Willed Change: the spiral process

by Judy Harrow

One way to understand the process of change is as an ongoing spiral. Like all models, this is simplified, but the simplification helps us understand a very complex process. On the flat surface of a computer screen, it looks like a closed cycle, a pattern of repetition. In reality, when we go around the cycle, we reach each point changed by all that has happened since we last were there. Also, of course, no one single spiral can describe a human life. Every human being has many facets. We can grow at a different rate (or even regress) in each facet, in different periods of our lives. Remember that a skilled counselor can help you work through each segment of the spiral. Here, in simplified form, are the steps involved in conscious, willed change:
  1. Identify the goal: It's important to describe the change you want in terms of a goal, rather than a problem or a deficiency. Start a sentence with the words "I want ..." and continue it with "so that ..." Be as clear and precise as you can, always in positive terms, about your goal, but not its specific manifestation. Always leave some scope for the Goddess' wonderful surprises. She may know of an even better job, or home, or lover than the one you had in mind.
  2. A well formulated goal is:  

    • positive - describe what you want rather than what you want to fix or change
    • possible - magic extends the sphere of possibility, but there are still limits.
    • Alas, one cannot teleport between the coasts!
    • ethical - your magic is either self directed or directed toward a person who is willing to receive it. It is invasive to work your will on another person without their consent. Such workings are also a lot harder to do and far more likely to backfire.
    • ecological - your goal is in harmony with your values and with your other needs and desires
    • observable - you will have a way of knowing when this goal is achieved.
  3. Gather information: Before you act, you need to know as much as possible about the situation and your feasible options within it. For example, if you want a new home, you should have a good idea of your budget, research current mortgage rates and possibilities, check out neighborhoods, learn how to recognize basic structural soundness, look at real estate ads, ask around to see if anyone knows of available places. If you want a career change, look into job market prospects, places where your current skills would be welcomed, available training programs, possibilities for financial aid. This kind of very normal, secular, information gathering comes first.
  4. Another kind of information comes from inside yourself, from your own heart and gut, and perhaps from the "still, small voice" of Sacred contact. It's pivotally important to reach within, to find those perceptions and emotional responses that have not come to consciousness.

    Feelings count, because whatever does not ultimately feel good will not be sustainable. Of course, people can work through temporary unpleasantness to advance a long-range goal. For example, learning a new skill can be tedious, even painful (I recall blistered fingertips that eventually turned into a guitar player's callouses). What makes the process worthwhile is a personally satisfying goal, not just something you think you should want or should do. The truth of this, too, lies deep within you.

    People know far more than they realize. The amount of sheer sensory data that pours in on us is more than we can consciously notice or integrate, but we store it all. Our unconscious minds notice patterns and relationships that our conscious minds might miss. And, of course, we have emotional responses that we never bring to surface. In short, our conscious minds may be very intelligent, but our unconscious minds are very much wiser. And beyond even that is the wisdom of the Gods.

  5. Seek inner (and Otherworld) wisdom: Our Pagan heritage of magic includes some receptive techniques, ways to reach deep within and beyond ourselves for guidance. Here are the three I consider most important:

    • Divination: There are a host of divinatory methods, such as Tarot, Runes, the I Ching, scrying. Use whichever you like. There are good books, classes and workshops available for most of them. 
    • Dreamwork: Traditions of dreamwork are as ancient as recorded history and as modern as contemporary psychology. 
    • Meditation: This is the purest, most accessible, and yet most difficult method of all. Just sit and let your mind go where it will. Don't try to structure or follow your thoughts, just watch them.

    Finally, does what you are considering harmonize well with your religious values? Is it in keeping with your core ethic? with the specific ethical teachings of your Tradition? with the great myths that you have found inspiring over the years? If you or your Tradition have a particular tutelary deity, is what you are planning congruent with the spirit and energy of that deity?
  7. Decide: When you have gathered all the information you can from all possible sources, put the whole matter on hold. Give your decision as much time as you can to gestate. A day is good, a week is better. When you have the luxury, a full lunar cycle is optimal. By then, you will probably know your desire. For a final check, sit quietly and just ask inside yourself if any part of you has any problem with this decision. Then, place yourself at Center and ask for guidance from the Guardians of the Directions, like this:

    • East: Do I have all the information I need? Does this make sense?
    • South: Do I have the energy to carry this through? Do I feel enthusiastic, even passionate, about my plan?
    • West: Is my plan wise? Is it compassionate and loving to myself and to others it will affect?
    • North: Do I have the material resources to carry out my plan? Do I have the skill? Do I have a way to obtain whatever I still need?
    • Below: Am I capable of doing what I plan? Do I have the requisite talents and temperaments?
    • Above: Is my plan in keeping with my ideals and values?

  9. Empower your decision: Projective magic refers to that set of skills by which we project our will out into the world to empower change.
    • Raise power: Write or choose a simple chant that is related to your goal. While chanting it, imagine that your goal is already accomplished. Imagine this as actively and as specifically as possible. What do you see from your new living room window? How does it feel to be riding a horse again with your arm fully healed?
    • Store power: Find a small object that reminds you of your goal, something small enough to fit in your pocket or purse, or even an unobtrusive piece of jewelry. Consecrate it to your goal. Hold it while you chant, while you imagine your accomplished goal. Then keep it with you at all times until your goal is achieved. When you get tired or discouraged -- and we all have those moments -- this talisman will help you keep going. Hold it and repeat the chant that was used when the object was charged. It will bring you back, in memory, to the power you felt at that moment.
  11. Act in accordance: The focus now shifts to everyday, ordinary, secular life. We have many names for the world outside of Circle: the world of form, the plane of manifestation, the Clockworld. Whatever you call it, this is where you hope to see results, and it is also where you need to direct your efforts now. Action in the material world requires that you expend time, energy, and possibly money, which will not then be available for other purposes. By committing your resources, you show the Gods and your own deep mind that you are serious about your goal. Secular follow through also provides your magic with a channel for manifestation.
  12. For example, you might want a new job. Start by making a realistic and sequential plan - big projects are done in small steps. What can you do this week - update your resume, get a haircut, check your interview wardrobe? What can you when that's done - contact headhunters, look at the want ads, send out resumes, schedule interviews? Some goals take longer than others. If you want not just a new job but a whole career change, you might have to retrain. The first step might be taking some aptitude tests or researching available training.

    Whatever your goal is, there is some small, immediate practical step that you can take this very week. If you're having trouble figuring out what that step is, a counselor can help. Be prepared to report back at your next session on how it went.   Evaluate your progress: So you return to your counselor and tell them what you tried, how it worked, what you discovered, how you feel about it. If you never got around to taking that first small step, they will help you figure out what the obstacles, inner or outer, may have been. Perhaps there's something else, something you didn't even think of, that you have to do first. They will hear you out, perhaps ask a few more probing questions. They may have some insights to share, some related experiences, even some bits of advice. You will either celebrate success or decide what your next small step will be.

And so it goes, round and round, long as we live and perhaps beyond, for the spiral of change is the spiral of growth is the spiral of Life!

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  • Note: this material was excerpted and adapted from Judy's book, Wicca Covens (Citadel, 1999) pp. 118-129.
    Updated January 28, 2012 Copyright 1999, 2012 by Judy Harrow
    The address of this page is http://proteuscoven.com/counsel/change.htm