In my contribution to the blog hop I get a little personal. I go into more detail about my life than is comfortable, but my hope is that it’s useful to someone. Also, writing about and working through these things in my mind is helping with the financial reset that I’m trying to accomplish. I’m much better at money magic than financial magic; this post is about some of my plans to fix that.
Suppose you’re sitting at work and you see a coworker suddenly begin kicking his desk and cursing his computer. Your first thought probably would be “wow, that guy has anger issues.” That is, you’re attributing his anger to something fundamental about him. Now, suppose your alarm clock didn’t go off (or, more likely, your alarm app on your phone crashed), you fought traffic all the way to work, got pulled over and ticketed for a brake light, and spilled coffee on yourself all before you sat down at your desk. THEN, the damn computer won’t connect to your email to get feedback about the project that’s due tomorrow. You kick the fucking desk and invite the computer to go to hell. Now of course this doesn’t reflect on your character–you’re just having a bad day.
This is an example of a cognitive bias called the fundamental attribution error (and probably also involve actor-observer bias). And this is how I felt most of my life about people who were more successful than me, but in kind of a backwards way. The financial reset that the title of the post is talking about is fundamentally a mental one, and dealing the cognitive biases involved is an important step in the reset.
Growing up we were poor most of the time. I rarely, but not never, went to bed hungry, and the family car was always on the verge of collapse. After high school I was living out of my car for a brief time. At the same time, I was taught that the folks in the other town, the richer town, were stuck up snobs who thought they were better than everyone else. But they knew how to make money–somehow … mysteriously. And we (my family) just knew how to work hard in low-wage jobs. There was something fundamental in those rich people (really, just middle-class) that made them have more than us. Somehow, and I’m honestly not quite sure how, I ended up graduating from college and going on to grad school. I’m the first in my family to graduate high school, much less college or post-grad. I didn’t know it at the time, but the years of work I put into earning my degrees works pretty well as a model for how to improve my financial magic techniques.
The image at the top is from a money draw spell I did a year or so ago when I was participating in a “30 Day Magical Challenge.” For that day I was supposed to do a candle spell, so I took a glyph from Jason’s Financial Sorcery, sprinkled some of my money draw power on it, anointed my candle and did my spell. To the best of my recollection I got an email the next day from a freelance site inviting me to apply for a gig. I ended up doing less than a week of work and earned a little over half my usual monthly salary. I had been on that site for months and applied to tons of stuff with no luck.
So that was pretty cool.
That happens on occasion. I’ll have a specific need, do a spell and the need gets met. But a continuing source of extra income? Nope. That just hasn’t happened for me yet. I think I’m learning the reasons why, but dealing with them is not easy. My set point is at a middle-class fixed income. I’m going to quote a couple paragraphs from Financial Sorcery :
In 1982 Dr. William Bennett and Joel Gurin were looking for an explanation as to why repeated dieting is unsuccessful in producing long-term change in body weight or shape. What they came up with is called “set point theory.” According to this theory, there is a control system built into every person dictating how much fat he or she should carry— a kind of thermostat for body fat. Some individuals have a high setting, whereas others have a low one. Whatever attempts at dieting are made will revolve around the gravity of this set point.
Though Bennett and Gurin were speaking about a physiological process related to weight, psychologically speaking, we have all have set points relating to a wide range of things. For instance, most of us have a surprisingly firm set point regarding our station in life. We get programmed to expect certain things and no matter what we say we want, we tend to gravitate to those expectations. This field of gravity is more difficult to escape than you might think. No matter what we may want, somewhere deep in the mind is a nagging thought of what we are “supposed to have” or what we “deserve.”
When you realize the truth of this and take a look at your own set points, you realize that the power of these points is immense. If we do not work directly on these set points, their gravity will keep all our sorcery circling in tight orbits around them.
So I’ve been working on my set points. Just by virtue of going to graduate school I changed some of them without magicking up anything. With my degree I got good job so that I’m at a place where I know there’s money for food, bills, my kid’s Christmas and some left over every month. For someone who grew up panicking every time the family checked out at the grocery store because you didn’t know if you parents had the money and might need to put something back, this is actually a big deal. But here’s the thing: I still get a sick feeling sometimes when I slide my card through the machine, afraid that it might get declined despite knowing it’s actually fine. My set point is still as someone who worries about basic necessities.That’s where my center of gravity is, and my magic has just kept rotating around it.
Here are some of the thing I’m doing to move set points from where I am to a place of flexible, increasing income, confidence about earning more money and an attitude of success and plenty rather than failure and want.
0. What set points do I need to change?
This is the starting point, and requires a good amount of good to overcome the inertia of years of fixed thought processes. I fully expect this list to change, but at the moment I’ve identified four set points that I am working on.
- Stress about not having enough money
That worry that creeps in when I use my debit card? That needs to change if for no other reason that my peace of mind. But even for magicians, life happens. Tires wear out, cars need to be repaired or replaced and occasionally emergencies happen. When you’re spending time worrying about what might happen, or figuring out to pay for what did happen, that’s time not spent figuring out how to earn more money, sleeping or just enjoying life.
- I’ll always be in debt
Ever since I was 16 or 17 years old and got my first Sears card I’ve been in debt to a greater or lesser extent. I didn’t have anyone to tell me this was a bad idea and would come back to bite me in the ass eventually. Like most people my age I have student loan debt too. It’s just a fact of life, and part of the American experience. But it simply isn’t sustainable. After taking great pains to review the modern history of the American economy, and the likely future of it, Gordon in The Chaos Protocols sums up the dire and realistic situation by saying
How is that drink looking? What we are witnessing is not simply the after-effects of a severe recession. We are living through some permanent structural changes to the old industrial economy as another hyper-growth economy emerges and occupies the same geographic area, by which I mean the whole planet. Meanwhile, the world’s biggest workforce is heading out of the consumer economy and into retirement while the rise of automation and new technology appear to drastically alter the working lives of the generations this is happening against a backdrop of environmental degradation and an increased risk of war.
IF the worst happens it’s much better to owe no one. And if it doesn’t, then instead of owing my soul to the company store, I’ll have something in for the inevitable minor emergencies. Which brings me to …
- I can’t save money
Related to being in debt, I never had a model of someone saving money, so I thought living right at, or a little above, your means was just how it worked. Thank the gods I live in a state where all public employees are required to put a small percentage into a retirement fund because I don’t trust myself to do so without being forced to. And that’s not a good place to be.
- I can’t make more money
My job’s salary is fixed; there’s no opportunity for commission or bonuses. My wife’s income has a definite ceiling (but no real floor), so there’s a maximum amount of money that we can earn every month at the moment. As an academic, I’ve never had much use for entrepreneurship–I’ve been busy working in my field to get to where I am to think about how to leverage my talents to increase my income at the same time.
1. Strategic, stacking enchantments
The beginning place for my financial reset is to release the set points. Jason gives a great ritual in Financial Sorcery, and more details in the Strategic Sorcery class, to do this. In addition to these, NLP techniques and hypnosis are remarkably useful for this.
Other than the class itself, and the community, one of my favorite things about Strategic Sorcery are the regular global rites. In a certain window, everyone who wishes does the same ritual, makes an offering and makes petitions. I use these to do the big-picture, macroenchantments. I enchant for the overall goals as well as asking for guidance about the best way to do targeted magic to achieve them–the microenchantments. Stacking the enchantments in this way is an important key. Another way, which Gordon goes into detail about in the sigil class at the preposterously priced ($10/month) Rune Soup Premium Membership is to stack is to plan for one successful spell to push another one into manifestation. The sigil shoal method is idea for this; sigilize for extra income, business ideas and meeting partners all in the same shoal.
2. Continually enchant for money
Speaking of shoals, my plan for the new year is to do a shoal related to my finances at a minimum of once a month for all of 2018, and more if I can come up with good sigil statements. Another idea had a few weeks ago was to do a financial magic lamp. That candle spell mentioned above worked a treat. Other than actually getting the money, my favorite thin about it was that the spell worked even though I didn’t have a specific need in mind when I cast it. So went out an bought some air dry clay and tried making a small lamp. It’s been painted with Jupiterian colors and glyphs and I consecrated it at the appropriate day and hour.
The little dishes at on the sides were supposed to hold materia but that hasn’t worked out. Instead I’ve submerge a gator’s claw to grab opportunities and cash, a small piece of pyrite and a small lodestone in the oil. Ultimately I want to have this burning pretty much constantly when I’m home and awake.
3. Exploitable business opportunities
I’ve had very little luck/success with business ideas (other than the one shot gigs). About a year ago I had what seemed like great idea for a magic box subscription service. The folks I talked to loved it, I loved it and I gave it a try. Well, I sort of gave it a try. I’m bad at marketing and follow-through. It was a classic failure to launch due in large part to my bad execution and lack of effort. (Did you know that conscientiousness is almost as important as raw intelligence when it comes to success in life?) By the way, Sara is offering an excellent Spell of the Month subscription at her site Mastros and Zealot: Witches for Hire. I sell oils and other rootwork materia here on this site, but rarely talk about it. Making oils and powders is one of my favorite things to do, so I thought I’d try to sale the extras. It pays for itself which is fine for me.
For awhile now I’ve been doing spells for business ideas and, even though it’s not my forte, I think I’ve had some pretty good ones. But they’re not ideas I can exploit right now; I need either more capital than I can afford to invest or more than 24 hours in a day to implement them. So I’ve began changing my spell phrasing–now I’m enchanting exploitable business ideas. Things that I can do right now to bring in more income. This goes back to the stacking strategy; after one takes off a little I’ll be in a place to try to grow that one or transition to one of the other ideas.
4. Spending less and having fewer thing
Cracked, of all places, has very insightful articles about the consequences of living life in a low income family. The 5 Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor, talks about how this affect spending habits.
Every poor person I knew got a big check one time a year in the form of their tax return. They made just enough money to file taxes, and made little enough to claim “earned income credit,” which is a tax credit that can dramatically boost your return. For my ex-wife and I, it meant getting around $5,000 at the end of January. And just like many poor people, we’d be broke within days of cashing that check, our living room sporting a new TV. Or we’d replace our old computers and all of our furniture. There’s a reason many poor people blow through that money instead of saving it for future bills.
When you live in poverty, you’re used to your bank account revolving very tightly around a balance of zero. Your work money comes in and goes right back out to bills, leaving you breaking even each month (if you’re lucky). That’s the life you’ve gotten used to. It’s normal for you.
When a windfall check is dropped in your lap, you don’t know how to handle it. Instead of thinking, “This will cover our rent and bills for half a year,” you immediately jump to all the things you’ve been meaning to get, but couldn’t afford on your regular income. If you don’t buy it right now, you know that the money will slowly bleed away to everyday life over the course of the next few months, leaving you with nothing to show for it. Don’t misunderstand me here, it’s never a “greed” thing. It’s a panic thing. “We have to spend this before it disappears.”
For much of my adult life, this described me to a T. When I did finish grad school and got my first well-paying job I wanted all the things. Which fed into more debt and no savings, which led to panic, which led to buying more things when I did get a little extra money. A funny thing happens when you begin a regular spiritual practice. It starts to become easier to say “no” to that panic thing. It becomes less painful to resist acquisition syndrome. Obviously I still struggle with this, but when it’s at its worst when my meditation practice slips or when I spend more time on social media. (It’s almost December–my social media diet is about to begin.) The way I grew up shaped me to be a hoarder…seriously, some of my aunts and uncles could be on the show. My wife, on the other hand, is a minimalist. As I’m gradually learning to buy less and get rid of what I don’t need, I’m learning that it really is fulfilling.
But I really do need that new tarot deck.