When To Teach

August 8, 2010

A few months ago Mr Miller put up a post on his blog about when to teach magic. And I agree with what he said in his post, a twenty year old is probably not ready to teach magic. The question has been stuck in my mind all of this time though because I’ve seen so many horrible teachers and classes over the years. I’ve seen people teach classes on subjects they have no experience with using material they printed off the Internet earlier in the day and hadn’t even bothered to read prior to the class. I’ve seen people attend a weekly class for the sole purpose of reteaching the information to their own students while they were still attending the class.

In magic there are actually two different definitions of the word teacher. There is a spiritual mentor. This is a person that has a very close bond and relationship with a student for a period of time, and they specifically guide the student through their current issues and problems in order to get them to the next stage of their spiritual development. Although this type of teacher doesn’t typically remain in the student’s life for very long, the amount of time the teaching takes is indefinite. The teacher remains and teaches the student until the teaching is done. Likewise they don’t follow specific lesson plans. The teacher teaches the student exactly what they need to know. It should be noted that this type of teacher, if they are real, will never charge for their services or expect anything in return from the student.

The second definition is more akin to the type of teacher we see in school or college. It is a person who is teaching a particular subject, technique, or spiritual system to another individual or group of people. Sometimes these classes are taught in a few hours time. Other times they consist of multiple classes over a period of months or even years. Sometimes they are done online as correspondent courses. These classes are sometimes taught to members of a particular group, such as a coven leader teaching other members of the coven. Usually these classes follow a lesson plan or at least some sort of structured system. Sometimes the teacher charges students to take the class.

In the first instance it isn’t too hard to tell when you’re ready to teach. When a student is brought to you, and you instinctively know they are your student, and they instinctively know you are their teacher, and you instinctively know it’s the right time to teach them, that’s when you’re ready to be a teacher. The universe is going to do all of the work and bring to you the students who will get the most out of being taught by you when they need you the most.

It’s the second definition that people have trouble with. Personally I blame a failing system of lower education. Too many people graduate high school without any idea of what a real teacher is or what they’re supposed to do. In high school we see teachers as people who are rarely experts in their field that parrot information they learned in college and rely on special books filled with all of the answers to teach their class.

This is not what a teacher is. Teaching is not about giving someone information. Teaching is about explaining something to someone else and helping them understand it. There is a big difference between these two things. It is not enough to be taught the information and even have it memorized. It’s not enough to just have the information to give to a student.

To be a teacher you really need four things. You must have an intimate and expert understanding of the subject matter. You must be able to explain things well. You need to have proper understanding and respect for your students. And you need to project the proper image.

An intimate and expert understanding of the subject matter:

Notice how I said understanding and not knowledge. It’s not enough to know the material. You have to understand it. You have to completely understand it. You have to understand how everything works and operates and be able to develop the information on your own.

No matter how much you learn and study, no matter how much of an expert you are, you’ll never know everything there is to know about a subject. There’s always going to be something else there to learn. So what happens when a student asks you a question and you don’t know the answer? You figure out what the correct answer is. You don’t have to know everything to teach a subject, but you need to know the subject well enough to find the correct answer.

For instance I maybe know the correspondences for about twenty to thirty different herbs. Those are the herbs that either I use a lot, or ones like Belladonna that are so unique that they’ve stuck in my head. Now I don’t do much herbalism and I don’t consider myself qualified to teach more than an introductory course on herbalism, but if someone asked me the properties of a particular plant and gave me a day, I could figure it out. And I don’t mean I would look it up in Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and tell them what he wrote. Yes I would look at what Cunningham wrote. I’d also look up the mythologies and folklore of the herb. I’d look up medicinal and biological information about the herb. I’d look up what it’s used for. I’d channel, I’d work with a bit of the herb if I could find some, and I’d meditate on it. And after less than an hour’s worth of work I’d find the answer. It’s not a big deal.

You have to remember too that eventually you’ll get a student that is smarter than you. And they’ll come up with ideas and questions that you would never even imagine. You will not be able to teach that person anything unless you understand the subject matter.

And to be honest, most teacher’s are stumped by the intellect of a five year old. The most common question that I’ve seen stump teachers is “why?” They tell the student something, and the student asks why, and they don’t have an answer.

You’re teaching a class on herbalism. A student asks you what are the herbal properties of Raspberries. You tell the student that they are used for protecting your house, to induce love, and to alleviate the pains of pregnancy (these are the uses given in Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs pg 186). The student then asks you why raspberries have those metaphysical properties. “Because Cunningham says so” is not a proper answer for a teacher. In order to teach a class on herbalism you need to be able to understand why certain herbs have certain properties.

The second most common question that stumps a teacher is when the student figures out a contradiction. If you are teaching something from a text that you got from a book, that you got online, or someone else’s lesson plan, I can almost guarantee that there are contradictions within that one work. If you are combining more than one work by different authors together, I can positively guarantee you that there are contradictions. A lot of older students may be too stupid, bored, or scared to point it out, but if there is a twelve year old taking your class, I can also guarantee you that they will notice the contradiction and point it out to you and want you to explain it. This is the thing that twelve year olds do.

If it’s someone else’s information that you don’t understand, you won’t be able to figure out the contradiction. You won’t be able to figure out which part of the information is correct or incorrect, or be able to see that both are actually correct because there is some third piece of information that isn’t being considered.

And also, if you’re just telling your students the correct answer you’re a bad teacher. A good teacher doesn’t just give their students the correct answers. A good teacher teaches their students how to find the correct answers. Teaching someone how to go about finding the correct answers to any question they may ever have is infinitely more valuable than telling them the answer to a single question. The only way you can teach someone that though is if you actually know how to find the correct answers.

Be able to explain things well:

It’s not enough to just give people the information. After all, anybody can open up a book or read a page off the Internet. If you have your own personal information you’ve developed yourself, that might be worth something if you really are the only source of the information. But more than likely, even if you have developed your own information, someone else has already put the same ideas into a book, or on a webpage, or someone else is teaching it. There really isn’t a point to teaching someone if all you’re doing is giving them information. Unless they’re illiterate, they can get it themselves.

Good teachers are able to explain subjects to their students in a way they can understand it. Imagine you’re teaching a class on spellwork. You’ve been casting spells for twenty years. All of your friends that you talk to have also been doing it for a decade or more. You’re an expert at it. You understand every part of it. And so you go into the class and explain everything they need to know in a way that you, and the people you normally talk to, would understand. And your students go, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

As a teacher you need to be able to explain the subject to someone who doesn’t have a background in it, who doesn’t yet understand it. The best teachers are the people who can remember what it was like before they knew anything about the subject, and so they explain it in a way they would have understood it.

Bad teachers make subjects seem complicated, confusing, and difficult, because it makes them look smart because they understand it. Good teachers make the subject seem uncomplicated and easy to understand. They make it seem like you don’t even have to be very smart to get it, you just need to have a proper explanation.

This is what teaching is. It’s a skill and of course it can be developed. Some people are going to be very good at it and some people aren’t. If you aren’t very good at explaining complicated subjects in a way that other people can understand them, then you need to work on that before you start teaching. That is, essentially, what teaching is.

Have Proper Respect and Understanding of Your Students:

I’ve seen a lot of magicians who are very knowledgable yet will never be teachers. They don’t have the right personality to be teachers. They get annoyed when people don’t understand things right away. If a student isn’t picking up the information, they see it as a failure on the part of the student and not a failure on the part of the teacher. They’re often times mean to their students. They aren’t there to help their students with their needs.

If you want to be a teacher you need patience. You need to understand that some people will have a lot of difficulty learning certain subjects. You have to be able to change your teaching style and methods to meet the needs of the student. And you have to remember that not every student is going to be really smart or easily pick up the material. As a teacher you have to be able to teach all of your students, not just the ones that are easy to teach.

People who constantly complain about how stupid or ignorant everyone in the community is are not cut out to be teachers. Teachers don’t complain about that, they do something about it. It’s okay if most of the people in the community don’t understand anything about magic. Teachers don’t expect everyone to be able to figure this stuff out on their own. Teachers are there to figure out a way to help people understand magic and spirituality.

Be Able to Project the Proper Image:

Magic is a spiritual path. No matter how well you know the subject and how well you can explain it, if you cannot project an image of being a spiritual master, no one will want to be your student. At least no one worthwhile.

We have certain expectations of spiritual masters. And if you want to be a teacher you need to meet some of those expectations. It isn’t really that hard. First off you have to seem intelligent and like you know what you’re talking about. If you actually know and understand the subject matter though, you’ll seem like you’re intelligent and you know what you’re talking about.

The second part is you need to be professional. This is easy too. If you say you’re going to teach a class at a certain time, make sure you show up and you’re on time. If you say you’re going to do something, like pick up supplies for the class, do it. Treat your students with respect. Don’t be mean to them. The second part, acting professional, is once again easy. It’s amazing not many people can do it.

The third and final part is you have to be emotionally stable, at least while teaching your class. This means you can’t go into violent fits of rage, you can’t break out crying, you can throw temper tantrums, you can’t have nervous break downs, you can’t come to class expecting your students to talk you out of your current suicide attempt, ect. You’d be amazed at how many people who want to be teachers can’t manage to do this.

Rite of Bacchus

August 6, 2010

Warning: Drinking, especially in excess, can be harmful to your health and potentially fatal. The information given here is theological in nature and meant to be informative. It is not meant as a suggestion or actual ritual, especially since it is potentially fatal. The reader is urged only to drink responsibly.

Bacchus is also known as Dionysus and Iacchus. All of these names are Greek in origin and refer to the same god. Some misinformed people have spread the fact that Bacchus was the Roman god of wine who was eventually associated with the Greek god Dionysus. That’s untrue. The Roman god of wine was Liber. Bacchus is just another name that was eventually given to Dionysus.

Many people associated Bacchus as the Greek god of wine. Greek mythology does say that Bacchus both gave people the grape vine and the instructions to turn it into wine. But Bacchus was also worshipped long before the invention of wine. Many people don’t realize this, but Bacchus was a god of creation and a major deity, comparable in both perceived power and renown to Zeus.

Bacchus was not initially a Greek god, he came from the east, but he was so revered that he was eventually worshiped as one of the olympians. Initially he would have been considered at the top of a pantheon, much like Zeus was in Greek mythology, and he was often spoken of as the most powerful god. In many ways he’s in opposition with Zeus. Where as Zeus’s throne is on high on mount Olympus, Bacchus’s thrown is down low in the valleys.

Bacchus is also a god who started as a man and later ascended into godhood. Many of Bacchus’s myths speak of him as first being a man, and later becoming a god, and even having made his mortal mother into a goddess.

In addition to being a God of wine and creation, Bacchus is also a god of spring, a chthonic deity, am god of forgetfulness, a god of lost inhibitions, and a god of resurrection. In addition to his standing in Greek religion, he was also the primary deity in both the Bacchian and Orphic mysteries, Greek mystical cults which were primarily concerned with immortality.

You may have noticed that there seem to be a lot of common features between Bacchus and Jesus Christ. This has caused some to speculate that Christ may have actually been a priest of Bacchus or may have studied the Bacchian mysteries at some point.

The myth of Bacchus being a god of spring is very similar to the much better known Demeter-Persephone myth. Bacchus is the god of creation and the god of spring. He makes everything grow. Once a year he dies and everything that he made grow begins to die too. Later he is resurrected, and then the plants and flowers all bloom again.

At least in the earlier myths, Bacchus would rule the world for half the year. Then he would die and rule the underworld for half the year. Some myths have Bacchus initially dying in order to retrieve his mother so he could bring her to the heavens and make her into a goddess. His ability to resurrect himself, and others, is how he became so central to the Bacchian and Orphic mysteries.

Bacchus was also a god of forgetting, and it’s drinking from his cup which causes us to forget our past lives when we reincarnate.

Lastly Bacchus is a god of losing our inhibitions. He has always associated himself with uninhibited creatures, from the sexual nymphs and sayters to the almost feral maenads to the beast of the forests and even drunken men.

So it’s no surprise that Bacchus is the god of wine, something that brings about both forgetfulness and a loss of inhibitions. But it also does one other thing, it lets us experience resurrection. And that would be the rite of Bacchus that I’m about to explain.

The Rite of Bacchus

Properly done the rite would have some symbolic ritual added, especially praise towards Bacchus at the beginning and end. However I’m not writing an actual ritual because, as I said, actually doing this can be harmful to your health and potentially fatal. However the ritual basically consists of drinking to the point of being completely smashed, something I’m sure most of us have done at least once, and it’s best not to let it get too bogged down in silly ritual. Especially since you’re going to be too drunk to do much planned ritual work anyways.

Stage 1: Death – The first stage, death, happens when you first start to drink the wine. This is the poison you’re taking into your body, and you’re killing yourself.

Stage 2: Entering the Underworld – This stage begins when you first start to feel the alcohol working, and even a little afterwards. For most of us this is usually a slightly euphoric and happy feeling. These are the happy, tranquil, and carefree parts of the underworld. Most people drink to find this happy state. If you’re really upset or angry though, you may not get he euphoria. In fact this may even be unpleasant for you. The same is true for where you end up when you die.

Stage 3: Catharsis – This is the stage where we get drunk enough that our inhibitions start to go. This is when a guy who is normally shy around women obscenely hits on the hottest woman in the bar, and this is the point we’re that’s enough for her to sleep with him. This is when a thirty year old man will start screaming at his parents because they never loved him, and then finally come out of the closet to them. It’s the point where we lose some of our inhibitions.

I would hope that most of us are mature enough and handle our liqueur well enough that we don’t have any major incidents, even if our inhibitions do become a little loose. It’s called self-control and you can do it when drunk. Bacchus however would like us to just give into it and completely loose our inhibitions. Look at the Maenads. They ripped apart living creatures and ate the raw flesh, sometimes even unknowingly committing cannibalism. I also know of similar rituals like this where the entire group ends up stripping naked and engaging in a bisexual animalistic orgy.

Of course most of us have moral and ethical reasons, not to mention the legal ramifications, for not completely loosing all of our inhibitions. Often times a ritual like this may be done in a group where all members are participating and aware of what might happen so that no one is intentionally hurt and everyone is willing to accept whatever might happen.

Still losing ones inhibitions isn’t just about primal orgies and cannibalism. If that’s what happens whenever you lose your inhibitions, you probably have some serious issues and should see a mental health care professional about those.

Losing your inhibitions can be something as simple and sweet as telling someone that you’ve had a crush on for the last year how you really feel about them. It can be breaking down and crying because of something horrible that once happened to you. It can be getting angry and yelling and screaming. It can be calling your parents on the phone and, in a drunken stupor, telling them the reason why you aren’t married yet is because you’re gay. It can be sleeping with a random stranger just because you’re lonely and you want someone to touch you right now.

The point of this stage is to get beyond whatever has been holding back your growth and hurting you. It can be these negative emotions bottled up inside of you. It can be telling someone how you really feel about them. It can be doing something you’ve always really wanted to do, or being the person you’ve always really wanted to be, but never had the courage to.

If you were truly dead, you wouldn’t want to be dead forever. And if you were going to reincarnate, you would eventually have to get over all those things that plagued you in life that you never managed to get over in life. This is essentially you getting rid of your baggage so that you can reincarnate with a fresh slate. Granted this is a rite of resurrection, but we’re still going through the entire death process. We’re essentially cheating, getting all of the benefits of death without having to die.

And if you’ll notice those who have resurrected, like Bacchus, Christ, Orpheus, and Herakles, all went on to become gods at some point afterwards. They were able to do this at least partly because the death and resurrection spiritually cleaned them. It took the poison that had built up over a lifetime out of their souls and let them come back clean and pure.

Is that to say that you’ll be a few steps from divinity after a bender? No. For one it’s a symbolic resurrection and you didn’t actually come back from the dead. Even if you did though, you still might not be a few steps from divinity. A lot of people even reincarnate only partially cleansed. A lot of people are still dealing with psychological issues and unfinished business from past lives.

So what’s the point of this ritual then? If you were actually resurrected, and you did it right, you would be completely cleaned of all those things you would hang on to, whether it’s something that’s hurting your soul or an obstacle that is preventing your personal growth. This ritual is not powerful enough to do all of that. But it can do some of it. It can most definitely do one thing. It might even do several things. And I’m not even saying you’ll be able to pick what those things are. But it’s something that makes you a little bit better and a little bit stronger. And you get to feel what a resurrection feels like.

Stage 4: The Journey Back To Life –
This is the point where you get really drunk. When your memory gets foggy and you start to have some black outs. When you’re barely able to walk and move and control yourself. This is usually the point where you have to stop drinking, if for no other reason than you lack the motor skills to get the wine in your mouth.

There’s really not too much to say about this stage. It’s symbolic of getting to the stream of life, the place where reincarnation happens, which also tends to make a person get forgetful about things.

Stage 5: The Resurrection –
When you wake up sick, with your head pounding, your throat completely dry, your stomach turned every which way, all your muscles sore, your body covered in mysterious cuts and bruises, and maybe even lying in a pile of vomit, congratulations you’ve been resurrected.

It may not feel exactly like this, but this is a good representation of what a resurrection feels like. Most people think you come back to life in some perfect state. No. You’re brought back to an inch of your life, right before you died. Not only that, but your body’s been decaying for some length of time too, which can’t be all that good.

Bacchus doesn’t come back to life in the middle of spring when everything is alive and growing. He comes back to life during the Winter Solstice, when everything is still in a state of death and decay, and he has to rejuvenate himself. Even Christ came back to life with all of his wounds from the crucifixion (which is how he proved to Thomas that he was truly resurrected).

During this stage you’re also going to start to rejuvenate yourself. Slowly you will get better bit by bit and the hang-over will go away. I don’t have anything else to say about this stage, except that resurrections are painful.

Stage 6: Rejuvenation and Realization – This is the stage when the hang-over is finally gone and you feel 100% again. You are now back to your normal, regular self having died and come back to life.

Except you aren’t your normal regular self, at least the normal regular you that you were. Back in stage 3, you hard a catharsis. You got something out of your system and did something you’ve always wanted to do. You’ve changed. You’re different, you’re better, you’re purer. You’ve gotten beyond some obstacle that held you back. And that’s really the main point of the ritual.

If you’re really lucky though, you may have an Epiphany too. After everything you experienced last night, you may come to some realization about things or some better understanding. It’s great if it happens, but it won’t always happen.

Exercise, Diet, and Magick.

August 1, 2010

One of the things that is often overlooked in Western practice (despite being a focus of a lot of Eastern practice) is physical health and its effect on magick. And it does have an effect. Years ago Dion Fortune wrote that it wasn’t at all important to Western practices. As much as I respect some of Fortune’s work, in this instance she was completely wrong. And judging by her photographs, I’d say she was led astray by personal bias.

As magicians, whatever a person’s personal beliefs may be, our bodies, minds, and souls are tools we use to perform our magick. They are the most important tools we have, and the only tools we really need. And so it’s important that these tools be kept in a good and healthy state so we can get the most out of them. Performing magick with a three hundred pound body is like using a chewed up #2 pencil as your wand. Yes, assuming you know what you’re doing, you can make it work if you really have to, but it won’t be as effective as a real wand.

And being healthy comes down to a few simple things. Eat a healthy diet. Exercise regularly. And don’t smoke. I mention this last one because, despite being incredibly unhealthy and counter-productive to magical work, in almost every magical group I’ve ever seen the chain smokers make up the majority of the group.

Being overweight is unhealthy. Being thin isn’t the same as being healthy though. A lot of thin people are still unhealthy. Some are actually underweight, and this is usually due to a poor diet. You need to be a healthy weight. You also need to have some muscle mass and physical stamina, and most of us have to exercise to get that.

I’m not advocating that anyone try to achieve physical perfection, like say Batman did. The truth is everything is okay in moderation, and everything is bad in excess. You can eat unhealthy foods, you can be lazy every now and then, and you can even occasionally smoke. It’s not going to hurt you. In fact not doing these things may actually hurt you. Everything in moderation, and this includes your diet and exercise.

You don’t need to have a perfect body either. You don’t have to be a body builder or a super model. What I’m talking about is reaching an adequate level of physical health. Being height-weight proportionate. Being able to run up a couple flights of stairs without being out of breath. Being able to lift and carry seventy or a hundred pounds.

Magical Advantages to Being Physically Fit.

1. Magical Stamina – If you’ve done any strong or intensive magick, you’ve probably noticed that it can be exhausting. Your body is one of your tools, and when you’re moving and manipulating large amounts of energy, it can wear you down physically, not to mention the mental and even emotional strains you’re putting on yourself which will also tire you out. And as you grow as a magician you’re going to have access to larger amounts of energy and stronger magick, which means you’ll have to push your physical body even further if you want to achieve your full potential.

Guess what though, the more fit your body is, the longer you’ll be able to go before you get tired. This means you’ll be able to do more magick. You’ll also be able to do more powerful magick.

I’ve met magicians who were far more experienced than I was. They had a lot more natural ability than I do. They had a lot more knowledge than me. They had refined their skills far better than I had. Yet I was able to do stronger magick. If it came down to a battle between us, I could easily defeat them. The reason was my body was in much better shape than theirs. A spell that would exhaust me, something I’d be cured of after a nice meal and a good night’s sleep, would leave them physically ill for the next week, and depending on how powerful it was could even be potentially fatal to them.

Despite being at every other disadvantage, I could work with more energy and perform more powerful magick simply because my body was in adequate shape.

2. Longevity – Human beings have not really evolved as magical creatures. Our bodies are not designed to handle energy at the extremes that magicians typically do. Maybe if magick becomes more common place after a thousand years of evolution this will no longer be the case, but it isn’t something that’ll be changing in our lifetimes.

Manipulating energy and performing magick puts stresses on your body it was not designed to handle. It’s as unhealthy as smoking or eating fatty foods. Magick slowly wears your body down and, assuming you’ll die of natural causes, leads you to an early death.

But there are ways to counteract this. Eating right adds years to your life. Exercising adds years to your life. Not smoking adds years to your life. Right there you’re counteracting some of the damage that magick is doing to you. But when your body is healthy its also stronger. It can deal with having greater stresses put on it, and they don’t damage it quite as much. When you put everything together, you may even end up gaining a few years instead of losing some. At the very least though, your guaranteed to live longer than if you didn’t do these things.

3. Good Physical Health Promotes Good Mental Health – It’s a proven fact that people who exercise are more mentally fit. They’re more emotionally balanced and they’re less susceptible to depression. Likewise its been proven that diet has a direct affect on mental health. People who eat a well balanced diet, that is neither too much nor too little, are much more emotionally healthy than people who do not.

And our minds, like our bodies, are another one of our tools. And it’s important that we keep our minds healthy so they can serve us more effectively when we do magick.

4. Poor Image – Magicians are supposedly part of the elite. They are superior people. They are masters of their will. They are masters of their emotions. They have control over themselves and are able to manipulate the universe around them.

So when a three hundred pound chain smoking individual tells you they’re a great and powerful magician, do you believe them? Keep in mind, this is a person who does not have the willpower not to eat several times the amount of calories they need a day, a person who doesn’t have the discipline to go to the gym six hours a week, and a person who doesn’t have the willpower not to smoke a cigarette.

Magicians have control over themselves. Magicians have discipline. So do you think someone is a successful magician if they don’t have the self-control and discipline to eat a healthy diet and go to the gym, even when they know that doing so puts them at an increased risk of developing serious health issues, decreases their activeness and quality of life, and decreases their attractiveness before even getting to the fact that it limits their magical ability and negatively affects their spirituality.


When you tell people that, as magicians, they should be better fit, they come up with a whole lot of excuses why they shouldn’t be.

The biggest problem is that we live in a society where people have been going around saying that it’s okay to be overweight and out of shape. It’s even okay to smoke. These things aren’t your fault. It’s because of genetics and psychology and society and advertising. Fat is beautiful and attractive. If you don’t agree, you’re a shallow asshole.

The truth is, if you are overweight, it is almost certainly your fault. If you smoke, it is definitely your fault. Every day you make choices to sustain these lifestyles instead of making choices to change them and rectify the damage they’ve already done.

And calling yourself a magician, or an adept, or a witch, or whatever means you can’t fall back on the excuse that society made you like this or it’s a psychological issue. Being a magician has a lot to do with control. At the very least you control yourself and the choices you make. You made the choices that brought you to where you are today, and you, and only you, are responsible. You also have the power to make choices that will change your life.

I didn’t write this post to be mean to people who are overweight or out of shape. I wrote this post to point out a fact about spirituality, that your physical health has a direct affect on it.

But Ho Poi Was a Great Magician and Fat

This is probably the best argument I’ve heard. Ho Poi was fat. His fatness is also a symbol of joy and happiness because it speaks to all the joy he got out of indulging in food. And he was a great magician. But Ho Poi was also fit.

Ho Poi is often depicted as a Travelling Buddha. The man is walking miles upon miles every day, and doing it with not only an extra 150 or so pounds of body weight, but also a huge bag over his shoulder. He’s also constantly depicted in various yoga poses. Not only could the man do yoga, but the more you weigh the more difficult yoga is.

If you happen to be obese, yet insanely fit and active, ignore this post. It doesn’t apply to you. However very few people are like this.

But It’s Genetics

Yes some people are better able to be in shape because of good genetics. However, barring a serious physical illness that prevents exercise, almost everybody can get in shape. The people who are truly genetically unable to become thin are extremely rare (far more rare than the large number of obese people living in just the United States).

Also let’s remember we’re not talking about being an Olympic star or a professional bodybuilder. We’re talking about getting in descent shape. Being a healthy weight. Having a bit of muscle. Having enough endurance to live an active lifestyle.

Most people who say they can’t get physically fit never exercised and followed a healthy diet for a good length of time. Figure six hours of exercise a week and a low calorie diet and I can guarantee you’ll see results after a year. The truth is most of these people do this stuff irregularly (which is useless since your body doesn’t have time to grow muscle or adapt to the changes) or they do it for short periods of time like a month (which again is useless, because you’d just be starting to develop some endurance and muscle when you quit).

But It’s Expensive

This usually goes hand in hand with “If I could afford to pay thousands of dollars for a personal trainer I’d have a great body too.” No you wouldn’t. Trainers are not magical fairies that grant wishes. If you don’t have the discipline and willpower to get into descent shape on your own, I doubt a trainer can get you into great shape.

The truth is, it’s not expensive to exercise. If you really think you need a trainer, most gym memberships come with some free sessions and most gym’s offer additional sessions that are within most people’s price ranges. If you don’t have money for a gym membership up front, most will be willing to put you on a payment plan if you ask for it (I actually paid every two weeks for three months, plus a small down payment, to afford my membership). And eating healthier is actually cheaper than eating unhealthy.

Even if you can’t afford a gym membership right now though, you can still exercise cheap. A $20 yoga mat is all you need to do any yoga pose, and you can also do sit-ups and push-ups and crunches on it. For about $20 more you can get some ten and twenty-five pound hand weights. These will let you do all sorts of exercises to build upper body strength. And a $30 pair of comfortable shoes is all you need to run around the block and get a good cardio work-out while losing weight.