You Don’t Have to Like it, You Just Have to Do it
You may find that you sabotage yourself when you are close to achieving your Great Work. You dawdle on signing the contract, you put off doing the work others have commissioned to be done by you, you let yourself talk yourself out of going to important events or tell yourself other things are more important, you become afraid and stand on the edge of achieving your goals, too paralyzed to jump. For you to be able to accurately and effectively deal with self-sabotage, you have to have a really strong handle on when you are attempting to bullshit yourself and when you really need to take a moment.
Adhere to deadlines, have tracking information when mailing physical objects, do what you promised to do, figure out what your next small steps are for you to move forward, and make one small step that very day. If social anxiety and/or depression are hindering you from attending events that would be helpful in your Great Work, figure out what you need to push through it: Do you need to talk to your therapist about making a plan? Would having a friend attend the event with you make you feel safer? Would having a definite end time and exit strategy help you actually attend? Is a reward the following day an incentive to go? Does it help if you practice conversation with someone you trust about topics likely to come up? Does it help to have your fashion maven friend pick out your outfit and do your makeup? All of those things can be achieved—you just need to give yourself the time, space, and energy to achieve them. The more you practice anything, the better you will be at it. You may never be the best at it or even great at it, but you will definitely be better than you were when you started … and that’s a prized accomplishment to be achieved.
Your actual physical body may rebel against your impending success with sudden stomach ailments, vertigo, colds, migraines, eczema, dandruff, rashes, acne, menstrual issues, and exhaustion. All of those manifestations are real and should be treated by a medical professional if previously unexperienced. Change is difficult and scary, and it causes very real stress on our psyches and our bodies because our minds, bodies, and spirits are connected. Don’t be dismissive of your body’s reaction to change, be sure to care for your body as gently and kindly as you would if a friend were experiencing these effects.
As if all of this discomfort wasn’t enough, by now you have likely noticed that this extra attention does not exclude unwanted notice from creepers, overly zealous suitors, people who think soliloquy is conversation, space invaders, and other vermin. Some of them will be strangers and therefore new to you, and some will be people you already knew who are now very interested in you.
Not Everyone Wishes You Well
Remember that your uprising is a small war, which means there’s always an element of risk, danger, and harm to yourself and others. This sounds really scary until you remind yourself that whenever you step foot outside your house there’s also an element of risk, danger, and harm. Sometimes you don’t even need to leave your house!
When dealing with people who are undesirable to you for whatever reason, think first about if it will benefit you when your opponents show their hand about who they are, what they want from you, and if they could help you with your Great Work. As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This will require patience and some use of game theory. You need to be patient and strategic when attempting to get your opposition to reveal their plan to you and you need to maintain those aspects while considering what to do with that information.
Sometimes your opposition is simply people with opposing agendas and thought processes; they form the majority of your experience in dealing with the difficult. In those cases, you should spend some time considering how to better line up your agendas so that you can work together and figure out some common ground you have with these people so you don’t spend all your time in a fit of loathing for them, as we’ve previously discussed. This will require compromise, which will require a lot of thoughtful consideration about what you are willing and definitely not willing to compromise. Ideally, you should be willing to compromise more than you aren’t.
What if there is no reason for you to have to interact with some of these newly interested people who are causing you grief by demanding your time, energy, magic, and possibly even sexual favors? Should you simply accept this unwanted attention as the cost of glamour? You have been reading this volume faithfully, have you not? You are waging guerilla warfare—why would you accept an unwarranted attack on your person?
Shielding as hard as a tiny pill bug shows this adversary that they have power over you and could best you; it gives them the upper hand because it has allowed them the power to make you small and scared. You may feel small and scared but you must not be small and scared.
Let’s talk magical assault first, before practical attacks. In this case, the best thing to do is counter-attack. Forcefully shove their oozy, slimy energy right back at them but mirrored to increase the effect. If you are very dexterous, you can use an actual mirror and an incantation of your choice to do this. If you are a bit more gawky, quickly figure out how you see/feel/sense/taste/perceive their energy. Then visualize (or whatever method you use for magic) increasing that energy as much as you possibly can, and then shove it as hard and fast as you can into their third eye/aura/root chakra/solar plexus chakra—whatever is most undefended, weak, and lazy. If you are unsure about where to shove their energy at them, no one likes to be hit in the face (third eye) or the junk (root chakra), so those are both good choices when in doubt.
Does that make you feel conflicted? As always, look to your moral compass for guidance. That said, Witchcraft does not require constantly turning the other cheek. You are defending yourself by attacking after having been attacked. You are demonstrating that you are not to be trifled with and will not lie down and take abuse.
Esoteric Experiment No. 12
Objective: Use when you feel
threatened but must hold your ground.
Concentrate on occupying the space you stand in. Shoot roots down into the earth and branches that spiral up to the stars through the crown of your precious head. Think about your breath and how it circulates cells through your body and how every time you take a breath, you are forming new life within you on a cellular level. Now think about yourself on an energetic level. You are afraid, so your energy is wound tightly around your body like a blanket. Keep breathing air into your energy that surrounds you to puff it up and make it bigger. Make yourself big and imposing—bigger than your opponent and much more fierce. Put your will into creating extra limbs, terrible claws, fierce tails, gaping maws with terrifying tongues, banshee blood cries, and wings that beat with fury. You are the embodiment of your goddesses’ and spirits’ most horrifying aspects. You are the Morrigan, Kali, Lilith, Hecate, Nyx, and every primordial spirit that knows your name. You are not nice, you are not pretty, you are not accommodating. Your glamour is in your terrible fury and ability to eat all that oppose you whole. When the danger has passed, dispel this energy with a sharp exhale, as if you have blown out a candle, and look at yourself in a mirror to rearrange any bits that are out of place in your regular seeming from your Work.
Practice this skill at random times when you are not threatened at all or only slightly threatened. If you are friends with other Witches, work together on improving this skill. Observe how you change, observe the change in others around you. Use this as your magical self-defense.
You Shouldn’t Make Everyone Happy
Magic is a good option to have and you should utilize it, but you will want to have some mundane applications as well. In previous chapters, we discussed the importance of being able to read others. This is especially important when you find yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in: trapped behind a table at a bake sale, trapped on a bus or plane, trapped at a party where someone else drove—any number of situations where it can be difficult to escape. Start by listening to your intuition. Is your gut telling you that this person has bad intentions toward you? Do you feel unsafe? Do you not trust the other person? It’s easy to want to dismiss these feelings, especially if you have been socialized in a feminine sort of way, regardless of your gender identity, because you have been trained to please others.
You know what won’t please that person? Abruptly excusing yourself, asking the flight attendant for another seat, standing up to make a pretend phone call, or forcibly calling the other person out for making you feel uncomfortable. You have been socialized in a feminine manner. The undesirable person in question will consciously or unconsciously use that to their advantage and remind you that it is your job to make them feel liked, regardless of your personal feelings.
For some of us, it actually is our job to make this person happy, especially in sex work fields, administration fields, care fields, and customer service fields. Because of this, we will sometimes obediently perform whatever task the other party feels entitled to either because of our socialization or because it is literally our job. Sometimes we will silently accept the harassment because we are afraid to call attention to the fact that it’s unwanted for fear of repercussion that could end in job loss or physical, emotional, or sexual assault.
We have been taught that the validation given by others is critical to our sense of self so even though we are filled with loathing for this undesirable person, we still somehow want this other person to think that we are nice and likeable. If this undesirable person thinks we are nice, accommodating, and likeable, it means we’re a good person because the undesirable person said so. So we agree to stay, even when we shouldn’t. We have been indoctrinated to not make a scene, to go quietly and not cause a fuss. As Witches, as people wielding arcane power and using glamour as a force, we don’t need to be thought of as nice. Powerful, fascinating, noticeable, yes. Nice and accommodating, no. When you start to accommodate due to your socialized conditioning, consider if that’s the action you actually want to take. Sometimes it benefits us and sometimes it doesn’t.
But we need to stop going along to get along; we need to stop doing that right now. If you want a real revolt, you need to be willing to cause a commotion, even if it’s only in your head as you are going against your socialized training.
You need to figure out what the best ways are for you to deal with these situations head-on without putting yourself in danger. Sometimes walking away and making up an excuse works, sometimes it will be a flat and completely disinterested monotone saying, “No, I don’t want to do that,” sometimes making a breezy joke helps (“Oh honey, you couldn’t handle me, bless your little heart”), sometimes looking your undesirable person dead in the eye and saying, “You have no right to say that to me. The only one who has agency over my thoughts, feelings, and actions is me, and if you try pulling this shit again, you will be very, very sorry.”
It’s critical to learn what response is warranted when and what will keep you out of harm’s way at the hand of this undesirable person. You need to be willing to learn how to escape uncomfortable situations unscathed. We have been trained to disregard our internal sense of danger. Never, ever do that. If you start getting a bad feeling about a person or a situation, get out. Immediately. Using whatever means necessary. It may have been unwarranted, you may feel foolish about it. But it’s much better to wonder if someone was really a nice person with good intentions deep down inside than to have proof that they were not. Use the exit strategies we talked about in conversation. Put some physical distance between yourself and the undesirable person. If they try to get into your space, continue putting space in between the two of you. If they try to make you feel guilty or stupid for putting space between the two of you, you were obviously correct about that person. Tell the undesirable person that you are not comfortable being that close together. Put a physical object between you and the undesirable person. I feel safe with my shop at public events because there’s always a table between myself and my clients unless I choose otherwise. In my setup, it is physically impossible without crawling under my table to get past that barrier. Have a signal with a friend or lover that they know means you need their help to escape immediately. Screaming and self-defense are also always options we have. Don’t be afraid to use Esoteric Experiment No. 12 with great impunity in these situations.
Let’s say you could either walk to work, which will take more time and energy, or be trapped on a bus with the same terrible undesirable person every day; you may prefer to walk. However if your work ends after dark and your workplace location has a high occurrence of crime, you may prefer an enclosed space with many witnesses. You need to be able to plan for known potential dangers, be quick on your feet about unknown peril, and be forgiving of yourself when you are flustered. Consistent time, energy, and attention to honing yourself to be better prepared for the unknown will make you less flustered.
If you’ve been in situations where you were powerless, it’s never your fault. Please know that. Cunning, calling for help, training in self-defense, and doing all of the “right things” you were taught sometimes is not enough. Someone who wants to cause harm will cause harm. We are trying to learn how to shift the deck, but sometimes it’s not enough. If you’ve been assaulted, therapy can help to work through that. You are owed whatever justice and vengeance you feel you need to help yourself, through our legal system and magically if desire. Even in “lesser” circumstances, where someone made you feel uncomfortable or obligated toward them but did not assault you, if you could not figure a way out of the situation and instead stayed silent to avoid escalating the situation, you survived to fight another fight, which is sometimes all we have.
But we cannot let our previous experiences beat us into submission. Glamour demands your right to take up space; glamour demands your right to present yourself the way you want to be seen by the world; glamour demands your right to shine brightly; glamour takes a steel spine, courage, and cunning. Taking up space when we’ve been taught to apologize, speak softly, and not be noticed is terrifying. Suddenly, you are an object for your oppressors’ gaze where you are now required to perform like a lap dog for their amusement. You’re so pretty when you smile! Come over here and talk to me! Give me a kiss! Won’t you sing for us? It can be difficult in the moment to know what to do when it happens. You can consciously choose to perform for your oppressor, like Jael chose, as you bide your time to figure out how to drive the allegorical stake through your oppressor’s brain. You can politely refuse. You can scream your rejection. You can say something clever and escape.
The difficult heart of the question is, “Is this a person you may need later for your Great Work?” If you write a scathing report on your blog or call HR on her, your oppressor is not going to want to help you. Many times, it is very much worth burning that bridge, salting the earth, and finding another way. You don’t have to sell out your conscience to achieve your Great Work; you are not obligated to accept your oppressor’s snail trail all over your hands. Sometimes, however, it is worth biting your tongue and finding a way to twist your oppressor’s hand to your advantage. You need to take some time and weigh your options carefully. Only you will know what is an acceptable situation for your moral compass and what is not. This is not a path of Good Girls/Bad Girls—this is a rebellion with a lot of shades of gray. Mistakes will be made, grace and gentleness can be given to ourselves. No one leads an insurgence unscathed.
Your Bestest Frenemy
We’ve dealt with the more obvious people who are going to be difficult to interact with, so now let’s get a little closer. Most of us have at least one person in our lives we love to hate, that we both love and distrust, that we can’t stop ourselves from competing against in a never-ending Jennifer’s Body Jennifer Check vs. Needy Lesnicki—type escalating struggle. Frenemy. For most of us, with age, we can mostly outgrow this relationship but will still find ourselves falling into this seductive, familiar pattern until we recognize the other person for who they are.
We try to tell ourselves comfortable lies about why we’ve allowed ourselves to be in this situation: the frenemy has a long history with you so he gets you, you’ve both had some good times together, competition can inspire you to be your best self.
There are a few relevant points that you need to keep in mind as well: Your blood pressure is likely higher when interacting with a frenemy than with an outright opponent/oppressor. A long history doesn’t magically create a healthy environment; if it did, everyone’s family dynamic would be amazing. Competition stops being productive when you stop using that energy to become better, faster, stronger, and instead use that time to lie on the floor whining to your besties about your frenemy, which is likely what you are doing. You’ve probably fought with your actual friends and they likely have habits you find irritating. Are you constantly talking about past fights that have been resolved and obsessing over their peccadillos? No.
Why do you choose to stay in this situation? Humans generally love things that are bad for them. The forbidden has always been delicious. You know what you’re supposed to do in most cases: put some distance between the two of you, stop engaging, and focus on your Great Work. Are you doing this? Probably not.
It’s so addictive, that rush of triumph when you feel you’ve bested your frenemy verbally, in achievement, or in physical presentation. It’s a scrumptious high that’s hard for even the most self-disciplined to resist. However, once you’ve crowed your triumph to your besties, you’re right back to the beginning of the cycle where you are trying to figure out how to next best your frenemy.
We’ve agreed that glamour should be used to achieve your Great Work and that going to war to achieve a Great Work is often necessary and can put us in unknown and often fraught positions. It could get dirty. It could get messy. Should you use glamour to go to war against your frenemies? As always, you are in charge of your decisions and the consequences that follow them. You are free to do what you choose.
Let’s step aside from your frenemy for a moment and use a hypothetical example that most of us won’t encounter in our lives to demonstrate glamour-based decision-making and consequences. Since it will be out of most of our everyday life experience, it will be easy to look at the methodology without getting caught up in extenuating circumstances and excuses you doubtlessly have about your frenemy. Should you use glamour to acquire black tar heroin? You could. You could use your glamour to become friends with people who use, who will then introduce you to their dealer. You could then use your glamour so the dealer becomes enamored with you and then allows you live with her and have all the heroin you want. Is a crippling addiction, possibly being turned out to become a dealer yourself, and potentially dying of an overdose a well-thought-out and executed Great Work? By most people’s moral compasses, it is not. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
Bringing it back to your bestest frenemy, the root of the issue when going to war with them is that you are unlikely to ever conclude your business with your frenemy to a level that you consider to be sufficient quid quo pro for the injustices you received at their hand. Instead, you are far more likely to get caught up in an ever-escalating revenge cycle a la Kill Bill, Hamlet, and Xena: Warrior Princess or any soap opera (and most actual operas). Is that what you chose for your Great Work, back at the beginning? Did you open your heart and spirit to your true self, to your goddesses and spirits and what came to you is, I will overthrow frenemy? I suspect not. Since it was not your established Great Work, it is simply a distraction. So in just about every circumstance, you should not invest that level of time, energy, and magic in going to war with your frenemy. Again, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
If you would like to actually step away from this cycle, you need to first acknowledge that you are an equal player in this arch-frenemyship. It would not have escalated to whatever point it has escalated to without a healthy dose of you also hating frenemy’s face back. You’ve both taken the time and care to build epic spite shrines to each other in your respective heads. You are also engaging in backhanded compliments to take the other person down a peg (“Your stocky build really helps you pull off those boots!”), you are never admitting failure publically or to frenemy so they will never get the advantage over you, you are pretending with them that your one-person PR campaign on social media is your actual life instead of your projected life, and you are possibly actively sabotaging your frenemy.
Your enemies and oppressors are worth this level of attention, possibly. Someone who gets under your skin because they have something (possibly just an infinitesimal amount more than you) that you do not have is not worth this level of attention.
It’s time to have some real talk with yourself about what you want that your frenemy has and to make concrete plans about how you can achieve it for yourself instead of constantly word-vomiting about frenemy like the rest of the world is your reality television show confessor. Get on your grind, do your Great Work, create some glamour, and stop being stalkeresque.
Unfollow their social media quietly. Be genuine when you interact, which will build more actual glamour than this fake dog and pony show you’ve been participating in. Don’t escalate, don’t try to one-up—it actually gives you a weaker position as it shows your insecurity. If you start to become heated and involved in your two-person telenovela where obviously whatever annoying behavior done/thing said is completely about you, because everything is about you (just like everything is about frenemy), take a breath and assign a neutral reason for whatever made you irritated.
As discussed, you could of course use glamour to attempt to control another person such as your frenemy. Doing so, however, requires constant care and vigilance, which is more work than it’s worth.
No matter how strategic you are in attempting to control another person magically, you will not be able to account for every possible outcome that comes from it and may not enjoy the end result. Finally, when you are working on another person, you are tying yourself closer to the other party. Sometimes that will be a worthwhile consequence, but often it will not be as it tends to make you obsessive and overly invested in the other party’s life which doesn’t do anything too fantastic for you. So while as always you are welcome to do what you want magically as I am not here to teach you how to behave, but I am also not here to teach you how to get yourself out of a mess either.
Let us focus on using our glamour in a way that will be much less tedious and Sisyphus-like by focusing on what’s significantly easier to control and manage: our own actions. If you are genuinely stepping back (and not simply telling yourself that you are), your frenemy may not be ready yet to give up this intimate relationship the two of you have taken so much time and energy to build together. It is very likely that she will ramp up everything that makes you want to go to war. If you choose to actively engage, you just restart the cycle.
Don’t take the bait. The bait is designed for you to want to take it. It’s meant to be delicious. It’s meant to catch your interest. It will also be constructed to hide the hook that will pierce your tender mouth and pull you out of the environment you need to survive. It is critical that you ignore the bait, no matter how much you desperately want to take it.
Instead, choose a new path. Intentionally choose minor flaws and failures to showcase to your frenemy. It will force your frenemy to see you as an actual fellow human instead of a social media campaign. Steer the conversation so you can give actual, heartfelt praise for your frenemy, which will de-escalate the situation.
Security Comes with Practice
You have come to a place where you have developed your glamour into a full weapon that you are choosing not to use against this person. Instead, focus on watching your physical tells that display insecurity: nail biting, petting your own hair, touching your face, talking too fast, chewing on anything that is not food (pens, your lips, headphone cables, whatever), too much smiling (it makes you look like a beauty pageant contestant and not in a good way), twitching your fingers, jiggling your leg, cracking your knuckles, too much head tilting (as it bares your neck, which can be seen as a submissive gesture), condensing your body as though you are afraid to take up the space you actually embody, and playing with your jewelry or clothes. If you are flirting, much of this can be construed as quirky and cute. You aren’t flirting here, you are sending the message that you will not engage and you are confident in your power. Wiping these tells from your physical vocabulary will also assist you when dealing with actual enemies and oppressors.
Think about it this way: Do you ever see political candidates who are vying to become president of the United States showing nervous tells when giving speeches? Do you ever see celebrities or royals showing nervous tells during televised interviews? No, you do not. You need to have your body language on point, not simply when dealing with frenemies, but in critical battles that impact your Great Work where you may be called to speak during a conference, a meeting, or even more publicly. Video yourself having conversations with people (with their permission) while working to not use any of these tells, and then watch yourself to see how successful you were.
Esoteric Experiment No. 13
Objective: Cut the ties that bind you to a frenemy.
Wear clothing that makes you feel confident or choose to be nude. This rite should be completed in your bedroom at twilight. You will need scarlet thread and scissors. The thread material is your choice: nylon, cotton, silk, or whatever you find at the bottom of your sister’s sewing box. Embroidery scissors will be the easiest for this. Close the door and then seal the space shut by rubbing aloe vera from an aloe frond around the frame of the door while saying words of protection. Seal any windows, additional doors, and mirrors the same way. Sit on your bed and make a circle around yourself out of stones of your choosing—polished river stones, washed rocks from your yard, rough amethyst points, whatever works for you. Draw up energy through yourself using whatever method is best for you. As you start weaving the thread around your non-dominant hand, say out loud anything that you’ve said or done to your frienemy that makes you feel bad, not what you think you should feel remorse for but what you actually feel bad about. It may take some time, but be patient with yourself. When you have named everything out loud, look at your hand and the way the thread looks and feels around it. Sit with that for a moment. Resolve to not be tangled up in these behaviors any longer. Contemplate what you will do to no longer behave in that way. Then grant yourself grace and pardon for your previous actions and seal your intention within yourself to act in a way that you find favorable. Cut the threads that bound your hand from working to assist you to behave the way that you want to behave. Wash your hands with warm water, salt, and lemon to be done with allowing yourself to get caught up.
Hate Isn’t the Opposite of Love, Indifference Is
Let us move on to the even trickier part of your glamour. Now that you are more polished, more poised, and intent on revolution, it won’t only be enemies, random people, and frenemies trying to take you down—it’s also going to be your nearest and dearest. Before we start on how your loved ones are going to try to put you back in your place, it’s important to take a breath and remember that they are your loved ones: people you love and people who love you.
When you are down and feel like you will never accomplish anything and that you will wash out before you even make it, they are the people who will bring you back up. They will take on extra work to make sure you have enough time for your Great Work; they will listen to your frustrations, wipe your tears, cheer you on, accept your lengthy absences and long texting pauses with grace, go to your first shows/readings/whatever, and tell you that what you do is important and has meaning.
Granted, they will be more inclined to do all of these things if you communicate openly and honestly, and they will be more helpful if you make sure they’re on board for these dramatic changes you are now planning to make as it will affect their lives too (I know this is going to be really hard while I work twelve-hour days and we do craft shows on the weekends, but we’ll be able to go to Europe like we always dreamt of with this money. Are you willing to do the majority of the housework and pour all the candles to make this happen?).
It is really difficult to enact sweeping life change without the support of your loved ones. So remember that their lives are harder during this time too, and showing them that you appreciate everything they are doing to help you in the name of achieving your dreams will help everyone get along better while you figure out your Great Work.
As we have previously discussed at length, glamour is subtle and tricky and works on many different levels. It is completely possible (and likely) for your loved ones to feel proud of your accomplishments while also feeling resentful as hell about what they have sacrificed for you to get them. Your loved ones may also feel jealous of the attention you are receiving from others, they may feel insecure that they could be left behind, they may feel they are working just as hard as you but have less to show for it, they may feel less accomplished than you when they previously felt you were less accomplished than them, and they may envy the opportunities you are now being presented with.
The Evil Eye Is for Everyone
The malocchio (the Evil Eye) doesn’t need to be wielded by someone with any magical experience; it doesn’t even need to be intentionally wielded at all. Your loved ones may not realize on a conscious level that they are having all of these feelings about your recent successes. Love has always been a complicated emotion and is rarely untouched by darker emotions. Modern teenaged girls are excellent examples of this. Jacob Clifton wrote fantastically about Gossip Girl and summarizes the complexity of Blair and Serena’s relationship thus: “It’s about two girls that love each other so much, they have to hold tight to each other, no matter how many times the one gets screwed over and the other is rewarded for no reason. And this is riveting, because you are always one or the other.”
The same is often true in actual life, and if you were once perceived by those closest to you as the one who was usually screwed over but now is rewarded for (in their mind) no reason, that will cause friction. Change causes friction in general, but you rising above your perceived station is going to be poorly received by the ones who love you most because now they are forced to consciously or subconsciously question their choices and their decisions they’ve made about their lives.
This may result in less sympathy for when life is difficult for you (or a vampiric amount of interest), more trash-talking behind your back than usual (likely about how you now think you are better than everyone else), and conscious or unconscious machinations to put you back in your place—or better, lower than you were when you started.
As much as humans love a success story, they love a morality tale where you overreached and were smacked down because of it and now have no chance of ever rising up again. Now you are meeker, less beautiful, less desirable, less successful, and more conscious of your place and your betters.
It’s enough to make any sensible person not want to get out of bed ever again if this is what people you love are going to do to you, let alone what your despots and undesirables will attempt on top of it. For most sane, rational, loving people in your life, they won’t mean to (your frenemies will be a different story). It won’t make it hurt any less or lessen the damage but remember you too are not immune from the sickening thrill of schadenfreude. You are not St. Teresa of the Little Flowers; you too occasionally will indulge in this guilty pleasure.
Try to be gentle with the people who actually love you (and whom you love back). Remember that for most people, change is one of the scariest things that can happen in life. It makes people’s lizard brains go ballistic. While our intellectual brains will understand that there is an implied negative to the phrase, if you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten, your lizard brain sees this as a positive. If you get what you’ve always gotten, then you know what to expect! There’s less danger and less failure! You will likely not die that way! Not-death is the goal! Except, if you are safe and comfortable at all times, it’s very difficult to accomplish an uprising.
Most people in your life want the comfort of routine and the pleasant predictability that Facebook, Candy Crush, working a nine-to-five job, being in a long-term relationship, watching television, and a little bit of comfort eating/drinking/smoking has to offer. It’s important to remember that choosing that is a choice, just like choosing to incite mini-insurrections is a choice too.
When someone shoots the Evil Eye at you, you will likely feel it or notice it in some way. When you do, yank it out of you as quickly as possible. Whether or not you want to shove it right back into them is up to you. Generally, in my personal experience, I feel it like a dart in between my shoulder blades where my bra band sits, at the back of my heart chakra. When I pull it out, I literally make a yanking motion to get it out of me. It physically hurts me when I do this, but I can’t go about my business with a dart sticking out of my back. I then use Reiki on the spot afterward. Wearing a hamsa draped over this part of your body may help as well to keep yourself from taking too much of the Evil Eye.
While you likely shouldn’t work much on people you love because it tends to get twisted up and convoluted eventually (and it’s exhausting for you, as previously mentioned), there’s no reason why you should be afraid to sweeten their disposition toward you with some honey and cinnamon-infused baked goods … and cloves too if you suspect gossip. When you are mixing your baked goods, focus on all of the positive feelings you have toward the people you love and all of the positive feelings you want them to have toward you.
Here is where it is very exciting to imagine oneself as important enough for someone else to be actively working on you. It alleviates the need to take personal responsibility when everything doesn’t go to plan, it means you are so important that the other person has built a spite shrine to you in their heads. Sadly, it is very unlikely that any of us are that important to spend so much time and energy on hexing.
However, if enough people are throwing little tiny Evil Eyelets at you, it eventually will make you feel like garbage. You will feel tired, drained, lethargic, disinterested in things you are usually interested in. Obviously, here is a good place to check to make sure you are not suffering from depression or coming down with the flu. If you aren’t shielding harder and no one is specifically working against you, how do you fix this? You need to look at your internal energetic fish tank. Do you have suckerfish or a snail cleaning off the gunk that you are acquiring by dealing with the outside world? If you don’t like fish, how about some mice, spiders, goats, or crows? Pick a creature of your choosing that is good at chewing through things, cleaning things, and digesting the indigestible.
Esoteric Experiment No. 14
Objective: Regularly cleanse yourself of others’ ill wishes.
Find a representation of your creature. Fur mice for mice, for example. Live creatures aren’t the best idea because they have a naturally short lifespan. Create a very small-scale version of their habitat: a tiny fish bowl for your suckerfish with black gravel and a jaunty little treasure chest, a shoebox diorama that you create. Learn what your creature would like as a treat and obtain it. Your kitchen is a good location for this rite, as you are creating spirits. Hold the representation of your creature in your hands, draw up your glamour, and breathe into the representation until you feel the symbolic creature stir with life. Be patient, as this may take some time. Once you do, offer your new spiritual companion the treat you selected. Ask your spirit if they would be willing to clean the negative energy off of you in exchange for offerings like these on a weekly basis. If your spirit doesn’t agree, thank them for their time and try a different kind of creature. Remember, you are making a pact with a spirit. If you don’t honor your part, they will likely act out against you. If for any reason you think that you no longer need this arrangement, thank your spirits for their hard work and release them from the pact as you release yourself.
Failure Isn’t Always a Breakthrough
We always like to annotate failure. We are failing better, we haven’t failed yet per se, we just haven’t succeeded, we used our failure as an a-ha! moment and now we are all media moguls. The desire to obfuscate failure is understandable. Who wants to sound like a sad, whiny Coldplay song? For most people, failure feels bad, especially if there are critics who are eager to tell us if we had simply done x or y, we would never would have failed in the first place. We are expected to have learned from our mistakes as clearly and simply as the morality tale about the scorpion and the frog teaches us. What if sometimes you’re the scorpion and sometimes you’re the frog and you don’t always know which party you are?
Getting back to our historical riot grrls, let’s look at a really terrible example of failure. The kind that’s so bad that you can’t come back from it and you’ve lost everything you ever had to fortune’s wheel.
More of a Wolverine Than a She-Wolf
Queen Margaret of Anjou was not born and bred to be a she-wolf as many (white dudebro) historians like to paint her. She probably wasn’t actually a vicious beast of war at all. This is important to note because history has no problem othering Queen Margaret. While mitigating factors are often presented about Richard III (who likely played a part in the murder of the two child princes, if you recall) and Edward IV (who may have been Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s husband, but still dragged men out of church sanctuary and had them killed on church grounds), Queen Margaret is still portrayed as an even less sympathetic version of Lady Macbeth. In many current historical versions, she still—hundreds and hundreds of years later—does not get to be a person. No mitigating factors are given, no wrenching tales are told about how she had it hard, too. She was just a bitch who overreached, to this day. If royal blood couldn’t protect her from being called an overreaching bitch, you can rest assured that it is highly likely while working to achieve your Great Work, you will be called the same if not worse.
In reality, she was likely received by the English reasonably neutrally, but she was going to have a difficult time of it to begin with as a Frenchwoman whose only friend was the Duke of Suffolk, who had just been soundly trounced by Joan of Arc and the French, making him voted Least Popular by the other lords.
Queen Margaret wasn’t able to win over the generous populace in her early days. While she was clever, witty, and very beautiful, she was also very conscious of her position and almost immediately had her new husband, Henry VI, hand over portions of France that were held by the English back to France, which was never going to be something the general English population was going to like.
In her early days, she was more concerned with how her household was running and matchmaking within it than making a splash in the political arena. Despite being in her late teens, she kept her attention on everything and wrote letters with very specific instructions on her wishes for the many households and estates she ran. It is likely that she had a much larger allowance than other royal ladies in her age group. Queen Margaret wasn’t messing around with her allowance like the other royal ladies who spent theirs on clothing, jewels, and lapdogs. Instead, she used it to purchase gifts and influence potential allies, even in her early days of rulership, which is a pretty badass use of one’s allowance at nineteen.
Her lack of popularity was also due to the king himself. He was mentally ill (likely, schizophrenia) and made plenty of unpopular decisions on his own, including courting the friendship of France (whom we’ve established we hate). He could not keep his nobles from constantly fighting amongst each other and was known to be capricious in his punishments. The king was an anointed royal of England and thus most of the population was disinclined to criticize him because that would be like criticizing God’s wishes, which left Queen Margaret, as a Frenchwoman, a suitable proxy.
As Henry was prone to catatonic states, that left Queen Margaret to make the decisions, something the women in her family were known for—her grandmother, Yolande of Aragon, and her mother, Isabelle of Lorraine, ruled in the absence of husbands or sons. This was every bit as popular with the dudebro lords as you would expect it to be, which kicked off the War of the Roses.
She directed various battles, sometimes from Scotland and eventually from France as well. Blame for the brutal sacking of Ludlow, which included arson, rape, and theft, is still laid at her feet. This conveniently ignores the sacking of other battlefield towns that the other would-be kings committed. She is an unrepentant she-wolf but boys will be boys, right?
In her own medieval glamour play, Queen Margaret was not above befriending former bitter rivals who had turned against King Edward, such as his own brother, George, and the Earl of Warwick. She immediately betrothed her son to the Earl of Warwick’s daughter, Anne. At this point, Queen Margaret is in France, figuring out a way to land in England and reclaim the throne for her husband and then her son. She arranges for an army comprised of mercenaries and Lancastrians and plans carefully with the Earl of Warwick about how to end the civil wars and regain her rightful throne.
The wars end here not just because of the alliance forged between Lady Margaret Beaufort and Queen Elizabeth Woodville (who went on to found the Tudor dynasty), but because Queen Margaret’s son is killed in battle. Her husband, the other king, dies in captivity a few weeks later in the Tower of London (likely murdered).
Queen Margaret, once so unstoppable, once so ferocious, so determined to keep her family’s legacy no matter what it cost, is completely broken. Her legacy is gone; she has failed. She spends the rest of her life in shabby gentility in France. Once, she was the French terror that constantly threatened England but now she is simply…forgotten.
Lessons from Marge A.
While Queen Margaret should likely be remembered much as Lady Margaret Beaufort is remembered, as a patroness of education, she is remembered not for founding Queen’s College in Cambridge, but for her bitter defeat and ruin. She is a cautionary tale for what happens when a Bad Girl overreaches. Sometimes, we are the Moirai’s darlings for only a short while and then ground under their feet with no way to recover ourselves. Some failures can’t be recovered from. Do you dare to risk ruin for your Great Work?
There Are Many Reasons for Failure
In Amy C. Edmonson’s article “Strategies for Learning from Failure” in the Harvard Business Review, she discusses failure as a spectrum of personal accountability, which is critical because blame plays such a large role in failure. Once you can be assigned blame, you are also typically assigned guilt, anger, and sadness to go with it. Everyone wants to point their finger at someone else, as it absolves them of responsibility. But when absolving oneself of responsibility, you are also absolving yourself of opportunities for growth and reassessing the situation. While as a culture we like to use fitspiration phrases such as “failure is not an option,” this actually denies ourselves the opportunity to move forward. In some fields of scientific exploration, experiments fail at a rate of 70 percent. With that level of failure, you would have to learn how to reframe failure just to go into work every day. Being able to determine what kind of failure happened assists you in reassessing how to move forward with your Great Work.
The first kind of failure is deviance. You opted out of following the process you selected for yourself. You didn’t go to the gym, you didn’t use glamour as a weapon, you didn’t do the ritual work, you didn’t send your résumé, you didn’t exchange social media with a new contact, you didn’t hit your word count, or you didn’t show up. The only way to solve this kind of failure is to do the work you set out for yourself.
Inattention is the next cause for failure. You forgot to water the plants, you didn’t follow up about your college application, you started magic that requires regular attention but got distracted and let it die like a bowl full of sea monkeys, you stopped putting care into your glamour and let it wither. The solution to this kind of failure is obvious: pay attention to the details of your glamour and your Great Work.
A lack of ability can sometimes cause failure because you don’t have the skill set to complete the tasks you set out for yourself. You’ve never been on a date, you’ve never had a career, you’ve never had a child, you’ve never spoken French, you’ve never performed the rite you are working on, you’ve never tried to use glamour to get what you want. There’s a learning curve involved here and the best resolution to this kind of failure is to keep practicing until there’s improvement and to work on gaining the skill sets you need through further education.
Next, we have what’s referred to as process inadequacy. You followed the syllabus, showed up to class, read the book, but still could not understand cell division; you followed the IKEA directions perfectly but your bed is more of a wood pile; you have worked with your glamour as suggested and still can’t tell if it’s working. In this case, you are reasonably competent but something about the explanation is not clicking. It could be because the instructions were not correct to begin with, but it could also be because it’s not being explained to you in a way that is connecting with you. In these cases, see if someone else can make sense of the directions. If they can, ask them to explain it to you in another way. Step away from the issue for a little while, take a breath, and try to look at it a different way to see if you can work it out. If the instructions were never correct, do your best to find an alternative explanation such as watching someone put together your bed on YouTube or using different tools.
Process complexity explains when the task you are attempting to complete is too complicated to reliably complete every time. Think triple axels in figure skating, baking a soufflé, and glamour. There are so many factors involved with many out of your control. In this case, you need to accept failure as a critical component to executing more complicated tasks in your Great Work. Consider if there’s anything you could improve or strengthen (here’s a hint, in most cases the answer is yes) and assent to sometimes falling on your ass as part and parcel to doing these difficult undertakings.
Your inability to take every event that has happened in the past, present, and future into consideration could also lead to failure. You burned a bridge five years ago with a contact that would be critical to your current Great Work, you didn’t notice that the weather today would be unfavorable to an outdoor event, and you didn’t know that ten years from now your industry would crash. In this particular kind of failure, all you can do is stay on top of all potential events you can be aware of while looking at your constellation net and accept that you are not omnipotent (yet) but neither is anyone else.
Sometimes you may be testing a theory to see if it works. Will drinking more water make your skin glow? Will you be able to flirt at a friend’s party? Will going to the gym three times a week give you more energy? Will presenting yourself at an important event as your most glamorous self grant you your heart’s deepest desire? You are play testing these theories, which means that since they are unproven, there’s always the chance that they may fail as they may need more fine-tuning for success. Maybe you can only bring yourself to talk to your friend at the party, so before his next party you will ask your friend to bring you into a discussion because you’re shy. You need to tweak your hypothesis before simply giving up and account for variables that could have led to failed testing. Fine-tuning requires critical thinking skills both for your glamour and for your practical work.
Finally, there’s exploratory testing, which is where you are experimenting to expand your knowledge base by looking into previously unexplored opportunities that lead to undesired results. You did everything you needed to do for the new job. You used your glamour skills, you did all the practical work and … you hate it there. There are a few ways you can deal with this: Structure your glamour and practical work loosely as discussed earlier so that you are willing to take some chances to go off-path and see where your goddesses and spirits lead you while accepting that what other people/deities/spirits think is good for you may not be what you think is good for you. You are not a slave; you are welcome to have a difference of opinion. We all want a Great Journey where we can clearly trace our path to success through our failures but the truth is sometimes mistakes are simply that, mistakes. You wanted to go in a direction, you went in it, and it didn’t work. It doesn’t always lead to epic victory—sometimes it was just a detour. The more you can accept that, the more you’ll be able to think on your feet. Do you want to give the job some time to see if you can learn to like it while working to change the aspects you hate through glamour and practical work? Do you want to start a side business so you have a place to be creative while still getting a solid paycheck? Do you want to immediately start job hunting? All of these are options are valid, so you need to discover which will be best for you.
You Are the Common Denominator
The more accountability you can take for your part in a failed aspect of your Great Work, the more you will be able to think creatively and find a new strategy. Think about it this way, which scenario has problems that you can take action about more immediately:
1. 1. You have a ramen stand in Tokyo, and with no notice at all, Godzilla comes through and crushes it.
2. 2. You have a ramen stand in Tokyo and you hired your sister to run the cash register and she has a spotty work performance record, your noodles are a little undercooked, and you have not been using social media to promote your ramen stand.
Obviously, scenario one is natural disaster in this world. All you can really do is hope that your ramen stand’s insurance policy covers acts of Godzilla. But how often in life is destruction and ruin completely out of your hands and solely due to outside forces? Rarely. In scenario two, you can blame your sister for showing up sporadically, you can blame your stovetop for its inability to cook your noodles to the standard required, and you can blame your Internet for its spotty WiFi, or you can accept responsibility for your part in this. You hired your sister. It is your job to ensure that she shows up when she’s supposed to and if she doesn’t, you need to fire her and hire someone more reliable. You chose the stovetop. You can figure out how to compensate for your noodles using it or buy a new one. You know how important social media is to your small business, so it’s your job to find a better provider and to set aside time every day to give updates about your business that will help your brand be more visible.
It is incredibly unlikely in any failure that you have no accountability for it. Divorce, break-ups (with family, with friends, with relationships), finances, career issues, creative pursuits, all of that has something in common: you. That doesn’t mean that there were no mitigating factors from outside influences and it doesn’t mean that there weren’t external forces at work. But the sooner you can figure out what you were truly responsible for, the sooner you can take action to make changes as needed.
Let’s get personal. In my first marriage, my husband walked out on me and told me we were never, ever getting back together because I had personality problems. I had failed in my marriage. We were together for seven years prior to getting married, but there I was not even a full year later, an abandoned bride with a frozen uneaten tier of wedding cake that would never be shared together. He was done with me and our marriage, and no amount of tears or begging and pleading was going to change that.
I was so floored and shell-shocked, all I could eat was bleu cheese and sun-dried tomato-flavored Triscuits for weeks. I was completely emotionally ruined and didn’t know if I was also going to be financially ruined, just to rub some salt and lemon juice into it. Here’s the thing though: I couldn’t control him or his actions. I couldn’t make him be kind or cruel to me; I couldn’t make him give me a reasonable settlement on the debt in my name that I foolishly agreed to rack up together (though he ultimately would settle with me eventually); I couldn’t stop him from signing legal documents in a specific time frame. All I could do is figure out what I could do and try to focus on that instead of what he would or would not do.
I could (and did) consolidate my debt into a back-breaking payment I could make monthly for six years, I could figure out what I did wrong in that marriage so I could grow from it—not what he told me I did wrong, but what I told me I did wrong. Did I communicate excellently about relationship matters? No. Was I fiscally responsible? No. Was I often jealous and passive-aggressive? Yes. Did I like to wind him up? Yes. Did I prefer to be right instead of happy? Always.
I can work on all of that. Am I perfect now? Of course not, but I can accept these flaws and try to figure out how to be a better person (and partner) while accepting them. Reflecting on my flaws was a relief to me. It meant I wasn’t looking for some external force that came in and wrecked everything. I helped wreck things. That means I can fix them, too. Owning my flaws means just that: I own them. They don’t own me. I decide how to fix things. I decide how to work through them. I decide to take responsibility for them. It is so freeing!
When you are able to take responsibility for when parts of your battle plan for your Great Work fail, it opens you up to better reassess your situation. You can figure out where you missed opportunities, what parts of the plan need to be re-imagined, if you need to start over completely, if what you thought you wanted is actually what you wanted, new unexpected paths to explore, and what flat out didn’t work for you.
When (not if, if you are doing this correctly) you fail, it is obviously very discouraging. No one likes to make mistakes, no one likes to be rejected, no one likes other people doing the “I told you so” dance. Plainly, it feels like shit. You were wrong, others were right, no one wants your art, your magic doesn’t work, no one wants to date you, no one wants to have a baby with you, no one wants your skill set, no one wants to help you. That is flat-out depressing. Take a day or so to wallow in this mire. Really wallow. Teenager it up. Stare at the ceiling, watch Melancholia over and over again, cry, wear sweats, text your friends incessantly bemoaning your fate, and eat ice cream straight out of the container. After that day, it’s time to pull yourself together and remember that you lost a battle, not the war. You’ll know when you lost the war. Most of the time, by the time it happens you’re relieved to no longer be fighting and you can figure out a new life for yourself in exile.
But today is not that day, most likely. Remember the steel in your spine, wipe the mud off your face, drink a smoothie, slap on some good clothes and do your hair up pretty, and figure out how you will win the next one.
Esoteric Experiment No. 15
Objective: Because failure can be so brutal and
draining, it’s important that you recharge your glamour.
Choose a location that is sacred to you: a wildflower sanctuary, your favorite park, your backyard, the field where your favorite Beltane celebration happened, your vanity, your altar space, under your dining room table. Be sure that it’s a place where you can work. Wear your glamoured object and build a nest for yourself for your Work with wooly blankets, lacy shawls, soft pillows, and the books that you love best. Bring yourself into trance space and go to your internal sanctuary. You are going to call your glamour back to you. Think of each little piece as a glittering faery light that you take back into yourself in whatever method works best for you: swallowing, absorbing through your skin, merging with your spirit. What has taken pieces of your glamour from you? Your latest creative endeavor? All the work and Work that you put into your recent rejected proposal? Making your house glamorous for a date at home with your spouse? Actively engaging with your loved ones? Finding the right things to say, the right clothes to wear? Changing previous habits? That beautiful girl who slipped in extra flowers with your order? Call it all back to yourself. Your glamour is yours. You may choose to share it, you may have bits taken from you from those who want a (literal) piece of your shine, you may choose to expend it in the name of your Great Work, but it always belongs to you. Call your glamour back home to you. When you feel the return of your glamour in full, lick your finger and seal your glamour object with your saliva. Center. Soham. I am that. I am the swan.