Crisis, Practical Magic and the W.I.T.C.H.
(Woman. In. Total. Control. of Herself.)
Deemed “The Muse” by her readers and audiences, Angi Sullins marries inspirational messages with tangible, often-hilarious life experience in her books, blogs and workshops. As a writer, performer, and creator of short films, Angi is a self-confessed inspiration junkie who believes life was meant to be too good AND true. She is the founder, president, and one-half of the creative team at Duirwaigh Studios, where she collaborates with her talented hubby, Silas Toball, to create films, books, greeting cards, and calendars that inspire conscious creativity. Though she lives to play and plays to live, her life hasn’t always been joyous. In fact, it was the kiss of trauma (that blessing-disguised-as tragedy) that led to her life as artist and muse. In the dark void of the crisis-cocoon, a winged soul of riotous color was born.
One of my first encounters with the cocoon took me to the brink of ruin. At twenty-eight years old I was paralyzed from the neck down on an operating table. I had arrived at a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, for a discectomy, which would remove a herniated disc from my neck and replace it with bone to alleviate the pain from several pinched nerves. If all had gone according to plan, the operation would have lasted six hours and released me the following day. Instead, I faced three surgeries, weeks in the hospital, months of paralysis and years of crisis. I lost just about everything, including my job, my faith and fervor. I tell that story and its miraculous outcome in my first book Doorways and Dreamfields: A True Fairy Tale, but suffice it to say the long struggle to regain my confidence and charisma taught me many things about survival, and the vast difference between surviving and thriving.
After emerging from the dark cocoon, I spread my wings and founded Duirwaigh Studios, an inspired artist agency, because I wanted to encourage others to live, really live. While surviving this world with our soul intact is truly an Olympic feat worthy of thunderous applause, I feel we are designed to thrive. I wanted my life and my business to be a doorway to that heightened state of living, and the best way I knew to do that was to inspire the soul through the power of art and story.
For almost a decade, I helped artists find their voice and their market. I worked as an agent, exhibiting and selling original works, while licensing and publishing art in a variety of formats. We built a website that won awards for its beauty, but also won kudos for encouraging its audience to live with everyday enchantment. Life was good. But one day, as I was considering the next phase of Duirwaigh’s growth, an inner something (or someone) tapped me on the soul-shoulder. It went something like this:
“There’s Something More I want you to do.”
“Like what? Can’t you see I’m terribly busy already?”
“Yes, and that’s why I’m here. The time has come.”
“For what?” I asked, already sensing where this was going. I crossed my arms over my chest defensively. “We’re planning to…”
“This is not the time for plans.” And just like that, I could feel a finger pointing across some inner horizon, towards an inky-dark pit that looked an awful lot like a cocoon.
This time, the blessing-disguised-as-tragedy arrived in the shape of a horrific business divorce. I can’t go into details here, but I’ll say it was like having true love suddenly ripped away from the breast, like death, or a holocaust of the soul. For months I sat in devastation, unable to pick up the pieces of my self-respect. The dream of Duirwaigh being the most enchanted, heart-centered artist agency in the world sat next to me on the floor like a fish on a dock, taking its last desperate gulps of dying air.
That dream entered the cocoon with me and together we had a grand meltdown into, well, mush. But while I was feeling around in the dark for what might come next, I began hearing an inner hum. Let’s call it intuition. And that hum led me to Taos, New Mexico.
My goal was to spend forty days and forty nights of solitude in the high desert. Duirwaigh had been successful enough to grant me the time off. I hadn’t had a non-working vacation in six years, so I packed up my Chihuahuas, my books and my journal and headed west. I left behind (in Georgia) my husband, mother, house, office and employees in search of…what? I couldn’t say. There was so much blind faith involved, I’m surprised I could steer the car in the right direction. But steer I did, and once I arrived at the tiny adobe that would be my home for the next six weeks I did something I almost never do. I stopped steering.
With wild abandon I let myself freefall into unknowing, my one and only goal: to listen. My life and its uncertainty were the question, and intentional solitude would be my answer. I read. I journaled. I roamed. I dreamed. And then I recorded those dreams and listened to what they were telling me. It didn’t take the full six weeks to know what the next step was. While driving along the mountainous road one blue-gold afternoon, I was asked via an audio tape what I would do for the next six months if I knew I couldn’t fail. And the answer came immediately, no hesitation whatsoever: stay in Taos.
So I did, not knowing what my next steps were, and certainly not knowing I was about to become my own artist, as the muse energy I had directed outward to support artists for over a decade was now directed inward, toward myself. Eight months after arriving in Taos, I wrote my first book Duirwaighs and Dreamfields: A True Fairy Tale. The next year, I wrote and recorded an audio book Flaming Muse: Matchstick Tales to Ignite the Soul, and then embarked on a writing, speaking and workshop career, helping others discover who they were before the world told them who they should be.
Storytelling, teaching and encouraging thrival led me create Angi and the Wonder Hunters – a video series dedicated to pursuing wonder and beauty around the world, and that show soon saw me offering my Muse Juice Tours, where I take seekers on journeys to the marvels that open the doorways of psyche…the ones that help us discover our own inner lands of wonder.
That inner land of wonder? That’s my passion. I’m an inner-wonder advocate, and I’ve found that most women are completely unaware just how majestic they are. Call it the system, the over-culture, the patriarchy, but our environment is deeply enmeshed in feminine diminishment, in both genders. As girls we breathe it like oxygen, our spaces full of invisible toxins like shame and self-doubt. It leaves most of us with a low-grade fever of insecurity and anxiety, and if unattended leads to depression, regret, inertia.
Yet we are magic, pure and simple. What else would you call the life-giving principle we all carry? No matter whether a woman gives birth to art, business, relationships, car pools, friendship, community service or little humans, she is a way-maker, and for that ability alone she is to be cherished and celebrated.
I believe I was put on the planet to help women uncover and recover their innate value based not on outwards proof (production, pleasing, prettiness) but based on their inherent belonging. This requires excavation, and a dedication to unlearning much of what we’ve been spoonfed, but it is not only possible to regain our sovereignty, but necessary. The world can and will be saved by the restoration of feminine power. But first we have to recognize our own cages.
Self-deprecation. Deep modesty. Self-doubt. These are the results of living in fear of judgment, caged in a system that devalues women for speaking out, standing true.
Our lives are not our own as long as we fear being transparent. When we allow ourselves to shrink with fear of being judged or shamed for speaking up, standing up or standing OUT from the status quo, we have lost the very essence of what makes us feel most alive: our authenticity.
Our authenticity IS our practical magic.
It is key to our resilience, our radiance, our confidence. It is a prime recovery tool when sad, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. It is our greatest asset in maintaining our vibe and attracting our tribe. Without it, we feel cut off from our joy and wonder, and our sense of connection.
This is why I started the Witchery Academy for sovereign women. I define W.I.T.C.H as Woman. In. Total. Control. of Herself. A sovereign woman doesn’t need anyone to control or shape her. She trusts her intuition and inner guidance. She won’t rely on any system (including both the patriarchy “out there” and the one “in here”) that devalues her.
And control, in her world, doesn’t mean power-over, it means power-with: a supreme radiance that comes from a self-trust that revels in the empowerment of all beings.
She would rather die listening to her own soul than live in bondage to a system demanding her mediocrity and compliance.
The world awaits her, holding its breath.
Wild women and wildlife, along with the wild, sacred spaces of our planet, are endangered species. After millennia of surviving a patriarchy that would plunder the natural resources of both inner and outer lives, humanity has begun to cry out for the balance that comes from the Feminine.
It takes a brave heart to reach for her, to claim her despite the forces that insist on perfection and control, but in kitchens and studios and gardens and boardrooms across the planet, and in our very souls, we have begun to cultivate sanctuary for her.
We dare to speak of what is vulnerable and receptive, what is nurturing and authentic, what is divinely cooperative and creative instead of competitive and coercive. We brazenly demand a juicy life, one in which we are allowed to embrace our own wildish nature, rather than live another day in the dry and thirsty land of conformity.
We bravely step up, step forward, howling with insistence: we will no longer live without her, knowing it is up to us to protect our greatest nature.
If we don’t engage our practical magic on behalf of our planet, what becomes of our forests, our rivers, our animals, our children? If the wild outer spaces and wild inner nature are not resurrected and preserved, where do we find inspiration, sustenance and refuge?
The Wild Woman.
The Dangerous Woman.
The Sovereign Woman.
She is our hope.
And she is rising.
One warrior, one healer, one brave badass at a time.
In an era when so many are clamoring that the end is at hand, the truth is that the beginning is near.
If we choose it.
For there is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.
Hi. I'm Angi.
I’m addicted to wonder. There, I said it.
I make videos, sing songs and write books that encourage wonder out in the world and inside the soul.
The very first video I made was for my inspired artist agency Duirwaigh Gallery in 2004. It was meant to be a love letter to the artists I represented, letting them know my agency would promote and defend their magical place in a practical world.
A Knock at the Door went viral before the age of YouTube in a person-to-person email phenomenon that circled the globe many times, inspiring over 4.5 million people.