Sincerity Sunday

3 things other bloggers don't want you to know (and other thoughts on being a real person)

Confession: it’s been almost 2 months since I’ve written a “real” post. Yes, I’ve spent a good chunk of that time soaking up the last days of my apprenticeship with Hilary and working on a few exciting new projects, but there’s also a nagging feeling that’s been keeping me away.

In truth, I’ve spent a lot of that time mulling over the blogging industry, the metaphysical community, and where I fit into them. I’m tired of the perfectly polished photos and cliche advice that dominate so much of the conversation, and I’m craving vulnerability. So, I’ll start.

These are the secrets other bloggers don’t want you to know. Listen closely.

 

Those styled pictures look nothing like their real life.

Elegance is like pornography: “I know it when I see it.” I have a deep and abiding obsession with good design, but creating it doesn’t come easily. Still, when Jacquelyn Tierney started her #MAGICMAKERMAY Instagram challenge I thought I’d try my hand at replicating some of the gorgeous shots I’d seen on my feed. Within a few days, it was abundantly clear that was easier said than done. One photo might take a half and hour, setting up the white foamboard amid my messy living room and styling the items I’d collected from throughout the house.

I love my home, but it’s far from perfectly curated. One day, when I saw a sparkling beam of sunlight streaming in through the kitchen window, I felt disappointed. How could I capture and share that light when there was a stack of dirty dishes in the sink? By the time I washed them, the sun would have moved on.

What did I do? I took the picture anyways. Here’s the caption:

“In reality, our kitchens don't look like an Anthropologie catalog. There are dishes to be done and messes to be cleaned. There are also a million lovely things those pictures miss, like the piece of Spanish moss from my beloved Charleston that sits on the windowsill, the bottle of Dom a dear friend gave us as a wedding gift, or the antique vase I got on a trip to visit my grandmother who's long since passed away…It's not always pretty, but it is beautiful.”

 

They have a day job (or a rich partner).

Let me preface this by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having someone else support you, financially or otherwise, in your creative endeavors; however, there’s something disconcerting about receiving income from other sources and presenting yourself a self-made business guru. If scientists and other professionals are expected to declare their conflicts of interest, shouldn’t we be held to the same standard of excellence?

There’s a pervasive myth that if you “quit your day job”, the powers that be will come to your aid and allow you to manifest the money you need to survive. While I’ve seen magic happen (and it does happen), it’s not that simple. I’ve seen just as many people make stupid decisions based on this advice, and I worry that this lack of transparency is what’s caused the myth to become so rampant. It’s alluring, certainly more so than the idea that you’ll have to work your ass off and save your pennies for years before you make the leap.

When you’re transparent about what part your online business plays in your life, you build trust within the community and allow people to appreciate your accomplishments for what they are. Theresa Reed does an amazing job at this. So does Esmé Wang. There are plenty of people out there who walk their talk, but on the whole, we could be doing much better.

 

They have no idea what they're doing.

Here’s the thing: none of us do. The fact that anyone can do this is at once the industry’s greatest strength and most complicated weakness. Blogging and e-commerce are incredibly fast-paced industries that are evolving and changing faster than other bloggers and business owners can write list posts on how to keep up, and as a result, it takes an incredible amount of discernment to sort through the bullshit. Luckily, it’s also easier than ever for experts to share their gifts of knowledge with the world (and get paid for it).

So, what’s a mystic to do? Take everything with a grain of salt. Build your online relationships slowly and carefully. Finally (and perhaps most importantly), listen to your intuition. You already know the answers.

 

Phew. It feels good to get that off my chest. Even with all that said, I still love this shit. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have written two books, connected with a vibrant community, and met some of the most incredible teachers and soul sisters here (and in person). To say it’s been worth it is a wild understatement, which is why I’m going even deeper with The Midheaven in the last half of 2015.

 

Here’s what I’m going to be up to:

I wanted to wait to tell you, but I don’t think I can stand it anymore! I’m working with my soul twin, Jacquelyn Tierney, to give The Midheaven a complete visual makeover. She’s the Chanel of web design, and I can’t wait.

I’m pairing up with another magic maker to bring you something amazing in star-studded style (hint!). It’s been in the works for a few months now, and it just keeps getting better and better.

I have a super secret new astrology offering in beta right now that I can’t wait to reveal later this year. I’ts going to be magical (hint hint!). Mark your calendars for November.

Finally, the lineup for the rest of this year’s Cosmic Chat interviews is going to blow your mind. I’m totally humbled by everyone’s generosity and you’re going to fall in love with their stories.

This summer is going to be HOT!

Until then, I’ll leave you with this prayer from Briana Saussy:

“May you have a heart that knows the right way to go with wisdom and discernment.”

Sincerity Sunday: On Rightful Names & Right Work

When people ask you about your spiritual practices, how do you respond? More importantly, how does it make you feel?

In my hometown, beautiful though it may be, people aren't always open to the sacred arts. Yes, I felt safe being an astrologer or tarot reader, but I was something deeper still, and I didn't know how to express that in the larger context of my spiritual belief system. Until recently, when people asked me about spirituality I'd flinch, wondering how to reply with integrity without making anyone uncomfortable or causing a scene.

This year, I'd had the pleasure of participating in Briana Saussy's Miracle Tree Sessions, a year-and-a-day intensive program for anyone "who desires a deeper relationship with their spiritual allies, the living land, the world between worlds, and the Divine within and without." The course has been a catalyst for many discussions of magical lineage and the importance of names. She reminded us that coming into alignment with your spiritual work, whatever that might be, is your sacred right.

Under the Virgo full moon, I decided to sort out what to call myself once and for all. No more flinching, and no more fear.

I know I'm not alone in this experience, especially not within the metaphysical community. So, I've decided to share my ritual with you.

 

This is the exercise I used to claim my rightful names and right spiritual work. I hope it helps you find a name that feels like home.

 

First, grab your favorite divination deck and a notebook. I recommend using a traditional tarot deck for this exercise.

Next, you’ll want to write a list of all your possible rightful names. Be sure to include any religious or spiritual traditions you were raised with and from your specific ancestry, in addition to any metaphysical practices you feel pulled towards. You may also want to include any work that feels like it’s a part of your life’s calling. For example, my list included Catholic, mystic, and writer.

Know that your list will be completely unique to you. Only you have your special blend of family heritage, past experiences, and intuitive leanings. Be open to names that might feel strange to you at first. You may be surprised what you find.

If you’re still unsure where to begin, feel free to try a few of the names from my personal list:

philosopher 
priestess 
psychic 
psychopomp 
seeker 
shaman
speaker 
spirit worker 
spiritual practitioner 
ritualist 
root worker 
tantrika 
tarot reader 
teacher 
witch 
writer 
yogi

astrologer
artist 
Catholic 
ceremonial magician 
devotee 
dreamer 
ecstatic 
herbalist 
intuitive 
lover of mystery 
lover of wisdom 
magic maker
magical practitioner 
medium 
musician 
mystic 
oracle 
pagan 

There’s no limit on how many names you can ask about. My list had 35 names! Just make sure you’re able to stay focused for the entire exercise.

At this point, you may want to light a candle or some incense. Make this experience as sacred or as simple as you want. Again, it's all about what feels right to you.

Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

Now, ask this question: “What are my rightful names?”

Or, you might ask: “What is my right spiritual work?”

One by one, pull a card for each name on your list. Make sure you record the card for each name as you go, especially if your list is long. Also pay attention to how each card makes you feel, because that will make a difference in how your interpret it.

 

Here's how I interpreted the results:

 

Major Arcana cards are a "hell yes". The only ones where this doesn't apply are The Tower and The Devil. My reading of these cards was that there's power in that area, but it may be dangerous, or it may not be something you want to pursue.

Aces are also a definite "yes".

Court cards may represent roles you play at different times in your life.

Minor Arcana cards depend on the individual card meaning.

I shared this ritual with my magical partner-in-crime and all-around megababe Paige Zaferiou, and she said that positive reversed cards are an area of potential that needs development.

Once you've completed the ritual, let the results simmer for a while. Come back to them after a day, and again after a week, and see how you feel. In my practice, a few names that came up felt perfect right away, while others needed more time to sink in. Both are totally valid.

After you're done, if it feels good to you, I'd absolutely love to hear your experience with this practice. Feel free to send me an email or contact me on Twitter with your results!

Finally, my wish for you is this:

May claim your rightful names and right work with integrity and clarity.

Sincerity Sunday: Energy Drains and How to Stop Them

Confession: I've been feeling pretty drained lately.

Are you feeling it too?

Astrologically, it makes sense. We're in a period of major transition. Last week marked the beginning of the Year of the Goat, the Sun moved into Pisces, Venus and Mars danced into feisty Aries, and in a few short weeks we have the final alignment of Uranus and Pluto. The times, they are a changing.

You're going to need plenty of energy make the most of these cosmic shifts. So, how do you replenish your personal energy supply?

You've got to stop your energy drains.

 

Here are a few of the most common energy drains I've seen in my own life:

 

Talking too much.

I know, I know. Aren't we supposed to express ourselves? Certainly. Venting can be healthy, but when does it cross the line to become gossip? When you talk, you're exchanging energy. What kind of energy do you want to put out into the world? Be intentional with your words. What are you saying? What are those around you saying? And most importantly, how does it make you feel?

Also, in my practice I've found that talking too much about a project (especially a creative work) before it's complete can be detrimental to the final product. Scientists have found that talking about something you're going to do gives your brain the same rush as if you actually did it, which makes you feel less pressure to complete it in real life. Yikes!

 

Poor boundaries.

In today's nonstop society, it's easy to succumb to the constant demands on our time and energy. There's an unspoken expectation that we should be available around the clock, when that's not necessarily the case. Of course we all have responsibilities that must be met, but it's ultimately up to you to determine what's urgent and what's important in your life.

How much of your money, time, and resources can you commit without spreading yourself too thin? Or, how much can you do and still feel energized? Remember, you can always say no.

 

Negative people.

This one may be the straightforward, but it's probably the most difficult one to deal with.

I've heard many people say that you're the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. If that's true, then who are you?

Do you have any friends, acquaintances, or colleagues that seem to always need something, but somehow evaporate when it's time to return the favor? Or, is there anyone you have to interact with that leaves you feeling grimy, like you need to take a shower? In metaphysical speak, we call them psychic vampires. To put it simply, they drain your energy.

Psychic vampires aren't necessarily doing this maliciously. As a matter of fact, many probably have no clue that they're making you feel this way! In this case, make sure you put number two from this list into practice and communicate clear boundaries for your interactions with them.

 

Lack of self-care.

As much as we'd all like to think that our personal energy supply is an unending well, each of us has fluctuating energy levels. The ubiquitous posts on “how to be more productive” can leave you feeling less-than when you fail to measure up. If you're already feeling drained, another productivity worksheet may well sap your energy even more. In order to bounce back, you've got to care for yourself.

The word “self-care” is tossed around a lot in personal improvement conversations, but what is it really? Self-care is any activity you do to help care for your body and well-being. Usually, there's an implication of sensuality as it relates to these actions. Yoga, taking a bath, lighting a beautiful candle, and going to bed early are all common examples of ways to practice self-care.

My personal self-care secret is this: when times are tough, don't strip your life of all luxury. Instead, give yourself a few strategic indulgences to replenish your dwindling reserves. You deserve it!

 

The basics.

When the bottom of your personal Maslow's hierarchy is off (food, shelter, etc.), everything else will crumble because it lacks a foundation. Tend to the fundamentals of good food, adequate sleep, hygiene and exercise. It seems obvious, when when the going gets really tough, it can be easy to forget.

 

I absolutely, wholeheartedly hope these suggestions help you replenish your energy and brighten your life.

 

PS- Going through a difficult time, but still want to do some magical work? Here's how to tap into your intuition when shit hits the fan.

PPS- A while back, I had the honor of writing for Esmé Wang's Off We Go series on entrepreneurship and mental illness. Check out my essay on managing my energy and living well with ADHD.

 

Photo credit: This card is the 4 of Water, from Joanna Powell Colbert's Gaian Tarot. It's all about paying attention to your inner well of energy and making sure you're living a sustainable lifestyle. Fitting, no?

Sincerity Sunday: On Self Improvement Overwhelm

In a few days, 2015 will begin. I always look forward to the clean slate feeling that January 1st brings. By that time, I will have printed out as many worksheets as I could get my hands on, and bought a new planner and wall calendar. I'll set intentions for the upcoming 12 months: intentions that, if I'm honest, may not come to fruition. But I love it. I love the potential, the opportunity, the possibility that lies in the liminal space between two years.

This time of the year, we're bombarded by e-courses, manifestos, and books promising to make you the "best version of yourself". Normally I'd eat them up, but this year something's different. Every time I see another one of these, I feel exhausted. Or frustrated. Does the world really need another self help manual that will start collecting dust by springtime?

I'll be the first to admit that many of these programs or products are high quality and have helped countless people become more productive, successful, and even joyful. At they're heart, they're good. However, I realized the reason I was collecting them so greedily was because I believed I needed them. That I wasn't good enough without completing them.

Here's the secret:

You are already more than enough.

You are beautiful just as you are. You are talented, and the world needs your gifts.

The next time self-improvement overwhelm starts to set in, try these mantras instead:

I am talented, and I want to hone my skills so I can bring more joy to others (and to myself).

Or,

I am beautiful, but I want to feel more sensual in the new year.

Get the idea? When you approach self improvement from a place of fullness, you're able to ditch the anxiety that comes from having a mindset that's founded in scarcity. That way, you can focus all your energy on what you want to grow.  No amount of goal setting, desire mapping, card reading, or journal writing can take the place of knowing your worth.

Finally, as you start to create your mantras and goals for the new year, ask yourself this: are you using self improvement as a reason to procrastinate doing the real work of life? Remember: there's never a good time to start, and you'll never be "ready". Don't wait. Start today. The world is waiting for you.

Wishing you a joyful, prosperous, magical new year! xx

Photo credit: Death to Stock Photography