Willed Change: the spiral process
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:
- 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
A well formulated goal is:
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.
- 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.
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
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
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
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?
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.
Traditions of dreamwork are as ancient as recorded
history and as modern as contemporary
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.
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:
Empower your decision: Projective magic refers to
that set of skills by which we project our will out
into the world to empower change.
- 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
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.
- 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
- 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
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!