Love in the time of coronavirus; Well-being in a time of crisis.

If life is a painful mess right now, you’re in the best possible place. Trust me. I’m right there with you, but I’m likely a bit ahead in knowing how to access this as a gateway to well-being: I’ve been socially distancing for many years now because of environmental illness. Like many people, when I first started dealing the problem, I was just choosy about where I went and who I was with to limit my exposures.

Then the reality of illness set in, and I had to stringently isolate and quarantine myself to protect my health from mold and toxic chemicals. For me, that meant I gave up my apartment in the city. I now live in a mobile environmental containment unit (MECU) — an 11 foot aluminum camper — where I have lived mostly in nature since June 2019.

Protecting my health demanded that I separate from people I love, the work I love, and the places I love.  As you are probably experiencing now, this new paradigm was deeply difficult. I no longer had the coping mechanisms of distraction and addiction, which I began to recognize for what they are by witnessing my yearning for people, places and things that I could no longer access.

Isolated in the great outdoors

For me, working and socializing was how I escaped the troubling thoughts in my head, ones that gnawed at me about love, self-worth and fears of economic insecurity. I had been a theater/art/nightlife/sex columnist over the course of a couple decades before my tolerance of environmental pollution tanked and couldn’t access theaters and venues where I was close to others and couldn’t move away from toxic assault. Fortunately, I was able to continue working as an adjunct English instructor for many years longer.

Then, as you have now experienced, there was a tipping point that required sharper and more stringent isolation. When my body simply gave out and could not endure another toxic injury, I had to go on complete lock-down, much like the rest of the world is facing now, simply to protect myself from the threat of being “infected” by the second-hand fragrance and mold spores in the air and on public seats and tables. I cautiously went to grocery stores and other shops, and opted for outdoor spaces when I could. Much like you are doing now, I had to start decontaminating myself when I would get home, shedding the clothes that wore and showering to protect myself.

Like a lot of you, when I took precautions, especially early on, many people thought I was just being compulsive, persnickety, weird, or overly cautious. The cleaning products, laundry products, personal care products all came laden with toxic chemicals that made my head spin; induced headaches, nausea, and musculoskeletal pain, and short-circuited my ability to think. I was buying giant bottles of Advil and always had them on hand in my purse. I took sometimes 8 or more a day just to function (which actually worsened my body’s toxic burden, though I didn’t realize it at the time.)

Like most people, I WANTED TO FUNCTION. I loved my work, for which I spent a fortune and trained my whole life. But I couldn’t. Continually assaulted by toxins, including mold in my apartment and in the classrooms where I taught, my body succumbed so that my brain no longer functioned. I woke up one morning and couldn’t read. At all. And soon I was having trouble sitting up, walking, and doing basic life tasks.

Being without a job, I was stripped of my greatest addiction: I had held my identity as a writer and teacher in a tight grip that gave me monetary and social value as much as it provided my sense of self. My intellect elevated me, without it, I was no longer “better than” the ignorant and idiotic.

Strip all that away and who was I?

Meditation would answer that question for me. And it took time. It supported me through the challenges of giving up Life As Usual over the last two years. The challenges keep coming, too, as much or more from the inside as the outside.

My first coping strategy was to look for an opportunity in my new circumstances, even though I didn’t like them. I encourage you to do that, too. I was forced to be home alone and couldn’t read and often couldn’t follow a narrative on TV, so even my at home distractions were taken away from me. I began to meditate and pray every day for long stretches. This was my “Monk In The Cave” opportunity.

I also cried. A lot. I would lie in the bathtub and sob. I would do my dishes and sob. I would collapse on the couch unable to sit up any longer and sob. I deeply yearned for safe physical contact, a hug without consequences. But mostly I was alone.

This was a good thing. An uncomfortable thing, but a good one.

For the first time in my life I was able to really become aware of what I was feeling. My distractions were gone, my thinking self was on hiatus, and my feeling self was begging to be witnessed. Without being able to access the ego-self of my intellect, I began to really descend into my humanity.

That’s a weird thing to say: “descend into my humanity.”

But it’s clear to me now that the things I was trying to learn by study and writing, through the intellect, for so many years were really only accessible to me once I dropped out of my mind and into the feeling self, which includes the heart but also the whole body. I became aware that grief had had a vice grip around my throat for my whole life and rather than let it silence me, I’d been using my voice and my words like a sword or a hammer to break through and be heard. I didn’t realize how much aggression poured out of my mouth just in my tone of voice or word choice even when I meant to be helpful and loving. Isolation provided time and space to safely witness and become more aware.

Perceval is my quarantine buddy in the MECU

What a wonderful gift illness and isolation gave to me, even if it came unwelcomed and I kicked and screamed (literally) a lot of the way through the process. I learned how to be vulnerable, how to ask for help and to articulate the things I needed, and how to self-soothe in a non-addictive way. And I learned to forgive myself and others for our limitations (like not being able to show up in the ways that I wanted or needed.)

I also encourage you to acknowledge your feelings and emote safely as your body asks to express itself.

There’s no telling how things will unfold or what life after illness will look like. It’s possible it may kill us. Perhaps full recovery is possible. Perhaps partial recovery. I know that we very much want to survive and thrive. But given that we all must die eventually and usually we don’t make the choice when and how it happens, illness has taught me that the important work happens when I both acknowledge my humanity and all the messy feelings that come with it and when I detach from the things that make me the most “me.”  Those things that I identify with so strongly that I think of them as ME (my beliefs, values, preferences, etc.) cause a more painful feeling of separation than social isolation or physical distancing.

So I invite you to really take this time to honor your feelings, to watch them for those things that you miss the most at this time when people/places/things are being stripped away, and to dive into that awareness for opportunities to let go of what really isolates us, which is a sense of separateness and lack of compassion (compassion = to feel with).

This is an opportunity.







What you get; What you deserve

I’ve been chronically ill now for almost 2 years. It affects me both mind and body. The symptoms are chronic fatigue and the accompanying brain fog. Often it is hard for me to follow a train of thought, which means reading is difficult. And so is writing. I’ve lost a lot of what I used to think of as me.

Despite this illness, or rather BECAUSE of it, I have had to change the way I think about things. But perhaps I should start with my point, rather than how I arrived at it.

When I got sober, I was taught by the SoCal sober community that what I get for getting sober is sobriety. I know that sounds both obvious and circular. But the common conception is that when we get sober that somehow God or Life will fix our lives. If we’ve lost our kids, we will regain custody. If we’ve lost employment, we will find work. If we’ve lost our health, good health will be restored. Etc. Etc. Etc.

My life after I got sober looked pretty much like it did when I was drinking: I was still single, I still worked as an adjunct professor, I still drove the same car, and still lived in a tiny apartment. The differences were that most of the excitement was gone:  I dated less (hardly at all), didn’t get on stage as often to play music or perform poetry, published less, and focused more on spiritual pursuits and new, longer writing.

For a long time, I wondered when God or Life would finally smile upon me for being a “good girl” and deliver up the Good Life. But things just kept getting more difficult, especially after I got sick and couldn’t work, and when my sensitivities to toxins became so severe that I couldn’t be around most people or in most buildings. Life just got harder and lonelier.

Always looking for solutions, I asked myself, “What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?”

With ample time on my hands, much of it spent lying down and all alone, the answer came: This was my Monk-in-a-Cave opportunity. I would use it to deepen my spiritual connection with a higher power.

Because I couldn’t comprehend much of what I read anymore, and when I could it was only a few paragraphs or, on a good day, a few pages, I began listening and watching spiritual talks on YouTube: Abraham & Esther Hicks, Gregg Braden, Joel S. Goldsmith (The Infinite Way), High Magick, and countless healing meditations, including those whose vibrations promised DNA repair and cellular healing.

I really wanted to be healthy again. I wanted to be healed. I really didn’t care whose God I had to pray to. Or what words I had to say. Or in what language. I even attended a Vietnamese Healing Mass  — an all Vietnamese Catholic service where I understood nothing! At the service’s conclusion, the priest held a giant golden cross over my head and blessed me. A friend went to Lourdes, France, whose waters are famed for healing.

“Bring me some of that water,” I demanded.

I prayed in English, Sanskrit, Hebrew….and indirectly in Vietnamese, I guess.  I meditated. I did positive visualization. I vigorously watched my language to make sure I wasn’t sending my body the message to be sick. I called various healers for prayers, and my friends said they were praying for me regularly.

In other words, I had deep, persistent, motherfucking faith, y’all.

And, still, I was sick.

For a long time, I felt like if I were doing things right or if I had enough faith, I would be healed. I felt like I had somehow brought illness upon myself by thinking the wrong thoughts or by not being faithful enough.

One especially hot day in Colorado not too long ago, sitting in a chair in the shade near the 11-foot camper  where I had been living for two months, I remembered, “All I get from being sober is sobriety.” I don’t know why those words came to me then, but I realized suddenly that ALL I GET FROM GOD IS GOD. I don’t get guarantees of healing, of wealth, of well being, of love, of satisfying work (or any work), help in a pinch, or anything at all really.

What I get is knowing that I am going to be okay NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS.

Stop and really soak that in. Because that is faith: “I am going to be okay no matter what happens.”

We haven’t been forsaken or punished or whatever because we are sick or because we are poor or because we are outcast. In fact, it occurs to me now that Jesus said “Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.” And then there’s Job. When shit is going seriously sideways, how about I consider the faith of Job?

If this sounds alarmingly Christian coming from someone who calls herself a Jewish witch, it is because during my illness I have found a great deal of comfort in the teachings of many spiritual traditions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Vedanta, Judaism, Gnosticism, Rastafari and various occult practices (“Occult” just meaning “hidden” not Satanic or evil. In fact, any Bible thumper out there should know the Gospels: “There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed.” Revelation, even of the educational variety, is sacred.)

Having embraced One, I receive the prayers said on my behalf with the Love with which they are sent, regardless of the person’s faith or the language in which they pray. So thank you for your prayers. They are working; I am more and more sure I am loved all the time.

In those times that I can remember — because, honestly, I forget important things like this a lot, which I attribute more to being human than to being ill –that God is not wish-granting Santa Claus  but an ineffable eternal wellspring of consciousness, I feel myself held in this glorious web of Life and hold space for the miracles that happen so often that I take them for granted. My heartbeat. My breath. The rising sun. Mitosis. Meiosis. Cellular respiration.

I don’t know what enlightenment is exactly. Letting the light in? Letting it out — “Opening out a way for the imprisoned splendor,” as Robert Browning said? These are questions that lead me back to One again and again. And in my best and most faithful moments, that is enough.




Meditation on devotion; Mapping a path to the divine

If you’re like me, you try to live in alignment with what is true and do what is right, even as you acknowledge that this may be different for everyone. You feel your way around topics like divinity, devotion, and grace. You try to touch lightly, with all the gentleness of tending an open wound or a newborn.

If you ask me to explain God, I’ll tell you it’s the Universal Energy that makes seeds sprout, that holds protons and neutrons in the nucleus while electrons orbit around them, that creates atomic bonds to form stuff, and that otherwise structures the world as we experience it. As a feminist, I’ll never use a masculine pronoun to refer to God. And as a devotee of reason, I’ll never claim that this God-stuff that holds the universe together as it generates, degenerates, and recycles matter has any interest in me personally. And I certainly won’t anthropomorphize this Force. Ultimately, my mind and language are finite things, I’ll say, and God is infinite, so I’ll never be able to really understand or explain God.

This is what Rational Me knows about God. Rational Me has gone to books to clarify ideas about the divine, to trace my fingers along the well-worn maps of other travelers, which is how I view these texts.  Rational Me is helpful. Up to a point.

But sometimes she gets in the way. So I have learned to find my way by observing her. Reading the Bhagavad Gita, Rational Me had an immediate, clear opinion about the central issue on Bhakti (devotional) yoga (Chapter 12). Arjuna asks Krishna, Which is best way to unite the personal consciousness with Supreme Consciousness  – either devoting oneself to God with attributes (manifest) or without (unmanifest)?

Rational Me sided with the unmanifest form, pure in its nothingness and everythingness, in its potential. Rational Me was irked by Krishna’s answer that it was better to meditate on the manifest form of God (Krishna) rather than the unmanifest (Brahman). It’s easier, He explains, for embodied beings to devote themselves to an embodied God. In addition to thinking Krishna’s answer was self-serving, Rational Me got a little rush of self-satisfaction. “Maybe it’s easier for other people,” she thought, “Yeah, those other people who take their metaphors too literally.”

RM gloated a while – through a few readings of the chapter, actually. And then it hit me! (Because I was observing the ego in RM.)

Almost daily as I have made long drives through Los Angeles and Orange counties, this feminist talks out her frustrations, fears, and dreams with an invisible dude who has the power to help her with stuff – even if it’s mostly finding peace and gratitude when things aren’t going my way. I talk things out – OUT LOUD, mind you – and my unseen buddy ribs me about how we’ve been through this before. And I nod and chuckle to a voice only I can hear. Many days it’s just me and God: on the road together, yucking it up about what a dumbass I am, as I live out the “God is my co-pilot” cliché.

This is me at BhaktiFest, a yoga festival in Joshua Tree, CA.

But there’s more: As with other friends, I’m disappointed when God’s plans don’t include me, and I’m irritated when his plans for me aren’t what I had in mind. Sometimes, the relationship feels really dysfunctional. Sometimes, I’ve blamed him. There are times, I get busy and don’t call. But when I’m really in a crisis, I can count on him to answer. Even if it’s been a long while since we’ve talked, he’s kept up with what’s going on and knows how to guide me. When I am grateful, accepting and compassionate, I sense that I am in good hands (not my own) in this journey from birth to death. This is how Intuitive Me experiences God.

As odd as it seems, rational thought doesn’t entirely govern my beliefs. Rational Me doesn’t know the map, no matter how many of them she reads.

This split between my thinking (abstract; unmanifest) and my action (concrete; manifest) seems to speak to the question raised in Chapter 12. While I can be in awe of the beautiful complexity of God in either form, it’s easier to be in a state of loving devotion to a manifest form that loves me back. I might add, that my devotion is absent when I am self-involved.

As a person who has changed her mind a lot, I’m a bit of a commitmentphobe. This is especially true of dogma. I like to explore the spiritual terrain of religions and even set up camp and learn their practices, but I have never settled on one. If anything I draw on all I’ve experienced in mapping my own route to the divine.

One of the things that I love about yoga is that I can, without having to worship a literal deity, still love “God,” unite with It- — whatever It is. I don’t have to define it because I directly experience It. Believing in a Source/Force that underlies the apparent world –creative, sustaining, and destructive – I feel what a small pixel of the big picture I am. It makes it easier to surrender the outcome of my actions, which I cannot control because more things and bigger things also impact the outcome.

It seems like this is my personal experience of Krishna’s counsel that if you cannot observe the Vedic rituals (which I can’t), then one should cultivate knowledge (which I have been); or better yet, meditate on the Supreme Consciousness (which I do often); or best of all, in devoted work, surrender the fruits of action and achieve peace of mind (which I also do often). Krishna closes chapter 12 saying that is in equanimity (toward comfort and discomfort, toward friend and foe, etc) that one becomes dear to him.

Equanimity: maybe this is what I am sensing, rather than indifference, when Rational Me explains God. If so, when I am equanimous, my consciousness is aligned with the Supreme consciousness, and I experience union, which is what the word yoga means.

As I experience equanimity through surrender, I achieve that peacefulness in which I feel loved, and that engenders love in return. And therein are the seeds of bhakti; that is to say, devotion.

Woodland magic and writing spirits

When I returned home this week from the Pacific Circle Revival, a pagan campout that celebrated midsummer, I brought back something unexpected.

I had made my camp on the top of Celtic Hill overlooking a wilderness of trees and mountains. Yucca trees stood like blooming spears among the pines. On the ground, lizards scampered. In the trees, blue-feathered birds alighted. On top of that hill, an oak sheltered my tent, and a nearby boulder became my altar to Saraswati, goddess of learning, arts, and creativity.

Part festival and part retreat, the Revival was a gathering of dozens of other people during the three days in Angeles National Forest for workshops and rituals. Though I came to the event alone and didn’t know anyone when I arrived, I was never lonely. I had lots of company when I descended from my camp. Several hours a day, I spent in the company of other people learning about nature and practicing magic.

Most of my time, however, was spent happily by myself among the trees and rocks as I talked to nature and its spirits. I was happy apparently alone because I didn’t feelalone. I had a community of people, nature, and the supernatural all around me.

By Sunday, I was so content that I even stayed after most other people left. As I heard engines start and people saying their goodbyes as they drove out of the campgrounds, I sat in front of my altar watching the sun descend in the sky and talking to Saraswati, feeling more connected than ever.

Mountain top BandidoAt home, my writerly independence can feel isolating. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed for a spiritual and creative partner. So many times. Too many to count. Despite all my many requests, I am single. I live alone. I work alone.

My prayers have felt unanswered.

On that hill, with a breeze blowing in from the west, I asked the goddess how to know her better, how to please her. I wrote a little, because that is what she asks of me.

I drove home slower than necessary as I descended the mountain, soaking the last bit of magic in. Once home, I realized that my prayers had been answered. I just hadn’t recognized it. I had expected a human partner, but my spiritual and creative partner is Spirit itself, embodied as the goddess Saraswati. I am not living and working alone when I take the time to bring her in on my projects and when I stay in relationship with her.

Turns out, the weekend in the mountains was like a magical couple’s retreat for me and Saraswati.

Set aside some time to romance your own creativity. Light a candle. Make some magic. I invite you to consider which of your prayers have been answered but you haven’t recognized, too. Perhaps you will sit with that for a while, and then write about it as I have. Remember: gratitude has a magic of its own.

Learn more about writing and magic in my Magic, The Elements & Writing YouTube video.  Or stop by Wholly Creative and learn more.


Moon Writing and Magic

Monday honors the Moon. Make its energy work for you by understanding what sort of work you should be doing:

On Mondays, know that you can begin a great, productive week by honoring the feminine energy of the day. Be receptive to what presents itself and reflect on those aspects of your work that could be done better or with more depth.

I wrote more extensively on the topic in my Wholly Creative blog  post today, which discusses more about the magic of moon energy.

You might even honor its energy by incorporating the moon in whatever it is you are writing today.

If the idea of combining magic and writing appeals to you, check out this 13-week online workshop.

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Dirty Lies that Keep You from Writing Magic

I’m so tired of all the glorification of suffering that seems to go hand-in-hand with writing. The idea that one must suffer for her art has been ingrained in us. It doesn’t help that some of our literary icons have told us its true.

“Writing is hard work and bad for the health.” E.B. White 

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Perhaps it’s good to suffer. Can an artist do anything if he is happy?” Aldous Huxley

Even if you’re not familiar with these quotes, it’s likely the notions that writing = hard and that suffering = better writing are some of your core beliefs because they’ve been repeated so often.

The truth is, as writers, we all hit creative blocks or need solutions to a craft problem. And, yes, writing takes effort. But we don’t have to suffer.

I did it, anyway, because I didn’t know better. After 10 years as a journalist, columnist and poet, I just couldn’t handle the suffering my writing life caused me. My writing depleted me. My failures, whether perceived or real, demoralized me.

Even though I’d made deep sacrifices for my art, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I quit my column. I stopped performing. I stopped publishing. I knew I either had to quit forever or I had to find a new way of doing things.

Marya yoga writingIn a commitment to this new life, I moved across the country to California, and I began cultivating a yoga practice that changed everything.

The teachings of yoga philosophy helped me with my relationship with writing. (I published a paper on this in a book on innovations in teaching writing. Read it here.) Soon, I saw that my yoga practice was a magical tool, too. And as I continued my quest for a relationship with my writing that felt supported, purposeful, and nourishing, I recognized the principles that I now teach in Practical Magic for Writers workshops.

Imagine a writing life…

  • that allows you to feel connected, rather than isolated.
  • that fills you with purpose, inspiration and joy.
  • that nourishes you, instead of depleting you.
  • that contributes to the well-being of you and others.
  • that helps you realize your best and highest self.

I have a FREE upcoming webinar where you can find out more: Intro to Practical Magic for Writers. You can attend live or watch it in replay.



Magical Confessions of a Poetry Chick(en); or How to Manifest What Your Heart Desires

I published the story of how before I became a national poetry slam chick, I used to be a cringing poetry chicken. It’s all about using magic to move past what we are afraid of and how to claim what we really want.

 I cringed inside every time he said it.

“This is Marya. She’s a poet.”

I was ashamed. His introduction made me feel like an imposter.

  • Even though I’d been writing poetry since I was young.
  • Even though I’d taken poetry workshop classes in college.
  • Even though I’d published literary magazines.
  • Even though I’d read and performed poems publicly.
  • Even though my poems had been published.

Other writers will understand. Something about calling myself a poet felt self-important. Pretentious. I didn’t feel like I deserved to be called a poet because I wasn’t a Great American Poet.

I tried to explain, “Poet, author, artist, musician… one does not just bandy these terms about.”

You can read the rest of it here at my Wholly Creative blog where I discuss some of the Hermetic principles of magic that helped me manifest what my heart really desired.

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Learn more at

Embody your fantasy; fiction can manifest reality

Though I’ve never published fiction,  I have written fictional stories that have become real worlds and my characters are well known by many who interact with them as if they are real, live people.

Let me explain.

Back in the early 90s, I was trapped in a marriage to a man who had become physically and verbally abusive. We had only one car, and I used to stare out the window as he drove through West Palm Beach, fantasizing about what went on inside some of the buildings we’d pass. I couldn’t go inside. My husband, who was much older and made most of the money, controlled where I went physically.

But he couldn’t imprison my imagination. The colorful sign above the ArtsBar on Dixie Highway provoked my curiosity, and my imagination projected me into that dark bar where Bohemian creative types drank and conspired to make art together. Along Federal Highway, a plain beige one-story building announced short term rentals. From a post hung a plain white sign with Mi Casa written in brown script, inviting me in.

Into these spaces, I projected the characters of two young women — Calla, the uninitiated narrator who had just declared her independence from a suffocating marriage and Sybil,  a wild child neighbor who taught the narrator the ways of single, independent, creative living. I began to write the story down. And then it took on a life of its own.

Dorothy and I, photo by South Florida Sun-Sentinel staff photographer

Within a few months, enough money to leave my husband found its way into my hands. The local radio was giving away cash — extra if you knew the phrase that pays. I won the big prize — $1,000. That was surprising in itself, but what was even more magical was that I’d told my co-workers that I was going to win the contest that day.

With the money, I moved into a studio in a Palm Beach duplex that was maybe twelve feet square. It was so small, you could sit on the toilet and brush your teeth over the sink at the same time. There was room for a bed, dresser, desk, and book shelf, which left only enough room to walk between the furniture. It was tiny, but it was mine!

Within a couple days, I discovered the best feature of the place: Dorothy, a wild child who would teach me the ways of single, independent, creative living!

I was Calla and she was Sybil. She’d studied theater, art, and poetry. She believed in the chthonian power of the arts and lauded chaos, darkness, and earth magic. Dorothy showed me all around Palm Beach, where she had been waiting tables and rubbing elbows with high society who appreciated smart women with quick wit and sharp tongues. She took me to the bars and arts institutions. She taught me the importance of a little black dress and red lipstick. She taught me to be shameless and brazen. Within the year, Dorothy and I had published our first art & literary magazine and were featured several times in the local press.

Then Dorothy took off for Europe with a backpack and I became a one-woman show. I performed poetry on pool tables, I started a poetry band. People started calling me “The Poetry Chick.” Eventually, I founded Delray Beach’s Dada Poetry Slam (Florida’s longest running slam, which just came in FIRST PLACE in National Poetry Slam Group Pieces! Yay team!). I traveled around the country performing my poetry and selling my chapbooks.

I wrote that new life into existence. It began with a vision — a fantasy — which I clarified and developed as I wrote. In the writing, the characters became more real, more embodied.

I understand that my desire for freedom — personal and creative — was within my power to choose.

The very first issue of our literary magazine

How on earth did I manifest Dorothy, though?

I don’t know. Perhaps the story was a pre-cognition. Or maybe I just got lucky. I can’t say for sure. But I do know that I have observed these synchronicities over and over in my life where my writing about things precedes them — new situations, events, and people.

I teach this aspect of Practical Magic for Writers in my Genius! workshop. I really am in awe of our ability to manifest the lives we want by imagining them and writing them into existence. That seems like magic to me.


What it really means to be “woke”

There’s no mistake how much most of us enjoy our stories. Streaming our favorite films and shows is a national pastime that many of us can’t resist. The thrills, the romance, the suspense — all of this adventure, we experience from a safe distance. We know it’s “not real” so even when it’s dramatically tragic, we aren’t too concerned about how the death of our favorite character is going to impact our actual lives.

woke-up-v1-1312At night, similarly, we enter the theater of dreams, seeing stories unfold that terrify, delight, and amaze us. When we wake, we may remember them and wonder about them, but mostly, we shake them off because they aren’t “the real world.”

Then again, lots of what goes on in the real world, what we believe to be true and act on, is nothing but projection, too — just a great drama invented in our minds, a story we made up to give meaning and purpose to the world. It’s amazing how when we decide that something is true how the entirety of reality shapes itself to support that belief.

This condition of our minds is exactly why magic is so effective in producing the results we want. Like films, dreams, and our waking projections, magic creates meaning of the things in our world, attributing significance to them and acting accordingly.

Embracing magic has been a process of waking up within the dream of my life. The more awake I become the more I am aware that there’s no real difference between “reality” and “magic,” except that in “reality,” I am accepting the conditions of my life as somehow less mutable and more imprisoning than those of my imagination. In “magic,” instead of being at the mercy of an external world, I see that I get to choose what I’d like my world to look like. I get to create it intentionally, just like a writer and director would do for a film, except that the movie is my life.

Lots of people stay asleep within their dream. Mostly, I think this is because they don’t realize that they are dreaming. When most people say they are “woke” what they mean is that they are aware of some underlying social or political system at work in our culture. But this what is called in sleeping dreams “false awakening.” They’re just dreaming that they have woken.

To really be woke is to understand how much power we have, that we are the dreamer and that we can change the dream. That is we can actively change the projection that we generally and passively accept as “reality.”

dribbble_-_owlOf course, this takes lots of work. It takes work at things people will often dismiss as frivolous and impractical. Working with the subtle forces of deities (which is to say “archetypes”) and of our desires and aversions is the stuff of magic that wakes us up inside the dreams of our lives so that we are lucid and empowered, and we recognize the significance of everything.

This is what I focus on in the Genius workshop of the Practical Magic for Writers series. We work with the mind’s powers — of imagining, of creating story, of dreaming and believing and knowing — as we write.  I have found writing to be the strongest magical tool I know of to shape and create reality. It’s allowed me to wake within the dream and to dream wide awake.


The not-so-great disappearing act; what to do when you lose your creative mojo

When the magic is gone, everyone loses.

At a creativity conference I attended in Los Angeles, a woman came to the microphone for guidance. She was beautiful in a way that might spark jealousy in some. She was slender and tan. A scarf was slung effortlessly around her neck in a way that made her casual outfit more relaxed yet more stylish: a sign of affluence. But despite the money and the beauty, there was something pitiful about her.

“I feel like I lost my mojo,” she said sadly into the microphone.

She said she was a writer, a life coach, and public speaker. She had degrees in nursing and an MFA in writing. But the accomplishments were no match for her depression.

“I don’t even know what I want to do anymore.”

Watching her, I realized that a person can seemingly have it all and still not have “it,” that ineffable inner power that animates us and fills us with dynamic energy and creativity.

Mojo is flowing… must be the water.

I had been in a similar state before. I had gotten so busy with the mundane demands of my life that I wasn’t tending to my creative flame. That’s why I started working Practical Magic for my writing, because I needed my mojo back. I needed the spark that made me feel excited and alive and let my writing life thrive.

Using the principles of magic I began to  integrate my everyday, practical life with my creative life, and my mojo returned. I became more aware of the inspiration and support that surrounds me so that I felt awake, alive, and magically charged.

When the woman at the creativity conference starting paying attention to the nudging of the universe to write about boundaries and faith, she came alive again, too. She found her mojo.

Pay attention. What has the universe been nudging you to write about? What themes keep coming up? These meaningful coincidences are what psychologist Carl Jung called “synchronicity” and are the stuff of magic.