Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New Service! The Life-Crafting Divination

Forget about fortune telling...Start creating your own fortune today!

Can't decide between my two most popular readings? Now you don't have to...

The Black Swan Divination helps you see what shocks are coming in your life and -- more importantly -- what to do about them right now

This is a great reading for when you are building the life you want and you don't want anything to come along and either derail your goals or be an opportunity you aren't ready for.

The Multiverse Divination helps you create the future you want to achieve

This is perfect if you have a goal but aren't sure which path will get you there or are looking for new ideas.

These readings aren't fortune-telling, they are fortune creating! It's a whole different ballgame, with you in the driver's seat, creating the life you want -- starting right now. This is where the magic happens!

But what if you can't decide between these readings? Now you don't have to!

I've combined the power of both readings into one -- and at a discount over buying them separately!

Convinced? Click the button and buy now for $175. Or keep reading for more details.

What does the Life-Crafting Divination give you? First, a Black Swan reading that identifies the most critical areas for you to deal with now. Then a Multiverse reading for your primary goal. With a comprehensive, combined report that gives you a clear view of your overall situation!

You will also be able to leverage the connections that happen between the two halves of the reading. I've done multiple readings for the same person before, and it's stunning to me how the cards will connect between the readings to give even more direction and context.

I'm so pleased to be able to offer this combined reading to you at a great price -- less than the two readings purchased separately.

This goes far beyond a simple Celtic Cross divination -- this is major work with the primary goal of helping you:

  • Refine your goals and plans
  • Identify major risks and opportunities
  • Proactively suggest what to do right now 

Do you:

  • Feel like you are at a crossroads in your life?
  • Worry that your situation is fragile or risky?
  • Fear that your goals will never happen?
  • Feel stuck in place and desperate for some new perspective?
The Life-Crafting Divination is for you! 

I'm so happy to be able to make this possible:
Two readings in one, with power beyond the sum of its parts, and it's available for less than if you bought them separately -- only $175!

Well worth it when you consider the scope and depth of this major reading. 
The feedback I've received has been clear, these readings can really change your life!

When you’re ready, click the PayPal button below and we’ll get started.

It’s an honor to help you on your way.


How my readings work:

  1. Click that button up there.
  2. Make sure I have the email you want me to use. 
  3. After I receive payment, you will receive a short form via within 48 hours. 
  4. My readings operate very differently than the typical Celtic Cross. I will need certain high-level details (areas of your life, long-term goals, etc.).
  5. Return the form. You will receive a response within 7 to 10 business days.
    Why so long? I do have a successful professional career and they have my first loyalty.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Butterfly Hunting for Fun and Profit

In case you aren't familiar, a "butterfly" in CircleThrice lingo is a magical target with a lot of leverage for future change. It's the butterfly you jostle in order to get the hurricane and the key concept of my Multiverse Reading (that price won't last long by the way, in case you've been thinking about taking the first step in creating your future). It's also the core of an interesting and complex divination / magical working called Smashing Butterflies.

But apart from divination (which focuses on getting you to a known future point through correct selection of present action) how do you find butterflies? A good butterfly has the following characteristics:

The Right Amount of Chaos

A good magical target has a certain amount of chaos, but not too much. See, if there's no chaos, then it's hard to use magic to leverage the system. But too much chaos isn't good either, because the results can easily get out of control. Weather has too much chaos to be a good magical target (and anyone who's tried weather magic knows how unpredictable the results can be). We need a target with enough chaos to move easily and not so much that we can't feel confident about the results.

A Large Potential Spread

In betting, you can bet on a winner or loser, or you can bet on a point spread. But sporting matches only have so much possible spread. A men's tennis match will never be greater than 0-5 and for football, there was once a 0-84 point matchup, but most spreads are a dozen points. But what's the spread on selling copies of a book? Well, zero (the one you haven't written) to, say, 150 million (The Lord of the Rings). That's a very large spread! And unlike a sporting match, there isn't always a winner and a loser. The spread on my book doesn't impact the spread on yours. Money is another example. There isn't really a limit to how much money you could earn, and my ability to earn money isn't tightly linked to everyone else's. Taleb talks about these effects as being part of mediocristan or extremistan (this is a nice quick review).

The reason this is important for a magical target is because with a large spread you have a lot more room to work with. You may not get your book to 150 million, but you can increase sales by 3-fold or an order of magnitude or three orders of magnitude without entering the nearly mythical realm of the 0-84 point football game. And your book can "win" while other books also win. Another way to think about this problem is moving odds. If magic is changing the odds of something happening, the original odds matter a lot. The odds of selling 150 million copies is low, but the odds of selling 1 million is much better.

Internal Locus of Control

In psychology, locus of control is how much control you believe you have over things. A person with an internal locus of control believes they have a lot of impact over events. A person with an external locus of control thinks that things just happen to them. From a psychological standpoint, in general, an internal locus of control is better for you and will produce better life results. Magicians naturally tend to have a strong internal locus of control (after all, we can change reality in accordance with our wills). However, if we're speaking honestly, situations can actually be more or less in our control.

For example, if I want to break up my best friend's engagement or set two of my friends up (both terrible, terrible ideas by the way) I have a lot of control over that situation. I can introduce them and talk them up to each other. I can whisper poison in their ears in order to break them up. And yes, I can use magic and it will be more effective because I know them. If, on the other hand, you want me to set up or break up a couple of people across the world, who I don't know, I'll have a lot harder time. The more actual control you have over a situation, the easier it is to wield magical control. Of course, if you had control over everything, you wouldn't need to use magic at all, but locus of control is still really important. Another aspect to internal locus of control is that I'm the only one (or one of very few people) enchanting for that particular result. The competition is low. For situations that are very public and have an external locus of control, there is usually a lot of competition for results.

Positive Asymmetry

This is another one from Taleb. The idea is that good risk is one where you have a large potential upside and a low, or zero, down side. If I invest $50 into your addictive new app, the upside could be very large, but the downside is never greater than $50. On the other hand, if I speculate with my mortgage payment, I could be out my entire house (welcome to 2008). A good magical butterfly is one where the downside is known and strictly controlled and the upside potential very great.

How to Get Rich

Money is one of the most common magical targets. Here are a few examples of ways people might enchant for money and why they are or are not good butterflies:

Winning the Lottery
This is a terrible magical target. Sure, I buy a ticket when the pot is high, I can afford the dollar and it's kind of fun. But I don't waste time enchanting to win and there's why: The lottery is random, but has no chaos whatsoever. It's completely controlled and difficult to affect. The lottery has a crappy spread. Every person has the same odds and they are very long. Plus every other person who wins impacts my results (ever seen Bruce Almighty?). Even if you move the odds by orders of magnitude you still have a far greater chance of being killed on the way to buy your ticket than winning the jackpot. The odds of winning even $100 is 1 in 36,525.

The lottery also has an entirely external local of control. Not only can you not do much about it (apart from buying your ticket), it's also an extremely public target for all kind of energy, prayer, and magical shenanigans. Finally, while the lottery has a huge upside, the chances of losing your initial investment are basically 100%. It's not like an investment in a stock or a business, where you might lose or win varying amounts over time. Once the drawing is over, your ticket is worth nothing.

Other types of Gambling
Most casino gambling suffers from similar problems to the lottery. There are a few games that have more chaos (craps and roulette come to mind) but slots are highly fixed. There are also a few where skill can help you (like poker and black jack -- though if they catch you applying too much skill to the latter, they will kick you out). Sports gambling magic can be interesting if you know something about the sport, but it's also illegal in most places. The trouble is that gambling is completely fraught with magical competition and noise -- from prayers to charms to spells to just the static of the desperate. Plus the odds are frequently rigged to favor the house from the start. Still, there are places here your magic could gain purchase... but there's also the risk. Organized gambling is designed to be highly addictive and plenty of people, magical or not, can get hooked.

Playing the Market
This is an interesting idea, but has several limitations. The stock market at this point has an extremely high level of chaos. The price of stock has less to do with the value of the company and the overall economy and most to do with rampant and unregulated speculation. This article is a good starting point, or I highly recommend this book. The locus of control is highly external. Without access to information that is a) unavailable to the average investor and b) illegal to act on, what happens is really out of your hands. The spread is good and so is the asymmetry (unless you invest on margin, which isn't really a beginner move) but you need a lot of specific knowledge to act intelligently. If you are already a broker or a skilled trader, I think incorporating magic into your work just makes sense. But for the amateur, you're better off sticking to the dollar cost averaging, 401K matching, mutual fund world -- which means your magic has a lot less leverage. Still, enchanting to grow and protect your net egg isn't an unreasonable proposition.

Starting a Business
This can be a really good magical target depending on the business. It's got the right amount of chaos and you have huge control. There isn't a lot of magical competition (even if there's mundane competition in your space). The spread and asymmetry depend on the type of business, but for small "side hustles" that don't cost a lot to kick off, they can be really good. Of course it's not as easy as buying a lottery ticket or hitting the casino, but the odds are much better as well.

Building a Career
The right career can be a decent magical target. If there's room to grow, you are in an excellent position to enchant the hell out of yourself and your work. There's usually a decent amount of chaos, but not too much. And while the spread is low and the asymmetry modest (there's small downside but the upside isn't hugely exponential either) the locus of control is highly internal. You may have less control over the place where you work, but you have tons of control over yourself. Besides, if you have to work anyway, then you may as well throw some magic in there to help yourself. Note, that enchanting for your job is inherently limited, but enchanting for your career has a much larger upside -- you invest the magic into yourself.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sustain-ability: The Anti-rant Rant

The spouse is a great source of awesome stuff on the Internet. He has a knack for finding really interesting and cool things that make me think (or laugh, sometimes both). He also has this superpower where he always knows what's going to be best on a menu. Seriously, at this point I just have what he's having...

Anyway, he passed along this really great article on why complaining is terrible for you. The TL;DR version is that complaining is bad for you because:

  • It rewires your brain to be more pessimistic and is therefore bad for your mental health.
  • It's contagious and can create a terrible feedback loop in social groups.
  • It's bad for your physical health due to the stress it causes.
It was hard to find an image here that wasn't either
nauseatingly smarmy or blindingly thoughtless.

Now, I want to be very careful here not to conflate the danger of complaining with a lack of reason for complaining. There are certainly reasons that people might feel like they can complain. For example: 783 million people don't have access to clean drinking water, 795 million don't have enough food to eat, and about 29 million don't even own their own freedom. 

There are even reasons that you or I might complain: police forces around the US have been infiltrated by racists; a totalitarian, racist, fascist megalomaniac has won a plurality of support in one of the only two major political parties in the US; and the scourge of unregulated consumerism is taking over the entire Western world. 

Making a conscious decision to avoid complaining about things doesn't mean we don't acknowledge that there are problems. And feeling gratitude for having clean water, enough food, and my freedom from slavery doesn't mean I think that everything is perfect or that we can't do better even here where I live.

Ignoring problems is blindness. Acknowledging problems is realism. Working to solve problems is activism. But bitching about problems? That's just unhelpful.

I think the biggest risk of complaining is that it's dis-empowering. It's a verbal statement that you have no power over a situation: either power to change the situation or power to change your own attitude about it. And sure, I do it too, just like I do other things that are bad for me. And like other things that are bad for me, when I spend too much time complaining I don't feel good. But worse, when I'm complaining, I'm a) not solving the problem and b) not getting any perspective on the problem. For example, if I'm sick and tired of morning commute traffic, then I need to either look for an alternate route to work or re-read those stats above in order to get a little perspective and then buy myself some books on tape. 

We can't afford to dis-empower ourselves when there're already so many external forces that would like to do it for us. However, we also shouldn't be coming down on other people who are complaining. One of the worst things you can do to someone is to dismiss their very real pain and worry and stress as "first world problems." They're still problems after all and to that person at that time they are serious enough to complain about. If you can move them to a solution or acceptance mindset great, but dismissing their feelings outright doesn't help them or you (you're just complaining about their complaining). People who have a reason to complain are still not helped by doing it, but that doesn't mean their reasons are bad

But you also don't need to subject yourself to it either. In my mental health post, I talked about how crazy is contagious. Well, from the article, it seems that complaining and it's ill effects are as well. So honor people's need to complain, but don't get caught up it in. If you friends' favorite hobby is bitching, you need to expand your circle a bit. 

I have a dear friend who is really positive. Even when she's talking about a problem, she's focusing on what she can do about it or another way to look at it. But she's also not a perky Polyanna. No, she's an amazing woman and I value her for several reasons, but this is one of the major ones. When I'm tempted to gripe (and I come from a family of bitchers, let me tell you!) I think of her good example.

Just this morning the spouse and I were joking about how in some ways we're young adults again (except for the grey hair and treacherous bodies). After a hard road of recovery, he's considering what he will do for the rest of his life. And despite the fact that I have a solid career, I'm thinking about new things too -- like the services available here on CircleThrice. But that's what life is, if you think about it. It's a process and not a product, a journey rather than a destination. And while you set goals to reach them -- of course -- it's the progress you make rather than the end point that matters.

Complaining just impedes that progress. It's what you do instead of. Choosing the right destination is important (that's goal setting) and determining the right path is also important (that's project planning), but in the end you have to take the first step and then every step after in order to get anywhere.

A sustainable life is one where you have the means, motive, and opportunity to set and achieve a goal and then keep moving forward from that point. There are limitations of course, and a lot of them are external and out of our control (my goal of being Queen of the Universe isn't going so great). But complaining is an internal limitation and therefore completely under our control.

Even the best of us complain sometimes, because sometimes we're them. But let's not glorify it as venting or ranting or anything else that sounds like a good thing or cathartic or therapeutic -- because it's not. Better to scream the things you're grateful for, better to journal your plans and goals. Better to keep on moving forward.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Star.Ships: a Mythological Narrative

Enough about me... let's talk about Gordon over at Runesoup and his lovely, lovely new book Star.Ships.

I'd like to start with the book itself as a cult object. Scarlet Imprint always does a lovely job with their books (though my direct experience is with their beautiful hardbacks rather than their more expensive limited editions). Star.Ships is no different. It's a beautiful book, rich paper, great font, cover softly glowing and combining themes of sea and star. My one complaint in readability is that the indenting makes it challenging to follow the quoting. However now that I've completed the book, I suspect this may have been a deliberate choice considering the structure of the content itself.

Star.Ships is a very readable book. Its language is easy to parse and the conclusions are presented clearly. This might lead the casual reader to assume that the book is lacking in the depth that more philosophically written books might have. But that would be a mistake.

In my experience, Scarlet Imprint specializes in books that interact directly with your deeper self as you read them. It's a credit to Gordon's skill as a writer that he can keep the book so clear on a conscious level while still connecting to deep structures within the subconscious and resonating with truly ancient archetypes. 

The structure of the book is fascinating and took me some time to identify. In fact, the book, while initially appearing as a basic archaeological survey is actually written as a mythology. It has all the structures of myth, including the reappearance of common mythemes, labyrinthine narrative (labyrinthine here not meaning confusing, but directive and recursive), use of archetypes, connection of disparate elements across space and time, and the "but that's a story for another day" delay of the final payoff. 

Whether conscious or not, this choice is genius for a book who's central theme includes the premise that mythologies can reflect real events. It's a global survey of commonly discounted, but scientifically solid, discoveries about ancient cultures delivered in the form of a mythological narrative that takes us from our earliest ancestors, staring at the stars with both wonder and knowledge, through the high renaissance of magic and into our current time.

My time for reading being unfortunately limited, I read this book over the course of several weeks. I found myself frequently reading at night before bed and then experiencing very profound dreams when I fell asleep. The book warrants reading as a sacred text and narrative rather than a survey or academic review. I look forward to diving deeper into the stars (to appropriately mix metaphors) on my next reading.

I leave you with the following, not a typical end for a typical book review, but one, I think, appropriate for this book:


The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven, one that falls;

and leave you, not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion
of what becomes a star each night, and rises;

and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke


Blogiversary Week Wrapup -- Win a free reading!

Well, it's been an amazing week here at CircleThrice:
  • I released a new reading: order the Multiverse Divination and create the future you want.
  • I announced a referral program. Refer someone and get a coupon for $10 off.
  • I kicked off a new series -- Sustain-ability -- to explore the concepts of creating a sustainable life.
And finally, I wanted to end my week with a special announcement...

You can win a free reading here at CircleThrice!

I really enjoy helping people create the future they want. The readings are a lot of work to do -- this isn't typical fortune telling -- but I really love doing them. And the readings are just the beginning. But I can't help people if they don't know about me.

So I'd like to ask all of you for your help.

If you talk about me -- on your blog, on your Facebook, in a Tweet, whatever -- and include a link back here to, I'll enter you into a giveaway to win any reading I offer, for free! Just email me with a link to your blog/Facebook/Twitter/whatever and you get one entry. Talk about me in multiple places, get multiple entries.

Because the more people know about CircleThrice, the more people can get the information they need to reach their goals and create the future they want. I'll collect entries through the end of the month and draw a random winner from all the entries on April 1st (but it's not a joke, I promise!).

The winner can have their reading immediately or save it, it never expires.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sustain-ability Kickoff

I kicked off this blog -- a year ago this week -- with three areas I wanted to focus on:
  • Practical Magic Project Management (PMPM)
  • Black Swan divinations
  • Sustainable sorcery (with apologies to Jason and his wonderful "Strategic Sorcery")
The first two have gotten a ton of attention over the past year, but the third not so much. Until now. This week, I'm kicking off a new series, one designed to use the principles of sustainable systems design -- and a large dose of magic and divination -- to help you create a more sustainable life.

I wanted to start by reposting my original introduction to sustainability, which I posted on the Spring Equinox last year: 


Sustainable development isn't just about the environment...

An interesting example of a word with a broader meaning that's been, in recent years, co-opted exclusively for a single domain. Sustainable has come to be a synonym for environmental, that is "good for the environment," "green," or "ecological." Not that this is bad or incorrect, but it's a somewhat limited application of an extremely useful paradigm. According to our friends at Merriam Webster, sustainable is:

: able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed
: involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources
: able to last or continue for a long time

While the second definition is specifically related to natural resources, the first and third aren't necessarily so. Let's take a couple of examples:

Rob has been burning the midnight oil. He's a full-time university student, who also works part-time at a local gas station and fixes computers on the side for cash. He needs to have a 3.8 average to keep a small scholarship. He's also trying to get through school with minimal debt and therefore has three roommates and eats a lot of ramen. This summer he will take off to Alaska to work in a fish cannery for extra cash. Despite working at a gas station and for a fishery, Rob isn't particularly anti-environmental. He's happy to recycle and doesn't even own a car. What Rob is doing isn't wrong or bad. In fact Rob is making a major investment in his future. But it is not sustainable for the long run. He can do it for a little while, but not forever. The pace would just use him up. It's a good idea while he's young, but soon, he knows he will graduate and begin drawing salary. Then, he hopes, he'll be able to get some regular sleep and eat a salad from time to time.

Charles and David Koch are worth about $34 billion a piece. They come from a well-known oil family and inherited their money from their father. In addition to their planet destroying oil business, the brothers seem intent on using their wealth for evil. But while the oil business is in no way sustainable, their wealth certainly is. Like many in the 1%, they use their power and money specifically in order to sustain and grow that wealth over time and for their family, contributing to income inequality in the US. Their family estate will certainly continue over time.

Notice in these examples, I'm not trying to apply a value judgement. Rob may be a good guy and I'm pretty sure the Koch brothers are archons walking around in human douche suits. But the point is that they are both making choices to either foster or ignore sustainable systems for their lives.

XKCD -- of course
Sustainability (of ecology, body, mind, and spirit) are important and relate closely to both risk mitigation (which I've written about a bit) and change management (a critical skill for our mercurial world). If your life is sustainable, that means it can continue indefinitely without getting used up or destroying itself.

Sustain-ability is the talent -- magical and mundane -- that allows us to create a life that sustains us and others and is sustainable. It sounds obvious, but it's actually really hard to do in modern Western Society (tm). After all, the opposite of sustain (to not use up) is consume (to use up). And the thing that is most likely to be consumed in our consumer society are the people in that society.

But we are not them, we are us: "We will not be consumed. We are too prickly to be eaten. We are poison to the system." We can use our skills and sorcery to create a life that does not consume itself or us as we live it. That's my goal. Won't you join me?


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

New Referral Program

If you've been considering purchasing one of my readings but are still on the fence, I wanted to let you know about my new referral program.

If you refer a friend who purchases any one of my readings or services, you will receive a $10 discount on your next purchase! Just have them put your email address in the referral box in Paypal and I'll send you a coupon you can use on your next reading.

Plus, you'll get to find out from them how it went before you commit! See how sneaky I am? 

Oh sweetie, I don't really like you, I just want my discount

And since my new Multiverse Divination is discounted for a limited time, if you get a referral bonus too, you could save even more!

I suppose if you are super popular, you could even refer a ton of people and get a reading completely for free! 

The terms of the referral program may change at any time but the coupons will never expire and you can use can use them for any product I'm still offering.

-- See what shocks are coming in your life and what to do about it --

-- Forget about fortune telling... Create your fortune instead --

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Multiverse Divination -- Take Control of your Future

This is an exciting day for me. As part of the celebration of one year of sharing ideas and information here at CircleThrice, I'm really pleased to announce the availability of a new reading...

Forget about fortune telling...
Create your fortune.

With Multiverse Divination you set out to do just that.

What is the Multiverse Divination?
It’s a reading unlike any other you may be used to. Instead of telling you “what the future holds” you approach it from the other way around:

Decide what future you want.
Then we’ll find out how to get there.

This way, you don’t leave your future to chance and you aren't a victim of circumstance. You take the driver’s seat and actively craft the future you want through your actions.
Whole different ballgame, isn’t it?

This is what Multiverse Divination is all about.
It’s a reading tailored to you. Based on your specific life goals, cards help to uncover what you need to do to actually get there. It also includes a backtracking element that can identify ideas you haven't even thought of yet.

If you are ready to start creating your future now — go ahead and click the PayPal button below. I promise you — it will be well worth your time and money.

After all — what is $100 compared to knowing what you can start doing right now to secure the life you want?

If you’re curious about what others have to say about the Multiverse Divination,
see the Testimonials.

And if you want to know more about the Multiverse Divination, read on.

So — how is it possible to create your future? Let’s talk briefly about the Multiverse (Many Worlds) Theory.

You already know about the classic divination, the fortune telling approach of “What’s going to happen?”

The other approach — and this is where it gets interesting — is essentially a probability manipulation. This is where you ask “How can I make it happen?”  Different questions — and radically different outcomes.

This is where we get to the meat of using divination for magic. Because if you want to affect probabilities, you need to know where and how to best do that. The best way to think about it is, in my opinion, Everett's many worlds interpretation (MWI) of the multiverse hypothesis...

So, imagine there are infinite multiple realities moving through time, and every probability is another branch to a new universe. Your decisions, your actions, and even random occurrences influence the result — the universe (and future) you end up in.

(Or as Wikipedia puts it: "One aspect of quantum mechanics is that certain observations cannot be predicted absolutely. Instead, there is a range of possible observations, each with a different probability. According to the MWI, each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe.”)

What this means is:
Do something different — and you end up in a whole different universe.
A whole different future.

From Superflux -- a place I think I want to go work

Do you see now?
Your future is a vast field of probabilities.
And with Multiverse Divination you discover where to apply leverage to steer your future to where you want to be.

The possibility and the power is in your hands. And if you want to use magic to shift the odds, you need to know exactly what to focus on and where to place the lever for maximum impact.

Because if you want a hurricane, you have to figure out what butterfly to startle.

When you purchase Multiverse Divination, you will get the full reading, written debrief and follow-up via email. Clear and actionable info you can put to use now.

When you’re ready, click the PayPal button and we’ll get started.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

The Rules for Them and the Rules for You

This was originally posted on April 29, 2015. It's the most important thing I've ever written and as part of my one-year anniversary celebration, I wanted to re-port it.

Before we go much further down the path of PMPM and Sustainability and trying to mitigate Black Swans, I have to take a bit of a segue and talk about something important. I believe that understanding the following is critical for not only making magic, but also living in the world.

Thanks to Gordon's recommendation, I've been slowly reading The Forest Passage (note, I didn't pay that price and don't know what's up, I hope the book is just between printings or mis-listed on the site and not completely out of stock). It's slow going, not because the book is hard but because it's so very dense. There's a particular quote that I've been stuck on for some weeks. I felt like I could not move on with the book without coming to some peace with this statement:

“...we cannot limit ourselves to knowing what is good and true on the top floors while fellow human beings are being flayed alive in the cellar.”

Junger is talking about Nazi Germany, but this quote resonates even more strongly today. Let me be very clear -- our current global economic system and "modern" society are entirely reliant on countless masses being flayed alive in the cellar.

It's not a side effect...    it's a necessary component.

We cannot sustain our current system without this reality.

Everything you do, everything you buy, every bit of carbon energy you use. All on the backs of multitudes. And that's just the people. It doesn't include the animals and trees and environment. In the "first world," no one's hands are clean.

So why is this important? Because it's impossible to discuss both practical magic and sustainability without either massive hypocrisy or a more nuanced understanding of the reality in which we operate. I gave this a lot of thought and finally realized that the key to dealing with this is something I've known for some time now. There are rules for you and rules for other people. These rules are not the same.

The Rules for Them:
  • Our society* victimizes the weak. People of color, women, children, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the homeless, the elderly the different. This is wrong and people cannot be blamed for being victims and acting as victims.
  • Our society* hides the truth. It requires a consensus reality based on falsehood to function. People cannot be blamed for not seeing or being able to see the truth. You can argue that the truth in this context can drive a person mad, which is why we have so very many mentally ill people to victimize.
  • Our society* is inequitable. There's little social mobility. Small hope for anyone trapped in poverty. Few options, less real choice. We hate and fear the poor and blame them, and when they get justifiably angry at this, we label them as criminals.
  • Our society* strips away personal responsibility. The few systems we have to help people also serve to remove their autonomy. People are taught in schools and through the media not to take responsibility for themselves. Our children are raised with little independence and sense of freedom.
  • Our society* entrenches the status quo. It makes change extremely difficult. And it proffers up options that help the individual feel good, without really doing or expecting too much. You can't blame people for being uncomfortable with change.
  • We live in a consumer society* and society is what the system consumes. People are being eaten / devoured / digested by the system all the time. Human beings flayed alive in the cellar. You can't blame people for walking around as empty shells. You can't blame them for being afraid.
* "Society" here isn't just US society. It's the global society that we all take part in. I realize there are pockets of equity and truth, just as there are pockets of horror. The US (where I live) is the harbinger of a terrible future for the developed world. We are tearing down three and a half centuries of improvement and replacing it with environmental destruction and unsustainable oppressive systems. We're the worst of the first world countries and we export our corruption to other nations like we export Hollywood and Coca-Cola. Europe shouldn't feel too smug nor complacent.

I was going to link bomb the bullets above, but it was too much. You don't need links to know that this is all true. People deserve help and compassion. People deserve respect and care. People deserve better and they aren't getting it.

However before you let yourself off the hook, remember that the rules for you are very different.

The Rules for You:
  • You are not a victim. You are not weak. No matter your race or gender or age or health. You will not be victimized and you will not deliberately victimize others. You will not place yourself in the victimizers' clutches.
  • You are a seeker of the truth. You force yourself to look under the surface and past the false face, even if it brings you shame and guilt. You face these feelings in order to remain sane. You will not be deceived about the nature of the world just because you also live in it. 
  • You find your own hope and create your own choices. The ladder may be broken, but you will climb with bare hands if necessary. You don't confuse society's definition of success with your own but you pursue your own with complete focus. You make options and make things happen. You share what you have, but resolve to have what you need.
  • You take personal responsibility. You think independently. You teach your children to do the same. You can't save all the people in the cellar, but you do what you can and you at least acknowledge that they are real. You know that you could be one of them but for accident or luck. You take responsibility to not be one of them, just as you take responsibility for them.
  • You understand that change is both necessary and inevitable. You make change for yourself and others if you can. You understand that it's hard to change the sheets while lying in the bed, but if nothing else you can at least change your dreams.
  • You will not be consumed. You are too prickly to be eaten. You are poison to the system. You may have one foot in the filth, but you have your head among the stars. You might decide to play the game, but win or lose you know it's just a game. You might decide to follow the rules, but you also know how to twist them. You know this isn't all there is.
  • You are not afraid.
I'm not always 'you.' Sometimes I'm 'them.' I'm fearful and tired and complacent. But I want to be 'you' all the time. I want all of you to be 'you' all the time. I want the whole fucking world to be 'you' all the time. But until that time, you can't apply the same rules.

I will tell you to put on your big kid pants. I'll tell you to grab your bootstraps and pull like hell. I'll tell you to hang on to the wheel and steer for gods' sake. I will tell myself. But I will not tell that to them. I will not limit myself to knowing what's good and true for those of us lucky enough to still be clinging to the top floors. I will not close my ears or heart to the noises from the cellar.

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It's My Blogiversary!

A year ago this week, I started CircleThrice and made my first post. I wanted to talk about using project management for practical magic. I wanted to talk about my occult take on Taleb's Black Swan and Antifragility. I wanted to rant about personal sustainability in the modern world.

Over the past year, I've been really honored to have people read my blog, sign up for deeper content, and volunteer to trial my new divinations.

As a bonus, just this past month, I went "proccultist" and started offering readings based on my theories and have had really positive response!

So as a thank you to my readers, I'm going to spend this week celebrating my one-year blogiversary with all kinds of coolness, including some new services, a new blog series, and a one of those cheesy contests that bloggers run to.... er, I mean a really cool contest where you can win something and stuff... that's not at all cheesy. Really.

Thanks for reading and for getting readings! I appreciate each and every one of you.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Goals and Dreams

Someone pointed me to this great article by Mark Manson on how some dreams should stay dreams.

Of course, as the article points out, modern society doesn't really support that idea that maybe reaching your dreams isn't all that it's cracked up to be. I touched on this a bit in my post on setting Big Goals when I talked about passion. We have this idea that everyone needs to a) find their passion and then b) follow their passion above all else. I disagree. First because passion is developed and not found and second because following your passion above all else can be the thing that kills it. I happen to think that for goal setting, your values are a much better bet. But, for more on that, you can go check out my post and set your own big hairy audacious goal.

All this goal setting is giving me a headache...

Mark Manson's reasons for dreams staying dreams are worth considering:

  • The fantasy is often far better than the reality. There are no negative repercussions to fantasy -- what's going on in your head always goes great, but in real life you have to deal with both the positives and negatives. These negatives are often completely absent from the fantasy and therefore invisible. Basically it's a nice place to visit (in your head) but you wouldn't want to live there.
  • Wanting something can be better than working for it. If you want the end result, but don't love the work then you don't really want it, you just like the thought of it. The author's example is being a rock star, but my favorite example are people who want to have written a book. The tendency is to see these people as failures, but they really aren't. They have a fantasy of being a famous author and that's fun, but it's not a failing to not want to write a book. There are vastly more people who loved a book than who love writing one.
  • Working for something can be better than earning it. Finally, if you do love the work then when your dreams come true, it can be a letdown because it's the process that's important. If the striving is what excites you and the work is what you love, when you reach the goal it can feel really empty. This is where you end up with depressed actors and rock stars.
Mark's article is a call for caution and reason in trying to turn our dreams into goals -- and I think he makes a very good point that this is needed in Western society. However, he stops short of identifying how you determine which dreams really are worth pursuing and which aren't. But I have a method, and it comes from the characteristics that goals have that are absent from dreams.

In order to quality as a real goal -- as opposed to a nebulous passion, fantasy, obsession, or dream -- it has to be SMART. SMART is an acronym for the characteristics that a goal needs to have. If you have any experience in business, you've probably heard of it. It stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant, Timely. In my years of goal setting, I've expanded this set of characteristics by one. Still you can't keep a good acronym down. Here are the criteria I use to see whether a goal is really a goal: SMARTS.

Specific -- before all else, you need to be able to describe your goal, and not in general terms. You have to be able to talk about what you want in detail. And like bullet one above, it means acknowledging the negative aspects as well as the positive ones. In fact, all the rest of the items below tie into this one. You must be able to describe the who, what, where, when, why, and how. If you can't be specific, then you don't have a goal, you have a fantasy or dream. Even when you can describe it, you need to make sure it's,

Measurable -- I talked about this in my project initiation post. You manage what you measure. Without some kind of metric for progress and for success, you risk your goal getting you to the wrong place. When we set a specific goal, we are creating a really detailed map. But if we start our journey and then never look at the map, we won't know where we're going. Measuring is the way you navigate with that map. Once you can describe your destination and your journey, then you have to actually get going, which means knowing if your goal is,

Achievable -- Achievable is related to that second bullet above. If you aren't willing and able to do the work required to reach the goal, it's not achievable. Having written a novel isn't a goal. Writing and finishing your novel is. Of course, even if you do all the work, sometimes you still can't reach your goal. Another aspect of achievable is defining the goal in a way that means you can be a success. Being a famous author is an extremely hard to reach goal. Being a best-selling author is a little better. But being a published author and making a living from your writing, that's a goal that, while challenging, is actually achievable. 

I know this sounds depressing, but I think it's really important to acknowledge. Because in our fame-driven society, we have this idea that everyone should have a goal to "be a star" or to "be famous" but only a few ever achieve that and many people don't like the results when they do. Which brings us to,

Relevant -- This means your goal is worthwhile and will be right for you -- that it will satisfy you. As pointed out in bullet three above, you want to avoid being unhappy and unfulfilled when you reach your goal. Unfortunately, people are bad at figuring out what really makes them happy, but in order to have a goal, you should give it some thought. We are a very goal oriented society, but not every goal will make every person happy (as many a law school grad has discovered). You have to know what's right for you. Finally, your goal must be,

Timely -- this means that your goal, like any project, has a deadline and a schedule. Because without temporal accountability, you risk flailing around and never getting to your end point. And most lists end here, but I go one further to add,

Sustainable -- Based on my experience helping other people set and reach goals, I knew this was important. Sometimes, we set ourselves really SMART goals, only to find that once we reach them we can't keep up with them. This is the "too much of a good thing" problem. You set a goal for business success and the next thing you know you don't have time for the rest of your life. Or you set a goal to travel the world, only to realize that after six months your time is up, your money is out, and you still have itchy feet. 

We focus so much on reaching our goals in the first place that we don't think about the ongoing consequences after we reach them. In my PMPM posts, I touch on the fact that once projects are complete, they almost always segue directly into operational efforts. So you get the puppy, now you have to train it and feed it and care for it. You get the new job, now the work actually starts. You clean the garage, now how do you keep it clean (I have no idea, our garage is always a disaster). You need to look past the end point to the life after you reach your goal. How will you sustain it?

If you want to know the different between dreams and goals, see whether they meet the six criteria above. See if your goals have any SMARTS before you expend any real effort on them.

Next week I have a lot of great stuff planned for CircleThrice, including some brand new content and services. I'm super excited, but it's meant that it's a little more quiet around here recently. But don't worry, that's about to change.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Project Execution -- Allies

As you work toward your project goals, there will come a time when you realize that you can't do it alone. Humans are by nature social creatures and thrive best when they have others around them. We crave love, acceptance, connection. This is the case for most of us for most endeavors. However, for PMPM workings, you need something else: allies.

An ally in this scenario is someone who is aligned with the goal(s) of your working -- nothing more and nothing less.

Jesus Christ this guy is heavy!

Before we discuss what allies are though, let's discuss what they aren't: People who love you.

Of course the people who love you can be allies if they are aligned with your goals. However, they aren't necessarily allies by default. My parents love me unconditionally, but they've also found a lot of my goals baffling, weird, risky, etc. Bluntly, they come from another time, when you took a job out of school and stuck with that company forever. We know that doesn't work, but for many years they didn't. So my career plan just seemed flaky and wrong. Clearly they weren't allies, but they still love me and I love them (I just don't take their career advice).

I so need one of these (etsy for the win)!

There are also people who love you who are actively dis-aligned with your goals and may even work against you (anti-allies). This is the partner who fears you will leave him/her behind if you change and who acts discouraging. The best friend who resents your goal to lose weight and brings over cupcakes. The high school buddy who's jealous of your success and refuses to help you when you ask. Even the child who resents the time that meeting your goals takes and gives you a dose of parental guilt. These people can sincerely love you and still have these attitudes that are contrary to your goals. How you deal with these people is up to you and very individual. Maybe you reassure the nervous partner, dump the jealous friends, and carve out special one-on-one time with the child. But whatever you do, don't mistake these people for allies.

Allies can be aligned with your goal for various reasons:

  • They care about you and want you to do what's best for you (the friends and family that we all wish we had)
  • They like you and like seeing you do well (colleagues and other successful and secure people you already know)
  • They get an ego boost from supporting you (mentors and bosses often fall into this category)
  • You have a reciprocal relationship (they support your goal, you support theirs)
  • They have a pay it forward motivation (someone helped them once, so they feel a strong obligation to help you)
  • You pay them (employees, consultants, professional services)
Don't make the mistake of assigning comparative value to these people depending on their motivation. It's great when people care about us and like us, but paying someone creates an equally powerful ally. For example, you might hire a designer to rework your website, a personal trainer to help you reach a fitness goal, a consultant to advise you on your startup, or a kid to mow your lawn and give you more time on your art. The key is that, for whatever reason, all these people support your goal. Maybe their support is more passive (emotional, networking) or active (task accomplishment, moving obstacles, providing training) -- maybe it's paid for -- but support is support.

Of course allies don't have to be corporeal. You can argue that your most powerful allies are the spiritual entities with whom you have a relationship. Your ancestors, helpful spirits, patron Deities, guardian Angels... all of these can be aligned with your goal. Some will want to help you because of who they are (ancestors often have a drive to support their descendants). Others because of who you are (while helping you with your goals, Deities often find a way for you to help them with theirs, which makes the skills you bring to the table very important). And others still because of what they can get (energies, offerings, etc.).

Does this sounds familiar? In fact, a lot of these people should have been defined as stakeholders during your project initiation. During initiation we were focused on identifying the stakeholders and communicating with them. However as allies, the key is understanding how to work with stakeholders in order to move your project along. Other allies aren't stakeholders (folks who do word of mouth advertising, people you hire, etc.) but still move you toward your goals.

I don't want this to sound mercenary. Your allies value is not only what they can give you! But if they are aligned with your goals, their support and help can be vital to your success. You need to honor and appreciate your allies and make sure they receive the appropriate time and attention from you. This could mean:
  • Expressing through words and actions how much your allied friends and family mean to you and how much you appreciate them
  • Making the appropriate offerings and prayers to helpful spirits and ancestors
  • Paying your employees/suppliers/consultants/service professions fairly and promptly
  • Following the guidance of mentors and Deities
  • Holding up your end of any bargains
If you aren't making traction on your goals, an ally inventory might be in order. Are you appreciating the people who support you? Do you need to reset any boundaries with people who don't? Are you missing a key ally on your list (you're an aspiring artist who doesn't know a single one)? Is there an anti-ally you must deal with?

It is true that people tend to associate with other people who are like them. Statistically, you and your friends/partners are likely to be similar in income, weight, background, etc. Some people take this too literally to mean that if you want to be a millionaire, you hang out with other millionaires (I think they have the arrow of causality wrong). Still, if you want to be more fit, find a couple of athletic friends to hang out with. They will motivate you to achieve your goal (and hey, you may just motivate those of your friends with a similar goal).