The journey of my wilderness years began in 2007. I’d just finished a year of study at the University of Edinburgh on scholarship, I’d received excellent feedback on my undergrad thesis and I’d graduated in the top of my class. As far I could tell, the future looked bright. I didn’t worry myself with a plan because I’d never been very good at making them and winging it had worked out pretty well so far. While my friends applied to jobs and grad schools, I held my breath and waited for whatever decided to come next.

I honestly don’t know what I was expecting when I entered the workforce–a book deal, dozens of job offers, a parade–but it wasn’t what I found. The economic recession was in full swing and there weren’t many jobs period, let alone one for an English major. I took a gig as a clerk at an acupuncturist’s office to pay the bills, and rather than scheme and plan and apply on my off-time, I addled. I gave up writing. I gave up painting. I returned to Europe to explore a relationship I’d left behind and when that failed, I returned penniless. I moved back in with my parents. My hole grew deeper.

I went back to school to earn my teaching certificate, but I never really wanted to work in the school system. After taking out thousands more dollars in loans, I didn’t even apply for a teaching position. Unhappy and listless, I found a temporary home as a reading and ESL tutor while I tried to figure out where things went wrong.

By 2014, I was married and pregnant, but no closer to solving my “problem.”  Overwhelmed by the financial and emotional responsibilities of caring for his family, my husband spiraled into a pattern of depression and addiction. Ashamed of the fact that I was “just a wife and a mother” and that I was recreating the destructive patterns of my parents and their parents before them, my self-esteem plummeted. Seven years of avoidance had taken its toll, and I found myself more lost and clueless than ever.

I’d never felt so disconnected from my power in my entire life. I’d made so many compromises and ceded so much that I couldn’t even remember what brought me joy anymore. And in my darkest hour, when it seemed I may never recover the joy and the passion and the vivacity I once had, I found hope in the form of a spell.

To this day, I can’t explain how or why the idea to cast a spell came upon me. All I know is that the desire to surrender myself to Life and speak my needs to a universe that may or may not be listening was stronger than it had ever been, and my deep inner knowing or the goddess herself said “cast a spell.”

I went to the internet to read up on spell craft and correspondences. I picked up some herbs from my local co-op and I wrote out a spell that seemed just right.  On a cold, clandestine evening I cast my first circle and I laid my soul at the feet of the cosmos. And to my astonishment and amazement, it worked.

In the months that followed, I threw myself into the study and practice of witchcraft. A month into my quest I picked up the tarot and found it to be the perfect companion to my critical theory, psychology, and education background. Through its study, I was reintroduced to an old friend–Jung–and began exploring the usefulness of tarot as a tool for shadow work, self-actualization, and integration.

And just like that, I was found.

Through tarot, craft, and ritual, I discovered why I’d lost faith in myself so soon. Why I made decisions from a place of fear rather than a place of love. Why I distanced myself from others when I most needed them and why the specters of anxiety, depression, addiction, and low-self esteem haunted me.

Through tarot, craft, and ritual, I healed the lingering pain of my shadow self. I learned to accept what I couldn’t change in others and learned what I could shift in myself. I finally figured out how to accept who I was in the moment, who I was becoming, and who my highest self wanted me to be rather than who my ego self wanted me to be. Through tarot, craft, and ritual, I discovered new and better ways to co-create my experience with the universe and to give myself the voice and agency I’d denied and hidden for so long.

Since I began my journey with tarot and craft, I’ve become a better partner to my partner, a better mother to my daughter, and a better self to myself. I’ve started my own business, paid off my debt interest, and put a healthy dent in my principle. Every area of my life has grown closer to reflecting the deep desires of my soul, and I grow ever closer with each passing day.

When I cast my first spell, I was angry, empty, and terrified. Now I’m grateful, joyful, and empowered. It feels amazing. And with every ounce of my being, I want the same for you.

I want to encourage you how to lean into fear, embrace change, and search for the best and brightest parts of yourself. I want to help you heal, release, and integrate the stuff of your shadow so you can live consciously and joyfully. I want to guide you into an awareness of what keeps you small and stuck in unhelpful patterns, and I want to guide you through breaking those patterns so you can build structures that are healthy and sustainable. And I want to show you how to access and wield power so you can bring what speaks most deeply to your soul into being. It can be done, and I’m living proof.

Let’s Do This.