It’s a new year. Lots of people make resolutions and vow to stop bad habits, start good habits and otherwise begin again. Start fresh. I am not an exception.
When the night comes earlier in the late autumn, my attention turns to reflection on the current year and considering changes I would like to make. Since I’m still a student, the winter break affords me ample opportunity to plan the year ahead and make some firm resolutions.
Yet, today is the 27th of January. Some people polled some other people and then they did some mathematical calculations with that poll data. “They” determined that by January 27th, 90% of people who made resolutions have quit their attempts to make the changes they wanted.
So, I guess I should feel good about myself that my resolutions are still being executed daily with joy and conviction. I plan for change on a regular basis. Course corrections are constantly being tweaked and tailored for my needs. I have no recipe for perfect planning; but it often includes some contemplation (reading old journal entries, looking at metrics, talking to people to whom I am close, etc.) used in determining what is working and what is not. I try to keep things simple and narrow down the changes to 3-4 major “headings” or areas of my life that need scrutiny. Depending upon what it is, the rest of the process may or may not include divination, consulting an ephemeris for major astrological events or trends, and getting other people who will be affected to support the changes being made. It all culminates with a calendar and a reverse-engineering of those 3-4 “headings” into smaller “subheadings” that become my path to change. These “subheadings” can generally be put on the calendar or a to-do list.
2013 was an intense year for me with plenty of major milestones. I resigned from my coven, started a new business, and quit my job. The biggest event was getting married – something I I never thought I would again undertake.
Recently, I saw the movie Her, directed by Spike Jonze. It is one of those thought-provoking, quiet movies that stays with you for a long time. I find myself thinking on it often. The plot is deceptively simple: the protagonist, Theodore, installs new software on his computer – OS1, an artificial intelligence, designed to evolve to respond to his needs. The movie follows the trajectory of their relationship together.
In one scene, Theodore and Samantha (the AI program) are talking about Theodore’s ex-wife. She asks him what he misses about being married and he responds that he enjoyed sharing his life with another person. Samantha doesn’t understand what “sharing your life” with someone means, and Theodore struggles to explain. How could “she” begin to understand? She will never get sick, she has no bills, no space or schedule to negotiate with a partner, no chores to do, none of the little daily rituals and requirements of living in a physical body with which to grapple.
This leads to an entire section of the film where Samantha experiences a kind of IA existential crisis. At first she worries that she and Theodore cannot have a “real” relationship because she lacks fleshly form. How can they share a life without the “normal” trappings of two bodies living in the same household? Later, she comes to terms with, and sees the benefits of not having a physical form as she and Theodore negotiate their relationship, despite some obvious shortcomings. Her acceptance of lacking physicality highlights some very stark and insurmountable differences between she and Theodore. She is not mortal, she is a multiplicity: she can be in multiple locations, carry on multiple conversations, and perform multiple tasks, all at the same time. Theodore, on the other hand, is like the rest of us humans: mortal and singular, having difficulty focusing on one thing at a time.
Part of the reason this film has remained in my thoughts is because I realized that my personal spiritual practice is increasingly physical and embodied. I can sit in meditation for an hour, but I get far more benefit from yoga asana or walking meditations. Even a run will clear my mind faster than sitting in full lotus with a japa mala. My most powerful, transformative magic has been centered around spontaneous, ecstatic dance. While I still read and study books, the popular “living in your head” flavor of Pagan practice – over analyzed, overly discussed, artificially intellectualized, mental masturbation just doesn’t do anything for me.
I rarely discuss my personal practice, because, like photos of your family vacation or grandchildren, it’s really only interesting and meaningful to a few people. The synchronicities, the flashes of intuition, the little inspiring discoveries, or the wit of the Gods – these all have great personal meaning to me and I relish them. I dare not write about them, because, who cares? No one. No one but me. Besides, the last thing I want is to endure critics and one-uppers when I share an inside joke between me and my Gods.
I will say that I am performing rituals daily and that I am working through Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magick (3rd ed), one chapter per month. I may or may not write about my experiences with dipping into Ceremonial Magic once again, but it sure makes me and my grandfather happy, and that’s what really matters. I am looking forward to attending Pantheacon and spending a weekend with thousands of people who could loosely be called my tribe.
Speaking of Pantheacon and the other reason the film Her is on my mind…
I always wanted someone with whom to share my life. I wanted a partner who could accept, hell – be excited – about who I am. However, I never wanted my mate to be my magical partner. I just wanted someone who would be okay with the strange noises and weird smells that occasionally emanate from my temple room.
I was in my late teens when I read Linda Goodman’s book Gooberz. The heroine’s husband and soulmate dies, leaving her distraught and lonely. She calls on her Gods, the universe, to ease her loneliness and help her find her soulmate once again. When They direct her on a journey to find her twin soul, she talks about “packaging” and how she is struggling to feel intimacy with a new lover who looks nothing like her dead spouse. Admittedly, for my entire adult life, I’ve had very specific tastes when it came to finding a partner. It never occurred to me that my perfect match might be hiding in different packaging.
So, not only did I find the love of my life (in very different and unexpected packaging), and not only does he not mind the strange noises and weird smells, he has an honest and respectful curiosity and an openness that I’ve never before experienced.
This year, I will be focusing much of my attention on developing this more physical practice. This means in addition to completing Modern Magick, I will be spending much of my time on my food, physical fitness, dance and music, athletics, and health. This focus will feed two rivers: my personal spiritual practice and my burgeoning business as a fitness coach.
May you stay true to your resolutions!