I’m Bridget Owens and you're listening to the Waxing Soul podcast where we're adventuring into the world of mindful modern magic and authentic spiritual practice. It's February 10, 2022, and today's topic is the layer of magical understanding that's even deeper than our intentions. Are you ready to grow your soul?
Thanks for joining me once again on the podcast. Today I’m kind of dipping back into an old topic, but really to dig down deeper and take a look at what’s underneath the idea of intention.
If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while you might have listened to the very very first episode of the very first season which was on intention, and you’ll know that I’m one of those magical practitioners who emphasize intention really heavily. I wouldn’t say it’s the only thing that matters in magic, not by a long shot, but it’s necessary to focus on. You can do all the magic you want, but if you’re not clear on your intention, if your intention isn’t really reflective of what you think it is, the results you’ll see won’t be what you want and, I mean, who wants to do magic and constantly be frustrated at getting things you think you don’t want?
Now, in season 1, episode 1, I actually touched on this a little bit because I told the story of how I kind of learned the importance of getting to our true intentions, our deep intentions, the difference between what we think we want and what our deep self desires. Because it’s the deep self, the soul and the subconscious and our shadow, which really runs the show and therefore it’s really not our conscious wants which are the main force in our magic. And the cliff’s notes version of that story is that I realized I was overcomplicating my intentions in life. I wanted to have a life full of friends and comfort and all of that, and so I set my intentions on the things I thought would get me there, namely stuff like success and prosperity and reputation. And I realized eventually that my intention was the end result, not the stuff in the middle which was, frankly, unnecessary and not the only way to get to the end intention.
But that realization came through understanding that I had kind of a twisted worldview. My underlying assumptions about how the world worked, how friendship and relationships worked, what kinds of people got certain kinds of lifestyles… All of that was wrong.
And that’s the thing I want to get into today. Because our intentions and our desires all stem from somewhere, and we can do all kinds of work on our intentionality and still not get anywhere in terms of manifesting our desires.
The thing is that underneath every goal we have, every desire we have, everything we want to acquire, even the ways we choose to conduct ourselves, our authenticities and inauthenticities, there is an understanding of reality and our place in it. If we’re really going to work on our ability to be intentional we have to also be willing and intentional about adjusting our worldview and understanding of reality.
It’s exactly what happened when I realized why I was so dissatisfied with my life and why I wasn’t getting anywhere in terms of reaching my goals back in the… when I was…. when I realized that my intentions had been not aimed at the, I guess, the right place. It was fundamentally an instance of me looking at how I thought the world worked and realizing that not only did it not work that way, it wasn’t true that I could only have the life I wanted if I was rich and popular and successful, it was also about realizing that I learned that erroneous worldview from somewhere. I had been taught that or convinced of that by something or someone, and there might be more that I learned in that way that wasn’t true.
Plus, those assumptions about reality have further reaching impacts because they inform other beliefs and assumptions. And it’s… This is what keeps us tied to religious beliefs, political beliefs, cultural beliefs which could very well be harmful or hold us back because it’s easy to go, hey, I just realized that my assumption that I had to look a certain way to be successful wasn’t true, what a relief to be able to express myself differently. But it’s a lot harder to start pulling at those deeper threads that might completely unravel your concept of reality.
It’s like I’ve always said about my parents. I’m… a while back I decided to go no contact with my parents because I realized that no amount of good will and patience and authenticity on my part was ever going to break through their beliefs about queer people. And I’ve explained to people a lot that, like, I totally understand why that’s never going to change. It doesn’t matter what consequences there are in their lives, it doesn’t make a difference that I’m choosing estrangement, because if they were to rethink their belief about gay people, that’s a catastrophic thread to start pulling on in their lives because literally their entire existence rests on a foundation of those beliefs. Politically, spiritually, their core values… If they begin questioning and rethinking any of that, reconsidering any of it, that’s essentially reconsidering and rethinking their core identity. And they’re not going to do that. They’re not willing to do that and I can totally understand that. Their identity, their lives are built on belief, so that belief can’t be questioned without threatening their existence.
Which is why, and this is what I want to explore next, it’s why I maintain that magical practice and core spirituality isn’t about belief at all.
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Now back to the episode!
One of the biggest a-ha moments for me in my journey was the realization that spirituality isn’t about belief. Religion is about belief, not spirituality. That doesn’t mean that our beliefs aren’t important. That’s… I mean, my whole point today is that what we believe on an individual level has more to do with what we get out of our practices than our intentions do. But the point of spirituality isn’t to end up with the right set of beliefs.
Religion is about shared beliefs. Spirituality is about what we need on an individual level to support the growth and evolution of our deep self. That was… As someone who grew up in a very religious family and culture, that was a huge shift in my own understanding of reality and it came as honestly a huge relief.
And in practical terms this was something really important to understand when it came to figuring out what my own spiritual and magical practice needed to look like and accomplish for me. In practical terms, I’ve realized this comes down to two things that all practitioners and spiritual people need to think about. The first has to do with shadow work, and the second has to do with how to do magical workings, spiritual workings, manifestations, that sort of thing.
So let’s start with the shadow work part.
Now, I want to reiterate a thing that comes up a lot because this is absolutely crucial to remember. There is no such thing as universal truth. Not only is the point of spirituality not about believing the right things, there isn’t… I can’t sit here and tell anyone that my understanding of reality and the beliefs I personally hold are the ones everyone needs to hold. We are too primitive as a species to have enough of a grasp of the expansive nature of reality to be able to declare universal truth.
And I’m not talking about facts, I’m talking about truth. Like, the Earth orbiting the Sun is fact. But that’s not… That’s not truth. And there are plenty of things we think are fact now, that seem like fact based on what evidence and understanding we have access to which might actually turn out to not be fact later on down the line.
So it’s just… It’s really important to kind of let go of this arrogance we seem to have in a collective sense about the definitive nature of our understanding and our advancement as a species. We don’t know as much as we like to think we do.
Now, there are things that are… If we’re talking about the nature of reality in a cultural, societal sense, the way life is for humans right now on the planet as it exists in this moment of time, every person’s experiential reality is different but valid in an individual sense. We can know our individual realities pretty well, but that doesn’t mean we understand anyone else’s reality.
And all of this is really really important because it means that while our own personal, individual beliefs and understanding of reality is of extreme importance and impact to our own personal, individual spirituality and life, it’s absolutely important and vital to our spiritual evolution to understand and be grounded in our personal beliefs and worldview, if we’re going to talk about collective understanding, collective belief, the idea that there is some larger overriding truth to adhere to, all our individual beliefs are meaningless.
The significance and importance of our individual beliefs comes from the fact that everything we do stems from those roots. And when it comes to doing our shadow work, ultimately that’s what we’re trying to get to. We’re getting to our roots.
It’s exactly like a plant’s roots in that our beliefs are… Spiritually we’re drawing up from those roots and so whatever they’re tapped into shapes what we grow into. And if we’re struggling to understand why all our best efforts and all our work on ourselves isn’t playing out in a healthy way, isn’t resulting in any growth or positive changes in our spiritual trajectory, it’s because we’re tapped into beliefs and an understanding of reality which isn’t compatible with what our conscious desires are.
So shadow work is really about beliefs, it’s about digging up and dissecting those beliefs and considering where they come from and what impact they’ve had on our lives and who we are, who we’ve become. And I think this is one of the best places to start shadow work, digging into the beliefs which underly and are reflected in our actions.
If you haven’t picked up your copy of Deep Self Magic yet, I talk about this in there. Everything we choose to do, every one of our actions and the ways we set priorities, all of that reflects what we believe about reality. We can figure out what our values and beliefs really are by looking at what we do rather than what we say or think. Because our actions and choices come largely from our subconscious more than our conscious minds. Studies have shown that we only think we make rational choices, we mostly have our choices already made long before we think we’ve made them.
Which is why we’re so prone to not following our own advice and the whole, like, do as I say and not as I do thing.
That seeming lack of integrity comes from the fact that our deepest beliefs are often not what we rationally would think or hope they are. It’s why I will say that it’s really important to be generous and share with others, but when it comes to parting with money or time or whatever I have a hard time doing it because there’s also a deeper program running in my self which has to do with self-preservation and having to take care of myself and prioritize myself because experience convinced me that nobody would be there to give and support me if and when I needed it. And it’s the subconscious, the deeper roots that override the conscious intentions and desires.
And this is why next I want to talk about how this impacts our practices.
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Every single working we do, every magical or spiritual working, hinges on some kind of assumption about how things work. Not how things work in a practical sense, like as in how the magical part of the thing functions, but in the deeper sense of what the dynamics of the situation are.
I mean, it’s true for pretty much ever single choice we make and action we take, but let’s focus on the magical practice part here. Let’s say I’m looking for a job and I’m going to do some kind of working to help the process. The choices I make and actions I take in creating and executing whatever workings I do reflect the underlying assumptions I have in terms of what might stand in the way of me getting a job, what things employers are looking for, how they make their decisions, what types of jobs are acceptable to me and what ones aren’t, all of that.
Or let’s consider prosperity workings. The kinds of workings you do to get more money or prosperity differ depending on if your assumption is that such prosperity isn’t available to you and has to be diverted from its natural flow in order for you to have more of it, or if you assume you might be missing opportunities, or if you feel like someone or something is intentionally keeping you from prosperity, or if you believe that any prosperity coming your way has to come at the expense of someone else’s prosperity or wealth, or even your beliefs about what it means to be prosperous or wealthy or poor or in need. Someone who has a core belief that they aren’t very good with money and that their prosperity is a matter of luck is going to do very different types of prosperity workings than someone who believes that prosperity is a reflection of how good they are as a person.
And if you think about more baneful kinds of workings, if someone decides to hex someone, it could be because they assume that’s the only way that person will face consequences because the world doesn’t naturally hold people accountable. Or maybe because they believe the world won’t hold that person in particular accountable for whatever reason. Or it could have to do with them believing that they’re owed some kind of closure or participation in the process, or that justice necessitates being able to claim responsibility for the punishment.
The thing about our core beliefs and assumptions and all of that is that they run the show in our magical practice. They impact our choices and behaviors and the way we see the world around us as well as the way we perceive the results of what we do. So the first practical takeaway is that anytime we feel like what’s coming out of our practice isn’t lining up with our intentions, look at what our choices within our practice say about our underlying beliefs.
Not only is that, like, step one in troubleshooting what’s going on with our practices, a lot of the time if we sort out the disconnects between what our subconscious deep beliefs and values are and what we would claim to be our beliefs and values, we end up kind of not really needing to do so much, like, so many workings to try and fix whatever it is. Like, when I sorted out the fact that I had these damaging ideas about needing to be successful and wealthy in order to have friends and the ability to enjoy my life, I also realized that getting my goal, getting that life didn’t take the amount of work and struggle and energy that I’d been pouring into it.
This is something I think about a lot when I see practitioners, especially newer practitioners, doing the same type of working over and over again frequently. Like, underneath whatever desire is driving them is probably a bit of worldview that, if they examined it and did that part of their shadow work, they would realize it’s not necessary to be pushing at that intention so hard. And really, as far as in my own practice, what I’ve found from experience is that those things I learn about my deeper core understandings about reality, those lessons are far more important in the long run than anything I would have achieved by doing those workings and getting whatever I wanted, manifesting my intentions. Not that the active part of my practice or any of our practices aren’t important, but the real value is in digging beneath what we do to learn ourselves better. To learn ourselves and to constantly be looking at how we connect spiritually to the context we exist in.
Thank you so much for listening. New episodes of the Waxing Soul drop every Thursday. All materials and resources except the music are copyright Bridget Owens. Many thanks to my readers, listeners, friends, mentors, inspirations, and my framily for riding with me into season two. Until next week, blessed be and be good to yourself.