Fulfilled

You may remember that I gave Redbird a month.

I started my new job this week, almost exactly one month after the conversation.

Thank you, Redbird. Thank you, Jupiter and Hekate. Thank you, Mara and Ganesha.

So… now what?

Thus far, Redbird has mostly been working me through specific energywork techniques. I’m not yet sure what she is going to want me to do next, or how she fits into my regular pantheon, but I’m open to finding out. In the next couple of weeks, as I get more space in my head, I expect to spend more time with her.

Training is a new and tiring schedule. Right now I’m keeping up my daily recitation for Hekate and doing some kind of general offerings every day and that’s as much as I can say.

I have a lot going on – in spirituality, in work, in other commitments. But for a change I feel like maybe I’ll get the chance to catch up if I just keep going.

Scrupulosity + Distance

Red Lady - red silhouette against a brown backgroundTwo weeks ago, a spirit came to me and said she wanted my attention. She’s poked here and there at recognizable names, but for the moment the best is Redbird, a spirit from the Empty Sky side whom I haven’t had much experience with before. Redbird is one of the four “children” of the Dragon and the Firebird.

In the oracle deck, Redbird is associated with knowledge and with small beginnings that turn out to be big outcomes. She’s a raw enough power that she doesn’t have a simple element or portfolio – there’s fire, there’s magic, there’s sex and death and creation. She’s the most like her mother out of the four children, but she has her differences. She and her siblings don’t ride often or for very long.

So far she’s largely instructing me in how to do certain kinds of magic more efficiently. In exchange, she gets to direct the magical effects of my practice work, so it’s basically been split 50/50 between work for me and work for her.

One of the things I’m stressed about is how many obligations I have going on at the moment, though. When she came in and asked for my time, I told her that I could give her a few weeks but I need to focus on finding a job before I can give much attention to anything else. The job hunt is playing havoc with my anxiety, enough that I’m thinking about asking my doctor for medication or a referral.

Adding another long-term esoteric practice sounds exhausting, but I also need to accept the help I’m offered.

“I’ll give you a month,” I told her. “Help me find a job by the end of it and we can talk.” This is a lot like what I said to Juno, several months ago, and that resulted in me getting very close to a job but losing out at the last moment. I’m hoping she comes though; I’ll be happy to give her more time if she can.

Things are going reasonably well with the Dark Lady, as far as I can tell.

But Mara… Mara feels different. I continue to offer to Mara but I’m feeling at a loss. It’s hard to know what’s going on there, and divination has largely turned up ‘it’ll work out’ messages from her, but I’m literally incapable of not worrying. Part of me is worried she’s unhappy about something – that maybe she didn’t like Merciful Earth, or she didn’t like how long it took to produce. That I made some mistake when I got her her own altar, or when I expanded her space, or when I konmari-ed the space. That I’m not making enough room in my budget for charity. That I’m not spending enough focus on her in her season.

It’s almost certainly religious scrupulosity talking, I know that, but knowing it has no effect. Summer is her season. If I’d gotten my shit together last fall and done my six months with the Dark Lady starting with Samhain, I’d be on the correct schedule… but I didn’t, and it’s not like I can go back in time and feel bad when I could have done something about it.

I can try and make enough time for Mara too, and I do, but I just end up worrying whether it’s enough, which is not a problem I’ve had before. Usually my religiously scrupulous tendencies manifest differently. But I know distance is sometimes normal in relationships with powers, and I’m trying not to read more into it than is justified.

It’s a struggle with myself, and ultimately I’m answerable to myself as well as the spirits. I keep going as best I can. I do what I can, I offer what I can, and then I move on.

I can only hppe it’s enough.

A Card Reading

When you’re used to the DIY philosophy, it can be hard to recognize when you need an expert. I’ve run up against this in my housing lately – there’s a plumbing issue that I have to turn over to my landlord, as much as I hate to do that – but it can also come up metaphysically.

I can count on one hand the number of tarot readings I had done for me before I learned to read them. I started teaching myself spells as soon as I learned spells were a real thing. At that point I didn’t have much income anyway, so I couldn’t have afforded a regular reader or someone to do spells for me. But even when I had a good chunk of disposable income, my instinct was to do it myself. I may take someone up on  an offered reading, but when I have a question I reach for my own cards first.

Sometimes you need that outside perspective, though. In the past, I’ve had very good friends volunteer to read for me when I was particularly stymied on an issue, and recently I was very fortunate to win a reading from Circle Thrice. Ivy’s readings go into tremendous depth, and I had looked at her website and wished I could afford one before her contest.

Because I’ve been frustrated in my search for full-time work, I asked for her input on several avenues I’ve been pursuing and the results were startling. For one thing, she cut through exactly why I’ve been unhappy with freelance writing and essentially gave me permission to stop beating my head against that wall. Considering how popular freelance writing is as a side gig suggestion, I suspect it would have been easy for a reader to want to interpret that as a good option.

In fact, one of the outlets she said was the strongest was one I almost didn’t list at all – I’d nearly given up on finding full-time office work in my field or a tangential area. Amazingly, the week after the reading I had two interview calls for office work. My cause may not be as lost as I thought it was. Ivy’s readings combine divination skills with actual business and project management knowledge, so I found it very practical and her suggestions were very down to earth. Considering how many pagans or magicians sum up their money advice as “do what you love and money will follow” or “don’t worry about money, money is base,” it was a tremendous help to be able to get a reading that combined practical advice with the interpretation of the cards.

So what am I doing? I’ve stopped trying to find freelance writing work for now. I’m refocusing my magical efforts toward office job-type areas, like annointing and sigilizing my resume, breaking out the Jupiterian and Mercurian energy to help me sound confident, and so on. Changing directions is hard. Pushing myself is necessary. It’s not the only angle I’m pursuing, but it needs to get a lot more attention than it has been.

I’m used to turning things over to the gods. “Mara, find me the best solurion for me” requires only that I be looking. It doesn’t mean I have to choose. But it’s still easy to make choices when I’m not paying attention, favoring one outcome over another. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when I’m not having luck with the outcome I’m leaning on, it can lead to frustration.

There isn’t a perfect answer. Perhaps if there were only one right answer, divination would be able to point me toward it, but my life doesn’t work like that. Sometimes I wish it did – that I only needed to figure out the Answer and the road would become easy. But I like having choices when I feel like I have them, and so that means accepting that I have choices when I feel like I don’t have them, too. That’s another thing I appreciated about the reading; there was no right answer but there were options that had more favorable outcomes and options that were harder.

When I was a kid I loved the parts of scouting about learning how to survive in the wilderness. It’s important, when you’re navigating without a trail, to regularly stop and check your map. It’s easy to get off into the wrong direction. Even if there’s more than one way to get where you’re going, it isn’t every road that leads there.

So I’ve checked my map, and I’ve reoriented myself. And now off I go again.

Goal Evaluations, Two Years On

Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 190...
Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 1905 chasing old man 1904 into history. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Not long after I started this blog, Deb started her New Year, New You project and challenged people to come up with goals for the new year that we could work on, both magically and mundanely. These goals comprised some of the first things I talked about on this blog and I thought it might be interesting to revisit them.

 

  1. Health – Well, when I did this two years ago, I didn’t have insurance, and now I do and I’m seeing my doctor and all that good stuff, so that’s definitely an improvement. Goals like “eating better” and “working out” are up and down. I did join a gym this year, because my wife’s employer reimburses for it and therefore I don’t end up in a shame spiral if I don’t go all the time. I should probably go more, but it seems like I’m always busy lately.
  2. Wealth – What am I busy with? Mostly work. I’m still working at the job I started shortly after beginning the original NYNY. I’ve also started doing freelance writing on the side, and I’m exploring some other “hussles” as I’ve seen a variety of people describe it. I’ve had quite a bit of luck with financial magic, so I’ll take that.
  3. Mind – I haven’t been doing so good, but I did finally get my ass into therapy, so I’m hoping this qualifies as a turnaround.
  4. Creativity – I actually stopped counting words this year, in part due to the aforementioned freelance writing. On the other hand, I’ve made more progress on Theos Logos than I have in probably eight years. I suppose that’s a wash.
  5. Magic/Religion – Well, to a certain extent this ties into the last category with the Theos Logos and the Project Protagonist stuff. My practice has definitely come a long way in the last two years. But I could be doing more – I’m behind on the Strategic Sorcery work, for one. I think I’m going to make an effort there as well.

 

I suppose the important thing is that I can definitely see progress from where I was two years ago. That’s a nice perspective to have as I get ready for the second new year; I’ve been feeling pretty stuck lately, and I could use it.

 

Making the Investment

Camp NaNoWriMo
Camp NaNoWriMo 

I made two commitments today.

First, I signed up for the Strategic Sorcery course. It’s on sale right now, so if you’ve been thinking about it, now’s a quality time to go for it. I got the first batch of material in my email already and I’m pretty excited. I’ve had good results with the material in his books and I think this will really be worthwhile for me.

It took a lot of thinking in circles to get myself to do it, though. Even on sale, the cost isn’t small, at least not by my budgetary standards. It’s an investment, and I’m not necessarily good at convincing myself that I’m worth investing in. However, I talked it over with my wife, discussed the budget, and we came to the conclusion that it’s worth taking the (fairly small) risk of the unknown in signing up for it.

Second, I signed up for Camp Nanowrimo. I know, I know, I don’t need another writing challenge. But I have a project in mind to work on, and I set my own goal, so it’s fairly attainable. I set my goal at 15k; I only need to write about 500 words a day to do that. I think I can manage, even with work and school and everything else.

And if not, well, at least Camp Nano is free, right?

Shopping Principles: No Big Box Stores

The last time my wife and I set foot in a Walmart was last fall, and at first I thought that was pretty good. Now I know we can do better. Trading up to Target and Ikea isn’t much of an improvement.

It’s funny what you realize you have an attachment to. Target is not hard to give up, really. Home Depot and Lowes are easily replaced by the local hardware store. Best Buy is a little harder; I’m not sure yet where I’m going to get my next computer. This will require some research.

Ikea is… harder than I expected. I’ve lived within 20 minutes drive of an Ikea for the last seven or eight years and I definitely think of it the same way I think of Walmart or Target, only with meatballs. Giving up Ikea is particularly hard because we’re still in the process of organizing the craft room/nursery and almost every awesome craft room I see online is done in Ikea boxes and Ikea shelves.

I am willing to commit to figuring it out, though.

Even with my Ikea angst, though, I wasn’t worried… Until my wife pointed out that I hadn’t even considered the “big box” that I shop at most often.

Amazon. I have a Kindle, you see, and so Amazon makes it so easy to get that Kindle ebook on my Kindle and…

Yes, it’s a problem. And yes, my wife is absolutely right. If I’m not shopping at Barnes and Noble, I shouldn’t shop at Amazon. I have plenty of other options, including Smashwords and buying ebooks through vendors that support my local bookstores. I’m lucky enough to have local bookstores, including Powell’s. I should appreciate that more.

Deciding where to grocery shop is complex enough to be a post of its own, so that will be up next.

H is for Hacks and Habits, Housework and Homework

The term “lifehack” has become so broad as to be meaningless, but it was originally created to mean all those little tricks that made your life a little easier – the real life equivalent of digging into the code of a program to make it run more effectively. It’s the art of figuring out how to jury-rig life to get the outcome you want. It’s actually pretty compatible with magic when phrased that way; it reminds me of the Virtual Adept mindset. Reality is code- hack it.

Reality is also weird. I had a sort of spiritual experience at the thrift store on Saturday. I don’t know how it is for other people, but for me, there’s usually a moment of Understanding! that’s internal and completely intuitive. Then, over the next few days, it filters through all the junk in my brain to make it into conscious, rational thought, and only then can I put words to it. Suffice to say it began with the idea that a wooden coffee table at the Goodwill Outlet is a manner by which I can more fully understand synchronicity and Mara’s generosity.

I’ve had a lot of complicated things going on lately in my relationship with Mara, related to the outcome of the prosperity magic I was doing with Amber. She’s asking more of me than she has before, both in terms of what she wants me to do and not do, and in terms of what she wants me to talk about. It’s not quite as intense as god-slave relationships I’ve read about, but I’m definitely “in her service” in a way that differs from my relationships with other deities. I’m not irreverent the way I am with the Norse. She is a whole different ballgame.

Mara has always made it very clear to me that she is the Lady of the Household – she always gets first choice of altar space, and the house very much centers around her. She’s not traditionally a hearth goddess but she practically functions as one for us. So I’m thinking about a series of posts about “House Work” – the things she asks of me are practical, down-to-earth things, mostly having to do with how I take care of myself, my family, and my house, but which are part of the Work she feels I need to be doing.

I mentioned to a couple of friends that I didn’t know if anyone would be interested in reading this, but a few of you actually are, so go figure. (I appreciate it, I’m just a little boggled.) Some of this work is going to require changing my habits – just because something is easy, doesn’t mean it’s the best option. So I’ve been looking at lifehacks and other ways to make changing my habits easier, and doing my homework so I can start in on this new phase.

G is for Gifts and Generosity

Mara’s generosity doesn’t come without work. It’s worth it, believe me, but she’s definitely of the “earn it” school.

When I got my current job in early 2012, my wife and I discussed her phone job. She hated it, and they had just restructured it in such a way that her pay was going to drop significantly. My job paid just enough to cover the bills with a little creative effort, and I saw no point in her giving herself a nervous breakdown, so we agreed she would quit, recover, and look for a better job. I began petitioning Mara to help her find a job she would like, and Amber began a series of temp jobs in the hope of finding something longterm. Along the way, we complimented the work with Mara with various other money/financial stability magic, allowing Amber to take only temp jobs she was actually interested in, nothing she dreaded.

In the fall, she started a temp job at a large, local company. It was supposed to be a one month contract, but she fell in love with the company, her coworkers, and the kind of work they do. She asked about the chance of becoming permanent and was told there wasn’t the money to hire anyone else permanently.

She worked her ass off anyway, earning accolades from everyone in the office, and we both made regular offerings to Mara. Her contract was extended one month, then through the holidays, and then again. And finally, a whole new position was created for the work she’d made herself indispensable doing, and she is now a permanent employee.

I could leave the magic out, and that would just sound like a good bootstrapping story, but jobs falling out of the sky isn’t exactly common in this economy. Amber and I both believe that her work made it possible for Mara to move things, but it was Mara who sealed the deal.

I don’t know if I subscribe to the belief that our worship makes our gods more powerful. The gods obviously exist without us. I suspect it may draw them closer and make it easier for them to act, but it’s hard to know for sure. I know that what I give Mara, I am given in return. I also know she asks more of me than any other deity, and she’s also the most obscure. Correlation is not causation, though; I’m not sure I can draw conclusions from that.

glowing, change-grey sky
sense of opportunity
reach out, grab your hem

a little light breaks through
the hum fades for now

X is for Xenodochiality

Like xenophobia, xenodochiality comes from the Greek ξένος, or xenos, meaning stranger. Xenodochiality is a kind of hospitality, something like Blanche’s “kindness of strangers.” Since I’m not Hellenic, it’s not an immediately pagan choice, but (a) x words are hard to come by and (b) the concept is relevant.

I did say I would talk a little more about what Mara asks of me, after all, and one of the things she asks is that I try to be that kind stranger. Aside from traditional giving through larger charities like Heifer International, the Hero Initiative, or Goodwill, there are lots of individuals who need help. These are the Chip-Ins and Indigogo fundraisers you see on your Facebook friends list, the families you hear about on the news that have an account in their name started at a local bank after a tragedy, and even the guy on the corner with a cardboard sign.

Nobody can give to everyone, but in these kinds of situations, a little bit goes a long way. They can help a someone recover from a fire, avoid eviction, pay medical bills, find foster care for a pet or care for a sick animal.

Being a goddess of wealth, amongst other things, Mara overseas the flow of money. She helps me when I need it to come in, and she nudges me to let me know which direction to send it back out again. Sometimes it’s the $5 I have to spare to someone on the internet, and sometimes it’s the dollar in my pocket to the guy with the sign or the guitar. There’s no perfect solution, but I believe doing this helps create a world where people are more likely to get what they need. I think that’s important.

There was a time when a wanderer was welcomed in and fed. There have always been edicts from gods telling their followers to care for those poorer than them. I don’t have a lot, but I have more than some people. I view it as my responsibility to them and to the gods I serve to pass on what I can.