The Magic Of Self-Transformation

There is no spoon, there is only yourself…

Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth… There is no spoon… Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

-“Spoon Boy”, The Matrix

The law of attraction states that like attracts like; that which you put into the world is what you will get out of it. Therefore, one of the most powerful tools you have for manifesting the future that you want is the ability to change yourself. If your life is full of things you don’t want, change yourself first and the universe will follow.

This is a difficult reality for many people to accept; I know because I was one of them. Now I wish I’d accepted this truth and unlocked its magic sooner, saving myself a lot of trouble.

What vibes you send out into the universe are reflected back at you. And it’s not about being a good person or a bad person; it’s about co-creating reality through positive (or negative) beliefs. You could spend all your time helping the needy, but if you constantly complain about your situation, self-centered, ambitious people all around you will live better lives than you do. Fair or not, this is an important dynamic to understand about life.

You are always co-creating your experience of reality, even if you’re not aware of it. This is the danger in holding limiting beliefs about yourself, you’ll just continue to manifest the same life that you don’t want over and over again. But by the same token you can also make sure you’re always blessed by turning those negative beliefs about yourself into belief in something greater than yourself. And once you do, and I’m speaking from personal experience, the world you inhabit becomes far more enchanted and in-sync.

Remember the spoon scene from The Matrix? “…only try to realize the truth… There is no spoon…it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.” What “Spoon Boy” means is that you’re always creating your reality and you have the ability to change reality by changing yourself.

There is an essential truth in this idea but it requires that you take responsibility for your experience of life. It also requires that you be very, very clear about what it is that you want out of life and most people are actually quite confused about this. In fact, if you haven’t done extensive desire work, discovering your purpose through meditation, contemplation, and prayer, I’m going to recommend that you assume this applies to you as well.

It All Starts With Desire

To change our lives we can “simply” change ourselves, but to see this change take root within you, you need a clear vision of “what’s trying to come into the world through you,” to quote Gordon White. Desire speaks to us through our heart and our bellies and our lust (for life among other things). She moves us, compels us, to action through passion and yearning.

It’s not difficult to discover your passion, despite the revelation’s potentially immense impact in your life. If you haven’t yet found an all-consuming passion or you’re struggling to make it a reality, a few weeks of devotions to Venus (Friday at sunrise) and a journey (guided meditation) where you ask her to awaken you to your great purpose, should do the trick.

Take your time with this. Give your self space to dream. Avoid judging this dreaming process, just allow it to emerge from your subconscious naturally. It will be indistinct -vague- at first, but the more time and contemplation you dedicate to the effort, the clearer and more detailed your visions of the future will become.

Fill your brain with everything you can find to learn about the ideas that arise from this process. Don’t force it to make sense, just feed your mind with as much context as you can about what you’re discovering.

You’ll know when you know. When the burning fire of passion fills your belly, the energy has to be put to productive use or the anxiety can become overwhelming. It will become all you think about and, by then, you’ll know exactly what you need to do.

Finding The Flow

With passion driving you forward (and the gods at your back), no obstacles will be able to dissuade you from your path -you’ll just find ways around them. Most of the time, if you’re in-flow (in “right relation”), the universe provides avenues to follow which lead you further down your path.

This is why entering into relationality with the world around you in this way is so critically important. When you are living in right relation -when you are in flow- fate ceases to work against you and starts, instead, to work on your behalf.

It’s easy to tell when you’re not in flow.

You’ll know because fate will be less kind to you. Whenever a series of unfortunate events manifest in your life (and I only refer to non-trivial ones), it’s time to ask yourself if you’re really, truly, living in right relation. Assess yourself honestly to make sure you’re not manifesting a problem through self-sabotage.

Slash And Burn (Cord-Cuttings And Fire Ceremonies)

Transformation is a tricky, cyclical process of discovering what’s holding you back, letting it go, and filling the void proactively with something that makes you better and increases your Joy. And there are no better techniques for such a purgative process than fire ceremonies and cord-cuttings.

Fire ceremonies are gentle acts but repetition renders this simple intention-setting exercise powerfully effective. Speak or blow your intentions into a stick, or write them on a piece of paper, and cast them into a fire, watching them burn with great intent.

Cord-cuttings are, in my experience, less subtle, more immediate, and, often, the outcomes are more drastic. Use them with caution, but they are quite effective at provoking a sudden change of circumstance. Tie a string between your finger, or wear a noose around your neck if you want to be dramatic, and affix the other end to something which represents the person, habit, situation, etc., you want to cut loose. Then sever it in sacred ritual with focused intention.

Again, take your time (measured in weeks and months, not hours or days), and go through this cycle of dreaming and refining a new self-image, researching its qualities thoroughly, casting limiting beliefs into the fire, and cutting loose any habits, circumstances, or people which are holding you back. You’ll notice significant changes in your outlook on life and the quality of your luck before very long at all.

Dreaming The Future Into Being

This process refines your dreams of the future into clear visions and plans. It forges a new reality in the fire of your passions. All you need is belief in yourself and your mission, and the determination to see your journey through. For this, a series of very powerful habits will provide the boost you need to succeed.

Focus is the key to intention -and intention is the key to magic (and producing desirable outcomes as a result). The technique of consistently intending for the same, clearly visualized goal is extremely potent. The saying is true, that, “The energy flows where the attention goes.” That which we focus on for extended periods of time has a tendency to manifest, for good or ill.

Your Definite Chief Aim

One of the best, and simplest, practices for regular, effective intention-setting is Napoleon Hill’s “Definite Chief Aim”. He recommends writing out a statement of intent, as clearly and concisely as possible, on a piece of paper and carrying it with you always; reciting its contents aloud immediately upon awakening in the morning and just prior to falling asleep at night.

These two moments, the very first and the very last of each day, are unique because our psychic defenses are weakest and our minds are most vulnerable to influence at these times. The half-conscious daze of either emerging from or succumbing to sleep provides an opportunity for deliberate self-programming. The morning version is called hypnopompia and the evening one, hypnogogia.

This part of Hill’s practice is an excellent brain hack. The rest of the technique feels similar to shamanic / cunning traditions where keeping something close to your person allows its energy (and corresponding intent) to permeate your own energetic field.

The key to Hill’s method is singular focus -the lack of any competing or conflicting desires which might challenge your primary motivation for dominance. The Definite Chief Aim is a means of filtering out any desire which does not help you realize your most important goals.

It is called “Definite” because it has been clearly and carefully phrased and “Chief” because it stands above all your other desires. It is a single point of focus with which you become intentionally obsessed and it is formulated as a positive statement in the present tense: “I AM / I HAVE [whatever you wish]”.

It claims your objective as immanent reality and it is a simple statement which can be easily recited just after waking and just before falling asleep. Its simplicity is its power and this practice is entirely compatible with any other magical techniques you wish to employ.

The point is to become so clear about your aspirations, and so focused on achieving them, that your life reorients itself around your goals naturally, conserving as much of your personal energy as possible for their eventual realization.

Three Horizons Magical Planning

When planning major projects, and a personal transformation certainly counts, it’s all too easy to fall into a state of paralysis by (over) analysis. The reality is that you can’t see far enough into the future (even with divination) to understand the path that your desire will take you down until you’re already on that path.

Repurposing a productivity hack for magical use, the “Three Horizons” method of planning is a helpful tool for strategically navigating large and complicated efforts. It suggests that you create a timeline of priorities for your project according to similar logic to (war criminal) Donald Rumsfeld’s famous quote about “known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.”

The concept is to divide what you can foresee about your project into “three horizons” which represent 1) that which is immediately in front of you, 2) that which you can clearly see approaching, and 3) that which is too distant to accurately describe.

The situations on the first horizon can be addressed through tactical magic (or will resolve themselves magically). Second horizon issues are close enough for divination but aren’t yet practical concerns and the third horizon is just too far out to do anything about but dreaming and journeying.

Take the matters that are close at hand (first horizon) and separate them as cleanly as possible so that you understand the root of the approaching issues distinctly from each other and all your other concerns. Next find solutions which fit neatly within your overarching plan and examine them critically to make sure they are aligned with your Definite Chief Aim. Plan magical rituals for each situation separately and perform them at suitably auspicious times (best available, don’t delay your plans).

As you move forward with your project, the first horizon will quickly pass by, and the second will soon become the first. Eventually even the distant shapes on the third horizon will come into focus as your progress advances.

With a fleet of desired intentions all sailing towards the new world you desire, in mutual support of one another, you can safely direct your attention to accomplishing the goals in front of you, one by one.

Tactical Magic (Strategy Meets Praxis)

When it comes to tactical magic, especially where multiple outcomes are sought, there can hardly be better magical technology than Gordon White’s sigil methods; namely his concepts of “shoals” (loosely aligned collections of sigils) and the “robofish” (a sigil for a guaranteed outcome which exerts gravity on the other sigils in the shoal; manifestation by association).

Alternatively, you could elect ideal astrological conditions for creating talismans and “magical images”, invoking the gods on your behalf. Or, you could summon grimoire spirits and bargain for their assistance -or pray to saints or venerated ancestors.

Magic has many expressions which serve to bring desire into the effect and whichever best fits your understanding of the cosmos is right for you in the moment. It doesn’t much matter which. What matters is how you go about structuring your intentions, how you apply belief, and what relationship you’ve built with the spirits you’re supplicating (in advance).

Magic is less “doing” and more “communicating with”, or perhaps “negotiating with”, spirits. By ourselves we have little spiritual power because we are not the source of power in the cosmos but conduits for its transmission. Power flows through us easily and through our ability to channel we have the capacity to direct where this “energy” goes…and this is the value of intention.

In tactical magic, meaning when you are casting spells, making talismans, sending intentions and prayers, and so on, all the methods rely on this underlying process:

  1. Clear your mind, becoming an open and unobstructed conduit for divinity to flow through.
  2. Connect with a suitable divine intelligence through veneration, conjuration, etc. (the source of power you’re drawing upon).
  3. Communicate your intention through ritual ceremony to the spirits you’re allying with for your working.
  4. Raise your attention -your focus- to the point of mental and emotional “obsession”, pouring yourself into the ritual until it climaxes with a deliberate “sending” of this focused energy into the cosmos.
  5. Reset your mental / emotional state (ground yourself) and return to a normal state with the belief that your work has been successful and you are simply waiting for it to manifest.

This process can be performed in any number of ways. Simply find the techniques that work for you. What’s important is to apply this procedure consistently, so that you progressively bring more and more of your desired future into reality.

Clearing The Way (Road Opening)

Sometimes the grind of this transformative process (discovery, divination, and ritualization) gets hung up on some detail and turns into an unpleasant slog. This is easy to identify because your slow, but meaningful, progress comes to a dead halt and all your ambitions start piling up behind it like a car crash on the highway.

When this happens, traditional magical approaches like sigils, prayers, and intentions will fall short or fizzle out because there’s something weighing down your probability of success that you haven’t yet identified.

It’s key here to make sure that you’re not just simply out-of-flow. A temporary deviation from a state of right-relation will often manifest as a blockage of some kind -an obstacle placed in your path to force you back onto course. Use divination and journeying to eliminate this possibility or to identify where you left off your fated path and adjust accordingly.

If this isn’t the case, which will be obvious through divination, the other possibilities are that you are experiencing “crossed conditions”, or simply significant inertia surrounding the topic causing you delay. If you’re going against the tidal movements of society (such as trying to move during lockdowns and travel bans, as was our case) you may simply be unable to overcome the intentions of others who are in opposition to your desired outcomes.

Fortunately the solution is essentially the same for both possibilities: road opening magic.

For the unfamiliar, “road opening” is a way to describe a loose collection of cunning folk traditions which assist the practitioner by clearing away the obstacles preventing them from moving towards their goals. The subject is well worth its own deeper analysis elsewhere so I’ll simply list some very effective techniques for uncrossing conditions and opening roads that I’ve used myself.

  1. Hekate’s Key: A fancy antique key, consecrated for the purpose of unlocking doors (by touching a series of important locks) used to “unlock” outcomes in ritual (credit to Jason Miller).
  2. Jinx-Breaker Incense: Alternating frankincense and dragonsblood suffumigation (of an object that represents your situation) while reciting your intention (credit to Gordon White). Use in conjunction with a road opener.
  3. Abre Camino: Suffumigate an object that represents your situation with the smoke from burning abre camino (“open road”) herbs while reciting your intention (credit to Gordon White)
  4. Coffee Bath Jinx-Breaker: Make a cup of coffee and pour it into cold water (to make the mixture lukewarm) and bath it in / pour it over you body. Wash only in downward motions while visualizing breaking chains at your wrists. Use in conjunction with a road opener.

From Techniques To Praxis

In an effective, on-going magical practice, tactical magic tends to surge and ebb in a cycle of desire work, divination, and spell work (with the occasional road opening when required). It’s important to be very clear about what you want, and to check yourself to uncover any false assumptions, before moving forward with any magical operation. These prior two steps of self-examination and analysis are as important as any magical rituals you’ll eventually perform.

Putting all this together, what I’ve just outlined is a practical, repeatable process for generating the kind of magical results that empower you to vastly improve your quality of life. To sum up:

  1. Start with desire work (“self” analysis – i.e. “What do I really want?”)
  2. Dream the future (make it real in your mind)
  3. Rid yourself of everything you don’t need (fire ceremony / cord-cutting)
  4. Orient your map to true North (Definite Chief Aim)
  5. Do the work (discover, divine, ritualize)
  6. Clear any obstacles that arise (road opening)

This process becomes a cycle of magical activity that aligns the rest of your life around priorities which have been divinely inspired and thoroughly vetted (through divination and contemplation). Your rituals work together towards a unified strategy to produce the future you desire through focused intentionality.

It’s powerful and reliable magic that you can use to transform your life from one where you have no control to one where your wildest dreams can come true.

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