Book of interest: Sigil Magic for Writers, Artists & Creatives

Writer and mystic T. Thorn Coyle has a new book out: Sigil Magic for Writers, Artists, and Other Creatives.

Cover of Sigil Magic by T. Thorn Coyle

I had the honor of hearing Thorn speak in Baltimore in 2009, when she was on tour for Kissing the Limitless, and her Elemental Castings podcast accompanied me on many hours of driving around the same time. Her earlier book, Evolutionary Witchcraft, also made a huge impact on me and my practice as a baby witch. So I’m comfortable saying, without having read Sigil Magic, that Thorn knows her shit and the book should be an interesting read grounded in the Western mystery tradition.

Sigils are marks or designs created with specific intent and layered with symbolism to accomplish a task. (Bindrunes are a parallel concept.) Ceremonial magic uses a number of sigils for varying purposes; you can use one that already exists and tap into the power that repeated use over time has imbued in it, or you can create and charge your own sigil. If you want to learn more, check out Thorn’s book.

Mercurial silliness on a Sunday

I have discovered, a site that provides a valuable public service!

Mercury retrograde is an astronomical event that occurs three times a year and lasts for three weeks each time. (All the planets have retrograde periods, actually. The Wikipedia page at that link includes an animation showing Mars retrograde.) The planet Mercury appears to stand still, then move backward, then stand still again before moving forward in its usual orbit. In astrology, Mercury rules communication, awareness, thinking, the expression of thoughts, and the tools we use to accomplish all those things. How exactly that manifests depends on the sign Mercury is in; during retrograde periods, something from the past could be dredged up or communications will go wonky, for example. You might lose e-mails, gloss over or misunderstand an important piece of a contract, feel like you’re talking past people, get stuck working through some issue you thought was settled, or be plagued by computer problems. The usual advice for surviving Mercury retrograde is to avoid signing contracts, starting new projects, installing new software, or any of the other tasks affected by Mercury.

I care because Mercury could rule my entire business, practically. I can’t stop everything for three weeks. And if you go down that Top 10 list, I believe I have done every single one of those things since Mercury went retrograde on February 6! Making agreements, signing contracts, starting new jobs/projects? Check. Scheduling meetings? Check (I’m actually supposed to be in one now, but there appears to be some kind of miscommunication about it!) New software? Check. I bought the full version of MathType and had an awful time trying to get it to work on a different computer and version of Word. Auto repairs? Check, lolsob. We had to pay for jump starts and unexpectedly replace our truck’s battery. I even bought something that I regretted: a shirt whose design turned out to be mostly made of sequins, which I didn’t realize when I bought it. And, naturally, when I washed the shirt a few of the sequins and ruined the design anyway.

So instead I try to appreciate the benefits of Mercury retrograde (which may come naturally to me, as an Aquarius with Mercury in Libra). I had a couple of old clients contact me to start new projects when I hadn’t expected to hear from them again. I’m a terrible procrastinator when it comes to cold-calling (or its e-mail version, which doesn’t have a snappy name), but something about Mercury retrograde tends to light a fire under me, and I find the inspiration to send a lot of those e-mails plus a few that weren’t on the to-do list yet. I get all kinds of ideas for new projects and new ways to organize information — and half the time, something gets screwed up and out of the chaos comes an even better way than I had planned.

Which is why, when I looked at my screwed-up e-mails and the 31 tabs I have open in Chrome and this installation that isn’t working right, and I couldn’t even find the bill from the towing guy and this, that, and the other thing were completely going sideways… I searched “is mercury in retrograde” and the answer was YES.

(Mercury goes direct again on February 28. The other retrograde periods for 2014 are June 7 to July 2 and October 4 to October 25.)

Getting woo-woo for a moment

As I said in the sticky post, I moved my feeds to The Old Reader and have been weeding through blogs I didn’t read or that hadn’t updated in six months or more, and catching up with blogs that I loved but hadn’t had time to really sit with and read deeply.

I’d like to recommend some blogs of the latter type. They aren’t really about editing (see the sidebar for editing/writing blogs I like), but they share a focus on being your own self rather than projecting an image that you think is more likable or better at everything. Maintaining that image takes a lot of unnecessary work, and while the image can be a protective shell or a useful mask, it can also be uncomfortable and limiting. In the years before I took this leap, I was increasingly frustrated by the need to divide myself into a “work” persona and a “real” persona. I didn’t feel that I could be as feminist, as spiritual, as silly, as simply human, or as wholly myself while at work. So part of my work in building Last Syllable Communications is to set that image aside, take the risk of being my authentic self, and trust that clients who want to work with me — not just a warm body with X, Y, Z skills and Q years of experience, but me in particular — will connect with me and we can begin a working relationship, whether for the length of one project or over the course of years.

These are some of the blogs I read that encourage authenticity, risk, being your own self, and nurturing that sense of self.

  • Captain Awkward, an advice column for the nerdy and awkward among us (self included)
  • The Freelancery, which I recommend over and over here for freelancing advice and encouragement
  • Momastery, a blog full of light and love and brutiful life
  • Nurshable, about gentle parenting (you may find this blog less useful if you’re not a parent or have a very different parenting style)
  • Beauty Tips for Ministers, advice on dressing fashionably and appropriately at the same time; geared toward clergymembers, but enormously useful to me as I transitioned into my thirties and realized I needed to learn to dress myself again

New mission statement

I’ve added a new mission statement:

Through being my authentic and sovereign self, to attract clients who resonate with me and with my unique skills and abilities, and to use all the tools at my disposal to shape and transform my clients’ work to communicate their fullest meaning in the text.

(Phrased differently: I do my thing and you get pretty words.)

Weird projects a specialty.

It also lives on its own page for later reference. [ETA: I’ve since struck the “weird projects” part and moved the rest of the statement to the Editorial Services page.]