My birthday is coming up, which means I’m simply reeling with possibility. Not about the celebration. I used to care a lot what folks did to mark my birthday. Now I just care about cake of some sort. And my family being there, of course. With cake.
(Is it even a birthday if there is no cake? The answer, sadly: NO.)
Every year, as Virgo season draws to a close, you’ll find me concocting these grand schemes for how I am going to change my whole life. Which, really, has very little to do with things other people can see and more to do with spiritual paths and writing rituals. The things that make me the me that other people see.
That was the spirit in which I meandered into Little Five Points today to get some fall equinox altar supplies (the fall equinox falls directly on my birthday, and so must be observed with a measure of fanfare. And cake afterward). I used to get a little too emotionally buzzy in Crystal Blue. Like I was on some kind of forbidden-fruit spiritual high. I was dying to know what in the world to do with the entire wall of crystals & stones and how exactly to incorporate the candles and incense and make something magical happen.
But also, all that stuff scared the shit out of me. Somewhere deep down, I believed I might be playing with fire (you know, like hellfire maybe), if I opened myself up to magic. So, the thrill was like walking on the train tracks–everything would probably turn out just fine. Unless it didn’t.
Over the past 4 years, I’ve wandered in and out of Crystal Blue enough for it to be… normal. I guess these have been quest years for me, trying to reconnect with my intuition, to access my own brand of magic, and to bear witness the Universe’s brilliance on display in and around us everyday.
But there’s a significant divide between reading about magic in books*, hearing about it in podcasts & meditations**, and really drawing it into my world. Reading and thinking, those feel cozy and safe. But practicing spirituality is risky, and vulnerable, and totally imperfect. Or at least I assume it is. Like I said, I’m long on theory, short on practice. Sure, maybe I’m a little lazy. But I also get paralized by my desire for perfection. Like, if I don’t have the perfect banishing spell for the waning moon then to hell with it all!
Or something like that.
One of my intentions for the Virgo New Moon (last month) was to bring the magic out of the books and out of my theoretical headspace and into my reality. Which means creating altars, doing ritual work, casting spells (that one is still theoretical–because what if I don’t close my circle properly and now my tv’s all fuzzy and I’m constantly being called toward the light?!).
Which brings us back to my trip to Crystal Blue and why it was empowering in the most mundane of ways. I made a list of fall equinox altar supplies (look! forethought & planning!), went in, and got precisely what I needed. Okay, not precisely. But even better–I improvised! Turns out I’m just witchy enough to already have the incense I needed (sandalwood or myrrh–I have both) and the orange and red crystals (already have ruby & citrine, but I bought a red tiger’s eye with two black stripes because it called to me. Who am I not to answer?). I also grabbed an altar cloth (my very first) that incorporates brown and orange (suggested fall equinox colors) and an orange candle. I dug through the herbs/flowers for a while, but there was no chamomile or dandelion available. So I’m opting for rose petals, which are Venus’ flower. You know, because Venus rules Libra. See? Improvisation!
(Look, if none of that made any sense to you, here’s the quick translation: I got over myself, got out of my own way, and bought some cool fall equinox stuff at a local shop. Bring it, Libra Szn!)
That’s what this upcoming year is about for me: more magic. All the time. I’ve always thought (since I had my first existential crisis at about 8) that spirituality should be inextricably woven into everything. As they used to say in AA, “God is everything or nothing.” And I definitely fall squarely into the “everything” camp–even though my perception of God has shifted like the San Andreas over the years. So this year, I’ll work on making magic my reality and connecting with divinity Every day. For 365 days.
But I also want to take my experiences of the miraculous and the mundane and craft them into a story worth telling. Really processing my experiences involves writing for me. And that kind of writing requires being really present in my own life.
Right now, I’m poring through my ARC of Fredrik Backman’s The Winners (thanks, Simon & Schuster!) and realizing (with each glorious, wrenching, achingly human page) that we could all be characters in a novel. Me. You. That weird guy down the street that walks his dogs on a seemingly endless loop. We’ve got such interesting stories. Fascinating perspectives. Maybe I think this because the novels I love the most are about totally regular people. They resonate not because they are wild or fantastical but because a writer observed humans closely enough, paid enough attention to the world, to make up a story, to create characters, that capture the richness of what it is to be human.
I want to see that richness every day in my own world. It’s here. It’s just a matter of paying attention, dialing in, being all here. Which is a kind of magic, too.
**Chani Nicholas is EVERYTHING.