“Open the door:
There is magic in the teapot, in your shoestring…
and in the wind outside, chanting to you.”
– Marina Medici in Good Magic
A new year is upon us!
And if you’re feeling the call to spiral even deeper into your magical spiritual work, here are 12 skills, practices, and techniques that will help you expand your repertoire.
Although there’s one for each month in the brand new year ahead, each could merit a lifetime of study all on its own.
So when deciding where to start and just how many of these you want to tackle, it might help to remember the immortal words of Ikkyu: “Many paths lead up the mountain, but at the top we all look at the same bright moon.”
…With that in mind, you might as well make like Joseph Campbell, and follow your bliss. Or, if bliss is too strong a word, just pursue what sparks your interest, fuels your inspiration, and/or resonates with your intuition.
(Please note: if you’re an absolute beginner, you might like to start with this free video series.)
1. Practice Kundalini Yoga
All varieties of yoga seek to harmonize mind, body and spirit. Kundalini yoga is particularly focused on the mind and spirit aspects, making it a natural choice for many magical practitioners. Through breath, mantra, and repetitive movement, it’s an energy healing, a meditation, and a physical exercise all in one. Various kriyas (sets) are practiced for specific purposes, from relieving headaches to increasing sexual potency to eradicating the ego.
Ana Brett and Ravi Singh have plenty of fantastic resources for at-home practitioners, and their long-awaited book, The Kundalini Yoga Book: Life in the Vast Lane will be coming out later this year.
2. Go Deeper into Astrology
No matter how much astrology you know, there is always more to learn.
Beginners will find The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need to be most instructive. If you’ve never looked into the north node/south node dynamic, you’ll find Astrology for the Soul will illuminate your soul’s fondest wishes for unfoldment in this lifetime. Chinese astrology is also fascinating: The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes is an excellent place to start, and The New Chinese Astrology is wonderful too.
3. Get the Hang of Feng Shui
Drawing upon the same principles as acupuncture, feng shui allows us to arrange our environment in a way that holistically nourishes us and assists us in manifesting our desires.
As a graduate of the Western School of Feng Shui, I heartily recommend their practitioner training program, but if you want to start on a smaller scale, The Western Guide to Feng Shui and The Western Guide to Feng Shui: Room by Room are perfect places to start. Additionally, you’ll find this free, comprehensive DIY Feng Shui series right here on my blog.
4. Make a Habit of the Merkaba Meditation
This somewhat intricate, sacred geometrical meditation involves visualizing yourself inside a rotating, a 3-dimentional star like the one pictured above. Many find it difficult to do at first, but in my experience, it gets much easier and more natural with practice. Also in my experience, it’s an extremely potent way to raise your vibration, purify your aura, activate your intuition, and bust through blocks of all varieties.
I had excellent luck with Christopher Penczak’s instructions in Ascension Magick, but you can find variations on this meditation elsewhere as well. For instance, here’s a guided Merkaba meditation on Youtube.
5. Awaken Your Shakti
Sally Kempton wrote a book called Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga. In it, she discusses the powers and attributes of 11 Hindu goddesses, as well as how to activate their archetypes and aspects within us through mantra and meditation. She writes, “Some of these goddesses are warriors. Others are lovers. Some have maternal energy, others are dedicated to opening you to mystical realms. Each one of them can be a guide into the deepest realms of the soul and a teacher of the skills of living as an empowered feminine lover of life.”
I find the practices outlined in this book to be wonderfully powerful and empowering.
6. Consult the I Ching
Literally translating to “Book of Changes,” the I Ching is a beautiful, profoundly ancient divination system particularly suited to life’s turning points. While in many respects it’s endlessly intricate and complex, you can nevertheless begin working with it and drawing guidance from it immediately. The trick is to find a translation you like. My personal favorite is Stephen Karcher’s Total I Ching, but based on reports I’ve received, it’s not for everyone. Many prefer the more traditional Wilhelm/Baynes translation, and others like the relative simplicity of Brian Brown Walker’s translation. (But there are countless others!)
Once you’ve found one that speaks to you, all you need is three coins and you’re ready to go.
7. Increase Your Chakra IQ
Like astrology, many of us know some chakra stuff, but there is still plenty for us to learn. And make no mistake: time spent learning more about the chakra system is time well spent! After all, working with the chakra system allows us to heal and harmonize mind, body, and spirit while removing blocks and activating our best possible life conditions…Which, you know, pretty much covers everything.
Earlier this year, I actually created a fun, online chakra workshop. You can find it here. Other useful chakra resources include Chakras: Awakening and Healing the Energy Body by Anodea Judith and Vocal Toning the Chakras (an Audio CD) by Jonathan Goldman.
8. Explore the Tarot
Much like the I Ching, you can study the tarot for a lifetime, but you can also begin working with it right away. So no matter where you are in your tarot journey, there’s somewhere for you to go.
Biddy Tarot is a much beloved online resource for tarot seekers. If you’re like me and it took a while to get your foot in the tarot door, you might like to try The Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan. Something about the beautiful images combined with the straightforward instruction in the companion book helped me finally find my way.
9. Align with Angels
One need not be a member of one of the big three monotheistic faiths in order to enlist the immense power of angels. In fact, ceremonial magicians do it all the time. And so do I! I find working with angels to be an amazingly powerful and reliable magical practice, particularly when it comes to protection, energy clearing, divine timing, intuition, healing, and channeling divine messages.
10. Learn the Seven Hermetic Principles
The basis of much of Western mysticism and magic lies in the seven Hermetic principles as outlined in the classic magical text The Kybalion. Learning them (or revisiting them if it’s been a while) will give you clear, practical insight into the underlying dynamics of magic and manifestation.
If you’re unfamiliar with these principles, Divine Magic by Doreen Virtue is a stellar introduction. The accompanying free audio download provides a useful means of metabolizing the information so you can easily begin putting it to practical magical use.
11. Meditate on the Tao te Ching
Speaking of classical magical texts, this tiny little book is huge when it comes to magic and mystical wisdom. While you can sit down and read the entire thing in less than a day, its wisdom is so vast and all-encompassing, it is impossible to fully grasp in a single lifetime. Read it and take time to meditate on each tiny chapter to align more deeply with Yin/Yang principles, the ineffable qualities of personal mastery, your own magical nature, and the magical nature of All That Is.
The general consensus among modern enthusiasts (myself included) is the Stephen Mitchell translation is the way to go.
12. Get into the Qabalah
Last but definitely not least, the Qabalah! This is the spiritual system and magical framework on which both the tarot and western astrology are based. And, much like the tarot and astrology (but much more so), this one can be mystifying to brand new seekers: where to begin? How does one practically apply it? And what on earth does it all mean?
As I recently discovered, there actually is a resource that is accessible to beginners: The Chicken Qabalah by Lon Milo Duquette. Honestly, I’ve been trying to find a way into the Qabalah my entire magical life, and lo and behold: The Chicken Qabalah. After reading it, I now feel empowered to continue my study of this formerly incomprehensible body of knowledge, and I have some clear ideas of how to do so. Added bonus: it’s hilarious!