It was probably about five or six years ago that I had an irrevocable moment of clarity where I saw a “loop”, or repeated pattern (in this case, a behavioral one) having to do with fear and resistance.

If you have read my work (or my blog) I talk about loops quite a bit. If we notice the loops in our lives, or the external world, we can begin to see when something is created out of trauma, or is based on illusion, rather than clarity/truth

We can see how trauma creates belief and organizes our realities, and we enact these loops again and again until we are willing to look straight at them and to realize what is at the bottom of that loop.

At the time, I was procrastinating by reading through conversations in an online group. This group was focused on magic/occult practices, and in this case, it was someone attempting to find support for actually doing magic.

This is quite common– whether it is a meditation practice, shamanic work, occult/magical workings, or any type of spiritual work– taking the first step into actually doing something is for many people like leaping off of a cliff.

They require support, they require a teacher or others to get over the fear and to actually do the damn thing. Because by looking at that fear again and again, and doing something anyway, despite that fear, is how someone becomes a competent spiritual practitioner… or can traverse the spiritual path beyond surface realizations of it.

What I noticed was that part of this loop were several people who were telling the person to be afraid, that the work was dangerous, that bad things would happen.

What I noticed in this moment was that the people who were responding with such fear were inserting their own fear, their own resistance.

What is more, that they had little to no experience of actually doing anything. They had never leapt off of that cliff, so to speak. They had never done any spiritual work, although some of them were quite versed intellectually.

It is quite easy to spot who has done the work, by the way, and doesn’t require any large degree of clairvoyance. It perhaps is quite similar to my piano teacher when I was young knowing that I had not practiced that week.

You go through specific thresholds through direct experience. Viewing those thresholds from the rearview mirror becomes rather clear when one has some distance from said threshold. 

What you will find in a lot of spiritual, shamanic, and magical type forums is a lot of people who like to discuss things. This is not a bad thing, although misinformation and Dunning-Kruger syndrome is certainly a thing.

But what it can result in is a lot of resistance being perpetuated, a lot of illusion created from people not yet ready to directly experience. If we are not careful, such fear will cling to our own, and our own resistance will be heightened as a result of our interactions.

Because here is what experienced people will tell you, those who have traversed the path, done the magic, studied tirelessly combined with directly experiencing the thing (whatever said thing may be):

Yes, they will laugh. You will get burned fingers (inserts story about accidentally flooding garden or basement, blowing up microwave, getting massive headache or blown out for several days after a ritual, feeling of huge energy rising within causing them to shake or do automatic movements) and that is part of the education.

Because it is. Because if you actually experience the thing, if you are that rare person that both educates yourself and does the work, two things will happen.

The first is that you will screw up. Often out of stupidity. This has absolutely nothing to do with being a beginner, but of traversing new terrain for the first time and not quite understanding the terrain enough to navigate it.

Each time who you are and what you know expands, you will find yourself in new terrain. You then jump off of that cliff again and deepen your practice, often burning your fingers in the process.

You get to the point where you can enjoy this, and will look for new depths to traverse, new terrains to explore, even while knowing that the burning of fingers is part of the process.

You actually want to burn your fingers in the process, by the way. Not for the “war” stories (in fact, don’t get hung up on those, or you will stop learning new things or jumping off of that cliff) but because they actually mean that you have put in effort.

We can create a lot of spectacular illusion for ourselves, a lot of formed from psychological projection and mental creation with little significance in any other reality (spiritual or physical).

These illusions may be pleasant distractions, and there is a place for fantasy in our lives. This is if we realize it is a fantasy, however.

In doing shadow work, you can even look right at that fantasy and see what is lurking underneath– there is always a reason why we need to feel different, powerful, special, victorious, superior– if we are willing to look at the wound that created such a need (through something like The Body Deva, my latest book) so we no longer need to enact such daydreams.

We can free ourselves to simply be ourselves, without needing to put on a show, either in our minds or in the outer world. We can free ourselves from needing to be anything other than what we are, and who we are currently.

Which brings us to the second thing. Any type of spiritual or magical work expands who you are– it makes you more conscious. This of course means reasonably well-done workings, but even the smaller ones can have a ripple effect (as in, do something, even if it is small!)

What happens when your consciousness expands, or you truly do anything that approaches the Other (interaction with the spirit realms) that creates a shift in consciousness, is that who you are changes. Your daily reality changes.

Whatever type of spiritual exploration or experience it is, it creates a ripple effect that uproots and quite clearly shows you what in your life isn’t working– what relationships are not working, career, lifestyle…you get my point– while that can be listed as a “byproduct” of spiritual awakening, of magical ritual, of shamanic work (or any type of spiritual work) this can be quite painful and we are highly resistant to it.

Even if it is helping us to move from some factors of our lives that are not working. Even if it is moving us forward towards self-realization.

We get used to our ruts, we get used to the known elements of our lives. Even if we do not have a happy known, or an educated known, we know the limitations of our minds, we know what we consider reality, and our ego-minds work through resistance.

Understand that fear is a tactic. It is resistance. It is the parts of ourselves (and others) that are too fearful to act, that are causing us to stay who we are and what we are. Others are enacting their fear in the outer world, and if you listen to them, you are listening to resistance.

Because here is what I, as well as others who have “done the thing” and continue to realize that our resistance is speaking and continue to “do the thing” anyway:

Any spiritual path, any spiritual experience, any shamanic, spiritual, occult (etc.) doing will change your reality. It will change who you dynamically are. But it does this by releasing what is illusion, by forcing you to look exactly at what isn’t working in your life.

It is quite evident who has “done the thing”. They develop a sense of magic around them, you can see it in their eyes and in their presence. It is quite palpable when someone has done the work.

But guess what, those burned fingers lead to beauty. They lead to large elements of your life changing, sure, but that allows for a clearing to occur, for what is right to come in, for authenticity to be realized, for depth, for nuance, for the ability to traverse depths that others rarely recognize are there.

So see the fear for what it is: resistance. Do not let others speak to your fear. Listen to knowledge, learn from your elders. Everyone needs a physical teacher– it is a sign of resistance that is preventing you from your potential if you do not have someone to reach out to, to show you your blind spots. If you walk any of these paths, I guarantee that there is someone more educated, more conscious, more experienced, who has done that exact thing that you are considering doing and can assist you in some small or large way, even if it is saying “yeah, I’ve done that thing”.

Fear is a tactic. It is a loop enacted from others who are mired in their own resistance. Take care that you are not externalizing your own fears and lack of knowledge, or that they do not become a mirror for you.

Do the thing. Do the magic, do the shamanic journey, educate yourself with someone who can speak with nuance, who looks at spiritual experiences and the spiritual journey and any spiritual path with curiosity, openness, and wonder. Who realizes the burned fingers from actual experience, but also the beauty and possibility of immense change.

Most of us keep our ego-minds satiated by staying within the parameters of what is our known universe. Anything else creates fear, which creates retreat, which creates lack of change, which keeps us who and what you are. If you are entirely happy with your existence, if you are blind to your inherent possibility, if you didn’t already sense that there were unknown depths or something Other out there, you wouldn’t be on a spiritual path. As much as we hunger for change, or can feel the possibility of it, we have a sophisticated system that creates immense resistance (the ego-mind).

Recognize that system for what it is, what its purpose is, and decide to change anyway.

Listen to logic, listen to experience, listen to your own intuition… and even with that resistance, that fear both inwardly and outwardly… do the thing, whatever it is.

You can find The Body Deva, a method of self-inquiry that allows for someone to see clearly what lies unhealed within, as well as tools to resolve mind-body-spirit through the physical form, through creating a relationship with the inherent consciousness of the body, through Amazon and other major booksellers.