“There is nothing in your life that is outside the purview of your witnessing the sacred. There is no place where you are not shaman, priestess, magic worker, seer of visions large and small. ” -T. Thorn Coyle, Make Magic of Your Life
According to T. Thorn Coyle in her new book Make Magic of Your Life,
“Desire harnesses life energy so that we can move forward into what my core tradition calls The Work of This God, which can be interpreted as our purpose or destiny. This is the idea that there is some work—some practice, joy, or way of being—that only we can manifest in this world.”
I’ve gained so much from reading and studying with Thorn before that I jumped into yes to reviewing Make Magic of Your Life before really thinking about it deeply. But can a person who’s in the thick of baby night feeding or separation anxiety follow so rigorous a spiritual program as Thorn lays out? I mean, Molly at First the Egg points out how “parents, as it turns out, are always on call, always expected to be ready, for years on end.” So with that obligation, can we also be called to our unique purpose?
Yes, yes, yes! I love that in this book Thorn pays attention to our struggles, how we’re all only human and maybe caught up in parenting babies or in dealing with major health issues or in systems of structural injustice not of our own making. So no, we aren’t all going to be able to manifest riches and fame, and no, we’re not all going to be able to work through her book at the same pace or in precisely the same way, but we can all take steps toward manifesting our own deepest calling. After all, we’re all only human, but we’re also all fully human.
Our deepest work can be our parenting: “You may “only” drive a group of kids to soccer practice. But if you do so with love—listening to their stories with interest, offering comfort or advice when needed— you just may be changing someone’s life forever. That may be your Divine Work, and it certainly serves those children far beyond the simple act of driving.” Maybe working through this book could help an individual work through their own dilemma of conflict between focusing on parenting and working for pay. Maybe it’s your desire to really show up for driving to soccer practice and maybe that’s not your Work at all.
Thorn offers a path with sign posts many of us are familiar with from our own magical practices, the powers of the Sphinx: to know, to will, to dare, and to keep silent. The book takes us through this cycle of desire and manifestation, offering wisdom, stories, and practices for each of the four powers.
Here’s the thing, the book can do the most for you if you not only read it, but do the practices in it. Summoning the will to practice can be challenging under the best of circumstances, finding the resources to do it while parenting anyone with high needs may be next to impossible. I read this book in an advance review PDF on my tablet while nursing the baby to sleep in a dark room. That’s how I carve out time for something like this.
Here’s the other thing. One way or another we need to find our own precious practice time if only because we cannot manifest our best parenting work without it. As Elizabeth wrote at Mothering With Soul, “What I’ve come to understand as I walk the path of motherhood that nurturing myself is not an indulgence—it’s a non-negotiable necessity. Our life force needs to be nourished.”
Turning back to Make Magic of Your Life, we find that Thorn writes, “A life filled with clamor, noise, worry, and rushing is a life most often lived in the midst of conflicting wants and needs.” Sound familiar? “Courting silence, therefore, helps us to court desire more effectively.”
I want to suggest initiating this courtship before you have children if you can. If it’s too late for that, then before reading this book you might need to aim for the smallest practices of centering and knowing yourself. Not because you can’t or shouldn’t pursue the whole enchilada as a parent, but because the first principle must be start where you are. I really like Lucy’s list of centering activities you can do with small children around. My parenting life doesn’t allow for many contemplative practices, but there’s often some small action I can take, and those small ones pave the way for more ambitious ones to know, to will, to dare, to keep silent, and to Make Magic of Your Life.
Watch an author video with T. Thorn Coyle and read more responses to Make Magic of Your Life at the Patheos Book Club!