• Unlocking the Magick Within

    Unlocking the Magick Within

    Releasing Your Magic by Finding the Keys to the Way You Think About Yourself

    Did you know there is a clear link between how you think and the magic that manifests around you?

    Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” In clinical psychology, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches people that first, there is a thought, then the thought elicits a feeling, and that feeling leads to a behavior. As we all know, our behaviors change the world around us. If we want our world to change, we must trace the process back to the original thought, which often, as the proverb states, originates in our core belief system.

    For millennia, spiritually minded people have learned to take control of the energy flow between their thought processes and the world around them by disciplined efforts to manage the type of energy they allow to flow from themselves. But before we can harness this energy flow, we must first identify what type of energy we allow to flow from ourselves. We often put barriers up that limit our ability to manifest our magic. Psychologists would refer to these as limiting beliefs.

    I recently embarked on a magical writing journey using Silk & Sonder as a springboard for helping me better understand the connection between my belief system and what manifests in my life. The theme for January is Abundance. All the energy of the Universe is interconnected –  all the life forces, all the matter, all the wavelengths of light, all the knowledge – and I (and you!) can tap into this abundance if I learn to align myself with the Universe. The first step in this process is identifying my limiting beliefs. The following writing exercise is adapted from one of the January Silk & Sonder rituals.

    Exploring My Limiting Beliefs / Core Values

    Step 1: Where do I feel I “fall short?”

    Open a journal to a blank page, and begin listing places where you feel you don’t measure up well against others. Remember: this is not about FACTS, but about your PERCEPTIONS. The saying goes, “As a man thinketh, so he is.” This step is about identifying where your thoughts limit the person you are meant to be.

    Like many of you, I had a “life” before my current one, surrounded by an environment that didn’t resonate with the same energy I needed to survive and thrive. Many wonderful things happened during that time, most notably the birth and rearing of two fine children: this was a time during which I chose to spend time at home with my two eldest boys until they reached grade school age. As a result, many things happened to me later in life than they did to some of my compatriots. 

    I often feel that, compared to other people, I have “fallen behind” in three areas:

    • Retirement ~ Because I dedicated ten years of my life to raising my two oldest children to school age before re-entering the workforce as a teacher, I feel the need to work much later than my contemporaries.
    • Doctoral Studies ~ I chose the field for my first graduate degree based on the heavy influence of others and had no interest in pursuing advanced studies in that area. My current field of interest is a passion, but I feel compelled to continue these studies now when others might wonder, “What’s the point?”
    • The Home of My Dreams ~ I have lived in several different homes in my adult life and left them to move on for various reasons. I often get “social media envy” when I see the homes other people have built and paid off, and I am just re-starting the process of making a home.

    Step 2: Who sees me differently?

    On the same page, identify people who might view you differently from your appraisal. 

    • Who is proud of you (and tells you so)? Why?
    • Who would be proud of you if they could see you now? Why?

    My husband always tells me how proud he is of me and brags to friends and family about me. He tells people, “My wife can grow anything,” that I know the names of every tree and bird, and that I’m the smartest person he knows. He also talks about my cooking, how I like decorating our home, and how I organize my spices (spoiler alert: I have a serious addiction to collecting all the herbs and spices and keeping them in alphabetical order. I know.). He tells people I have healing power in my hands and marvels that I taught myself how to build a website. He’s like a one-man, unpaid marketing team and cheerleading squad, and I love him and need him for that.

    If my maternal farming grandfather were alive today and saw me as a school principal AND feeding livestock after work, alongside my son and his wife – another generation of farmers in the family – he would be so proud, not just of me, but of the three boys that I’ve raised to follow in his agricultural footsteps: one livestock farmer, one pet store manager/”animal collector,” and one perennial nursery team leader. I miss my grandfather dearly and think of him often.

    My mom and dad are very proud of all their four children and the grandchildren we’ve created for them. We learned the importance of hard work and taking care of family first from our parents, and we have passed these values along to our children, who are all successful in their own right.

    Step 3: What did I learn about myself?

    Examine what you have written. Analyze your responses, and make a table like the one below.

    1. Use your notes about your perceived “shortfall” areas to help identify limiting beliefs, as revealed by your inner worries.
    2. Use your “pride” areas to help determine your hidden strengths, as identified by your close ones.
    3. Identify corresponding values and need areas revealed by your analysis. 
    4. If you want, summarize your findings in one or two sentences.

    Here is a part of the table I made for my own exercise:

    Step 1:

    Shortfall AreaLimiting BeliefI Need…
    Retirement“I won’t have enough money when I’m older.”The revelation of alternate forms of abundance
    Doctoral Studies“I’m running out of time.”Confirmation that I am an infinite being living in a temporary, finite body.
    The Home of My Dreams“Other people have better things than I do.”A spirit of hygge in my home.

    Step 2:

    Pride AreaHidden StrengthCore Values
    I know a lot of things.I have learned many things and strive to do tasks well.Knowledge, Wisdom, Learning, Effort
    I heal people with my hands.I have a connection to natural healing power and energy.Compassion, Spirituality, Faith
    I am a school administrator.I can lead others and manage an organization.Leadership
    I participate in agricultural activities.I am connected and devoted to the land that supports us all.Service, Stewardship
    My father, grandfather, and children were and are all involved in leadership roles in their businesses.I have passed along important values and ethics to my adult children.Legacy, Family

    Step 3:

    My core values focus on honoring the wisdom, knowledge, and efforts of those who came before me and passing them along to future generations, as well as protecting and preserving the sanctity of the natural world, the divine essence, and family. However, I am distracted by the temporal nature of my current existence, not recognizing my contribution to, and part of, eternal energies and systems.

    Putting Your Magickal Work to Work

    The process of examining our magickal selves to better understand our power and the self-imposed barriers we must overcome is often referred to as shadow work – perfect spiritual work for the dark months of winter, when we tend to cocoon and when there is less going on outside of ourselves to distract us (at least here in chilly New England). Knowing this information can help us identify our true calling– our life purpose. In the next article, we will look more closely at the beliefs and values we’ve identified in ourselves and find magickal correspondences that we can include in our shadow work to support us in areas where we need support and strengthen us in areas that are our core values. 

    I would love to hear any nuggets you learned through this exercise and how you hope to use the information in your mindfulness, magick, or spiritual practices. Comment, share, and link below!

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  • The Cocoon

    The Cocoon

    The last autumn leaves have long since fallen from the trees, thanks to our recent winter storms. While the weather is unusually warm for December (almost January), we have seen single-digit highs in recent weeks. With the ground too frozen to dig now, we in colder climes have left stray potatoes, weeds, and annuals in the ground and retreated into the warm recesses of our homes for the long, dark winter months. Wrapped in our cocoons, we await sunshine and fairer days.

    My cocoon is closely woven around me. Wrapped in a warm sweater with my black cat, Puff, as my “muse,” I light a maple brown sugar candle that my husband and I bought on our Columbus Day getaway this past fall. Its sweet aroma reminds me of the fiery autumn display of the Berkshires and our recent holiday baking. Under the candle is a gardening book aptly entitled, One Magic Square – a not-so-subtle reminder that being a gardener is not about the size of your garden but the fact that you simply have started gardening and that the process of seed becoming tomato plant is, indeed, magical. Just add sunshine, water, and hope.

    I daydream of childhood when I lay in the grass with my friends, gazing at the fluffy cumulus clouds of July and August, imagining them as long-departed pets staring down at us from a deep, blue summer sky. We felt like there was all the time in the world to just be, and we knew nothing of life’s trials. We were free.

    My maiden days have long since passed, and my matron days are soon to close, with the youngest of my three boys in his final teen year. Turning the pages into the crone chapter of my life is a process and, admittedly, not one I began happily. Right now, however, my cocoon is cozy and is a safe place to transform and prepare for the next phase of my life.

    A caterpillar focuses its days on the right now, eating, finding sunshine to warm itself, and shady spots to hide itself to rest. It grows, sheds its skin, and grows some more. Like our childhood selves, it does not think about tomorrow but lives each day in the present, enjoying the sunshine and endless summer days. Time stands still.

    At some point, however, there is the inkling that things are about to change. Perhaps there is a subtle change in the amount of sunshine or a dip in the air temperature. The caterpillar stops searching for food and starts searching for a more permanent shelter – someplace it can create its cocoon. Does it know what is about to occur? Does it understand that its existence as a caterpillar will soon end? I’ve often felt that our children become reminders that time is passing. Where once sat a chubby toddler now stands a teenager with gangly limbs and an awkward gait. Our hearts remain youthful, yet the change in our offspring tells a story of passage. We shift our hope onto our children. Our hope takes life in them as they grow and change. The matron years are ones of nurturing and providing and sheltering and giving.

    So here I am, in my winter cocoon, my matron-to-crone cocoon. Like the caterpillar in its cocoon, I feel I am becoming something me, yet not me. My essence will remain the same, but what will emerge at the end of this season will be something new, unique, and wonderful, fully equipped for the next stage of life. What happens in the cocoon, I wonder? Will my very fibers untangle and reknit in a new and magnificent way, like the caterpillar-butterfly creature? Is that the meaning of the salt-and-pepper hair or the shift of my tissues into a rounder, softer form? Instead of the pain of resisting the change, should I embrace it and receive these gifts as a “crown of glory” that I have earned along with the wisdom of experience? When I emerge, will I travel to faraway places? Will others draw hope from my new form? Will my days be full of the beauty of gardens and forests, flowers and fields?

    This cocoon, this winter, is different for me. The hope I have sown, like seeds, into my sons has taken root and transformed them into fine, successful young men with their own families. I am peaceful and welcome the transformation into the wise crone. Through trials, hard work, and perseverance, I have earned all I am and will become.  Whatever form I emerge in, I will be fully equipped for the days ahead. The songs that I hum silently to myself in my cocoon today, I will sing out loud in the days to come. The hope I once sowed into my growing sons, I will sow into words on a page, into embraces, into golden days with the love of my life, into meals to share with others, into seed in the ground. My wings will spread gloriously, and I will once again be free. 

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  • How Finding Your True Calling Can Help You Get Your Heart’s Desire

    How Finding Your True Calling Can Help You Get Your Heart’s Desire

    The Year 2022 is winding down. If you are like me, you are reflecting on the challenges and triumphs of the past year and planning for the year to come. Knowing who you truly are, and having a clear vision for yourself for the future, can help you successfully reach your goals for 2023.

    The trick to selecting goals you are more likely to reach involves knowing your authentic self and establishing your true calling in the Universe. Sound too “woo woo” for you? It’s really not – it’s the real secret behind those who meet with success and those who struggle to reach the goals they set for themselves.

    Why Should You Know Your True Calling?

    Much research shows the benefits of being true to yourself and knowing your life purpose. The National Geographic Society wanted to know the secret of longevity in the five areas of the world where the average life expectancy was the highest or where there was the largest concentration of people in their 100s – places they called the Blue Zones. Of the nine common factors contributing to the longevity of the people in these Blue Zones, one was a sense of life purpose – which alone adds up to seven years to one’s life expectancy.

    Having a sense of purpose that drives your life is so important that many corporations use the principles of Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life as guiding aspects of their professional development and training. Having goals and a life direction can yield not only personal satisfaction but a longer life and business success.

    How to Discover Your True Calling

    Your true life calling is “true” because it is consistent with your personal strengths and interests and how you benefit others. Discovering this authentic calling is as simple as identifying these strengths, passions, and contributions to society and looking for where they intersect.

    In your journal, create a chart with three columns. Label each column with the following headers: My Strengths, My Interests, Ways I Benefit Others. Here’s what the beginning of mine looks like:

    It’s important to try to write at least 10 items in each column, as the more you write, the closer you get to your “core” values. The first few items you jot down will be the obvious ones others might say about you. For example, I’m a teacher and school administrator, and I’m pursuing my doctoral degree, so it would make sense that I might have an interest in education and lesson design. But that might not be my core passion or true purpose for being here on earth. By continuing the lists further, I see the common thread of simply wanting to help, encourage and build up others and of helping them understand information that can make their lives better – not just in the field of education.

    Putting Your True Calling to Work in 2023

    This underlying “true calling” now becomes the basis for my online presence, my writing and blogging focus, and the theme of my new nail-care business. Not only does this help with “branding,” but staying true to my authentic self ensures that my efforts bring me joy. What brings you joy becomes fun and not painful, and you are more likely to accomplish it.

    Based on this analysis, I chose the following goals (and blogging topics) for myself for 2023:

    • Faith: Develop and maintain a daily practice of study, prayer, meditation, and yoga;
    • Finance: Focus savings on graduate school expenses;
    • Family: Cook dinner at home at least four nights per week based on ingredients that we have on hand;
    • Foundation: Dedicate time each week to creating a home that is a peaceful oasis for our guests and us;
    • Fun: Build at least one fun family activity into each month’s events;
    • For Me: Create a mini-homestead in our outdoor space.

    I’m particularly excited about this last goal, which (this year) will involve a big strawberry bed (for freezing and canning), a chicken coop, and a patio garden.

    What is Your True Calling?

    Using the above process, you can identify goals that help you become authentic. When you are authentic, no one can take your place – and you can best serve others. Not only are you more likely to reach your goals and benefit others when you answer your true calling, but you will also enjoy doing so because your chosen goals bring you pleasure.

    What is YOUR true calling? How can you manifest this in 2023? Let us know in the comments below.

    And may your 2023 be full of joy, goodness, and peace.

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  • Notes From December 2022 …

    Notes From December 2022 …

    In the Sky Today…

    Sunday… the Day of the Sun. The Moon enters Leo this afternoon, this Day 19 of the Lunar calendar, as we begin Krishna Chaturthim.

    Focusing on Home, Self-Care, and Family

    I love holiday times – the food, the family, the gatherings (or time away from people – as the need dictates). I love the changing seasons, the way people feel more energized, and the air feels electric. But there is no doubt that holidays can bring on unnecessary stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions.

    Over the past few years, family health crises and COVID pandemics have helped my family rethink our holiday approach. My husband suffered from end-stage congestive heart failure from 2016 until receiving a heart transplant in January 2020. We just did not have the energy to spend thinking about holidays – we were so focused on just making it to the next day. Then, we had to stay away from others to protect my husband’s newly gained health after the transplant. Shortly after, we all became shut-in, masked, and socially isolated. We had our holiday “gathering” over Zoom that year.

    This is the first year we are in some kind of space to entertain thoughts of holiday merriment. Fortunately, our years of not holiday-ing taught us that the most important parts of the holidays have nothing to do with shopping (or even gifting), attire, or decorations. We discovered that the best part of holidays involved gathering together, enjoying laughs that hurt your belly, opening a new adult beverage bottle, passing plates of our favorite foods, and eating from our fanciest dishes. In short, crises taught us that simpler is simply better.

    Last week, the highlights included the following fun:

    • Decorating the house with holiday lights (no tree – too many nutty cats!), candles, and incense holders;
    • Making good food with abundant harvests of butternut squash, potatoes, and strawberries;
    • Digging the last of the potato harvest with my eldest and his wife;
    • Planning holiday festivities at school;
    • Making my own tinted moisturizer;
    • Finishing my fall graduate courses – freeing up time for family activities.

    Recipes You’ll Love…

    The Easy Fresh Strawberry Pie also has a few blueberries in it. Both fruits were from my Misfit Foods box and reminded me of summertime… for the triple batch of butternut squash bread, I used roasted butternut squash puree that I made from squashes in my farm share in October, roasted, mashed, and frozen in November.

    I have used more tinted moisturizer than foundation for the past few months. There are many recipes for DIY tinted moisturizer online, depending on whether you want to use makeup products you already have or plan to make yours using natural ingredients. Here’s a simple one made with your favorite skincare products.

    Holiday Preparation in Your Home

    How are you preparing for the holidays? Drop a comment below.

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  • 10 Places To Look For a Little Glamor Magick

    10 Places To Look For a Little Glamor Magick

    For the past several days, Venus, the planet of love and beauty, has been square with Neptune, the overseer of our subconscious mind. This can make some of us feel more self-conscious about our appearances. In general, winter’s dark, cold days often bring about more negative views about things (for this flip-flop lover, anyway). In times like this, glamor magick is good for everyone.

    Glamor magick is a magical practice that uses your personal power to bring about success. By focusing energy on charm, charisma, and things that make us look and feel good, we project energy into our surroundings, increasing the power of attraction – one of the central forces (along with organization) holding the Universe together. This post will share low-cost or no-cost ways to tap into glamor magick.

    When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you look good. Glamor magick uses these feelings to be more powerful and attract success.

    What Types of Glamor Magick are There?

    There are four general types of glamor magick:

    • beauty magick
    • fashion magick
    • wealth magick
    • health magick

    There is no doubt that there’s a lot you can do if you are wealthy that attracts people to you – and not necessarily in a good way. So let’s focus on the other three as they are accessible to anyone, no matter how much you earn. Remember: the thing that makes something magical is intention.

    Beauty Magick

    All do things every day that can become part of glamor magic routines. Whether makeup, perfume, tattoos (permanent, temporary, or henna), or hair coloring/styling can be a part of a magical routine. Here are some simple ways to make your regular routines more magical:

    1. Charge those beauty products! If you use candles or incense for daily meditation, pass your beauty products through the smoke to charge them with energy. Alternatively, leave them out in the sunlight or moonlight (especially the full moon – she’s extra feminine and magical) or in the waxing moon after a new moon. Be careful, of course, not to melt your lipstick in the sunshine! Tamed Wild has goddess and intention pillar candles that are great for use in ritual magic.
    2. Incorporate oils and herbs. I like to purchase shampoo, cleaning, and other products that contain whatever herbs and essential oils I’m currently using in other practices. For example, I recently purchased seasonal household products that contained white fir and balsam essential oils from Grove Collaborative. Both oils are perfect for adding to your shampoo and conditioner, and other products during the holidays when stress is high, and you want to look, feel and SMELL your best! I also have a vintage atomizer with moon water and Siberian fir essential oil that I spritz over myself before I meditate (thank you, Tamed Wild, for that ritual, too).
    3. Treat yourself to something pretty. I LOVE surprises. There’s got to be a name for the “love of random things” – because I definitely have that! I started a small business (okay – I do it to get free stuff, and I’m my own best customer) selling Color Street products. Just having a cute mani makes me feel prettier. I also recently reactivated my Ipsy subscription service, which sends me a cute little bag of curated items based on my preferences. It’s an inexpensive way to try new things. And don’t forget – charge them before you use them.
    An inexpensive manicure or wonderfully rich hand cream can make you feel glamorous, even sporting your Saturday jammies.

    Fashion Magick

    1. Clean out your closet. If you’re like me, you have a bunch of clothes in there that 1) don’t fit you anymore; 2) someone gave to you, and you feel bad discarding; 3) you don’t really like but cost a lot once and you feel bad discarding them; 4) needs a button/zipper/stain removal/whatever, and you have been saying you’ll get to it for three years now… Get rid of all of those things. I did a big purge before my last move (and honestly could do another). Better to keep a few things that you love and make you feel pretty than to have a closet full of items that remind you of a different weight/body shape/time and make you feel bad. I get my clothes pretty much everywhere. I have liked the earth-mothery ones at Sivana lately.
    2. Try something funky and unique. Diamonds may be SOME girls’ best friend, but I’m just as happy with a unique piece of costume jewelry or something inexpensive and original. Some people maintain that natural materials are preferable for the energy they hold (compared to synthetic items). If you feel pretty/powerful/unique/magical in it – wear it! I try to find jewelry with symbolism that fits the intention I’m currently working with (e.g., the moon for feminine power, calm and love; sun or concentric rings for power and energy, and action). For me, jewelry selection is less about buying something new than choosing the right jewelry for the day. Remember: intention makes it magical.

    Health Magick

    1. Hydrate. I am really bad at hydrating. I don’t like water! But I have had better luck drinking the right amount of water when I add a dehydrated lime or lemon juice packet or infuse the water with good herb tea bags. I have successfully replaced some of my (many) cups of coffee with Rasa, an adaptogen-rich coffee alternative. When you don’t drink enough, your skin and hair get dull, you feel weary, and it’s harder to adapt to life. Make hydration a glamor-magic priority!
    2. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies. Like getting enough water, eating more fruits and veggies has several “inside” benefits that help your “outsides” look and feel better. I currently use Misfit Foods to purchase produce and other slightly imperfect products delivered to my door weekly. Not only do I get organic produce at less than grocery store prices, I feel good because I am helping to reduce food waste which just feels glamorous and good.
    3. Get moving! I have a job that sometimes involves sitting longer than I’d like. Some experts say that sitting is the new smoking. Not only do you not benefit from moving your body when you sit, but you actually LOSE benefits from any previous movement when you have sedentary stretches. I did a couple of things to help myself in this regard. One: I (re)joined a gym. I chose Planet Fitness, because I really need their “judgment-free zone” philosophy. They also have a very reasonable price point (monthly memberships as low as $10), and such an assortment of activities that anyone can find something there. Black Card membership ($24.99/month), includes access to tanning (sun worship for those dark days of winter here in New England), and a convenient app for your phone which helps with meal planning and home exercise. Going to the gym might not seem magical, but remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup or fill it if it’s broken!
    4. Get those ZZZs! When I joined the gym, I got a coupon good for a free Amazon Halo View. One of the benefits of the fitness tracker is that it tracks my sleep patterns, including how long it takes me to fall asleep, how long I sleep, how much time I spend in the different phases of the sleep cycle, and whether or not I had any disturbances or time awake in the night. I have learned a lot about my sleep habits (such as the fact that I fall into a deep sleep within 5 minutes – often a sign that one is chronically under-rested), and that I feel more energetic and get more steps in the day after I had a good or excellent night sleep. There are many free apps that track sleep. Check one out.
    5. Speak kindness over yourself. When I began my current (stressful) management position, I made it a point to write an affirmation in my planner every day. I use the Moonly app, which is free and has many wonderful, calm, and beautiful benefits, including daily affirmations, dietary recommendations, and meditations. Practice speaking positive things over yourself – imagine the words accompanied by a sphere of protective light around you.
    Taking care of your health is glamorous, and magickal.

    Getting Glamorously Magickal… or Magickally Glamorous

    I hope this post has given you some ideas about incorporating glamor magick into your day. If you can’t add something new right now, try to remember specifically why you’re doing something to give it intention: “I’m going to bed now. When I sleep better, I feel better. When I feel better, I make better decisions and feel more powerful. I want to be powerful.” “I’m putting my water jug in the moonlight to absorb the Moon’s female energy. When I drink the water, the Moon’s energy fills my body. I will feel stronger, more peaceful, more centered.”

    {Please note: this post contains some affiliate links. I might get a few points toward a reward or another small token for your click or subscription}

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  • How a Flock of Blackbirds Can Change How You Feel About Your Life

    How a Flock of Blackbirds Can Change How You Feel About Your Life

    I can always tell that the seasons are changing by the way the birds behave. The other day, while walking my dog in the yard, I saw the trees full of thousands of blackbirds. This has always been exciting to me – how they grow so bold when in such large numbers, how their calls fill the air with a raucous, yet beautiful, noise, how they lift off and resettle in hordes, wheeling across the sky as if connected by invisible cords.

    Blackbirds, especially in large flocks, have often been considered bad portent, usually associated with death. In this post, we will see how the awesome sight of a flock of blackbirds means so much more than this.

    What are Blackbirds?

    The term “blackbird” is a generic term for any of several species of birds, most of which congregate in large flocks, often in mixed species groups. Each continent has its own assortment of types of blackbirds. Here, in New England, common grackles, red-winged blackbirds, crows, and non-native European starlings gather together in groups called murmurations, sometimes numbering in the millions, according to the Audubon Society.

    Blackbird flock (c) 2012, rnd4.

    Not all blackbird species ima murmuration are truly migratory. Migratory, partially migratory, and permanent residents alike, will gather together and move in unison to feeding areas, evening roosts, and fresh water. Once, when I lived in Ohio during graduate school, there was even an escaped common parakeet associated with a flock of blackbirds that used to feed in my backyard!

    The Symbolism of a Blackbird Flock

    Many lean on the raven’s symbolism in Edgar Allen Poe’s poem as a harbinger of death and foreboding. Jessica at Symbolism and Metaphor lists several meanings for the sudden visitation of a large group of blackbirds to where you work or live.

    1. Sudden Changes

    Like the change of seasons that causes the birds to congregate, a flock of blackbirds can mean a sudden transformation or change in your life – positively! As blackbirds are often seen as stepping easily through the veil between this world and the spirit realm, this flock can be seen as a show of spiritual support for you as you prepare for big changes.

    2. Healing

    As they can send a message of change from the spirit world, a flock of blackbirds can also convey the need to rest, relax, recuperate and recover. I almost always feel cheered by the awe-inspiring presence of thousands of birds around me – how could one not? If you see such a sight, ask yourself, “How am I feeling? Am I taking care of myself? Could I do better at this?”

    3. Protection

    One reason that blackbirds mass together is for mutual protection from predators. Many of us have seen small blackbirds attacking a hawk or eagle en masse. A flock of blackbirds can be a spiritual protection message for you and your loved ones. Look at your inner circle and notice those “angels” around you. Lean on them!

    4. A Reminder that Life is Fragile

    While a traditional interpretation of a flock of blackbirds is that of a dark omen of impending death, another view is a reminder that we need to be mindful and recognize the everyday blessings that often go unnoticed in the busyness of our lives. Rather than inciting fear and worry, let these amazing sights refocus your life on the joy of today.

    5. Adaptability

    Most blackbird species are highly adaptable and can prosper as easily in a city as they can in rural areas. A flock of blackbirds might be a glorious reminder that you need to be open to change and new experiences and that happiness depends on your willingness to be adventurous and available for the novel.

    Final Thoughts…

    Emily Dickenson wrote that “forever is composed of nows” (“Forever – is Composed of Nows,” 1914). The next time you see a huge flock of blackbirds, stop and take a moment to be grateful for the now that you are in. Ask the Universe for help in accepting new things, making the most of the time, talent and treasure you have been given and thank the Divine for the reminder to reflect and self-care.

    Peace and love to you…


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  • How Your Morning Routines Make Your World a More Magical Place

    How Your Morning Routines Make Your World a More Magical Place

    Everyone has morning routines.

    Even if you’re the kind who rolls out of bed, splashes water on your face, and puts on the first clothes you find before heading out the door, routines are built into that.

    With just a bit of a tweak, you can turn that morning routine into a ritual that starts you off with a bit of magic, a connection to higher powers, and a great setup for the rest of your day.

    What are Routines?

    If you look up the word “routine” in the dictionary, you will find the following:

    1. a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program;
    2. something performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason;
    3. something organized for automaticity.

    In short, a routine is a set of activities you do every day, day in and day out, regardless of the day of the week or the day. You do them so often that you don’t even think about them anymore.

    I love my morning routines. I complete them every day, weekdays and weekends, no matter the season. In fact, if I miss my morning routines for any reason (everyone has had their morning disrupted by a dog barfing on the rug, a baby whose diaper mysteriously fills just as you’re heading out for the day, or an alarm that gets ignored), I feel unprepared, and even cheated. Here is my typical morning routine:

    • Wake early (5:30 am at the latest) before everyone else; Wash my face;
    • Make a cup of coffee. While the coffee brews, I load stray dishes into the dishwasher and start a load of dishes;
    • Light candles and incense in my breakfast nook and get out my journaling materials;
    • Do a daily tarot pull (1-6 cards, depending on my reason for the reading) (one of my cats has usually joined me on the bench by this time);
    • Continue with whatever ongoing research I’m doing (right now, I’m studying goddesses of justice and the kether [crown] sefira);
    • Journal, make my schedule, pray and set my intentions for the day;
    • Add items to my altar to correspond with my intentions;
    • Walk my dog and talk to the sun, moon, planets, stars, and whatever wildlife greets me.
    illustration of a woman journaling with her cat and tea nearby
    Routines such as journaling, time with your pet, and a morning cup of tea can all become rituals if you add a bit of thought.

    If it’s a work day, there are a couple of steps after this (make breakfast and lunch, say my goodbyes to whoever is still sleeping). But this is how my day starts, no matter what the date. These are my morning routines – and they are also rituals. Let me tell you why.

    Why My Morning Routines ARE Rituals

    When I first started on my path to the Great Spirit, I thought meditation was something only seasoned yogis do well and that rituals involved fancy incantations, moonlight escapades in the backyard (my poor neighbor…), and maybe secret potions. Then one day, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Magic & Alchemy by Tamed Wild, and heard one of the co-hosts, Kristin Lisesnby, state that the best way to add ritual to your day is to look for the magic in the ordinary things that you already do. What a relief!

    Let’s compare the definitions of routine and ritual and see how we can turn the first into the second:

    Comparing the features of routines and rituals gives us a clue on how to turn a daily routine into a ritual experience (Image by author, 2022)

    We can see that routines and rituals differ in one important way: the why. The same ordinary action, such as the first sip of your morning coffee, takes on a more metaphysical, spiritual meaning if done with purpose or intent. The intent might be increased mindfulness (e.g., feeling the warmth of the cup in your hands, smelling the aroma of the fresh brew, sipping the first sip, noting the way it feels in the mouth), or it might be your gratitude toward something greater than oneself (e.g., giving thanks for the quiet, the new day, fresh opportunities, and comfort). If you’re walking the dog because it’s what you do every night before bedtime, that might be just a routine. However, if you take the time to talk with your dog, greet the moon, look for Jupiter shining in the night sky, and feel the energy of the stars rejuvenating you, you might be engaging in a bit of ritual magic, especially if it’s the way you end your day every day. This ritual closing of the day takes on a spiritual meaning when done with intent.

    The Benefits of Morning Routines and Rituals

    Scientists have studied the many positive results of morning routines, including increased productivity, creating a positive context for the rest of the day, increased energy and feelings of control, decreased feelings of stress and forgetfulness, and improved relationships, confidence, and flexibility. Adding the element of intent focuses the energy of the routine into a specific area: mindfulness routines, such as making your bed, sipping tea, or writing in a journal focus that energy on connecting with your inner self (the “shadow self”), while setting the table for breakfast, filling the bird feeder or lighting incense focus that energy outward, toward others or the divine.

    Turning Your Mundane into Magic

    While there is always a place for that special ritual, such as lighting candles at a shrine or participating in a baptism, everyday tasks can become magical when done with a spiritual purpose. Let’s look at ways to turn your morning routines into rituals, and make your world a little more magical.

    Create a table with three columns. Start by listing 5-7 tasks you do every morning without thinking about why, in the first column (maybe this is your FIRST journal page?). Next to each, write why you do it. If you don’t know, leave that blank. In the last column, think about how each could be an opportunity to connect to yourself, others, or the divine. Choose one of your routine tasks, and practice doing it with intention every day for a week, two weeks – however long it takes to feel you are now doing it with purpose. Be grateful. Be thankful. Be mindful and aware of changes in yourself, in your view of the world and of others. When you feel the magic, add another ritual to your day.

    What’s Your Favorite Morning Ritual?

    I’d love to know what your favorite rituals are for starting your day. Better yet, what routines did you turn into rituals, after reading this post? Drop a picture and share in the comments below.

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  • The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Tarot Birth Cards

    The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Tarot Birth Cards

    The English language is full of expressions that hint at the connection between the objects in the sky at birth and our journey on this Earth. We refer to things that happen to us as being “written in the stars” and to particularly fortunate people as being born under a “good star.” Two lovers who seem at odds with one another are called “star-crossed.” The celestial objects present in the sky at our birth are believed to set the course for our lives that follow.

    Tarot also helps us identify the main themes that guide our lives based on birth dates. In this post, we will calculate our tarot birth cards and see how they help define us as individuals.

    What is a Tarot Birth Card?

    Tarot birth cards, also known as “life path cards,” describe unique character traits or qualities that are constant for us, regardless of our phase of life. Each person has one to three birth cards, depending on their birth date. These tarot birth cards correspond to one of the 22 major arcana cards in a tarot deck.

    Calculating Your Birth Card(s)

    First, write down your birth date in DD//MM/YYYY format to determine your tarot birth cards. For example, if you were born on October 17, 1973, you would write the following:


    Next, add the digits for the whole birthdate together:

    17+10+20+03 = 14

    Then, since that number is less than 22, your birth card would be #14 – Temperance. You would also have a second card (1+4=5) – the Hierophant.

    If your birth year was 1987, however, your total would be 17 + 10 + 19 + 01 = 47. Since this is greater than 22, you would add the two digits together, to get 11. You would have two birth cards: 11 (Justice) and 2 (1+1) (the High Priestess).

    Special Cases

    Three-digit totals: Imagine your birthday is November 18, 1973. Your total would be 18+11+19+71 = 119. In this case, the first two digits become one number (11), which is added to the second number (9), for a total of 20, corresponding to the Judgment card. You would also have a second card (2+0=2), the High Priestess.

    A Total of 19: If your dates total 19, you will always have three birth cards: the Sun (19), the Wheel of Fortune (1+9=10), and the Magician (1+0=1).

    How to Use Birth Cards

    There are many ways to use birth cards in your meditative or spiritual practices. Here are just a few:

    1. Use them to gain better insight into your core personality when making decisions.
    2. Use the card as a significator, one you place on the table when creating a spread to represent yourself or the person you are reading for.
    3. Meditate on the meaning of the card as part of your daily meditation when seeking spiritual guidance.
    4. Look for these cards to pop up as representations of people during readings, and consider their position and your own situation when reading the cards.

    My birth cards are the Lovers (6) and the Devil (15). At first, this alarmed me, until I saw the meanings. Lovers (or Love, depending on your deck) signifies oneness, attraction, association, and connection. When taken to the extreme, this need for connection and attraction can become attachment, dependence, temptation, and addiction (the meaning of the Devil card). For me, this describes both a need to connect and get approval, as well as a tendency to forget to keep my personal boundaries safe and maintain my own personal identity.

    What are Your Birth Cards?

    In the comment section (without revealing your birthdate – you don’t want to share that publicly!), tell us your birth card(s) and what they reveal about your unique character.

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