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.
In publishing, things happen happen far in advance. For example, I just turned in the text for the 2019 Tarot Calendar. Sometimes it is easy to forget about projects because they are awaiting publication while you work on the next project. But there are two that I have not forgotten and have been waiting to tell you about.
But today isn't exactly that day. Instead of telling all about them, I'll just give a little sneak peek.
Both of these projects are very near and dear to my heart. I hope you find them interesting. The pictures are clickable (to Amazon and you can pre-order).
Grace and peace and love, my friends.
May a sweet moment bring delight to your day.
May all beings be at peace.
In the meantime, I've been in a strange liminal space, a time when loose ends are being tied and all that is no longer required is being released. Because this work is so contrary to our usual American "Do more, bigger, louder, longer" attitude, even though it is quiet work it is very hard. Being a wise woman, I've built plenty of time in my days to let things process. Part of that quiet time included falling in love with Rumi. I've been drawn to his quotes lately and decided I wanted to read them in context, so I got a book and have been loving it!
Because most of you are probably tarot people, I thought you might enjoy this poem because it is about the elements. Not necessarily only the classical alchemical elements, but still. It's beautiful and I hope it makes you smile.
Answers From the Elements
Last night I asked the moon about the Moon, my
for the visible world, Where is God?
The moon says, I am dust stirred up
when he passed by. The sun, My face is pale
from just now seeing him. Water: I slide on my
head and face
like a snake, from a spell he said. Fire: His
I want to be that restless. Wine, why so light?
I would burn if I had a choice. Earth, quiet
and thoughtful? Inside me I have a garden
and an underground spring.
This world hurts my head with its answers,
Wine filling my hand, not my glass.
If I could wake completely, I would say without
why I’m ashamed of using words.
A Blessing for You
May you ask the moon about the Moon
May the answer beguile and enchant you
May the Moon ask you about YOU
May your answer delight the Moon
Here are some links (that give me a little commission) for the Rumi Collection, and my two newest releases, The Mystical Manga Tarot and Llewellyn's 2018 Tarot Calendar.
This version of the 8 of Pentacles is one of my favorites because it shows the sweat and challenge of hard work. Yes, she has tools and materials, the only way she will improve is to work. Through practice and discipline she learns what she needs to achieve exactly what she wants.
Have you noticed that there are often these words that float to the surface of popular consciousness? Often they are ones we've not used often (or at all) but suddenly, they fall off our lips as if they are part of our understanding of the world. Lately, for me, it's been the word "iteration." Usually I feel annoyance at these words, as if they are some lame affectation. That annoyance is stupid, I know. With this particular word, I've had to fight that irrational reaction because what this word means is so close to what I believe as someone who is always trying to master something new and as a teacher.
Iteration is a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operation yields resutls successively closer to a desired result. Technically, we could use the word "draft," although interation feels more active with more focus on the act of repetition as a learning experience. Repetition is, in so many areas of life, the single best way to get better at something.
As many of you know, I'm working to become a better artist. I took classes to get me started but after a point, taking in more information wasn't affecting my actual art. It was only when I started practicing what I'd learned, making mistakes, figuring out what went wrong, and deciding things to try to correct the mistakes did I actually start improving. A lot of art tutorials by established artists feature "cheap supply challenges." The point of these is to show that while quality supplies are awesome, they are not necessary to create good art nor is not having them an excuse not to practice. If you develop skill, you can create with whatever is at hand. The best supplies or tools are no substitute for skill. Skill comes through practice. Saying that we will get better once we take that one class or acquire that specific deck or tool actually undermine your progress and take away your power.
So as we all move forward, reaching toward becoming our best selves in whatever areas we are focusing on, the 8 of Pentacles is here to remind us that while we should enjoy and utilize whatever can support us we need to know that practice does indeed make perfect. Make messes, make mistakes, try new things.
May you commit to the discipline of your chosen goal.
May your successes inspire you.
May your mistakes teach you.
May you find joy in the process.
As you probably know, I write a lot. Each year I recieve several contracts for publication or for teaching. One day (this was back in 2015), I was telling Lisa about how I love it when my authors (the ones I contract to write for Llewellyn) are so excited to get their contracts and to hear how they celebrate. I said something about how we don't celebrate my contracts because they've become "my job." Then we realized that that is a bunch of crap and that we should celebrate each and every opportunity for the awesome blessing that it is. So now we do because why not?
James Clear notes that despite all the lovely accomplishments, large and small, that he didn't celebrate them. Instead he acted humble and moved on to the next goal. But by doing so, he was not only not honoring the achievement but also depriving his loved ones an opportunity to be part of his life in a really wonderful way.
My blessing for you today is that you celebrate your accomplishments, large and small, and that you help those you love celebrate theirs, every day all year long.
January 1. We call it New Year’s but that date has not always (and does not, in all parts of the world) mark the date a year begins. You can read more about the history of January 1 HERE).
Even though December 31/January 1 are just a dates on a calendar, they are infused with so much expectation. It's got to be hard to be an arbitrary point marking an ending and beginning. Even more challenging: on a circle (like the earth’s journey around the sun) there is no one beginning/ending point.
Nevertheless, since around 1570, we have invested this date with power. The power of a clean slate. I do adore clean slates; don't you? As Anne Shirley said, "Every day is fresh, with no mistakes in it." A new day is awesome, but there is something even more powerful about a whole new year! The potential! The possibilities! The football games! Fresh calendars, new journals. AND, perhaps most importantly...the new season of Sherlock. Ahem.
So whatever energy or magic there is in this time for you, may you soak in it, release and relax into it, let it reveal its secrets to you.
I look forward to sharing the journey into 2017 with you.
December 4 is St. Barbara’s Day. Interestingly, she is also associated with Chango/Shango. In tarot, she is associated with The Tower. For the third year in a row, my friend and I celebrated. At the bottom of this post is a spread that we used for our first year’s celebration. You can do this spread any time, not just on her feast day.
Although this is a Catholic saint, we do not celebrate as Catholics, although we were both raised as such. Instead, we work with the various St. Barbara stories as if they are a sacred text, much in the same way as I read tarot as a sacred text or as the hosts of the wonderful podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, read those books as sacred texts. As with so many of the stories of the saints, there are many versions. We do not try to establish the “true” story or demand factual evidence. A sacred text is not a scientific research paper.
Each year we focus on a different aspect of the stories. The basic plot of her story is that her father locked her in a tower to keep her safe and virtuous and away from the heretic Christians. Food and necessities were sent up to her in a basket attached to a rope. One day, somehow, a book found its way into the basket and Barbara read it. It was about Christianity and she thought it was wonderful. She wanted to learn more but her father was suspicious and controlled her life. But Barbara was pretty clever. She feigned illness and said that she knew of a doctor, the only doctor who could save her. Her father sent for the doctor, not realizing he was a doctor of the soul not of the body. Barbara learned all about Christian faith and was baptized.
Her father went away on business for a few days. While he was gone, Barbara ordered her father’s architects to add another window to her tower, which only had two windows. She wanted three windows to represent the Holy Trinity. When her father returned, he was, of course, outraged. He turned her in as a heretic and she was beaten and punished, but she would not repent. This went on for days, maybe weeks, but each night she asked Jesus to heal her wounds and he did. Because he’s cool like that. Her father was ordered to behead her so he took her to the foothills of a mountain (like you do) and attempted to cut her head off. After he accomplished this horrible crime, lightning struck, killing him and causing a mountain to fall on him.
That is one variation and I left out lots of things. And my friend and I change the ending. In our version, she does not die but escapes just before the lightning hits her father and goes on to teach love and commitment for many years.
We began our celebration by spending a few minutes at the alter I’d set up with candles and a painting I made of her followed by three minutes in meditation, inviting St. Barbara to come to us and guide us of in our discussion, reflection, and tarot reading. In my meditation, I was taken immediately to what looked like a WWI trench with soldiers in it. Barbara was going behind each one, laying her hands on them. She looked back at me with a look that said, “I’m busy right now. Just get to work.” Even though St. Barbara is associated with artillery, it was clear that this vision was metaphoric and not a literal call to physical violence.
As we discussed our meditation experiences, the message for me was that I know what is right and what must be done, what my work in the world is, and that I need to be braver and share my messages more clearly and with a wider reach. Until now, I have been quietly posting my messages on my blog and hoping that whoever needs the messages will find them. St. Barbara says that that is not enough. If I want to be part of changing the world, I need to be more on the front lines.
We finished our evening with doing readings for ourselves, sharing our messages, and adding to each other’s, as we felt led to. We used the second edition of the World Spirit Tarot and Carrie Paris’ Magpie Oracle. Very often, I take a photo or write out my reading in my journal but sometimes some readings are different. They are oracular moments that feed the soul more than the conscious mind. They are meant to be experienced rather than analyzed and mulled over and figured out. This reading, for me, was like that.
During our discussion and reflection, we noted how an apparently randomly acquired book held a life-changing message for St. Barbara. In myths, we often see that the environment is responsive to the hero. Barbara was seeking wisdom and it came to her. She, in turn, was responsive and changed her environment to reflect her new wisdom by adding a window to her tower. So my friend and I asked Spirit to help us be open to common, everyday things and occurrences that might hold such messages for us and how we can respond and create effective change in the world.
The next day I received a holiday card from a cousin who wrote something about really missing my presence on Facebook and maybe in 2017 I’d consider returning. Others have asked me over this past year but I always knew that the answer was, at least for now, “no.” With this one, I wasn’t so sure. I’m not someone who believes that every random thought is sacred intuition. Instead, I prefer to take the idea as a suggestion and test it against my current goals and values.
So I am still thinking about this, thinking how could my Facebook experience be different. How can I use it to share my messages without getting dragged back into my old way of using the platform. It may come to nothing. Or it may lead to something vital to my journey. As we enter into the darkest time of the year, I will spend time in reflection and prayer.
In the meantime, I blessed my neighborhood that night with words inspired from our celebration:
May you stand up for something with love, honor, and integrity without violence.
May you stand up for thing, large or small—yourself, another person, an ideal.
May you stand up for something you love and take one step closer to your true self.
With that, I offer an additional blessing to us all:
May you find and face the darkest parts of yourself.
May you find the peace and strength to transform them.
May you discover your next best step on your journey to live your true soul’s purpose.
May you know that you have the power to change yourself and the world.
As some of you may know, I've begun blessing my neighborhood each night. I talk about it HERE.
Some nights, the blessings feel too special to keep to myself and my neighborhood, so sometimes I'll share them here for you. Because I want you all to be blessed, too.
You are blessed with discernment.
You are blessed with the ability to take action.
May these qualities drop deeply into your heart and grow.
May your deepest core start imagining, feeling, seeing how things can be different.
May that beautiful vision grow until it manifests through your actions
and change the world.
I had a really amazing experience last night and even in the midst of it, I knew I wanted to share it with you.
In the face of overwhelming headlines about the state of our world, it can be hard to know what to do to make a difference. Over the past few years, I've found little ways to make if not big differences at least small differences that could yield larger resonances.
For the past 6 weeks or so, I've begun a little blessing practice. With all the fear, hate, and anxiety coursing through our society, I knew I couldn't gather everyone into my arms and hold them to my heart until they calmed down. Instead, before going to bed, I bless my neighborhood and everyone in it. Each night it is different and I never know ahead of time what the blessing will be. Inspiration always came, like some wise and caring being whispering in my ear. Even though no one hears the blessing, it feels like some of the most powerful work I've ever done.
What was different about last night is that after I finished the blessing but was still looking out of the window, I saw a car driving out of the neighborhood. As it was driving away, I immediately thought toward the people in the car "and you, you are taking this blessing with you and spreading it wherever you go; it is going viral."
Now the magical practitioner in me rose up all ethical and judgmental saying, "It is bad enough that you are blessing people without their permission, but now sending it out into the world like a virus...not cool!" But whatever. It felt right. If felt powerful. It felt like it came from my heart and from something/someone more than just me.
In addition, it was a really cool blessing. Some that are whispered to me are more poetic than others. Here it is and I give it to you, too. Feel free to spread it or any other blessing. How often do you get a gift idea that is free and actually gets bigger, better, and shinier the more it is shared?
"May the magic in your world leap into your heart like drops of fire and pulse through your veins making you feel just so good to be alive."
And here is a special additional blessing for you, my friends:
"May you move through this season with ease and grace,
as a walking blessing to the whole world."
A lover of tarot, magic, and mystery.