic to unleash its power. And that is not a small thing and that is not to be taken lightly and that is not something that I can feel shy about any longer. 

Finally, Aion is not just a concept of time, as in Generation, Age, Eternity, but it’s also Vital Force, the Source of All, Life. So that’s why it’s the time for magic. Because Aion cannot wait.

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