Coming in from the Psychic Cold.
Disclaimer: This isn’t a “how-to” blog post.  This is a message to hang on in there.

Just a short post today after my mammoth exploration into AltarWork.  I wanted to recount some of my personal experiences with both being and not-being psychic.  When I first started out in Paganism over 10 years ago I didn’t think or feel like I had a psychic bone in me.  I freely admit to feeling very jealous of those for whom psychic experiences came so easily. 

When I did start to have pagan spiritual experiences they seemed to be “all in my own mind” and I constantly questioned whether they were real, whether or not they felt real or whether I had made them up.

But I kept going, I kept trying, I kept reading books and getting advice and doing exercises and trying to let it all just flow.

Many years down the line and psychic work still doesn’t come easily (it probably never will and I am o.k. with that) but it does come.  I still have days of extreme doubt but I can shrug that off and concentrate on what is important and hear the messages the Universe is trying to tell me.  Sometimes the messages are images in my mind, sometimes I just feel energy moving in different areas of my body, rarely I hear things and rarer still I see things with my eyes. But I did it and from a standing start.   There was no big bang.  I didn’t read the one perfect book and wake up seeing ghosts round every corner, but I did get here.   So can you if you want to.

Just hang on in there.

I have been thinking about this concept for a long time:  The Whole of my Brain. Then this interesting post cropped up on Michelle's wonderful Lets Radiate Blog which got me to thinking.  It got me thinking that there is a whole other side to this problem which I need to explore. Like Michelle says, there are people who feel that because they are creative they can't be organised.  But there are also people who have been told they are left-brained who feel they cannot be creative and alongside all of this appear to be two competing cultures both failing to value the other.

I want to heal that divide.

Which led me to make this short video.

Click on the link and type in the password below.

Password - Wholebrainme

This is my Whole-Brain Manifesto, set yourselves free!

I am not a right-brained person, capable only of creativity, fun and instinct.
I am not a left-brained person, capable only of logic, rationality and organisation.
I am not a right-brained person who cannot write a business plan or practise punctuality.
I am not a left-brained person who cannot dream, imagine, write and paint.

I am a whole person and I can do anything I want.

I am a whole person...and I darkly suspect that you are too!
I so love the harvest festivals. Even in our modern world the idea of taking a breath and bringing in the harvest from all your hard work is just so relevant and powerful. 

Yesterday marks the start of the 30 days of Goddess course that I am taking and today marks the start of Faeriedaughter's One Month of Witchery.  Both things which have helped provoke the whirlwind of ideas in my head and my heart.  Thoughts which have yet again turned to career and such worldly matters.

I am a huge believer that there shouldn't be a mundane and a magickal world, but they are one and the same.  However I am not great at moving in the two worlds at the same time.  I am working on it with plans and to do lists but it is slow hard work. 

Today I have been so caught in this whirlwind that I thought I should take a little time to remember what I have achieved in the few short months since I started this journey.  Many of them need more work but that is not the point of this post, the inner demon of perfectionism can take today off, thank you very much!

1. Got this website up and running.
2. I have got a first draft of an e-book written.
3. I have undergone a big transformation in what I think it is possible to do with my life.
4. I have worked out how to make videos and upload them.
5. I have completed the first 1/3 of a Master's degree.
6. In the earlier part of the year, my Ladies and I completed a multi-part lengthy magical working which was the culmination of several rituals and lots of hard work.  It was great stuff though!

Which is a lot of things.

 I want to encourage everyone on this first harvest of the year to reap what they have sown, take five minutes to recognise some of your achievements so far this year.  Then give yourself a pat on the back!
 I also wanted to collect a small buffet of creative work by women who play by their own rules to inspire you all and me.  Some things to keep coming back to when it feels difficult to be a Women.  Some Women to fire you up and fill you up.

Firstly I found this and this, two incredible articles by the Witch of Forest Grove , truly honest and powerful mud and blood witchcraft if ever I saw it.  The rest of the site is pretty amazing too!  
Next I want to take a moment to return to and venerate Kali, the epitome of the unacceptable nature of women. I want to give a shout out to Ibis music who are creating some incredible soul stirring work on Kali and others. You can listen to the Kali album streaming live on their website here.

I only recently discovered Buffy Sainte Marie but she speaks a direct and powerful truth.

 Ruthie Foster took one of my favourite Maya Angelou poems and turned in into a divine song - this is for you dear reader, you are a Phenomenal Women, whoever you are.
Lastly another of my favourite poems by Kate Makki and a performance that has stayed with me for years.  If I ever feel I am not pretty - I watch this and remind myself why that is a good thing!
I am going through an interesting time right now exploring the "unacceptable nature of women".  Over a year ago I attempted to read Emma Restall Orr's book "kissing the hag" on the "unacceptable nature of women" and was disappointed beyond measure.  If anything it seemed agree with some of the worst stereotypes about women and did nothing as far as I could see to embrace the unacceptable nature of women - a powerful phrase which the book did not do justice to. 

Earlier this year I managed to get a copy of Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, this is a book about the true unacceptable nature of women and it is so deep and so inspiring I can only consume it in small bites so that I can really savour it, really absorb it.

Through the work I have been doing by myself and with my Ladies I have come back again to this concept of embracing the unacceptable.  I am still assimilating these lessons and I will no doubt come back to this again and again but the idea I am currently working with is simple...

Women have been allowed power on the condition that they abide by the boy's rules.  That we women are not "too emotional" and "don't cry or get upset", that we don't get too obviously old, hairy or plump, that we are not compassionate at the expense of business and a whole host of other things too numerous to mention.

Oh Really!

So I am bringing you on my journey into the unacceptable nature of women, my journey where I hope to embrace that nature and perhaps help other women embrace it to.  Because I don't think those rules work...no wait...because I don't feel those rules work!

Nothing encapsulates my current train of thinking more than these two videos.  Talking about the rage carried by women and the compassionate nature of us all which has been suppressed.

If you don't know about the TED talks then consider these your gateway drugs. 

This first one is a talk about the fierce nature of women by Chameli Ardagh and why that nature is breathtaking and amazing and to be used as a powerful force to change the world for the better.  The honest discussion of the nature of rage as experienced by Chameli is moving beyond belief.
Eve Ensler captured my heart with the Vagina Monologues many years ago.  I recently found this video and I cried with sadness and then I got to the poem at the end and I cried with joy as I realised it was not only ok to do those things, but something to be celebrated because "I am an emotional creature".

Please be aware of a trigger warning - this video contains descriptions of violence against women, and sexual violence against women, but if you can make it to the end you will find the poem that made me cry with joy!
Tune in for part two for a glorious celebration of Women's Creativity.
I am back from my holiday...it was fabulous and I am full of zip and zing to launch myself back into life, magick, work and creativity.

These last few weeks have been hectic as think I have mentioned, between the crunch of work and my Masters course had left me completely depleted.  Since the Summer began I have tried to slow my pace down, take care of myself a little better and to that end I have been consciously letting stress go, trying out Reiki and using Bach Flower Essences and lots of meditation and aromatherapy.  All good stuff - but I needed something more.

I needed to get out of the cavern and back into the light.

These things were simply relieving some of the pressure - what I really had my eye on was a relaxing holiday in Wales.  Which is where I was until Friday, deep in the heart of Snowdonia - a truly magical landscape.  From the first time I set foot in this part of the world I felt tremendously moved almost to tears by the power of the landscape.  In fact I find being nestled amongst the mountains and hills provides a perfect sense of retreat and that the peaks around me have distinct and tangible energetic personalities.  I used this time to completely relax and recharge with a mixture of vegging out in front of lots of DVDs, eating great food, soaking up amazing views and trying to breathe in a little of the energy around me to fill me up again. In fact I seemed to deliberately retreat back into myself for a few days, until I was utterly bored of it and ready to engage with the work again.  Of course being amongst such epic scenery helped a lot (despite the very soggy weather).
My creativity during this stressful period hasn't been affected (which has been part of the problem in a way).  But this week I have been able to enjoy a little writing at a more relaxed pace, knowing I have time for it.

So if you can plan for yourself a little retreat like this, even a couple of days, here are my three top tips for making it a success:

1. Head for nature - a city break just won't do it as you are aiming to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of human civilisation.  The quieter pace of country life is better suited.

2. Switch off - mobile phones, email and all real time communications.  It will all still be there when you return.

3. Take with you those thing you haven't found time for but really want to indulge in; like an amazing but challenging book, a set of guided meditations, a new tarot deck or perhaps a yoga DVD you wanted to try out. You now have some space to play with them, but don't worry if you don't get round to it either, because when you return home it is likely you'll have a renewed enthusiasm and energy for them anyway.
This post might be controversial.  Because I have always believed that Magick is not a substitute for hard work and taking responsibility, and some Pagans might not like that idea!

Roots in the Asphalt
The Magickal 5 Step Plan.

1.  Work out what is it you really want your life to look like. I mean really, truly and deeply examine your motivations.  Do you want to change your job because you truly desire to be a Circus Performer or do you want to change your job because you are being bullied by your boss?  Because your true motivation makes a big difference to how you plan to make your change.  If this part of the process gets uncomfortable then that is a sign that you really, really need to do it!

2. Start immersing yourself in the culture of that new life, read books, hang out on web forums with like-minded people, make new friends who are living that life, listen to podcasts, watch TV shows, learn the jargon and imagine how you fit in with that.  This step is vital to expanding your horizons of what you think is possible and achievable. By spending time with people who are doing it then you will begin to believe you can do it too (and you probably can!). 

3. Surround yourself with a core group of people who believe in you and believe in your change.  You will have enough of your own doubts to cope with, without taking on the doubts of others. That support network will help you to build on the work in steps 1 and 2 and get you through dark days when nothing seems to be changing, or perhaps it is changing and that frightens you.

4. Take active steps to manifest your new life.  I am not suggesting quitting your job in the hope of attracting the job you want.  More that if you want to be a Banker, you need to starting making applications to Banks; if you want to be a writer, you need to be writing; if you want to find love, you need to contact and meet people.  When I was 17 I applied to the most prestigious university in the UK.  Several people told me to expect disappointment and to each person I replied "The only way to guarantee failure is if I don't even try". The thing is this is a scary step and some people find more comfort in staying where they are than risking failure.  Sitting on the sofa and dreaming about travelling the world involves no risk...and it takes you nowhere.  You might fail, the first, second or even third time, but what if you could have succeeded.  I surprised everyone by getting a place at that university, and if I hadn't, I could have applied again.

5. Do your Magick ritual and make sure it is a good one!

"Hey Antara, this is a cheat.  You aren't really telling us how to use Magick to change our lives.  Only point 5 is about *Magick* and that isn't helpful."

Oh really?

Magick runs through our whole lives and no amount of spells or rituals or hand waving will change your life if you don't put the groundwork in.  In this blog there are already some technical tips on doing Magick rituals that work and there will be more.  But none of that means anything if you don't follow steps 1-4 above.  If you aren't ready for change then nothing will change your life for you.  Magick isn't something we keep in a special sandalwood box and get out once a month, it is a part of everything you are.  Being effective in life and being great at Magick are simply two sides of the same coin. 

Magick is damn hard work and requires discipline, courage and effort.  If you aren't putting discipline, courage and effort into the rest of your life then you won't have it for Magick.
I was reading the first issue of the Gaian Times, I know the work of the people running it and was also wondering if I could pitch an article to them.

Then I stumbled across this fabulous article on magic and psychology (a pet subject of mine if you know me!)  I have never seen such a good articulation of some of my views and would recommend it to everyone who practices magic!

When my life gets stressful (as it has recently) Magick is the first thing to go.  I beat myself up about not being disciplined or dedicated enough, about relaxing in front of the TV when I could be practising the [insert flavour of the week] Ritual; but in the last week I remembered that this is tendency to feel like one isn't doing enough, only makes things worsr. 

Magic is work, it takes energy and a clear mind.  It can be draining and tiring.  As I was feeling tired and stressed and berating myself for not doing a couple of bits of magical work over the weekend I began to realise something.  That at the moment any attempt to meditate would fail.  My mind was too churned up or alternatively too tired out.  I felt a bit fuzzy-headed and slightly (usually for me) under-confident.  Does this sound like a perfect recipe for successful Magic?  Not really. 

Given that stress is a huge factor in modern life, it is likely it is a huge factor in the life of the modern witch.  Particularly in these times of economic uncertainty where many people are losing their jobs, are short of money or are incredibly overworked in the jobs they have kept. So how can we stop stress from overwhelming our lives (or in particular our magickal lives - this being a magickal blog).

So before I can back to the practice I have to step away from stress. Easier said than done.  In my current state of feeling overwhelmed by everything I know I have to start somewhere, to avoid feeling like I have been trapped.  But equally I can't be taking on big things, big projects and big ideas.  So where do I go from here...

If I know anything about shifting the energy block of stress it is this:

1. Go a bit easier on yourself.  Now is not the time to beat yourself up for failing.  If you need to take things a little bit more easily - arrange thing so that you can.

2. Do small things and don't worry if they don't work.  Meditate for 5 mins instead of 20.  If you can concentrate and the meditation is a wash out then don't worry about it but make sure you show up tomorrow.  Keep showing up and not worrying if it doesn't "work" eventually a small break through will happen.

3. Eat a little better, drink a little less caffeine and exercise a little more.

I had two blog posts half written about various things, then a walk at lunchtime totally changed all that – and changed the day from a rotten one into a good one. I pottered down to the canal for fresh air and the scent of elderflower blossom and on the way listened to an audio book called the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people by Dr. Stephen Covey.  I had thought this book might be useful for work as I am doing a management and leadership section at the moment.  I wondered if the book might have other applications and a mere 40 minutes into chapter one and this blog post was birthed.

The author tells a story about a period in his life when he and his wife had a hard time with one of their sons.  The boy was not very athletic, not very academic and people often seemed to laugh at him.  The author and his wife wanted to help the boy achieve more and not get teased all the time and so they really tried to help him practice, gave him lots of positive encouragement and coaching and defended him when people laughed at him.  Sadly nothing seemed to help.  The author says he had a revelation when he realised that actually he and his wife were both giving their son this special treatment because on some level they believed him to be inadequate.  This message of inadequacy was probably being communicated through the special treatment and as such the son was getting underlying negative messages.  When they changed their view of their son as being great, just the way he was, then he completely blossomed and all his potential came to fruition. The point of the story is that it isn’t enough to look at the world around you, you have to scrutinise the lens through which you view the world. Because even if you are going through all the right motions, if there is something wrong in your heart then nothing will change for the better.  We need to question... What are my hidden values, beliefs, assumptions and perspectives? How do they impact what I do without me even realising it?

Hidden beliefs, values and perspectives are essential to successful magick (or perhaps that should be they result in unsuccessful magick).  You may be working for one thing in your magickal rituals but the outcome is completely different because it was not what you truly wanted, you just didn’t realise that.  I have an excellent mundane example of this.  I spent a year learning how to drive but I was really worried about taking a test – so worried it was affecting my ability to drive and although I could in fact drive adequately I was getting worse and worse.  I went for some really good hypnotherapy and then in the middle of one session I had a realisation…

"I actually don’t want to pass my test, passing my test means driving around, on my own, in a non-dual control car.  I would be totally responsible for the lives of others and that terrifies me." 

Once I had uncovered that understanding, I started working on my perception and within a very short period of time I passed my test. But had I done a spot of magick to help me pass my test instead of uncovering that nasty little perception then I doubt that it would have worked.

Incidentally all credit to my hypnotherapist and friend who has been saying something similar about magic for years.

Fast forward to Project Antara…I am taking some tentative steps to put myself out into the world in the hope that one day I will make my living through my creativity. What is the lens through which I am viewing achievement of that goal?  Well there are a few dirty, little opinions I am finding within myself.  Here they are for the world to see:

  1. I am worried people (including current work colleagues) will judge me harshly if they find out what my beliefs are.  As a result I am not being very honest about who I really am, if I am not honest about who I really am then this will impact my ability to authentically fulfil my dreams because I cannot be fully committed to pursuing this path openly and yet at the same time be trying to hide.
  2. I believe I don’t have the right to earn a decent amount of money from something I enjoy.
  3. I believe I don’t have the right to earn a decent amount of money from something based in spirituality.
  4. I believe that if I did earn money from creative and spiritual pursuits that it should be a small/negligable amount, because a really big amount would be obscene and people would accuse me of being a snake-oil salesmen (and I would worry that they might be right about that).
That is a lot of stuff holding me back right there isn’t it!  Can you imagine what would happened if I tried to do some magick at this point in time (before sorting out all these things) to bring my new career into being.

So the importance of understanding the lens through which you view the world is key to successful magick.  I am off now to work on some of the above…I may be some time.

You know it is interesting to me how more and more of the things I am studying in relation to management seem so important for magick.  Almost as if effective organisation is a universal principle or something ;)

Stay tuned tomorrow for what I plan to do to tackle number 1.