The Magpie Spirit: Collecting Experiences and Speaking Truth

Children are completely genuine. They live entirely by feeling, experiencing each second as something new and precious. There’s nothing calculated or controlled, nothing born out of expectation or fear. Anxieties and insecurities haven’t infected them yet; those are parasites we pick up along the way to adulthood, passed along as we touch the dead dreams and aspirations of those who came before us.
I have always been sensitive to the world around me. My empathy was never dulled by experience, I simply grew better at hiding it. Unfortunately, this also means I collected fears and worries, plucking them from other people as I learned what was acceptable, what was not. We all want to be talented, capable, beautiful, loved, and we pursue those adjectives with dogged determination, comparing ourselves to everyone else vying for the title. We all want to measure up.
But it’s a draining hunt for validation, and we lose the emotional energy it takes to be any one of those things. Worse yet, we lose sight of what and who we really are.
I have not spoken my truth. My adult life has been defined by ideals, standards I’ve set for myself, models posed by other people. In the last few weeks, I’ve been forced to confront the fact that I’ve been horribly dishonest with myself. There are a lot of things I am not, and will never be, and have tried so hard for so long to become.
I am not quiet, I am not complacent. I am not insincere, I am not calculated.
But there are a lot of things I am and have not embraced. There are so many things inherent in our natures that we push aside as we’re told they’re not conducive to the adult world. We live according to the fears and failings of those before us. And it exhausts me.
I am sensitive. I feel everything. I cry for people I’ve never met and animals I haven’t seen because they don’t understand the cruelty they face. My throat gets tight when I meet elderly couples who have lived their lives side by side, and I tear up reading about couples in love. I believe there’s a reason in everything but still lament the hard lessons learned. With every move I make, I feel the magnetic pull of the universe around me, the hum and buzz of frenetic energy, the overwhelming collective emotion and experience that unites us. I believe in magic, the push and pull of energy that shapes our fates, brings us closer, drives us apart.
I see beauty in dark places. I understand the awesome attraction of the sublime, the terrifying nature of ecstasy. I know that life is a cycle, that history repeats if we do not learn the lessons it offers. I see few absolutes in the world, and opposites are rarely incompatible.
I rarely carry an umbrella because I believe we’re meant to feel the rain. I’m not a good dancer but I can’t help being moved by music, physically and emotionally. I want to dance in the street and laugh until my lungs can’t take it and kiss the words from another person’s mouth and lose myself in the words it takes to appreciate a moment. I relish the freedom of interstate driving at night and the spontaneity of 24-hour diners. I think the strongest communications take place without names, that we connect at a soul level without a need to identify. I believe we are given only what we can handle, but feel that we manifest much of our lives according to our fears and desires.
I do not want to continue to manifest fear. I will not be ruled by anxiety and panic. I am learning that I am enough, that everything I need is all ready inside of me, and that can be shared but never stolen. Energy is infectious, and I want to transmit strength and optimism.
We are born with infinite potential, the ability to bend and shape ourselves into anything we want. We have wings to spread and soar, or shade and shelter–but we also clip those feathers, condemn ourselves to a flightless existence. But the thing with feathers is they can grow back. We’ve merely cut them, trimmed them into uselessness, decoration. They still exist under our skin, ready to pin through out pores, to grow back full and fantastic. With each budding plume, we regrow potential. As we leave them to unfurl, we reclaim some of the power we relinquished when we were told it wasn’t ours to have. But we are not owned by anyone, and we were born to break free. I’m beginning to allow my feathers to grow back, resisting the urge to pluck them out as they pin, trying to ignore the pain as they burst through the skin. Pain is a necessary part of growth, and I’m learning that it’s okay to reach out to others when it feels unbearable: chances are, they’ve experienced it too. But the remarkable part of the budding feathers we grow is that other’s see them. Others are inspired by our struggles and triumphs and begin to grow their feathers, too. Once, we were rare birds, nearly extinct, completely transformed by expectations–but now the world sees more and more of us. We flock, drawn towards the power and freedom of others. Do not be afraid to let yourself plume. Grow your feathers, spread your wings, and make the world colourful with your splendour. Rest assured, I’ll be doing the same thing right here.

Glamour for Personal Power: Charmed Lipstick Spell for Manifestation

Charmed Lipstick
I parked my car in the far reaches of the mall lot because I could no longer see through the tears to drive. It was 2012 and my life was a very different place—everything and everyone around me seemed to be falling apart. My family was experiencing the loss of my grandfather, my mother had been away dealing with the situation, my relationship was at a serious crossroads, and my career was painfully unfulfilling. In the course of six months, my life had turned upside-down and I couldn’t understand why. I was stuck in the fog, blinded by what I could only see as misfortune, and I felt completely powerless.
But I always believed in magic, and like so many others, I fell back on my faith to get myself through the crisis. I balled up the sleeve of my sweater, swiped the mascara tears off my face, and got out of the car.
When I was little, I had gruesome night terrors. Most of the time, I was too afraid to even sleep, cowering under the blankets until I saw the light break through the blinds. Once the light began to grow, I could safely run down the hall, jump into bed with my parents and sleep comfortably. One night, my mother brought in a set of white-and-pink polka dot printed sheets and began to make up the bed. “These,” she told me very seriously, “are magic sheets. As long as they’re on the bed, you can only have good dreams. Nothing can hurt you, nothing scary can see you, and you can sleep without worrying about monsters.” And I believed her—it worked. Whether my mother charmed the sheets themselves or simply knew that setting the intention would be enough for five-year-old me to work the magic on my own, I don’t know, but in 2012 I felt it was time for another enchantment to propel me forward.
  Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Junkie
I marched into Sephora, purchased the most outrageous lipstick I could find, and took it home to work some magic. I anointed it with oil, set it on my altar while I burned candles, ran it through the smoke of incense, surrounded it with crystals, all the while telling the Universe (and consequently myself) that as long as I wore that lipstick, I would never have a bad day. The next day, when I pulled it off the altar and applied it generously, I had the best day I’d had in a very long time. Every day afterwards, as long as I wore that lipstick, the tensions and traumas I’d experienced grew farther and farther away. I moved forward.
Since then, I’ve charmed a number of objects for assorted reasons. I performed a similar ritual with a bottle of perfume to secure a job I desperately wanted, and after wearing it to the interview received a call back less than three days after. This summer, I found myself at another impasse. I charmed another lipstick, even more outrageous than the last, and wore it near daily. That lipstick stained glasses across the country, kissed tombs and shrines in New Orleans, and smeared on handkerchiefs while I worked through the emotions and searched for the magic that would put my life back together. And before the summer was over, things turned around.
I’m not saying that lipstick can fix a life. Lipstick can’t bring back the dead or win the lottery. But lipstick can be a bold reminder of our personal power. It can become a signature, a personal power object that we use to remind ourselves of our inner and outer beauty, our natural magnetism. We can use it like a lightning rod to amplify our energy, or project an image of the person we’re trying to embody. Lipstick can be a compelling glamour

Below is an outline of the ritual I use to charm objects like this. Feel free to adapt it to your needs, use the tools you feel speak to your purpose, do as much or as little as you feel you should. Unlike “High” Ritual Magic, witchcraft is rarely by the book. For me, spell craft has always been like prayer—everyone does it differently, for different purposes, to different ends.

Charmed Lipstick Ritual Supplies


For this ritual, I recommend using a candle in a color that corresponds with your intention, a selection of crystals to raise energy, essential oils or blends for attraction, offertory incense, and a blend of herbs or flowers specific to your intention. You can focus simply on attracting positive energy and events, building towards your purpose, or specify that you want to enhance your sexual attraction or draw prosperity. Additionally, I recommend the absolute most outrageous lipstick you can tolerate—this summer, I used Urban Decay’s Junkie, a sparkling reptilian green. I’m sure this would work with a more demure daily-wear shade but I can guarantee you there’s nothing like a few swipes of rainbow-colored lipstick to make you feel like a totally badass witch, ready to conquer the world.


I always begin by cleansing my space. For me, this involves burning sage and wafting the smoke into each corner of the space, and cleaning my instruments with sea salt. You may choose to take a bath with salt and herbs, to dress in something clean that makes you feel powerful. Whatever helps you raise your energy and get into the headspace of manifesting magic.
Charmed Lipstick Ritual
Take your herbs and scatter them around the space. For this ritual, I used rose petals collected from bouquets I’ve been given, but I’ve worked with herbs and flowers purchased specifically from magical suppliers and corner bodegas as well. Take the candle and hold it between your hands. Feel it grow warm as it absorbs your body heat, and understand that it is also absorbing your energy. Focus on your intention. See yourself with whatever you desire: imagine the devastating Instagram snap you’re going to take, envision yourself taking the hand of the partner you’re trying to draw, picture yourself writing that rent check and not worrying about whether it will clear or how you’ll buy groceries afterwards. With this still in your mind’s eye, take your chosen oil and anoint yourself: start with your wrists, drawing lines inwards towards your body, willing what you want to be pulled in towards you. Draw a line up your breastbone, towards your head, touch it to your third eye and see how much more vivid your vision becomes. Then, anoint your candle, holding it with the wick away from your body and drawing the line from wick to base. Tell the Universe that as it burns down, your goal will grow closer and closer towards you.
Place the candle in a central position on the altar and light it, knowing that as the flame burns, your intention solidifies. Begin the place your crystals. I used rose quartz, green aventurine, pink moonstone, and pink tourmaline, all stones sacred to Venus and used to draw luck and love from within and without. Arrange them in a way that feels natural, using your hands to sense the individual vibrations. Once your crystals are in place, light your incense and waft the smoke around the space, focussing on your intention as you inhale the fragrance. Feel the magic growing denser as the air grows thicker around you.
Now, pick up your lipstick. Hold it between your hands like the candle. Feel it grow warm. Feel the energy buzzing around you and pull it into you—breathe it into your lungs and then push it through your chest, down your arms, and into your hands. Allow the lipstick to absorb that energy and know that each time you apply it, you’ll be absorbing it too. Pack in as much energy as you can. Then, take your oil and anoint the lipstick, starting at the top and drawing the line towards you, towards the bottom of the tube. Know that as the tube runs out, you’ve absorbed more and more of that magic. You don’t need to finish it to manifest your goal, but with each application, you grow closer and closer.
Charmed Lipstick Ritual
Place the lipstick on your altar. You may choose to place it on a bed of crystals or sprinkle your herbal blend over it. You might want to meditate on the candle flame or incense smoke, but don’t linger too long. Your intention has been set, your energy has begun to manifest, and now you leave it in the hands of the Universe to bring you closer. Don’t obsess. Walk away. Go to bed, paint your nails, eat cake, or drink some wine. Do something for yourself. In the morning, take the remaining herbs, the candle wax, the dust from the incense, and collect it in one place. You can choose to hold onto the remnants until your manifestation is complete, or dispose of them immediately. I usually bury my materials and trust that as they break down, they release more energy towards my cause.
Obviously, practice caution with your materials. Don’t abandon open flames, and don’t bury, burn, or release into the water any harmful chemicals or poisons that can hurt wild flora or fauna. You’re working in harmony with the Universe.
That’s it. Your lipstick is now fully charged, and possibly one of the most powerful objects in your magical arsenal. Wear it proudly, knowing that each swipe not only brings you one step closer to your goal, but also releases courage to reach for what you want, assurance that you deserve your best life, and understanding that you are so, so much more powerful than you might believe.
Charmed Lipstick

Staring at the Ceiling: the Importance of Downtime

Two days before my first international flight, I broke my foot. Remarkably, it wasn’t the wild dancing in my five inch stilettos, it wasn’t from my dogged determination to channel my inner Cherry Pie on the club’s pole—I broke my foot when I kicked the door frame playing hide-and-seek with my cat. They say when you break a bone, you’ll know it, but this one took me a while. Once I got over the embarrassment and peeled myself off the floor, I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. Sure it hurt, but I’d sleep it off. When I realized eight hours of sleep hadn’t given me back the ability to walk like someone who’s practiced the art for 20+ years, I thought maybe it was time to hit the doctor. Turns out, I’d split my second middle phalanx clean in half. I left the country with my foot precariously taped together and hobbled through England on a series of crutches and canes.
Four weeks later, I’d ditched the cane and stubbornly limped up and down the stairs of my third-floor walk-up like nothing had ever happened. In fact, my recheck was a formality: I never anticipated my podiatrist would tell me I should have had the break casted from the beginning, much less that I had damaged another bone from compensating for the better part of a month. Thus began my slow descent into madness as I found myself a club-footed prisoner in my family’s suburban home. When you live in the most notoriously bustling city on the planet, walk several miles daily, and enjoy the freedom of popping out to get whatever you want, whenever you want it, medical orders to stay off your feet in Suburbia, USA is a death sentence of boredom. Worse yet, my parents’ house is a Poké-Wasteland, nary a zubat or ratatta in sight. How was I going to hatch my 10k egg when I couldn’t even walk downstairs to check the mail?
Warstone Cemetery, Birmingham
Over the next few weeks, I plowed through a multitude of books, filled entire notebooks with journalistic psychobabble, and killed more than a couple bottles of wine. I colored my hair and called friends. I played cards and compiled playlists. In a time when other crises would have seen me running around town in an endless parade of distraction, my own physical helplessness had me trapped in far too small a space with my own thoughts. I spent far too much time sobbing into pillows and sleeplessly staring at ceilings. But it wasn’t all a desperate attempt to kill time—I signed up for some classes and meditations at the spiritual center my mother attends, returning sometimes several times a week for courses on crystal healing, astral projection, chromotherapy, mystical-feminine empowerment. In the process, I met several Channels who all had profound messages to pass to me. I’ve been working with tarot cards for over twenty years, but it’s been only recently that I’ve realized my cards have no power of their own—each card I pull means nothing on its own, but instead serves as a meditative tool to focus my attention and direct my intuition. The tarot is a comfortable system for me to work with, but given the practice and confidence, I could just as easily use anything to receive and deliver messages to my clients. With this knowledge behind me as I heard what each of these Channels had to tell me, I decided to explore the practice myself.
What I found was remarkable. It all made sense, and I realized I’d been using bits of the practice in my own life for some time. But most amazing of all was a passage written in one particular book about the importance of downtime. Downtime is imperative to clear the mind, relax the body, and allow ourselves to be open and ready to receive, whether we’re receiving divine wisdom, messages from the other side, or love from ourselves or others. As a Type-A Sagittarius with a streak of Overachieving Virgo Ascendent, my version of downtime is a lunch date with friends, window-shopping before school, outlining new essays, or painting something for a friend. But there’s nothing “down” about any of that. Even commonly-accepted modes of relaxation like Netflix marathons, devouring a novel, or catching up on YouTube subscriptions aren’t really downtime. Many of us haven’t experience true downtime since we were kids—laying in the grass and staring at the sky until we lost track of time, contemplating exactly nothing until we realize we’ve been sitting on the sofa in roughly the same spot for the last three hours. True downtime is literally taking the time to do nothing at all, and our minds and bodies need that.
So much of our self-worth is wrapped up in our productivity and our ability to be of service to others—if you can accomplish more than your coworkers, your friends, your family, then you become more valuable to the collective. But a constant stream of productivity dulls us like scissors: if our mind and body are out of synch, cutting at different speeds and intensities, we no longer function as we should. Everything is just off, whether or not it affects our lives noticeably. Downtime allows us to reset, to realign, making us feel more comfortable within ourselves and leaving us more room to connect to the people and things that matter most to us. It seems counterintuitive to spend those spare moments quietly alone when we want to be closer to the people we care about, but when we use that time to clear away the mental static and emotional haze within ourselves, it leaves more room for healthy, productive relationships.
This realization hit me like the Broadway local at rush hour—all these years, I’ve been struggling to fill every last second of my life with activity. Hustling is a full time job these days, and everyone seems to have at least three major games to play to set them ahead. Competition is a way of life. But there’s a reason we still hear about Aesop’s tortoise and his long-eared running mate: when you take time out to yourself, to contemplate your place in the world around you and simply exist for a few moments in time, you come out ahead, especially when your competition is racing along without the slightest idea of what they’re fulfilling…and what they’re not.
Two days after this flooded my mind, forcing me to spend the better part of an evening laying on the floor, visualizing these lessons like projections on the white space of the ceiling, the doctor cut off my cast and told me I was a free woman. I’m still supposed to take it easy, to avoid walking so many miles in a day or wearing my favourite heels for some weeks to come, but I can get back to the life I’ve built for myself. It was like everything—my broken foot, my damaged bone, my extended stay in suburbia—was a direct hit with the Universal baseball bat telling me to slow down, if not by choice, then by any means necessary. Being forced to a stop was the only way for me to learn this all important lesson. And like any lesson learned, once I passed the test, I was allowed to move on. My life won’t be like it was before all of this occurred, and I don’t expect it to be, but I’ll be implementing my newly acquired knowledge as I rebuild. Opportunities for downtime will be built into my schedule to keep things on track, even if it means forcing myself into group meditations or blocking off hours in the park. Personal growth should always be a priority—if you aren’t moving forward, you’re standing still.

Hothouse Blossoms: your April Tarot CardCast

Most months, when I pull my tarot cards, I instantly understand the message at hand. This month, however, wasn’t as clear. I pulled one, two, three cards–they weren’t entirely disparate, they weren’t in conflict, but something felt “off.” For a moment, I doubted my intuition: there was something here that I wasn’t seeing, something overlooked. I had to ruminate on the reading for a few days.

And then, in the small hours of the morning some 50-plus hours after the cards had been pulled, it hit me. I had overlooked something–that was the point. We all have.
April Tarot CardCast
As spring unfolds, the fever sets in. We all want to shed our winter layers, cast off our icy attitudes and frosty ways of being. We want to take part in the abundance we see coming in around us. We watch flowers bloom, trees bud, animals awaken and we want that newness for ourselves. What we have doesn’t feel comfortable anymore.
But here’s the thing: we have all that, and more. We have all the pieces we need for that fresh, full life–they’ve been there all along. The seeds have been planted and are beginning to sprout, all we need to do is tend the soil. Those new green buds have been growing silently, waiting for us to turn our eyes to the ground and take notice. They’ve fed off our cast-offs, fertilized by our acts and decisions all winter. And now that they’ve broken ground, it’s time for us to see what we’ve sewn and begin to actively nurture our own abundance.
April Tarot CardCast
The barren season is over, and all the pleasures of these fertile times are ahead of us. If things still seem stormy, remember what children say this time of year: “April showers bring May flowers.” Rain will make the flowers grow, and there’s nothing more beautiful than a hothouse blossom. Everything worth having takes time and effort, and patience is rewarded manifold, but so much of that work is all ready behind us—instead of keeping our eyes fixed ahead towards the future, it’s time to be present and enjoy what we have right now. This month sees the sun in both ego-driven Aries and beauty-driven Taurus, and we can take lessons from both signs: take time for yourself to reconnect with the things you love, the things that bring you pleasure. You’ve earned it.

Radical Self Love Salon, Plotting a Beautiful Revolution with Gala Darling

Buried under old clothing and long-forgotten textbooks, I recently found two stray pages from an old journal. It was my habit to “introduce” myself to each new notebook, explaining a little about who I was and why I chose to write there–there was a certain romance to journaling, as if each notebook was not only a time capsule, but a public one, unearthed decades or even centuries in the future and transporting someone else into my life. These two pages were my introduction. I wrote about how I was likely perceived by others, who I was from an entirely detached perspective. Not even half a page in, one thing became absolutely clear: the girl who wrote this journal did not love herself. She didn’t even like herself. There was nothing blatantly self-loathing written, no mention of body hatred or bullied shame, just the complete and total detachment of someone entirely uncomfortable in their own skin. “I am completely unremarkable,” 19-year-old Me wrote. “I have no delusions about my identity. There is nothing that makes me special.” I actually cried, not because of any memories stirred up or hurtful words written, but because I genuinely felt bad for the girl who penned these pages.


Somehow, though, those had been feelings that persisted throughout my life. In fact, up until very recently, the idea that I could love myself was fairly repulsive to me. Why should I love myself? What have I done to deserve it? Maybe, if I accomplished this or finished that or adhered to this or became that, maybe I could love myself. But not now. I put all of my self-worth into my accomplishments, and the fact that I didn’t have a glittering professional resume or tales of globe-trotting adventures or my dream apartment in a breathtaking city meant that I hadn’t done anything to prove my value–not to society, and not to me. I was unremarkable, and worse yet, I was downright boring.



I don’t know when it happened. I can’t tell you what day it was that the sparkling little feeling crept into chest. I’m not sure the exact moment it started dancing in the throat, tickling at my brain. I’m not sure when I started to have hope. But suddenly, after nearly thirty years, possibly a third of my life in the rear-view mirror, I started to matter to myself. Big time. It’s no longer about what I’ve done or haven’t done–there are other measures of a person, and I’m finally starting to register on my own radar.


Yesterday, in a room filled with pink rose petals and bright July sunlight, I heard this sentiment echoed seven times over. It was fresh, exciting, magical–as so many other groups before us, we had gathered together to discuss a revolutionary concept, joining forces to break new ground. Unlike the salons of my childhood history books, however, we weren’t discussing the fate of the nation or the latest schools of contemporary art: we were discussing Radical Self Love. To the uninitiated, Radical Self Love is Gala Darling’s revolution–it’s about remembering who you are and falling in love with that person, over and over again. It’s about being your own greatest love. “Isn’t that just a serious case of narcism?” you may ask–the answer, truly, is no. As Our Lady RuPaul would say, “if you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” And sadly, too many of us trudge through our daily lives hating everything about them–our jobs, our families, our friends, our cities–when the source of all that unhappiness really is self-loathing.


In a sunny white room nestled deep in New York City, the eight ladies of the first ever Radical Self Love Salon sat on mismatched pieces of furniture, pulling oracle cards and consulting each other’s opinions and experiences as we plumbed the depths of the fears that opposed us. We meditated and grounded our energies, imagined our best selves and showered our heads in magenta rose petals. And when we finally figured out just what stood in the way of being those magnificent creatures we had envisioned, we burned those hurtles to a crisp. We left that room as stronger people, women fully aware of our capacity to shine brightly. The world is our proverbial oyster, but we aren’t just specks of sand in a briny soup–we are all ready stunning pearls. Radical Self Love is knowing that. And while 19-Year-Old Me might have felt unremarkable and defeated, I know now that nothing could be farther from the truth.


The Universe Provides: Release your fear, and live your love

When I quit my corporate job to focus on building my portfolio, I never expected it to be easy. I knew it would involve cutting back, living leaner, indulging less. I’ve never been good at saying no–my parents raised me to be incredibly self-sufficient at getting what I want. If you have the money to spare, go ahead. Get it. Don’t wait for it to find its way into your life some other way, because it might slip away forever. This mantra was truly meant for can’t-live-without situations–the perfect party dress for an event that weekend, a necklace on clearance sale that sparks your inspiration, a gadget that will make your daily routine that much easier–and eventually, I took it too far. My room is a graveyard of cheap dresses worn once, shoes worn for a week straight and then lost to the void, hair products and makeup that didn’t quite perform as well as I’d been convinced they would. Working in cosmetics, there are many, many, many of these failed products cluttering up my surfaces. I will also admit that I am a first-class retail therapist. Depression, anxiety, and stress all manifest as new clothes, tubes of lipstick, and jewelry. I am not in debt, but I’m not saving either. And because I have nothing to fall back on, the cycle of anxiety, lipstick, and stress continues…

When I handed in my notice, I told myself the cycle would stop. I would be out of retail, I would want less because I wouldn’t be near it, and quite frankly I wouldn’t have the money for it. It felt exhilarating. The prospect that I would be free of the consumer cycle made me giddy. I should have anticipated the eventual depression that would lead me back to old habits. When my credit card bill came, I paid it in full, like always, but nearly emptied out my savings to do so. “Never again,” I told myself. …I’m sure you can tell where this story is going. This month, when I got the email that my statement was ready, I couldn’t even look. I didn’t have the money, and I didn’t know where it was coming from. I spent the better part of my month fretting over it, wondering what jobs I could pick up to cover it, who I could borrow from, what I could return… Then, something came over me. I was totally calm. Things would be okay. I had a few freelance jobs, I would be able to pay. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to pay in full like I normally do, but I would at least make the minimum payment and I’d be able to pay the rest when I had more. It would be okay.

And then, something truly magical happened. My tax return came. It covered the entire amount with some to spare. Some of you might read this and think, “wow, what a lucky coincidence,” but I suspect most of you will smile knowingly. I don’t believe in coincidence. Magic happens, and the universe provides. When you put out the right energies, the right energies can find their way back to you. Panic and anxiety are forms of negativity, and negativity is a plague that simply breeds and multiplies. It’s hard to banish fear. Even in our comfortable modern age, fear is pervasive. We may no longer be afraid of predators and illness quite the same way our ancestors were, but each primal fear we’ve chased away has been replaced be thirty first-world worries. I don’t check the skies for giant birds of prey when I leave my house: I worry about reckless drivers, lost phone signals, and anaphylaxis instead. Fear kept me locked in my dead-end, joyless job for too long. How would I get ahead if I didn’t have money? How would I provide myself with a future if I was penniless? I wouldn’t even be able to afford the film and paint I needed to work on my portfolio, let alone take care of myself and maintain a lifestyle I could be happy with. It turns out, none of those were things I should be worrying about. Fear would be my undoing when all was said and done.

FX Photo Studio_image-23

The minute you can push fear away is the minute you start living your life. The surge of energy you feel when you can say, “I am going to be okay,” and mean it is enough to power you through. Fear is an addiction, but positive energy is addicting too. Confidence is exhilarating, and once you’ve tasted it, you’ll never want to go back to that cold, dark place of fear. You are a creature of the universe, and the universe will take care of you if you allow it to. Breathe in–the universe has given you everything you need, you just need to take it. It provides you with oxygen, water, nourishment, but if you allow, it can also provide you with joy, hope, and love. Breathe out–release the fear and negativity that has been growing in your heart. You don’t need it. Do not mistake fear for ambition: fear can drive us to great heights, but we will never achieve happiness if we push ourselves out of fear. Once you replace that with love–love for yourself, love for the universe–you will realize you can do so much more.

When you need something in your life–really need it–the universe will put it there. Several weeks ago, I told someone I needed to read the Bhagavad-Gita in full. I had read parts of it in college, and I’ve always found myself fascinated with Vedic spiritualities, but I’ve never read the full text. It felt like something I needed to do for my spiritual growth. The other day, my sister came home with literature from a missionary she encountered at a festival. She donated what she could with no intention of reading the books he offered, but decided they looked like something I would read and passed them on. “It’s some sort of Indian bible,” she said, handing them off. There, in my hands, was a pocket-sized version of the Bhagavad-Gita. I put my intention out into the world, and the universe agreed by giving me the means to follow through. Coincidence? Maybe, but I prefer to see it as evidence that magic happens when you’re ready. Release your fear, and start living your love.



Growth and Trust, Lessons from Al Fuentes

Sometimes, we end up at just the right place at just the right time. Such was the case last week, when I found myself in a room with thirty other individuals, trusting our breath and meditating on trees. How I arrived here isn’t important–it was simply the right combination of changed plans and obstacles that landed me the seat, and I knew as soon as the evening began that I was in the right place. “It’s like a group meditation,” my mother had said, as if trying to convince me to go, “and it could be good for you.” It’s no secret that times have been hard. Everyone has felt it, and the more sensitive you are, the harder it becomes. It showed on the faces of everyone in the room that night, a shadow under the eyes, a crease between the brow, a tension in the hands… yet by the end of the evening, they had all melted away, replaced with ease and empowerment.

Al Fuentes sat in front of the window, a travel-cup of tea at his side, looking every bit the part of the guru. But when he began to speak it became clear that he wasn’t some inaccessible spiritualist at all. In fact, he’s incredibly down-to-earth. Sure, he has stories about meeting enlightened masters in India, but he has equally engaging stories about having his iPhone stolen at the DMV. Anyone who compares one of the most profound human experiences to a cheese pizza has to have both feet planted firmly on the ground and at least one in the modern American world–surely, swamis don’t eat Dominos. To Al Fuentes, Enlightenment isn’t at the top of a mountain somewhere in the Himalayas, or at the end of a long and trying religious path. According to Al, the first step towards Enlightenment is simply taking a breath.

Take a breath. Go ahead, do it. Take a real breath, a conscious, considered breath in through your nose. Think about that breath and all it’s doing for you. Think about why you breathe. Feel the breath filling your lungs, feel the oxygen absorbing into your bloodstream, feel your cells receiving that nourishment. How did you know that breath would satisfy so much need? Trust. Every time you take a breath, you trust that you’ll be getting oxygen, and that your body will synthesize it. Every day, you could breathe over 28,000 times. In any given minute, you might breathe twenty times. That’s twenty demonstrations of perfect trust in the universe around you. Twenty times when you share control over your life with a totally unseen force–you might command the breath, but the universe ultimately decides how the action is fulfilled.

But breathing is a two-part action. You breathe in and demonstrate perfect trust, but you also breathe out. For each time you take in nourishment from the universe, you release as well. You cleanse your system of things you no longer need. You never hang on to the carbon dioxide that your body has produced–it’s a waste product and it would poison you. Almost reflexively, you purge it. There are so many things in our lives that poison our well-being, things we cling to out of habit or comfort. We don’t need them. Think about it: when you read that statement, your head turned over several things that you know you don’t need in your life. Clothing that no longer fits, tech gadgets that no longer serve your purpose, maybe even people that no longer uplift and support you. Letting go can be scary–what if you need those things later on? What if you feel lonely or empty once they no longer take up that space? In reality, you’re only holding your breath. Breathe out. Now breathe in again. The universe restores what you might have lost, and fills those empty spaces with things you truly need.

We share our breath with millions of others, every day–other people, other creatures, other things. We breathe the same oxygen as our partners, our friends, our family. Our exhalations provide an abundance of chemicals needed by flowers, grass, and trees. And in addition to trusting and letting go and sharing the cycle over and over again, we can learn from them. Al shared a story in which several people asked him what they were supposed to be doing with their lives. It’s a common theme–even when I read cards, people always want to know what their life’s purpose is. But this was a peculiar number of people in a peculiar period of time, and Al felt that there was something more at work. He posed the question to the universe and what he received in response–in true universal fashion–was so simple and elegant that it answers for absolutely everyone who has ever dared to ask. Like a tree, we are meant to grow up and out. We are meant to root, to attach firmly to the earth, and grow towards the heavens, spreading our branches to shelter loved ones and touch people around us, to bud and flower and achieve great things, to bathe in sunlight and cast off the leaves that no longer serve us and grow new ones all over again. We are meant to do all of these things, relative to our own stories. My achievements will not be yours, and the people you shelter will not be mine, but as long as we continue to grow towards the sun and spread our branches, that’s okay. We’re both accomplishing all that the universe wants from us. And as long as we continue to breathe–in and out, over and over–we’ll get there.

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You can see more of Al Fuentes’ work on his website, including his blog, testimonials from clients, and his work as a mental coach

Metamorphosis, Music

One Small Part of Forever: Radio Omens and the Wisdom of Stevie Nicks


Sometimes, things don’t quite go as planned. When I set my intentions for 2014, I cast out my nets for opportunity, travel, and good times with friends and family. But like any road we travel, we sometimes hit some bumps along the way–and just weeks into the year, I’ve been faced with some particularly impressive potholes. It’s frustrating: just when you resign to put all the bad behind you and achieve better in the future, that negativity places itself directly in your path again. But that doesn’t mean the Universe isn’t listening.

In December, I came across my old copy of Belladonna–once inside my car, it kept a firm hold on my CD player for the better part of the month. The songs were familiar, the music all part of distant memories of my adolescent years–but it was as if I was hearing the lyrics for the first time. Perhaps now, as an adult, I connected with them on a different level, but it was as if everything I was thinking about life was reflected back at me. Although the CD player in my car has spun a few albums since, I’ve been hearing Stevie’s words everywhere–I can’t seem to turn on a radio or be near a sound system without hearing one of her classics. I’ve even heard a few Fleetwood Mac gems. Some people would probably tell me it’s a coincidence, or that her involvement with a certain smash hit television series has renewed some of her public interest, but I can’t help but feel that the Universe might be trying to tell me something.

Listen carefully to the lyrics–think of them as an incantation for peace of mind. No matter what life throws at you, you are infinite. Within you are all the tools you will ever need to overcome any situation. The Universe has not given you anything you cannot handle because you can handle anything. Just reach inside yourself and draw out your power. You are a magical creature, “one small part of forever”…


Living Magic: Transformation and Manifestation

For the last year or so, my life has been in a state of flux, a transitional period. While I can’t really say I knew where I was headed before then, the proverbial rug was ripped out from under me and I was forced to reevaluate the things I thought were valuable. Some were kept close, some were discarded, and some came back again all on their own, but I can safely say that I am a different person today than I was just three hundred and sixty six days ago. And I know that I’m still changing and growing. I don’t know if this season of change will last another week, month, year, or decade, but where I once fought for what I thought was my established self, I’m willing to sit back, learn the lessons I am being taught, and soak in the experience.


When I was young, the world was a dazzling place. It was so big, so full of new and interesting experiences, mysterious and wonderful things. Magic was everywhere, and I strived to be a part of it. From imaginary childhood games of “faerie,” dancing through falling maple keys with my friends, to teenage witchery on the small homemade altar in my room, I felt magic like the low, throbbing pulse of the world around me. …and then, somehow, I lost it. I don’t know when I really let it go, whether it slipped from my fingers gradually or whether I tossed it away in one great moment of heartbreak or angst or illness, but at some point, that enchantment which was as familiar as my own heartbeat was gone. And it was gone for a very long time.

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Maybe I thought it made me cooler to be cynical and world-weary; maybe I thought it made me seem more intelligent and educated to explain away all the charm and mystery of life. Playing the skeptic became a new way of life, full of scholarly articles and existentialist essays and psychological studies. The cards and crystals that were previously like extensions of my hands were shoved into drawers, all but forgotten. There were even times when I wondered what my peers would think of me if they knew the kind of spiritual background I came from. And then, life happened. After so many years of calculated cynicism, I found myself turning back to the things I used to find comfort in. I clutched my crystals like a rosary and chanted words that I hoped would change the energy that surrounded me. I remembered the power of manifesting and envisioning and began to practice as much and as often as I could. And it began to pay off.

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The Power of Positive Thinking and Manifesting Good Energy has helped me overcome obstacles I thought insurmountable. I certainly have a long way to go before I’m where I want to be, but I’m able to enjoy the ride. I would like to thank you, my readers, for sticking with me through my transition. If you’ve just joined me recently, thank you too–it’s your interest and continued support that gives me the confidence to write these things, which I previously felt too uncomfortable to share. Where I used to shy away from telling people about my cartomancy, my crystals, my star charts, I’m now less afraid of sharing my spirituality with others–perhaps people have become more open to magic and metaphysics, or perhaps like simply attracts like, but I’ve been fortunate enough to find myself surrounded with understanding and even interested individuals.



Magic is absolutely everywhere, in every aspect of our lives–why not live that magic with our whole hearts?

Metamorphosis, Writing

Trusting my Path, or what three years of blogging has really taught me

There are days where I wake up feeling inherently dissatisfied with myself. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact emotion–it’s a sadness, an anger, an anxiousness that’s so pervasive I feel like I’m drowning in it. It’s like waking up with a spiritual headache, a gaping wound in the soul. It’s impossible to say exactly why these days happen, what triggers them, and part of the anger is the frustration of knowing I should have a better handle on my emotions. –and that’s the very thought that reels it all back in: I am not a robot. Neither is anyone else living and feeling on this crazy little planet called Earth. We all have permission to feel and emote, regardless of how much sense those emotions really make sometimes.

cicadas Brood II

Before I even bought a domain, when I was still writing on LiveJournal and toying with the idea of starting a proper blog, I played with a few different themes–book reviews, food writing, recipes, makeup tutorials all spun through my head as I envisioned layouts, upkeep, coding, and producing content. When I finally bought this domain in 2010, my initial plan was to document the changes I wanted to see in myself, my personal transformation into the individual I wanted to be. I was going to face fears and take chances to become one of the bold and daring Internet Mavens I had followed on and off for years. There really wasn’t much of that, and the whole thing sort of de-railed and became a generic cosmetics blog full of lifeless product reviews and half-hearted looks. But in a way, I accomplished the original goal completely behind the scenes: I took chances and struck up conversations I wouldn’t have otherwise, I tried on roles I was too shy to originally assume, and I pursued jobs I might have been too insecure to apply for. It wasn’t that I was becoming someone else–I had been that person all along, and simply found the courage to realize it.

self portrait, April 2013

self portrait, April 2013

I have come a very long way in the last three years, but of course, I’m not fully satisfied with where I am just yet. I’m a driven individual and I don’t settle for “good enough,” but I’m learning to accept the steps along the way. I need to enjoy each level as I climb, to take in every detail necessary so I don’t have to head back down for something I missed. Trusting the path I’m on has been one of my biggest challenges. There are days I tell myself that I wasted my time in culinary school because I could have been finishing my degree in art, or I should never have gotten my cosmetology license because I should have been studying creative writing or journalism. What a waste of energy! It’s so tempting to think of what could  have been or what I should  have done, but the truth is that everything I’ve done and everything that’s happened to me has shaped who I am. I would not be standing at the point I am today without every decision I’ve made along the way. And it’s tempting to think that I’m no where, that I’ve accomplished nothing that makes this point notable–but compared to the point I stood at three years ago, it’s a remarkable change. 

photo by Made U Look

photo by Made U Look

Three years ago, I was adrift in a sea of comparisons. There were so many people I envied, so many people I wished I could be. But comparisons are unhealthy and destructive. You are your own person on your own path, and while other people may influence you to explore one direction or another, you cannot follow them or replace them. In the age of social media, it’s hard to ignore someone that annoys you, or makes you deviate from your path. Just remember that people act out for attention because they’re hurting–they desperately seek approval or put others down because they need to feel important. Their anger and sadness can be contagious, and it’s easier to disengage than to fall prey and remedy yourself. The next time you think about spewing venom at or about someone, think about why you feel the way you do. Consider what they’ve done to upset you and where that came from within them. Then let it go. It can be hard, but in the end, it’s better to let the negativity dissipate than to release it into the universe.


Any time I wonder if I’m heading in the right direction, or feel like I’ve gone down the wrong road in life, I take a moment to look around me. If I look hard enough, there are signs everywhere–a flower, an insect, a bird, a song on the radio, all confirming for me what I all ready know deep down inside: that I am exactly where I need to be right now.