Tag Archives: intuition

Intuition on the bard path

Intuition is a really important skill for bards. First and foremost it’s about being able to read the room (or grove). Having a feel for your audience that allows you to respond to them is essential for making a connection and communicating effectively. You also have to give yourself space for that – if you’ve carefully planned out every detail of what you will say and do, you’re leaving no space to include what comes up at the time.

Stages feel pretty exposed at the best of times. If you are nervous you may feel like trying to be more open to your audience is a bad thing. This is not something a person is likely to get the hang of at the first go. It’s something to explore once you’re over the worst of the nerves caused by simply trying to perform.

It’s easier to read the room if you start before getting on to the stage. It’s important to check out the space and the audience ahead of time. Flounce up just before your set and you have no idea what you’re walking in to. It’s easier to try and read the mood of the gathering before you start performing. Some crowds respond well to bombast, some will like you more if you come in gently.

Intuition has a role to play at other times as well. Very few bards create in the moment and on the day. It takes time to learn, write, choreograph or otherwise get your creativity to the point where you can share it. What you have to learn to get there, is an issue. The decisions about what to work on happen a fair way ahead of sharing a finished piece. What will be relevant by the time you can share it?

For me, 2021 has been full of intuitive leaps in the dark. I’ve made decisions about what to do and when, creatively, that were at best informed by wild guesses. That’s been going surprisingly well, so far. It’s left me feeling more open to possibility, and perhaps a little more in tune with the tides of existence. Which sounds slightly pretentious, but I can’t think of a more grounded way of saying it!


Intuition is not irrational

We take in far more data than we can consciously process. What rises up as intuition may be in no way irrational, and arguably not even that woo-woo – it’s just a different way of using our brains. Also it turns out that our thinking is far more distributed through our bodies and not just a brain thing, so the idea of a gut feeling may be highly valid as a form of thinking that is actually happening.

There are questions to ask around intuition if you want to establish what kind of relationship yours has with the rest of reality. It’s important to keep track of how those gut feelings relate to what actually happens. Humans are very good at persuading themselves they were right all along, so you do have to be self aware to do this.

How do you tell between anxiety and intuition? Or wishful thinking and intuition? Also, rather critically, how do you tell if your intuition is right but you’re being systematically lied to? How do you hang on to your intuition in face of gaslighting? Especially if you’re dealing with someone who is using the woo-woo as part of their tool set? What do you do if you’ve trusted someone, and that one mistake leaves you wide open to having your confidence in yourself entirely sabotaged? These are not easy things to figure out, and I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer here.

The most important thing is to keep checking in with yourself. Cross reference what you feel with what you know from other sources. Compare and contrast. How anxiety manifests in your body is likely to be different from what it’s like to have a gut feeling that something is wrong. The same goes for wishful thinking. Only if you want to avoid self-delusion will you be able to pick these things apart. There’s no helping the person who is hell bent on asserting that their intuition means things regardless of all evidence to the contrary. I’ve been in those situations too, and if someone is adamant that they know what you’re ‘really’ thinking or feeling, and won’t hear otherwise, there may be nothing you can do. It may be a case of deciding to put up with it, or deciding to quit. I honestly recommend quitting.

It’s also important to remember that you have the right to say ‘no’ in most situations without the obligation to explain exactly why you feel that way. Over-explaining can itself be an abuse legacy, or a sign of an unsafe situation. If your ‘no’ isn’t acceptable on its own, and you have to justify what is a gut feeling, and saying ‘this doesn’t feel right for me’ is not going to be a good enough excuse… you may well not be in a safe situation. If you can act on your gut feelings without having to justify yourself, it speaks well of your circumstances.

It’s ok to do that – if it works for you. Navigating life intuitively is just as workable and reasonable as trying to make evidence based decisions. We are all only ever guessing and there are always more variables than we know of. None of us can ever be totally certain about exactly how our choices will play out. Some of us do our best thinking by being as logical as possible, and some of us do our best thinking unconsciously. Some of us blend the two to good effect.

Watch out for people who try to play to your ‘intuition’ to persuade you of things that aren’t true. Conspiracy theories often depend on engaging your feelings to override your knowledge, logic and wisdom. If someone tells you that you are so intuitive that you’ll get why they are right… mistrust them.

An it harm none, do what you will – and if that means your choices look a bit irrational to other people, that’s ok. We’re not obliged to make sense to each other. Kindness is also far more important than making sense. Do what works for you.


Intuitive Magical Practice – a review

Pagan Portals - Intuitive Magic Practice

Intuitive Magical Practice by Natalia Clarke is one of those  books I had the privilege of reading long before it came out. That’s been tricky because it had a significant impact on me and I didn’t want to pre-empt the book too much by talking about that.

This is a small book that offers things you can do to bring your intuition into your practice. It’s a gentle, generous book with a lot to offer in this regard, written by someone for whom intuition is at the heart of magic. Its clear reading this book that Natalia had to work to find and reclaim her intuition, and that raised a lot of questions for me.

It seems obvious – especially after reading this book – that magic should be intuitive. It shouldn’t be entirely prescriptive of about going through someone else’s instructions. I know there are intensely prescriptive high ceremonial approaches to magic out there, but those leave me cold. There should be room for wonder, and surprise, and… well… magic.

Reading this book made me ask a lot of questions about my own relationship with intuition. When did I stop trusting it, and why? How do I feel about it now? I came to the conclusion that it was something I wanted back. Natalia’s book was really timely for me, and it set me on a path that has radically impacted on my life. During 2020 I did a number of things that were leaps of faith, based on gut feelings and intuition. I started making space in my life for intuition and started acting on it. This has had a huge impact on me.

I’ve also tested my intuition a great deal. I’ve had some challenging opportunities to explore what I might intuit, and was later blessed with feedback about how well I’d done – and it was certainly enough to have steered by, and steered well in adverse circumstances.

This book opened a door for me. It also brought a lot of uneasy questions about my past, and it was good to be able to work that through. If you’re reading this review and wondering about your own intuition, and whether you have any, and whether you could work with it, then very likely this book is for you. If it feels right, go for it.

More about the book here –  https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/moon-books/our-books/pagan-portals-intuitive-magical-practice


Trusting my intuition

I have a hard time trusting my intuition. It’s something I’ve been exploring deliberately this year. I’ve also found myself in situations where there are no other sources of information, and intuition is all I’ve had to go on. At this point I’ve come to the conclusion that I can afford to trust what I intuit.

One of the single biggest problems for me in all of this is that I suffer from anxiety. I have a powerful imagination and can come up with many ways in which a situation could go wrong. There are reasons, rooted in my history, that make it hard for me to imagine good outcomes. It is hard to trust my intuition when my anxiety is screaming ‘you’re doomed’ and my imagination is playing out all the worst case scenarios. It’s not easy to tell what is just anxiety screaming, and what might be something else.

Being an anxious person, I tend to assume that any hopeful feeling is just wishful thinking on my part. I have been in the habit of writing off any good or uplifting feelings on the basis that they must be irrational. This hasn’t been helpful.

The answer has been to make time and really sit with whatever I’m feeling. To pay attention to what fits in my habitual thoughts and what doesn’t. If I interrogate those impulses I can often tell what is just anxiety as usual happening for me. Alongside that I’m making a conscious effort not to dismiss out of hand any possibility that doesn’t lead to crushing failure, disappointment and distress. Sometimes things do work out well, and I have evidence of this. I no longer live in a situation where there is someone intent on crushing me, and I no longer need to assume the worst for my own safety.

My intuition has room for the best in other people. It has room in it for hope, and good outcomes. My intuition is much more open to trust than the rest of me. It’s a small voice, long ignored, but this year it has held up where conventional sources of insight have failed. My intuition has kept me going where otherwise I might have broken down entirely. I do not have to accept a life without hope and possibility. I can consider that better outcomes are possible. I can afford to trust existence and the universe to be neutral towards me, not actively hostile. I can trust myself, and I can stop feeling that my more hopeful impulses are naïve, self indulgent or ridiculous.


Seeing the future

One of the best tests of any information source is how well it predicts the future. This might seem obvious when thinking about divination, but it applies to all forms of knowledge. I think this is highly relevant at the moment as we have so many beliefs and opinions dominating conversations. I remember when the idea of the UK leaving the Single Market and Kent becoming a lorry park were labelled ‘project fear’ only now that seems to be happening…

Predicting the future is of course a tricksy business, and the future is full of surprises. No one really predicted this virus malarkey. However, the international vulnerability to a pandemic was known – the way we travel, the lack of joined up thinking between countries and the way we invade wild spaces where new diseases are lurking, were all known factors suggesting a particular trajectory.

The thing to watch for is how close your knowledge gets you to being able to make useful predictions. If your knowledge source doesn’t take you in roughly the right direction, what you’ve got isn’t knowledge, it’s a belief, an opinion, a fantasy. When you’re really invested in something that doesn’t match up with reality, putting it down can be really hard.

When it comes to prayer, and magic there may be other factors to consider. Are you getting what you asked for, or are you getting what you need? What time frames are you working on? Do you need more practice? In fact that practice question is pertinent across all areas – if you’re trying to study the world in a rational way to predict what will happen, that also requires skills and knowledge and it may take you time to get it right. Knowing where to push to make the changes you want is a big part of getting anything done, and that might not be apparent at first.

There’s a lot to be said for cross-referencing between different kinds of knowledge. Intuition certainly isn’t an irrational source – we take in far more information than we can consciously process, so what rises up from intuition can be a consequence of processing information. The trick is telling between intuition, wishful thinking and fear. Here again the cross referencing helps because information from other sources can clarify which is which, and over time you can build a  better sense of what is emotional reaction and what is processed information.

Misguided beliefs and opinions don’t allow us to make good predictions. The longer we hold on to  them, the more distorted our relationship with reality becomes. That means having to create ever more complicated stories to explain why what we ‘know’ and perceived reality aren’t matching up. That way lies madness. However unsettling it is to put down a belief, it can be far better to do so than to build layer upon layer of cognitive dissonance. There should be no shame in making mistakes or trying things that don’t work – the important bit is knowing when to give up on an experiment in light of the evidence it generates.


Heart Lessons

Things I have learned about myself in recent weeks, shared in case it helps someone else.

I like me most when I can love fiercely, when I overcome fear and keep my heart open.

There are a great many difficult things that I can weather, but not being sure if I am loved is unspeakably hard. Trusting people to love me, and to stay heart-open to me is one of the things I find most difficult to do. Deciding to stay heart-open has been a real challenge, but I recognise that I have a choice here and do not have to be ruled by past experiences.

I really struggle with feeling powerless. I need to accept that there’s a great deal I can’t help with. Sometimes I can’t even meaningfully offer comfort. Wanting to ease pain does not translate into being able to. Waiting while other people take their own needful journeys is hard, but waiting and witnessing is the right thing to do. I need to recognise the work that is not mine to do, and not let my own feelings get in the way of people doing their needful things.

Alongside that, I really do need to get better at expressing basic needs and asking for what is most important to me.  I don’t handle this well, and there are triggering issues around it for bonus complexity. I’m going to come back and blog about this in more detail when I’ve got a better handle on the mechanics.

I get excited about intellectual challenges, and if there aren’t enough of those of the right shape and nature, I feel sad and worn. I need to look at this because it’s one of those basic needs issues and I might do a better job around meeting it.

Falling in love with people is part of who I am. It doesn’t happen that often, but it happens. Sometimes those people love me in return, and aren’t afraid to be open and honest about that. They are my soul tribe, my most beloved ones, the people I cannot do without. If I don’t at least communicate with them fairly regularly, I struggle. I do not know who I am without them, and I find myself, my hope, my sense of direction in those closest and most important relationships. These relationships have all kinds of shapes, it’s the emotional intensity that is key for me, and what we share and exchange.

To have had a beloved fall silent for several weeks is really hard. It’s left me not knowing who I am – because I exist in a context. To be me, I need to be in relationship with my soul companions. It’s not a case of being completed, or someone else filling in the gaps in me – it is that first and foremost I exist in my interactions and in what I do, day to day. This absence has taught me a lot, and what I’ve managed to do and hold during it has opened me out in unexpected ways. I find myself doing intuition and belief as never before in my life, and these are surprising changes indeed.

One heart lesson in all of this for me is to put down the pernicious ideas about how we are all supposed to stand alone. I am a tree in a spinny, I stand because others stand with me. Tear one of us down and we are all more vulnerable to the next storm. I need roots that intertwine with other roots. I need to share my soil. I am not complete on my own because I cannot be myself entirely if I am not connecting with and sharing things with other people.


Intuition or Anxiety?

We know all kinds of things with our bodies. Even if you aren’t drawn to more magical explanations, there are some really rational things to take into account about what we know and where in our bodies we know it. We all absorb far more information than we can consciously process, and there’s increasing evidence to suggest that how and where we store that knowledge is complicated and not just a brain issue. Our bodies know things.

The anxious body has learned fear, and that fear colours what we learn. This can make it challenging to know what to do with body knowledge. How do you tell between fear and intuition? Anxiety will tell you that something awful is going to happen. The worse the anxiety is, the worse the expectations and the higher frequency at which they arrive. Suffering from anxiety made me really uneasy about trusting the idea of intuition. When fear makes you see dangers that don’t exist, it’s hard to trust any other body wisdom.

What I’ve discovered recently is that different kinds of knowing sit in my body in different ways. Anxiety sits in the muscles between my ribs, and is a heavy weight in my stomach. Anything I feel in those locations is most likely to be anxiety, not intuition.

However, if I experience something at a bone deep level, that’s intuition, and well worth taking seriously. It’s difficult to describe, but it is a feeling that is deeper in me – and has weight and substance, and solidity. Bone wisdom is substantial, and persists over time frames. The fear that lives in my muscles is tremulous and shifting, inconsistent and nearer the surface. All it has for me is the potential to be afraid, whereas what I feel in my bones includes all of the options available to a person.

I’ve been working on identifying and trusting my intuition for some months now. I’m trying to rebuild my trust in other ways of knowing, and in my own senses and at the same time to be less in thrall to my own anxiety. I’m making good progress. I’ve done some really dramatic things based on what I’ve known in my bones. Those things have gone so well, and what I’ve known has repeatedly proved true, which helps me build trust in my own intuition. What I know in my bones is worth knowing. If it’s just a fluttering, sickly surface thing then I don’t have to invest in it.


Setting Intentions

Very early on in lockdown I was struck by an intuition. This is unusual for me – or at least has been for a good 15 years. There were a powerful set of things that all turned up together and were very clear. That the most important thing to do would be to figure out my priorities, and that there were some serious curve balls coming. At first, it looked like the curve balls would be the virus impact – and we’ve certainly had our share of those. But no, there was far more to it.

I started setting intentions. I’ve talked a little bit already here about an enormous personal project to change my relationship with my face and body – that’s going well for me, although I have a way to go.

As a household, we were already planning for disruption – the lad should have been doing A Levels this summer and should be off to university in the autumn. For now we can only wait to see what happens, and roll with whatever we get. Alongside this, Tom and I were planning a move to Wales where we could afford a larger property and a garden. Lockdown has left us in no doubt that we need a garden. Having no outside space of our own has been really hard. Wales is clearly on hold for now as an idea. And then the curve ball arced across our lives and Wales is on hold as an idea for the longer term as well.

One of the intentions we’ve collectively set is that we want to create a small film studio, doing silent, black and white movies with soundtracks and practical effects. That intention holds up. The camera that is the heart of the project has been sourced. People who want to be part of it for the longer term are making themselves known. Progress is being made on the Hopeless Maine film despite everything else going on – more information on that over here if you’re curious – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/category/hopeless-film/

It’s difficult to plan anything at the moment, life is so uncertain. But it is, I am finding, a really good time for asking big questions and setting intentions. Who am I and what do I want? How do I want to live? What do I want to do in the future, who do I want to do that with and who is willing to commit to me? Who do I really need? What do I really need? Which dreams should I nurture? What wild and unlikely things should I throw myself at, wholeheartedly?

One of the gifts of this strange time, is that it does not suggest doing sensible things. There’s little point planning the ordinary, and no reason to think things will ever go back to being quite how they were. It creates a space for thinking the unthinkable, for the wildest ideas and the most inspired dreams, the craziest desire and the biggest ambitions.

By the looks of it, I was right with that feeling that I really needed to figure out my priorities. I’m going to stay vague for now, but there have been reasons to rethink everything, and those reasons are inherently good and exciting. What can be imagined from here is not what I might have imagined a couple of months ago. And if my gut feeling is to be believed, that’s all the curve balls I need to field, and from here it’s a case of working out how to turn dreams into reality.


Working with intuition

We take in far more information than we can consciously process. As a result, the impressions that turn up as gut feelings, or intuition may well be perfectly rational – they are arising from things we know but have not consciously considered. Information from what we can smell, or the experience of touch, from nuances of tone and body language can all influence us without being consciously considered.

Intuition is however, a tricksy thing. It gets tangled up all too easily with our hopes and fears, distorted by how we want things to be, and knotted up by misinformation. If your gut feeling tells you one thing, and the person it relates to you is lying to you, things can get confusing.

People often mislead us. Sometimes with malicious intent. Sometimes because they aren’t paying attention, or don’t trust us, or don’t know themselves well enough to report accurately. People change, and the truth they shared yesterday can be out of date now. It is an important question to ask – when do we trust the gut feeling in face of clear feedback that we are wrong? Are we really wrong? Are we a bit off the mark? Are we being lied to? There’s often no way to tell.

Even if you can see something with perfect clarity, it’s not always informative about what will happen. You might see a person’s capacity to heal and move on, but it doesn’t mean they’ll take that path. You might correctly intuitively grasp that a person is in love with you, but they may deny it to their last breath even so.

Intuition that is at odds with other kinds of perception isn’t necessarily wrong. It may be coloured by the fears and desires of another person. We may be seeing possibilities that will never manifest. I think where intuition can be held as possibility, there’s plenty of scope for working with it. Problems arise when we cling too tightly to what we think we know and don’t allow space for other interpretations to emerge.


Light, mist and intuition

Walking across the hills on Christmas day, the light was unusual. There was a thin mist or low cloud, with the sun coming up. The light was diffuse. Everything around me seemed quite colour intense while things further away had a washed out quality. There weren’t many shadows, and what there was served to emphasise what was nearest. This kind of lighting creates a strange, otherworldly feel.

What struck me, was this is how I’ve been colouring Hopeless Maine landscapes since the autumn. When I made the decision to approach colouring this way, it was about what I thought would work for the storytelling, and what I could consistently do. When it comes to conscious thinking, I have a really poor visual memory. Unless I concentrate on something, I won’t consciously remember what it looks like. However, I’ve clearly seen that misty light effect before. Some part of me probably knew and remembered.

For me this is an example of how apparently magical intuition often isn’t so inexplicable after all. We take in so much data, we can’t process all of it consciously. What comes in unconsciously will act upon us without our knowing it. This is part of how our environments shape us. When it happens this way, it is a blessing. We turn out to know more than we thought we did, we have inner reserves of wisdom and experience to draw on that come out as a feeling or an idea, not something we can immediately explain and evidence.

However, what else gets in, to inform our feelings and shape our responses? It depends a lot on what we expose ourselves to.