The Sickness of Perfectionism and Unplugging from the Status Quo

Content Warning: brief mentions of depression, anxiety, & suicidal ideation

Oh, what a month it’s been. What a year. Or a few years…

If you feel like you haven’t seen or talked to me lately, you’re not the only one. I’ve been hiding. Away from all the eyes who would notice something isn’t right, away from all the voices who want to ask why. I didn’t want anyone to ask me why while I was still trying to figure it out. But now, nearly exactly a month from the day, I think I’m ready to come back out.

For the past thirty days, I have not been ‘okay,’ whatever we define that word as now. I believe there was a culmination of events that brought me down to my knees, both personal and impersonal, but they were merely symptoms of a larger issue. Part of the reason why I want to write this is because I want people to know that they aren’t alone when things fall apart, and that you can still pick up the pieces when you’re ready to. I’ve been putting myself back together at least once a year (and possibly more) for the past thirteen years.

Sometimes it really feels like you’re trying to heal from a very serious chronic illness that no one else can see, and at the same time, you try to hide it because, well, shame on you for having these feelings when you’re so privileged, so blessed, so loved. I think the part of it that I hate the most is feeling so trapped. As someone who’s always moving, always creating, always thinking, writing, etc., when I get smacked over the head with these heavy feelings, I feel like I’ve been trapped underneath the rubble of my own proverbial Tower. The pressing weight of the steel and iron that somehow makes up our lives, the emotional smoke that stings my eyes and rips up my lungs, the radiating pain I feel up and down my entire body as I lay there underneath it all, violently wishing that I was lifeless, though my consciousness is there to remind me that I am, unfortunately, still here. And that all of my pain and wounds and scars are invisible to all who look at me, and no one can hear how many times a day I’m screaming bloody murder in my head, wishing that fire would come pouring out of my mouth because in that moment, it feels like the only level of catharsis I feel could make any real difference. There are lyrics off a Lilith Czar track that makes me laugh a little while trying to ignore how accurate it all feels: “In my head is like a murder scene / A self-inflicted lobotomy / It gets me off like nothin’ else / No one fucks me like myself / Sometimes I’d rather be dead / Than living in my head.”

Let’s rewind a bit, shall we? I don’t want to imply that these deep feelings could crop up so suddenly over a span of thirty days, though I’m sure it’s possible. No, I’ve been dealing with these beasts for a long time. Which is why I’m not quite scared of them anymore, anxiety and depression – just resentful. I don’t know how to make friends with two parasitic energy streams that can make me hate myself so much that I simply do not want to take another breath. And yet, I do. I keep breathing. But deep down, it breaks my heart that sometimes it hasn’t been for myself. I know the pain and torment that suicide causes for the living, and long ago I vowed to myself that I will never put any other human being through that (plus, I really like my animals, so I tend to stick around for them the most.) Also, if you’re struggling with that deep pain right now, there are people that can help. Please let us – click here.

I used to believe that I was doing something tragically noble by ‘protecting’ my friends and family from my struggles, thinking I was sparing them sadness and concern. Which, I was, but that isn’t always fair – I don’t give anyone a chance to help, even if they want to. All my life I’ve been taught that my emotions and feelings are my responsibility, which they are, but my mind instead decided to translate that as, because these are your responsibility, don’t drag anyone else into your mess. When I finally realized the true reason that I hide all of my struggles, I think it cut a little deeper. I was hiding because I didn’t want anyone to think something was wrong with me. I didn’t want anyone to tell me what I could or couldn’t do because of what I was going through. And I didn’t want anyone to think I was ‘less’ than. Because I’ve spent all my life trying so, so hard to be perfect. It was demanded of me as a young, white, privileged, intelligent girl. And that’s why I’m sick. Why we’re all sick, to some degree.

White supremacy guards the gate to the “American Dream,” and it demands at least two other things as payment for entry – meritocracy and perfection. People of color and other marginalized groups are already excluded by the color of their skin, their physical abilities, or their identity, which harms them constantly and grievously. The rest of us white, cis, able-bodied people already have one thing going for us, but we’re expected to pay the other two fees to get through the gate as well. This is what we mean when we talk about white privilege – white people are not already being excluded from something due to the color of our skin. We have one part of the key to get in without working for it. Now, in this system, we just have to work our asses off to grab the other two keys – a task that we try to convince each other is possible.

The first one is meritocracy. We’re expected to prove how we’re ‘extra’-ordinary compared to everyone else, why we deserve things more than the person next to us. As kids, we watch how those who get good grades are treated versus those who don’t. We start competing against each other very young – comparing scores, being made to feel special when we score high and feeling like shit when no matter how hard we tried or studied, we still failed. In Sweden, kids don’t even start getting actual letter grades on anything until they’re in their sixth year of school, so around the ages of twelve or thirteen. (Warning: I make a lot of comparisons to my home country in my writings because in my eyes, their approach is simply healthier and more realistic. And it’s worked for them for a long time. There’s no reason it can’t work there.)

That’s when a lot of my self-hatred and anxiety began – in elementary school. To my benefit, I did learn my alphabet very early and started reading at a younger age than most. I used to wear this as a badge of honor (mainly because everyone else around me reinforced that it was) but I think I was just lucky to have a parent who cared enough and had the resources and time to teach me early – it was through no real effort of mine. Even so, teachers would praise me for how much I read, for how well I wrote. It made me smart, they said. Intelligent. And I believed them, being further reinforced with my ‘A’ grades in reading, writing, and literature. That’s where I excelled. Imagine my heartbreak when a steady flow of ‘Cs’ and ‘Ds’ started showing up on my report cards in the realm of mathematics. I love learning languages, but math is simply one that my brain, for whatever reason, does not understand. Sure, I have the common phrases down and can get myself around a bit (yes, I can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and do basic algebra…after some time.) But I wasn’t catching on like the other kids seemed to be. Suddenly, it felt like everything was in jeopardy. I remember having a small mid-life crisis in the fourth grade (can you even imagine?) I worried that maybe I wasn’t smart after all. Sure, I was still getting excellent grades in reading comprehension, writing, social studies…but my struggles in math weighed heavily on me. Every time we had our graded tests passed back, from fourth grade until I was a senior in college…I would place something, whether it be my pencil case or my water bottle, over the score so no one else could see it. I didn’t want anyone else to think I wasn’t smart. The only ones who knew my secrets, of course, were my teachers. And I still wanted to prove to them that maybe, somewhere underneath my inability to learn what they were teaching me, that I was still smart. So, I avoided asking them for help, too.

As an American teenager in high school, you’re pushed. And pushed. And pushed. I know I’m old to the kids in high school now, but I’ve never forgotten how real all the pressure was, and I can only imagine that it’s worse now. And I’m sorry that it is. Your parents want the best for you, and they were taught by the same system that traumatized them, in different ways. Most parents want you to get into a good college. They’ve been taught that it’s your best chance of making it in life. There are stipulations for that, of course. You need near-perfect grades. Perfect test scores. You need to show that you’re a well-rounded individual. You need to perform. They push you to do as many extra-curriculars as you can, so you do. If you were like me, your day started at 6:00 AM, because the bus came at 6:30 AM. After all the busing transfers, I would get to school around 7:30 AM. Classes started at 7:40 AM and ended at 2:45 PM. If I had softball conditioning or practice, that would be from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, at least. If I had a game, it was getting loaded onto the bus at 3:30 PM, playing a game at 6:00 PM, and not getting back to the school until 8:00 or 9:00 at night. I would try to work on homework when I got home, but I was exhausted, and usually up until 11:00 or midnight. Teenagers need at least eight hours of sleep. I was managing with six on a good night. And eventually, I had to drop two of the extra-curriculars I loved the most – orchestra and art – because I was told that the only way I could make it easier on myself to afford college was to attempt to get a softball scholarship. It broke my heart to let those go. And I fought it for a while. I wanted to try to do it all.

Slowly and surely, I fell back in the ranks of orchestra, because for some reason, music was run by meritocracy as well. You had to compete with the others in your section to get the coveted ‘first’ chair to be seen in front of the audience during performances. And, of course, those ‘chair tests’ were a part of your grade. I never had enough time to practice my scales and arpeggios because of softball and homework, but my passion for music has remained unchanged to this day. I loved it. I was relatively good at it. Did that matter? No. I was made to feel that if I wasn’t first, I was definitely last, and probably not worthy of even playing anymore. I’m sitting here at my desk in my office right now and looking at my viola in the corner – I still keep her clean and tuned and well taken care of. But right now, I can’t yet bring myself to pick her up and play her again, which brings tears to my eyes. Because I don’t feel like I’m good enough to anymore. That I don’t deserve to. I wasn’t first chair. I haven’t practiced in a long time. But I loved it. And the sickness of perfectionism has taken that away from me, too.

Art was a saving grace during those times when I was stuck in a building that I was legally required to be at for 7+ hours a day, dealing with my invisible ailments. I could pour and channel all of that into art, and I was so proud of the pieces that came out of me. Art felt like such a welcome reprieve in the halls of academia because art is simply something that cannot be graded. As long as you can incorporate the theme of the assignment a little bit – you passed. No one could tell me that mine wasn’t as good as someone else’s. In the art room, we were all equal, we were all encouraged to express ourselves, and everyone loved to look at and admire what others were doing, in their own way. The art room might as well have been the only space where we were allowed to be truly human, imperfections and all. Of course, the sickness of perfectionism slowly whittled away at that, too. Now I scroll through social media seeing the beautiful art that everyone else puts out and a small voice in the back of my head says, You could be that good if you bothered to practice anymore. No point in trying now. I still have my sketchbook from high school, and I guard it like a precious treasure. It reminds me of when I could. And maybe proof that I could possibly do it again.

My fear of failure and my sickness of perfectionism has been emitting its toxic sludge into every aspect of my life ever since I began school, the first ‘system’ we’re ever indoctrinated into. I was a messy child, let’s be real. Looking back on what was going on in my life during those formative years, I’m not really surprised that I was. Kids are usually messy when their minds are messy – messy minds come from messy lives. My parents divorced when I was twenty years old, and by all accounts, it was way overdue. My sister and I knew that it was coming for years. We just didn’t know when. Eventually we started to hope for it. But when I was young, I spent probably too much of my time focusing on how to do my part to keep the peace, and it appeared that the only answer was to be perfect. No mistakes. No tantrums. No crying. Nothing to make things harder than they already were. My room was my tiny, somewhat private safe space. And of course, it looked like it exploded with clothes and books and toys. It was the only place that I felt like I could exhale, and when I exhaled, I breathed out a mess. Because that’s what I had going on inside.

I didn’t realize that being messy was necessarily a bad thing until elementary school. Like my room, my desk was a bit haphazard. One morning, in first grade, we were asked to take out a worksheet that we had been working on for the past few days. I searched and searched through my desk, feeling my face start to get hot. If I couldn’t find it, I would get in trouble, and I was afraid to get in trouble. Getting in trouble meant I wasn’t a good girl. My teacher eventually noticed that I was the only one without a paper. She asked me where it was. I told her, my little body starting to shake, that I didn’t know. She opened my desk and announced to the entire room that I couldn’t find my paper because I was a ‘messy pig’ and proceeded to dump my entire desk onto the floor. In front of all of my classmates. My face was burning with shame, I bit my bottom lip as hard as I could to not cry, and silently picked everything up, trying to put it all in a neater pile with my shaking hands. The teacher continued on with her lesson as if nothing had happened. Once I put everything back in my desk, I put my head down and held my body as tight as I could so I wouldn’t cry and embarrass myself further in front of the class.

I was seven years old.

That was nineteen years ago. And I’ve been trying to hide ever since. I was safe if no one could see me. I was safe if no one knew what I was thinking. I was safe if I didn’t speak up. I was safe if I hid all my failures and disguised my mistakes. I was only safe if I upheld the demands of the “American Dream” and spent every day nearly killing myself to come close to something that can never be – perfect.

How has this affected my life since school? In the words of Kerri Kelly, you develop “a chronic fear of failure that drives you to do more, to do better. So, you micromanage. You fix. You prove and you people-please. You are always performing and assuming judgment. You set impossible goals for yourself and others. You criticize. You self-beat. You don’t trust yourself, so you don’t trust anyone. You live in fear of failure. You reject feedback. You can’t tolerate mistakes. You refuse to ask for help from anyone. You worry. You get anxious. You get sick. You burn out. You lose yourself.”

A list of utterly ridiculous things I’ve actually done due to this:

  • Went to work two to three hours before my actual shift started because I worried that if someone else got there before I did, they would find some mistake or something undone. So, if I got there before them, I could make sure everything was, indeed, perfect.
  • Woken up from a dead sleep at 3:00 AM because I couldn’t remember if I locked a door at work when I left. I got up, got dressed, got in my car, and went to the studio to check. Yes, the door was locked. I couldn’t bear the idea of mistakenly leaving a door open and having it be my fault if something happened.
  • As part of some last-minute plans, some of our close family asked if they could come over to sit in the yard at our house to watch fireworks. I anxiously pushed myself all day long to weed the yard, make things look nice, and clean the entire first floor of our house from top to bottom, just in case anyone needed to use the bathroom. I even cleaned out the chicken coop, not because I thought anyone would be going in there, but I didn’t want anyone to say that it maybe smelled (they’re chickens. They smell a little bit, regardless.) And I had no intention to do any cleaning that day. I was tired. But I shamed myself into doing it and pushing my body to do things it didn’t want to do just because I was afraid of being seen as messy or someone who didn’t groom their yard.
  • Have written an entire blog or article only to read it over and decide that I wasn’t qualified enough to be writing about said topic and worried that someone would call me out over lack of experience or some other imagined issue. I have no idea how many things I’ve deleted and erased because of this. (I have multiple degrees and over ten years of experience in the field that I write about – that’s why this is beyond ridiculous)
  • Have pushed myself to the point of physical burnout so that I don’t even have the energy to attend to the bare minimum of what I should be doing, which makes me even sicker with worry and anxiety with the things that are going undone.
  • Have stopped doing things that I truly love (playing music, creating art, writing for fun) because I’ve been indoctrinated into believing that if I’m not a prodigy, if I haven’t spent my whole life working at it, if I don’t have an audience to re-affirm that it’s good and worthwhile, then I have no business doing it.
  • Have been too afraid to talk about my personal struggles due to my role as a teacher and a counselor because I’m supposed to be the one setting a good example and having the answers, and I’m supposed to be the one who’s stable and well for everyone else to lean on. I want to help other people so much and I feel like they won’t trust me to hold them steady if they see me broken (instead choosing to uphold the fallacy of perfection, which is a river that feeds into the ocean of white supremacy.)

And that’s just a short list.

Clearly, I’m writing this from the other side of my revelation, but there are a few things that helped me get to this point, where I could finally see it all clearly for what it was and how this was the gargantuan root of all of my other symptoms and issues, and I want to mention/thank these sources:

  • First, my husband. Alex has known me since we were both fifteen years old, and as of this year, we’ve been together for an entire decade. He’s had an intimate, front-row seat to all of me for a significant chunk of time and has seen me morph and change as we grow up. He was one of the very first, and for a long time, only, person who has made me feel safe enough that I felt that I could fall apart in front of someone else. Whether it’s a weepy, sobbing mess or an angry, frustrated firestorm, he somehow has enough room for all of it and has never made me feel like I was wrong or that he couldn’t handle it. And he was the first to notice my anxious and perfectionist tendencies. I would have never thought differently unless he spoke up and said, “Why are you doing that?” or “Does that really have to get done right now? Why don’t you just rest? You don’t have to do that right now.” When the house gets a little haphazard, Alex has never told me that I’m dirty. Or that I’m messy. Or that it’s my fault that the house got out of sorts. He just laughs and says it’s both of our mess and that we’ll get to it when we do. And we do. My entire house has actually been more consistently clean than any of my previous spaces because there’s another person who’s here to tell me that it doesn’t need to be perfect all the time. The lack of pressure and fear has actually been more motivating. Isn’t that odd?
  • Secondly, my dear Scandinavian friends. Who knows where I would be without you and that connection to my ancestral homeland. Talking with you and learning about how your systems work in our home countries has been eye-opening and hugely comforting. The US wants us to view the ‘socialist’ countries with a wary eye because they want to keep us under the illusion that the systems they use ‘don’t work.’ It’s getting increasingly difficult for the US to back up that claim as the Scandi countries regularly and consistently rank the highest in self-reported happiness, health, contentedness, a sense of purpose, AND some of the highest GDPs in the entire world. And it’s so funny to me because it seems pretty apparent that all the US cares about is money. If we were to follow the guidance of Scandinavia, we could actually become wealthier than ever. It’s because if you take care of your people, they will be more productive. It’s been proven. People want to have a purpose. They want to help, build, create. The Scandinavian countries are not full of lazy people just because they’re given a lot of government aid. In fact, they’re consistently more productive than US workers. I want to thank my Scandi friends for holding me so tenderly, listening to me, showing me what’s possible, and giving me the nickname of their ‘pet American’ and ‘American refugee project.’ They’re determined to help me heal and possibly ripple some positive changes from across the big pond.
  • Third, I’d like to recommend American Detox: The Myth of Wellness and How We Can Truly Heal by Kerri Kelly. Most of us know by now that the systems and policies that run this country are not just unsustainable, but harmful. To get into the nitty-gritty of why and how we got here and how these systems make us sick in so many different ways is illuminating. I recommend reading it in small chunks because it can be a lot to digest and process at times. If you’re white, cis, and able-bodied, I want you to know that even though we get the most out of the system, it’s actually rather insidious with how it eats away at us in other, more hidden ways. We are being suffocated by it and yet we are the ones who are most likely to vote for it and uphold it. We are the demographic that experiences the most mental health issues than any other – we feel we have to prove to each other that we are white enough, cis enough, able enough to deserve the ‘benefits’ of the system, and so not only are we being pushed to breaking ourselves to fit within those parameters, we’re making it even harder for everyone else who isn’t white, isn’t cis, and isn’t of able body to survive, let alone thrive.

So, where am I going from here? As a recovering perfectionist?

            Clearly, the way I was going about my life before isn’t going to help me or anyone else now. I am choosing to unplug from the demands of the system. I don’t want to play that game anymore. I’m too tired. It took too much from me. So I’m taking it back.

  • I’m more strongly embracing the concept of mutual aid, something that my Scandinavian friends know well. It is a practice and politics of collective care and responsibility, a concept coined and explored by Peter Kropotkin, an anarchist socialist, though some of the best examples are the Black Panthers and the Young Lords. It’s about building a community’s capacity to meet each other’s needs regardless of our current system. It’s a radical act of taking back power and taking care of each other. I know my role in my community and I’m brainstorming ways to make that more available to those who are in need of it.
  • Prizing dignity over scarcity, especially for myself, because until I know it in myself, I can’t show others by example. Scarcity operates from a fear-based mindset. It says that you’re never doing enough, never achieving enough, that you must compete against others, judge others, stay in control, stay busy, and fight to survive. Dignity is resilience. It’s knowing that every day is different, that your needs will be different each day, that the people around you likely have different needs than you do, and being able to respond to those needs without fear or criticism or judgment. Dignity is also gratitude, because when you let go of what you don’t really need (the next trending item, the next spiritual retreat, etc.) you free yourself up creatively to see what you have and how to use it in new ways. If you can’t use it, you can likely find someone who can – and maybe they have something that you can use. The government is really going to hate us when we start bartering. Dignity comes from a personal sense of wholeness and peace with what we have and who we are – and if we all felt secure enough in ourselves and what we have, we wouldn’t be trying to hurt each other all the time.
  • Continuing from the point above, if I want to embody that, I have to start taking care of myself first and dismantling any lingering mental or emotional patterns of perfectionism. I’ve really decided to start back at square one with basic needs. I posed the question to myself, “Okay, how would you take care of you if you were the parent of your little kid self?” Maybe it’s cringe-inducing but try to work past that. You don’t have to tell anyone what you’re doing. I make sure that we have a bedtime routine, which includes a shower, lotion, spraying some lavender oil on my bed, and reading until I get tired. I make sure that we eat three meals a day with small snacks, if necessary (and better if they were my favorite snacks when I was little.) My husband and I have started taking a bike ride every morning (a perk of working from home) so I get time outside, moving around. If we can’t take a ride, I at least go walk with the chickens and ducks around the yard, because spending time with them is calming, aside from being outdoors. I took a long look at my daily ‘should’ (to-do) list and picked out the bare-minimum tasks. I forced myself to pare it down to a maximum of five ‘absolute’ tasks in the sections of home and work. If I complete just those few tasks every day, I can take a deep breath and know that I’ve at least maintained, especially when I have a low energy day. And the gift of that is if I do more than what I need to do, I can feel good about doing a little extra that day, when my energy allows me to. It also frees up a lot more of my time now that I’m not worrying and searching for something to force myself to do in the name of perfectionism. Quiet time is what feeds creativity, and I know this for a fact because when I finished my work at school, I was bored as hell. From that ‘boredom’ so much art and creative writing and ideas were born that simply would have been pushed to the very back to make room for the fear, anxiety, and pressures of ‘productivity.’
  • Once I feel like I’ve been able to recover and integrate, I want to use all of my privileges to help others unhook from the system as well. I’ve been there – minimum wage, abhorrent hours, being behind the line of fast food, trying to deal with customers who are just as fed up with the system as you are, but subconsciously deciding to take it out on you instead of the system itself. I will figure out ways to support you and hold you until we can buck this system once and for all, for our collective benefit.

This country is well within our collective Tower moment, and I think it started with the literal falling of the World Trade Centers in New York. We can choose to do things differently and reject the paradigm that we were born into. We can choose to help each other rather than view everyone around us as the enemy when we’re all just trying to survive. We can choose to listen to those who are actually living in it than the demagogues who are living above it, profiting off of our places in the system. I know everything is uncertain. And maybe we’ll all blow up before anything really changes. But awareness has to be the first step. We can’t do anything until we can see things clearly for what they are. And this is where we are.

The Reveal

You know how every year as humans we do this thing where on the first day of the calendar year we speak about something we call ‘resolutions?’

Well, in the world of witchcraft, we prefer to call them intentions. ‘Resolution’ would imply there is something to be ‘resolved,’ as in there’s a problem. But we’re just human – we have complexities and imperfections but most of the time I wouldn’t categorize them as things that need to be completely overhauled and fixed. I like having a focus (or a few) for the year, of course, but I never set out to frame them as pressing issues. So I have decided to call them intentions because they are things that I simply intend to do.

In the early morning hours of 2021, I sat down to do my Year Ahead divination reading, as I do every year. I write down the general theme of each card in each month of my planner to remind myself of what could possibly be coming up for me at the turn of each month. January turned into February. Eventually it was June. Slowly it morphed into September and October. And then it was December.

The year went quietly. I had a few soft intentions set. I wanted to pay off my credit cards, because my husband told me that we could maybe start thinking about looking for a new home after that was taken care of. I figured that was fair enough. I also desperately needed a new car – the one I had since I was fresh out of high school had recall after recall and just wasn’t able to give me any more than it already had.

I kept saying that I was doubtful if I could get any sort of trade-in compensation for my car due to all the recalls, plus my credit card balances and student loan. But of course, as I said those things, she [the Universe] started showing me a thing or two about what she could do.

It just so happened that one of my grandmother’s cousins, who I had never met, owned a dealership in Illinois, and he had worked out amazing deals for both my mother and my aunt who needed new vehicles. He asked me what I wanted. I told him, “Well, I can’t really be choosy right now, I just need something better than this.”

“No, tell me what you want. I can find it. You should be happy with it, too.”

So I did. My favorite feature about my past car was the sunroof for the natural light, and I needed something that could handle the winters a bit better. I would also prefer something white.

A few days later, he found me a nearly brand-new, white Equinox with a panoramic sunroof, all wheel drive, and a bunch of other bonus features. My husband signed onto the loan with me, my payments weren’t much more than what I had already been doing, and that was it. Just like that.

I teach people all the time about manifestation, and if I wasn’t such a lazy witch, I’d be manifesting things left and right. However, as we can all probably relate, I do get lazy with my practice. Sometimes the energy just isn’t there. Sometimes I think, Eh, I’d rather handle that in the future. I’m comfortable where I am right now. I daydreamed about what our next, ideal home would be like. I had a few stipulations. I didn’t want to go far. I wanted to live on the other side of Route 49, still in Valparaiso, but not in the thick of it. A separate office space for Alex and I would be nice, so I could have some privacy during magical workings. And I wanted at least an acre or two of land so I could build a proper homestead. Still, I was content not to have it just yet. It meant a lot of work, and I was comfortable.

The Universe must have heard me and checked her calendar, eventually uttering the phrase that a lot of us in this field don’t always want to hear, “She’s due for some growth.

On Wednesday, December 15th, my mother-in-law texted me a photo of a house that had just went onto the market. I had passed this house about a thousand times over my years of living where I do, and it had always been mysteriously empty, yet incredibly well-kept. “I think you should go see it,” she said. “My friend is a realtor, I can work it out.”

“Okay,” I said. “But Alex and I weren’t really looking yet. I don’t know if we’re ready.”

“You should go look anyway,” she said. “You never know.”

So the next afternoon, we went to go see. The home was about double the square footage of what we lived in, set up on a beautiful one acre lot surrounded by quiet cornfields on three sides, with four large guardian trees that suspiciously sat in each cross-quarter direction (northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest.) It had an enormous pole barn close to the house for plenty of storage and animal housing. A nice three-seasons room for a plant collection. A large kitchen and dining room. A cozy living room, a large laundry room. And there were three large bedrooms – an office space for Alex, a magical space for me, and a bedroom we could share at night. And you know what else? It was on the other side of Route 49, four minutes down the road.

I loved it. My husband loved it more. But as we started to talk about finances and what was going to have to happen, I felt myself sliding more and more into shock. That afternoon we were on calls with mortgage officers filling out applications. Finances are still a sensitive subject for me, and I was getting poked relentlessly when it was the last thing I expected to deal with. And on top of that, we were given three days to get our current home ready to be on the market.

Anyone who’s tried to sell a home before knows how absolutely impossible that task sounds. And it really was close to it. I worked for 12-14 hours a day, from the time I woke up in the morning to the time I fell into the bed, cleaning and moving out furniture and packing things away. I would burst into tears every two or three hours as I removed all traces of myself from the first true safe space I had ever found. I had multiple anxiety attacks as I tried to face down the insurmountable workload in front of me. I had to move all of my precious animal children out to the basement of my in-laws home. Over and over I asked myself in my head, Why? Why did you say yes? We’re losing our home.

That first week or two was dark. Very dark. I grieved heavily for the first home I had made for myself, crumbling before my eyes in a spectacular stage production of my own creation. I barely slept. I cried seemingly endless buckets of tears. For quite a few good years my depression had taken the form of a very small lima bean tucked into the back storage closet of my heart. This electrically charged trauma shocked my heart so intensely that it must have broken the lock – the small lima bean grew back into the exhausting, yet familiar monster who whispered, [Your sense of home] is gone. And you don’t know if it’ll ever come back.

Now, my logical brain is still operating alongside the emotional brain. It says, “Of course this will end. Everything does. You just…don’t know when yet.”

But that’s the real kicker, isn’t it? Not knowing when it will end. You can tell yourself all day that it will…but as the days turn into weeks, you start to wonder if instead of an end, you’ve been thrust into a new, dismal, open-ended reality.

As someone who’s mainly composed of Earth (from my natal chart), I am someone who needs a home. Someone who needs routines, someone who needs to decorate, someone who needs that safe space to crash at the end of the day where no one else is there except for my animals (and my husband, I guess) and where I can eat brownies for dinner and no one will judge me for doing so. And for a while, that was all gone. Poof. Our house was no longer our home – it was an empty, unfeeling shell with just our bed and our couch.

I thought I might feel better if we stayed with my in-laws, as they have a large home that could accommodate us (and where I lived for a few years as a teenager anyway) and so I could be close to my fur children. And it did feel better…mostly. No matter how loving and supportive your hosts are, you’re still just a guest in their space. An intruder. Something that doesn’t quite belong there. Of course they never felt that way, I want to be clear. My in-laws love us very much and I’m lucky to have them. It’s just how it felt in my sad little Earth soul.

Anyone who’s gone through the mortgage process knows how much it feels like being on thin ice all the time. Everything is scrutinized. You live under a microscope for a month or more as they judge your ability to be a competent adult (though I feel like I’ve proven myself time and time again.) Every morning I woke up to a new e-mail requesting at least five more documents. Some mornings it was 10. Sometimes it was 2. For weeks. I think the folder I have on my computer right now with all of those documents has about 100 items in it. It’s no joke. And aggravating at best. I have a Virgo Ascendant who wanted to promptly scream and break out in hives as I witnessed ‘official’ documents being sent to me written with C- average grammar and in COMIC SANS, no less.

(I re-typed all of the letter templates they sent me and made them look far more official.)

Eventually instead of the pain of grieving, I just felt numb. Just floating in the sea of unknowing. And it wasn’t lost on me that I should be grateful. Who else could make such a huge decision on the turn of a dime and have it actually work out relatively smoothly? Don’t worry – I beat myself up quite a bit for being sad instead of grateful.

Note: Don’t do that. All emotions should be expressed, lest they become stuck. And I know where mine were coming from. It wasn’t present day me who was having such a hard time. It was the little girl inside me who had always been searching for a safe, emotionally and energetically quiet home who felt like it had been taken away from her. And it goes back even further to a past life where I stuck my heels into the ground and refused to go, even with someone who I loved and trusted. I did not want to leave what I perceived as safe and stable.

This was the Universe’s lesson for me. Could I trust her enough to keep me safe? Could I find comfort in myself rather than a place? Could I trust my deep bench of gods and goddesses and guides to protect me during this transition? Could I simply trust that everything would work out?

My main guide struggles when people are sad or upset, especially those he cares about. He was human not too long ago, and a young soul at that, so I find that he still faces his own lessons about the human experience, even if he isn’t currently in one now. So, this period of me being completely down was exhausting at best to the eternal class clown. Many jokes and commentaries were thrown my way in a desperate attempt to get me to lighten up. One day it settled into silence for a few moments until he spoke.

“Do you trust me?”

“Of course I do,” I replied to the seemingly empty room in front of me.

“Then please trust me when I say that this isn’t forever,” he said. “I know it’s hard right now. But there’s so much good on the other side of this. I will work as hard as I can to shift things in the right direction. You just have to promise me something.”

“And what’s that?”

“Start dreaming about what this new place will be for you. Create it now. It’ll come faster that way. Don’t linger in the past at the old house. It’s not there anymore. Use this pause.”

I realized I had been afraid to dream because of the fear of failure – the fear that I dreamed so big that my eagerness would knock it right out of my hands. But I know better. I teach people all the time how to manifest. And to manifest successfully you have to really embody what you want – you have to be able to see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, feel it.

So every morning as I drove to work, with my guide in the literal front seat (as we usually commute), he would ask me questions.

“What color are you going to paint the living room?”

“What’s your new routine going to look like?”

“How are you going to arrange the furniture?”

“What new things do you want to get?”

“Are you going to start a garden in the spring? What are you going to plant?”

It seems so simple, but his way of keeping me in the present, actively creating the future was the key that I needed to restart my motivation and creativity. On the outside looking in now, I would have smacked myself in the face. I knew all of this already. But I was mired so deep in my emotions that I couldn’t access that knowledge. Sometimes when you listen in a quiet room, you’ll hear an answer. I thank the Universe every day that mine has been (relentlessly) loud and clear since the day I heard it for the first time.

Today marks 35 days since our offer on our new homestead was accepted.

As of this afternoon, the ink has dried, and the journey has simultaneously ended and just begun.

Welcome to our new homestead. There is magic here. There is growth here. We have a lot of dreams for this property. And it all starts today.

Welcome! Let us introduce ourselves…

I’ve seen a few new faces come through the door, so I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself.

Depending on where you know me from, you may know me as Sierra. Some others know me as Rose. If you’re here from the Sirian star system or are reincarnated from the Norse in some way, then you know me as Rosaleihna. You can really call me whatever you like. Queen Bitch works too. Just make sure you capitalize the ‘B.’ (I can tell the anecdote behind this later.)

Like many of us, I was raised in a traditional Abrahamic religion which I subsequently became disillusioned with and left completely at the age of 13. In the following crisis of faith, I tried to tell myself that maybe there was nothing. No, no, that didn’t sit right with me. So, for the next few years I tried to look for a path to take. I devoured book after book, seeing what would strike a chord within my spirit. Finally, when I opened Scott Cunningham’s Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner at age 14, something clicked. This is not the same path I walk now – but it opened the gates to the fork I would eventually take.

I loved everything about Paganism. I loved how you had the freedom to express your faith in a way that made sense to you – not a priest telling you the right way to practice and threatening you with a fiery eternity amongst the brimstone if you didn’t fall in line. Plus, every time I had encountered that particular god, all I felt was fear and shame. That relationship was not for me – and it wasn’t because there was anything wrong with me. It wasn’t where I belonged.

Eventually, I’m happy to report, I did find where I belong. I am a part of the Norse family. Technically, they found me first, but I later found supportive evidence as to why. I am over 67% Scandinavian by blood. If I had paid attention to my grandmother’s painstaking research into our family, I probably would have found my way to them sooner. But I digress. I don’t think the Norse belief system is the end all, be all. Why?

There isn’t just one. There are many.

In 2018, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biological Science from Purdue University where I found a passionate interest in quantum physics and theory. Paired with my quickly deepening experiential research and study in the realm of metaphysics, I have come to the following conclusion:

The Universe is infinite, which means that every reality exists. The notion of time becomes completely warped, so multiple realities exist on top of and underneath and to either side of us, simultaneously. Because of this, I think that every avenue of faith is real in the sense that it does exist on a certain plane of existence. Every creation story has happened – just on different planes of reality, at different times. This is why I never bash anyone for what they believe – it exists. And I don’t feel threatened by that. Why should one reality be the dominant above all others?

This is really difficult for humans to swallow, I think. As a collective, we have this wound of uncertainty, and one of the only ways we can make ourselves feel certain is if we think we’re ‘right’ or if a substantial amount of people agree with us. Some of us go so far as to actively try to convert people to our cause, just so we can feel better about our choice to believe in what we do. But of course, we mask that by saying it’s ‘god’s will.’ Don’t bring the gods into this – they’re not the ones looking for approval. Trust me.

So, with all of that said, with everything and anything being out there, my favorite part about working with people is helping them find their path, or at the very least their practice. Nearly every single practice I teach in my classes and workshops can be used on any path, regardless of where it leads.

When you start on a path like this, it involves a lot of self-reflection and inner work. Not many of us know who we really, truly are. We only know ourselves through the reflections that others mirror back to us – their opinions, thoughts, and judgments about us. Some of us go 20, 30, 40, 50 years believing that those are absolute truths because we’ve never turned our eyes inward to really see what’s actually going on inside us. Sometimes it’s cool and fun to learn about yourself. Sometimes it’s really uncomfortable and there are boxes you would rather leave untouched and unopened. Problem is, just because they’re in a box doesn’t mean they’re inactive. No, quite the opposite – those old mental and emotional programs are still running unchecked in the background, and the boxes full of your unresolved trauma eventually corrode and leak out into your body, manifesting as physical, mental, and emotional diseases and illness.

Where do you start in this process – getting to know yourself, way past the surface level?

Well, first, I highly, highly recommend therapy, especially psychodynamic therapy. Psychodynamic therapy differs from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the sense that it’s a long-term approach, not just a quick fix. In psychodynamic therapy, you’ll work with a therapist to explore the connection between your unconscious mind and your actions. This involves examining your emotions, relationships, and thought patterns. Currently I’m working through my doctorate program with the University of Sedona to receive my degree in metaphysical counseling, which will be heavily modeled after psychodynamic therapy – just with a metaphysical bent, of course. I’m hoping to finish my coursework by 2023.

And I love supporting others by doing energy work, too. Sometimes it’s really hard to get started on your own, so I love to be around as a helping hand to get you up onto your path. A lot of us know that we need to take care of our physical, mental, and emotional health…what about your energetic health? Our entire bodies are made of energy – from molecules to compounds to atoms to quanta – so it’s just as important as caring for all the rest. You can view all of my offerings here.

So, I’m really glad to have met you and that you found your way to this page! If you’d like to talk with me in more detail, please feel free to send me an e-mail at

Fun Facts About Me

What’s your favorite genre of music? Definitely metal and alternative. Did you know that metal music pulls heavily from the rhythms and instruments of ancient Scandinavia and Britain? (Which is why I suppose I’m not surprised that I love it so much.)

What was the first album you ever bought? I asked my dad for a copy of Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory when I was 7. True story.

Do you have pets? I have a small zoo on my homestead. Currently I mother 8 chickens, 7 rats, 3 ducks, 2 ferrets, 2 leopard geckos, 1 bearded dragon, 1 Siberian forest cat, and an invertebrate collection. How do I handle it? It’s all in the routine, baby.

How many siblings do you have? In the human scope, I have a younger sister by blood and another sister and brother through marriage. Soul siblings? How many Norse deities are there again?

Can you play any musical instruments? I started playing viola when I was 9 and continue to do so. I also play the shamanic drum, crystal bowls, and other percussion instruments for vibration therapy.

Do you speak any other languages? My most proficient language is English, but I studied both Japanese and French for five years, which I’m confident reading, writing, and speaking simple sentences. I am currently studying Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish (since they all descend from Old Norse) and am confident reading and writing these three. (If I haven’t outed myself as a Gemini yet, here’s the shining example.)

What was your favorite subject in school? Art and literature. I was horrendous at math. Numbers are simply a language that my brain does not comprehend.

Have you met any celebrities? She may only be a celebrity to me, but I’ve met Amy Lee of Evanescence a handful of times. I really love chatting with her, and after our first meeting she’s remembered me each time since.

Describe your ideal day. This may be boring, but this would be my perfect day. Waking up around 8:00 AM. Starting my coffee, going out to give my hens their breakfast (including mealworms because they’re spoiled) and watch them out in their yard for a while. Collect some eggs for breakfast. Check my mailbox. Water our flowers. Peek at the vegetable garden. Make myself my favorite breakfast, which is grits with butter, over easy eggs, sauteed mushrooms, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Go into my ‘magic’ room (my office) and do a short yoga practice and divination reading. Before the sun gets too high, I would pull on my garden gloves and go outside to weed the beds. Would probably let my girls out to free roam with me. Around lunchtime I would go to the farmer’s market and see if I could get inspired for dinner. Bring my groceries home, start cooking. While dinner cooks, I usually make my rounds to my indoor animals and clean/give them their meals/snuggle. When the sun goes down, I go and make sure all of my birds are in for the night, safe and sound in their coop, settling down into their nests and on their roosts for the night. Come back in, set the table, eat dinner with my husband. Afterward we’d cuddle up on the couch, maybe indulge in some plant medicine, watch some TV. I love sitting in a long, hot shower not thinking about anything at all. Listening to music through my headphones. Maybe drawing, painting, or sculpting. And then, when I felt tired, I would go crawl into a soft, cool bed with fresh sheets, and zoom off to dreamland as soon as I hit the pillow. That’s my perfect day. And it happens a lot – for that, I’m thankful.

Why I Chose Witchcraft and the 10 Books That Shaped My Practice

Click here to jump to the book list.

When I look back on it, I think one of the most influential periods of my life was when I learned to read. To most, this moment in time seems obviously important, but I feel like it was so definitive. My mom started very early with me, running through the ABC and simple word cards every day until I could start reading little things on my own when I was 4. That finally opened the gates to worlds beyond my own, which for the next decade would become a daily retreat for an anxious kid trapped in a strictly Catholic school, and an integral part of the process of leaving that path behind.

The practice of witchcraft is just that – a practice. It is not a religion itself. Believe it or not, Christian witches do exist, though few and far between. I think my favorite example are Hispanic Catholic witches (though they probably wouldn’t use the term.) They are skilled community healers, some of the finest of kitchen witches, always in prayer, and their homes are filled with altars and candles galore. Pretty witchy, if you ask me.

In my experience, people approach witchcraft after a period of disillusionment within their own faith, which I can certainly attest to. It gives you the opportunity to have a spiritual practice that isn’t defined or restricted by ‘authority’ figures. With witchcraft, you are the authority. All of your practices, prayers, rituals, deities, and beliefs are created or chosen by you. Which means that yes, you can still practice the craft and be Christian – you are taking on the role of the priest. This statement alone can be jarring for adherents of such a patriarchal, authoritative belief structure, which is ultimately why I believe that witchcraft is demonized by these religions – they don’t want you to have the powers of the priests, the cardinals, the archbishops – even though you’re operating in alignment with your faith.

I knew very early on in my life that what I was being told in school and in church didn’t exactly feel right. I had a lot of questions but knew better than to ask – it was drilled into our heads that if you were questioning, you were having a crisis of faith and sinning. And I didn’t want to be a sinner. Sinners were bad people who did bad things, and if questioning things was one of the no-nos, then I wouldn’t do that either. Still, I couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling that I had come up every instance we were asked to pull out our theology workbooks.

The idea of sin was introduced early on, and it became more relentless the longer you were in it. At my Catholic school in Illinois, the sacrament of reconciliation was part of the third grade curriculum. Imagine telling a classroom of eight-year-old children that they were expected to sit right in front of the priest and confess all of their sins, lest you want to be a sinner and not make it into heaven.

I agonized over this for months leading up to our first confession. The worry and anxiety from that time is still viscerally stamped into my head. I started analyzing every single thing I did every day, wondering what counted as good and bad. Bad grade? Sin. Not keeping my room clean? Another sin. Not liking my little sister? Sinner. What if I had a list of sins longer than my classmates? What if one of them was unforgivable? Would I be kicked out of school? Would I get in trouble? And, the worst – would I ever make it into heaven?

Years later in conversation, my grandma mentioned that she would have never believed that a child could have such severe anxiety if she didn’t know me. I would tell my grandma all of my worries and fears, terrified that they made me a ‘bad’ person, and many of them were inconsequential, though some of them my grandma categorized as ‘big people worries,’ that I didn’t even need to think about until I was older. It got to the point where my grandparents bought me a set of ‘worry dolls’ (which I still have – they’re actually very voodoo-esque, and I love them). The way the dolls worked was that you would tell them what you were worried about every night, place them under your pillow, and go to sleep. The dolls would take everything and make it better, sending it through the pillow into your head, so when you woke up, you felt better. I practiced this ritual, probably my first-ever ritual, nightly from the time I was about eight to at least eleven or twelve. To be clear, the anxiety didn’t cease once I became a teenager. It became so much heavier that these poor little toothpick dolls probably wouldn’t have stood a chance, anyway.

The shift came when we moved from Illinois to Indiana. I began attending public school rather than another private Catholic school and the sense of relief I felt was overwhelming. I could wear what I wanted, I wasn’t being told horror stories about sin and bloodshed, I wasn’t being made to memorize and recite random prayers every week, and I wasn’t required to be at church services every day. Instead, I was just another kid without anyone checking my faith every single day.

It didn’t last long. After we moved, it was important to my grandparents that my sister, my younger cousin, and I still receive religious education. You don’t have much of a say when you’re ten years old, and the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint my grandparents, who I love very much. I did the only thing a kid could do – nod their head and just do it. By the time I hit my teenage years, it was all over. The curtain had been pulled back. My intelligence had developed enough to understand it wasn’t bad to question things – in fact, you always should. And the answers I received or discovered were enough for me to know that this was not where I belonged.

I was always very fond of Mary. I loved her blue dress and the way they would dress up her shrine for the Assumption mass, with all of those pretty flowers and linens. I found more comfort in her energy than the tyrannical, judgemental God. Yet we were told that she was not important. To never hold or favor her above the Father. That she was nothing. This sentiment was just reflected in everything else in the church – women had no place there other than to be silent and bear children. Being a woman, I would never truly belong.

The harsh judgements bothered me as well, especially when the religious educators started to speak on marriage, LGBTQ+ individuals, abortion, and suicide. I am very much a person who values fair treatment, and this really rubbed me the wrong way. For a place that supposedly promotes love above all else, the church as a whole has no interest in you personally, your story, your struggles.

In the end, all I could see were maneuvers and practices to maintain control. It was no longer about love. And nothing could pull the veil back over. I was done.

It was a dark period in my life as I now struggled to make sense of the world at the ripe age of fourteen. I was sensitive to the horrors and tragedies playing out on the international stage and for a time wondered if there was anything out there at all. I once tried to convince myself that I was an atheist, but something within me refused to accept that there was nothing. My old soul was shining through even then. I eventually settled into the agnostic label. There was something out there, I felt certain. Little did I know then, but – everything is out there.

After a particularly difficult night, one that I now believe was my dark night of the soul, I had a sudden hunger for new knowledge. I wanted to know what else was out there – and if I was part of it. While lost in a daydream in school, I thought about how I used to play outside as a child. I would dream that I lived in a little house in the woods and I would make potions out of grass and water and rocks. In that moment I remember how happy it made me then, and I decided, Well, all right. I know that people practice witchcraft. I should get a book on it and see what it’s about.

And here we are, eleven years later. I have a very strong practice utilizing witchcraft that honors my ancestral Nordic roots. I believe that it has helped me develop my innate skills, face down my fears and traumas, and evolve into exactly who I am meant to be right now, the details of which I am still uncovering every day, and will likely continue to discover over the rest of my life. I am free to express my spirituality as I please without an authority figure to say otherwise. The only ones I answer to are my Norse family, and even then I have had productive conversations with them on things I feel differently about. I have never been afraid to ask, and they have never been afraid to answer.

I also feel that with all that I have seen and experienced, the Universe is infinite. Every reality exists. Every religion, every faith has a place out there. No one is right and no one is wrong. That’s not what I’m here for. I will go where I will go. You will go where you will go. There’s no sense in converting people to anything. It’s a waste of time and energy. Follow your path. Not anyone else’s.

I am truly blessed to have a family who I think always knew that I was going to be different. In the time since, my grandparents have still been very proud of me, something that I never take for granted. They have told me that they appreciate my love for the old ways, the ways that our ancestors did things before Christianity (violently) swept through our homeland. And in time, they began to simply ask why I do some of the things I do. Not at all out of judgement – just curiosity. When I count my blessings, I count their open-mindedness and their unending support of me living in a way that truly fulfills me, even if it looks quite different than what works for them. They could have reacted completely differently. They could have allowed fear, judgement, or misconceptions to drive their thoughts about me and what I was doing and what it meant about them. But they never did that. They just chose to love me instead. And I wish that everyone could be blessed with a family who, though certainly not perfect, chooses to react out of love rather than anything else.

So, without further ado, if you feel at all like you’re in the same boat, let’s take a look at the books that jump started my practice and that I still reference today.

10. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham

Ah, the book that started it all. This was everything when I was fourteen.

Before proceeding any further, Wicca and witchcraft are not interchangeable. Like I stated earlier in this post, witchcraft is not a religion – it is a practice. Wicca, on the other hand, is a religion, and the most organized Pagan religion, which is why it’s no wonder that so many people leaving the Abrahamic religions fall into Wicca first – we’re so used to being told exactly what we need to do and how we need to do it that this is the most comfortable next step. We only want a little bit of freedom right now, and since we’re entering into a new religion all together, we want to be told how to do things, when to do them, and why.

On the outset, this doesn’t sound very appealing, but for a complete beginner, don’t let it turn you away – most of the reason I fell in love with this book was because of Scott, the author. His gentle energy can be felt in every word, so much so that you feel like you’re learning a new way of thinking from a laid-back neighbor or older relative. This also provided me with my solid foundation in conducting ritual, gathering supplies, calling in the directions, opening circle and sacred space, and learning how to work with the elements. Absolutely recommended to anyone interested in starting down this path, no matter if you choose to continue on the Wiccan path, or like me, using it as the stepping stone into Paganism itself.

9. The Book of Stones by Robert Simmons & Naisha Ahsian

Oh, every witch worth his or her or their salt should have this book on hand if you choose to work with crystals and stones…which I think most of us do. Stunning, high-quality color photos of stones, clear and easy to read information both on the geological nature of the stones as well as the metaphysical properties, and over hundreds and hundreds of listings. There are very few stones that I have not be able to find when consulting my Big Book of Stones – it is one of the most useful reference guides I’ve ever gotten my hands on.

8. Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore

A recent addition to my collection, this book spoke very much to my current, more advanced practice. Care of the Soul is a guide for cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life by examining the soul through psychological routes, touching on the mythology of family and childhood, love and self-love, the shadows of jealousy, envy, and depression, the deeper roots of physical illness, and our innate need for ritual, mythology, and a spiritual life. As I’ve been doing more advanced work to figure out who my soul really is and what she needs, I shed more than a few tears while reading certain passages of this book – especially in my realization that in order to honor my soul, I needed to stop fighting with her and forcing her to live according to society’s standards, which as we certainly know aren’t one-size-fits-all. The courage to live in resonance with your soul will bring you the greatest gifts.

7. Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith

I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a yoga teacher training that didn’t include this book on the reading list, and if I’m mistaken, then it needs to be. Anodea Judith is one of the giants in the metaphysical world and for good reason – if you’ve ever heard of her other famous work, Wheels of Life, then you know.

If you wanted to get down and deep in your chakra system, then look no further. Anodea lays it all out for you, adapting the Eastern chakra system to the Western framework of Jungian psychology, somatic therapy, childhood developmental theory, and metaphysics and applying the chakra system to important modern social realities and issues such as addiction, codependence, family dynamics, sexuality, and personal empowerment.

Arranged schematically, the book uses the inherent structure of the chakra system as a map upon which to chart our Western understanding of individual development. Each chapter focuses on a single chakra, starting with a description of its characteristics and then exploring its particular childhood developmental patterns, traumas and abuses, and how to heal and maintain balance.

6. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

This book was the reason I decided to pursue my degree in Metaphysical Science (I have a Bachelors, am currently working on my Doctorate in Metaphysical Counseling) – so yeah, I suppose you could say it was quite influential!

I recommend this book and its accompanying workbook to almost all of my clients and beginner students. Louise Hay’s works have everything to do with mental programming – how you may be programmed right now due to your childhood, traumas, family life, etc. and how to re-program your mind to shift your energy. Trust me when I say that the endeavor isn’t always easy, completely overhauling your thought processes that you may have had running consciously (and subconsciously) for 20-30-40+ years…but the rewards along the path are astounding, even when you shift just a little bit. Louise is also big on affirmations, and many people have asked me, “How can affirmations really work? How can merely repeating something a few times cause a change?”

My answer to you is this: you are energy. Your consciousness is energy. Your thoughts are energy. What happens when you add sound and vibration to energy? You bring it down into this plane and make it real. ‘Watch what you say,’ they always advise. Now you know why.

5. A Modern Guide to Heathenry by Galina Krasskova

Ah yes, this one is for the potential Norse practitioners out there. As I alluded to in my personal account, I definitely started this path with Wicca, who revere the God and Goddess – nameless, for the most part, but containing the general Universal archetypes. I began to feel like there was more of myself to uncover (as it goes in this work), and that the path was calling me down a different fork. I have nothing but love for what my time within Wicca taught me, and I thanked the God and Goddess for their care while I learned under them. I set off again in a new direction, not sure what I would find, but now with some general practices and rituals under my belt. I have a more detailed account of this that I may link to later, but there were some entities out there looking for me while I was looking for them. Nothing has ever been the same since Odin approached me and welcomed me back to my family and my ancestry.

If you find yourself walking down a path that potentially leads North, then I highly recommend this book. Galina explores the ancient lore, celebrations, and mysteries of the Northern tradition with great skill and respect. In it, you will find detailed sections for each of the deities with following meditations, honoring the ancestors, ritual practices, explanations of our views on life, death, fate, breath, prayer, and more. I do not exclusively follow the path of Heathens or the Asatru, but I have found all of their information on our ancient culture rich and absolutely worthy of study to incorporate into my own practices.

4. Modern Shamanic Living by Evelyn Rysdyk

I love this book so much that I taught an entire workshop around its teachings. And I also love many of Evelyn’s other books, the other most influential being The Norse Shaman and Spirit Walking.

Most of my practice is deeply rooted within shamanism. I would like to take this moment to gently bring awareness to the label ‘shaman,’ as it has been unfortunately overused to death by some who really don’t have a clue where shamans came from. ‘Shaman’ is fairly synonymous to the word ‘priest’ or ‘medicine man/woman/person’ to the Saami – the ancient people of western Russia and eastern Scandinavia. I feel comfortable using this term for myself because this is where my ancestors are from.

This book is for everyone who feels uncomfortable in our modern world. The outdoor lovers. The wild hearts. The ones who pine for simpler times. The ones that, no matter how hard they try, can’t seem to get their mind, body, and spirit to just go with the program of our society. Many times over the course of my teaching career I’ve told my students to be easier on themselves – our bodies do not evolve nearly as quickly as our technology and society have in the past few decades. We are excellently wired for life in small tribes and simpler living…which is why I think many of us crave getting back to it. However, we can’t go back to the past, and we can’t just wish away the present. We have to figure out how to integrate the two while our bodies catch up. This book will take you in the right direction.

3. The Complete Book of Chakra Healing by Cyndi Dale

Every part of my energetic practice (Reiki, vibrational therapy, crystal therapy, etc.) comes together with everything I learned in this book – which makes it feel massive.

Cyndi masterfully ties together quantum physics, consciousness, energy, the chakras, auric fields, energetic trigger points, chakra development through childhood, energetic cords and boundaries…like, everything, in high detail. If you’re an energetic practitioner and wanted to move into a more advanced practice, I highly recommend studying this book. It’s extremely informative for anyone looking to go deeper into the quantum realms and themselves, and especially for those with a scientific bent – the opening sections will really grab your attention.

2. Spiritual Growth: Being Your Higher Self and the rest of the Earth Life series by Sanaya Roman

Okay, I guess I’m cheating a little by including a series of books BUT, I’m telling you, every one of Sanaya (and Orin’s) books belong here on this list.

The first time I began this series, I felt an overwhelming connection to both Sanaya and her guide, Orin, whom she channels for. It was refreshing to have validation of channeling relationships, since I find myself in one as well. Orin is a higher guide, an ascended master, if you will, and he shares very thoughtful information, guidance and advice for those of us living here in what I call the Earth School.

Spiritual Growth was the first book I picked up in the series (though it’s considered #3), and I feel that it really transformed me, allowing me to take one quantum leap after another while still remaining grounded in this life and putting higher practices and tools to the test in real life situations. The book’s back cover states it more eloquently than I feel like I can:

Spiritual Growth gives you tools to lift the veils of illusion, see truth, expand and contract time, raise your vibration, achieve higher states of consciousness, open your heart, and know yourself in new, more loving ways. It also opens the door for you to have more satisfying relationships with others by using the skills of non-attachment, right use of will, being transparent to others’ energies, and communicating as your Higher Self.

I highly recommend each and every one of Sanaya and Orin’s books to anyone in this field, including Living with Joy: Keys to Personal Power and Spiritual Transformation, Personal Power Through Awareness: A Guidebook for Sensitive People, Spiritual Growth: Being Your Higher Self, Soul Love, Opening to Channel: How to Connect with Your Guide, and finally, Creating Money: Keys to Abundance.

1. My Astrological Chart

No, I’m not kidding. I reference my star chart at least 3 – 4 times a week, whether I’m looking at current influences or if I’m looking for answers on how to potentially solve something that’s come up in my life.

Your astrological chart is so unique to you that it will not be replicated again for another 25,000 years. Seriously. All of the planets and asteroids will not be in the exact same place again until then. You will be the only one (unless, of course, you choose to take one of those lovely contracts and come back again – it may take you that long to warm up to the idea of another human life.)

When you are doing any meaningful, transformative work, you need to know what you’re dealing with, which is why so much of this work is about self-discovery. How much can you find out about yourself? Everything you uncover will help you know where, and how, to heal.

The placements of your planets can say a lot about you. Your Mercury is how you communicate and learn. Your Venus is about you in relationships with others. Mars is about your motivation, your driving factors, your fight. Jupiter is where you can find luck and abundance in your life (and perhaps you can eye a career in this area of life.) Saturn represents your obstacles and lessons to be learned in this life. Uranus is where you feel rebellious, where you are unique in comparison to others. Neptune can show you your dreams or your unconscious influences. Pluto shows you your shadow and the gifts that can be mined out of the dark fires of transformation. Ever heard of a little asteroid named Chiron? It can point to the deepest wound in this life, where you need to heal.

Sooooo much information and insight can be gleaned by reading about your placements and your chart. I was lucky a few years ago to be gifted a gorgeous, 100-page book where a lovely astrologer analyzed in depth what all of my placements meant, and I’m still pulling information out of it to this day. It helps remind me where I need to work, what lessons I need to learn, and how to understand myself in a way that allows me to be who I am and allows me to understand that not everyone is going to be operating from the same place. It is a priceless book in my collection, and I highly recommend finding someone to help you chart and analyze your placements.

You can run your chart for free at (you will need your birth date, birth time, and birth location), though it will not give you a detailed analysis of what it all means. I know many people on Etsy offer these readings, and someone close to you may as well!

If you are having a hard time finding someone to do your chart, this is a service I offer as well, with a few different price points and information levels. Check it out here.

Energetic Cords

We are made of energy. Every single part of you can be reduced down to particles, which all in turn vibrate at a certain frequency that allows you to be present in this current dimension (among others). It isn’t unreasonable, then, to think that we may be affected by the frequencies around us as well. We’re constantly riding through energy streams every moment of every day while experiencing and interacting with the energy of others. Therefore, I feel that it’s really important to become conscious of the energies both within you and around you.

Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, per the first law of thermodynamics. Even when you think it’s been gone or destroyed, it’s simply moved somewhere else, or taken a different form that you don’t recognize.

This sentiment clearly has more than a few potential implications.

As humans with physical forms, there are limits to what we are capable of sensing and experiencing. Our physicality tends to get in the way. We vibrate very slowly and heavily in order to exist here on this Earth in this dimension. It is difficult to move into dimensions with higher, finer frequencies when you’re stuck in a very dense carrying case. Just because we cannot perceive it doesn’t mean it isn’t there – quite the contrary.

When we hide a ball underneath a cup, we can no longer see it. Does that mean it has ceased to exist?

Quantum physics has come to the same conclusion – particles still exist even when not observed. The force of gravity has never been seen with eyes. But it’ll sure remind you that it exists. It’s one of the signature intangible forces of this Earth that reminds us that the confirmation of human sight is not a requirement for existence. It’s cute how we believe that our experience IS the experience, no ifs, ands, or buts.

When we energetically entangle with others, in either a positive or negative sense, these connections can remain active, like a program running in your subconscious background. Still there even when not observed. No matter how much time, space, or distance there is in between. No matter if the energy is existing in a physical body or if it is halfway across the Universe, dancing on the rings of a distant planet. The connection is still there as long as you allow it to be. We strengthen our cords by getting closer to people – platonically, intimately, romantically. When I tell people to be careful who they decide to share a bed with, it is less about the 3D concerns. Sexual union creates a powerful connection – one that is very difficult to sever.

Energetic connections from past lives can still be active in this life, because regardless of the body, you are still the same energy inside. And whether those from your past lives are here again in another carrying case or whether they are energetic beings in another dimension, they can (and often will) still find you to reconnect. They remember. You do, too, down in your energetic depths. You just may need help remembering – to be given the keys to unlock the memories.

This goes for connections in our current lives, too. When you go through a breakup, or when a friendship dissolves, there are things we do to break the connection. We unfriend them on Facebook. We unfollow them on Instagram. We delete their numbers from our phones. We put up a barrier to keep them out of our lives. But these are such 3D ways of disconnecting. The Universe does not operate in the 3D. It’s beyond that.

You wonder why you can’t get them out of your head. You wonder why every single person who you strike up a conversation with decides to mention their name. They still feel so close, even when you think you’ve done everything to push them as far away as possible. You have not yet addressed the energetic cord between you.

Not all cords are created equal. Some of them truly feed us and bring us effortless joy, love, and laughter. And as most of us know, some of them deplete and drain us of all we have. Being aware of your cords and managing them as necessary is a great energetic service to yourself.

When some people feel a cord is complete and wish to end a relationship, you will often hear of cord-cutting ceremonies or procedures. There’s a big divide over this in the field of spirituality. Some teachers are very anti-cutting and feel that you will receive some sort of karmic smack for it. Other teachers promote cutting cords as an integral way of keeping yourself safe and protected from others. As usual, I fall in the middle of the road. I have done things both ways and have never been ‘punished’ by the Universe for it, but I also believe it’s due to the way I choose to manage cords, which I will detail.

If you do not feel that it is necessary to cut the cord entirely, you can open a circle or sacred space and narrow the cord so that neither of you feels as much of an energetic ‘hit’ from each other. You can imagine thinning the cord with your hands or a knife until you feel that it is at an acceptable width. It would be wise to call on deities you have a connection with, guides, or ancestors to protect you and guide you as you complete this task.

In my lifetime, I have only ever cut cords with three people. I did a lot of reading about it beforehand because my intuition knew that it sounded like a pretty serious thing. After reading everything I could, I came up with my own method of cutting cords. The three people I cut cords with are still in my life. It didn’t get rid of them. It gave me an opportunity to form a new cord with them, one without whatever negativity and expectations that the first one had. Of course, you could also choose to keep the severance.

When you cut a cord, everything changes. You will not be able to form the original cord again because you would need to have everything take place again exactly as it had before. Which…you know, kind of impossible. To me, this is what the consequence is, not being able to go back, but I do recognize that I am someone who does a lot of introspective and shadow work. If I really can’t figure out another way to shift things without cutting the cord, then for me, it’s the final solution.

However, for a majority of people, there’s a lesson within that subpar relationship that they aren’t learning. Maybe the other person is mirroring something that they need to be working on. In these situations, cutting the cord will get rid of that person…but someone else is going to come along in the production of your life, their understudy, if you will, and teach you the same lesson again.

You will need to learn the lesson. The Universe will give it to you again. But you do have a say in how it happens. The easiest way to avoid learning the lesson negatively? If there is a lesson within this relationship that I need to learn, I cut this cord and request a new teacher who will help me learn the lesson with ease and grace.

Taking Inventory of Your Cords

More often than not, you’ll know it when a cord needs to be managed. You’ll be experiencing a lot of negative or intrusive thoughts, sensations, or feelings like I mentioned above, even when you have tried to disconnect (albeit in the 3D ways.) There are some instances though where I have felt called to go in and take a general assessment – periods where I notice that I have been more tired and uninspired than usual – and would like to know where or to whom my energy is going.

Here are a few prompts to get you thinking, shared with love from one of my teachers, Dr. Athena Perrakis (Sage Goddess):

Who do you share outdated cords with today, and what have you done to try and break the connection?


When you think of consciously deciding NOT to take on other people’s energies anymore, and rather give them back to those people with love, what feelings come up for you? Where do you find resistance when you contemplate on doing only your work and not the work of others?


Where in your life do you need to hold tighter and more sacred boundaries so that you are able to hold space without being seen as the space itself?


Cord Narrowing & Cutting Procedure

1. Rinse off. In the energetic sense. Before entering into ritual of any kind, I make it a point to make sure I am coming in clean and free to be able to focus on the work I need to do, cleansing both myself and the space in which I am doing the work.

2. Set up your sacred ritual space. At its most basic, a sacred space is a clean, quiet, protected space in which you have privacy to do energetic work.

You can go the extra mile(s) as you see fit: maybe you light a candle, burn incense, call in your guardians or directions. Whatever makes you feel protected and whatever brings the space into the frequency you’re looking for.

3. State your intentions for the work you’re about to do. You can do this a few ways. You can either go into a meditation and communicate your intentions to the Universe that way or you can simply speak aloud. If you need an example, I generally greet all of my guides and protectors that I have called in and inform them of what’s going on. “In this sacred, protected space, I am here to (narrow/cut) any connections that are not serving me in the highest way.”

4. Come face to face with the people, places, memories, or situations that you are narrowing or cutting your connection to. In your meditation or visualization, see and feel into who or what or where you are releasing. For me it tends to be people, so I will visualize them sitting there in front of me. I say what I need to say. Why I’m about to do what I’m going to do. How it began. How it’s ending. My own mistakes in handling any situations between us.

5. Ask your body where the cord is located. Be still and silent. Your body will show you, either through a sensation, a feeling, or it will flash you an image in your mind. Trust what you receive as answer. Don’t question it. The only way to build up your intuition is to trust what it tells you. Everyone has intuitive ability – be one of the ones who works and practices opening it.

6. Narrow or cut the cord. In your visualization, hold the cord in your hands. Examine it – what it looks like, how thick it is, how long it is. Feel into your intuition – does it need to be cut, or can it be narrowed? Remember the permanence of cutting.

Before cutting or narrowing the cord, be sure to say this: “If there is an important lesson that I needed to learn within this connection, I receive a new teacher for this lesson who will teach me with ease and grace.”

If you are narrowing the cord, either imagine or use a ceremonial knife to make the motions – gently whittle the cord down into a smaller size. Perhaps you just narrow it down to a standard vinyl rope. Maybe you feel that you need to wear it down to just the faintest thread. It’s up to you.

If you are cutting the cord, repeat the same process, but visualize the severing of the cord. Immediately after the cord is cut, heal yourself in that location. Place your hands there and send your breath, healing light, or ask those who you called into protect you to help you heal. See the wound being repaired and healed completely, and perhaps visualize something sweet in that spot, like your favorite flower or a symbol of peace.

Sit for a few moments in this space and check in with yourself.

7. Thank your guides or loved ones or whoever you called in for their time and protection. Close up your sacred space. It’s done.

How to Avoid Creating Unconscious Cords

If you’re anything like me, you probably want to have a say on who you’re making attachments with or how you approach someone with whom you don’t have the best cord. There are ways you can shield yourself to keep your own inner peace and energy – you don’t have to let them in. You’re allowed to have a say. You just need to be objective about it. Too many times we allow our emotions to cloud our judgment and we’re unable to see what we can learn and instead just close ourselves off. So, be aware.

To shield yourself, you can:

  • Limit the amount of time you spend with the drains in your life.
  • Wear protective stones on your body, either as necklaces, rings, bracelets, or just stones in your bra. Shungite, aegirine, and black tourmaline are the ones I use most often.
  • Put up an energetic shield by:
    • Imagining a big egg (or crystal or box or whatever you wish) of glowing bright light that goes out 12” around the perimeter of your body.
    • If you want stronger protection, you can also imagine the whole outside of your shield covered in mirrors, like a disco ball, facing outward, which reflects their energy back to them. It also prevents any penetration of energy into the shield.
  • Place your hands on your solar plexus (right above your belly button), creating a direct shield over the place where most people generally tend to cord. If this is an already established cord, placing your hands here can create a temporary ‘kink’ in the cord, preventing it from being active and preventing them from sending any new energy in.
  • Check in with yourself often to assess your own energy levels. Get to know your body’s signals when you begin to feel drained. You may yawn, feel muscle weakness, get a headache, feel tension, or just feel like you’re ready to be finished. Honor and respect your body, and if you can no longer shield, leave the encounter.
  • If you get anxious at night before sleeping by overthinking or worrying, place your hands over your solar plexus again so you can stop the influx of energies from different situations and people from the day. It should relax you enough to sleep.

Ancestry & Lineage Healing

For those who have been following me for a while, you’ll know that ancestry and lineage are things that I speak about often. I’ve noticed that the rest of the world looks at the United States with a bit of a side-eye when the subject comes up. A lot of people around the world don’t understand why Americans seem to be so ‘obsessed’ with their lineage when, in their words, “Your great-great-great grandparents were from my country. Not you.”

I suppose I could understand why it seems strange, but allow me to try and explain from the point of view of someone whose family came to the United States about 170 years ago.

The United States, to me, is like THE social experiment of all social experiments. We have attempted to create a space, a country, where everyone else in the world could come and be free. Free to practice their own religion, free to speak however they wished, the opportunity to be represented in a way that they never had been before. That was the general idea at the genesis. However, there was a glaring problem – our forefathers were really only offering that freedom to white immigrants from specific places in Europe – notably England.

In 1750, Benjamin Franklin himself worried that a large number of “swarthy” foreigners, speaking their own language amongst themselves, would overrun the colonies and push out their own British subjects. The people in question? Germans.

It has been well documented how the United States has collectively treated immigrants that weren’t of direct British descent. We went to war with France not long after they aided us in our own revolution. We treated Irish immigrants as third class citizens and indentured servants. We drove Chinese immigrants out of cities starting in the 1800s and threw Japanese-American citizens into internment camps when WWII began.

And lest we forget that African Americans were not immigrants to the United States – they were forcibly taken from their home country, brought to our shores, were put into shackles, tortured, and forced to work until they died. The original inhabitants of our land, the Indigenous Americans, were also forced out of their home regions and purposefully killed to make room for more British immigrants.

Most Americans have been living on land that was never theirs, and the only ones who truly belong to this land are Indigenous Americans.

Do as many of my fellow American citizens feel that fact as deeply as I do? Probably not. But they do have a sense of it. We’ve become fascinated with finding out where we’re *really* from. There has been a ripple in the collective that shows we are uncomfortable with our history. There’s a longing to go back to the time (and places) before we committed such atrocities.

Now, I’m not arguing for some strange sort of nationalism where everyone should just “go back” to where they came from. That notion has been hijacked by white people who somehow don’t realize they should also be leaving when they say that (most often to people of color, and even more embarrassingly, to Indigenous Americans.) The whole story is important – horrific, yet important. Why?

I use the term “shadow work” a lot on this blog. To me, doing shadow work is taking an inventory of all of the parts of you that make you feel…icky, and transmuting them into energy that you can use to evolve and grow into a better version of yourself.

Knowing your ancestry and lineage are major keys in successfully traversing shadow work – not just on the individual level, but the collective level as well. The United States has a lot of shadow work to do, and it’s only just begun.

Your DNA carries energy from all of the ancestors who made it possible for you to be here today. You carry strength, determination, and fortitude in every strand. It also means you carry their sorrows, their traumas, and their losses with you as well. And if you aren’t aware of them, you may unconsciously be living out mental and emotional patterns around a trauma that you yourself may never have experienced firsthand – but you are still carrying it for those who did. In other words…all your sh*t may not even be yours.

There have been epigenetic studies done that support this theory, most notably one concerning Holocaust survivors and the DNA expressions of their children. You can read about this study here.

The easiest place to look first is at your parents. Who is your mother? What are her strengths or struggles? What was her early life like? What is your relationship like with her? What about your father?

Then you can branch out a bit more. What about your maternal grandparents? What were they like? What were their lives like? Your paternal grandparents?

Can you identify any patterns that repeat through the generations? Subconscious beliefs that seem to thread everyone together? “We always do _______ in my family” or “Everyone has _______.” What is the dominant story or narrative of your family line?

If you’re lucky like I am, you may have a relative who’s a family historian. Thank the Universe for my grandma. At this point, she’s spent years of her life tracing our family’s roots back to where we came from – Scandinavia, specifically Sweden and peppered into Norway. I believe the oldest match we have on record right now is from the 1700s.

My relatives didn’t begin their journey across the ocean until about the 1850s, which is actually quite a bit later than others – the first large immigration wave into the US was from about 1815 to 1849. The ‘Know-Nothing’ party is formed in 1849 to protest the increasing number of German and Irish immigrants, a year before our first journey.

Through letters and other miscellaneous forms, I felt connected to to one party of relatives in particular – a mother with two twin daughters who left her abusive husband in Sweden and took the voyage alone with her children to seek out a better life in America. To my knowledge, they did not sail into Ellis Island, and actually, quite a number of Northern European immigrants did not come through this way. It was cheaper to sail to Canada and then make their way through the rivers and channels…eventually ending up on the shores of Lake Michigan.

When I sit down and think about what the experience was like for a single mother, my heart just hurts. Really. Imagine leaving everything and everyone you know behind, being on a huge ship in the relentless Atlantic Ocean for up to six weeks, likely only to get on ANOTHER ship, to eventually make it to your destination where hopefully you’ve already made contact with someone else who lives there. Then you need to figure out how to obtain and set up a new home, food, and work, all while not speaking the same language as everyone else and getting discriminated against unless you were in the Scandinavian neighborhoods.

It seems that for as long as I can remember, I have struggled to use my voice. I have been afraid to speak in front of others, always feeling misunderstood in some way and have thought it better to keep my head down and stay quiet. I have always kept most at an arm’s length away – waiting and watching to see if they’re trustworthy enough in my eyes. Most people don’t make the cut – and it isn’t really their fault. And to this day, at 25 years old, I am still aggressively homesick every time I leave on a trip – even if it’s a trip that I’m excited about and really want to go on.

Is that all just my creation? Or is it possible that I inherited these tendencies from an ancestor who stayed quiet because she didn’t want to draw attention to herself, a foreigner? Who missed her homeland more than anything? Who was incredibly careful about who she trusted coming to this new land?

And, like most of our ancestors, she didn’t have the resources that we do today to deal with any of these issues. Therapy didn’t exist in the 1850s – it was called being committed to a mental asylum for the rest of your days. If you wanted to be free, you shut your mouth and you buried it as deep as you could within yourself. All the way down into your DNA. It had to be done to survive.

And because she locked up her pain and survived, I’m here now with traces of her and the rest of my ancestors’ pains and traumas. Am I angry with them? Of course not. They were doing the best they could with what they had. And I owe it to them to do the best I can with what I have – which is so much more.

In this field of metaphysics, it is said that when you heal something within you, it heals seven (7) generations behind you and seven (7) generations ahead of you. When you choose to do the work and heal, you’re not just doing it for yourself – you’re doing it for your grandmothers, great-grandfathers, your nieces & nephews, your great-great-granddaughters.

I have seen it happen in my own family. The more I confront my own shadows and traumas and heal them layer by layer, I see layers being shed off of my parents and even my sister. Our family has been through dark periods. I see them healing. I see them experiencing joy again. I see them smiling more. I see them more at home in themselves. Is that all due to what I’m doing? Probably not. They deserve credit for their own healing, too. But I know that I saw it begin to shift when I started, and I refuse to quit.

How do you get started?

  1. Therapy. I think everyone should go to therapy. You aren’t crazy. There’s nothing wrong with you. Everyone deserves to have someone to go to where you can just speak and be heard. You can talk about anything you want to, and it’s really helpful to have a party who isn’t involved who can offer an objective viewpoint.
  2. Get to know your family. You can’t begin if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Learn your family’s story, as far back as you can reach. Who is your mother? (What are her strengths or struggles? What was her early life like? What is your relationship like with her?) Your father? Your maternal grandparents? Your paternal grandparents?
  3. Identify any repeating patterns or stories. Try to complete the sentences: “We always do _______ in my family” or “Everyone has _______.” What is the dominant story or narrative of your family line? Do you align with these patterns? Or can they be transformed and healed?
  4. Do the work. If you find any of these patterns or stories living within yourself or your own life, address them in a way that works for you, whether that be through traditional therapy, energy work, shamanic journey, working with plant medicine, hypnosis, self-work. Keep going. Every time you peel off even one layer, that’s a win for you and your family. Do it for yourself, but know that you aren’t just doing it for you. You’re doing it for the benefit of all.

In Defense of Loki

I’m going to get a lot of shit for this, and only partially because I really do see and experience Loki almost exactly as Tom Hiddleston portrays him. But not quite.

It’s impossible to talk about Loki without including disclaimers every few sentences. And I think that’s where the polarization occurs – you either land on Team Loki or Team Everyone Else. And then when you are Loki, you find yourself in the most frustrating spot of all. The middle.

Let me give you the background on Loki and why a lot of very traditional Norse practitioners would come for my head for writing this.

Though his exact lineage has been debated on for quite a long time, it’s been accepted by now that for all intents and purposes, Loki is part of the Norse family and pantheon, like it or not. Loki, like Eris in the Greek family and Coyote in some Native North American families, is one of the trickster gods. He isn’t implicitly benevolent and he isn’t completely evil, either. There have been many times where he thought what would be a great prank turned out to be quite terrible, and not as reversible as he expected (like cutting of Sif’s hair and trying to pass off Idunna as payment for his various misdeeds.) But there was one occurrence that drew the line, and I understand it.

Loki killed Baldr, the only son of Odin and Frigga, though he did not think the trick would lead to death. Real death. Loki was overcome with jealousy with how much everyone else loved Baldr, and Loki, well, not so much. I have recounted the story of my brother Baldr before, here.

Naturally, the rest of the gods imprisoned Loki for a very long time for what he did. He knows he deserved it. Some people think he’s still chained in a cave, but I know that isn’t true. It was only a matter of time until the shapeshifter figured out how to get out. Loki is out and about on his own terms now, and the rest of the gods know it. Perhaps enough time has passed, and the prophecy of Baldr leading the new generation post-Ragnarok has softened the blow a bit. Frigga will not speak of Loki. And everyone else in Asgard knows better.

Through it all, though, I have felt very connected to Loki. When I first started to feel it, I tried to fight it away. Shut it down. There was no way I was as incredibly nihilistic and chaotic and mind-bogglingly neutral as Loki. But Loki isn’t like that all the time, either. The whole thing about him is that he is…and he isn’t.

I know for a fact had he been born under our stars, Loki would have been a Gemini. My sign. The twins. The duality of nature. The good, the bad, the light, the dark. All at the same time. People feel safe when things are predictable. People like things that are neat and orderly where they can have expectations. Society’s preferences for these things were slammed down onto my head as a child and oh, did I try so hard to do what would make the people around me happy. But it came at a cost.

My stomach would knot over itself in worry. I looked at myself over and over, nitpicking any imperfection and shaming myself for things I didn’t do right. I clearly remember a girl from my third grade class. Her name was Brianna. She had really pretty, straight, long blonde hair and blue eyes. The thing I admired most about her was how organized she was. She always had everything our teachers required of us, neatly tucked in a folder.

I was messy. Disorganized. I would lose important papers and leave books in my locker that I needed to do homework later. And I was miserable. I wanted to be organized. I wanted to have everything that anyone would ever need from me. I wanted to be like Brianna. I wanted to be perfect and clean and normal.

It wasn’t until my reckoning with my own nature, brought on by a visit from Loki himself, did I start to begrudgingly accept that maybe, just maybe…my true nature simply cannot allow for order and perfection.

I’ve been reading Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore recently, and early on in the book he talks about shadow quite a bit, having been influenced by Carl Jung’s work (like most of us in this field, I think.) It was on a particularly sensitive day for me that one paragraph brought tears to my eyes:

"Care of the soul begins with the observance of how the soul manifests itself and how it operates. We can't care for the soul unless we are familiar with its ways. Observance is a word from ritual and religion. It means to watch out for but also to keep and honor, as in the observance of a holiday. The -serv- in observance originally referred to tending sheep. Observing the soul, we keep an eye on its sheep, on whatever is wandering and grazing - the latest addiction, a striking dream, or a troubling mood...for example, if I see my responsibility to myself, to a friend, or to a patient in therapy as observing and respecting what the soul presents, I won't try to take things away in the name of health. It's remarkable how often people think they will be better off without the things that bother them. "I need to get rid of this tendency of mine," a person will say. "Help me get rid of these feelings of inferiority and my smoking and my bad marriage." If, as a therapist, I did what I was told, I'd be taking things away from people all day long. But I don't try to eradicate problems. I try not to imagine my role to be that of the exterminator. Rather, I try to give what is problematical back to the person in a way that shows its necessity, even its value."

For so much of my life, I’ve been trying to pull and wrestle and strangle my soul to fit into the box that will make our life here easier. Be organized. Be helpful all the time. Keep things as clean as possible. Stay on track. Plan ahead. Only focus on one thing at a time. Achieve, achieve, achieve.

And I just can’t do it anymore. I’m so tired of getting angry with myself because the living room is a little messy. Or because one minute I wanted to go write lesson plans and now I want to go paint instead. Or because I dressed in pink in the morning and am wondering how strange I must seem for showing up for dinner in black. And in the darker aspects, I’m tired of trying to fight with a soul who, at its very essence, is both the beauty and the horror of chaos.

There have been a few times in my life now where everything has fallen apart, or at least felt like it. I recently had another, quieter one. I still had a stable, gentle home environment. All the bills are paid. All of my animals are well. I’m physically well. But my entire inner framework seemed to collapse in on itself. I was exhausted of my mind yelling, “Why can’t you just _______?

I could fill in the blank with anything, but when you strip all that away, every time it comes up, what it really means is this: Why can’t you just be a different person?

While attempting to navigate this period of uncomfortable metamorphosis (because you really feel like that poor caterpillar who turns into a bowl of mush in their cocoon) someone mentioned that they had their Gene Key read. If you know anything about Human Design, it seems very similar, so I was curious to know what my genes would tell about me. I’ve done a lot of readings over the years, so I do feel like I know myself pretty well on the spiritual/etheric level (I’ve just chosen to ignore and repress some of the parts, clearly.) I find that I often access the right information at the right time when I’m in these darker places, and this was certainly a turn in the story.

Your Purpose: Gene Key 47. At a mythic level, your purpose is to bring light into places where there is no light. On a mundane level, this means you must not get stuck in any single way of being. Everything about you is changing all the time, so you had better learn to appreciate this about yourself. You can be consistent when you wish to be, but don't define yourself by your past. You are becoming more aligned with your soul's purpose, and it will consistently change you as it brings you into better alignment with that purpose, so you see - your purpose is the most consistent thing about you. Your methods and actions and feelings will keep shifting, and you may despair in what appears to be chaos to others, however, this is one of the most natural processes for you. The 47th Shadow is an access portal through which the fears of the human collective flow into waking consciousness. Very few people confront their shadow archetypes in their life. They do not want to stare down the barrel of the 47th shadow, because the deeper they look, the deeper the rabbit hole seems to go. Those who carry the 47th Key have no choice. You will always be dealing and feeling with fear, whether it's your own, or the collective's. You carry the gift of Transmutation, and if you can access and harness this, you will be able to handle the work of the 47th with ease. Beneath what left-brained scientists have misread as chaos hides one of the greatest secrets of creation. Your gift is the Royal Art - alchemy - the natural destiny of human beings who live their life totally, embracing everything and holding nothing back. It is the art of living dangerously. This does not mean that you necessarily take outer risks - the danger is to the illusion that there is anything fixed about you. The true human soul is indefinable because it is constantly surpassing all definitions. Life is not about success or failure for you - it's about turning lead into gold, helping others to take the reins of their own lives and transmuting themselves with helpful, sacred hands.

So, at the end of this little detour of my life, where am I?

I will no longer make promises, for my sake and for others.’ As we’ve all heard a thousand times, expectations only lead to disappointment, and I doubt that I share the same expectations as most people. And it kind of kills me to say that anyway – I have a very strong Virgo part of me that does feel good when things are organized…but I’ve realized now that she enjoys certain types of organization and expectations that clearly only work for her. I have specific ways of doing things that I need to acknowledge and be supportive of rather than trying to break myself to fit into other people’s boxes.

This doesn’t mean I shirk my responsibilities. I’ve chosen them, so I feel passionate about doing everything they need from me, on my own terms. However, I do feel much pickier about what I choose now, and I know that I’m going to make some people uncomfortable when I say no. I’ve avoided “no” in my vocabulary for a long time, but look where it’s gotten me.

The general consensus is to avoid Loki, but I just can’t. Loki is only really aggravating because he defies all expectations. As if being a shapeshifter wasn’t enough of a hint. I feel that the way Tom portrays him in the Disney+ series is the closest anyone has touched on what really is going on underneath the mythological archetype of the Trickster, and I see myself reflected in those internal struggles. I want to underline that this isn’t the same as those people who glorify being cHAoTiC EviL to seem edgy (you know exactly who I’m talking about.) It’s not an easy existence. I’ve spent 25 years of my life wishing that I could firmly stand on the left or the right side of the spectrum (of anything at this point) without feeling like I was choking in some way.

Now I have to figure out how to allow myself to live in the middle, where I belong.

Basic Magic Toolkit

When people are just starting out on the path, sometimes they feel overwhelmed by the amount of tools out there to do this work and they feel like, Oh gosh, I must need all of them. Not true.

Yes, it’s really fun to have all the bells and whistles (literally), but a lot of it isn’t necessary. Some of the most powerful things I’ve done have been accomplished just using myself, a candle, and maybe one oil. That’s it. Yet I have a collection of at least a thousand magical items, which I certainly enjoy and don’t regret. I just don’t need all of them.

Here’s what I feel are the basic tools of magic to get you started:

  • The right headspace. This is first because it’s the most important, and why it’s helpful to meditate before working with energy. Make sure that you’re aligned with the energy you’re seeking. Don’t allow intrusive thoughts or anxieties in while you’re working – if they come up, tell them thank you, but you’ll respond to them later. I also silence my phone and put it somewhere else before I work. If you have a familiar (or a few, like myself), expect them to come barging in at the wrong times. My cat is notorious for trying to lay himself across all my supplies. Laugh it off, show them a better place to hang out, and get back to it.
  • An outfit of empowerment. Hey, sometimes all you have to do is dress the part to get the energy you’re looking for, you know what I mean? By taking the time to choose an outfit (whether it’s a full on cloak, a dress, or some comfy pajamas), you’re setting an intention and marking the occasion. If you’re out and about and the need arises, visualize yourself in the most magical outfit you can think of.
  • Your hands. Tools that you always have with you. There are two chakras, or energy centers, in the palms of your hands. Have you ever thought about how powerful your hands are? You use them to love, to touch, to investigate, to build, to create. Your magic is in your hands – hold them over ingredients before mixing (in magic or in cooking!) and bless them with your intentions. Focus on your hands. Visualize light coming out of them. Maybe feel the heat of your power in your skin. Visualize the outcome you want.
  • Your intention. The most powerful ingredient in any magical work. Your intention is what you intend to accomplish by doing the work. Always word your intention in the present tense. I am wealthy. I am loved. I am capable.

And as for a more Hogwarts-esque supply list:

  • A mortar and pestle (for mixing and blending herbs)
  • Glass jars (a witch can never have enough)
  • Small spell candles in various colors. Sold by most metaphysical shops, and here.
  • Crystals (basic set recommendation for beginners here)
  • String in various colors (embroidery floss works great!)
  • Parchment or grease-proof paper for writing (and subsequent burning)
  • Hot charcoal discs
  • Tongs
  • Lighter
  • Ceramic/heat-proof dish/cauldron/incense burner
  • Salt

Extra Credit Supplies

These items can give your spells or energetic work an extra kick and are just good to have on hand:

  • Moon water. It’s the witch’s holy water. Water charged under the full moon carries that power throughout the next cycle, so now you can have access to that power anytime you need it! Get a jar or bottle and fill it with water (purified, if you plan on drinking it) and leave it out under the full moon. Make sure to retrieve it before the sun rises the next morning. Boom. Moon water.
  • Black Salt. An easy, tried and true ingredient for banishing and protection work. Get a jar with a lid, a handful of salt (sea salt is best, but work with what you have), and any leftover ashes from your charcoal discs or smudge bowls. Blend the salt and ashes in a counterclockwise direction with your finger or a spoon. Enchant the salt with words of your choice. Personally, I use, ‘As this salt darkens, may it drive away any negativity and banish any dark entities around me. So it is.’ Store in a sealed jar.
  • Mojo bags. Also known as charm bags or sachets, this practice originates from Hoodoo, or African folk magic. The bag can contain herbs, crystals, drops of oil, or any other charms that are special to you. They can be created for abundance, prosperity, luck, protection, love, hope…anything! Thank goodness for the African ancestors for bringing such a versatile way of doing magic. I have a protection sachet in my car, a passion one next to my bed (cause, you know), and a few others in various places. Some now underground. You can either sew your own bags, or you can do what I do and recycle the little organza bags that you get from too many purchases at Sage Goddess (or you can order them for really cheap here.)

Hot Charcoal Guide

Whenever you need to burn a loose incense blend, the best way to do so is on a hot charcoal disc. Here’s everything you need to know:

First, here’s what you need:

  • A heat-resistant dish to burn your incense in. I recommend grabbing a charcoal incense burner off of Etsy or Amazon, though in the past I’ve used simple ceramic bowls and dishes with a small plate underneath for extra protection.
  • A lighter, preferably one with a long stick. You’ll need to heat the charcoal for more than a few seconds, and matches go out too quickly.
  • A handful of sand, salt, or dirt to pack under and around the charcoal disc (for added insulation and protection.)
  • Charcoal discs. You can find them here on Amazon, about 100 discs for $10.00.
  • Loose incense (which you can make yourself, or if you want some really fancy, top-notch loose blends…do yourself a favor and check out Mermade Magickal Arts. They are 1000% worth it.)

When I set up a new charcoal burner, here’s my method:

  1. I put a handful of sand, salt, or dirt into my heat-resistant bowl, and another plate underneath the bowl if I feel like I need some added heat-protection.
  2. I nestle a single charcoal disc into the material in the bowl, not burying it completely. I like to leave at least half of the disc sticking up all the way around.
  3. Pay attention! You’ll want to light the disc before putting your incense on so it has enough time to get warm. Grab your lighter and light an edge of the charcoal. You may need to hold it there for a little while. What you’re looking for is some sparks, a little bit of crackling, and a little bit of smoke to know the disc is getting started. You’ll know when it’s starting to get hot when you can see the charcoal begin to turn grey.
  4. If you’re burning your charcoal inside, I would recommend cracking a nearby window so the smoke has somewhere to flow (other than into your smoke detector.) I find that all of my resident poultry and wild birds enjoy the smell of the incense, so it’s a little gift for them, too.
  5. Check and see if your disc is getting hot. You can either carefully hover your hand a few inches above the disc to feel the heat, or you can visually check for it beginning to turn grey. If it is, put just a pinch of your incense onto the center of the disc. You can always add more later.
  6. Typical discs will burn for about 30 minutes, so if you find that you have to leave before it’s out, make sure you extinguish it completely before you leave.

And that’s that on that!