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alchembodyIn the second stage of my process, I focus on the element of Earth, meaning human bodies and other dense material stuff.

By the way, there’s no particular timing associated with these “stages.” If you’re just getting started with magic, you could spend quite a while on each one before moving on to the next. You don’t have to get through all of them to learn and get interesting results. In fact, there’s no getting through them, really – I just tend to experience the process as a cycle.

So, Earth. If you’re generally a pretty grounded person and you’re here to add a little magic to your life, this part might not be a big deal for you. For a lot of people who obsess about magical stuff, though, it is. The thing is, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with living in your head if you want to. You can set intentions and meditate all day, and you will probably achieve amazing things – in your mind. If you want to get results in the material world, though, it’s a good idea to make sure your practice  has physical roots. Here are some things you could try if you want to experiment with that.

set up a shrine and use it

Make a magical space in your home. It doesn’t have to be big. It could be one shelf, or, if you’re extremely nervous about going public, the inside of a drawer. If you move around a lot, it could be a box.

If you have magical things, tools, crystals, images of spirits and so on, you can definitely use those – if not, you can start simple. Check out a thrift store, or go for a walk in the park if you want to hunt for some inspiration. Start making offerings daily if you can. There’s actually a tradition of elemental offerings, which usually means food, water, sage or incense and candle light. Sometimes I use birthday candles.

Make offerings to something you might be able to believe in. Personally, I tend to collect goddesses and nature spirits, but you could also try angels, The Universe, ancestors, historical figures, fictional characters or even your own higher nature. I’m not going to get into the relative merits of those choices, I’m just saying it’s a very personal choice, and you can see how it works for you. (There are a lot of possibilities, and somebody out there worships almost everything.)

You could also try praying about the intentions you’ve been holding. We’re not going to forget about those, we’re just going to hold them gently – or allow them to evolve on their own – while getting on with the business of living a magical life for a while.

turn up your body magic

This is a touchy subject, because it gets close to things a lot of us have struggled with. Basically, there are some health habits that are a good idea, magically, but they stop being a good idea if they make you feel bad.

Exercise is one of them, especially energetically informed exercise like yoga or qigong. (I’ve linked to a couple of awesome teachers who have a lot of diverse content on a pay-what-you-can basis). If that sort of thing isn’t for you, even weight training or just walking on a regular basis can help. The thing about bodies and magic is that they are way more related than we sometimes think. That doesn’t mean that anybody is disqualified from doing magic based on their health or body type, but it does mean that the way you treat your body can have an impact on your mind, your energy, your feelings, and basically every other part of your experience.

The same thing goes for other “healthy” habits like eating and sleeping. Mindful eating is a good idea, because it gives you a better sense of what fills you with energy, what grounds you, and what just makes you feel kind of out of it. And sleep – well, dreaming is important (we’ll talk about that more in part three) and you won’t dream much if you aren’t well rested. So, think about that, but if thinking about it makes you crazy, then maybe think more about whatever makes you feel strong and capable instead.

practice physical meditation

Also, try some sitting meditation with more of an emphasis on physical sensation. Here’s a good introductory one from the Qigong course, but there are a huge variety of possibilities here, from Vipassana to process work to Tantra. You can learn a lot about sensory awareness and energy, and I definitely think it’s worth exploring more if you need to get on better terms with your body.

magical housekeeping

Ok, here’s another less-fun one, but I’m going to see what I can do with it. Neglecting your household chores isn’t very magical, because it leads to unpleasant situations that feel bad, energetically and physically – and yes, I speak from experience, but I know a lot of us do it. So, one thing you can try is to make a very achievable list of chores, and consider it part of your magical practice.

This isn’t about needing to meet a particular standard, it’s about being willing to physically engage and be present with what you do have in your life right now. For me, a magical chore list helps me concentrate on the process (just doing it) rather than worry about whether the result is going to be “good enough.”

If you need a little extra push, check out magical floor washes, open all the windows and doors to clear out sticky energy, and remember to put on your favorite music while you work.

get in touch with the earth

Literally, don’t forget to go outside and touch the Earth sometimes – and smell it, and see all the green stuff. Go to the woods and get lost in them. Jump in a river. Sleep under the stars, if you can. Learn to identify edible weeds, and maybe get to know a few for medicinal purposes. This is where the magic comes from.

Bring wonderful earthy things into your home life, too…fresh produce from a farmer’s market, leaves and flowers for your shrine, or anything you want to do to observe natural cycles. Pay attention to the phases of the moon, even if that just means stepping outside for a minute every night. Full moons can be a good excuse for a little seasonal celebration.

feel your creativity

Another fun way to connect with your senses is to try creative activities with a lot of tactile and sensory input. Cook a fancy meal, play with clay, finger paint, or dance to some music you love…you can try making ritual tools or offerings if you want a more specifically magical purpose.

enjoy anything with your senses

It would be nice if this went without saying, but it doesn’t always happen as often as we’d like. So, make a point to do something that makes you feel good in your body, and pay attention while you do it. Watch a sunset, take a bath, jump on a trampoline, touch another human, relax and listen to a few songs, make yourself a smoothie, or whatever sounds great to you. You could even put it on your daily to-do list, as long as you treat it like a real thing and not a reward if everything else gets done.

check in with your gut feelings

If you have to make a tough decision, take a moment and put your hand on your belly. Breathe deeply and notice how you really feel about the possibilities. A little nervous is ok and even good, but sometimes things just feel wrong, and the more you do this the more you’ll start to trust that guidance.

fake it ’til you make it

Of all the elements, Earth often seems the least magical. A lot of what I wrote here feels heavy and like lots of work. That’s part of its energetic nature, though, and to have a balanced practice, we need to bring it all together. In the end, everything else grows out of that daily, material world, and if you work with it it will definitely start to bear fruit.