Believe in nothing, no matter who says it, even if I say it, if it does not agree with your own experience and your own common sense ~ Buddha

Chaos Magic

Chaos Magic posits no beliefs — at least none to be considered absolutely “true”. Nothing is true. You are therefore free to take anything you like and use it AS IF it were true. Everything is permitted. And the amazing thing is that even if you’re faking it it still works!

A belief system, ANY belief system, even one cobbled together from bits and pieces, copied or original, if it’scontinuously subscribed to as being absolutely true by the magican, it ceases to be Chaos Magic.

Chaos Magicians are magical agnostics. They don’t know what might be absolutely true, and suspect that nothing is — and they DON’T CARE.

Chaos Magic sees nothing but infinite chaos, stochastically dragged into existence by each and every observer according to their predispositions, and by manipulating these predispositions it can be bent in desired directions by a canny intelligence.

Abby posted this a couple weeks ago, and it’s a monument to how much other good stuff I had on the go that this… this… BRILLIANCE … had to wait.

I am officially a Chaos Mage.

That’s all there is to it. This completely nails my worldview.

  • There’s no way to know what’s absolutely true
  • It’s quite possible nothing is
  • But if you can take anything you like and MAKE it true, at least for a while
QED

So, who else is a Chaos Magician out there? I have it on good authority that Abby started a list. (And also, you’re welcome to be on my Lyst. I believe Chaos Mage falls under the subheading “hell-raisers and shit-disturbers”)

How do you make tough decisions? You weigh them according to your values and principles, right? You thoughtfully examine the issue, do your gut check, then decide.

Or do you?

Perhaps you scour the internet, looking for experts to weigh in. Perhaps you ask your friends and mentors. It could be that you’re just covering your bases, but it could also be that you want reassurance.

The funny part is, there are two flavours of reassurance. One is where you know the right move and you just need confidence in making it, and the second is where you want to make the “wrong” choice, and you want someone to tell you it’s the right one so you can defend it. 🙂

It’s that last that I want to talk about.

 Making the “wrong” decision

If we take as a given that trust in yourself is crucial, and that you already have it in spades, then we can start to examine the deeper conflicts that surface.

Sometimes it’s just that you didn’t realize your own drive. I know that, until recently, I couldn’t figure out why I felt that throwing myself into social media was completely wrong for attracting the clients I wanted to work with. I’m a very gregarious person, and have no trouble talking about my brilliance, but the whole game seemed to be out of sync with me.

Finally, Chris Anthony pointed out to me that if the primary traits I wanted in my clients was confidence and drive, it made sense to arrange my intake in such a way that people had to come to me on purpose, with a purpose, and so even if they actually felt lost and uncertain, I could point out that they had, in fact, demonstrated the types of traits I was looking for.

And then all my resistance melted away, and I was in my power again.

 Fighting the Enemy Within

Even more sneaky is when the right decision for you runs counter to what you think of as an integral part of your personality. For instance, as I make plans to move, even though I know that it’s in the best interests of me and my family, I’m struggling with it. There are lots of things I had taken responsibility for that I’m now having to withdraw from. This makes me uncomfortable because I think of myself as a responsible person, and when I say I’ll do something, I feel honor-bound to do it.

Pride goeth before a fall

It’s not quite true. It’s ego that goes before a fall, the parts of your personality that you personally identify with. Responsibility. Caring. Independence. Capability. Resilience.

If you think of yourself as a “capable person” and you’re forced to ask for help, that creates cognitive dissonance. If you think of yourself as “caring” it’s far too easy to find yourself a doormat.

Furthermore, that inner conflict is hamstringing your confidence, like having an enemy in the castle keep. And that’s why you seek out gurus and experts, desperately hoping for the way out of this harried, unproductive state you’re in . Because it’s not you, right? It’s not like you to struggle to make these kinds of decisions, is it?

If there’s any advice I can give, it’s to pay attention to your visceral reactions. I noticed a friend diffidently offer me help, worrying that it would hurt my pride to take it. And I, noticing my instinctive, “Thankyou, that’s very kind, but I’ll handle it myself” wondered why I wouldn’t.

It wasn’t the pride, apparently– it was the sense that if I couldn’t handle the problem now, when exactly WOULD I develop that ability? To me, it’s very important to have the skills to handle almost anything.

Noticing those reactions is very akin to reprogramming paradigms: they’re little brother version called “belief systems”. They’re often quite laughable when you identify them. Useful up to a point, of course, but not as dogma.

Just like I’m still a capable person when I find someone to guide me through a problem rather than trying to figure it out on my own. Sure, it’s not the same as hands-on experience and struggle, but now the decision is “How important is it to me to have this experience?” not “Since when am I the kind of person that lets other people fix my problems?”

So tell me, my darlings, have you run across this dynamic before? How did you handle it? Are there any belief systems that have become suddenly apparent to you? Share in the comments!

When people look at a problem, there’s a tendency to look for expert assistance. To the gurus! As if they had some divine insight.

 But I’ve never been on a big quest for a teacher, someone to teach me, to affirm my path and choices. It’s not that I’m not willing to be taught, and I certainly love to learn, but I just don’t see where studiously absorbing the accumulated paradigms along with the wisdom is very effective long-term.

To me, looking to a guru says “I am a child. I am a child, and I acknowledge it, now please teach me what I am lacking.” Which is great up to a point. I do agree with being humble and teachable.

But what I do not see is the expectation of growing up.

To me, that’s a problem.

Everyone needs to be taught from time to time. But for too long, we’ve given away our power, our intellectual and spiritual freedom to experts, talk show hosts, and gurus.

Affirmation.

Guidance.

That’s all we’re after.

It all boils down to a confidence issue.

We don’t trust ourselves.

We don’t think we’re enough.

We can’t find our power, or if  we did, we don’t feel confident that we can access it at will.

The lack is not ideas. It is not style. It’s not knowledge. It’s trust. 

Trust in ourselves, in our abilities and our resilience.

Trust in our decisions.

Trust in our vision.

When a friend approached me to ask if I was setting myself up as a guru, I was appalled. Never, never, NEVER.

If I’m in my power, doing my Work, and people come to see me as a guru, that’s not something I can help. I’m nobody’s guru, I’m a traveller, same as you, with maybe a bit of a unique perspective on things. I don’t take apprentices. I only take people under my wing for a short time.

My endgame is always to get people to grow up. Allow them to abandon the safety nets of following where others lead secure in the knowledge the don’t need them. 

They own the power.

The resiliency.

The vision.

It resides within them and is easily accessible to them.

We are all children, all blank slates, waiting to be written on. But we are also beings of unimaginable power and potential. And we have the answers. We’re just afraid to trust them.

Trust is essential. Trust and self-confidence. Not arrogance, ego, or fatalism.

Believe me, when you finally find your power, you’ll know the difference. You’ll blaze with it, and nothing will be the same for you ever again. You will truly know what it means to be limitless.

The Godhead in me greets the Godhead in you. Namaste.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Tell me your thoughts.

I like talking to people, because once in a while I’ll hear Something Very True cross my lips, and I’ll have a “eureka” moment. I love eurekas. Last week I told Abby (@oriridraco) that I was studying “the courage and discipline to only do what’s worthwhile to me.”

Have I mentioned before how fucking brilliant I am? (Humble, too, you’ll notice.)

After long reflection, I am announcing the following policy change:

I am now only taking clients by referral. In order to get my email address, you will have to get it from someone I’ve worked with. If you don’t know anyone who has worked with me, you will have to get creative.

Once you get my email, there is a process. This is to weed out the people who want me to wave my magic wand and make their problems go away. They mistake me for their fairy godmother, I think.  I only want to work with you if you’re going to work with me.

My People

Every who gets into this biz does it to help people. I’m no different. God knows it isn’t for the luxury goods and the Caribbean cruises. I want to serve my Right People. And Catherine Caine makes a very good point. I must turn away my Not Quite Right People.

My People are gutsy, driven, and willing to take chances. I want people with passion, and purpose, who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. I’m here to be Merlin to your Arthur, Dumbledore to your Harry Potter.

I will not bestir myself for dilettantes. I am looking for dragon slayers.

There is one other way you can stay close to my white hot presence: Join the CataLyst. (Affectionately referred to as the Guinea Pig Army.) That’s where I recruit volunteers to test my ideas, try out my (unorthodox) methods, and shower with my peculiar brand of story-telling and wisdom. Oh, and the only other place I mention openings in my schedule. I start recruiting for my next project in a couple weeks, so if you’d like to be close to the action, you can click here to sign up. I promise not to use you as cannon fodder. Or your email address, for that matter.

Psst. I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

I have a salon. I spend every Wednesday in the company of brilliant and insightful people. We talk about whatever. Sometimes we talk about our business, our goals, our successes, and our struggles. Sometimes we talk about our own growth and the epiphanies we had that week. Sometimes, we think as many as seven impossible things (before breakfast!)

Wednesday is my favorite day of the week, because every Wednesday I make a point to connect to peers and mentors, share progress, cheer each other on, and generally cross-pollinate ideas.

I see it as crucial to my process as diet, sleep and exercise.

And you could do it too. It’s easy.

The Process

On Wednesday, I clear as much off my plate as I am able, and I spend an hour on the phone with each of my partners. That’s it. Personally, I tend to spend a significant chunk of time writing, processing ideas and goal-setting afterwards, but I suppose you wouldn’t have to.

1. Find someone you can learn from, who is supportive and challenging. And it helps if they’re on the same trajectory. It doesn’t really matter where on the trajectory they are because you’ll each have relevant experiences, but rarely will they duplicate.

Do choose people you feel some personal connection with. I have three people in my salon right now. One* is a client and a lifecoach who became a friend, and the other two are those impulsive connections I sometimes make with strangers.

One I bonded with over a shared experience of being compelled by a Vision that basically bullied us around and wouldn’t let us rest.

The third was even more ephemeral than that– we speak the same language of magic and metaphors and I basically cajoled and bullied him into letting me phone him every week. Not that I’m recommending that. 🙂

2. Float the idea past them. I like weekly meetings because it challenges me to make things happen in shorter time frame. (cf Parkinson’s Law) I definitely would not go longer than a month. If they can’t commit, honour that. They are being honest with you about their constraints. It’s not a priority for them and you should respect that.

What this means is that you will likely ask a lot of people before you find one who is in the same headspace as you. Don’t be discouraged. This means you have a diverse group of peers!

3. Set expectations. Tell your potential partners how you envision this alliance, and ask for their input. Point them toward this article if you like. Set a short term goal as a test case. In the past, I’ve had salon partners where we only talked while one of us was planning a project, and as soon as that project was done, the salon withered.

That’s as it should be. If the goal is reached, another can replace it, but if not, let it go. This is a tool, not a therapy session. If you’re not making progress towards something you’re just kvetching.

The progression doesn’t have to be concrete; it can be rather vague. For instance, figuring out where you want to go next is a soul-seeking sort of purpose that benefits from high-level input and constant scrutiny.

***

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. This is as true professionally as it is socially. Choosing quality salon partners gives you a support system, traction and progress, and provides you with a source of high quality input and experience. And who can’t use more of that, right?

What do you think about your own salon? Good idea? Can’t spare the time? Too much effort to manage? Let me know in the comments. 

And please retweet if you think the concept was interesting. If other people find it half as worthwhile as I do, I want to spread the word!

*I’m not naming names because, well, it’s not my place to say.

The world is grey.

The world is grey, not black and white.

Did you know that? I mean, not, have you heard it said? I mean, is this a visceral knowing for you? Can you feel it in your guts that nothing is ever one thing or another…that interpretation is Pantone-rich.

The World Is Gray -- Jace Wallace

I was discussing morality the other day with Drew Jacob. I told him I thought nobility and duty was a pretty stupid hill to die on; that living, no matter how tarnished you feel you’ve become, is almost always a better way to serve.

He replied that his takeaway was that you need to be more careful of what you commit to, not that commiting, and dying for that commitment, is the wrong thing to do.

We’re both right, of course (Naturally, we’re also both wrong, in a different set of circumstances).

Circumstances and values; context and degree intertwine in a complex harmony.

Drew says “Values, not rules.” And I agree.

As long as it doesn’t become a rule or anything.

What do you think?

Action Reaction

Why is it that we never hear any advice on decompression? We talk about how to act, how to juggle, how to balance, how to beat procrastination, how to sell, how to fight, how to never give up, how to fail and how to lose.

We do we never talk about the space between action?

The assumption seems to be that if there is ever a space between actions, it’s a flaw, a fault. We parrot “taking time for ourselves” and “spending time with loved ones” but there’s always the strong flavour of doing  to these things, as if they were just one more item on our todo lists.

I believe that change is often as good as a rest, but not always.

For me, a sure fire sign that I need to decompress is the nagging sense that I’ll lose track of things if I’m don’t keep everything moving at once. This is a sign that my short-term memory is starting to flag, which is another symptom of stress sickness.

The best decompression resource I found came (unsurprisingly) from Leo Babuta of Zen Habits. He was the only one with the focus I was looking for– of checking out and stepping away from stress and stress-patterns, and not just seeking to manage it better.

His tips:

  1. Deep Breathing
  2. Self-massage
  3. Talk a walk
  4. Exercise
  5. Get outdoors
  6. Sex
  7. Take the day off
  8. Meditate
  9. Read
  10. Love
  11. Disconnect
  12. Take a nap

I find it pretty comprehensive, with the possible addition of playing a game.

So, looking at that list, tell me honestly: What have you done lately, and don’t you think you should?

This is the only way to handle high-level stress and eustress. If you want to be epic, extraordinary, awesome, (insert your adjective of choice) you also must be mindful that after every epic hurdle is leapt, you take the time to decompress from the battle-fever.

Thanks to Q for the inspiration for this post.

Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic. ~ Arthur C. Clarke.

I always felt that quote was so heartening. Maybe magic didn’t exist in the way we thought it did… But it does exist, we just call it something else. I thought of this quote last week when a client asked, in that half-joking, half-spooked manner with which I have become so familiar:

Are you psychic?

There’s so many layers to this question! They’re asking, do you have superpowers? How do you do it? And, how can I trust this information, it’s not supposed to work like this?

No. I’m not psychic, at least, not as I understand the term, but I will agree that it’s more a matter of semantics. I think I am more like a therapist. I simply ask your body what it would like to tell me, and it tells me what it would like to address. It also has surprising insight into what’s holding you back. It’s the perfect informant!

That being said, I rely rather heavily on my intuition. Sometimes Innate is clear and straightforward, “I need this, here’s how I feel about this, this is where the problem lies” and other times it’s couched in symbolism and speaking in tongues.

Nevertheless, it works rather splendidly. I’ve worked with my intuition long enough that it feels like a fairly mundane skill, although I know that seems odd to a lot of people.

Why I Trust My Intuition

I’ve lived by my intuition a long time. Years ago, I trained myself to follow my gut wherever it led, reasoning that it was unlikely to steer me wrong, and much more likely to lead to opportunity, especially opportunity I hadn’t consciously grasped because it didn’t look like I expected it to.

I consider this to be one of the great benefits of being tuned to your higher perceptions– you notice what you might otherwise not. Don’t beat yourself up about everything you’re not noticing. That’s the path to madness. But it’s more like programming subroutines by using the power of your expectations.

The reticular activating system is like a giant filter, and it responds well to programming. It runs on the keywords you’ve assigned, points out the things that you’ve noted in the past to be important to you, and of course, keeps you apprised of possible threats. And it filters out as much of the white noise as possible.

Taking that one step further, I can trust, because that’s how I programmed it over a number of years, that when I feel drawn to a person or activity or perhaps even a book or a branch of knowledge, it’s because there’s something embedded there that I will find enlightening. And so I focus my attention more closely, to see what is there for me to see.

And that’s the same principle I use with my clients. I’m speaking with your Innate, the single personality in the world who has absolutely no agenda but your well-being— we might not speak exactly the same language (sometimes semiotics can be tough). But if it’s been brought to my attention by you (remember, Innate is just you, not hampered by your conscious mind) it’s important enough to examine, to explore.

And we all know that when you go exploring, that’s where you make all the really exciting discoveries.

On Struggle

My idea of what it means to be kind might seem a bit odd. It might seem even odder if you’re someone that I love, because I believe that the kindest thing I can do is compel you to examine things, not smother you in reassuring platitudes. I will not tell you what you want to hear, unless it is also true. I will let you struggle.

Believe me, dear ones, it is as hard on me as it is on you. I can see the pain you’re in. I can see you’re lost and losing faith. But I’m still going to let you struggle.

Struggle is the most important part. Yeah, life is suffering. What we struggle over is often meaningless, in the grand scheme of things. But struggle is where everything important happens.

***

It’s where you learn how tough you are, how durable (it’s always more than you think). It’s where the rubber meets the road and you start to ken what matters. It’s where when you’re beaten down, overcome by worry or shame or rage, you realize that you’re still here, still alive. And, while battered, beaten, and dragged to the outer reaches of your limits, you were never really broken — and that’s no small thing. In fact, it’s the only thing.

It’s where you learn that your feelings need not be attached to your circumstances, where your actions come from your principles, not in reaction to the events and the people around you. It’s where, unbelievably, you come to understand that the struggle is the only thing that matters and that, what’s more, the struggle is your friend

It doesn’t insulate you — you don’t need it. It doesn’t protect you — you don’t require it. Instead, it sets up opportunities and situations for you to grow in. Over, and over, and over.

***

Struggle is unmoved by your tears. It is anointed by your rage. Your fear demonizes it, but it doesn’t change its essence. Struggle lets you grow into your power, like a patient parent to a recalcitrant child. Eventually you come to see that struggle was always your friend. And then it ceases to be a struggle, and becomes merely a challenge.

You might say: “I have nothing to prove. Not to myself, or to others. Why should I have to struggle?” You don’t have to. Stop. Go limp. Play dead.

But if you can’t perhaps you need to acknowledge that some part of you needs that struggle to be realized. To come to the surface. To develop itself. Even if you feel as fully formed and individuated as Athena, acknowledge that if that were true, you would have stopped struggling by now.

***

Think of struggle as being born. Babies don’t want to be born. The womb is warm and safe, and the world is cold and bright. But they’re driven by a force both of them and outside them, and so it goes.

It doesn’t have to hurt. I mean, it does hurt, sometimes. But it doesn’t have to get to you.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what constitutes compassion. It’s understandable; mention the word compassion, and it evokes the image of Jesus being tortured to death, still imploring on behalf of the jeering crowd: “Forgive them, they know not what they do.”

One man I spoke to was  disgusted with how the liberating energy of compassion has been corrupted.

“Tara who wields swords and sits upon the corpse of a dead man his ripped out heart in her hand, a symbol of both suffering and liberation, destroyer and creator. Her later incarnation into Buddhism [Kuan Yim, the goddess of compassion] took something from her that was not returned.”

I told him that I didn’t think he had to worry; compassion was terrible and beautiful and not for the faint of heart.

I don’t think compassion embodied is a kind of simpering virtue. Compassion is holy fire.

A lot of people grapple with the idea that life really ought to be kind and just, even when inundated with evidence to the contrary. Then they further struggle with the question of “What kind of Power arranges things this way?”

My own thought is — a compassionate one.

Let me ask you a question. How do you learn best? How to you get things, in a visceral way?

Do you read about it? Do your research? Take good advice?

Of course not. You do it. You struggle, you fail, you fall down, you get hurt. You survive. And then you really know. Whatever your question was, you got answers. Not all the answers, of course. That’s for the next time. But for right now, you learned something, and you learned it good.

Try taking that away. All your past hurts, all your suffering and pain. What remains? If you’re like me, not very much. A lump of iron, never forged. Good for nothing.

Compassion is not the art of relieving suffering, succoring the helpless, or protecting the weak. Compassion is the art and the discipline of allowing things to be as they are without being motivated to “save” people from their suffering. Compassion is staying centred in the knowledge that everything unfolds as it should. It’s allowing pain to pain to exist alongside pleasure, both in your own life, and the lives of those you love. That’s what’s terrible about it.

What motivates your acts of compassion? Do you agree or disagree that compassion is terrible as well as kind?