The Source - a manual of everyday magic - publication date March 2011 USA, UK, France and Italy

This blog is about how I allowed magic to enter my life and learned to embrace my Inner Witch. Here I will share the ways in which you can too - if you choose to live magically.

Join with me and others as we journey towards the Source of magic together.

14 Sep 2010

New Home

The Book of Light and Shadow has moved to a new home. You can now find me at

You can also find me on Twitter @ursulajames

29 Aug 2010

Orphaned by Alzheimer's Disease

On the day I married, I took my father's arm for him to walk me down the aisle. He paused, looked deep into my eyes and said, "I have a daughter, you know. She isn't here, though."

The diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease happened two years later, but we had all known that there was something wrong for quite a while. In some ways, his disconnection from the family and the rest of the world was an extension of the way he had always been. My father had served in the second World War and I for one believed that his mind had never returned.  He had a way of closing himself off from people, and from high emotions especially. I learned not to expect love from him in a conventional way. My mother tells me that he loved me dearly as a small child, but sadly I have no memory of these times.

When the memories that make up your relationship with another individual are gone, where does that leave you? When the illness is of the mind you are not free to mourn as the body they inhabit still lives - after a fashion.

No-one can teach you how to react when this happens to someone you love. I can only tell you that I learned to deal with it through rituals of remembrance and love.

A ritual of remembrance

Take a pure white candle, and place a memento of the person with whom you wish to connect. A photograph works well. Meditate on the memento. Hold it in your hands. Tell that person how much they mean to you, and allow your thoughts to carry those emotions over to the flame. Spend time remembering any good moments you can. When you have finished, extinguish the flame. Put the candle away safely. When, at some later time, you have an encounter with that person and you feel sad, dim all other lights and light up the candle once more.  Let the light from the candle remind you of the emotions you once shared together. You can grieve here. The flame will absorb your tears and your sadness, and give you strength to carry on.

"I am not my memories. I am my dreams.” - Terry Hostetler

26 Aug 2010

Mind expanding trances

Back in London, and back in the laboratory working on my PhD. 

I enjoy the repetitive, methodical nature of this work. I enjoy the people too. People who are enthusiastic, people who are interested, people who are (how do I put this?), more than a little obsessive. 

I like that. I recognise this obsessiveness as part of my character, and because of this I value my time of being around people who can get so completely engrossed in what they are doing that time itself loses all meaning. 

When you are doing something you love, you are able to create a whole world for yourself. A world in which all things are possible, and your mind can roam freely to solve problems. This is where the connections between conscious and unconscious processing can move around most freely. This is the place where dreams are made reality.

Trances for expanding your mind

First thing in the morning, before you are fully awake, focus on your breathing and, with your eyes closed, walk yourself through the day to come. Allow wonderful encounters and solutions to be part of this hypnopompic state. In doing so you open up your mind to make these events happen. How? By pre-experiencing events in this state you open up your senses to catch moments - to see, hear and feel what it is to have this event happen to you.

Go ahead, punk. Make your day.


24 Aug 2010

Pre-sleep trance states

It is so easy to drift through the day, and suddenly find yourself at the end of it wondering what happened. Another day gone by filled with business and busyness. It is too easy to let the days slip through your fingers without appreciating what is happening and what you are doing.

A trance to appreciate the Now

Access to true magic involves rites, rituals and trances.

Before you go to sleep at night, reappraise your day. Do it with the understanding that things which are past cannot now hurt you unless you choose to give them space in your thoughts. By using pre-sleep trance you can ease yourself into a peaceful sleep without the baggage of frustration and irritation.

The simplest way to do this is to count yourself into sleep with the numbers 100 to zero. Use your out breath to time the numbers, and to help focus your mind as you do. When you reach zero, imagine you are alone on a beach. You walk along the shore and each time you think of something which bothered you in the day you pick up a pebble from the shore and throw it as hard as you can into the waves. Each time you do, you allow your unconscious mind to carry away the problem, and deal with it in your sleep without troubling your dreams. Continue to do this until you are ready for sleep. This will occur naturally and you will sleep deeply and well.

Cultivate the skill of trance. In it you will discover your true magic.

22 Aug 2010

Our desire to mimic those around us

We are creatures of habit. Most have their uses, but many need reappraisal when we are in a process of change. It is too easy to fall into the habits of those around us in order to conform. Research demonstrates that if you hang around people who are lazy and overweight - you move towards the group. Spend time with people who think positively and work hard, and you become more like them. 

We are programmed to conform to our surroundings - to mimic those around us. It makes us feel safe and secure. It also discourages you from thinking too hard or too much about whether this way of living is as you want it to be. Walking through a park yesterday I came across an exit with a closed gate. A couple were standing in the park staring at a map to look for another exit. Another couple walked towards the gate and, seeing the first couple standing there, simply assumed that the gate must be locked and walked away. My companion walked up to the gate and tried it, found it open and walked through it at which point the first couple laughed in an embarrassed way and followed us out of the park. How easy it is to just do what others around you are doing - and worse still - to assume that other people must know more than you.

In order to become truly magical, spend time with others who think magically. If you cannot access them in person, use the web to connect. Your access to living the life which you want is here if you want it. Think for yourself. Maybe you actually know more than those around you.

The door is open. WIll you step through?