This year has been filled with extraordinary growth, success, maturity, and so much blossoming that I feel more assured of my future than ever before.

It has also harbored some of the most difficult underworld journeying I have ever undertaken.

All that time I spent these past several years in the aridity of lone devotion wondering why my path felt so unending and arduous? Yeah, I could not have done what I’m doing now with any less training.

I’m choosing this, not only because it feels like dharma, but also because every discernible sign – not just internal felt guidance but also objectively interpretable divination – has told me that this path eventually leads to my ultimate highest good, even if it’s a bit of an adventure getting there. So you can understand my need to commit to my curiosity. I choose the timeline where I give this my best shot instead of the timeline where I settle for “manifesting” something easier and always wondering what would have happened if I’d tried. I didn’t start practicing magick only to disbelieve what it’s telling me.

And I’m not unaware that it’s strengthening me, calling me into deeper trust, deeper embodiment, and more personal power than I’ve had occasion to experience before.

I’ve had so many events this year that felt exactly like ceremony, including all its nausea, all its ruthlessness on my physical body, the shattering of multiple realities, the horrific open-eyed reprocessing of trauma, and then also the grace, the opportunity to meet it all with unconditional love, the practice of compassion even in the most challenging circumstances, and the holiness of landing on the other side, making it through and feeling yourself literally transform into a more evolved being overnight. After a reality shatters, there’s just another reality that unfolds from there, and the more you get used to it the easier it gets.

This is so tangible that one such experience last week even left me with a startlingly improved singing voice the day after, just as ceremony used to do. My posture improved. I don’t fully understand how this is happening, I’m just feeling and noticing it.

So I can’t say there isn’t also a part of me that is enjoying seeing who I’m becoming through this. If I weren’t choosing this, it’s possible I might never really know the full depths of my abilities. I am stunned at my own genius – I have solved expert-level puzzles in record time this year, I have been slaying advanced player settings left and right. I knew I was smart and capable, but holy hell. (Literally.)

Of course I’ve also spent nights bawling at my altar, begging for help and guidance. I’ve prayed novenas that I may intuitively take every step in alignment with the highest and smoothest timeline. I pull a spread after every significant incident on this path, asking “what is the best possible way for events to unfold next?” – and every time the spread lines up perfectly with what happens, even if what happens ends up being nightmarish in ways I can’t possibly understand the purpose of from my limited human perspective.

I really don’t want any expressions of concern. I understand they’re well-intentioned but it does not feel like the appropriate response. I’m not open to receiving pity around difficulty that I am purposely choosing. Some folks are well equipped to walk through the darkness, and thank god, because there are always going to be those who need someone to navigate it with them so they can find their way out. The real proper response here is a thank you, if we’re being honest.

I find myself sometimes feeling a tiny resentment around the fact that I could have a lot more to show for myself on social media if I took the easy way out. Especially when so many coaches and programs tout so much superficial “manifestation,” chock full of profitable but empty entrepreneurship, showy success flags, relationships I wouldn’t want to be in. I feel like there are probably folks out there who regard me as less skilled because I haven’t chosen to achieve those things, as if my choice not to attain what I don’t want means I’m incapable of it. That might be a story I’m telling myself out of insecurity but it’s a safe assumption given much of society’s values.

There’s so much out there these days encouraging people to steer clear of anything hard, anything painful, to cut out anything “toxic” (as if toxicity is not bred in trauma, which is best met with compassion). “It’s not supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to be easy, if it’s not easy it’s not right for you,” etc etc. We have demonized difficulty.

So I’m taking a stand in praise of it.

I believe in the beauty and the merit of ordeal, of forging oneself in the fire, of walking into the burning building – instead of always needing the comfort of ease, which can easily become a front for avoidance and laziness – because this world needs warriors who can do the hard work from a place of mastery. I am not martyring myself, to be clear. Self-sacrifice isn’t a helpful energy. I am strengthening myself through ordeal, because that’s what I’ve been told is my highest path.

Who I’m becoming – who I’ve already learned I am – is worth it.