Secrets of Magic 19: Acknowledge kinship


Humans are the dominant animals on the planet, but we are not the only ones. We hold one place in a complex network of interconnection between all the animals on the earth. We know this, but as with many of the magical secrets, we tend to forget this in the bustle of everyday life.

Animals and insects furnish some of our food, either directly by providing us their bodies, or indirectly through their production. We eat fish, meat, and eggs; cheese and butter made from milk; honey made by bees.

Just as with plants, we derive spiritual as well as physical nourishment from our fellow creatures. Humans need animals in our lives. Children delight in learning about different types of animals, seeing them, touching them, and living with them, in zoos, as pets and as farm animals. Elderly and isolated people respond immediately to dogs and cats brought in to visit them. Animals provide us with companionship. In their presence, we feel less alone.

Once we tune into the animals in our environment, we may be amazed to discover their number and variety. It is almost impossible to enumerate the species of birds alone. The grimmest cityscape hosts flocks of crows which exhibit amazingly intelligent individual and group behavior. There may be hundreds of types of birds in even a small park. We can listen to their songs, watch their flights, seek glimpses of their nests.

We can sing the songs and chirpings of the animals in our environment back to them. We can sing them out loud, so they can hear us, or just quietly to ourselves. This seemingly simple practice can have a profound affect on us, as we respond to the natural sounds in our environment, acknowledging that we too live in the place where they live. Reaching out to the animals around us reaffirms our place in the web of life.

Affirmation
I recognize my kinship with the animals of the earth.

Practice: Sing a birdsong
The next time you are outside, notice the insects and animals around you. How many different species do you notice? Can you hear birdsongs? Are there squirrels in the trees? Do insects scurry along the ground? When you hear a birdsong, try to sing it softly to yourself.

Make a list of the items in your refrigerator. What animals are the sources of your food? For example, you might find milk, cheese and hamburger which come from cows, or eggs which come from chickens. The next time you eat one of these things, take a moment to thank the animal for the gift of its life which sustains your life.

What are the real magical secrets?

I titled my blog series “Secrets of Magic” with tongue in cheek.

Carl Weschke famously said there are no more magical secrets, they are all published! This certainly seems to be true when you look at all the material that used to be oath-bound that now sits perfect-bound on my bookshelves. There’s Lady Sheba’s Book of Shadows and the Golden Dawn and Secrets of the O.T.O.

Many in the O.T.O. caution people not to read “Secret Rituals” because it spoils the surprise. My initiations delighted me precisely because I didn’t know what was going to happen. On the other hand I have been reading published Books of Shadows since before I was initiated myself. I’m old enough to remember when being initiated was the only way you could gain access to any spells or rituals, which gave the initiators tremendous power which they sometimes used to exploit eager students. (Elders and teachers taking advantage of their students is not a new phenomenon.)

In his excellent book The Witch’s Book of Shadows (you have to have it!) Jason Mankey addresses the idea in “Are there any secrets left?” He points to volumes of material created by people contributing to their traditions. Many of these secrets are unpublished “and more are being created all the time”. My initiators in the O.T.O. have compared King’s rituals with our current and note that these versions are no longer used, and we have created new rituals.

So yes, the secrets have been published. And yes, new secrets are being created all the time. The real secret of magic is that there is no single word or idea or initiation that will grant you the powers of the universe. You have to create the magic that works for you.

Secrets of Magic 18: Think green


We learn in grade school that plants exhale oxygen and breathe in carbon dioxide, while humans breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, in a symbiotic relationship. We exchange more than air with plants. They form the bulk of our diet, including grains such as wheat and rice, legumes like lentils and beans, and vegetables. Herbs provide spices and medicines. Just as importantly, the presence of green growing things provides us with vital energy that feeds our spirits.

Gardening is the best way to rediscover how we are embedded in the earth and to synchronize ourselves with the seasons. When we turn the soil to add compost, or even fill a pot with soil, we enact the ancient relationship of human with land. Helping a seedling grow to a mighty plant, enjoying its flowers and picking its fruits, connects us with the forces of birth and beginnings, growth and strength, completion and reproduction, withdrawal and death, and rebirth.

Even when we can’t garden, we can notice the trees in our environment. There’s a reason people hug trees—they channel energy directly from the planet, giving us a direct access to the earth’s energy, and they wick off our excess energy and negative energy to direct it harmlessly into the ground.

Introducing plants into our homes brings their energy into our immediate environment. Plants in containers on windowsills and cut flowers or greens in vases work equally well. It’s important to change the plants out when they wither, as they then spread the energy of decay. We can keep the energy fresh by replacing spent flowers with new ones and removing dead leaves from container plants.

Paying mindful attention to our relationship with plants helps us to gain the greatest benefit from the gifts they give us, both the physical gifts, and the spiritual ones.

Affirmation
I exchange energy with the plants in my environment.

Practice: Create the stages
The next time you are outside near a tree, place a hand on its trunk. What do you notice about your energy and the energy of the tree? Imagine energy coming from the tree into your body. Now imagine energy flowing from your body into the tree.

Eat a salad or a handful of fresh vegetables. As you eat, pay attention to the colors and the flavors of the vegetables. Imagine the energy of the vegetables flowing into your body. Give brief thanks to the plants for sustaining your life.

Secrets of Magic 17: Flow with the Seasons

The environment around us changes with the seasons. Whether we live at the seashore, mountains, or desert, near the poles or at the equators, the phases of the year affect all the plants and animals in our ecosystem. That includes us!

The cycle of the seasons makes an annual pattern of renewal. Each year has a beginning, a growth, a harvest, and a time of rest before beginning again.

Spring brings new energy into the world. In the desert springtime may be a brief flowering, in the plains and mountains spring can come late in the year with the snowmelt, and at the seashore it may be marked by a letup in the winter storms. Plants poke out of the earth and unfurl. Geese and ducks head for their summer homes. Many animals give birth to their young in this season.

Summer is a time of growth and strength. In the plains and valleys, the breadbaskets of the world, plants shoot up, young animals learn to eat and to hunt. In the mountains, hibernating animals scurry to build up fat and food supplies for the long winter. The summer sun bakes the desert, while the seashore breezes provide welcome relief from the heat.

In autumn the decreasing sun and increasing cold trigger changes in all living things. Fruiting plants provide their harvest and begin to go dormant or die. Hibernating animals prepare their nests. The last few clear and sunny days provide a final burst of warm energy before the change of the season.

Winter is the time to rest. In the deserts, plains and mountains, animals and plants retreat before the snow and cold, while at the seashore the winter winds and rains drench everything. The energy of the earth contracts. Even in this season, plants extend roots, and animals grow, building a foundation for the activity of the year to come.

The affect of the seasons on us isn’t as obvious as it is on the other creatures of the world. Nonetheless we too respond to the changes in sunlight and weather. We can become conscious of this and synchronize with the season to tap into its power.

Spring energy revives us, helping us to heal and grow. We stretch ourselves with the new unfurling leaves. Humans feel the surge of the mating dance too! When we open our windows to the warming air, freshening houses that have been closed all winter, we let in the energy of the new year.

In summer we migrate outdoors, drawn to exercise the strength in our bodies. We enjoy the beauty of the plants around us, the flash of birds and butterflies, the long warm days. Summer is a time to build up our strength and enjoy the happiness of life.

In autumn we treasure each sunny warm day while noting the new chill in the air. We pay more attention to our houses, decorating them at the late fall and early winter holidays. This is the season to take stock of our health and prepare ourselves for the hardest season of the year.

Wintertime finds us largely indoors. We sleep longer, eat more, and struggle to stay cheerful. This is the storytelling season, time to rest, plan, and dream.

When we notice the changes that happen to our bodies and spirits in the seasons, we synchronize ourselves with the yearly round, harnessing the energy of the world like a boat sailing on the outgoing tide.

Affirmation

I tune my life to flow with the seasons.

Practice: Create the stages
Go outside every day for a week. Practice being present. Notice the signs of the seasons around you. Are the trees filled with spring blossoms? Is the summer sun high in the sky? Are autumn leaves turning color? Does winter snow blanket the ground?

Take a deep breath. Imagine the energy of the season filling your body. Now exhale, letting go of your tension and worry. Breathe in again, letting the air refresh you.

Secrets of Magic 16: Touch the earth

Humans are spiritual beings, but we are also physical creatures, with bodies, living in a physical world. When we remember to honor our bodies, our families, and our connections to the Earth, we tap into some of the deepest magical secrets.
Human life is embedded in the web of life that sustains the earth. Each of us depends on the plants, animals, and people around us to keep us alive. We tend to forget this while we are caught up in the busy detail of our lives. Our homes and workplaces, stores and entertainment complexes protect us from direct contact with the outside world. The turn of a tap brings water into the house. When we’re cold we crank the thermostat up a notch. After sundown the lights in our buildings let us go on working and playing around the clock. Only a major event, such as a storm that knocks down power lines, breaks through our very effective insulation.

Human genius has made it possible for us to keep ourselves warm and dry in the most severe conditions. We travel great distances easily. Our medicine restores our health and extends our lives. These are great benefits of our ingenuity and skill. However effective we are at taking care of ourselves and each other, though, we are still living creatures dependent on the world.

We are profoundly affected by the weather, the seasons, and the conditions in our environment. The amount and quality of sunlight we get every day influences our mood and our physical health. When the weather turns cold our metabolisms slow down, causing us to sleep more, and add body fat. Wind, smog, and mist affect air quality, which in turn affects our ability to breathe and to see.

Recognizing that we live in a living world can profoundly change our lives. When we trace the connections between ourselves and the sources of our food, water, and shelter, we recognize our debt to the living things that help us to live. When we trace the connections between our homes and the systems that sustain them, we learn about the shape of place we inhabit, and how we in turn affect the land.

Our knowledge of the physical sources of life helps us tune into the energic sources of our life. The natural world provides tremendous energy that we can tap to heal our bodies and renew our spirits. The more we learn about the world, the more we learn about ourselves, and about the sources of magic.

Affirmation
I am a living being in a living world.

Practice: Create the stages
Go outside every day for a week. If you can, get to a park where you can walk around, even for a few moments. If you are not physically able or free to move around, have yourself moved outside for a few minutes in the day.

Practice being present. Notice the sky: are there clouds? What is its color? If you can see the sun, where is it in relationship to the landmarks around you? Take a deep breath. Notice the energy that floods into your body.

Lean down to put your hand on the ground. If you can, take off your shoes and walk on the ground barefoot. What do you experience when your bare skin touches the earth?

Make a note of your observations and experiences in your journal. If you have been keeping a daily journal recording the weather and your mood, read through the journal. Is there a correlation between what is happening outside and what you have been feeling?

Secrets of Magic 15: Make space

However small or big the changes magic makes in our lives, any change requires some scope to manifest. We can help the magic manifest the change we want by making space for it.

Here is a simple example. Suppose we decide we want a new stereo system. Where will we put it once we get it? We decide where in the house it will go. Then we move everything else out of that space. The empty wall is a vacuum that calls the new stereo into that space.

Magic brings new things into our lives. When we stretch our magical muscles, we find ourselves exploring new ideas, traveling to different places, making new friends.

These new things may fit easily into our lives. We may also find that our lives are too crowded to let in new energy. The process of exploring our dreams may spotlight the ways in which we have let our lives drift away from what we really want. Some decisions may seem less wise in retrospect, or we may find ourselves chafing at restrictions we had previously accepted.

It is very normal to re-evaluate our lives when the energy of possibility begins to make changes for us. We might re-affirm the decisions we have made with a new enthusiasm, directing our magic to energize what we already have in our lives. We might also decide to move in a new direction. We might end a relationship, move to a new town, change careers, go back to school, devote ourselves to art or music. Each of these changes makes space in our lives to manifest the results we have dreamed.

Affirmation

I make space for magic to manifest in my life.

Practice: Create the stages

Make physical space in the place that you live. Clear off one shelf, or clear out one drawer, or a section of a closet. Live with the space for a time. What new thing will that space bring into your life?

Reread your answer to the question in the Dream Big practice section. Is there space in your life for that dream to manifest? If not, what can you do to clear the way for that dream?

If you want to learn to paint, you might find a corner for your supplies, and set up a table in that corner. To encourage yourself to learn an instrument, set up a music stand, and fill it with the music you want to play.

The space you need to clear may not be physical. You may need to clear time as well. For example, suppose your big dream is to make a certain salary each year. You have researched positions that draw that salary and decided one of these seems very interesting. A vocational school can teach you that profession at an affordable price. However, you volunteer three nights per week, so that you do not have time to attend school. The volunteer position may provide you with friends and emotional support that are more important to you than increasing your salary. Or you may be able to limit your volunteer activities to one weekend day per month, redirecting your time to learning your new profession.

You can jot a note about the space you clear in your journal. Later, it will be interesting to re-read that note and discover what changes have happened in your life because of that simple practice.

Secrets of Magic 14: Take it in steps


Some of us have great imaginations and a lot of self-confidence. We can take large steps toward achieving our dreams. For others of us it is hard to accept a large change in our lives so quickly. For example, imagine a future in which you have won the lottery. Do you see negative as well as positive impacts to your life? Our objections automatically work against the manifestation.

It takes much less energy to manifest a small step than a big one. We can go from mail room clerk to CEO, but we probably aren’t going to do it overnight. It’s hard to imagine sitting in the CEO’s chair—it’s too far from our own experience. It’s much easier to imagine being the manager of the mail room. We already know how the mail room works and we can observe what it takes to manage the place.

Whatever the change is that we want in our lives, it almost always breaks down into smaller, more manageable stages. We can focus on each of these stages in turn, building from one success to another, until we arrive at the result that we want.

Affirmation

I take steps to achieve my goals.

Practice: Create the stages

Reread your answer to the question in the Dream Big practice section. Think about the steps that can move you toward that dream.

For example, say you make $10,000 each year, and you want to make $100,000 each year. Can you imagine yourself making $100,000? You might be able to make that jump in a single step.

If you find that you have a hard time accepting that you can make that much tomorrow, find the number that you can accept. Can you imagine making $25,000? What would it take to increase your income to that amount? Do you need to move from part time to full time work, or simply work for another company?

What is the next step you can imagine? Can you jump from $25,000 to $40,000 per year? That might take a change in career. You might attend night school, or apprentice to someone who is working in the field you want to enter.

Do you know someone who makes $100,000 per year? How did they obtain their position? If you don’t know anyone who makes that much, ask people around you if they know someone, or do an internet search for the types of positions that draw that salary. What career path leads to that position?

This is one example. We can do the same practice to move ourselves toward working from home, finishing a marathon, bringing a child into our lives, writing a book or painting a picture, or whatever we can dream.

Secrets of Magic 13: Dream big


Life presents us with many challenges. We might be struggling to regain our health, recover from a bad relationship, take care of people who depend on us, move out of poverty, establish physical safety for ourselves and our families. These immediate needs focus our everyday efforts and energy.

Magic helps us to meet those challenges. As we begin to hook into the power of the universe, we direct that power to help us heal, care for our dependents, get ourselves and our families into safety, and generate prosperity in our lives.

Whatever our situation, all of us have daily needs to meet. We must eat, sleep, work, play. At first we naturally direct our magical efforts to meeting those needs more quickly and effectively.

Magic also presents us with the opportunity to expand our limits and create an entirely new life for ourselves. We have already learned the practice of asking ourselves, “If I could do anything I want right now, what would I want?” Our answers might be practical and small at first.

  • “To sleep through the night.”
  • “To pay off my credit cards.”
  • “A babysitter for the kids next week.”

Magic doesn’t care whether we think small or think big. We can’t manifest what we stop ourselves from imagining. If you could do anything you want, what would that thing be?

For some of us it may be very easy to dream big. Others might have a harder time answering that question. We might cut ourselves off immediately, objecting that there are too many obstacles between ourselves and our biggest dreams. Or we might just be unused to exercising our imagination in this way. Here are some ways to explore and expand our dreams:

Ask your friends and family if you have ever talked about a dream for your life. Your closest circle might be aware of desires that you are unconsciously shutting down.
Remember a dream you had as a child that you have not yet manifested.
Think about a person whose life you admire. What do you like about their life?

Affirmation

I dream big.

Practice: Dare to dream

Look at all the answers you have written to the question, “If I could do anything I want, I would…” What is the most outrageous answer you have written? Now think of something even bigger. If you haven’t answered the question yet, write an answer to that question now.

Do you love to travel? Imagine traveling the world. Where would you go? If you are an artist, where would you like to perform or display your work? Imagine winning a prize. One way to get ourselves to dream big is to think about winning the lottery. Imagine winning a MegaMillions jackpot. If you won the jackpot, what would you do?

Secrets of Magic 12: Frame and focus


One of the secrets to creating powerful affirmations is to specify the result that we want and leave open the specifics of how the affirmation will manifest.

Suppose you want a new job. You look in the paper and find a job that you think is exactly right. You make an affirmation, “I get the job.” You phone for an appointment, send in a resume, interview for the job, and then discover that someone else got the position. How disappointing! Why didn’t the affirmation work? The affirmation narrowly specified the way to get the result, not the result itself, so the affirmation didn’t have scope to manifest.

It is also possible to make an affirmation that is too general. The affirmation “I own my own house” vastly expands the scope of possible houses to own. However, it is so general that the house we end up with may not fit all of our needs.

The secret is to narrow down the characteristics of the result we want without specifying exactly how the result is to happen. “I own my own house with shade in a quiet neighborhood with a mortgage I can afford” creates the shape of our dream house without limiting the way the house will manifest for us.

For example, to find a new job, we can list the qualities we are looking for in a new position.

  • A short commute
  • On a bus line
  • A chance for promotion
  • More money than I’m making now
  • Enough money to pay my expenses
  • A manager who appreciates me
  • Flexible hours

Once we have the frame, we can work to focus the affirmation on the result that we want. Often we fix on one specific thing that we think will improve our lives. If only I weighed ten pounds less, I would be more attractive. If only I had finished college, I could find a better job. If only I won the lottery, I could do anything I want.

Losing ten pounds and finishing college are worthwhile goals we can manifest. But is that really what we want? If our goal is to be more attractive, instead of making an affirmation to lose weight, we can create the affirmation to generate the actual results we are working to manifest. “I am attractive. People around me tell me how nice I look.” Then we can think about many ways to improve our appearance: dyeing our hair, buying new clothes, even standing up straighter and walking more confidently.

Lack of focus is why affirmations like “I win the lottery” almost never work. It is actually a method masquerading as a result. We probably don’t want to win the lottery with all our hearts. We want what winning the lottery will get us. It is a means to achieve our goals. We can refocus this affirmation by thinking about the things we would do if we won the lottery, and making affirmations to achieve those results.

Affirmation

I create affirmations to achieve the results I want.

Practice: Creating focused affirmations

Is there an area of your life you would like to make better? Do you want a house, a job, a car, a new friendship? Create an affirmation to manifest that result. To create the affirmation, list the characteristics you want that result to have. For example, if you want a car, here are some questions you might consider:

Can you afford a car payment? How much? If not, do you need to own the car outright?
What do you want the car to do? Are you commuting to work, or driving the kids to their activities, or just taking the occasional trip out of town?
Is it more important for you to drive a safe car, or a fast car, or a roomy one?

Answering these questions helps you craft the affirmation. Different answers to the same question result in different affirmations. Here are some examples:

  • I have a fast sporty car, with payments I can afford, that gets great gas mileage for my commute.
  • I own a roomy car to drive to the beach.
  • My car has the highest safety record to keep my kids safe as I drive them around town.

Secrets of Magic 11: Act as if

Affirmations often make statements about things we want to happen in the future. Even though the events haven’t happened yet, we frame them in the present tense, as if they have already happened. Instead of saying, “I become the weight that is most healthy for me,” we say, “I am the weight that is most healthy for me.” If we frame the affirmation in the future, we put ourselves in the place of going in a direction but never arriving. Saying that the event has already happened creates the energy in the universe that manifests our goal.

This secret works for all the magic we create. Suppose we make the affirmation, “I acquire the money I need to buy a plane ticket to London.” Now we act as if we have the money, by scheduling our vacation, researching plane flights, and buying a London guidebook.

This secret also works for every magical skill we learn. Suppose we make the affirmation, “Writing in my journal is easy and fun.” For some of us that may be immediately true. For others it might feel almost like a lie the first time we say it. We might have unpleasant memories of journal writing assignments from school. Journal writing might feel like a chore at first. To act as if, we make the affirmation, and then pick up our journal and start writing, just as if we were excited and happy to be making journal entries. Over time the emotion we are pretending becomes more and more real. The skill we are practicing becomes easier and easier. Faster than we thought possible, the affirmation becomes a reality.

Affirmation

I can do anything I want to do.

Practice: Planning the steps
Reread the journal entry you made to answer the question, “If I could do anything I want, the thing I would do is…” If you have been answering that question every day as you write in your journal, pick one of the answers to work with in this practice.

Now think about the steps needed to make that thing happen in your life. For example, you made the affirmation, “I take a trip to London.” You have imagined the future and worked through any objections you have to the trip. You acted as if by buying a guidebook and researching the sights you want to see.

What specific steps do you need to take to make the trip happen? You might need to: apply for a passport, request your vacation days, and pick an airline. Each of these steps is an opportunity for an affirmation.

  • “My passport application is processed quickly and my passport arrives on time.”
  • “My employer approves my vacation request.”
  • “I find exactly the right airline with a fare I can afford.”
  • Each small step takes us toward achieving our goal.