I started practising yoga while at Uni, and over a decade later trained as a yoga teacher. One thing I learned from this was the way that physical movement could affect my state of mind. Another thing was about pranayama: yogic breathing practices, which also affect state of mind. Thirdly, meditation was a set part of the yoga teacher training curriculum, something we had to practice, as well as learning to teach it to others.
Then there was the theory and history of yoga and yogis of old, as well as some truly gruesome videos of yogis in modern day India piercing their own penises with needles and carrying rocks tied on a string on those needles, but let’s not go there!
1994 – Social Anthropology
While working as an office administrator, I was reading a lot of books on different cultures. That led me to go back to University, studying a Masters in Social Anthropology. We studied witchcraft and shamanism from around the world, as well as religious practices and beliefs. This showed me that a magical approach to life is a human universal.
Anthropological studies were done from a Western scientific perspective – how did these things work, why did people believe in them, what role did these practices play in people’s lives? Some authors just saw these as cultural structures that hold societies together, others looked deeper, to healing and transformation, and the power of the human mind.
2001 – Tarot and Magic
I became close friends with a couple of my fellow yoga teacher trainers. These women were into tarot, angel cards, the Goddess and magic. Together, we formed a mini-coven. We would go out to the countryside at the weekends, connect with nature, meditate, and cast spells together.
We read cards for each other, as a group practice, each chiming in with thoughts and feelings. We meditated on cards that came up in our readings, and incorporated them into our spells: this is my situation, how can I change it? This is my desire, how can I reach it?
2006 – Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy
It might seem strange, but it was tarot and magic that led me to study psychotherapy, rather than the other way around. I wanted to help people transform their lives, and I saw psychotherapy as offering that space for people who had something they wanted to change.
And it was so much more ‘normal’ than offering them a tarot reading. Though I still did that, too.
Anyway, I took a one year Foundation in Psychotherapy and Counselling, starting in 2006. In 2007, I studyed hypnobirthing, in the run up to the birth of my first son. Then, from 2010-2012, I completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychotherapy and Counselling. In 2013 I did more hypnotherapy training, broadening my perspective beyond its use in childbirth.
However, I remain devoted to offering people something beyond just a psychological approach, something that touches their soul as well as changing their life for the better.
My View of Magic
A combination of the wisdom of millenia (yoga), an understanding of human nature across cultures and history (anthropology), a more modern scientific/rationalist perspective (anthropology and psychotherapy), as well as personal experience (childhood, tarot and magic) have led me to where I am today.
Magic, for me, is a tool for improving your life. As Dion Fortune defined it: “Magick is the art of changing consciousness at will.” That might not sound like much, and yet changing the way we think changes the way we feel, talk and act. And that ripples out into our life and the world in many ways. Leaving aside whether there is something more to magic than this psychological understanding, a topic for another day, I can confidently say that magic will work for anyone, whether you believe in it or not!
If you’d like to explore this subject further, why not come along to the Tarot Magic webinar I’m running on 23rd May at 4pm BST