Using Sacred Smoke for Spiritual Cleansing

By Minerva Siegel

Smoke cleansing is a great way you can use the power of scent to prepare your energy for a tarot reading. Different forms of smoke cleansing have been used in cultures all over the world for centuries. In Catholicism, censers filled with smoking incense are swung back and forth during some liturgical services. Smudging is a practice common in many Indigenous cul¬tures that involves burning plants (commonly sage) in an abalone shell and fanning the smoke with a feather. In recent years, people have often used the term “smudging” incorrectly to refer to the practice of simply burning sage. The actual act of smudging is a sacred Indigenous ritual. If you’re not of a culture that traditionally practices smudging, please use terms like “smoke cleansing” or “aroma cleansing” to refer to your own sacred smoke practice.

Smoke cleansing refreshes both personal energy and the energy of a room. It clears the auric field, and it rids a space of unwanted and/or negative energy.

Spiritual Self-Care Tip: Cleansing Your Tarot Space

It can be difficult to feel relaxed and ready for a tarot ritual in a messy space. When in chaotic, unorganized places, your energy can often reflect that environment. Infusing a cleaning routine with magical intent is a great way to prepare a ritual location for a reading—plus, it’s just good spiritual hygiene. There are many ways to do this. You can:

• Play recordings of crystal singing bowls or other meditative sounds while you clean
• Use sage-infused cleaning products (sage is an energetically cleansing plant)
• Create a floor-washing solution with spiritually purifying essential oils such as lavender
• Burn magically dressed candles that feature uplifting essential oils

Spiritual Self-Care Activity: Smoke Cleanse with Sage

Smoke cleansing can also be used to cleanse residual energy from objects! You can smoke cleanse all second-hand objects that come into your possession to make sure they’re filled with nothing but positive vibes. Use the following guide to smoke cleanse with sage:

Items Needed:

1 small fire-safe container
1 bundle dried sage
A lighter or matches

Instructions:

1. Use light or matches to light one end of the dried sage bundle in fire-safe container.
2. Use lighter or matches to light one end of dried sage bundle in fire-safe container.
3. Blow out the flame after a moment or two, leaving the end smoking steadily.
4. Walk around the room with the container of sage, making sure the smoke wafts into every corner.

You can also say protective prayers or chants while doing this cleanse. Here is one example: “Chase away things that cause fright. Leave only love. Leave only light.” Perform this ritual weekly throughout your home as energetic maintenance. It can also be done when someone in the home is experiencing nightmares, after arguments, and before spiritual activities like reading tarot.

Filling the space with a cleansing aroma will set the perfect tone for reading tea leaves, trying out a new tarot playlist, or performing any other practice you enlist to prepare your energy for a tarot reading. Be sure to explore different scents as you gain experience reading tarot to find out which ones are most helpful to you.

Excerpted from “Tarot for Self-Care” by Minerva Siegel. Copyright © 2019 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used with permission from the publisher, Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.

You can learn more here.

About Minerva Siegel:
Minerva Siegel is a writer, social media influencer, and model. A Sagittarius with a Capricorn moon, she has a deep passion for practicing secular witchcraft, which she considers an essential part of her self-care routine. Over the years, she’s cultivated her practices in the divination arts, such as tarot, reading tea leaves, and astrology, through a transformative and modern lens, while retaining respect and reverence for tradition. She has contributed to the publications “Offbeat Home” and “Offbeat Bride”, and currently writes for “Elite Daily”. Minerva is active with her 64k followers on Instagram, and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband and their rescue dogs. She is the author of Tarot for Self-Care.

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Zen & Enlightenment & Giveaway

If you’ve been a reader of The Magical Buffet for just about any length of time, you know I love me some Brad Warner. I’ve featured nearly every book he has written on my site. So, believe me when I tell you that this may be my FAVORITE Warner book. This is the book I’ve been waiting for and Warner has been putting off writing. Welcome to your Zen Buddhism 101 book with cool professor Warner. In order to pull it off, Warner needed a framing device to make it work for him. He did it in the form of letters to his childhood friend Marky, who passed away shortly before work on the book began. I’m generally not a fan of the letters format, but Warner’s conversational writing works perfectly with it, and honestly, whatever it took for him to finally give me my grand overview of Zen Buddhism is okay with me.
Here’s a 5 minute video where Warner discusses the book:

And New World Library was kind enough to provide an excerpt to share as well….
By Brad Warner

Through sheer dumb luck I happened to encounter Zen Buddhism when I was a teenager. I didn’t go looking for it. It was just there at exactly the time I needed it to be.

I don’t believe in Buddhism either, by the way. It’s not like I heard their fairy tales and figured they were better than anybody else’s stories. The Buddhists have fairy tales too. The difference is that nobody cares if you believe them. They don’t care whether you believe their stories because the very idea of a you who can believe in stories is something they also call into question.

Even so, I’m not all that interested in Buddhism. I’m much more interested in what is true. What I like about Buddhism is that the Buddhists are also interested in what is true. At least, most of them are.

I’m not sure if Zen Buddhism would have helped you or not, Marky. I never tried to sell it to you. You knew I was into it, but you never asked.

I never liked people who tried to sell me their religions. I know you didn’t either, so I wasn’t gonna do that to you. No one ever tried to sell me Zen Buddhism. If they had, I would have regarded them as people who were too insecure to believe in something unless a bunch of other people believed it too. I have no time for that.

But nowadays I’m a minor spiritual celebrity. I’m not as big as Deepak, but I’m big enough to make a living at it. Which was always a source of embarrassment whenever I interacted with you and still embarrasses me when I’m around friends who, like you, knew me long before I started doing what I do now.

I see spiritual celebrities as charlatans, as people who make their living selling empty promises that they themselves don’t even believe. I swear that’s not what I do. But I don’t have anything against anyone who assumes the worst about me in that regard. Because that’s probably what I’d assume about me if I wasn’t me.

Spiritual celebs play the same stupid games as regular celebs. They, or maybe I should say we, validate each other the same way cheap nightclub singers do when they get on TV talk shows.

It’s like there’s a little Enlightened Beings Club. Here’s how it works. Some guy says he’s got enlightenment. He has a story to back him up about the wonderful day when he finally understood everything about everything. Another guy, his teacher, certified him as a member of the Enlightened Beings Club. And now he’s ready to help you learn to be just like him.

You go to the enlightened guy, and he trains you to imitate the things he says. Or if he’s real clever he teaches you how to rephrase his schtick in your own words. If your imitation meets his criteria, he gives you his seal of approval, and off you go. The industry is self-perpetuating. It’s in your teacher’s best interests to support your claims of enlightenment since you, in turn, are expected to support his. Without such support, the whole thing falls to pieces.

If someone comes along and says, “Ain’t no such thang,” it threatens the whole system since it is built on extremely shaky ground. Unless people believe in enlightenment, enlightenment cannot exist. The enlightenment they sell is nothing more than the belief in enlightenment.

This is the same deal with religions. Believing in God is not like believing in the existence of Mount St. Helens or something tangible like that. The difference is that you can question the existence of Mount St. Helens all you want, but it doesn’t go away. But when someone questions the existence of God, the very existence of God is threatened, because that sort of God is nothing more than the belief in God.

And here’s what’s even weirder.

It turns out that enlightenment actually is real.

God actually does exist.

I don’t know how you feel about my saying that now that you’re dead, Marky. But I know that when you were alive you would have rolled your eyes at me. And I would not have blamed you.

There are a lot of things I wish I’d talked to you about. But I didn’t. And so I’m writing you this letter. Maybe I’ll write you a bunch of letters. There’s a lot to say. I don’t know if there’s an afterlife and you can somehow read these letters, or if there’s reincarnation and you’re still a baby and can’t read them, or if you just stay dead after you die, in which case you’ll never even know of their existence. Maybe I’ll write about that in another letter.

All I know is that whether or not you can receive what I’m saying doesn’t change the fact that there are things I want to say. And so I’m going to say them.

But I’m going to have to say them later because right now there’s nobody else in the Pizza Pazza and the surly guy behind the counter is giving me a funny look. So I’d better scarf down my cold pizza and go.

About Brad Warner:
Brad Warner is the author of “Letters to a Dead Friend about Zen” and numerous other titles including “It Came from Beyond Zen”, “Don’t Be a Jerk”, and “Hardcore Zen”. A Soto Zen teacher, he is also a punk bassist, filmmaker, and popular blogger who leads workshops and retreats around the world. He lives in Los Angeles where he is the founder and lead teacher of the Angel City Zen Center. Visit him online at www.hardcorezen.info.

Excerpted from the book “Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen”. Copyright ©2019 by Brad Warner. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. But wait, there’s even MORE! New World Library is going to send one lucky winner a copy of “Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen”! As usual, we’re doing the Rafflecopter thing, so see the widget below! Contest ends 12/06/2019 at 11:59pm eastern. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are You Willing to Take Up the Shepherd’s Staff — and Help Spread Love & Peace

By James Twyman

Set aside your computer for a moment and see if you can guess who wrote these words: “I made a mistake. Without doubt, an oppressed multitude had to be liberated, but our method only provoked further oppression and atrocious massacres. What was really needed…were ten Francis of Assisi’s.”

I love asking this question and I’m not surprised when people give credit to revolutionary characters like Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When I tell them they’re wrong their answers become even more interesting – Napoleon, George Washington, etc. “How about John Lennon?” someone recently asked.

“You’re close,” I said, “but only because their names sound similar. The answer is Lenin, not Lennon – the architect of the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin.”

Lenin? Is it possible that the communist leader who referred to religion as “medieval mildew” and called the clergy “gendarmes (French policemen) in cassocks” had fallen in love with a twelfth century Italian mystic who gave everything he owned to the poor in order to live the Gospel of Jesus as perfectly as he could? Clearly St. Francis has inspired millions of people for more than eight hundred years, to the point that statues of the saint occupy gardens everywhere you look today, but how did an atheist like Lenin become so enthralled?

Maybe Lenin has something to teach all of us in this regard. The end of the quote is: “What was really needed in Russia were ten Francis of Assisi’s,” but we could just as easily substitute that in our own world today – and it would be just as true.

Does it sound like a ridiculous dream in the world of bullying, fake news and racist attacks? When you know a little about the history of Europe, especially at the time of St. Francis, you realize things weren’t that different – the pope was at odds with the Holy Roman Emperor, city states were constantly at war with other city states, and tension between the very rich and the very poor was at an all-time high.

Which leads to the question Vladimir Lenin seemed to be asking – Are we trying to solve the problems of the world with the same thinking that got us into trouble? If so, maybe ten radical people like St. Francis of Assisi are enough to turn things around.

Margaret Mead famously said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Was Mead’s thinking influenced by St. Francis when he wrote: “Pure, holy simplicity confounds all the wisdom of this world?”

When you examine the current direction of the world — especially politically — it’s easy to agree that the current wisdom isn’t so wise, so maybe thinking outside the box isn’t such a bad idea.

Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has taken considerable heat for challenging the status quo. She encourages us to “love with conviction” and “wage peace,” the same ideas St. Francis would have expressed if he was alive today. But at least she is willing to stand for these ideas on a national stage, inching these concepts forward, planting seeds in the minds of people who may not have viewed the world from this perception.

So I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring, but not as a Presidential candidate. I want to take up the challenge issued by Lenin and become one of the ten St. Francis’s needed to turn the world around.

Here are a few things I’ll need to do if I’m to accomplish my goal: Be willing to give everything for love; think less about my own comfort and more about the wellbeing of others; and finally, challenge my own limiting beliefs and be willing to see everyone through the eyes of love. If I can do that, even in some limited way, maybe others will make a similar decision and step forward in their own way. All I need are nine more.

St. Francis’s example directly challenged the powers that ruled Europe eight hundred years ago, and yet his vision is celebrated today. He lived at the end of what we now call the Dark Ages, but he was also one of the inspirations that initiated the Renaissance, an era of great light and creativity.

Is it possible that hundreds of years from now people will look back at this time in a similar way, calling it another Dark Age? And if they do, will they also celebrate the few dedicated people who stepped forward just as St. Francis did? Are we on the cusp of a New Renaissance?

About James Twyman:
James Twyman, bestselling author of “Giovanni and the Camino of St. Francis”, will bring his stirring new musical on “St. Francis Brother Sun, Sister Moon” to Broadway on February 20-March 1, 2020. And with the beloved saint as his model-he will travel a continent penniless, on foot and with whatever food, housing and further transportation that God will provide to get him there, presenting the play in 10 cities along the way. Twyman is also the NY Times bestselling author of 15 other books including “The Moses Code” and “Emissary of Light”. He has also recorded more than 18 music albums including the Billboard chart bestseller “I AM Wishes Fulfilled” along with Dr. Wayne Dyer; as well as produced or directed seven feature films. For more information on Twyman, and the “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” Musical Tour stops and performances– and “Giovanni and the Camino of St. Francis”–visit: www.JimmyTwyman.com

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Five Core Beliefs for a More Peaceful and Meaningful Life

By Carly Pollack

The more you control the voice in your head, the easier it will be to allow guidance to come forth from your higher self. If your house is dilapidated and built on a crooked foundation yet located on a beautiful piece of property, do you try to put up new walls, give the house a fresh coat of paint, and hope for the best? No. You tear that sucker to the ground. Strip it of everything, including the foundation, and then start from scratch. We need to break the mind down to its core beliefs, decide how we want to view the world, and then build up from there. This requires a new set of basic beliefs, a new system for you to honor and practice.

During my many years of working with clients and walking my own spiritual path, the following five core beliefs have helped me live in a more peaceful and meaningful way. Whether you love these five or wish to make up your own, I encourage you to print them out and put them in a place that allows you to see them throughout the day.

Five Core Beliefs
1. Everything happens for me, not to me. There is meaning and growth opportunity in this experience.
2. Everything is unfolding perfectly at the exact right time.
3. Out of this, only good will come.
4. The Universe is looking out for me and conspiring in my favor.
5. I am enough, and I am loved.

Let’s examine these one at a time.

1. Everything happens for me, not to me. There is meaning and growth opportunity in this experience. You can’t control what happens in your life. Believe me, I’ve tried this from all angles (and endured a lot of suffering from doing so). You can, however, control what these events mean to you. You have the power to create any story you want. You can say, “This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me,” or you can create a more positive and empowering narrative.

2. Everything is unfolding perfectly at the exact right time. We live in a time when the world is at our fingertips. Social media shows us the highlight reel of everyone’s life, not the outtakes. One scroll through your Instagram feed, and you feel behind. “I should have a boyfriend/girlfriend/better job/child/more money/bigger home/bigger career/flatter stomach.” Believing that everything is unfolding perfectly on your life path allows you to take a deep breath and be grateful for the way that your story is unfolding. You must trust that the person you look up to was at one time standing right where you are. There is nothing amiss here. This is your story, and it gets more beautiful once you surrender to it. Fries won’t make you feel better about where you are in your life’s path, but this belief will.

3. Out of this, only good will come. You are most likely in the habit of living your life in hindsight. You experience massive stress and emotional turmoil when something undesirable happens, and then years later you look back and say, “I understand why that happened.” Think about your first heartbreak. Were you completely lovesick, devastated, and hopeless about ever finding love again? How do you feel about it now that some time has passed? Bad things are going to happen. It’s simply the human experience. No one is exempt from the pitfalls of being alive. Imagine being in the moment when the shit hits the fan and telling yourself that only good will come of this. This belief allows you to feel at peace, even while you are in the midst of chaos.

4. The Universe is looking out for me and conspiring in my favor. Whether you call it the Universe, God, Love, and so on, something more significant is guiding you and knows even better than you what you need to experience in your lifetime. Personally, I don’t want to believe that it’s all up to me. That’s just too much pressure! I have peace knowing something greater is working its magic on my behalf.

5. I am enough, and I am loved. You don’t have to be anything other than what you are right now. You don’t have to be richer, thinner, smarter, or more successful. You will feel most fulfilled when you wake up every morning with the desire to be better than who you were the day before. The difference is the energy you bring to this appetite for more. Wanting to evolve as you come from a place of feeling enough has exponentially more power than wanting to be more to prove to yourself that you are enough.

When beginning to take control of the voice in your head, please be patient. Your first reaction will be to go to your default survival mind. Take a little space, and start to do the work. Call on your new belief system, and ask your higher self for guidance. Have compassion for yourself in the process; you are doing the hard work of rewiring yourself from a place of fear and control to one of love and surrender. This requires daily practice but will ultimately give you the clarity you need to take action and live your life’s purpose. This purpose is nothing more than awakening to your gift and sharing it with the world, living in harmony with the flow of life, and enjoying your adventure as it unfolds.

About Carly Pollack:
Carly Pollack is the author of Feed Your Soul and is the founder of Nutritional Wisdom, a thriving private practice based in Austin, Texas. A Certified Clinical Nutritionist with a master’s degree in holistic nutrition, Carly has been awarded Best Nutritionist in Austin five years running and has helped over 10,000 people achieve their health and happiness goals. Visit her online at www.carlypollack.com

Excerpted from the book Feed Your Soul. Copyright ©2019 by Carly Pollack. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

How to Create Heart-Centered Relationships

By Deirdre Hade

Love is necessary for a happy life. When we have love, we’re happy. It’s simple; but getting, understanding, and maintaining love tends to be challenging. How do you go about creating a life of love and heart centered relationships?

Creating Heart Centered Relationships

To create heartfelt relationships, the first thing to remember is that, from the broadest of perspectives, everything in life is really the love story of the Universe. Think about that in terms of your life. What if every encounter with a person you desire a heartfelt relationship with was perceived and felt as a love scene? How would you ask for something? What would you say if you were upset or had been wronged? When you approach relationships from the love that resides within you instead of acting from your ego – seeking power, wanting to “win the seat,” or other ego generated dynamics – you will be able to create heart centered relationships.

Slay the Yetzer Hara and the Energy of Confusion

However, part of the human condition is what the Kabbalah calls the energy of the yetzer hara – the energy of confusion. This energy will show itself and arise in the times when we are closest with those we love. So, another key is to be watchful and to be aware that the energy of yetzer hara is going to show up. There’s no way around it. And when it does show up, the secret is to see it for what it is by engaging the “Silent Watcher” within. The Silent Watcher is the first embodiment of having a spiritual practice. It is the ability to impartially observe your internal landscape – your feelings, how your ego processes experiences, what your heart is feeling. When you’re in touch with your Silent Watcher, you can see negativity before it erupts and thus make a conscious choice to not play into the hands of the ego.

Cultivate Gratitude

Another useful practice for creating heart centered relationships is to affirm the love that others have for you. Acknowledge your gratitude for the presence and love that those in your life bring you. It’s especially important to affirm the positive when there is a disturbance in a relationship. You do this by separating the other person’s behavior from who they really are. By staying connected to their true heart and soul and breathing through the difficulties, you will not only stay connected to the people you love; you will give them the spiritual strength to overcome the demons and negativity they are experiencing.

Spend Time in Pure Silence

Remember, also, to spend time in pure silence on a regular basis in your most intimate relationships, such as with your partner, family, and close friends. The soul and heart know love. It’s our mouth, what we say, and our ego mind that sometimes gets in the way. Engage in a practice of spending time together without speaking – simply being and dropping into Presence. Let me give an example from my marriage: Will and I often take hands to simply look at each other and be in love, in silence. Invariably, this incredible presence of love is felt between the two of us. Another example is when my father and I would take silent walks together under the magnolias and the evergreen trees. Holding his hand in silence is one of my most cherished memories. It was worth everything in the world to have those moments of true love, especially now that he is gone.

About the Author:
Deirdre Hade is a mystic, artist and visionary elucidating the spiritual world. You can visit her at www.deirdrehade.com

Newsletter # 4 (1940)

Interesting title, no? The title is the way it is because this is an excerpt from the recently released “The Collected Letters of Alan Watts”. This is a little bit of history because this is from an actual newsletter Watts wrote in 1940! Well I think it’s cool.

Newsletter #4

Once upon a time there was a lunatic who used to pass the time by sitting in a corner and beating himself on the head with a brick. When asked the reason for this interesting behavior he replied, “Well, it feels so pleasant when I stop.” Very often the lunatic is nothing more than a caricature of people supposed to be sane; we call him a lunatic only because he expresses fundamental traits of human nature in the most obvious and concrete manner, whereas sane people carry on the same processes in more veiled and mysterious ways. And the performance of beating oneself on the head with a brick is an exact caricature of man’s chief spiritual problem, for we have to realize that our apparent lack of what Oriental sages call Enlightenment (bodhi) or spiritual freedom (kaivalya) is due to our not having ceased to knock ourselves on the head with a brick. Naturally, the realization of Enlightenment is accompanied by an enormous sense of relief — not because we have acquired something new, but because we have got rid of something old. Enlightenment, wisdom, or a sense of harmony with life and the universe is present within us all the time; it becomes apparent when we cease to use the brick just as the moon becomes visible when the clouds are blown away. But we appreciate the light of the moon more keenly when it emerges from the clouds; if it had been shining openly all the time we should never have experienced the sudden ecstasy of light breaking in upon darkness. And for this sudden ecstasy we have to be thankful for the darkness as much as for the light.

At the same time, our lack of Enlightenment or freedom is only apparent, for in a special sense “the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” In this sense the darkness is also a manifestation of the light but does not understand it. Therefore as soon as we understand that our very lack of realization is itself an aspect of Enlightenment, our ignorance turns into wisdom. Thus a Buddhist text says, “If the accumulation of false imaginations is cleared away, Enlightenment will appear. But the strange thing is that when people gain Enlightenment they realize that without false imaginations there could be no Enlightenment.” In Vedanta philosophy and Buddhism alike Enlightenment is the nature of the universe; all possible forms and aspects of life are manifestations of Brahman or “Buddha nature” because there is only one ultimate Reality. Thus maya, which in one sense is darkness or illusion, in another sense is the creative power of Brahman. Now Enlightenment is the condition of union with that power, and we realize its freedom in understanding that not even in ignorance or darkness can we be deprived of that union.

There is a Buddhist story of a disciple who asked his teacher, “How can I find liberation?”

The teacher replied, “Who is putting you in bondage?” “Nobody.” “If so, why should you seek liberation?” And for this reason it is often said that Enlightenment cannot be found by doing something about it, for it is always a question of being rather than doing. Hence the saying, “Seek and you will find not; become and you will be.” Become what? Become what you are. Thus the Orient has always sought wisdom in meditation rather than action, but from this it should not be supposed that meditation is a passive way as distinct from an active way. Both activity and passivity are forms of doing; the latter is indirectly doing by not doing. Therefore the West has found it difficult to understand what is really meant by meditation. Meditation is not only sitting still like a Buddha-figure, nor is it thinking about something, for the Upanishads say that the stars, the trees, the rivers, and the mountains are meditating — unconsciously. Conscious meditation is a knack, and as an exercise it is a way of learning that Enlightenment comes to pass in us as much when we are doing nothing to produce it as when we are in the midst of activity. Thus the “sitting-still” meditation of the Orient is so much valued as a way of enlightenment because in it we are able to realize that our spiritual freedom consists not in our manner of doing and thinking, but in the fact of our being.

Enlightenment and realization is the main theme of our informal lectures and discussions at my apartment during the first few months of this year, and future letters will keep those who cannot come acquainted with the course of our work. We shall be studying first the Hindu and Chinese views of Enlightenment and the technique of its realization on the basis of readings from original sources and also from that famous allegory of the “Oxherding Pictures.” We shall then go on to consider the expression of Enlightenment in Chinese art and in the mental and physical culture of the Far East as a whole. Finally we shall compare our findings with Western equivalents of the way to Enlightenment — in particular with Christian mysticism and analytical psychology. This letter is a cordial invitation to those of you who do not already come to join us. Groups are now meeting on Mondays at 8:30, on Wednesdays at 8:30, and on Thursdays at 8:30. The last of these is generally speaking reserved for those who have already some knowledge of these matters and who do not feel the need of any introduction to basic principles. The group which meets on Thursdays at 3:15 has not yet been started again, but will begin as soon as arrangements can be made, and those who would like to come on Thursday afternoons would assist me by letting me know as soon as possible. And may I say again that comments on these letters will always be welcome and will always be answered.

Alan W. Watts, New York City, January 1940

About Alan Watts:
Alan Watts (January 6, 1915 – November 16, 1973) was a British-born American philosopher, writer, speaker, and counterculture hero, best known as an interpreter of Asian philosophies for a Western audience. He wrote over 25 books and numerous articles applying the teachings of Eastern and Western religion and philosophy to our everyday lives.

Excerpted from the book “The Collected Letters of Alan Watts”. Copyright ©2018 by Joan Watts and Anne Watts. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

Witchcraft and Sovereignty

By Christopher Orapello, and Tara-Love Maguire

Witchcraft ties deeply into matters of personal governance and individual control. It addresses, with blood and sweat, the ills of life and society. In the hands of those who won’t sit idle as life just happens to them, it’s a tool for change. It’s about magick and spells, herbs and spirits, flying and divining. It’s about living in the world, for better or worse. It is raw. It is dirty. It is a skillset, a discipline. It is an art. Witchcraft is dwelling in the woods where people rarely go. It can be found right in your yard, in a nearby park, or in an undefiled and wild land. It is resting in forgotten caves and beneath silent trees. It even dwells in the endless bowels of the city, a living entity all its own. It is basking under the moon at night, breathing slowly beneath the silent stars. Witchcraft is all of these things and it has always been there, waiting to be rediscovered. It is a response to the fears lurking in the darkness and a means to deal with them. It is a weapon. It is a talent. It is an instinct.

Witchcraft is not simply about magick; that is why there are sorcerers. Witchcraft is not just about herbs; that is why there are herbalists. Witchcraft is not only about divination or contacting spirits; that is why there are psychics and mediums. Witchcraft is something wholly, entirely different. It is a lifestyle, a vocation, a liminal space defined by experience. It is a virtual crossroads where several paths meet and create their own space by virtue of their intersection.

Witchcraft is a methodology. It is a multifaceted practice that combines several skills and avenues of knowledge. The paths that comprise it sit squarely upon the landscape of history and folklore, individually distinguishable as magick, divination, and herbalism.

Magick leads to spells and exerting your will upon the cosmos to influence desired changes and effects. Divination is the act and process of divine seeing or foretelling the future. Herbalism is the knowledge and application of herbs for medicinal, culinary, and ritual use. The combination and interplay of these three streams of knowledge enable other practices like seership, soul flight, and necromancy to take shape. It is only when these various practices are blended together that witchcraft emerges as a distinct practice that uniquely combines history and folklore, magick, divination, herbalism, hedgewitchery, and necromancy into a unifying system that we refer to collectively as the Six-Fold Path.

Magick, divining, working with and growing herbs, having visions, flying out of the body, and consorting with ghosts of the dead. Witchcraft is all of these things. It consists of no religion or dogma. It has no need for clergy. It worships no deities. It celebrates no intrinsically holy days. Witchcraft is a practice that is focused on successful function, rather than being beholden to the aesthetics, symbols, and affectations of 19th-century occultism.

Witchcraft is secular and filthy—dirty, figuratively and literally. There will be times when you walk through your everyday life bearing the stains of some working you’ve performed. The evidence may be anything—the faint scent of scrying incense in your hair, a smudge of charcoal on your cheek, dirt under your fingernails. You will look at these traces of your craft and only you will know what they represent. And that knowledge will give you strength, a secret shield. You will look at them and think to yourself: I did that. And your face will flush briefly from the power of that knowledge. Your power.

About the Authors:
Christopher Orapello is an artist, witch, and animist with a background in Western occultism, ceremonial magick, and Freemasonry and has been on his journey for over 20 years. He cohosts the podcast Down at the Crossroads with his partner, Tara Maguire, and is a signature artist with Sacred Source, a leading producer and distributor of ancient deity images in North America. After a growing desire for a more locally based form of witchcraft, he and Tara founded the Blacktree Coven in 2014 and set out to forge a modern approach to traditional witchcraft for a new era of praxis.

Tara-Love Maguire has been a practicing witch for over 30 years. Her path has been crookedly influenced by Isobel Gowdie, Marie Laveau, and William S. Burroughs (among others). Growing up in and around the New Jersey Pine Barrens, she found witchcraft within the tales and shadows of that folkloric landscape. She cohosts the podcast Down at the Crossroads with Christopher Orapello and is one of the founders of the Blacktree Coven, which exists in the heart of southern New Jersey.

Adapted, and reprinted with permission from Weiser Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, BESOM, STANG & SWORD by Christopher Orapello and Tara-Love Maguire is available wherever books and ebooks are sold or directly from the publisher at www.redwheelweiser.com or 800-423-7087.

The Gifts of Bum-Bum-Biting Moments

By Alexia Vernon

Resilience is defined both as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties” and as “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.” While I know through firsthand and client experience that you can be resilient even if you don’t “recover quickly”— and actually, from a moxie perspective, I would measure success more by your ability to heal and expand in the face of difficulties than by the speed with which you can again pass as your normal self — I’m particularly fond of the second definition. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t default to thinking about tough times as an inherent springboard back to my best self. Yet opportunities that cultivate our resilience can be such springboards for us — for you.

That is why embracing (versus taking cover from or bearing down on) your bum-bum-biting moments is one of your most direct pathways to stepping into your moxie. Because moxie is choosing to be brave, speaking up, and disrupting the status quo, I believe you actually need your bum-bum-biting moments to automatically (or at least, more frequently) choose moxie in the pedestrian moments that define your day-to-day. That bears repeating, so I’ll say it again. You actually need bum-bum-biting moments in order to step into the fullest expression of your moxie. Here are some of the specific gifts you unwrap when you choose moxie during these episodes in your life.

Creativity
One of the top ways that resilience strengthens your moxie is by forcing you to tap into your creativity. For whatever has gotten you through similar episodes in your past is often not what gets you through your current situation. And that is precisely why the situation has shown up — for your evolution. Navigating through a bum-bum-biting moment can be a creative process, if you let it. Creativity can be finding that new, renegade way to solve your crisis, or it can be patching together resources when, at first glance, you deem them in short supply. You can also cultivate creativity by choosing to narrate your experience as a chapter about your highest learning and growth — rather than one about loss or failure.

Empathy
When you choose resilience and, as a by-product, moxie, you are also by default growing your capacity to empathize, which is a superpower when it comes to connecting with others, positioning yourself as someone who is relatable and trustworthy, and empowering other people to heal from their pain and be their best selves. When I read testimonials from my coaching program participants, I’m grateful to discover that many have commented on my ability to really see and be in their experiences with them. Now, if you are a therapist, undoubtedly that makes you want to cringe. And I assure you, I do not take on anybody else’s “stuff” as my own — at least, not anymore. (Okay, sometimes I still do, but so much less than I used to.) For when you’ve lived through your own fair share of bum-bum-biting moments, it does grow your ability to empathize with others through their painful episodes and to more adeptly hold space for them as a result.

Transparency
Some people choose to be private about their bum-bum-biting moments, a practice that unfortunately usually breeds both secrecy and additional suffering for the bite-ee. However, those on the moxie path allow setbacks (irrespective of their magnitude) to heighten their truth telling — to themselves, first and foremost, and to others — professionally and personally. You cultivate transparency when you are honest about where and how you are hurting (especially when you aren’t asking people to fix you and want them simply to hold space for your experience). And when you admit that you aren’t perfect, that you don’t have it all together, you also fortify yourself against perfectionism — and perfectionism must be slayed in order for moxie to thrive.

Receiving
When you unapologetically own that you cannot and therefore won’t attempt to power through difficult times alone, you open yourself up to receive support — something that is hard for a lot of women to do (including the one who is typing this out for you). While many women may feel, and at times complain, that nobody takes care of us, the truth is that most of us aren’t asking for the support we need on a regular basis. As a consequence, we are getting in the way of attracting, and when it’s offered, accepting, other people’s help. (Remember our discussion in the last chapter on articulating and upholding boundaries?) Bum-bum-biting moments are fertile ground for strengthening your capacity to ask for and receive support from the people in your life — mates, children, extended family, friends, colleagues, community members. And, when you practice asking the question, “What am I supposed to learn?” without secretly wishing for a quick answer, you also enhance your ability to receive divine guidance, which is, in my humble opinion, the greatest gift we can invite and accept into our lives.

Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is the ability to see the truth of ourselves — the good, the bad, and the truly baffling — with compassionate clarity. When you are self-aware, you squelch any and all desire to critique yourself for who you are (and who you are not…yet) and instead, you simply observe and appreciate who you are in the present moment. Resilience does this to you, for you. Because at its core, resilience, like forgiveness, is about making peace with what is rather than holding on to the hope of who you, others, or a situation could have been. As a by-product of resilience, self-awareness activates the fullest expression of your moxie. For when you learn to speak to yourself and others as you/they are, from a feeling of enoughness, your communication will flow clearly, easily, and compassionately.

Over the years some of my greatest discoveries about how to navigate through tough times have come from my clients — people, usually women, who find me because they want to turn their heartbreak into a harrowing, tour-de-force keynote or inspirational talk for others. Often these are women who have lost
children or partners, or have suffered unspeakable abuse (often at the hands of those closest to them).

A huge part of resilience for these women was realizing that their survival and the lessons they have learned must be shared. This is a discovery I suspect you may have had as well — that what you have survived can provide inspiration, insight, and healing for others.

About Alexia Vernon:
Alexia Vernon is the author of Step into Your Moxie. Branded a “Moxie Maven” by President Obama’s White House Office of Public Engagement, she is a sought-after speaking and leadership coach who delivers transformational keynotes and corporate trainings for Fortune 500 companies and other professional groups and organizations, including the United Nations and TEDx. Visit her online at www.alexiavernon.com.

Excerpted from the book Step into Your Moxie: Amplify Your Voice, Visibility, and Influence in the World. Copyright ©2018 by Alexia Vernon. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

5 Ways to Clear Communication with Guides

By Brad Wallis

Do you look with awe and maybe even a touch of envy at the ‘chosen’ ones who seem to be able to connect with their guides easily and clearly? It just seems a tad bit unfair that others are pros at heavy-duty communication with higher wisdom while you’re still struggling to be a ‘good person’ and become more deserving. Whatever that means and whenever that happens.

In a recent teaching, Julius said,

“Your soul is not an individual. It is part of a mass collaboration that is Source.”

Part of that mass collaboration is the guides that help us, whether we are aware of it or not, just as we contribute to their expansion through such exchanges. It’s an ongoing process and all you need to do is tune in. So what’s going to clear that channel of communication?

1. Remove beliefs. The very first thing to remove from the equation is the belief that you have to be a special way or gifted or deserving. You are deserving. Period. Irrespective of whether you are very high in consciousness or lower. How do we get out of those low, low frequencies if not for this help? The second belief to remove is that you are inferior in any way because even if you have a limited perspective compared to your guides, all souls are equal. There is humility, gratitude and love in this exchange of giving and receiving guidance.

2. Invite. Send out an invitation to your guides to communicate with you during your dream state. Then set the intention that you remember your dreams when you awaken. That is the time when you are most open to receiving such contact and are not distracted by the goings on around you. Keep a notepad and pen on your bedside table or a recorder and quickly note all your dreams before falling back to sleep or before you fully awaken. You will begin to perceive the guidance as you get more adept at understanding your dreams. Or you might just wake up with an idea to solve the current problem!

3. Be aware. There’s no such thing as chance or coincidence. Be aware of all that is happening that is usually called ‘coincidence’. If you start noticing certain numbers appearing repetitively, coins, feathers around you, something you lost magically appears, they are sending you messages. Or they may communicate in ways you are not expecting. They like to be creative as all light beings are. As you gain more assurance in this process, you will perceive these too.

4. Another common way they communicate with you is through inspiring thoughts. You’re in a state of gloom or frustration when suddenly a memory flashes by or an uplifting thought pops up. Who do you think is doing that? Not you while you’re sunk in gloom and doom. A stranger says something to you, a sentence on a radio show, billboard or book. It’s a finely tuned arrangement, isn’t it? These are the little waves of the hand and loving assistance that increase as we become more aware of them.

5. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, raise your consciousness and frequency because not only will you be astonished by the increasing clarity and depth of communication but also because it is the one thing that is guaranteed to resolve anything that has ever troubled you in life.

Your life is yours to create as a magnificent light being. If you get to the point of asking which pair of shoes to wear to an important meeting with a client, high frequency guides may just start withdrawing. They are there to empower, not disempower you. It is loving collaboration in its highest vibration.

About Brad and Kasey Wallis:
Kasey and Brad Wallis are renowned speakers, global workshop leaders, and facilitators of consciousness and why we are here. For over 10 years now, the Wallis’ have been inviting people worldwide to embrace their true limitlessness. Originally Kasey was trained as an award-winning platform stylist and hairdresser of 35 years, and Brad was drafted to play for a professional baseball team. They came together because of a car accident in 2007. Now they have a completely different approach to teaching by facilitating people to heal all limitations and fear and instead release their creative flow. For over a decade they have been transforming thousands of lives.

Today Brad is the author of several books, while he and Kasey travel the country speaking, leading workshops and being interviewed. Through their programs, retreats, online courses, and personal readings, they guide and support people in eliminating judgement, resistances and lack in their life. This high wisdom and practical guidance aids people in their journey to becoming aligned with their inner wisdom, clarity and profound creation.

Before Brad worked as an inspirational teacher, he owned his own construction business, was once emerged in the Mormon religion, and had 4 near death experiences. Kasey was a master colorist and educator for companies such as Sebastian, Redken, Joico, Wella Scrupples, and worked in Hollywood in hair and makeup. They both came from hard working business ownership that was not related to spirituality. Then the phenomenon of Julius altered the trajectory of both their lives after Brad’s car accident.

Visit them at https://expandwithjulius.com and http://www.kaseyandbrad.com/

Mindfulness and Mobile Devices

By Sunny Chayes

Often what comes to mind when I think of my iPhone is how mindful it really isn’t. I think of the many times the person with whom I am sharing a meal has picked up their phone to make a call or look something up on the internet or to return a TEXT. Sadly, I also must consider the times I have done it to others.

As our minds are being sucked ever more deeply into the electronic never world, is it possible that these same little mobile instigators could possibly help us recover some of the precious mindfulness that is lost to them? A slew of mobile app developers thinks so.

Here are some suggestions. If we are going to spend some time, and potentially some money, on mindfulness apps, you might consider these.

Headspace and Calm: (https://www.headspace.com), (https://www.calm.com/)
We are lumping them together because they are both wonderful apps that offer very similar things. While there are subtle differences between what they offer, both are lovely. Many reviewers say that it comes down to the meditation guide’s voice that one prefers. Headspace uses the Buddhist trained, proper English voice of Andy Puddicombe while Calm uses the well-regarded female voice of Tamara Lovett. Both have free/trial versions of the app, so it may be great to try them both for a week at a time. Both apps are beautifully designed, yet very far apart in graphical taste. If you are visually driven person, you might find your preference of aesthetics to be your main decision driver.

The Goodness: For guided meditations, they’re beautifully effective for a combination of ease-of-use and quality.

The Drawbacks: Pricey compared to other options.

Perfect for you If: You are looking for a meditation app which provides a curated, high-quality guided meditations for adults or children, and you are not particularly price conscious. Price for full version – $12.95/mo for Calm, $12.99/mo For Headspace.

Insight Timer: (https://insighttimer.com/)
If you are a fan of guided meditations, but don’t enjoy paying the premium price, Insight Timer is your app. The trade off here is that Insight Timer is an open platform for seemingly anyone to post a meditation. It is up to you to choose wisely. The brilliance of the open platform is that there are literally thousands of meditations to choose from and many of those are extremely high-quality. A premium version of Insight Timer allows you to download your favorites for offline use and the app also offers premium 10-day courses ranging from “Learn to Mindfully Manage Stress and Anxiety” to “Heal Through the Power of Sound.”

The Goodness: The best app around for a large selection of guided meditations without the premium design and hand holding.

The Drawbacks: Requires a bit more investment of time to get what you are looking for.

Perfect for you If: You are looking for high quality guided meditations and don’t mind spending some time searching for teachers or meditation guides that suit your tastes and needs. Insight Timer is entirely free for the basic version. Premium — $4.99/mo and 10-day courses are $4.99 each.

Vibe: (https://vibe.me/)
The Vibe app takes a different approach to mindfully enabling your device. This app focuses on providing daily guidance in addition to meditation. The company has recruited a fairly impressive group of ‘thought leaders’ in mindfulness and spirituality who guide users with “light touch messaging” throughout the day. The messaging includes a daily post, short meditations and periodic reminders of the daily post called “Vibes,” which pop up a few times during the day. According to the app’s website, this method of integrating a single mindfulness principle into your life each day can have profound effects on happiness, well being, even quality of sleep with minimal time commitment from the user. The app also includes a basic meditation timer for those who already know the basics of meditation.

The Goodness: Perspective-changing daily guidance from thought leaders in mindfulness and spirituality.

The Drawbacks: It would be great to see a solid library of guided meditations with this app. I understand the guided meditations will be coming soon. In the meantime, perhaps combine with Insight Timer for guided meditations.

Perfect for you If: You are a busy person and want to advance your mindfulness with less time per day. Free 7-day trial and then $2.99/mo.

Muse: (https://choosemuse.com)

If you struggle with meditation (Inside secret – most of us do. It’s part of the process) and feel that you just can’t quiet your mind enough to find your inner peace, then you might want to check out Muse. Muse is not primarily an app — the centerpiece of this technology is the biofeedback headband which doubles as a headset (for sound). The headband works with the Muse app which effectively runs the device. When you meditate with the headband, Muse plays meditative sounds such as birds chirping, as well as listens to the activity in your brain. If your brain is too active (sometimes called “monkey brain”), the built-in headset provides an audible change in the sounds to something less calming, such as traffic or loud waves crashing. As you return your mind to a meditative state, the app provides the positive feedback to the brain in by returning to the gentler, more meditative sounds.

The Good: Tests have shown that the Muse actually works in helping people relax more quickly into a meditative state.

The Drawbacks: If you are serious about learning to meditate, learning to coexist with your thoughts is largely the point. Depending on a crutch might be counterproductive.

Perfect for you if: You are beginning to meditate and struggle more than most with monkey brain, this might be the shortcut you are looking for. $200 on Amazon.

How lovely it is that these creative companies used what is so ubiquitous in our culture to connect us deeply within ourselves. How cool is that?

About Sunny Chayes:
Sunny Chayes is an Author, a Sacred Social Activist, Host of The Sunny Chayes Show enjoyed on IHeartRadio, ITunes, ABC Talk/News, Mindalia TV and UBN Radio and Chief Strategic Partner and Feature Writer for Whole Life Times. http://www.YouTube/sunnychayes