Choose your Destiny

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It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.

                                    —Shakespeare

 

I’ll be honest, I believe that some people have a destiny and some people don’t. The reason is that not everybody chooses to follow their destiny. Why? Because it’s not easy! In fact you can usually tell when you are on the right path towards your destiny when the going gets tough—it’s never the easiest route. Following your destiny means doing the hardest thing that you can do, it requires you giving your utmost day after day. This is because your destiny is you realizing your fullest potential, it’s about you living your best life.

 

In a way choosing to follow your destiny means traveling the path of most resistance, because it is the path that will stretch you the most, it is the path of growth, the path of realizing one’s full potential. Out of all of the different possibilities, paths, and versions of your own life that are possible choosing to follow your destiny means living your best life.

 

I love that phrase “living your best life” it paints this picture that there are thousands of lives out there that you could choose from—which is true if you think about it. Every time you make a choice you are choosing which version of yourself to become, which path to embark on. Out of all the possible choices and actions and you could have made in your life so far—it’s the ones you did make, the path you have chosen that amounts to who you are now and where you are now. Who you become next, and where you go next are always up to you.

 

Embracing this philosophy is empowering because it makes you realize that your life and who you are, are completely up to you. That is what it means to choose your destiny. The truth is you are choosing it constantly. It is a journey, your destiny is the path that you take to your destination.

 

The Greeks spoke of it as character, saying a person’s character is their destiny. We often think of destiny as simply meaning fate. Like the Shakespearean idea of star crossed lovers who are destined to be together, but it’s not as simple something that just happens automatically on it’s own. Romeo would have never gotten together with Juliet if he hadn’t put himself there at the right time and place underneath her balcony! So you can think of destiny as hidden potential, it must be discovered, it must be coaxed into growing, it starts as an acorn and becomes a tree. It is the blueprint, the DNA, the ideal version of yourself at your fullest.

 

There is an old Hindu parable about a tiger cub who becomes lost from his family, he wonders about until he comes upon a flock of sheep. The cub thinks: well, they have four legs and tails, this must be what I am! He joins the flock and grows up trying to be a sheep, he eats chomps on grass all day with his sharp teeth, he rolls in dust to hide his stripes, he practices waggling his tail like a sheep, bleating, and trying to walk like a sheep, talk like a sheep, sheep like a sheep. Of course he feels pretty awkward! The other sheep think he looks funny, he is no good at prancing and head butting, his bleat sounds strange and eating all that grass gives him a stomachache. One day a grown tiger comes upon the flock of sheep and pounces at them. The sheep all run away terrified, but the young tiger stays there frozen: he feels afraid of this powerful and frightening hunter, but something also calls him towards the magnificent tiger. The cub experiences a tingling feeling of recognition. The grown tiger says “what kind of strange creature are you?”

“I’m a sheep!” the tiger cub says, and lets out his best bleat which honestly sounds more like a strained meow.

 

The wise old hunter laughs, “You certainly are not! Now you can stay here and go on pretending to be a sheep the rest of your life. Or you can follow me into the jungle, and learn the ways the tiger, and learn how to use your tail, how to use your stripes, your whiskers, and your claws to become a hunter— I can show you who you are really meant to be.”

 

Now what do you suppose the young tiger chooses? On the one hand he has lived his whole life a sheep, and has been taught to fear all of the things that come naturally to a tiger; the wild jungle, the night, and the how to hunt, yet it is his destiny to be a tiger.

 

The tiger cub in the story is you, and the sheep represent society. We try to fit in at all costs, we try to please others, we try to just be one of the flock even if it is not who we are really meant to be. The wise old tiger in the story is one’s destiny, it is that calling to embrace the true self, to find out what you are made to do, who you were really meant to be.

 

Another way to look at the parable of the tiger is that the wise old tiger represents the higher self, that which calls us and guides us toward our destiny. The appearance of the wise old tiger feels like a calling, in fact that is what we say when somebody finds the career that is best suited for them, we say he or she has found their calling. That is what the word vocation means: it is from the Latin vocare which means to call. The idea is that your true self, your life’s work is calling you. Think about that. We often think that our career, our life’s work is something that we have to go in search for—but what if it is something that is actually calling you, and the trick is to learn to listen to what it is?

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Wizard Talks & Magic Class

Just a couple of quick announcements to share today: first of all if you enjoyed the recent interview I posted with the Weed Wizard of Brooklyn, you should check out his lecture on the Wizard archetype, it’s available here for $4.20 and it’s legal in most states!

 

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If you live in Portland and are curious about taking a deep dive into exploring ideas about magic and creativity I hope you will join me for the class on DIY Magic I am teaching this July for Portland Underground Grad school. I am really excited for this class! We are going to explore the ideas from my book DIY Magic in a hands-on workshop setting (including divination, lucid dreaming, memento mori, breathwork, and a lot more) and find out for ourselves what works. Join me, Wednesdays in July to explore techniques for finding inspiration, direction and creativity, as we try out everything from Surrealism to Shamanism.

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Interview with a Wizard

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Brooklyn has a wizard for hire. His website offers occult consulting. His name is Devin Person and he has gone full wizard. I first became aware of this Person who one newspaper calls the “Weed-smoking Brooklyn wizard” after noticing his work featured over at Tarot Society. He seemed to be coming from a place that was paradoxically quite funny and yet serious about magic at the same time. That really piqued my curiosity. I reached out in this interview with Devin to find out—what does it mean to be a modern day wizard?

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Did you gradually turn into a wizard or did it just happen one day — like you woke up and realized holy shit I AM a wizard!

 

There’s a concept in thermodynamics that Ilya Prigogine put forward that thinking of things in terms of “being” is really misleading, since everything is actually in a continuous process of “becoming” something else. Hot coffee is becoming cold coffee, a baby is becoming a toddler, and I am becoming a wizard. This is literally true since the archetypal wizard tends to be wizened, and I’m only 30. So while I most certainly AM a wizard, I’m also still in the process of becoming one. The span of time that process takes was also chosen intentionally since I’m a bit of a slacker and I like the idea of having until I’m 80 to “become what I want to be when I grow up.”

That being said, I was exposed to magic when Grant Morrison’s Arthur magazine interview blew off the back of my head at age 18. I started exploring esoteric eccentricity, reading half of Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magick and trying to do daily lesser banishings of the pentagram in my garage, which amused my roommates to no end. Eventually my magic became more or less a private practice until I moved to New York and took a moment to marinate on the question, “What’s the most ME thing I can be?”

Well, I’ve got a tattoo of a wizard on my arm, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating the paradoxical nature of magic in a modern context, and New York is a city where you can be whatever you badger people into accepting you as, so I decided, “Okay let’s do it. Hey everyone, I’m a wizard now.”

Of course, being a wizard, I used ritual magic to summon a more wizardly version of myself, and that transformation into an actual, semi-factual wizard took about a year. It’s all detailed in this Pecha Kucha presentation I gave a few months ago.

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Do others need to believe in magic in order to get benefits from what you do?

Nope! Wizard operate outside the normal perspective of the community they’re in, which worked in the past when boundaries and belief systems were more rigid and defined. These days, no one knows which way is up but I’m a wizard, not a guru or spiritual teacher, so no one needs to believe anything I say.

In fact, if I was going to give anyone advice about listening to what a wizard says, I’d say don’t take things too seriously and keep an open mind about what resonates with you. Art doesn’t have to be logical and narratively structured to convey meaning and emotion; wizardry works best when you keep things light and fun, avoiding the snares of dogma and self-seriousness.

What are some of your favorite resources for the budding? wizard (books, albums, movies, websites, strains of weed etc.)

Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson was the first thing I read after I picked my brain off the floor from reading that Grant Morrison interview. Wilson is fantastic and that’s a great place to start for the newly curious. Early on, I read a lot of psychedelic comic books, so Morrison’s The Invisibles is a really fun way to explore magic principles in the context of a compelling narrative. Alan Moore was hugely influential, and he continues to be so to this day since I read his essay “Fossil Angels” two months ago and had my mind blown all over again.

In terms of movies, we live in a culture saturated with the influence of Joseph Campbell and generations of screenwriters striving to emulate the hero’s journey, so I suggest listening to Campbell’s incredible lectures (they’re on Spotify!) and then applying that lens to whatever media resonates for you personally in the larger cultural landscape.

Seriously, how seriously do you take yourself, seriously?

When I’m considering new projects, I strive to only do what makes me crack up. If I’m not laughing out loud, if I’m not giddy with anticipation for others to encounter my work, I take that as a sign I’m doing something wrong. Then I work to figure out why things stopped feeling fun and started feeling like work.

For example, I was getting stressed about my Kickstarter to publish my book until I had the idea to just do a campaign to raise $420. That idea was so stupid it kept me laughing through all the work required to actually do a Kickstarter, and in the end I raised four times as much and now my book is getting published.

There seems to be a renewed interested in magic and the occult. Why do you think that is?

 

I’ll quote Q-Tip of Tribe Called Quest here who said, “well daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles / Way that Bobby Brown is just amping like Michael.”

I think that’s true, this interest in the occult goes in cycles. Renewed interest from when? The 1960s and 1970s when Led Zeppelin was buying Crowley’s old possessions and single men were running the pickup line, “What’s your sign?” into the ground? Or renewed from the turn of the century when Theosophy, spiritualism, and seances were all the rage

We’ve always been fascinated by magic and the occult. Like religion, art, and science, magic is a way of looking at the world. I think magic is interesting because it embraces paradox, is comfortable with confusion, and tends to be holistic and subjective rather than empirical and objective. So, in a world where there is no “default perspective,” the idea of embracing that uncertainty has significant appeal.

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Do you think that the internet and technology are totally compatible with wizarding? Aren’t wizards supposed to be like, living off the grid, in a forest, in a straw thatched hut?

Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Lately, I’ve been thinking of magic as a mystery box of new technology that we don’t fully grasp yet, or is only understood by specialists. Back in the day, alchemy was a weird mix of arcane philosophy, proto-chemistry, and nonsense. We’ve pulled a lot of that proto-chemistry out of the mystery box and explained it with science, so if I throw flash powder on the ground, people will say, “Well that’s just how those chemicals react. That’s not magic.”

But if you didn’t know chemistry, my ability to produce smoke and light from a powder might astound you. That could be easily categorized as “magic.” So I think internet and technology are absolutely the best place a wizard can be. If we think of magic as crystals, candles, and old spells invented by Gerald Gardner and the Golden Dawn, what does that do for us? Does this affect reality in a way the ancients understood but modern science is blind to? Maybe, but that strikes me as a bizarre stance to take seriously. Magic does itself a disservice by trying to operate under the guise of science while failing to live up to its standards.

A marketer, on the other hand, is able to use images, words, and a Twitter account to get people excited about a new movie. How did they convince a large number of people to care about watching Seth Rogen get high with some new CGI creation? There’s the old marketing quote attributed to John Wanamaker, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

We don’t know why advertising works! It’s just that some of it does, and some of it doesn’t, which to me sounds like the state alchemy used to be in. So while I love the old-time aesthetics of magic, mysticism, and the occult, I care far more about the visions of the future I see in my computer screen than fighting to prove dowsing rods are a legitimate technology.

How important is the weed wizard connection? What about other psychedelics? Is it possible to be a stone-cold-sober wizard?

While I enjoy smoking pot, I think blunts make about as much sense as buttering bread with a broadsword. You want real insights, use weed like a scalpel. If you want to actually get something out of the marijuana experience, smoke a small amount, like one hit, then close your eyes and just chill. Let your mind wander. Listen to ambient music and zone out.

This provokes anxiety in a lot of people. Good. This meditative approach to marijuana is like going into the basement of your mind with a flashlight. If the light reveals there’s a bunch of old junk down there, you’d do well to clear it out! Shutting off the flashlight and ignoring the junk isn’t the solution.

So I say make repeated trips, get used to those anxieties, and slowly make some progress clearing things out until you can get a little bit high without that sense of unease. Marijuana isn’t making you anxious; it’s making you aware that you are already anxious.

Of course, pot is fun in other situations and psychedelics are useful too, but the important aspect I’ve found, which I think is often ignored, is acting on what you’ve learned. I equate psychedelic experiences to a tarot card reading. A good tarot card reading can produce some spookily accurate insights. But if instead of taking those hints and acting on them, you just shuffle the cards and go again, well now you’ve got mixed results. The first pull said this was a good time to be alone, and that felt true. The second pull says see your friends more, so now you’re not sure. Either way, sitting around doing tarot readings will never solve any of your problems.

This is all my personal opinion and should be regarded as the rantings of a known eccentric, but I say the same concept should be applied to the psychedelic experience. Do drugs sparingly, but hold their lessons for a long time. Take mushrooms with your friends on a camping trip, then return to civilization full of inspiration. Let the ideas you encountered in that psychedelic state take time to actually affect your life before you go for another round.

It’s appropriate that we call these experiences “trips,” because like a good vacation, they help you examine your life from a new place, a new perspective. But after a vacation, you have to come home and get your house back in order.

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Twelve reasons to start your day with Sun Salutations

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  1. It wakes you up

Ever watch a cat wake up from a nap? They always do a deep back stretch before they pad off to do their cat stuff. Sun Salutations are very similar to the way a cat wakes up from a nap, it’s a way to flex and limber the spine. When you first get up your body has been laying inert in the same position for 8 hours. Sun Salutations shake out any stiffness and get you ready for the day. Here is what I recommend you try: do 12 Sun Salutations every morning, first thing after you wake up. Before you even eat breakfast. Try this for 12 days and you’ll be hooked. (Some people recommend 8 rounds, I say the number is up to you and how much time you have in the mornings. Even one is better than none obviously. But most of us can manage to spend 15 minutes a day, often this is about equal to the time you would otherwise be lounging in bed hitting the snooze button.)

 

  1. It’s simple.

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If you are not a yoga expert Sun Salutations are a great place to start. They are a pretty basic sequence of poses, but they form the backbone of a lot more complicated asana sequences. The Sun Salutation is very easy to learn, You are basically doing a cycle of down ward dogs and upward dogs. However the simplicity is deceptive. If you do 12 Sun Salutations that works out to 288 asanas.

 

  1. It’s easy to do because you don’t have to think.

 

However the nice thing about the Sun Salutations as a way to start your day is you don’t have to think—what pose do I do next. If you are like me you are pretty groggy in the morning. For a long time I would try to get into the habit of doing a yoga routine in the morning, but it was hard to stick with because I would do a couple downward dogs and then be like, “uh now what?” And spend my time trying to remember some obscure hip opening sequence or having to stop and look at a yoga book. The Sun Salutation frees you from having to think —what next?

 

  1. It’s a form of meditation

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In it’s repetition it becomes a form of mediation. You don’t have to think, you just get into the flow. It is also a perfect flow to work on your pranayama, your breath. Each asana (pose) in the Sun Salutation sequence fits perfectly with your alternating breath. After you become familiar with the sequence you are no longer having to think about your balance or what foot to put where, you are able to focus on being mindful of your breath. In this way it is a moving meditation.

 

  1. It packs a lot of yoga shapes into about 15 minutes.

 

I’d say each set of Sun Salutation takes about one minute to cycle through. If you do 12 Sun Salutations that works out to 288 asanas. Twelve is a good amount to start your day off. A set is doing the sun salutation on both legs, right and then left. So that is actually 24 downward dogs, 24 upward dogs ( and you are also getting in 24 push ups without even thinking of them as pushups.) Really the hardest part is just keeping track of where you are in the flow. I actually say out loud what number I am on “1, 2, 3 etc.” when I come up to standing position so I don’t lose track.

 

  1. It is a ritual

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A ritual is an opportunity to repeat the same action day after day, and thereby to increase it’s significance and meaning. The power of a ritual is that eventually the mood, the meaning, the mind set that you want to achieve with the ritual becomes automatic. The feeling that you want to impart to you sun Salutations is one of gratefulness for the day, as well as optimism and enthusiasm ( the vigor of the movements feel invigorating.) With the power of ritual this mood of gratitude can become yours easily and automatically every morning. And that is a great way to start the day.

 

  1. It is good for the body

While you could approach Sun Salutations as a spiritual exercise, the physical benefits cannot be over stated. my yoga teacher has said that a lot of people get to caught up in the physicality of yoga, but you can get 80% of the benefits of yoga just from doing Sun Salutations. It limbers the spin, expands the lungs, strengthens the muscles in the arms and legs and stretches them. It’s basically the best most efficient stretching and strengthening series squished into a very compact set of movements.

 

  1. It is good for the brain

The movement and breathing gets your blood pumping and oxygen flow to your brain. It’s better than a cup of coffee.

 

  1. It is good for the spirit

It is great to start the day knowing you are doing something good for yourself. You begin the day knowing that no matter what you have already done something healthy for yourself on multiple levels and that sets the tone for the day. Another reason that I think it is a good way to begin your mornings is if you do Sun Salutations first thing in the morning you automatically start the day feeling rejuvenated and energized, and you don’t give your self time to start the day off on the wrong foot.

 

  1. It’s a great base to have for adding other poses

 

If you have ever taking any Hatha yoga the Sun Salutation is already familiar to you because it is generally used by many yoga teachers as the backbone for many other sequences. Because of this if you want to add on more poses to the sun salutation it is a great place to begin and then you can start adding scorpion to your downward dog or a crow to your plank pose etc. The possibilities are endless once you have the basics going.

 

  1. It’s Energizing

While some yoga asanas are very calming or are referred to as revitalizing and restful. The Sun Salutation s definitely energizing, because you are flowing from standing to downward dog and back again. Because of this it is the best yoga for giving your morning a burst of vitality and energy.

 

  1. How you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day.

When you start your day feeling energized and awake you are setting yourself up for a good day. A recent study of 124 college students who just did Sun Salutations for 20 minutes for two weeks (and did not do any other yoga) found they reported feelings of a quieted mind, feelings of rest, joy and less worry than the control group. If you want the benefits of yoga in a simple, easy to establish home practice morning Sun Salutations are the way to go!

 

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New Spring Projects

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It’s spring finally! Spring is a great time for new projects, new beginnings, and new ideas! I’ve been getting back into Tarot lately—the traditional version, even though in my book DIY Magic I describe how you can make your own tarot cards. The card to meditate on for Spring is definitely The Sun card from the major Arcana.

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In a word, this card is all about vitality and fresh energy. Spring is a great time to start any new projects or ideas that you have been thinking about.

With that in mind here are a couple things I’m getting started with:

I’m recording a radio show/podcast which should be available soon. This project is called The Magic Hour, so far I have booked some great guests and I’m looking forward to sharing the episodes! Stay tuned for more on that! Episodes will air on XRAY FM .

I’m developing some online classes that will be available later this Spring. Very excited about these—stay tuned!

& I am working on a Zine with the artist NDA about magic mushrooms! Also available soon.In the meantime, hey if you are new to the blog and still have yet to get your copy of DIY Magic order yours today!

 

 

 

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