In addition to Tarot in Wonderland, which releases at the end of April, I have another new project coming in June. It is my first non-tarot (or non-oracle) work via traditional publishing (my wife and I wrote and self-published a book about dating).
This book was written during a really challenging time in my life. Because it wasn't tarot, with its own handy built-in structure, and because I never considered myself an expert in energy work, it was so hard to write. Last week I worked on my author proofs and queries from my editor. It was the first time I looked at the text in ten months (publishing has a LONG lead time) and I was so scared. But to my surprise (and likely due to my editor's very hard work), it was actually good. I felt proud of it.
Here's a little bit of the Introduction, to give you an idea of what to expect. I'll post more little snippets throughout the coming weeks.
To pre-order from Amazon, click the picture below!
When my publisher asked me to write a book on energy clearing, my initial reaction was “But that’s not my area of expertise; I don’t know nearly enough to fill a book.” Initial reactions can be tricky. Sometimes they are inspired moments of knowing (also called intuition). Most times, though, they are reactions shaped by deeply furrowed patterns that may or may not be based in truth. After releasing the initial fear about taking on a new challenge, I was able to respond more thoughtfully.
As it turns out, I’ve consciously worked with energy for most of my adult life, even before I was grounded in a wide understanding of a variety of New Age ideas. While these stories I’m about to share may not have been my first attempts at deliberate energy working, they are the first I remember. Without any experience in or knowledge of modern magic, I created a ritual to help my sister sell her home and one to help a friend’s husband find a job. They worked. Both were simple rituals, designed in ways that made sense to me and used things that are found in most homes, or at least most middle class, suburban homes, which is where I live. My understanding and practice grew slowly at first and then more quickly when I discovered the New Age materials. The culmination of my current understanding came together only a few months before being asked to write this book.
In April 2016, I was a main stage presenter at the annual tarot conference in New York called The Readers Studio. You see, tarot is my recognized area of expertise and has been a part of my life since the late 1980s. I’ve written many books, designed decks, given readings, presented at conferences all over the world, and taught students in person and online through a year-long correspondence course.
Tarot to me is far more than a divination tool. It is a sacred text that contains something more important than ways to peek into the future. Within the cards, I find spiritual wisdom and practical teachings. Tarot has become the lens through which I see the world. How does tarot apply to energy work? There is a direct connection. Don’t worry, though; after this story, tarot won’t be mentioned again.
Most people who want to learn the cards focus almost entirely on the card meanings, which, of course, are important. But many people get frustrated when they try to do a reading. Readings that focus only on the card meanings are often disjointed at best and confusing at worst. You see, in the space between cards is where the real magic occurs. All the cards have a specific energy. When we simply observe the energy of the card in isolation, nothing much happens. When the cards interact is when they come to life. When the cards are read in relation to each other it is easier to see what is actually happening in a situation..
After assessing the situation, we can use the cards to determine advice. We do this by bringing in other cards that represent actions the seeker can take. We analyze the probable results. If the results are not what the seeker prefers, we try other cards. We figure out what kind of energy to tap in order to create the desired (or best possible) result. Years of paying attention to how the energy of the cards affects each other enhanced my understanding of working with energy in my daily life. But this is not what my 2016 presentation was about.
Ironically, my two and a half hour workshop did not focus on how to read the cards or share a new technique. Instead, it was about clearing our space, both internally and externally, in order to be better people and thereby better readers., It is kind of funny how this thinking has become such a part of the way I look at and move through the world that I didn’t even realize that I do, in fact, have an understanding of and experience in energy work.
What to Expect
My understanding evolved slowly and through everyday experiences. I didn’t learn some complex esoteric system or take training through a trademarked or certified energy school or teacher. There is nothing wrong with those paths, if they are your paths and if they resonate with the deep chord of your heart. But if you are reading this book, I suspect you are like me and favor personal experience and intimate connections that spring from within rather than taking on the cloak of someone else’s practice.
This book is for you if you are looking for a clear way of understanding energy, seeking practices that help you to live more freely, and hoping to improve yourself, your environment, and even larger world around you. This is, in fact, the main goal of becoming adept at energy management: to be unencumbered of anything that takes away your free will and causes you to act in ways that are not in accordance with your ideals.
You may be wondering what makes this a modern guide to energy clearing. There are two main traits that make this approach, at least in my mind, more modern. The first is that this book provides ways of thinking about and understanding the energy at work in our own lives and more importantly in ourselves. This differs from other approaches that follow a step-by-step prescription. My hope is that by guiding you as you form your understanding of energy that you also find what works for you, which may not be what works for me or someone else. It’s like understanding the basics of cooking. Once you know how some things that work, some simple principles, and your own preferences, you can make a meal out of virtually anything. Likewise, if you recognize the flow (or lack thereof) of energy in your life, understand what effects that flow, and know your own best state of being, you can “do” energy work anytime and anywhere.
The other characteristic that makes this approach modern is that real energy work is about controlling the outside world but controlling yourself. Many energy books focus on clearing external energy, but you will find that most of the energy work presented here has more to do with clearing and cultivating your own energy. The result of that work could very well be considered a third way that this book is modern: freedom. My greatest wish for you is that you are liberated from energy patterns that have controlled your life so that you are free to become the person you were meant to be and want to be.
The ideas presented here will be written in as neutral language as possible and broad enough to be adaptable to your personal beliefs because, and this is very important, I’m not promoting a specific practice complete in itself with specific lists of what you must do. Instead, I offer you general ideas, concepts, and practices that can be mixed and matched and modified so that they reflect your truth. The wisest teachers don’t ask you to accept their wisdom but rather lead you to the threshold of your own wisdom. I don’t necessarily claim to be wise, but I do believe a good teacher guides and encourages rather than dictates. I offer these ideas, based on my personal experience and understanding, freely, with no expectation other than to inspire you. If I can find my way to a personal understanding and set of useful and effective practices, so can you. In fact, I am still finding my way. Every single day, as I learn and experience more, my ideas and practices change, and I hope yours do, too.
My understanding of energy and magic was the result of just living my life in the best way I knew how. Energy work is a kind of magic, the kind of magic that creates change in the world according to your will. [AW1] A long time ago, I heard this story about magic that really rang true for me and which applies just as well to energy work. Here is the story as I remember it:
There was a farmer who sought out the advice and magic of the local wise woman. He wanted to learn how his farm could be more prosperous. She gave him a bag of sand and told him to walk around the parameter of his property every morning for a year and a day, dropping a grain of sand every few feet. Over the first few weeks, he noticed things like sections of the fence needing repair, damage to the edges of certain crops, and evidence of intrusive weeds. He began carrying some basic tools and materials on his walks, taking care of things as he found them. He was able to closely observe where things grew well and where they didn’t. He cleared debris after storms and planted trees as wind breaks in exposed areas. As the year progressed, he diligently dropped the grains of sand and attended to his land. The next year, his property was in good repair, his crops abundant, and his animals healthy.
Were those magical grains of sand? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps the real magic was the attention paid to what was going on around him.
What does this have to do with energy clearing? We usually look for ways to clear energy when we feel that something is wrong, just as we often only go to the doctor when we don’t feel well. There are definitely ways to correct, cleanse, or clear energy that is inappropriate, stagnant, or just not right. Some may call it negative energy, but that duality doesn’t make sense to me because all energy comes from the Divine. Furthermore, labeling energy as “positive” or “negative” makes us lazy in our observations and identification of energy. Instead, if we talk of “inappropriate” energy, we are encouraged to identify in what ways it is inappropriate and what would be more appropriate or desirable. The more specific we are, the more effective our work can be.
In addition to paying attention to understanding the nature of energy, I talk both about energy clearing and about energy cultivation because the two go hand in hand. After you’ve cleared out the energy that you don’t want, it makes sense to bring in (and cultivate) the energy that you do want. Once any immediate issues are dealt with, we can create healthy spaces within ourselves and our environment. Through good energetic health practices, we create spaces that are resistant to inappropriate energy and are easy to maintain. Just like we don’t brush our teeth once and consider it done for life, our spiritual energy thrives best with consistent habits that support health and vitality. This is true of our personal energy and of the energy in our surroundings.
When we take care of our own energy, we are more stable and able to attend to the energy around us. After clearing and containing basic health, we can cultivate the energy within us and around us to support certain qualities or goals, such as protection, abundance, kindness, or creativity. We attend to ourselves so that we are stronger, liberated, and able to live our soul’s purpose in the world. In short, we attend to our own energy so that we can create ourselves and become the people we want to be. And if the people we want to be are people who want to heal and care for the world we live in and those who share it with us, so much the better.
Your Practice, Not My System
The approach to energetic health that I suggest is not a step-by-step system but rather a template or recipe. People are such unique beings and situations are so complex that it is unrealistic to think that any one approach will be right for everyone or even a majority of people. It is also unrealistic to think that doing the exact same things every day will suffice since each day brings new energy and new challenges. A more flexible, customized approach increases the probability of success. Not only are you more likely to do a practice that fits into your life, the focus will be more specific to your needs, which can change daily.
You will notice that the thinkers who have most influenced my ideas about energy work come from a broad range of subjects as well as various spiritual paths. So much wisdom can easily cross categories. A few decades ago, when I was learning to knit, the incomparable Elizabeth Zimmerman shaped my approach. A prolific author and highly respected teacher, Zimmerman rarely provided normal patterns detailing precisely how many or what kind of stitches to make. Instead, she taught general principles and provided examples of how to use that information to create precisely what you wanted. She empowered knitters to experiment and above all to trust themselves. She said, in her book The Opinionated Knitter, “I deliberately keep my knitting notes vague, because tastes vary, and your brains are as good as mine anyway.” This it is true. Your brains are as good as mine. I may have read more about this topic, practiced longer, and spent more time exploring the general principles of energetic health, but in this book, I’m sharing all I know. Once you’ve read it, the only thing you don’t have, perhaps, is experience. Using your perfectly lovely brains, commonsense, and knowledge of yourself and your life, you can incorporate these principles to achieve your own goals. Based on my own experiences and the information in these pages, I share ideas and suggestions to get you started on your path to becoming the free and awesome person you were born to be.
Clearing and cultivation is not hard or complicated. You don’t have to subscribe to any specific tradition, belief system, or religion. Part 1 will establish a foundational understanding. This includes using clear, common language to create a shared vocabulary that will make it easier to talk about the nature of energy. We will also discuss in greater detail the purpose of energy work. The language and purpose will help us have realistic expectations about what we are going to do and how we are going to do it.
The most important work will be your own personal clearing, which is covered in Part 2. Personal clearing includes creating a toolkit of techniques that you can use in different circumstances as needed, clearing long-standing energy blocks within yourself, and developing an energetic maintenance practice. You can try the techniques as presented and keep notes in a journal about how they worked for you as well as ideas for modifying the techniques to better suit you. After you’ve tried some techniques for yourself, you will use a simple step-by-step process to help you develop a practice that works for you and the life you are living right now. There will be no need to completely overhaul your life or purchase any special items. These ideas can slip easily into your already existing day, as naturally as washing your face or putting on your shoes.
Part 3 moves beyond ourselves and into the greater world. After you are feeling cleared and centered, we move outward, learning about the energy of spaces and places and how you can affect the energy of your home, work place, car, etc. Finally, you’ll learn how simple practices can change the world, one small action at a time.
As mentioned earlier, this book is a guide, not a manifesto of dogma. You will get the most out of it if you read it with a journal (and of course a writing utensil) alongside. There will be exercises for you to try and suggestions for lists, reflections, and general journal entries. Together, your journal and this book will help you create your own personal energy practice.
 Zimmerman, Elizabeth. The Opinionated Knitter (WI, Pittsville: Schoolhouse Press, 2005), 31.