Why we can’t have nice things…The History and Stigma of Psychedelic Mushrooms

“I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about.”

— Terence McKenna

Magic mushrooms. Shrooms. Mushies. Music festivals. College dorm rooms. A young person who reads astrology, travels to South America and refuses to wear deodorant. Psilocybin mushrooms have gotten a bad rep. In the United States, they are not accepted in the mainstream culture, legally or socially, and when surveyed, only 0.1 percent of Americans report using psychedelics (this includes LSD, MDMA, mescaline, and peyote).

Psilocybin, the psychoactive component in magic mushrooms, is a psychedelic fungus that can be found in the wild or can be easily grown in sterile, high humidity conditions. There are over 200 species but the most commonly consumed are Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe subcubensis, and Psilocybe semilanceata. Psychedelics are defined as hallucinogens, which alter states of consciousness by influencing the serotonin 2A receptor agonism in the brain. As a whole they are known to cause changes to cognition and sensory or auditory hallucinations. The word psychedelic, coined by British psychologist Humphry Osmond in 1956, comes from the Greek word psyche which means “soul” and dēloun which means “to make visible or reveal”. The name itself reveals the deeper, spiritual implications of these substances, the extra-ordinary states that they provoke, and the notion that they can access parts of the mind that are typically unused. But it is no coincidence that they are not accepted in mainstream cultures around the world, particularly in the United States.

In 1960, the psychedelic mushroom became associated with antiauthoritarian counterculture as musicians, filmmakers and visual artists began to promote its use. Simultaneously, research was being done on psychedelics, with great publicity and often with poor understanding and regulation. The youth had an emerging distrust for the United States government, disillusionment regarding the American Dream, and a desire for social justice. There was an increased desire to disrupt institutions or the “old” way of doing things, and the call for freedom of speech and expression. All of this was offset by inter-generational trauma caused by World War II and the divisiveness and intense costs of the Vietnam War occurring during that time period. In an effort to preserve order and control, Nixon passed the Controlled Substance Act in 1970, making psilocybin (and other psychedelics) illegal. Any and all academic or government research on psilocybin ceased and the public was warned to beware the dangers of psychedelia. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, psilocybin is a Schedule 1 Drug and it “has a high potential for abuse”, “has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.”, and “has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision”. In other words, psilocybin is dangerous, addictive, and has no benefits.

But these claims are flimsy on only a brief examination of the scientific research. In the past 20 years, well-reputed research institutes such as John Hopkins and Heffter are using organizations such as MAPS (The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) to fund private research, despite intense regulations and lack of government funding. These studies are enabling huge leaps forward in understanding psychedelics and the brain and are revealing the profound benefits psilocybin has on the psyche. There is already repeated evidence to suggest that psilocybin offers minimal risk of abuse and side effects are not significant. Some findings suggest that psilocybin can benefit conditions, such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, and addictions, that don’t respond to typical therapies or drugs prescribed for mental illnesses. And studies on healthy participants suggest increased well-being, connectedness, and divergent thinking (i.e. creativity) up to one-month after ingestion. Unlike most prescribed medications, psilocybin may have the remarkable ability to work with the neuroplastic nature of the brain, creating beneficial and lasting changes in the brain structure that evolve even after taking the psychedelic. The implication would be that the benefits gained by using psilocybin therapeutically could have permanent effects on the brain structure through repetition and treatment that enables the experience to be integrated.

The reality is this entheogen is not new–it grows on every continent of the world and has been intertwined with human history as a medicine and guide for thousands of years. Evidence reveals that psychedelic mushrooms have appeared as far back as Aztec, Mayan, and Mesopotamian cultures. A prehistoric mural found in Spain (2.5 million years ago) suggests the ritualistic use of fungus and the ancient Egyptians adorned Temple walls with hieroglyphic depictions of mushrooms as food for royalty and “a gift from the God Osiris”. Even the Rigveda one of the four vedas and one of the oldest yogic texts, repeatedly mention a substance consumed to achieve eternal life called Soma. Remarkably researchers believe Soma was a psychedelic mushroom that may have influenced the creation of yoga 3,500 years ago. To this day, innumerable cultures around the world utilize psychedelic plants and fungi as medicine with the guidance of a Shaman or Elder to achieve higher states of consciousness and to release diseases of the mind and body. In ritualistic settings, psilocybin has been known to induce intense experiences such as birth, death, meeting God, personal knowing or gnosis, connection to all people and things, and the disintegration of time and space. Many report that psychedelics invoke a state not unlike those achieved by deep meditation.

So then the question must be asked…

Why the stigma?

Why is psilocybin, this ancient and naturally growing entheogen, still illegal on a global scale if both modern science and ancient cultures are revealing over and over again that it is not only not dangerous but it offers extensive benefits to the mind, body, and spirit? Why is it taking us so long to return to this viable tool for self-healing?

As one would expect the answer is multi-faceted and complex, particularly since the global criminalization of psilocybin cannot be traced to any single event and there does not see to be a universal, legal consensus that the substance offers scientific or religious benefits. But the timeline below offers a brief picture of why and how psilocybin and psychedelics as a whole became stigmatized through the progression and overlapping interactions of science, government regulation, and public opinion.

  • 1943 – Pioneering Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

    Five years after unintentionally synthesizing LSD from ergot, the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman accidentally dosed himself while synthesizing a batch. While handling the drug, he had to stop work to lie down:

    “[I] sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors”

    (1980, Hoffman, LSD–My Problem Child).
  • 1939-1945 – World War II

  • 1947-1991 – The Cold War

  • 1947 – Delysid, the first (and last?) commercial, psychedelic medication

    Sandoz Laboratories, where Hoffman first synthesized LSD, released the psychedelic as a commercially available medication called Delysid for a range of psychiatric conditions. Shortly after, United States researchers began to study the substance, believing it had clinical applications.

  • 1950 – The Birth of the Beatnik

    The Beat Generation was a movement and counterculture credited multiple 1950s authors including Burroughs, Lucien Carr, Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke, and Kerouac. Primary features of the movement were spiritual quests, American and Eastern religions explored together, psychedelic experimentation, sexual freedom, and a refusal to participate in mainstream consumerism. Many connect this movement directly to the Hippie Movement that came in the 60s.

  • 1950-1965 – The Golden Age of Psychedelic Research

    Time magazine published six positive reports on LSD as the American fascination with psychedelics entered the mainstream. Over 40,000 subjects were given LSD and over 1,000 scientific papers were published.

  • 1955-1975 – The Vietnam War

  • 1955, December – The Inception of Civil Rights

    Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus and was arrested. Major institutions began to be challenged by the public, particularly those connected to the oppression of black Americans. There was increasing interest in human rights.

  • 1957 – Gallup, a U.S. analytic company found 69% of Americans had an interest in spirituality.

    Curiosity took hold of the cultural movement and challenged traditional American values while placing emphasis on spiritual explorations through yoga, the occult, expanded consciousness, and accessing the full human potential.

  • 1959-1963 – The Harvard Psilocybin Project

    Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert infamously conducted the first research on the effects of psilocybin on human consciousness. They were both eventually fired from the university as they lost credibility by administering the mushrooms while under its influence, not following research controls or following general research guidelines, and disobeying the university’s policy of not administering the drug on undergraduates.

  • 1960, May – Eisenhower and the U-2 plane incident

    An American U2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, while President Dwight D. Eisenhower and leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev had an important summit that same month. The American public was informed a weather plane had crashed, however when the spy plane was discovered in the Soviet mostly intact, Eisenhower had to publicly admit to the lie. This further catalyzed government distrust.

  • 1963 – Assassination of John F. Kennedy

    Kennedy was widely loved and his premature death shattered the public. Dissatisfaction with the government explanation (that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone) and conspiracy theories proposing the CIA had been involved in the assassination, further increased divisions and distrust amongst the American people.

  • 1965 – Freedom of Speech in Movies

    The Hays Code was repealed and the strict censorship on movies ended, allowing filmmakers to break free of traditional sexual and moral conventions of the time.

  • 1966, May – California was the first state to outlaw LSD.

  • 1967 – Hippies and the creation of the commune

    The Kaliflower Commune or The Friends of Perfection Commune was created in San Francisco, California as a utopian community that lived together and shared resources. It was one of the first of its kind, exemplifying the changing lifestyles and communal living of the youth that became a fixture in the hippie movement. They supported artistic expression, psychedelic experimentation, service, polyamory, and often limited interactions outside of the community.

  • 1968 – Staggers-Dodd bill was passed, banning possession of psilocybin and psilocin in the US.

  • 1968 – Protests pick up across the country

    Building strain between the public and the police meant increased antiauthoritarian sentiment, especially among college students. The Black Power and Black Panther movements took form out of the civil rights movement and diner sit-ins and school walkouts began to occur across the country in response to segregation. Many protests were peaceful, but many were not. In Orangeburg, South Carolina three college students were shot and killed by police during a protest. Later, at Kent State four unarmed students were killed and nine injured by the national guard.

  • 1970 – Congress passed The Controlled Substance Act

    This statute was passed by the 91st United States Congress and signed in to law by President Nixon. It created five classifications (schedules) for substances, regulating their distribution, possession, use, and manufacture. Psilocybin was listed as a Schedule I Substance, implying it was among drugs with the highest potential for abuse.

  • 1971 – United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances also lists psilocybin as a Schedule I drug.

  • 1990-1995 Dr. Rick Strassman conducts research on DMT and later publishes “DMT: The Spirit Molecule”.

    As DMT did not carry the same stigma as other psychedelics, Strassman was able to successfully test and show measurable benefits of N-dimethyltryptamine. Some argue this was the key factor to spark the current Psychedelic Renaissance in the research community.

  • 2006 – The tides turn.

    U.S. Supreme Court ruled that UDV, a Christian religious group that sacramentally uses ayahuasca, could import the drink to the United States.

    Dr. Roland Griffith’s landmark paper, “Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance” was published in Psychopharmacology.

  • 2009 – Founding of the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College in London by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris.

  • 2014 – LSD is shown to be able to treat anxiety experienced in relation to terminal illnesses.

    Rick Doblin, an American drug researcher, conducted a study on the therapeutic benefits of LSD in the hope that he would “break these substances out of the mold of the counterculture and bring them back to the lab as part of a psychedelic renaissance.”[19]

    Eight subjects received a full 200-microgram dose of LSD while four others received one-tenth as much. Participants then took part in two LSD-assisted therapy sessions two to three weeks apart. Subjects who took the full dose experienced reductions in anxiety averaging 20 per cent while those given the low dose reported becoming more anxious.

  • 2019 May – Denver, CO is the first city to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms

    2019 June – Oakland, CA follows suit in decriminalizing cultivation and possession of some psychedelics.

  • 2020 January – Santa Cruz, CA decriminalizes adult cultivation and possession of psilocybin mushroom

  • 2020, September – Johns Hopkins’ establishes the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research

    With $17 million in private funding and a full panel of planned studies, Johns Hopkins launched the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research in September this year.

    The center, believed to be the first such research center in the country and the largest of its kind in the world, will focus on how psychedelics impact brain function and mood in both healthy individuals and those affected by conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and anorexia nervosa.

Photo by Fiona Art on Pexels.com

It is clear, the narrative is changing. In spite of legality and stigma, psilocybin is gaining traction as studies continue to pile up, documenting the immense benefits of psychedelic therapies. Science, as opposed to opinion, is now shattering the narrative of dangerous psychedelic drugs and it seems that the prospect of legalized, medicinal psychedelics is increasingly likely. Some have even documented a trend in the silicon valley elite using “magic mushrooms” (micro-dosing and medicine ceremonies) as tools for creativity, self-development, and increased energy. With the advent of biohacking and increased performance, psilocybin and other psychedelics fit nicely in this fascination with maximizing physical and mental potential and pursuing expanded states of consciousness. This is not say, however, that these tools should be approached without respect. It could be argued that modern use of psychedelics to improve work performance or to aid in excelling within a consumerism work force is forgetting the tradition and ritual surrounding the psychedelic experience, especially if the user is seeking something or taking from the entheogen to achieve wealth, material success, and greater productivity. Curanderos and shamans have not treated these psychedelic entities as servants, instead they treat them as gods or guides and approach them respectively as both conscious and aware beings. For example, as opposed to many Americans who fly to the Peruvian jungle to drink ayahuasca in the “traditional” ceremony, the tradition was actually that only the healer and not the patient consumed the entheogen–and this was after years of rigorous training and communication with the plants. In this vein, it is important to note that not all should consume entheogens. Not all minds are compatible or at the stage of development to work with a psychedelic because the shattering of ego and identity, although harmless to the physical body, can be intensely traumatizing and damaging if the user already has unprocessed trauma or has never experienced non-identification with Self. It is important to prepare the mind for an experience of surrender and immense discomfort, to know when one is at a place of stability for such an experience, and ideally to work with a professional guide, therapist, or shaman. Approaching the psychedelic experience without expectation, without seeking is key. Practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques are helpful and preemptively examining the nature of one’s mind and environment can mitigate the uncomfortable experiences some report during trips (although important to not forget that discomfort is not a bad thing and can yield immense healing and growth and the research supports this notion). Things are looking up for Psilocybin access in modern American culture and psychiatry is finally returning to these highly effective, ancient medicines for their long-term benefits and minimal side effects. But hopefully, as we move in to a world that welcomes psilocybin in to our homes, bodies, and minds, we don’t lose sight of the wisdom these powerful and conscious beings can offer the collective. Psilocybin is not merely a medicine, but a bridge that connects us to our ancestors, nature, and a state of universal oneness.

“The ordinary waking consciousness is very useful and, on most occasions, an indispensable state of mind; but it is by no means the only form of consciousness, nor in all circumstances the best. Insofar as he transcends his ordinary self and his ordinary mode of awareness, the mystic is able to enlarge his vision, to look more deeply into the unfathomable miracle of existence.” ― Aldous Huxley

“We are sneaking psychedelics back into our society through research like the MDMA research that’s going on, through the research for the use of marijuana for pain, through research with the dying [with psilocybin], and ultimately we will do the same kind of stuff about alcoholism, about prison rehabilitation, so on. I mean, its obvious that psychedelics, properly used, have a behavior-change psychotherapeutic value. But from my point of view, that is all underusing the vehicle. The potential of the vehicle is sacramentally to take you out of the cultural constructs which you are part of a conspiracy in maintaining. And giving you a chance to experience once again your innocence.” ― Ram Dass

10 High Magick Rituals to Recover from Anxiety

.: The List :.

Practice no mind

.: Number 10 :. Every energetic ritual previously discussed, from the most simple to the most elaborate, continues to bring us back to the same place, the same core practice: meditation. This one is number ten because it is probably the most simple and yet requires the utmost self-mastery to maintain. Quite frankly, it is […]

Honor the four elements

.: Number 9 :. Have you noticed that it is expensive to live near a river, at the top of a mountain, or next to a tree-lined park? Sun bathing, star gazing, even the simple act of planting a seed in a garden. Forests, waterfalls, canyons, the ocean. Earth, Water, Fire, Air. Whether we realize […]

Charge your aura and etheric bodies

.: Number 8 :. As you create balance in your physical body through the previous rituals mentioned, there is an energetic aspect that can bring healing from anxiety to a deeper more profound level. This practice seems to have been mostly overlooked and forgotten about in the modern Western world. One of my favorite teachers […]

Practice no mind

.: Number 10 :.

Every energetic ritual previously discussed, from the most simple to the most elaborate, continues to bring us back to the same place, the same core practice: meditation. This one is number ten because it is probably the most simple and yet requires the utmost self-mastery to maintain. Quite frankly, it is not advisable to practice high magick whatsoever without a disciplined meditation practice. Magick opens you to order and chaos or angelic and demonic energies of your own mind. And if you cannot traverse these dimensions with clarity, you can be manipulated easily by the mind. Play with fire without fully understanding it, you can easily get burned.

Meditation moves the awareness away from the mind by putting you in direct contact with the divine Self. The all seeing Eye. Eye am that Eye am. It cannot be captured by language and so everything discussed is only an attempt at describing the process of transcendence through the ritual of meditation. With time, this practice allows access to true freedom from all suffering. The mind writes infinite stories. It can invent the most elaborate, convincing lies. It is as if the human vessel is built to create and identify completely with illusion. Meditation is one of the most direct and elegant ways to bypass self-deception. It is truly tried and tested as the earliest documented meditation can be traced as far back as 5,000 B.C.E. India where drawings depicted people seated in lotus with half-closed eyes. Every culture known to mankind offers some form of meditation ritual. Modern research is finally on board with the seemingly endless benefits–improved memory, greater attention span, reduced inflammation, and pain management. Psychologists seem to agree that meditation can directly reduce an anxiety response. It works instantaneously and is seemingly the most accessible form of treatment for any fear-driven response or limiting belief. You don’t need equipment, magickal objects, or any other person–it can be performed anywhere at any time. But for whatever reason, it is so difficult to maintain? Why?

In Western society, meditation does not seem to line up with the pace and the goals of the collective culture. Much of the programming is based on externalized validation. Attention and care is placed almost solely on the physical, in spite of the fact that reality itself originates in the mind. “Fitness” is focused on weight-loss, six-pack abs, a tight derrière. The function of “calories” precedes the experience of food to the point that you may never actually taste the food that you eat. Rest or mindfulness is to increase productivity, to manage the nervous system in order to continue dealing with your boss, your spouse, your kids. Spiritual practices are to “manifest” all of your desires, to change your relationships, your body, your job, your wealth. If you’re not feeling good, supposedly, you’re not doing it right. Every interaction with your reality becomes a means to an end and an attempt to constantly feel comfortable, safe, happy. And the practice of magick itself becomes oriented towards a state of “wanting”, “not having”, or “protecting” yourself from suffering, evil, loss. And there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting or protecting. Desire is the fire that ignites curiosity and action. And protection is a tool to keep the physical vessel intact. But it is important to note that what you create is what you get. If you create a state of want perpetually, you only get a state of want. You orient yourself as not having the thing that you want. If you create a state of fear, you create something to be afraid of. The universe is only yes and go. The fastest way to create abundance is to be in a state of abundance already. You already can access unlimited energy, joy, gratitude, Love in its highest form. It is inside You.

There are different ways to practice meditation and much of it depends on your experiences and energetic needs. The first key, however, is to recognize that there is no correct meditation. There is no mastery. This process has no destination. Imagine your meditation practice as a baby bird in your hands. If you hold too tightly you will kill the bird. If you move suddenly without warning the bird will fly away. The bird is fragile in a way, but it is also free. The bird does not belong to you, rather the bird has chosen to visit you in this moment. Simply stay in this moment. Approach your meditation practice with a sense of humor and creativity. It is a love poem to your Self. And remember that every day, every moment is different. You do not have to fight change as it is the natural order of this reality. Accept and let go. The following loose guidelines can assist you in beginning your creative meditation ritual:

Choose your place and time and keep the meditation short. You want it to be something you can commit to and complete every day. Eliminate the potential for distraction or interruption. Start a timer and sit in a position that can be maintained comfortably. Close your eyes or choose a soft focus on your nose, the wall in front of you, or a chosen object. I recommend starting with five or ten minutes. Even if you have spent years meditating, slow things down. See what happens if you stop doing anything for a short period of time. Where does your mind go? Does it go anywhere at all?

Practice this meditation for one week, at least. And when you notice the time starts to fly by, your thoughts becoming less and less present, add five more minutes. Continue like this, slowly adding time, but only when you feel ready. You are building your ability to focus on nothing and everything at the same time. Some days you will feel distracted. Other days you might feel overwhelmingly emotional. Others it is as if you are traveling through time and space. Or you might even fall asleep. Observe the experience, but do not judge the experience. Again, this process has no end or limit. Do not congratulate yourself or punish yourself internally for your meditation practice. It is what it is.

Eventually explore accessing this state throughout your day. You can choose the morning, the evening, the afternoon when you’re taking a break. Observe what it feels like to empty or let go of your thoughts while you perform a task. This state of being will becoming increasingly available to you. When you practice no mind every day, it becomes easier and easier to access this mental state when you experience anxiety. The meditation is like a rehearsal for when shit hits the fan. You become familiar with your own thoughts and stop identifying with the emotions. Simultaneously you learn to stop fighting with your mind and to accept things as they are. You will eventually notice great power flowing through your being and the discomfort will become a source of energy. Do not fear the energy. Do not fear the silence. Accept and let go.

Some tips to start or if you are seeking techniques to ground a restless mind:

Focus on the breath. Breath two counts in to the low belly, two counts in to the rib cage, and one count in the throat. Imagine the air is like sipping water in to your being. Exhale two counts in the low belly, two counts in the rib cage, one count in the throat. Repeat this throughout the five minutes.

Listen to the sounds in your room. Notice everything that you hear. Listen to the sounds in your own body. Notice what you hear. For some music or shamanic drumming can be a great entryway in to listening. Breath in time with the rhythm.

Speak a word or phrase out loud. This practice in Yoga is called mantra. You can choose a spell, intention, or a word in Sanskrit that has a particular meaning (s a list of Sanskrit mantras can be found here and the Wiccan invocation here.) You can also choose something nonsensical or meaningless. As you exhale say the mantra. Inhale in between each word. Continue with a consistent, steady rhythm. When you can maintain your focus, start to say the mantra in your mind.

Look at a picture such as a god, goddess, or a mandala. Or observe a flame, a steaming cup of tea, a tree outside. Practice looking at the picture or object without thought. Over time you build focus on the thing that you are viewing. When you can sustain the focus, close your eyes and picture the object in detail.

Lastly, here is a 10-minute guided meditation which will move your awareness from thought identification to observation.

Or get the full list

Honor the four elements

.: Number 9 :.

Have you noticed that it is expensive to live near a river, at the top of a mountain, or next to a tree-lined park? Sun bathing, star gazing, even the simple act of planting a seed in a garden. Forests, waterfalls, canyons, the ocean. Earth, Water, Fire, Air. Whether we realize it or not, we place energetic value on the natural world. Humans have gathered in elemental vortexes of energy since the beginning of time and even now it is perhaps our deepest, most primal instinct that draws us to these energetically charged places. With high magick, elemental rituals work particularly well for anxiety because they address the fundamental forces that connect and form nature on the physical level and on the level of consciousness. You don’t need to think or interpret, the simple act of adding the energy of the four elements creates stasis in your home, body, and mind.

Beyond the elemental directions invoked in Western pagan and neopagan rituals, elementals can be found in almost all cultures across the world–the ancient Indian system of Ayurveda, the Chinese system of feng shui, Native Americans and the medicine wheel, and the five pure lights in Tibetan Buddhism. These systems deepen and enhance the understanding of elementals. But for the sake of simplicity, the rituals discussed below allow elementals to brought in to the home and body without any specific practice, study, or access to nature. Evoking these forces creates immense energy potential because it is the manipulation of the major energetic building blocks of reality. Elements directly tie in to the process of energy moving from the divine realms to our 3 dimensional reality. Understanding elementals therefore enhances understanding of manifestation. I have broken down elemental and manifestation correspondence in to the following system based on the study of alchemy:

Feelings (fire) lead to thoughts (air). Thoughts (air) lead to emotions (water). Emotions (water) lead to sensation (earth). Sensation is the manifested creation.

The first place to start in elemental ritual is to observe which elemental forces come to your specific constitution or temperament naturally. This can give you insight as to which elements to seek out to create balance. For some this can be associated with astrological sign and chart. But you can simply observe your physical body and mind to gain understanding. Does your mind move quickly or slowly relative to other people? How about your body? Do you need a lot of sleep to feel balanced? Or do you need a lot of exercise to find equilibrium? Do you feel grounded on a day to day basis or as if your mind is in outer space? Do you often forget to eat or is it difficult for you to put down your fork? Do you change day to day, moment to moment or do you feel more fixed, steady in your approach to life? What is the quality of your skin: cool or hot? Oily or dry? (Note that you can have more than one elemental in your constitution.)

Once you have identified your personal quality or qualities, notice the foods that you crave, the people you surround yourself with. Often we seek out opposites or balance in our environment without realizing it. For your ritual choose any energy that you notice may be absent from your life that falls within the realm of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. The following lists each element, their qualities, and techniques to access them on a daily basis in your home:

.: Earth Element :.

Earth is the boundary or container for other elementals to be expressed. It is the body, Gaia, Mother Earth. It is associated with the Root chakra, the archangel Uriel and the season of Winter. Earth qualities are fixed, still, and cooling. It connects us to nurturing mother energy: safety, comfort and rest. Earth is consistent, reliable, and changes more slowly than the other elementals. It is the physical, material plane and it also relates to anything you manifest into this reality. The earth elemental is the fruit of your energetic or spiritual labor. Your intentions and internal mechanisms or beliefs correspond to what you create in the Earth realm. Looking at your physical, earth body, can be a great place to get insight in to your state of mind. In order to manifest through the physical reality, it requires the qualities of earth to be in balance: patience, consistency, and repetition. Our physical world is composed of time and space, which are limitations or boundaries. The earth elemental enables us to work with the physical form to create and to nourish the body.

If you seek the restful, nourishing energy of earth, start your ritual by accessing trees, plants, and soil of any kind. You can purchase a simple house plant and keep it at the foot of your bed or in your kitchen. Every day touch or water the plant as needed. When you are in contact picture green energy being shared between you and the plant. Over time build a relationship by researching the plants name, origin, and specific needs. Speak to your plant or simply acknowledge the plant’s consciousness. You can do this outdoors if you have access to trees of any kind. The key with any earth ritual is to practice it every day consistently. Additionally, if the weather allows, find a day to go outside in a park, the woods, or a field to practice earth charging. Take off your shoes and lie on your back in the soil or grass. Close your eyes and allow your hands and feet to fall open in a shavasana posture. Visualize the center of the Earth. Picture a deep green energy. Imagine this energy is a tether, a line of light that moves up through the center of the Earth in to your body. At each inhale picture that energy flowing in to the back of your skin. Mother Earth holding you, filing your physical body with energy.

.: Water Element :.

Water is the life force or blood that flows through the physical and energetic planes. It is tears, childbirth, sexual fluids. It is associated with the Sacral Chakra (2 inches below the naval), the archangel Gabriel, and the season of fall. The qualities of water are fluidity, movement, and change. It comes in three states: liquid, ice, and steam, expressing a versatility unique to this elemental. Water is connected to the unconscious mind, lunar cycles, dreams, femininity, creativity and sensuality. It is pure chaos or potential and it subtly influences everything that we create in the physical world. Like the moon reflecting the sun, water reflects our deepest, most heart-felt desires. It is the darkness, the secrets, the mysteries. The thing that you can see but only out of the corner of your eye. Water also cleanses and nourishes the body and the earth. It has the ability to bring forth life from the earth. In many traditions water also connects us to our emotions. Water can be utterly still and calm. Water can also be erratic, a destructive, powerful force of nature. In manifestation water is the unconscious mind that runs in the background of all our conscious thoughts. Balance and purification of the unconscious yields purity of intention. There is no longer fear or limiting beliefs influencing your magick on the unconscious level. When you practice the purification of water ritual, you can more directly and effectively manifest desires in to the reality.

In order to incorporate the flowing and purifying qualities of water, start by becoming intentional with your use of water every day. When you have completed your work for the day, take a shower or wash your hands. Close your eyes and visualize the energy flowing off of your body or hands. Embody the state of water and allow that flow to enter your body. Additionally drink water regularly. An easy way to start increasing water intake is to drink water with every meal. Before you eat or drink, close your eyes and bless the water and food. Allow gratitude to flow from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. As you eat and drink the water visualize the energy charging your body. You can even leave a container of water in front of a window that faces the moon or outside (you can use a mason jar). Choose the night of a full moon and allow the energy of the moon to enter the water. The next day you can drink the water, boil it for tea, water your plants, or find any technique that best serves your creative needs.

.: Fire Element :.

Fire is the catalyst for life and evolution. Magick is closely tied to fire as it is pure, raw energetic power. It is associated with the Solar Plexus chakra, the archangel Michael, and the season of summer. Qualities of fire are heat, destruction, and purification. It is connected to the supreme power house: the Sun. Fire destroys, however destruction does not have a negative connotation here as destruction or death leads to new life and growth. The archetypal image here is the phoenix rising out of the ashes. It is the inevitable change that occurs in the world around us and inside of our bodies. Digestion itself is the fire element at work. Fire can also be connected to passion, intensity and emotion. Emotion is energy in motion. Energy in motion moves thought forms in to the physical reality. They ignite an idea, the passion that brings forth manifestation in to the physical reality. In it’s most elegant form it is self-empowerment and assertiveness.

If you seek to add more heat or even greater energy in your routine, ritualistically seek out sunlight on a daily basis. This can be done by taking walks outside or sitting in front of a sunlit window. Close your eyes and feel the grounding earth energy where your feet or seat contact the ground. Envision the sun entering through the top of your head down the center of your body in to your stomach like a pillar of light. If sunlight is not available, sit in your home in front of a candle or fireplace, ensuring the fire is contained. This ritual can be done with sunlight, a flame, or with your own mind. Close your eyes and feel the warmth. As you inhale, visualize the warmth entering your hands, moving through your arms, and entering the center of your body. Hold the energy there with each breath–do not let the warmth escape. As you breath see warmth and power glowing at the center of your body. Visualize your cells filling up with energy, your aura gaining luster and brightness. After three minutes of this, inhale and hold the energy at your solar plexus for three slow counts. As you exhale imagine the energy flowing in to your feet. When your lungs are empty hold the breath for three more slow counts and visualize the energy entering the ground beneath you. As you inhale again visualize the fire moving up into the center of your body again. Be mindful to contain the warmth within your being and to not let it escape. Fire can be erratic so only practice this ritual when you feel calm and grounded.

.: Air Element :.

Air is the breath, the invisible force that animates all life. It is the breath in your lungs, the energy that moves your heart. It is your thoughts, your imagination, your dreams. Similar to fire, air is also closely tied to magic as it is closely tied to powerful, invisible forces. It is associated with the Heart chakra in Hindu tradition, the angel Raphael, and the season of spring. Qualities of air are movement, lightness, and extreme change. The ancient Greek deity Hermes is also connected to air and they are both divine representations of the mind. The mind like air changes rapidly and contains limitless creativity. Hermes is the traveler or psychopomp that moves rapidly between the world of humans, gods, and the dead. He is a powerful magician, alchemist, thief, shapeshifter, and shaman. Similarly, air move us through the realms of consciousness–the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. Through discipline, the air elemental has the ability to take us to higher levels of understanding and exaltation of physical form. Combining the Greek and Hindu interpretations of air, the mind and the heart as one animate us to create and project magick on to the physical reality. The coherence of the mind and the heart enable purity of intention and rapid materialization in to the world.

If you seek to access the movement and creative qualities of air, start your ritual by enhancing the air flow in your home or space. Open windows and turn on fans to circulate the air. Move furniture or objects so that there is a clear path between windows and doors. Light incense or gather objects associated with the air elemental such as feathers, wind chimes, or wands. Next find an open, clear space and sit in front of your object. Close your eyes and sit tall so that your sit bones press in to the ground or chair. Relax your shoulders and imagine someone is pulling the top of your head with a string. Turn your attention to the air in your lungs and bring the breath to your low belly. Place the left hand on the pelvis and the right on the stomach while keeping looseness in your shoulders.

I offer two techniques to tap in to air that come from the Yogic tradition of pranayama which is the control of prana or life force through the breath. The first technique is heating and the second is cooling. Select the energy that best serves you in your ritual.

The first is Kapalabhati Pranayama or Breath of Fire which is used to oxygenate and detoxify the blood. It builds heat and vitality in the body. You can use this technique to combine elements of fire and air in one ritual. Start by panting like a dog with your tongue out. Feel the pumping motion in your belly and pelvis. Next pant but move the breath to your nose. Last close your mouth keeping the powerful breath through the nose. Inhales and exhales should be even and steady. This video breaks down the technique.

The second technique is called Sitali Pranayama which adds moisture and cooling to the body. It slows down the nervous system and creates a state of calm. Use this pranayama to combine elements of air and water in your ritual. Slow down your breathing. Curl the sides of your tongue and breathe in through your mouth as if you’re breathing through a straw. If you cannot curl your tongue, alternatively you can practice Sitkari which has a similar affect. Simply inhale through your mouth with your teeth together. The following video takes you through the technique.

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Charge your aura and etheric bodies

.: Number 8 :.

As you create balance in your physical body through the previous rituals mentioned, there is an energetic aspect that can bring healing from anxiety to a deeper more profound level. This practice seems to have been mostly overlooked and forgotten about in the modern Western world. One of my favorite teachers and magicians Damien Echols calls this aspect “divine nourishment.” High magick, like any energetic work, yields incredible results when it comes to manipulating the mind and the physical reality. But it also establishes a current of energy that is healing in itself. Your non-physical body just like your physical body, requires sustenance or like a cell phone, it needs a charge to effectively function. Some theorize that a lack of divine nourishment can result in mental or physical illness. If your non-physical bodies are imbalanced, blocked, or even hyper active, it can create sickness that can seem undiagnosable or even incurable. Mysterious back pain. Chronic digestive issues. Incapacitating headaches.

I will refer to the Hindu and Yoga sciences of non-physical energy as it is an elegant and simple system to understand non-physical energies and provides numerous techniques to directly influence them. In Yoga theory, there is an etheric field which consists of three parts: the Chakras, the Nadis, and the aura. The Chakras are wheels of energy that correspond to different levels of consciousness and run from the base of the spine to the head. There are traditionally thousands of chakras that exist beyond the physical body. But in the mainstream modern discussion, seven Chakras are typically described which correspond with the color spectrum–red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and white. Each color has an increasing vibratory rate. Red has larger, slower waves, while white has smaller, faster waves. Balance in all seven energetic bodies creates physical and mental balance between upward moving energy and downward moving energies. Nadis consist of a complex system of energetic meridians. Each point where the Chakras overlap is considered a Nadi. This is a channel where Prana or life force moves through the energetic field. Specific techniques in yoga such as movement, visualization, and breath serve to unblock these channels. The aura is an electromagnetic field emanating from the physical body up to twelve feet. It is often associated with a color which reveals the health, mental state, and personality of a particular being. All living things have an aura.

Now, when it comes to high magick, increasing energetic nourishment will connect you directly to Self or your own divine intuition. It will make it easier or rather more compelling to select food, careers, friends, or relationships that fully align with your highest good. Things that don’t serve you in your life will become extremely obvious and it will become difficult to expose yourself to energetic drains. It is important to ground yourself through this process by also nourishing the physical body (nutrient-dense food, rest, and regular exercise).

The following ritual will enable you to open the channels of energy in your etheric field. A warning though: moving energy can be extremely intense and can yield a variety of emotions, not all of them pleasant. If you experience chronic anxiety on a regular basis, I recommend working with a mental health specialist. And I recommend focusing on the rituals mentioned previously, specifically ritual 1, 2, 3, and 4, before opening up your energetic channels.

To start, wash your physical body. As you shower or bathe, allow water to flow over your head. Visualize energy at the top of your head moving, the water flowing from your crown all the way down to your feet. Everything that you no longer need is washing off your body and down the drain.

Next choose clothing that corresponds with the intention of clearing. Ideally wear all white, but all black works as well. Empty your mind as you dress and prepare your space. Burn sage. Clear the floor. Create an altar by lighting candles. Display an image of a deity, symbol or mandala. Sit in your sacred space and observe your breathing. Complete 11 breaths and bring your awareness to the first of the 7 Chakras: the root.

The root chakra is red and is located at the base of the spine. The mantra is “Lam.” Repeat this mantra 11 times visualizing red at your low back. Imagine the sphere of red light growing brighter and swirling. Allow the vibration of the word to fill your being and resonate in your diaphragm.

Next move your awareness to the sacral chakra which is orange and is located two inches below the naval and two inches inside of the body. The mantra is “Vam.” Repeat this 11 times, seeing orange orb growing brigher.

Move to the solar plexus chakra which is yellow and is located at the stomach. The mantra is “Ram.” Repeat 11 times as the yellow light grows brighter.

After is the heart chakra which is green and is located at the center of the chest. The mantra is “Yam.” Repeat 11 times with green light growing in strength.

Next is the throat chakra which is blue and is located at the throat. The mantra is “Ham.” Visualize bright blue as you repeat the mantra 11 times.

The third eye chakra is after and it is violet or purple. It is located on the forehead between the eyes. The mantras is “Om.” Repeat 11 times. Visualize the purple light swirling on your forehead.

And finally bring awareness to the crown chakra which is located at the top of the head and directly above the head. The color is white. The mantra is “Om” or “Ah.” Say this 11 times and visualize powerful white light entering through the top of your body.

Once you have completed the mantra, revisit each chakra feeling the connected energy between each chakra center. Take 11 breaths and as you exhale feel your energy centers grows even brighter.

Finally create a contraction in your pelvis and throat. In yoga this is called the Mula Bandha (the root lock) and the Jalandhara Banda (the throat lock). As you inhale, squeeze the throat and the pelvic floor. As you exhale, visualize the energy being pushed in to the center of your body at the solar plexus. (The pelvic floor can be tricky at first, but it is similar to a kegel.) Inhale squeeze the throat and root, exhale push the energy to your center. Do not allow the energy to escape, rather hold it as it builds. It is natural to physically shake as this occurs. Keep the mind clear as you repeat this breath 11 times.

As you gain more practice and focus you can increase the duration of the ritual. Increase the mantra to 22 repetitions, 33, 44 and so on. You can also move the built up energy and store them in crystals, statues, even plants in your room. Take the visualized energy in your hands and place your hands on the desired object. Picture light from your solar plexus moving in to the object. Know that you can access this energetic charge whenever you may need it.

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Develop your psychic awareness

.: Number 7 :.

As you gain more awareness and empowerment over your own energy, you may begin to notice that the “anxiety” that you feel is actually the perception of energetic shifts in your environment. The quieter it becomes inside, the easier it can become to actually hear the forces occurring outside of you, whether physical or energetic. You will begin to realize that not everything you experience is just you in your physical being and mind.

You may have had the experience of walking on to a train, laying down in a hotel bed, or entering an antique store and feeling unfamiliar emotions or thoughts, such as elation or uneasiness. You might even remember something, see something, or hear something that doesn’t make sense in your understanding of your world. Whatever occurs, your state of mind or emotions become altered, seemingly without warning. What you may be experiencing is the energy of the many people who have been in that space before you or in the case of the antique store, the energy of hundreds of people who have handled the various objects for years, decades, maybe even lifetimes.

In gaining balance and empowerment as a magician, it is highly beneficial to develop and hone psychic awareness. Knowledge truly is power. But the process of building psychic awareness is very individual and cannot be broken down in to a formula. Ritualistic use of entheogens, hypnosis, fasting, isolation, silence, and meditation (to name a few) have been known to evoke states of psychic awakening. However, these techniques cannot and should not be practiced by everyone. It is ultimately your journey to discover where to move next and to become aware of your particular energetic systems, beliefs, and constructs. I do find, however, that there are two pieces that seem to universally benefit magicians and energy workers regardless of experience or degree of study. These two pieces are simply this: emptiness and listening. Begin your psychic development through the practice of daily meditation. You are developing the ability to be open, to receive. You can try to pour more water in to a full glass. But the water just overflows and falls out of the glass. When you move your attention away from your mind, you empty your glass. You make yourself available to contain new information. You hear things more effectively. When you listen, you notice there might be sounds, images, vibrations that extend beyond what you can touch and see. Although “simple”, moving through the world with emptiness and listening, can take lifetimes to master. Be patient with yourself as you develop these new skills.

Start the ritual right after you wake up in the morning. Close your eyes and scan your body with your mind. Take note of the sensations or lack of sensation. Imagine in your mind’s eye that your thoughts are coming from a large radio. Picture that you place your hand on the radio and gently turn down the volume of your own thoughts. Instead listen to the sounds in your room. What do you hear? What do you feel on your skin? Slow down your breathing so that your inhale and exhale are the same length: five counts in and five counts out deep in your diaphragm. After you have completed five breaths take this state with you as you move through every room of your home. You can do this in your neighborhood or the street outside your home. Take in what occurs in your body and your mind. Play a game to see if you can observe every sensation without immediately using language. What is the image or feeling that occurs when someone passes you or gets close to you physically? Do strangers feel different than loved ones? Is it different than when you are alone? Do things stay the same? Do they change?

This awareness will become more pronounced with time. Shifts can be quite subtle at first, so give it time. After you take in the experience without words, it can be useful to keep a journal handy to start to mark down any observations. I welcome you to keep this process free and abstract. Write down the first thing that comes to mind. You can even draw a picture. Sit on a train, enter a grocery store, stand in a museum. If you feel a tingle in your left elbow write it down and where it happened. If you see a flash of the color red write it down. If you see and feel nothing write it down. Even the lack of feeling can reveal something about the environment or people that you are surrounded by. This skill will be developed with time but I cannot emphasize enough that you must sustain an open mind. 90% of magick (perhaps more) is allowing what is. Be patient. The paradox is the less you expect, the less you hold on to a result or message, the more you hear. And be honest with yourself about your intentions. Do not seek psychic ability for the sake of power or ego. Nothing kills psychic ability faster than expectations. Understand what you do not know, what you may never know and what you cannot control. You are merely a vessel for divinity. Have faith that your intuition will guide you in this process.

Eventually your every day world will transform and open up. You will begin to notice patterns. Things around you will start to seem fated, synchronistic. Information that you should not or “could not” know may become available to you. You will receive clear messages from Self and may find your are drawn or repelled by specific environments or people. Listen and trust this. Perhaps you notice a certain taste in your mouth every time you experience soothing energy. Or perhaps you hear a whistling in your ear right before something bad is going to happen. The point is not to avoid any particular person or place but to identify how you relate to that person or place. Sometimes the simple act of naming what is occurring can be an immense relief and it can empower you to shift the paradigm of how you relate to the world with your mind. A particle observed changes. A reality observed also changes.

You will become aware of how you allow other people’s energy to affect you and you can then use that power to change the exchange. Simultaneously you will start to see that your unique energetic gifts may actually be beneficial to the people around you. There are few things more vibration-raising than being at service to others. The more you listen, the fewer problems you have. The more abundant energy you have to offer yourself. When you remain in a state of openness, you welcome divinity in to the lives of all who enter your space. People will benefit from your mere presence.

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Form energetic boundaries with technology

.: Number 6 :.

Your cell phone may be in your pocket, in your bed, or even in the shower. You may check it first thing in the morning, last thing at night, hold it close to your face as you sit across from your friend, spouse, as you dine “together”. Watch a sunset, a concert, a child’s first breath through the lens of a cell phone camera. It is designed for you to use it at a level that almost matches compulsiveness. The sounds, the colors, the shape of the screen, they are all signaling reward centers in your brain. It is a new form of a high. And it is relatively new for our species to coexist with this kind of technology.

From the perspective of science, cell phones in general emit radio frequency energy or small amounts of non-ionizing radiation as well as LED white light. There is not yet enough evidence to suggest that these frequencies are harmful to the human body. According to the National Cancer Institute “there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk in humans.” In theory, high doses of non-ionizing radiation can cause damage to tissue over time from heating, but the amount from your phone is so low to be negligible. The white light that comes from electronic devices, however, does seem to impact health. Repeated white light exposure, especially after the sun has set, has been shown to impact the body’s circadian rhythm, thus creating difficulty sleeping. Research over the past ten years has suggested that chronic sleep loss can come with a whole host of health issues including symptoms of anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and even alcoholism.

When it comes to esoteric traditions and energy work, I have personally experienced a general distrust in technology and a belief that our relationship with technology as a culture has its dangers. Or at the very least technology impacts our subtle energy fields on levels that are not yet fully understood. A new study by The Division of Yoga and Physical Sciences has shown reduced subtle energy levels in adults through the use of Electrophotonic Imaging. In other words, there were measurable changes in major bodily systems, such as the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems in response to close proximity to cell phones. I have personally encountered a Reiki healer who glued hematite on his phone and kept magnets in his shoes to shield his body from radiation. I have read online forums discussing the enslavement of our planet by extraterrestrial forces that feed off of our energy, our attention, and seek to keep us trapped in a cycle of death and rebirth by keeping us complacent and unable to remember… It all may sound, perhaps a bit outlandish. But don’t discount unseen forces and what is not yet fully understood. Do not become attached to what you think you know. And recognize that innovators have historically been seen as mad. Science itself, this human attempt at comprehending nature, is a constant cycle of theory and disproving theory. Analysis and revision.

Moving beyond the attempt to prove or disprove anything–what happens when your unique mind and body interacts with technology? Does the device give you energy? Does it drain your energy? Do you become more aware? Do you become less aware? Beyond the particular experience, it is difficult to deny that the device draws in or arguably consumes some amount of your attention. Next time you stand in line at the store, put on your seatbelt in the passenger seat of a car, take a break from working on your next novel, observe yourself mindlessly pulling out your phone to check your emails, your texts, the feed of a social media app. Even if it’s brief, you’re still using the device compulsively. Can you even actually recall what you did on your device? Where the time went? Did you absorb any information whatsoever? (If the answer is yes, congratulations you are a unicorn in a world of sheep.)

Phones, laptops, iPads and so forth are quite stimulating, so much so that they can aggravate anxious thinking in a way that disconnects Self from awareness of the mind and body. The device taps in to a primal part of our brains that compulsively seeks reward and pleasure. In doing this repetitively, arguably we reinforce habits that are reactionary. Technology is not “evil”, but it is useful to enhance your ability to focus on a single task, to indulge in reflection, imagination, and to figuratively and literally dream.

How do we integrate with technology to create balance in body and mind?

This is where we get in to ritual: start with the hours leading up to sleep–ideally turn off all technological devices and remove them from your room two hours prior to bedtime. If you need an alarm to wake up in the morning, place your phone on airplane mode. If you simply must have your phone on for notifications, refrain from looking at your screen as you prepare for bed. Instead dim your lights. Turn on relaxing music, a downloaded podcast, a meditation. Read a book. A warm shower or bath is useful to relax the body and mind and to ritualistically cleanse the body. Once you have completed your preparation for bed, turn off your lights and lay in bed. As you breath and release tension, visualize unwanted energy or radiation moving out your feet as if there is an energetic vacuum cleaner at the foot of your bed. Once you have scanned your body from head to toe, let go as you drift in to sleep.

If you want to expand upon this ritual, try keeping one hour technologically-free when you wake up. Turn on your phone if you need to, but again avoid looking at the screen. Instead write in a dream journal, water your plants, make yourself coffee or tea, get dressed for the day, make your bed. Your ritual is completely dependent on your individual creative process. Notice your mind as you perform each task. Do you feel different? What is the state of your breathing? Your heart rate? Listen to the sounds in your room. Listen to your Self. Perhaps you’ll find you have more time. More attention to give. More awareness.

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Banish limiting beliefs and thoughts

.: Number 5 :.

Believe it or not, every time you read and write, you perform ritualistic High Magick. You are recreating symbols with intention. You are affecting your reality and potentially the reality of others by repeating an incantation with each marking on the page. It is not a coincidence that writing is similar to the word “rite” which is a ritual. And “spell” is the spelling that we use to create the word. The Word is God. It is the manifestation of an idea in to the physical reality. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Gospel of John, c 100). And God arguably is Self. That single source that connects All in to One.

Therefore, there is immense energetic power to writing your thoughts and intentions. By writing, you are carving your creation in to this reality. Your subconscious mind sees and believes that it is so. In the conventions of society, a therapist might prescribe journaling. This is not any different than the ritual of writing and casting spells. Through the act of externalizing your mind on to a piece of paper, you no longer identify with the mind. You can make sense of the thoughts buzzing around in your head and choose which way you want those thoughts to express themselves in your reality. You can converse with yourself and observe the ways that you project thoughts and beliefs on to the people, places, things around you.

There are multiple tools that can be used in the ritual of writing. I observe healers and wellness professionals in the mainstream exclusively writing and discussing the “power of positive thought” or what I lovingly refer to as “love and light.” This has its benefits, however, do not skip over observation of thoughts. Some things occurring in your mind are not so pleasant. And especially as we discuss magick for anxiety, do not shy away from befriending your demons. If you don’t know your demons (and they are just aspects of Self), they can start to control and manipulate you. Not only that, they aren’t going anywhere. If you have a repeated emotional response in romantic relationships, for example. You cannot outrun that emotional response by dating different partners. You cannot force your mind to think more positively unless you have understood the root cause, the core belief that runs behind the scenes of every interaction, every experience of intimacy, “love”. It is not the partner that has a problem. Demons will make it appear that way. Demons love blame and they love a good victim mentality. They love to create the illusion that you are disempowered. The truth is it is you that has the problem. No one else. And it is you that can release the bonds of your self-perpetuated prison. You can date 200 people and still come back to the same repetitive, unpleasant experience.

So how to escape this prison? How to stop making the same mistakes?

A simple and yet practical ritual that can start to unearth and decimate old limiting beliefs is the “Banishing Ritual.” This ritual takes repetition and time to truly banish anxious thinking, however you will start to see that you can alter your state of mind and being instantaneously. You can take back the control over your experience.

You will want to first choose a book or journal that will be used exclusively for magick. Gather a vessel (a glass cup will do) filled with water and soil (indoor potted plant soil works), a lighter, a pen, and your journal. Find a private space and move through the space with sage or simply an extended hand. Visualize light pouring out of your hand as you make a circle around the perimeter of the room. This seals in your energetic practice and clears any distracting energy. Next sit in the center of your circle with your journal, pen, and vessel. Close your eyes and begin the 4 7 8 breathing technique: inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8. Repeat this at least four times and breath from your low belly. This style of breathing will slow down your nervous system and bring you to the present.

Next write in your journal: “For my highest good, reveal to me me the source of my anxious/negative thoughts.” Clear your mind and let your pen move without thinking too hard. It is okay if it doesn’t totally make sense. And it is okay if you don’t have the answer. Allow the freedom to express freely. Think back to your first memories of anxiety. Describe them in detail. What were the sensations? Sights, sounds, smells? Where do you feel it in your body.

Once you have completed your expression, read the words out loud. Then write: “For my highest good, I banish the thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve me. I do not identify with these thoughts and beliefs, as they are not me. I release them from my body, mind, and spirit.” Speak these words out loud. Tear out the pages that you wrote on and fold them until they are small and compact. Next, if it is safe to perform in your space, light one edge on fire and place the spell inside of your vessel with the water and soil. Observe the destruction of the pages.

I cannot emphasize enough that the flame is only a suggestion, you can come up with infinite ways to safely and symbolically “destroy” your limiting beliefs. You can pummel your pages in a mortar and pestle, you could even flush it down the toilet. Ideally you want a representation of the four elements as you eliminate the pages of your journal. Once you have altered and/or eliminated the journal pages, repeat the 4 7 8 breathing. As you exhale visualize the energy leaving your body and space. It is normal to feel emotional, to physically vibrate, or to suddenly have memories or visions. Do not fight this process, simply breath and allow the energy to leave you. Trust that you are not alone in that experience and any discomfort you feel will be temporary.

This ritual can be repeated daily, however it can be intense. I recommend performing every two weeks in correspondence with the lunar cycles (Full Moon and the New Moon).

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Transmute energy through movement

.: Number 4 :.

It’s not news to anyone that exercise is hugely beneficial to the physical body. But when it comes to magick and energetics, exercise also has a notable benefit: it allows physical and non physical energy to move. When observing the natural world, I find that energy repeats itself in fractal-like patterns. Life occurs in cycles, it moves like a turning wheel. Look at Newton’s first law of motion: “an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.” The mind is a great example of this. If you have ever meditated, you have probably experienced the sensation of sitting silently, nothing occurring inside or outside of you and then suddenly a thought appears seemingly out of nowhere. And it feels as if it did this on its own! Did I think the thought? Or did my mind think the thought of its own accord? The mind is like a force of nature and has been compared across cultures as a snake. The illusion. Maia. It’s serpentine body spiraling in infinite circles like the waves of the ocean, or our planet orbiting around the sun. The mind will continue to think of its own accord even when it accesses higher states of consciousness and awareness.

When it comes to experiencing a state of anxiety, it is useful to observe the experience outside the qualities of positive and negative. Taking in sensations without judging them can open you up to a completely different experience. Your armpits are sweaty. Your breathing picks up. Your hands tingle. Your stomach churns in knots. If you strip “anxiety” of any sort of connotation, you begin to realize that what you’re experiencing purely and simply is arousal. Your body is experiencing one form of energetic expression.

But what do you do with all this extra energy?… here we move back to the topic of movement.

Movement creates a state of externalized energetic release. There are fields of psychology which hypothesis that trauma is stored in the body and physical expression is highly therapeutic in addressing and moving that trauma out of your energy field. It is as if your body holds an experience in your muscles, skin, and bones. Movement allows that experience to pass out of your being on a physical level that benefits the psyche. Similarly, the mind and body work together in a circular feedback loop. You can hold energy in your body that reflects your daily interactions with your mind. And your mind can hold energy that reflects your interactions with your body. It is useful to also examine the individuals that exist in your space, as their mental and physical energies can have an intense affect on your state of being.

An exercise ritual does not have to be performed every day, however daily movement of some kind can be highly beneficial. Similar to the previous ritual practices, it is useful to choose a consistent day and time that you are most likely to complete the process. Before you begin, close your eyes and scan your body. Move the awareness from the top of your head moving through all the body parts until you reach your feet. Become aware of your breath. You can warm up your muscles in conjunction with your breath. If you need warm-up suggestions, go here for a few simple, Yogic warm-ups. Set an intention as you move in to your practice to remain aware and conscious of your body moving through space. The single most important thing to focus on with movement energetics is the breath. This will speed up the movement of energy.

Traditional exercise such as weight lifting, cycling, or running are completely effective in a movement ritual. You can use free weights, machines, or just your body. Other movement practices such as Chi Gong, Yoga, or dancing are also extremely beneficial. You can even go as far as moving intuitively by finding a private space in your home, closing your eyes and allowing your body to guide you beyond the thinking mind. Whatever style of movement or level of fitness, the key is to tax your body for at least 10 minutes at a time. You can measure this by the talk test–if it becomes difficult to talk, the exercise or exercises are at an appropriate level of intensity. If you want to get scientific you can use a heart rate monitor to track your heart rate in relation to your maximum heart rate (age subtracted from 220). You should only aim to be at 50-75% of your maximum heart rate.

In general, it is advisable to prioritize movements and exercise styles that bring you joy, evoke curiosity and challenge your expectations. From my perspective and background as a personal trainer, I have found repetitive exercises that never change to become energetically draining with time. I also feel that it is useful to leave yourself wanting more when you finish exercising. Shorter, more frequent exercise can reduce the risk of injury and magnify energy, as opposed to draining energy. Don’t do an hour plus of exercise if you haven’t exercised in two years. Start with 20 minutes and practice a little each day. Every week increase by five minutes. You want to feel strong and capable when you move.

This ritual is highly individualized and depends on your specific interests, available time, equipment and physical capability. But if you’re seeking inspiration, seek out the fitness section for specific workouts that are scientifically shown to be effective and can open the energy centers for greater access to your own magick.

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Alter your head space

.: Number 3 :.

For many reasons, the cultural norm require us to spend most of the day indoors (in part due to a global pandemic, but who are we kidding this was going on long before that). You wake up and if you’re fortunate enough to have a job, you go right in to typing away on your computer or tuning in to a Zoom call. You scroll through your Instagram feed, turn on the news as it repetitively drones on in the background, blast a “Get Moving” playlist on bluetooth speakers. You guzzle coffee, take a workout class on your computer, sit in the middle of honking traffic. You are immediately immersed in stimulation overload. Even the food you eat can be over stimulating (sugar, dairy, meat, bread, even spices). And you can be sure that physiologically, your body was not designed to be constantly inundated with this degree of stimulation. Not to mention the fact that modern jobs require extended periods of sitting in front of a computer screen. If you are experiencing a repetitive negative emotion such as anxiety, this is simply your body giving you information about your environment as it relates to your inner state. It is feedback showing you that there could be an imbalance somewhere.

I find this moving meditation ritual is useful in the middle of the day, especially after you have been working or focusing on a single task, but it can be done at any time. If you cannot find a way to do this alone, you can simply tell your coworkers, children, or colleagues that you are going to take ten minutes to meditate. Every ritual can be performed silently with eyes closed, especially in a situation where privacy is not readily accessible:

Select a ritual time. But this walking meditation can be performed any time you experience the swirling of anxious thoughts, rapid breathing, or a pounding heart. Next physically step out of your environment. Exit the building or home and go outside. If you can access trees, mountains, large bodies of water, it is even more beneficial. But you don not have to go far out of your way. Simply observe how you feel when you are in the space versus when you leave the space. Inhale the oxygen outside, feel the sun or wind on your skin. Feel the ground under your feet as you take each step.

The ritual starts the moment that you exit and become aware of your physical and mental state. What is your posture telling you? How are you standing? Can you alter your posture so that you are not holding tension? Has anything shifted inside of you? Or do you feel exactly the same? Does your mind continue to go to a particular thought or topic? Where it is going? Ask yourself are you that thought? Or are you the being observing the thought? Locate the thought in your body.

Once you have found the location and the particular thought or thoughts, bring your awareness to your breathing. Begin a technique called the 4×4 technique: simply inhale for a count of 4, hold the breath for 4, exhale for 4, and hold the breath for 4. Find a pace that is comfortable and at each exhale visualize the repetitive thought forms falling off of your body and on to the ground. As they leave, your body feels lighter and lighter. Your breathing becomes easier, slower. Your body relaxes. Repeat this process for up to 5 minutes. It can be taxing to do the breath work while walking, so feel free to slow down your pace or stand still. After the five minutes have passed or when you feel the thought forms fully leave your presence, observe the energy of your body and your environment. Move through all five senses: What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you taste? What do you feel in your body? Observe the effect that the breath has had on your body.

If there is still a place in the body where you experience tension, place a hand on that spot or spots. On each one, close your eyes and clear you mind. Imagine you can take that energy in to your hand. Pull slowly until the tension is inside of your palm and has left the spot on your body. Once you have collected the tension in to your hands, bring it to your lips and say “I alter the frequency of this energy.” Open your hands and blow gently. Visualize light and warmth extending to every person and thing surrounding you.

When you feel your nervous system slowing down reenter your space carrying this shifted state of consciousness with you. Know that you are able to tap in to this state at any time and place.

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Cleanse your physical space

.: Number 2 :.

On the level of quantum physics, it is well established that a particle changes when it is observed. Thought forms influence the physical reality. Every thing that we see and touch appears solid, but are actually waves that are moving and interacting with one another–a collection of electrons, protons, and neutrons. Therefore your mind has an influence on the particles of your physical space, especially your home. Think about it, if you sleep in a bed, that is approximately 8 hours of your time (at least) spent in that one space, your mind interacting with every particle of every object. Not to mention when you are sleeping you are especially open to the mysteries and chaos of your unconscious mind.

If you add the layer of repetitive anxious thinking, it becomes even more essential to be aware of how your thought forms are influencing your physical space. This is why many esoteric or new age practices speak of purification, specifically “energy clearing”, “smudging”, or burning incense in the physical space before practicing any type of intention or energetic practice. You can meditate for years, decades, lifetimes, but the mind will always think. It is pure chaos and potential in there and that potential is infinite. When you work with magick and energy (your own or others), you need to have access to a baseline or a clean slate before and after practicing your magick. This baseline is the center of the mandala, equanimity, or the middle place. This centeredness allows clarity of intention so that you can be most effective when practicing magick or any other ritualistic practice in your world (even the mundane). Anxiety is not evil and does not need to be fought. In fact attempting to fight or destroy uncomfortable emotions, like anxiety, can paradoxically yield more negative emotions. It’s like the scary movie where the wise old woman warns the protagonist not to give too much energy to the demon or ghost. The more you believe in it, the more you fight it, the stronger it becomes… And that thing you fear? It is actually just you.

Regarding ritual and energy clearing there are no rules. It is an act of personal creativity. With that said, I will offer a few options that are helpful as you start:

Choose a time that this ritual can be completed consistently whether it’s right when you wake up or right before you go to bed. I recommend practicing this daily in a way that is sustainable for you. The ritual can be as short or long as you desire.

Begin by sweeping every inch of your room. Pick up any excess or clutter (clothes or trash) and dust and wipe down every surface. Create “clarity” as you arrange your home. I recommend opening windows if that is available to ensure air flow and to allow natural light. Visualize energetic movement as you clean such as air flow or water moving. Do not rush this part, be thorough and pay attention to the details. Savor your space and create beauty in your space, whatever that means for you.

Once you’re done, I recommend taking incense, sage or palo santo and walking around the perimeter of each room. Visualize negative thoughts and emotions moving out of the space. You can outstretch your hands and push the energy out of the walls. Once you have moved through your entire space and emptied the room of any particular energy, light a candle and place it in the center of the home. White candles are useful when starting out since the color corresponds to purity and divine clarity.

Whether you have access to candles or not, you can complete the ritual by sitting at the center of the room and closing your eyes. After a few breaths visualize a white light entering through the top of your head. Each time you exhale imagine this light growing brighter and brighter until it extends beyond the boundaries of your body. Continue this until the light fills the room and then your entire home. When you are satisfied move in to your day or night with gratitude and awareness of your home.

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