Magic for the 9-to-5 life

You may be shocked to learn that I—the weird lady on the internet who just wrote a book about worshipping dead people—actually have a very normal day job. But it’s true. I have a normal commute to a normal office where I work a normal 9-to-5 with some very normal people.

When I was younger, I used to buy in to the narrative that you need to do magic full-time to be a “real magician”. But one day, I realized that there’s no better place to do magic than at a normal job. Magic is more effective when you have skin in the game. Divination is clearer when you have something concrete to predict. And work is a lot more fun when you view it through this lens.

Here are some of my favorite magical strategies for not just surviving, but thriving at a normal job.

Be aware of your ancestral patterns

If you’re not conscious of your ancestral baggage, you’ll play it out in any community you’re a part of, and the office is no different. How are you reliving your childhood at work? Does your boss remind you of a parental figure? Do you treat your employees like your children? Do you fight with your coworkers like the ex-lovers they remind you of?

Don’t worry, we all do it. But now that you’re mindful of it, you’ve got to deal with it. Tell your ancestors that this is something you’re going to change. Transform old patterns into new ones.

Bonus tip: remember that your coworkers are going through exactly the same thing. Be patient, especially when they get weird. We’re all healing.

Embrace yin energy

Imagine two modes of interacting with the universe: doing (yang energy) and being (yin energy). Our culture tends to overemphasize yang energy, especially when it comes to work. We’re taught that that simply being is never enough. We always have to go out and do things in order to prove that we have value.

It’s not that one of these modes is better than the other. We need to strike a balance between the two. For most of us, that will mean nurturing more yin energy in our lives in order to compensate for our culture’s bias towards yang energy.

There are infinite ways to do this. Right now, my personal focus is on building unstructured time into my schedule. These are periods in which I don’t have any plans, meetings, or even a to-do list. Sometimes, I use the time to rest; other times, I seek inspiration; and other times, the moment I sit down with nothing to do, the muse strikes and I have an idea for a new project to work on.

Pull a card on Monday night

Lots of tarot readers and diviners draw a card of the day. Personally, I find the “daily draw” results in too much noise. I divine to gain perspective, so I prefer to do so weekly. But a weekly draw can be challenging too if you don’t have any specific context for it.

A great way to make the weekly draw more concrete is to perform it on Monday (or whenever your week starts) after you get home from work. Let the day’s events reveal the biggest problem you need to solve this week, and use the weekly draw as a source of advice for how to do so.

My favorite deck for this practice is Oblique Strategies. These cards have constraints, challenges, or suggestions printed on them. They were produced to help artists and musicians solve creative problems by encouraging lateral thinking. Instead of trying to push through something head-on, you approach it from a new angle. Here are a few examples:

  • “Try faking it!”

  • “State the problem in words as clearly as possible.”

  • “What would your closest friend do?”

  • “Honor thy error as a hidden intention.”

You can play with an online version of the deck here.

Figure out what’s enchantable

Every job is different. The enchantable part of your job is the part that’s the most volatile. What part of your job is unpredictable and has real consequences for your wellbeing? If you work in a restaurant, it might be how much money you take home from tips. If you offer professional services, it might be landing the next big client. If you are a salaried office employee, your income might be steady, but you may have to deal with Game of Thrones-esque politics.

Once you know what the most enchantable part of your job is, focus your energy there.

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