I’m one of those people that always believed there was nothing special or magical about myself. When I was little I would play for hours in my mom’s garden wishing and willing myself to see fairies. But I thought fairies were tiny people like tinker-bell, so when I failed to see tiny humans with wings I got discouraged, and started believing that only ‘other’ more ‘special’ people could see them.
I grew up in a fairly normal middle-class family and no one in my family talked about energy or spirits. My love for connecting with the flowers, getting to know the personalities of the rocks in my mom’s garden, and my ‘imaginary friend’ Diana, just got me labeled being fanciful.
As a teenager, I read trashy novels about girls with ESP and went through a phase of toying with Ouija boards at slumber parties. I desperately wanted to move objects with my mind or see the future, but I couldn’t, so I gradually left those hopes and dreams behind.
I moved towards intellectualism, sharpened my mind at college, read philosophy, studied history. Sharpened my politics at punk shows, and later at protests. Came out as queer and explored my identity with a fierce will. Moved as far away from the mystical as I could and sharpened my sense of irony and sarcasm. I moved to bigger and bigger cities, looking for that dream of the life I thought I wanted.
I now see that what I was looking for was ecstatic connection. I came closest to finding it by playing music on stage, taking drugs, staying up all night a clubs and trying to have sex with everyone. I was always chasing that feeling of “this is what it feels like to really be alive”.
But the feeling, like the drugs and the sex and the music, didn’t last.
Then one night, in London, one of the largest, dirtiest and most beautiful cities I’ve ever lived in, I had a dream. It was simple, and all I remember about it is that I could see and smell the forests of my home. Oregon. The wet Douglas Fir mulch under my hands, the smell of rotting logs and mushrooms. I walked around the whole next day like I had been given a gift. From that moment forward I started my journey home.
I moved back into my parents house totally lost, totally broke and going through my Saturn Return.
I knew I loved plants, so that’s where I started. I got a job working in a nursery. If you’ve ever done it, nursery work can be some of the most soul crushing, un-magical work there is. My job was to wander in and out of large green houses and water tiny pansies with a mixture of water and chemical fertilizer. Not magic!
But through that job I found herbalism. And from there I discovered Chinese medicine and earth based spirituality. I was lucky enough to land in in the same city as my wonderful teacher Colette Gardiner and train as a priestess in her school: Blue Iris Mystery School.
There I learned that everyone has magical abilities. Everyone! I learned that there is no difference between imagination and magic. The very things that got me labeled as “imaginative” as a child were my greatest magical skills. I learned that spirit beings don’t look like the movies, and sometimes you can only see them when you aren’t looking at them, or with your eyes closed. I learned to trust my intuition. I learned that the fact that I could tell what someone was feeling, even when they didn’t say a thing meant I was an empath.
Now when I look back on my journey I see how every step was leading me closer to who I am now. That dream in London was my spirit guides calling me back home, letting me know there was something for me there. When I was spending long hard days in the nursery, pumping chemicals into tiny plants, I would have told you I was very much lost and didn’t know what I was doing. But it was at that job that I learned about Plant Spirit Medicine and got inspired to study herbalism. And THAT was how I met my teacher Colette, but it was years before I would actually study magic with her.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it is easy to look back and see how I was always on this path, always headed towards my calling, but at the time it didn’t feel that way at all.
The number one question I always get asked is “how do I find my purpose?” And it is a question I can’t answer directly for anyone.
What I can say is that the clues leading you there feel like a dream that reminds you of home; a conversation with a work-mate about a book that you can’t get out of your head; a teacher’s name you keep hearing over and over again.
That, and that there are no wrong turns, the universe is constantly placing opportunities in front of you. Opportunities to know yourself better, opportunities to finally accept the truth, which is that you are magic. We all are.
The irony of writing a blog on finding your life’s purpose is not lost on me. Like so many of the really important things in life, words fail. But still, we are human so we try anyway. If you were to ask me to sum up my life’s purpose in a few words I usually say something like “I’m a healer, priestess, and mother”. Which isn’t false, but it’s not really the whole picture. For example, before I could really say that I knew what I was here for, I would still have called myself a healer. (I wasn’t yet a priestess or mother, so I never would have thought to call myself that). So what changed to finally help me realize my purpose?
It wasn’t the words.
Rather is was a feeling. A certainty, and a knowing that was undeniable. When I do healing work something opens up inside me. Again, words fail, but if I were to try, I might call it a connection to Source, a feeling that is bigger than me and timeless; a feeling of rightness, that if I were to try and translate into a phrase, sounds something like “I was born to do this”.
It is the feeling I get in ritual space, and the feeling I get when I hold my son.
I’m sure the feeling was always there, like I said, I called myself a healer long before I actually knew it in my bones. But I didn’t trust it, I didn’t give it room to grow. I’d be willing to bet that if you are someone who doesn’t know their purpose, you are probably doing the same thing.
So how did I finally learn to trust and accept this feeling? Here are few things that helped me in my journey:
Being in reverence:
Whatever you want to call it, being in sacred space, connecting to the divine, finding your higher power. Whatever connects you to that feeling that you are part of something larger than you. Maybe it’s staring at the ocean, maybe it’s climbing a mountain, maybe it’s holding your child, maybe it’s meditation. The more you can intentionally connect to that feeling of reverence, the more it will show up in your daily life.
Healing my relationship with desire:
I used to hide the things I wanted so deep inside my heart, that I didn’t even know what they were. When I originally wanted to become an acupuncturist I signed up for massage school instead, and told everyone how glad I was that I didn’t have to deal with all the hard work and debt of grad-school. The thing about finding your life’s purpose, is that it is always something that you want with all your heart. If you don’t let yourself want it, you will never find it.
It took me a lot of help to get where I am today. I didn’t do it alone. All along the way I had teachers, mentors, and friends who were willing to hold a mirror for me to look at when I couldn’t get a clear perspective on myself. I would never have gone to grad-school if I didn’t have a trusted mentor encouraging me. Not to mention, that when I finally did start connecting to reverence during my work, it helped so much to have someone to talk to about it and someone to help me put it into context.
Where ever your journey takes you, I hope that this year provides you with plenty of opportunities to connect to your higher purpose, and your WHY.
If working with me personally resonates with you, you may want to join my year long immersion program. We will be using the 8 most potent days of the year to craft rituals of transformation, connect with our desires and discover our purpose. Find out more and register here! Or sign up below to listen to a free class I gave on the subject.
photo credit: Bryce Bradford via photopin cc
When I was in my early 30s my life was fairly aimless. I lived in a tiny RV trailer in the driveway of a big group house that was shared by 7 other people. I was stuck in an unhappy relationship that was going nowhere and I barely eked out a living cleaning houses and having a failing massage practice. Worse than all that, I had this lingering feeling that my life was supposed to amount to more than it was, and I didn’t mean wealth or accomplishment in the traditional sense. I really felt like I was here for a reason, but I just couldn’t figure out what it was. By luck or divine providence I stumbled upon a class on magic and decided to give it a try. The class was awesome and I learned a lot, but things didn’t really start changing for me until my second year of training. It was during this year that we all took a vow to follow the sacred holidays of the quarter and cross-quarter days and “walk the Wheel of the Year”. The class begun in ernest on Feb 2, Imbolc, or Candlemas as it it some times known. It was there that I took the vow to “Live my life as a magical act”. For the next year and a day I had committed to letting every second count as some kind of magic. It felt serious and important at the time, but of course I was completely unprepared for the journey I was about to take. By the end of the year, I had accepted my calling as a healer, was headed to grad school to get my degree in Chinese Medicine, and had fully accepted myself as a magical being What started as a simple vow, deepened as the year progressed. By Ostara, in March, I was ready to plant the seeds for a new life. By Beltain, May 1st, I had come to know some of my deepest heart’s desires. By Mid-Summer I received a vision so powerful I can still feel it today. It was then that I really began to realize my own capabilities as a magical person. August 2nd, Llamas, brought the first rewards of the year in the form of acceptance to grad school, and by Samhain, in October, I was ready to say goodbye to much of my old life, I moved out of my trailer into the first house I ever owned, and started school to prepare for my career in medicine. By Winter Solstice in December I was ready to be still in the dark quiet of the year and comfortable for the first time with not knowing where exactly I was headed, but knowing it would be amazing. It wasn’t just the celebration of these ancient holidays that made the year so amazing, it was that I had vowed to walk through the year in a way that allowed the mystery teachings of each holiday to become present in my life. Each holiday has, buried within it’s rituals, a deeper set of lessons and wisdom to teach us. When I made my commitment, I committed to being living vessel for those lessons and I was amazed at how life provided exactly the circumstances I needed in order to learn and grow. For instance, Beltain, the high holiday of May Day, is the time for honoring our deepest desires. It was then that I realized how all my life I had wanted to be a healer. On the Fall equinox we celebrate the harvest, and savor our rewards, but even in the harvest there is an element of letting go. That which is harvested does not grow anymore. It was during this time that I bought my house, and was about to begin grad school, which meant deciding what things from my old life were important to continue nurturing, and which things it was time to harvest and be done with. The wheel has turned many times since that first year that I made my vow, and each year it never ceases to amaze me how much there still is to learn from the simple wisdom of these powerful days. In the years since that first one, my magical practice has deepened and grown. I have earned my degree and started a rewarding practice as an acupuncturist. I have met my soul mate, and together we brought our son into the world. Some years I celebrate all holidays in a grand fashion, sparing no extravagance and celebrating in large groups. Others, like the year my son was born, I observed them quietly and simply. But I always feel the energy of the earth and the seasons no matter what I am doing externally. Returning each year to familiar rituals has taught me many lessons. First that change is a process, that all things have a perfect time and place. Also, that there is a pattern and web to life that is much greater than me, but of which I am an integral part. And perhaps most importantly, that change is the only constant. I am so excited to be offering a year-long immersion in this transformative practice starting this Imbolc (Feb 1st). If you would like to learn more about this class, join me for a free phone call on January 25th. In this call I will share more in depth on each holiday and how you can use Wheel of the Year to make 2015 your most transformative year yet. Enter your email below.
photo credit: alabaster crow photographic via photopin cc
If were to pick THE most important aspect of my entire spiritual practice it would have to be intention setting. Intentions allow us to use our spiritual practice to actually change our lives and the world around us, instead of just enacting some empty rituals. In a world where goal setting has become king, and everyone and their grandmother has a bucket list, intentions are the key to making sure your ambition gets you exactly what you want and need, and not just some thing that you thought you wanted but have since outgrown.
What is the Difference
Intentions are like what Danielle Laporte calls Goals with Soul. A goal is just a bench mark that you set for yourself for some future time frame. The problem with most goals is that at the time you set them, you have no idea what will be still be important to you when you complete them. When we set a goal we are assuming that the way we are now, is how we will always be. It is limiting. Intentions on the other hand are open ended. They are about how you want to feel, what qualities you want in your life, not about the external bench marks.
Goals are fixed, Intentions flexible.
A goal is usually one thing, I want to do X. An intention is usually more about the quality of what you want in your life. I want more abundance. I want a career where I feel like I’m utilizing my full range of talents and skills. The great thing about intentions is that they leave room for the universe to find you something better than your wildest dreams. Something maybe you’ve never imagined. When we set a goal, we are limiting our success to only that which we are able to imagine. When we set an intention we are letting the universe decide how big and how far we can go.
How to set intentions:
1. Get really clear on what you want. Start with the tangible: a new job, a new car, more money. And then dig deeper. Take one thing and really go into why you want it. How do you think its going to make you feel when you get it? Then take that feeling and see if you can come up with a broader term for it. Want money? Why? So I can feel less stressed about survival, so I can play more, so I can go on vacation! What are the feelings behind those things? Relief? Freedom? Relaxation? Respite? I challenge you to steer clear of big general words like ‘abundance’ unless you have really done some thinking on what that really means for YOU. Many times we throw words like that around with out really having a felt sense of what they mean to us. By the way, if you really want to dig deep into this process check out The Desire Map.
A little cautionary tale here: A few years ago I had a friend who asked the universe for money. The very next day her car was rear ended and she was injured. She ended up getting a settlement from the accident, in the form of MONEY, but at the price of her physical health. That is why I feel like it is always better to get as clear as possible on what you want. She thought she wanted money, but I bet if we asked her now she would admit there were more important things than the actual money, like health and freedom from financial strain.
2. Once you’ve distilled down your desires, see if you can sum them up into a sentence. I find it helps to start with either “I want to call into my life ……(insert desires here)” or “My intention is to …..(insert what you are trying to accomplish)” Then add the all important phrase “or better”. Leave room for the Universe to step it up a notch.
3. If you are trained in ritual, you may want to then translate your intention into a ritual act, but even if you aren’t here are a few ways you can work with it: place your intention on the your altar, write it in your planner, set fire to it and let give it over to the universe, or just hold it daily in your mind as you go about your day. Leave the rest up to the universe.
And now I’d like to hear from you. How do you feel about Goals? Love em, hate em? Have you ever set an intention before, how did it work out? Leave me a comment below, and if you love this article be sure to share on Facebook or Twitter.
Allison Carr LAc believes that healing yourself makes the world a better place. Learn more about her work and classes at http://allisoncarr.net/
Photo modified by me, quote from Pomegranate Doyle
photo credit: Jason A. Samfield via photopin cc
real magic is not about escaping the mundane, it’s about finding joy in it
When I first took a vow to live my life as a magical act I felt so excited and giddy about the ways my life was going to change. I was walking on cloud nine for weeks. If you read my last post you’ll know that it did change in many amazing ways, some more amazing than I ever could have dreamed. But I also realized some very profound and real things that taking this vow didn’t mean. There are some very real misconceptions about the Law of Attraction, and walking a spiritual path. I found that once I debunked these five myths for myself, I was much less prone to resistance about following my path, and I enjoyed my spiritual practice a lot more. Read on to see if any of these myths might be preventing you from having a satisfying spiritual practice.
1. When Bad Things Happen It’s My Fault
Recognizing your own power to shape your life, and refusing to be a victim, does not mean that you are at fault when life goes awry. Let me explain. I believe the universe is a vast complex ball of chaos that doesn’t fit neatly into our human brain sized boxes of cause and effect. When we start to realize our own power, we often mistake that power for being omnipotent. I believe that everything that happens in our lives is an opportunity to learn a grow, but its happening may have nothing to do with us. Sometimes yes, the message is loud and clear. You keep getting in the same fights with all your friend, you keep choosing the same crappy partner, you keep finding mates that are just like your mom or dad. But life isn’t laid out and planned out from the beginning to end, there are the lessons we have to learn, and then there is Random Shit That Happens.
But doesn’t everything happen for a reason? Yes, but the reason isn’t always ours to know. What if that shitty thing that just happened is WAY better than what could have happened? What if missing opportunity you really wanted just saved your life? Not to mention that we live in a big world full of people all living their own lives, and learning their own lessons. Sometimes we just get caught in someone elses life lesson.
2. A Setback Means I’m Going the Wrong Direction
I see this one all the time. I tripped and fell on my way to class, maybe I should re-think the class. I didn’t get that job, maybe I should re-think my direction in life. Yes, when something is continuously hard to manifest, and we alway seem to be running into road-blocks, maybe its time to re-evaluate. But if we quit every time we encountered one set back, we would get no where. Chances are if one setback has you running for the hills, its has more to do with fear and resistance than divine intervention.
3. If everyone got what they wanted, wouldn’t the world turn into Chaos?
Yes and no. The flip side of learning that you are powerful and can draw what you want into your life is that you have to really decide what you want and why you want it. This is learning about Heart’s Desire. True soul-desire differs from greed because it serves a purpose. It helps you do your work here on earth, and that helps everyone. Greed is when we just want more, because we don’t know what truly nourishes us, so we keep needing more and more to fill the void that never get satisfied. And yes, there are those that use the powers of manifestation to get whatever they ask for, not realizing that they don’t really want any of it. But that’s not what I’m talking about when I talk about waking up to magic. I’m talking getting what really fulfills you, what makes your heart sing, so that you can give back. And a world where everyone knew what that was, and had it? That would be a beautiful world!
4. If I have the power to shape my world, what if I think a bad thought, won’t something bad happen?
We can’t control our thoughts. We can’t control our emotions. Yes learning to lean more towards positive thought and healthy emotional expression is a good thing. But magic doesn’t happen by accident. Its not like the movie Carrie, where we wreak havoc with our anger. Magic takes a specific conscious intention, it takes a ritual act to focus that intention. Intentionally hurting someone with our words or actions has bad consequences, but not in the form of knives spontaneously flying across the room. Yes if you are always thinking negatively, chances are you are surrounded by negativity, but only because you can’t see anything else. You aren’t going hurt someone just by thinking badly of them, unless you are really trying hard to curse them. And if you are, then we need to sit down and have a little talk about magical ethics.
5. But I’m totally on board with this magical life thing already, why do I still have dirty dishes to wash and debt to pay?
You know how in the books little faeries come and clean your house and do your dishes, or a handsome stranger saves the day? Yeah, that’s never gonna happen! The mundane tasks we may love or hate still exist whether you live magically or not. The difference is how we look at them. I still have to mop my floors, clean my room, feed my family and pay the bills. But if I choose, mopping my floor can become a blessing or space clearing on my whole house. Feeding my family: a spell of abundance. Paying bills, well this is still a hard one for me to wrap my brain around, but what if every time you gave someone money, it came with a silent blessing: “may you have everything you need.” It seems silly and small, but imagine how different things would be if every time money changed hands, it came with a blessing? Its not in the avoiding of these mundane tasks that we find the sublime, but in the embracing of them as potentials for acts of magic.
And now I would like to hear from you. What other myths about spirituality can you think of that have proved to be untrue? Leave a comment below. And if you like what you read, pass it along by sharing on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest (easy social share buttons below)!