Juggling Spirituality is Hard at the Moment

I’m going to admit something I have kept a secret for a long time: I’m struggling at university and struggling spiritually. I have left the odd hints here and there about how busy I am, and how unconfident I am of late. University is an experience unlike anything I had hoped to experience, but it has also taught me how to organise my life more effectively. My problem is juggling it all, and the fact that writing academically has knocked my confidence so much that I cannot bring myself to write anything or upload new content. It has been quite the struggle even though I try to stay positive in/with the things I do publish. I am a nutty kind of person, dealing with general mental issues and trying to learn how to socialise. At the moment it’s all rather too much but I am trying to hold it all together the best I can.


As some of you know I’m a second year university student studying English literature which combines history, philosophy, weird algebra styled formulas, basic linguistics, tons of research, writing and reading. I love the course, on paper. I love attending my lectures, seminars and workshops. I also really love the teaching style from some of my lecturers, who are very inspiring and incredibly helpful. Starting the second year I knew it was going to be harder, and a lot was going to be considered as far as timetabling, scheduling and keeping up with the reading lists each week. I had to prioritise how and what I was going to study, and how to write effective essays. I hadn’t banked on how difficult academic writing was going to be but I have been learning all kinds of tips along the way. The annoying thing is coming to the realisation and acceptance that the one talent I had held onto and honed in on was my writing and I was proven to be awful at it. Being shown and told that I don’t know how to write has been heart-breaking and causing a lot of anxiety for me. I’m not sure how or what I’m missing but I wish I could flick a switch and be truly amazing.


I’ve had to start all over again which has meant that my detailed journal entries in my book of conjurations has dwindled. I make sure to write every week without fail, but I don’t go into detail in fear that I’ll not understand my own thoughts later on when I do my six monthly catch up. I do however try to remain positive in my thinking and my actions. Every act is an act of magick after all, so retraining my mind has been the most important thing for me right now. I make sure to pull tarot cards a few times a week, and I meditate at least once and I’ve even started seeing my exercise routines to be a form of magick – diet and exercise is key to maintaining a healthy temple. I know that sounds weird but I’ve never been one who leads two lives. A lot of magick practitioners do lead two lives and that is fine, but for me I like knowing that anything I do, read, watch or take part in is a form of spiritual education or attainment. I allow myself to see magick everywhere, but in doing so I also allow myself to be human in times when the world feels shaky or when the ground is crumbling beneath my feet.


Juggling a spiritual life has been something I’ve worked hard at for a long, long time. It has also been my own thing, in the sense that it was something I created and it suited me. I’ve spent so long being solitary, and a slightly shorter time hearing about and learning from other magick practitioners, and it has been great. I’ve built up a world that was indestructible and fit me and my understanding of the world perfectly. Of late I haven’t been able to talk to other like-minded individuals, and the ones I have tried to have a general chat with are equally as busy so I retreat into my shell and don’t bother. There have been a few folks however who get access to who I am offline and they have shaken up my world so much that I no longer feel confident in the things I had spent so much time and effort building for myself. Just like my writing they don’t see how pushing me here and prodding me there is causing even more of a rift. I feel as though I’m being told what to do instead of just being accepted and left to my own devices. I’ve always been an inquisitive person, but I could never learn to do the things I did if I wasn’t given a chance, and at the same time I would never dream of trying to change someone else’s path unless they were genuinely doing something wrong or harmful to themselves or other people. I’m again crippled and at a loss. Do I continue to trust myself as I have done for so long, or do I learn not to for the sake of being accepted and moulded into something else? How do I cope with it all?


I don’t have an awful lot of time, especially as I thought I’d try to be clever and get as much reading done as possible during term 1. The workload is hefty and somehow, each week I manage to complete everything. I cram daily and on average manage a good 5 hours sleep. The unfortunate thing is knowing my daily rituals have lacked so much. I know I have stressed in the past that something like Liber Resh takes 5 minutes, but back then I didn’t realise how long 5 minutes can be. During my first year I was able to do Resh easily, but this year it has been very bad and I accept that. Our average reading time each week is 40 hours, minus research time and classes, so assuming I can just fit certain tasks into particular hours is impossible. One novel for one of my classes will take an average of 12 hours to read fully and I can’t slot that into “Wednesday reading”, times that by 2 for the remaining 3 classes. Do you see my issue?


I just know I’ll be back on track after my graduation in 2016. For now, it is merely a case of juggling the tiny bit of a spiritual life that I have, university workloads and trying to maintain my sanity. Not being able to do the one thing I held so dearly has caused so much secret anguish, terror and anxiety that it is holding me back. I’m not yet sure what to do, and people know I don’t talk about my problems. The negativity, the loneliness, the stress and those annoying colourful ideas that cross my mind demanding my attention stop me in my tracks. When I do grab the odd few minutes outside of studying and spiritual practice I like to do general human things and upload random selfies (which many have complained about, but I won’t stop because I do those pictures for me and my incredibly low self-esteem, which actually is healing my mind a little), cook a few times a week, squeeze in a couple newspaper articles or Tumblr and Tweet things I find interesting. To me this all makes me feel happy, and that happiness gives me the little push I need to get up and study a little more. I’m struggling hard for something major goal in the future; I don’t know what it will be but I want something I can say I worked hard by myself to attain, something that cannot be taken from me, something of my own doing.


Will I look back on my life and be proud of myself? Yes. Would I be able to remember the times of boredom that struck when I had successfully completed essays or copious amounts of research? Yes. Social life? Nope, I’m not one for socialising as I genuinely don’t know how to be sociable and likeable.  I’m in a weird place at the moment. I will try and get back on track at some unknown point, but for now I will have to allow myself to be a regular, not-so-magickal human for a while.


Fingers crossed, Sy

93, 93/93

'8 Mile' - Life is a struggle

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Day 1 | University Early Bird

I’m not sure how often I’ll blog about my experience, but it’s worth noting how I feel in the hope that someone may find my future advice worthwhile. I also hope my little adventures will end up as random vlogs on my rather dead channel, HarlequinDays, or Sylva Calaelen (according to Google). At the moment this post is just a list of stuff I did, in order to remember. After a week I should be able to go into more details – on my other blog. Today is Day 4, and I am sitting here with a terrible headache, due to waking up too early.

Day 1

Friday 20th September

Arrived, safe and well. My mum, aunt and younger siblings came with me, but before any of the help got into action my aunt decided to start screaming for no reason (actually she kept knocking on all the wrong doors, and blamed me). Mum, whom I inherit my anxiety from, kept panicking over little things. First it was my new storage boxes, “What are you putting in these?!” Then it was the mattress on the bed, “Clean it with your wipes! It’s so small… oh dear… So small!”, at which point I had to remind her it was a single bed, but alas she was worried about when I have a guest to stay at weekend. “How is he going to fit? You said he was tall!” she yelped about 15 times, all whilst ripping off plastic and sorting my beauty supplies, and shouting for the babes to stop play fighting. I just went quiet – I’m telling you, if I could show you all how red my face felt at that moment… Then, without pause she swiftly moved onto the next small issue; hangers.

Within two hours I was unpacked, and only had a few items to store away. I had Hamlet playing on the TV to keep the children quiet, and they seemed to quite like it. I also noticed mum leaning on the windowsill trying hard to understand Shakespearian language (modern English folks, without the modern slang). This meant I could connect machines and have one ear free for my aunt to continue moaning about old age stuff. Halfway through Act 1 Scene 3 (when Laertes and Ophelia are having their lovely familial chat and gossiping session, before Daddy returns to make everything super awkward) it was time for them all to leave. Note, up until this point in my new chapter I hadn’t felt a thing. Not much excitement. I gave them small awkward cuddles, but saved the best hugs for my younger siblings – still, nothing. Mum couldn’t stop hugging me, which was strange because for anyone who knew us they know we don’t do hugs, let alone show affection to one another. I’m her servant when she needs one, and she’s just my anxiety inducing trigger.

I made sure to find the local corner shop, which is actually attached to my halls of residence. I also made note of a taxi numbers, and the location of shopping centres I may need on Google Maps. I pulled out my reading list for the first term and remembered I still had quite a few titles to get a hold of. If any of you have a Waterstones shop near you, make sure to reserve books online! Most shops do click ‘n reserve anyway, but believe me it saves you the hassle when you’re away in a new place. I put on season three of ‘Boardwalk Empire’, cooked up some mini pizzas and took my multivitamins. It was getting quiet. I live in a flat with four other girls and all we share is the kitchen and living room. That day, it was just me and one other girl.

I had too much stuff! Loads of cleaning products – bleach etc. Tons of loo roll, toothpaste, kitchen towels, plastic bags, sheets etc to last me a year – or the aftermath of a random nuclear war. I made sure to get everything I needed in bulk before arriving, to save me the hassle of buying them in smaller quantities for more money. I’m going to be broke, but for a reason this time. Later on, after watching the super-hot gangster Gyp Rosetti use a barmaid to shield himself from shots being fired (naked), there was a knock at my door. When I opened it, there stood a rather fashionable creature with big bold eyes. With a nervous and timid voice she told me, “I’m going back home, but I’ll be back on Sunday. Nice to meet you by the way.” Just like that, she vanished through the crack in the door. I looked around the corridor and then the sinking feeling sank in – I was alone. On my own. Oh my Buddha…

I sat on my bed and continued to watch gangsters kill each other, and smiled at the lovely Mr Sleater every time he appeared on screen (He looks like Mr Vamp, a little, for those of you demanding to know what he looks like, and he sounds the same). I just preoccupied myself by reading one of the titles I’m supposed to study, and talking to Mr Vamp. The initial fears of talking to other students kept me in my room for another 24 hours. I just studied, did my rituals and talked with Mr Vamp. I set up the simplest Thelemic altar I could find space for, and then I felt fine. I was settling in a little bit, and that was enough to fall asleep.


Tips I Value So Far:

  • Reserve stuff online to pick up during Fresher’s Week.
  • Get tickets and be prepared to meet other nervous people.
  • There is nothing wrong with bringing 50 toilet rolls.
  • Make sure to try and have one or two coloured collections of clothing and bedding so you don’t have to pay too much for laundry.
  • Look up places you’ll need to visit on a map of some kind, like shopping centres/individual shops, places to eat, food superstores and make note of the entire campus and the location of the SU Bar. Luckily for us, most universities use social networks so the university reps will be able to help you out on closed groups, or official pages.
  • EVERYONE IS NERVOUS; though some have friends or family attending the same university as you, so they may not hang out with you. Just take a deep breath and jump.


Thanks! Day 2 and 3 will come tomorrow!