Failure is Always an Option
Glamour likes to give the illusion that being fierce, owning the space that you stand in, giving an adorable little smile after saying something completely obscene and challenging, looking polished from head to toe and launching and completing your Great Work is effortless. Beyoncé’s song “Flawless” became an instant meme because we would all like to think that one day, we will wake up as beautiful as Beyoncé with no effort required.
Beyoncé does not wake up looking like Beyoncé. Logically, we all know this. Emotionally, it’s a different story altogether. It’s easy to be dismissive of Queen Bey because she’s at the top of her game. “Anyone can look amazing if they have a team of stylists, nutritionists, and personal trainers.” True. But Sasha Fierce did not start out with a team of all of those things. She had to work her way up to that point, which meant there was a point in her early career where she had to put together an image for herself that eventually brought her to the current success. “Beyoncé has an amazing voice and is a really talented dancer.” Also true! But natural talent is only going to get you so far without constant practice—just think about all the cautionary tales from Behind the Music.
Practice Makes Glamour
Most things in life that look completely effortless are the product of hours and hours of effort in honing a skill or talent. Most people can’t do a perfect eyeliner cat’s eye in the first attempt; the same can be said for jumps in figure skating, leading workshops, becoming published, starting a small business, becoming competent in parenting, and ironing a shirt correctly.
Our oppressors can buy organization. They can buy assistants to find documents that have gone missing in their offices, intricate closet systems to keep their clothes in perfect order, domestic help to hang the clothes that have fallen on the floor, personal chefs to make healthy dinners, personal trainers to keep their bodies toned, personal relations agents to keep their social media up to date and pristine, and staff to do all of the miscellaneous tasks that they no longer wish to complete in their daily lives.
We don’t have these advantages. If we are lucky, we have friends, lovers, and family to help us not drown when we bite off more than we can chew for class projects, grocery shopping, and Great Work, for which we should always be incredibly grateful when graced with these advantages.
In not having access to these advantages that make being organized easier, it means we have two options: complain that we don’t have the privilege, wealth, or opportunity that would make it easier and do nothing; or organize ourselves.
If you are going to use glamour as your weapon of choice in achieving your Great Work, you need to be able to use all of the aspects that we have been discussing that make up glamour together in a cohesive unit. Remember: beauty, charm, discipline, conviction, and organization. You are underprivileged. Your opposition has more power, more strength, more money, and likely more physical power. Is this a position where ignoring useful tools is helpful? As we’ve previously established, it is not.
The words “organization” and “beauty” tend to provoke the most emotionally resistant responses. You may have internalized feelings about not doing enough about either that are easy to wrap up in rhetoric. For example: “I don’t know if I should wear lip gloss or not. I love how my lips look with it on but I hate the gendered expectation that goes with it and as a feminist, I feel conflicted about this.”
In short, wrong. Is it wrong that you feel this way? As we are taught, feelings are never wrong. However, actions are often right or wrong. I am not personally invested in whether or not you wear lip gloss. I don’t care. But you are wasting a lot of time and energy with the internal debate that you could be using instead to work on your Great Work. Decide to wear it because you value how you feel over the gendered expectation. Decide not to wear it because you value not feeling gendered over how it feels to wear lip gloss. Pick one, stick with it until it no longer feels right, and then re-evaluate.
Likewise with organization. You can tie that up with a lot of rigorous feminist debate about how you should not be obligated to live like Martha Stewart/your mother. That’s fine. But if your Great Work is to start an Etsy shop that will support you financially and you don’t have space to create crafts for your small business due to clutter, you have an issue. After a certain point, the time for feels has passed and the time for action is present. I will teach you a sacred phrase I tell myself when I am having an emotional response impeding me from action: You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.
Accomplishing Anything Great Is Hard
If you want to make real, terrifying headway on your Great Work, it’s going to make you step outside your comfort zone and do things that make you desperately uncomfortable. If your Great Work was within your comfort level, you would be doing it already. You cannot tell yourself, I want to win an ice dancing competition and then content yourself with eating Doritos on the couch and watching ice dancing on television.
This is why your Great Work cannot be a whim—it must be something that you are willing to devote yourself to, something that you are willing to face heartbreak over, something you are willing to sacrifice for, and something that makes you face all of the things you do not want to face in order to get the thing you want most. Do you still feel confident about what you have chosen for your Great Work? If not, redo Esoteric Experiment No. 1 and then come back here when you are very sure about the choices you’ve made for yourself.
Let’s say you’ve decided that the goal of your Great Work is to change careers and become a hospice nurse. Don’t worry if your goals are less lofty-sounding or more spiritually based; we are simply using this as an example to figure out how to make some real headway with this and becoming organized about it.
First, you need to select a nursing program that you want to get into and to determine if you have any of the credentials needed or if you need to start from the ground up. As you tour colleges, you will likely meet with advisors.
Organizational opportunity: Schedule time daily to research programs until you find three that suit your needs.
Glamour magic opportunity: Enchant a compass to sit on your desk next to your monitor as you are searching so that you find the right school, even if it’s different from the three you picked.
Now you’ve found three programs that you like, so now you need to get into them.
Organizational opportunity: Be sure to fill out all required paperwork, have a friend edit your essay, and check with the schools to make sure they received your information.
Glamour magic opportunity: Be sure to meet with admissions and nursing school representatives, even if it’s optional, as that gives you a face for these people determining your future. Choose your outfit carefully and be sure it projects the image you want. Use your glamoury to make a good impression by finding common ground to connect with these contacts. When you find common ground, use your glamour magic to give that connection an extra push to entwine your threads together. Follow up with these new connections with thank-you cards and casual friendly e-mails with relevant articles about your common ground that you found from reputable sources. Be open to unexpected options presented by these new friends such as a grant in an adjacent program.
Now that you’ve gotten into these programs, you need to do the Work and the work.
Organizational opportunity: Find out when is the best time for you to study with your current work schedule. Figure out how to maintain your household and family and what can be delegated. Make sure your selected parties whom you wish to delegate to are on board with it. Map out how long it will take to complete the program and figure out how to manage some internships at local hospitals on your winter and summer breaks for future job opportunities. Determine how much sleep you need, how much food you need to intake, how to manage some movement, and how to maintain self-care. If you fall behind, ask for help and move forward instead of wasting energy berating yourself. Maintain an excellent GPA.
Glamour magic opportunities: Meditate regularly on the position you want to step into and use your glamour to be able to recognize potential options. Use your glamour magic to keep current coworkers helpful and sympathetic by being charming to them and regularly baking goods that you put an intention toward keeping them sweet and helpful to you instead of trying to push you out when your performance lags due to midterms. Keeping up appearances is important for your work life and your position in the community; be sure to wear things that you have enchanted so other people cannot tell how tired you actually are so that they do not perceive you as weak (unless you want to be seen that way for additional assistance). Enlist professors and internship leadership to your cause so they write beautiful letters of recommendation for you for a future career in hospice.
You have now completed your nursing program and have started looking for a nursing position.
Organizational opportunities: Putting together a great résumé, following through after interviews with handwritten thank-you notes, keeping track of potential opportunities and networking opportunities in real life and online, curating the perfect outfit for interviews.
Glamour opportunities: Enchanting your job search so that you find the right position, even if it’s different than expected, doing a regular glamour rite so others want to assist you in getting the right position, charming the interviewers so they have a great impression of you, enchanting an object you always have with you for interviews to get your choice of careers to select from.
I briefly laid this out as an example for you to understand both the practical and the glamour aspects to this. Your impulse will be to montage over the hard parts (it’s what everyone does), especially once you’ve completed your Great Work. Let’s go back to this example. You are going to school half-time, while going to work full-time. You probably have been out of school for some time and you may need to take some classes more than once. For you to become a registered nurse, it’s going to take you about five years before you even are allowed to look for a new career. The job market is difficult in general, and lots of people want jobs in healthcare. It will likely take another six months to a year to find a job. During this time, your adult responsibilities don’t magically fade away; your kids won’t be suddenly autonomous, you don’t get to quit your job, your home still needs maintaining, you need to maintain your support network and some sense of sanity. So, you are looking at six years of toil, at least. Six years of struggling to keep up with your studies and maintain your current career, six years of limited amounts of free time, six years of overwhelming responsibility.
Your Great Work is just that, great. If it were a minor work, you could probably achieve it in a few months. A Great Work is going to take a long time to accomplish. Once you have, much like childbirth, the hard parts will take on a gentle blur and you may even be nostalgic for them. But that doesn’t mean that it was actually fun or easy.
I’m now nostalgic for when I was a nanny, but if I asked my mother about that time, she would likely recall how much my back hurt, how often I was sick, the stress over unpaid time off, my unwashed hair, my weight gain, when I would call her sobbing on the phone that I was never going to get anywhere as a writer or a creator and would never be able to have money saved for retirement, and nothing was ever going to work out ever; the future only holds darkness and dragons for me. Am I thinking about that when I miss being a nanny? Certainly not! I remember rocking them to sleep, hearing them say my name for the first time, the way their little faces would light up when they saw me, reading to them, playing kitchen, singing songs together, and hugging them so tightly.
Glamour Keeps You Motivated
It’s completely normal to feel discouraged. Most people give up on their Great Work. That’s why there are so many movies and books about people who almost made it or washed out. When planning your Great Work, you need to keep scale in mind. Maybe having a local but fiercely devoted fan base for your band is all you need to feel satisfied as an artist and you don’t actually need a major record label deal, maybe you thought you wanted to make $75,000 a year but after some thought and research you realized $50,000 would be sufficient, maybe learning a new skill and becoming proficient in it is all you need and you don’t need to be a leader in the field. Take a breath and figure out what you want.
At the same time, you shouldn’t talk yourself out of dreaming big. Take an honest assessment of your skill set and what you’ve accomplished to date. Have people always admired you for what you’re attempting to accomplish? Have you already had minor successes in your Great Work? You may simply be a late bloomer; many people work hard at their craft for a long time before becoming acknowledged. If this is something completely new, give yourself the opportunity to see if the new experience is a good fit for you. It may take longer to become proficient in your new skill set and it can be more of a challenge to learn new things as an adult, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
Breaking your goals down into small steps with magical and daily-life work to do toward them empowers you to have small accomplishments along the way. If the goal is simply, “become a registered nurse” with no smaller steps, you are going to be more likely to give up because that is a very tall order to trudge toward for six years with no sense of accomplishment along the way. This is also likely to make you more inclined to want to abandon your Great Work and give up because you have grown weary of working so hard for no measurable treats.
You should make measurable treats for yourself along the way as each goal is accomplished. Small rewards for yourself—buying a novel, a good bottle of wine, a long bath, a pedicure, a new item of clothing, a night out doing something you want to do—as you accomplish smaller goals will help you keep yourself on track. As you accomplish your larger goals, larger rewards are in order, things like taking a class in something you have always wanted to learn, a new piece of technology for yourself, excellent seats for a concert, a massage, or whatever is special to you and would all help keep you motivated. You need to make sure there’s a way to measure your progress so you don’t lose focus.
Glamour in your everyday life will also help keep you from drowning. If your world shrinks down to nothing but drudgery, it makes you depressed and demotivated. It’s hard to be happy and feel accomplished when you don’t see any place to find joy in your life. Small pleasures will help you slog through incredibly long days. A nice home-cooked dinner arranged nicely, a bouquet of bright spring flowers, a brightly colored umbrella, a French Vogue at the bookstore with a cappuccino, and whatever restores your faith in beauty in this world can help you regain your perspective (and composure).
Sudden Success Can Cause Fear
Let us discuss success in your glamour, as there should be a noticeable change by this point. For some, it can be super exciting! Sudden flirtations, literal and figurative doors being opened, small favors, people now offering to assist you, new opportunities, all by virtue of how you’ve worked to wield your glamour. This could be giving you tremendous satisfaction in your power as a Witch as you incite your own personal civil war.
Alternatively, you may be considering locking your glamour down so tightly that your energy may as well be a princess in a tower with no door and a window forty feet up because this is super scary and intimidating for you.
If you are pleased with yourself, excellent. Continue to read this part in case you find yourself in a change of heart or in an unexpected situation so that you have recourse for yourself.
My frightened rabbits, you have likely noticed that now that you are lit up as brightly as a Christmas tree to the universe, you are getting a lot of attention you like and a lot of attention you don’t. You may be feeling a bit awkward about being noticed much more than you previously had or you may even be overwhelmed by the attention. Part of this comes from being more accustomed to being the disempowered party in an interaction. If you are used to being overlooked and more familiar with playing the supporting cast in your life than being a protagonist, the transition can be a bit difficult. All those eyes on you, the new expectations that have been placed upon you due to your newfound glamour skills. It is not a fluid, effortless transition in most cases.
It would make our lives much easier if all we had to do was shake out our hair, wear what we were told is fashionable by our “betters,” and take off our glasses. Now we are the most popular in school, like all the teen movies demonstrate. Those are the parts we remember anyway, because makeover montages are so fun. There’s upbeat music, uncertainty about product use, and then ta-da!
But remember the parts that usually come after the montage where the protagonist is now forced to make some uncomfortable decisions: to feign stupidity or not, to date the less popular peer or not, to remain friends with the old friends or not, to harm less popular students or not. Even if you are past school age, you will be faced with new decisions that need to be made, much like our high school movie actresses. Transformation is difficult—the caterpillar becomes a butterfly but not before throwing all of her internal organs in a blender in the chrysalis first. You too will now need to make decisions for yourself that test your moral compass.
Your instinct may be to stop being so noticeable, to turn away from your glamour, to hide your physical form, to gain or lose weight to be less apparent to others, to hide your cleverness, all to self-sabotage yourself away from success. Maybe you feel you don’t deserve this upswing in your life, maybe you feel afraid and overwhelmed, but whenever you want to hide, force yourself to confront what you want to hide from and make yourself not dim your glamour to make others more comfortable or to avoid attention.
The Best Defense Is a Good Offense
Everyone’s impulse will be to tell you to better magically shield yourself, but in my experience, a stronger shield prevents the light of your glamour from shining as brightly as possible. You want to be noticed. That’s why you’re doing this. By your goddesses, by your spirits, by shopkeepers, by people in power, by people you want to seduce (or be seduced by), by your friends, by your family, by your coworkers, everyone. If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten. If you were pleased with your progress in your tiny rebellion previous to your glamour work and felt you were doing everything you could possibly be doing, you wouldn’t be turning to Witchcraft and you certainly wouldn’t be turning to glamour to achieve your Great Work.
You will have moments of doubt, insecurity, and uncertainty. In those moments, it’s natural to even lapse into imposter syndrome where you feel like your achievements are based on other people’s perceptions of you or luck and nothing to do with your Witchcraft or your hard practical work. You may feel like you don’t deserve the success you’ve achieved because you used glamour to help yourself achieve it. You may feel that because these aspects are new to you, someone(s) will see the newness on your achievements on your glamour, magic, and success, and call you a charlatan.
In your day-to-day life, when these thoughts float up to the surface, the immediate solution is that you need to kill them with fire because they will only slow you down from achieving your Great Work. If you have a positive self-talk resistant brain, you can sternly tell yourself no when they come up. You could journal about your fears and the root causes, meditate to clear your mind of this broken thought process, mantra to let go of these thoughts, list your accomplishments to yourself, or do a regular rite where you cleanse yourself, or any combination of this general idea. But in the moment, when you are potentially getting called out by someone else or are performing in some manner publicly, you need a shot of magic to get yourself through it.
Esoteric Experiment No. 11
Objective: Call up your glamour when you feel anxious.
Choose a ritual space within your home. Wear clothing that makes you feel safe and comfortable: your favorite robe, your most comfortable pants, your lover’s T-shirt. Encircle yourself with tiny mirrors that you purchased at your favorite craft store so that you are reflecting your intent all around you. As you lay down each mirror, say words of protection. Build a small temporary shrine to express your glamour within the circle, using items you find in your home and yard: fresh strawberries and cream, flowers from your garden, bread you have just baked, your favorite piece of jewelry, a sacred picture of your glamorous uncle, or beeswax tea lights. Gaze at your shrine and draw strength from the physical representation of your glamour you have built with your own two hands while being aware of its transient nature.
Relax. Lie down if you like. Become aware of your breathing until you are able to find trance space using whatever methods are most helpful to you. If you are not a visual person, think about your expedition in words, impressions, or whatever is most natural to you. Think about going inside yourself to your spirit’s center, wherever that resides in you. This is your sacred space. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What does it smell like? What does it sound like? Take time to fully create this space within yourself.
Once you have created your space, start to explore it. As you explore, think about your glamour. Think about your glamour as a weapon, as a tool, as an instrument. In your space, find the physical representation of your glamour. You will know it when you find it; be patient and open to whatever it may be. When you find it, hold it in your hands and ask the object’s spirit for its name. Call your glamour by name. Open your eyes.
When you find yourself in a situation where you feel doubt about your glamour and your power, mantra your glamour’s name until you feel centered in your power again.