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Wrong Sign? Or, How I Became the Oracle – Part 3

October 21, 2016
Kees Van Dongen - Marcelle Leoni Ponchettes

Kees Van Dongen. “Marcelle Leoni Ponchettes.” 1959.

So, if you’re just tuning in, I was describing my time in Amsterdam at 20 years old. Broke, friendless, in the freezing cold, with the school that I’d gone there to attend boarded up and empty. I didn’t know it then, but I was about to begin a crash course in magic.

My magical apprenticeship was going to teach me how to harness my desire…

…triggering powerful signs and magical coincidences to help me…

…get a steaming pile of frustration and suffering.

Why is that a magical apprenticeship?

Because I was learning that my intentions mattered. Not just the ones I was aware of. All of them. Even the hidden ones.

So, there I was…

I’d managed to get free rent at my youth hostel, but I still needed more money. Stripping was out in Amsterdam. Everything was too available. In the Red Light District, prostitutes sat behind street windows like sad cats at a pornographic Petsmart. I didn’t want to go there.

The only jobs available to foreigners like me were in the “coffeeshops” where they sold weak tea, drip coffee, and super strong purple skunk. I wasn’t much of a pot smoker, but I was willing to do what I needed to do.

Bullying my way through the icy wind I was rejected for employment at 70 coffeeshops. At the 71st, I got the job.

I became a barista at a Rastafarian bar called De Oude Kerk (the Old Church).

The clientele was divided 70/30 into two camps: Surinamese drug dealers who liked to smoke weak weed, chill, and argue about Reggae; and Western European and American tourists determined to get as high as possible in the shortest amount of time.

I worked mornings at the youth hostel, and afternoons at the coffeeshop. No time to get anything I needed. While I was there, I received several “gifts” from the Universe:

  • I needed a bike, but had neither the time nor the money to go get one. As I stood behind the counter telling Lion, a Rastafarian who busked the Rembrandtplein, that I needed a bike, a dude walked into the coffeeshop and offered to sell me a bike for 10 gilders. (He was probably a junkie who’d stolen the bike, but hey, the Goddess works in mysterious ways).
  • I needed a new place to live, but didn’t know where to look. I told another client at De Oude Kirk that I was looking for a room to rent, and as I told him this, another GUY WALKED IN AND ASKED IF ANYONE NEEDED A ROOM.

What was especially weird about the room situation was that the day before, I had been practicing a form of magic called automatic writing to try and figure out where I should live. Mostly I just got scribbling, and one word, over and over again: “Clifton.” I had no idea what Clifton meant.

The last name of the guy offering the room for rent?


I took the room.

Thing was, I later learned that Clifton was kind of dodgy. He wore gold chains and was always trying to sell me television sets and radios that he “happened to have” lying around.

The room itself was actually in an abandoned housing project in the Eastern part of town that Clifton had somehow taken over and was charging for.

But after months and months in dorm-style youth hostels, I was happy to have my own apartment. Even though the door only locked on a chain from the inside – couldn’t lock it when I went out…

…And across the hall there was a man who beat his girlfriend. Once I came home to find a hole punched through their door…

…And there wasn’t any toilet. I had to dump my pee in a sink in the hall.

…And there wasn’t any heat. It was 20 below zero outside. If I dropped my key while trying to enter the building from the street, I wouldn’t be able to pick it up again because my fingers would be too cold to bend.

To sleep, I’d pile up everything I had on top of my mattress, coats, shirts, hats, paper, plastic bags, pillows, and then sleep BENEATH my mattress to keep warm.

But it didn’t work.

The glands in my neck were swollen to the size of golf balls from shivering all night.

And I knew I had to move when one night I peed in a jar next to my bed and when I woke up the next morning it was frozen solid. I couldn’t even dump my pee down the sink anymore.

But I didn’t have anywhere else to go.

That was right around New Year. I went to the Leidseplein, the city’s central square, for the New Years festivities. Alone, terrified, tears freezing on my cheeks, I watched all these happy people in warm jackets and wooly hats dancing in fat dollops of snow, kissing each other and blowing kazoos.

I was ready to throw myself in one of the canals – but like my pee, they were frozen solid too.

As a last ditch effort, I prayed. “Please, please, God, Goddess, Universe, Powers That Be. Please send me someone to tell me they love me, and let me sleep in a warm bed, in warm arms, even if it’s just for one night.”

The next afternoon I was in a café, slurping cheap soup, starring into the whirls of gray snow outside the window. When who should walk by but…

…my drug dealer ex girlfriend, L.

I hadn’t seen, nor even talked to L. for six months. Last time I saw her it was in San Francisco. She didn’t know where I was. No one did. But there she was. Staying in Amsterdam. In a five-star hotel, for the next two nights until she was scheduled to fly back to America.

How could I not think that was a sign?

But I’d had lots of signs!

Signs that told me to go to Amsterdam where I froze in the cold and cried myself to sleep every night.

Signs that told me to get apartments without toilets or heat in arctic temperatures.

Signs that told me to run out and grab my ex girlfriend even though I was terrified of her, and we fought like crazy, and there always seemed to be an aura of recklessness and danger about her. (I’ll tell you the motorcycle story some other time).

Why were my signs always pointing me in the direction of suffering and squalor?

All I wanted was to dance. What kind of sick joke was the Universe trying to pull that every sign I received seemed to be a grand battement (a big French kick) to my face?

Well, now I know.

My signs weren’t taking me deeper into the life of a dancer. They were taking me deeper into the life of a… Liver? Not the organ that purifies blood kind of liver. No, I mean, “One Who Lives.” Passionately. Ardently. With full force.

And the thing is…

…I had written that very thing, that I wanted to be a Liver, in my journal, for YEARS.

Remember that whole thing a few emails back about Dead Poet’s Society and wanting to suck the marrow out of life?

I wanted that. I had been casting serious spells for that, unintentionally, but EFFECTIVELY, for a long time.

Essentially, what I was doing was creating contracts. And the Goddess, in her generosity, was fulfilling them.

I wouldn’t have been sucking the marrow out of life NEARLY as much if I had been cozied up in a hotel room paid for by my parent’s credit card.

Thing was, I DID NOT ENJOY being a Liver. It felt like a punishment.

If I could’ve figured out how to break those contracts at that point, I would have. But it took me many years to learn.

Now I know. First step to breaking a contract? Start by acknowledging that it’s there.

For instance, let’s say when you’re lying in bed at night worrying, you think to yourself, mantra style, “All I want is to be safe, all I want is to be safe.” But then during your waking hours, you tell yourself, “All I want is a relationship, all I want is a relationship.”

Well, guess what’s not safe?

Relationships!! All relationships contain serious risk. The more you love, the more you risk. The stakes get higher as you put more in.

So step one is to acknowledge that your desires are ambiguous. Then you’ve got something to work with.

In love with la vida loca,



I’m willing to bet that you have a few contracts that feel like curses too. If you want to learn how to clear those contracts, sign up for my mailing list because my upcoming online course “Power Magic” teaches you how to do just that, and much more! Enrollment starts November 29th and ends December 7th.


Stay tuned for the next episode of “How I Became The Oracle” where I start to put my magical apprenticeship in spiritual contracts to use, AND get bonus classes in failure… and luck!

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