I am about to eat my last meal for the next four days. It’s not as drastic as it might sound to you. I’ve done this many times before.
Four-day fasts were a regular part of life in my early thirties. For a few years I did them almost every quarter. At the time, my girlfriend (now my wife and the mother of five of my children) often fasted with me, which lent a certain moral support. Other times I would just drop out of social life and spend four days by myself, hanging out in my apartment and taking daily walks in the park on Margret Island. It’s amazing how quiet the inner dialogue can get in the later days of a fast.
For people who’ve never done it before, it seems like it would be torture. But it’s not, at least not the way you would think it is. My first couple of fasts I suffered from awful headaches and weakness, but reading up on the proper techniques mostly eliminated those complications. The main trick is to empty your bowels. Anywhere else I might shy away from the gory details, but this is a magic blog, and anyone reading this should be able to deal with the nitty-gritty without flinching. You can empty your colon either with an enema or by purging with a dose of Epsom salts dissolved in warm water. I can’t abide by the taste of Epsom salts, and I don’t really like the idea of taking them internally, so I go the enema route. Once you get over the initial squeamishness and learn how to use the equipment, the process is not much more hassle than, say, giving yourself a pedicure. And anytime during the fast that you feel a headache coming on, or you’re just not feeling well, an enema clears it right up. The other trick is drinking diluted vegetable juice and not fruit juice during the fast. It maintains the proper pH in your system. Becoming too acidic doesn’t feel good.
Once your colon is empty, oddly, you have no more sensation of hunger. The idea of food is appealing, in an abstract sort of way, but you no longer have the physical craving. Your digestive system then goes into reverse: rather than absorbing nutrients, the entire length of your intestines begins shedding waste materials and toxins (which is why the occasional enema helps, when they begin accumulating). Actually, every part of your body begins shedding waste and toxins. You need to scrub your skin when you shower and scrape your tongue at bedtime and in the morning.
But that’s just the physical part. Then there’s the mental and spiritual part. People, admittedly, are different. People who don’t really concern themselves with spiritual matters don’t really seem to notice much. They can go through life in an ordinary way during a fast. My mother-in-law, for instance, who learned about fasting from my wife and me, is a veteran faster. She can carry on like normal during a fast.
Not me. I get very introverted. I’ve tried fasting and going to work, but I just spent the entire day thinking “I can’t wait to go home and think about other things.” It’s not pleasant. And not very spiritual. I learned my lesson. After trying that once or twice I didn’t try again. Fasting and work don’t mix in my life. I need a minimum of solitude when I fast.
Because of my professional life and having kids, the opportunity to fast got rare, and my wife has been breastfeeding for the better part of the last 16 years. You can’t fast and breastfeed because the toxins come out in the milk. So, it’s been at least ten years since my last fast.
But my body’s been calling for it for months. I knew I’d have to take advantage of the first waning moon during the first decent warm spell of spring. And here I am.
If you go by Uncle Al’s definition of magic, fasting is an effective piece of magic. It brings on change in accordance with will, very effectively. I always feels healthier and more clear-minded after a fast, and I always manage to sort things out that I’d been having troubles getting straight in my head. And I manage to reach some very deep states of consciousness.
I have big hopes for this fast. If you want to follow my random thoughts as I come unmoored from ordinary consciousness for the next few days, I’ll be tweeting it at “at” TheoHuffman.