The media feeds us an ongoing narrative of the horrors of humanity: political corruption, environmental devastation, mass shootings, to name but a few. Yet our lives are also touched by acts of philanthropy, creative expression and everyday goodness by the bright-souled, golden-hearted people in our midst. Between these polarities, we are left disoriented, torn between repulsion and reverence for these base aspects of our human nature.
Who are we as a species? Are we beauty or are we beast? Does fear or love drive us? What rules our world and our lives – an ethos of domination and destruction, or of nurturance and creation? And what do we make with our pain? Beauty and goodness, or more horror and pain?
I want to reach out and touch your heart. To feel your warm flesh and pulse under my palm. I want to tell you everything is going to be okay. That we can figure this out, we can find our way through the madness and destruction that dominate the headlines, and align ourselves with those that come into this world to spread goodness and beauty.
But I can’t. Because we live in a turning moment, a time of choice between all that we are and all that we can be.
Individually and collectively, we need to stop being afraid, stop judging and stop insulating ourselves from the raw truths of our joy and our pain. And hardest of all, we need to accept that the horrors the media feeds us and the beauty that touches our everyday lives are both expressions of our inner humanity.
In this acceptance, you can come to understand that you are not separate from the beastly and the beauty out there in the greater world. Your life story is woven from the best and worst of your personal history and makeup. And you, like every one of us, were born into and entrained within a collective ethos that produces terrorists, mass murders, poets and philanthropists.
What do you do with your personal pain? What do you do with your gifts and opportunities? Do you make more sorrow and pain for yourself and others? Or do you allow life to teach you, and help you blossom and grow into your true, big, shining self.
It all comes down to the imperative of choice making. In the face of the suffering and joy, and light and shadow of your life story, what do you choose?Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.
Artist: Karina Pavlova
With the Winter Solstice, the new solar year has begun, followed closely by the turning into a new calendar year. Now is a time of endings that mark new beginnings, and the tradition of New Year’s resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions can be a catalyst for profound, soul-sourced change, drawing on the Path of She practice of yes magic. Yes is the most powerful magical word in our vocabulary. It’s a word that the Universe pays close attention to. Say ‘yes’ and doors of possibilities open. Say ‘yes’ from the depths of soul, and you can transform your life.
Right now, at this very moment, the power of yes magic is at work in your life. Every choice you make and action you take, consciously or unconsciously, is a yes spoken in the language of the material world that weaves the fabric of your everyday existence. This is powerful magic: you are, in effect, spellcrafting your life.
When you make a New Year’s resolution, you’re focusing your will by setting an intention for the coming calendar year. This is a perfect opportunity to use yes magic in service of your personal and spiritual growth for the new year.
Making Your Yes-Magic New Year’s Resolution
1. Heed Your Soul Desire
Yes magic operates in the domain of soul, not surface-level needs and wants. To use yes magic for your New Year’s resolution, you start by turning your awareness inward, and seeking out the soul desires that are reaching for expression in your outer life at this time.
Start by exploring your existing thoughts about change in the new year. What healing and personal transformation are you hungry for? What are your fears and hopes at this time? What new skills, knowledge, lifestyle enhancements and resources would you like to cultivate? Why do you want to make these changes in your life?
Then take a few more deep, grounding breaths. Let go of everything you’ve written, and imagine yourself slipping beneath these things you know, and the wants and whys you can readily name. What is beneath these things? What soul-based longings are trying to make their way into your conscious knowing at this turning into the new year?
When your journaling feels complete, put your writing to one side, and let your insights and discoveries percolate inside of you.
- Connect With Your Will
Yes magic is also about being grounded in your everyday life, and working with the impetus for change that’s already present in your outer environment. Desire turns your awareness inward, seeking out what you want to change. Will’s job is to focus your awareness outward, and to drive change in relation to your existing life circumstances.
Now that you’ve heeded your soul desire for change in the new year, you next turn your attention to your will, and its connection to what’s happening in your life at this moment.
Ask yourself: what’s up for me right now, and demanding my attention, positive or negative? What opportunities and challenges am I facing? What unusual or synchronistic events have come my way? How are these things revealing the personal change that’s ripe for me at the beginning of this new year?
Answers may come to you immediately, or you may want to let them brew for a day. When this activity feels complete, move on to step 3.
- Align Your Desire and Will
Yes magic sources its immense, transformative potential from the alignment of the twin powers of desire and will. When you say yes to your soul desire, and fire up your will to make this desire manifest in your outer life, you’re tapping into the deep, foundational roots of spellcrafting magic. It’s like sending up an intense, focused beacon into the listening Universe, and activating its mysteries of manifestation in service of your personal transformation.
Close your eyes, and put one hand each on your heart and belly. With several full, slow breaths, imagine yourself connecting to your heart with its inner knowing of your soul desires, and your belly with its outer knowing of your will. Open to the meeting and mingling of the insights that came to you in your step 1 and 2 activities. Feel these energies come into alignment in the core of your being, with your will primed to service your soul desire.
Move directly from this activity into step 4.
- Craft Your New Year’s Resolution
From the insights and information that came to you in the prior steps, craft a specific, yes-magic New Year’s resolution.
Words matter. Your soul, will and the mysteries of the Universe heed the specifics of your intention. Speak in empowering terms, naming what you want to bring into your life, rather than what you want to get rid of. Keep your resolution simple and brief, yet also use words that have power and meaning for you, and that make your soul sing. Make sure there’s an action element to your resolution, something that you’ll do to help manifest your intention. Leave lots of room for the unexpected and the unknown, so the Universe can weave its manifestation magic.
Symbolic actions matter. Design a simple ritual that can charge your New Year’s resolution, and send its message outward into the listening Universe. You can create sacred space, light a candle, and speak your New Year’s resolution out loud three times. You can charge a symbolic object, like a piece of jewelry, an altar item, or a written affirmation that can be a touchstone to your New Year’s resolution yes magic as the next days, weeks and months unfold. Or you can come up with your own ritual that speaks to your soul and intention for change.
It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as it’s symbolically connected to your New Year’s resolution, and anchors this intention in your soul, body and physical surroundings.
- Release Your New Year’s Resolution
With yes magic, like all spellcrafting, you don’t grip tight to your intention. Gather up your presence, commitment and power. Charge your New Year’s resolution through your ritual. Then release your intention, setting it free to work its yes magic, as it will, in your life.
For example, if your resolution is to become a more loving person, this might show up as a big fight with your mother. As counter-intuitive as this may appear, on a deeper level your heart might be blocked because of an unresolved issue with your mother. So the Universe delivers to you what you truly need: a conflict to heal your heart with your mother so you can continue on your chosen path of becoming a more loving person.
Yes magic and your soul have their own timeframes which can manifest change in an instant, or take a long time to unfold. In practice, the work of your soul is all about process, not outcomes. What matters is the depth of your engagement, not the speed of your journey or your destination.
- Do Your Soul Work
Yes magic isn’t about words. What you do is your true yes, not what you say. Unless your actions back up your New Year’s resolution, nothing is going to happen, or more accurately, something will happen, but it’ll be in alignment with the yes communicated by your actions.
And remember to look for the unexpected. With your yes-magic New Year’s resolution, you’ve activated powerful manifestation energies, and these energies will reveal themselves in the insights, dreams, issues, challenges and opportunities that come your way. Expect to be surprised, to dig into places that you’d rather avoid, and to be led by mysteries that you don’t fully understand.
Do your spiritual pathwork to the best of your ability, and trust that this is enough. With conscious awareness and commitment to your New Year’s resolution, you can change in profound, transformative ways, and become ever more masterful at the yes magic of spellcrafting the blessed gift that is your life and the living of your soul desire.
Photo Credit: Gaia Orion
In my mid-twenties, I was living a corporate, achievement-driven existence that neither fed my soul nor gave me joy. A series of synchronistic events conspired to wake me up and set me on a spiritual journey in search of the missing half of my womanhood and humanity.
My journey led me to Vipassana meditation, feminist graduate studies and new age spirituality. These were all powerful and transformative, and yet something was still missing for me: the feral, sensual, dreaming, witching, life-affirming sacred feminine.
One day it came to me: I am a pagan. This was the spiritual path that sang to my soul.
Paganism isn’t just about beliefs, it’s about stepping outside of the strictures of everyday reality and stepping into full-bodied experiences of the wild, magical world of what else is true and possible. After twenty-plus years of pagan explorations, these are five precious lessons that I’ve learned:1. Life is delicious.
Paganism is a spiritual practice that calls us to a joyful, sensual communion with Nature and our bodies.
Even in those bumpy times when your challenges and losses bring your down, remember that life is delicious and that there is always a brush of beauty to sweeten your sorrows.2. The Earth is alive.
Paganism is defined by its earth-centered ethos. While our collective humanity has lost sight of the ways of the green world, pagans hunger to touch and be touched by the powers and splendor of Nature. And in this sensual, embodied exchange, we awaken to the living world.
The Earth is alive. One web of life connects us all, breath to breath, and essence to essence. What your mind has forgotten, your body remembers.3. The Goddess is everywhere, in everything.
I didn’t go looking for the Goddess. I set myself on the trail of my lost humanity and womanhood, and one day there She was, everywhere and in everything.
The Goddess’s deepest presence is love, not as an emotional state, but rather as the primal desire of life to seek out, create and nurture life. Through this love, all things are made holy and infinitely worthy. We are made holy and infinitely worthy.
Lift your face toward Her living light, open your heart to Her infinite love, take in Her green-drenched beauty and feel Her holy presence in your own shining soul, and know that the Goddess is indeed everywhere and in everything.4. So without, so within.
Pagans celebrate the wheel of the year: eight sabbats that mark the turning seasons of Nature and their shifting balance of darkness and death with light and life.
Our life too is a shifting balance of light and dark, joy and sorrow, and life and death moments.
So without, so within; like the natural world, our humanity is woven of darkness and death, and light and life. And in this powerful truth, we can find our balance and wholeness in the face of life’s shifting seasons.5. Magic is real.
Magic, in basic terms, is the ability to experience and work with the Mysteries (alternative states of being and knowing). Think of reality as a frequency dial that can tune into the astounding magical possibilities of the world around us: “normal”, everyday modes of consciousness fall within a specific frequency range; the Mysteries are engaged at different frequencies on the dial.
Pagan magic practices, such as ritual and spellcrafting, develop and deepen our abilities to turn the frequency dial and work in altered states of consciousness.
Don’t take my word for these things I have shared. Instead, think of paganism as an invitation into the realm of what else is true and possible. Take a little journey beyond the everyday for yourself and bring back whatever sings to your soul.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Law
I’m in magical circle, celebrating Samhain. We’re in a group trance, traveling to the isle of the dead to commune with our beloved Ancestors. I’ve done this meditation many times before, yet this time is different. As we reach the shore of this blessed isle, we unzip our flesh coats and step forth as beings of pure shining light, tethered to our living, breathing bodies by a silver cord.
There will never be enough words to capture such a lightness of being. For this blessed time, I’m free of my human body, and my mindscape of fears and tangled habits that make me less than I am. I’m pure light, untainted love, unbounded beauty, in the company of other bright shining beings, both my living companions and our blessed dead.
I understand, in the deepest parts of my being, the truth of this moment: that I am this being of light, always. This is my naked, true Self, and our naked, true humanity. We are, always, pure light, untainted love, unbounded beauty. When I follow my silver tether back to my human body, and zip myself back into my flesh coat, my skin seems to loosen its fibers, letting more of that inner light shine outward.Another Reality:
A few weeks later, I’m on the treadmill at the gym, working to make my body strong. There’s a screen in my face, blasting out the daily news: a gang rape by teenage boys from a Catholic high school; a high profile, high drama murder of an international journalist; the latest political fiasco. My heart squeezes tight and my adrenals spike. Barely halfway through my cardio routine, I’m already drenched in the toxicity of status quo reality.
Damn! It’s caught me again, off guard, that constant, outer noise pushing its way past my defenses, triggering my fears and negative mindset, trying to spellbind me into believing in the worst of my humanity. I forget, in these short moments, my Samhain experience of the light being in my core. Loathing rises up in me, and horror, grief and rage. I feel dirty and ashamed of my flesh coat and our collective humanity.
Big breathe in. Big breathe out. I tune out the screen, and focus instead on the reassuring rhythm of my striding legs, my hard-working muscles and sweating skin. I love my wondrous flesh coat; I clear my mindset of fear and loathing; I remember the shining light of who I am, and the true, untainted nature of my humanity — the spell of our shadow humanity is broken.Two realities. Two versions of our human nature. Which do we choose to believe in? Which do we give our attention and juice to? Which do we allow to steer our choices and actions? Which will help us build the world we want to live in?
The shadow side of our humanity is true. We are doing terrible things to each other and our planet home. Rape, murder, social injustices and political fiascos are daily occurrences. Our flesh coats and mindsets are burdened down by fears and tangled habits born out of our personal and collective histories of trauma and wounding. Yes, these things happen; they are real and seemingly omnipresent.
The pure, shining brilliance of our humanity is true. We are blessed with the glorious gift of living in a light and beauty infused world. We ourselves are light and beauty infused beings. Love, kindness, justice, compassion, creativity, courage, humor, sensuality, and so much more: these are the shining of our inner light outward. These things are real and truly omnipresent.
We talked about this dual nature of our humanity at the end of our Samhain ritual, and the overwhelming challenges and atrocities that have come to dominate our shared society and non-stop news cycles. How can we be a force of positive change, we asked ourselves? How can we make a difference?
Nothing or no one can ever dim our lightness of being. We’re meant to shine bright, gifting the world with the brilliance of our pure, naked Self, unbounded beauty and untainted love. But we’ve been convinced to do the dimming ourselves.
Individually and collectively, we’ve been bullied, shamed and abused. We’ve been indoctrinated into the shadow reality of humanity, fed to us constantly, unrelentingly through the one-sided messaging of mass culture. We’ve been spellbound through lies and illusions about our unworthiness and tainted nature. We’ve become lost and fear tangled, our flesh coat and mindset made into prisons, and our shining inner core forgotten.
Big breathe in. Big breathe out. Tune out the outer noise. Focus instead on the reassuring rhythm of your beating heart, the wondrous motions of your hard-working body, and the caress of air on your sensing skin. Reach inward to that shining light at the core of your being. Unzip your flesh coat, just a little bit, as much as feels good and safe. Take a little bit of your light into today, and tomorrow after that. Little by little, breathe by breathe, moment by moment, shine your lightness of being outward, and brighten the world around you.
In each of these undimmed moments, the shadow spell of humanity is broken, and you are set free. You may forget, be caught off guard, or choose to hide again. Don’t worry, these are natural parts of your journey of reclaiming your full-shining Self. Once you unzip your flesh coat, and taste your own innate brilliance and beauty, even a little, you’re no longer lost. You’ve woken from your spellbound sleep, and set your feet on a path that will guide you home to your true Self, undimmed moment by undimmed moment.
Trust that this journey takes time and practice. It’s done in small steps and big leaps, where, again and again, you choose to wake up, disconnect from the negative, shadow-reality messaging and experiences outside and inside of you, and re-align yourself with your shining core and a positive, love-filled vision of our humanity.
In these small steps and big leaps, we build the world we want to live in, each of us bringing a little of our unzipped light into today, and tomorrow after that. Together we can break the spell of our shadow humanity, forever, and bask in our collective, undimmed lightness of being. From this vast, untapped resource of love, beauty and power, anything and everything are possible.
Photo Credit: Seraphina Capranos & Ben Skorguson
Everything we are, everything we’ve experienced, learned, and suffered can be used in service of the healing and transformation of ourselves and our world. What matters is not so much who we are, or what has happened to us, but what we do with what we’ve been given. We can choose to reinvent our worldly toolkit, and make beauty with the good and the bad of our life.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, we have been socialized to see the world through the black and white lens of good and bad. Good things come about through the best sides of our humanity and personal nature; bad things through our worst instincts and the shadowy, nasty places in our collective humanity.
We apply this dichotomous lens not only to the world around us, but also to our personal history and characteristics. There are parts of ourselves that we embrace as good and positive, and other parts that we reject as bad and negative.
Instead I offer a different perspective: within each of us is the power to do beautiful things with what life has given us. From both the good and the bad, we can create beauty and positive change.
Our life story brings us the things we need to heal, grow and change, and whatever we have gathered in our worldly toolkit in the form of knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics can be used to bring about positive, beautiful change in ourselves and our greater environment. It all comes down to personal choice: what we do with what we’ve been given.A Personal Story: A Witch with an MBA
This insight came to me in the midst of a crisis on my island home. A small corporation had bought a huge tract of land in the southern portion of our island and began to clearcut the forests, leaving a swath of devastation in its wake that threatened the environmental and economic fabric of our community.
In this story, the corporate world was the bad guy: the business men who owned the land, the multinational corporation that funded their activities, the government legislation that enshrined corporate rights over community and environmental considerations, and a cultural ethos that worshiped money above all things.
Our community rose up in resistance and I found myself, for the first time in my life, deeply involved in a collective activism that fought, with every bit of skill, knowledge, and inspiration at our disposal, to protect this stunning, natural landscape we called home.
Yet I faced a strange dilemma. I was also the bad guy in this story. I had a corporate, consulting background and an MBA. Whatever we were fighting out there was also part of my personal makeup and worldly toolkit.
This split within me wasn’t new. I had long struggled to reconcile the two divergent, powerful sides of me: the MBA with a corporate career, and the wild witch connected to earth and magic. Our community crisis and activism brought this struggle to the forefront.
But, as is the case in any crisis, there was no time for indulging my inner angst; I just jumped in with all that I had. With my witch skills, I did magic and ritual to protect the land, and with my corporate skills, I led a small group that organized public, consciousness-raising events like street theater. As the group’s business manager: I made agendas, ran the meetings, delegated tasks, made sure the financial resources were in place, and followed up on logistical details. Our group did amazing things, with a handful of people, little money, and quick, efficient meetings, due to the massive, diverse talents within our group and my well-honed business skills.
This story has a beautiful ending. Our community activism stopped the clearcutting and turned big tracts of the forest into magnificent parkland. A middle ground was found between the interests of our community and the corporation that owned the land. And I reclaimed and reinvented my worldly business side in service of the beauty of my island home and community.Reinventing Your Worldly Toolkit
1. Take an inventory of your worldly toolkit.
List the key knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics that you draw upon to navigate the demands of the everyday world. Be sure to include the parts of your toolkit you see as good and bad.
2. Choose one thing on this list, or a bundle of related things, that you view in a negative light.
This can be a “bad” side of your personal characteristics, a skill that you aren’t proud, or anything in your toolkit that you believe negatively impacts your life.
3. Explore this part of yourself with clear eyes and an open heart.
Where did this part of you come from? What is its story? How does it bring about negative situations or outcomes?
What is your attitude toward this part of yourself? Do you want to: a) hide it, get rid of it, pretend it doesn’t exist, or transcend it; or b) embrace it, learn from it, and find a way to make it a positive part of your life?
4. Now imagine, no matter what you current attitude is, that you can do good, beautiful things with this part of you see as “bad”.
Open your heart wide, with love, compassion, and acceptance of all that you are and all that life has brought to you. Know that you have the power to do good, to choose something new, beautiful, and life-affirming, with these parts of you that you see in a negative light.
This new, beautiful choice may be committing to heal an inner hurt or old story, or to reframe this part of you as a strength and ability that you can use in more positive ways.
Don’t overthink this, instead let go of your current way of thinking, and explore what else is true and possible. See how you can take this part of your worldly toolkit in a new, beautiful direction.
Positive change doesn’t require that you reject or cut away your “bad” parts, but that you open yourself to love, self-acceptance, and new possibilities for these parts you see as negative. You can choose to do beautiful things with what you’ve been given.