I’m Bridget Owens and you're listening to the Waxing Soul podcast. Join me on an exploration of mindful modern magic, a journey towards deeper understanding of self and transformative individual spirituality. It's January 7, 2021, and on today's episode we'll be discussing the idea that everything happens for a reason, the importance of agency in the process of self evolution, and how to turn all experiences into opportunities for spiritual growth. Are you ready to grow your soul?
We’re a week into 2021, and we’re still here!
I love the first week, first few weeks of a new year because it’s kind of like the first week of school. And I’ve always been a total nerd, I love learning new things, and I totally love brand new school supplies, office supplies, all of that. So I LOVED the first week of school. New classes, I hadn’t started hating certain classes or teachers yet, all my notebooks were brand new and blank, good pens and pencils, clean locker, some new clothes, I hadn’t seen people all summer so I’d kind of forgotten how annoying they were…. Loved the first week of school. There’s something super special about taking notes on the first few pages of a brand new notebook, right? Maybe just me.
But the first week of the new year is like that for me because I make it that way. My routines and rituals around New Years are set up to recreate that feeling. Fresh day planner, clean some things, put all the holiday decorations away on New Year’s Day so the house is reset and tidied up, I do a ritual fire before the year turns over to do an emotional, energetic clean slate and leave stuff behind in the previous year, I do some visioning and intention setting, think through my numerology for the year, all that stuff, and I go into it not like everything is going to change, not like “New year, new me” or anything – that’s why I don’t like resolutions in general – but because I treat January 1 as the first day of a new cycle of experiences.
And the holiday season is kind of like summer break, right? Your routines change, everything gets weird and lazy or weird and too busy, depending on your life, and January first or second is like the first day when everything goes back to normal and you get to kind of reset and restart.
Anyway, I hope everyone is getting off to a good start in 2021, getting their magical mindset together, and on that topic I wanted to touch on a bit of positivity mindset, abundance mindset, manifestation mindset that I think can help if you’ve got some good intentions cooked up for this year.
Specifically, something happened a few weeks ago, not sure what it was now, but it made me make a little note to myself that just said, “Divine purpose vs no regrets.” Probably I saw something on social media that made me step back and go, uh, hold up, I should dig into this.
Either that, or it was something from Ancient Aliens.
Either place, there’s tons of stuff about what the universe or god or our alien creators or whatever have planned for us, the purpose that some higher power has in place for us, etc. And I don’t know if I’ve talked specifically about this here on the program, but that’s not a view I subscribe to for lots of reasons. Not that there isn’t necessarily a force or entity out there with a plan for humanity – that is a different question altogether – but even if there is, there’s the more important question of whether we are or even should be obligated to submit to it.
And my purpose today isn’t to convince you that there’s not some bigger force with some purpose for you, but I want to dig into how that view can impact our personal evolution and our overall mindset. Because whatever it is that I saw that made me make that note, here’s the core of it: When something “bad” happens to us in life, when something goes sideways, I think most of us understand that seeing those things as opportunities for learning, as things that teach us something or cause us to change direction in a way that’s ultimately beneficial, seeing that sometimes when things don’t go our way it works out for the best in the long run – that positivity mindset is infinitely valuable, right? I think we can all agree on that.
BUT – and here’s the huge but – there’s a super big difference between when bad things happen, when stuff doesn’t work out, to tell ourselves that the failure or bad thing was chosen for us by something else to teach us a lesson, between that and to tell ourselves that whether things go well or not in life every experience and every outcome teaches us something and moves us forward. It’s this difference between thinking that a higher power is has a curriculum for us to go through, that it’s going to line up failures and challenges to push us in the right direction and thinking that no failure or challenge is chosen for us but that they can always still be used as opportunities for learning and evolving. And it can seem like such a small difference, but it’s really huge in terms of spiritual thinking, spiritual mindset – and especially when we’re talking about magical practice, I think it’s incredibly important to dig into this issue of autonomy and agency and where responsibility for the direction our lives take actually lies, which I’ll get into after this.
If you're enjoying this episode of Waxing Soul, subscribe to the show! Each week we will dive into a different part of the world of spirituality, magic, and self-evolution. Check out last week's episode for a discussion of awe and fascination as the doorway to spirituality, why spiritual paths and traditions need to resonate with us on a personal level, and what we can do to increase the awe and wonder in our spiritual lives. And come back next week when we'll talk about the impact of dissonance between our spiritual paths and our life paths, how to reconcile our life goals with our spirituality, and how to build a personal spiritual life that is truly authentic.
People who know me well – actually, people who know me at all, well or not – know that I don’t like being told what to do.
And I think a lot of people would say, well, who really does, right? Does anyone really like being told what to do?
But we do. Humans do. Even me, I like having thing laid out for me – instructions, expectations, whatever. I don’t like having things chosen for me, I don’t want to ever relinquish agency for things that have direct impact on my life path. And that’s one of the issues at the root of this whole topic. It’s about agency and it’s about responsibility.
With all the things I can pinpoint from my past that, I know at the time they felt like total crises but I see them now with a much different perspective than I had when they happened. I can see all the things that wouldn’t have happened, all the really positive things that wouldn’t have happened if I had kept that job that I lost or if I’d gotten my way in situations that didn’t turn out as I hoped. I can see all the lessons that I learned because those things happened, short term or long term.
So the more distance I get from something that might have even been really very traumatic when it all went down, the further from it I am, the easier it is to think of it in terms of being really thankful for it rather than regretful. Even those things that I know, I’m totally positive, there was nothing I did to cause it, it was just a factor of chance, there were still things I learned there. Things about myself, things about how the world works, how to bounce back from things, whatever – there are always lessons. We can always find lessons to learn.
And that’s the crux of the matter. There’s a huge energetic, emotional difference between looking at something that happened and saying, “Well, I must have needed to learn this lesson so that’s why this happened, because I wouldn’t have learned it otherwise,” and looking at it as, “What can I take from this that will contribute to my growth, how can I turn this into an experience into something that shapes my evolution in a positive way?”
The thing about the first way of thinking is that it doesn’t give us the prerogative of finding our own way, finding our own direction after. It assumes the direction is chosen for us or at least that there’s a path we’re intended to be on. There’s a plan we’re expected to follow. It’s that agency issue because even if you believe it’s your right to choose to not go with that path, it assumes that doing so is going to have negative consequences, that the choice to go against expectations is going to mean you suffer and that you’re, I guess, “being bad” in some way.
And then, even beyond that, at the center of it is this thought that bad things happening are a correction. Bad things happen to maybe not punish but to redirect us, which is only slightly different. I mean, being told that your plan isn’t supposed to be available to you because that’s what you want and not what someone else wants, if you’re like me, that’s punishment, right? Your choices can be wrong without being damaging.
And that means the bad things happen because we’ve stepped out of line. Which is a profoundly damaging spiritual idea. It makes life all about obedience and being “good.” Doing what we’re intended. Following the rules. It puts us in the position of not learning from our experiences and growing or evolving, but rather learning to stay inside a set of boundaries and conforming.
And if you want to dig even deeper, if we are looking at things which happened just by chance or which we couldn’t have predicted because there were things in play we didn’t know about, and we treat those as intentional lessons, divine course corrections for us, then every time that happens we shrink those boundaries of what’s good and intended for us, and we’re shrinking them for no reason. Because the lesson is not about our choices, right? And so instead of broadening our horizons, coming out of them with more resilience and more knowledge, we come out of them diminished.
On the flip side, if we’re waiting for the universe or god or even just some sense of obligation or being designed to follow a certain path, then it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that as long as stuff isn’t blowing up in your face you must be on the right track. You must be doing what’s right for you. It’s like taking your hands off the steering wheel and waiting to crash into something before you worry about where you’re going.
This is one of those things, again, where it’s not the belief that’s the problem. It’s not believing that a higher power has a plan for you or guides you in life that’s the problem. It’s the extent to which that belief becomes a reason to give up your agency, to either be reckless and wait for the negative reinforcement to redirect you or to just get out of the driver’s seat entirely and only go where you feel that higher power is trying to take you.
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Considering that we just rolled out of a year just absolutely chock full of crap happening to us that we couldn’t control, and especially looking into 2021 knowing that these things aren’t just going to go away all of a sudden, I think it’s really important to get a grip on our place in all of it and how we can come through stronger and resilient and still at the wheel of our life. And making mindful choices, too.
And not only is this an issue of autonomy, it’s an issue of empowerment. Magical empowerment. Spiritual empowerment. Because what’s really great about a magical practice and the kinds of spiritual traditions and paths that lie adjacent to magical traditions, is that by and large, I can’t think off the top of my head any that don’t, they recognize the power of the individual, the free will of the individual.
Practicing magic is holding personal power, and there’s a recognition that we choose our path, we choose our intentions, we choose to take the spiritual actions we take and we accept that those actions have consequences.Tweet
And this is important, I’m going to take an aside to really drive this point home, because the really dangerous part of leaning too heavily on divine guidance, divine intention, is that it diminishes our responsibility for the consequences of our actions. If we make choices that turn out bad, not just for us but for other people, it’s one thing to decide that the consequences we feel for ourselves, for our own lives are determined by a higher power, but it’s an entirely different and wholly dangerous, harmful thing when that gets extended to those who are impacted by the consequences of our actions.
It allows us to view the people around us as essentially pawns and game pieces in situations orchestrated with us at the center.
I know that feels dramatic, feels like an extreme take for some, but it’s the natural extension of this way of thinking and I see it play out this way far too often. So many ways of thinking that keep us from taking responsibility for the consequences of our own choices, keep us from helping others because we can tell ourselves that it must be a lesson for them that we shouldn’t step in and prevent them from learning whatever divine lesson is in store for them, that kind of thing.
But this is all an aside. An important one, but I’ll get back on topic.
We’re in the how section, so how do we stay in a space of spiritual empowerment? Because that’s the core issue here, right?
Empowerment isn’t just a matter of feeling competent or powerful or enabled, it’s feeling comfortable with that control, including the potential consequences of your choices.Tweet
And I see this a lot, really, with new magical practitioners, this sense of knowing that the spellwork they want to do doesn’t seem that hard or whatever, but not being comfortable with just hopping in and doing it. And this manifests in questions. The needing to get down to tiny details, double checking everything with other people, the fear of doing it wrong, making mistakes, unleashing hellbeasts when they just wanted to send healing energy to someone, that kind of thing. And I can tell people, and I do tell people, that the way to learn is to do and see what happens – but that is a heavy burden if you’re not fully empowered.
And empowerment is something you develop through experience.
So part of this is looking back at your past experiences and adjusting your viewpoint, actually taking stock of what those experiences taught you about yourself, about the world, about the universe, about the people around you.
But it’s also about mindfulness. It’s about moving forward with the conviction that you are making conscious choices, that you are prepared to take responsibility for what happens because of those choices, and that whether things go as hoped or not, you will find growth from it.
And this isn’t just about day to day choices, it’s spellwork, too. It’s all your magical workings. Going into each action with the awareness that even if it doesn’t manifest what you want it to, that’s not just karma or the powers that be telling you no, it’s ultimately a learning opportunity that ideally should be a way to become better at your magical practice, more proficient, get deeper knowledge about yourself and your intentions and how to bring those to life.
So I did make a PDF which you can download which has some affirmations and statements which you can use just as personal mantras or in spellwork or whatever, just some phrases and statements to focus on in terms of being mindful of your own agency and the responsibility to guide your own journey and growth. Because, ultimately, if you want a life of no regrets, you have to make every step one that moves you forward, opens your eyes more, elevates you. And the power to turn even the worst failures and darkest days into something better doesn’t lie in some outside force, it’s our choice to seek out those lessons and find them for ourselves.
Thank you so much for listening. Look for a new episode of Waxing Soul every Thursday. All materials and resources except the music are © Bridget Owens. Music is Dream Catcher by Kevin MacLeod https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4650-dream-catcher License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Many thanks to my readers, listeners, friends, mentors, inspirations, and my framily. None of this happens in a bubble. Until next week, blessed be and be good to yourself.