In Times of Change, Wild Magic is Afoot
by Tama J. Kieves
We live in crackling times. Change seems to electrify the air, in our individual lives and in the world. The media reports sad stories, dark messages, dire predictions, and warnings. Hope is rarely broadcast from the channels of the mainstream. Rowdy angels rattle our cubicles and turn our retirement accounts upside down—and they get our attention. But the challenges of our time will spur new and remarkable solutions. The oyster produces its jewels in response to sand. Agitation gives birth to transformation. I invite you to consider that in times of change, wild magic is afoot.
For most of us going through change, fear pounds on our door. Yet this discomfort brings an invitation to awaken our passion and aliveness as never before. Something larger wants to express itself in our lives. Pain often nudges our growth or illuminates where we have been holding back our true selves. Most of us seem to need a pinch of desperation to awaken our honesty and inspiration. As poet David Whyte says, “Absent the edge, we drown in numbness.”
Still, when you hit your edge, numbness looks like Shangri-la. When it happened to me, I remember feeling as though I couldn’t breathe. My whole world felt like one of those Salvador Dali paintings, where normal reality begins to drip and arc in unnatural ways. I had been a rising star in the litigation department of an elite, big-city law firm. I had graduated from Harvard Law School with honors and with grand expectations about my future security. I had consciously avoided the flimsy foot bridge of risk, but deep down, I knew I wanted to become a writer. I chose law instead because I wanted financial freedom, baubles, and safety—but I hadn’t counted on the ruthless mercy of the soul. I didn’t know that you can only avoid yourself for so long before the truth hits the fan.
I never imagined that my life could get so out of control (and I certainly never imagined that I’d eventually bless the day it did). But I found myself sitting on a beach in California, watching the waves and realizing I didn’t want to live anymore. I couldn’t bear to practice law in that office one more day. But I also refused to leave my job, my identity, my income, and everything I knew. Of course, I was fighting the inevitable. The soul’s true desire has infinite strength. The creative part of me, the part I had always considered weak, frivolous, and negligible, had the power to bring about depression, rage, and even the willingness to die. I felt helpless and stripped of all my previous powers to function. In the end it was my vulnerability that gave rise to my greatest freedom and joy. I stopped defending the life that was caving in. I let the last precious scraps fall from my hands. Now I was available to spirit. Just a few weeks later, without a viable plan or income, I walked out of my safe career and into the next phase of my life.
I found it absolutely terrifying to walk into the unknown. I didn’t care how many spiritual books said peace would come from letting go of control. I read every one of them with clenched hands and white knuckles. “You will find your way,” said my therapist. She clearly had me confused with someone lucid and resourceful. Still I came for more sessions. It felt important to hear these reassuring messages.
Gradually I found my way, or more accurately “the way” found me, breath by breath, as it always does. I wrote about this journey in my first book, This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love. The alchemy of change had tempered my fear into absolute wonder, and I wrote: “I’ve become someone who trusts that though I feel as fragile as a flaming leaf in autumn, I house the capacity of a tidal wave, a meteor shower, a white tornado of inspiration. I’ve become someone who believes that every human being has a tornado just beneath the skin and that we are meant to live our dreams so that we can discover that natural force within us that blows constriction away.”
For years now, I’ve taught personal-growth seminars, stirred audiences, led retreats, and coached thousands. I have often witnessed this astounding alchemy in others. In unsettling periods, courageous individuals begin to discover that there is more to life than what they think they’re losing. They turn to new ways of seeing, being, and relating to their experience. Uncertainty gives them permission and motivation to examine their present life and delve deeper into their own extraordinary mystical and creative reserves. In This Time I Dance!, I explained, “Because I had to search for a sense of safety beyond dollar, privilege, and approval, I inherited the ultimate trust fund. I learned to trust in my own resources and the startling generosity of life. You will, too. And, there is no other security.”
Like many, I am still tempted to contract with fear during times of distress within our world, and within my personal circumstances. I find my mind whirring away with “What if this happens?” or “What if that happens?” I search for wisdom and strategy through the lens of limitation. But I know better. As Albert Einstein said, “One cannot solve a problem at the level of the problem.” I know my distraught identity will recede into the night sky. To embody new answers and perspectives, I will grow new muscles, read new books, mend wounds and memories, ignite new fires, and take bold steps. Nietzsche says, “It takes chaos to give birth to a rising star.” A different self will walk into that different life. Ultimately, that’s the service provided by the challenge.
Here’s what you need to know: There will be stepping stones, places of safety and clarity on which to stand. More than that, it’s actually all solid ground, consistent safety appearing as terror in your imagination. It’s solid ground upheld by a net. The net is woven with velvet, roses, and diamonds and governed by a band of mighty angels. The angels have support teams. And the support teams have backups among sacred peoples and in sacred places throughout the world. Love is always with you. Love helped you create that job or marriage or bank account in the first place. It will help you create whatever you need this time, too.
Yes, there is wild abundant magic afoot. The woods stir with howls. The world is restless. Part of me is now eager to witness the genius and healing that is evolving on the planet. Change will bring new responses. More of us will now give birth to the divine qualities within us that we ignored while answering e-mails. We are resourceful and beautiful beyond our imagination.
In her book The Gift of Change, Marianne Williamson writes, “I think we stand between two historic ages, when a critical mass of the human race is trying to detach from its obedience to fear-based thought systems. We want to cross over to someplace new.” Later, she writes, “As we cross the bridge to a more loving orientation, as we learn the lessons of spiritual transformation and apply them in our personal lives, we will become agents of change on a tremendous scale.”
This is what I know: You have barely scratched the surface of your true strength. Your love is your light in shadow times. You have tremendous and unique gifts to offer. Fear whispers to you about scarcity and guarding your limited resources. But you don’t have limited resources. There are only finite assets in the known world. But now we are walking into the unknown. We have new abundance to discover and explore. It’s not about clinging to the old sources of power that once sustained us. It’s about launching into the inspired capacities, passions, and vitality we have always longed to express.
I’d like to offer you three helpful touchstones when facing the unknown:
- Stay in the present moment: Your mind may torture you about choices you made in the past. The present moment can heal the past. Your mind may fly into agitations about the future. This present moment creates your future. Focus on this moment only. You are safe right now.
- Do something you love: Write a song, work in the garden, or talk to a good friend. You activate different brain chemistry when having fun or expressing creativity. A loving and inspired mind bubbles with new perspectives and possibilities.
- Strengthen your connection to the Divine: You are not alone on this journey. Remember a time when you felt loved, safe, or at peace in any way. That loving force that surrounded you then surrounds you now. Step up your commitment to meditate, pray, walk in nature, visit a spiritual mentor, or anything that feeds your experience of connection and guidance.
Finally, know that when you feel insecure and inadequate, all is well. You’re right on track. Transformation defies your imagination. A mother doesn’t have to understand or even trust the birth process to give birth. Your next expression wants to be born. Great and mighty forces marshal their strength around you. It’s your time. You’re one of the brave encountering the new frontier. Change may wear a wolf suit. Still, don’t be fooled. It’s wild, abundant magic knocking on your door.
© Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved. Originally published in the Fall 2008 issue of the Kripalu catalog. To request permission to reprint, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.