Why You Suck At Manifestation (+ The Secret To Supercharging Your Vision Board)

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Vision boards are surfaces (like a bulletin board or a piece of poster board) where you’ve pinned, taped, stapled, or otherwise affixed pictures of your heart’s desires.

The problem with vision boards, though: they’re usually just surfaces crammed with clippings of a bunch of Photoshopped junk. 

Your vision board isn’t working because you’re using it as a stand-in for creative visualization. Creative visualization is an activity, like prayer or love-making. You should work up a sweat after a sesh of visualization.

So, when you try manifesting with your vision board, this is what happens: You program time into your schedule, sit back in a chair facing your vision board & shut your eyes. Your mind’s eye fills with static images or video clips of desirable objects. You might recall encountering the objects in real life. Your usual mental chatter chimes in with cliches, like, “Oh yeah, wouldn’t that be nice?” Your solar plexus compresses with the feeling of longing, envy, disappointment, or futility. You might be able to push through the feeling, but generally, the fantasy stays pretty flat, until you exit… 

...usually with a bad taste in your mouth & a grimness that takes hours to shake off.

A vision board is an altar for your thoughts & beliefs. Manifestation depends on vivid, living sensations. You have to convince yourself of the reality of your visions with an intensity that feels as real & true as recollecting a memory. It may not be happening right now, but it’s seeping through the fabric of your current reality. Like waiting for a Poloroid to develop.

So, here’s the solution: you need to build your vision board into a phantasm.

A phantasm is an immersive, multisensory imaginary experience used in creative visualization. Crafting one takes a lot of spiritual moxie. To create a convincing & vivid phantasm, you have to heave your imagination through the status quo (along with the perceived limitations you’ve taken for granted), so that the “fake” experience you're experiencing docks into your soul, feeling as real as a memory or the scenes in a book you’ve read a hundred times.

Your phantasm must be so real, you are convinced that you are living what you only meditated on.

And that’s what separates the manifestors from the daydreamers.

Because phantasms are critical, basic components of true magic, I want to give you a mini-training on how to start! You don’t need any tools, just a few principles in creative visualization & guidelines for practicing. You can use what you learn in this post in new moon rituals, invoking your Patron Goddess, or as a meditative exercise.

In fact, I’m going to share with you the template I use for creating phantasmic meditations--which I do while creating my vision boards! Keep an eye out for it!


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Disassemble your vision board. I dare you. Slip all the clippings into a Ziplock bag, wipe clean the corkboard or poster surface, & put the scissors & washi tape back into the craft basket.

Before you even start planning the board, let’s take a huge leap back. 

Without being able to discern your true desires from your fancies, you might be pasting junk onto your vision board. When there’s nothing but junk on it, your vision board becomes a black hole on your time, attention, & energy… 

...a black hole you’ve set up with prime real estate in your personal universe. 

Knowing the difference between core desires & obsessive fancies starts with realizing, Wait--there is a difference between my daily Starbucks jones’ing & my deep craving for staying clear-headed & running only on clean-burning nourishing food. Satisfying our fancies makes us feel cute & Instagrammable. That’s why we prioritize fanciful self-fulfillment.

But prioritizing your core desires? The concentration, time, & effort put into satisfying core desires is what graduates mystic princesses into Holy Queens. Satisfying our core desires up-levels our experience of reality. Satisfaction liberates your psyche. It’s like the sun coming out from behind a cloud: a cloud symbolizing all the kerfuffle kicked up focusing & feeding & obsessing about your fancies…

...and once the sun is out, it shines, baby.

So, how do you know the difference between your soul-satisfying desires & your basic cravings for eye candy? 

I have a couple exercises to help you distinguish the feelings, motivation, & meaning behind all your desires, so creative visualization enriches you instead of pumping you full of more envy, disappointment, & a sense of lack!

Once you can distinguish your true desires from your fancies, I’ll show you how to create phantasms for everything you actually want! 


In her book Awaken Your Genius, Carolyn Elliott refers to core desires as Authentic Preferences. Authentic Preferences reveal something of our Self-Truth: we would prefer those ideal experiences or objects of desire even if all the other cares in our lives were satisfied.

Carolyn Elliott contrasts Authentic Preferences with “emotion-backed addictions.” Also known as fancies. Retail lust. The stuff we tend to shellack our vision boards in

Gather up notebook paper & a pen. At the top of a page, write “Stuff I Really, Really Want,” then list 25 items, “everything from grand abstract achievements to the most paltry of household goods.” For me, I took myself out to Gypsy Coffee Co. here in Tulsa, curled up on the couch beneath the fairy lights, & wrote my list on a piece of gridded heavy weight neon pink stationary. (In my planner-grimoire, naturally.) 

When you’re comfortable, start listing. Get to at least 25 items, but go for more if you’ve got momentum. Own up to what you want, even if it’s totally unreasonable. List your fancies alongside your burning desires. This isn’t a time for judging yourself. 

Once you have everything down, go item by item. Here’s a Q Mme. Elliott suggests you ask yourself:

What among these things would I still like or much prefer to have, even if I felt a constant inner state of fulfillment, peace, & bliss?

Highlight those items. We’ll come back to them in the next section.

Which items on your list do you feel bitter or resentful for not having right now? Like, it sets your teeth on edge not having it; you’re goal-hacking your way to this thing & resenting how long it’s taking; you’re thinking about the people or circumstances barring you from having it; maybe you’re even a teensy bit embarrassed for not having it already.

Consider those items emotion-backed addictions. Stuff you crave because of how you think it would make you feel.

Underline those items & consider them candidates for a little desire rehab.

To evolve your soul, you need to not only release your addictions to having things a certain way (i.e., surrender, let go) but also to fully embrace, hope for, & pursue the fulfillment of your preferences.

The Dance Of Faith. Ken Keyes Jr. & “emotion-backed addictions.”
The Handbook To Higher Consciousness.


The point of this exercise is to practice distinguishing Authentic Preferences (core must-haves) from emotion-backed addictions: things we must have because we believe they do or will make us feel a certain way....

...the same way you might crave a cigarette or an extra martini, because you believe it will change the way you’re feeling. Change from outside-in.

It’s crucial to evaluate you list of “Stuff I Really, Really Want” from the imagined feeling of total self-contentment & bliss. That’s how you learn what your true desire actually feels like. 

If, after doing this exercise, you're still having trouble distinguishing between your angst & true soul-nummy desire, try this next exercise:


If you found items on your list swathed in heavy feels (like shame, guilt, or fear), then mix this exercise into the process!

Our needs & desires are layered in psychodrama, right? So sad, because we’re divinely entitled to fulfill our needs & desires. Even if you care to philosophize against that point, nature proves otherwise. What’s urgent, even subliminally, takes precedent in our consciousness. You can’t focus on higher-order evolvement without first satisfying those basic, nagging urges.

But sometimes, through layers of complicated social conditioning, we can’t read those needs & desires very clearly. We conflate vindication with satisfaction. We confuse lust with need.

If you need a little more insight about the shadow-drama surrounding your own needs / desires, check out my post The Truth About Your Moon Sign. For me, many items on my list of Authentic Preferences were soaked in socially conditioned prejudgments. I knew the Authentic Preferences exercise was supposed to spotlight my pointless, greedy materialistic tendencies, but there were just so many objects I wanted.

My moon sign actually helped me pinpoint the why behind my desires. The ritual exercises I talk about in that post (here’s the link again) helped dissolve the shame, guilt, & fear throwing static on how I analyzed what I want, which really unlocked a deeper intelligence behind how I envision my own contentment.

Also, I immediately began paring down my vision board. The objects that remained (which, because my Moon is in Capricorn, tend to be luxury brands & status symbols) were objects I truly preferred.

Also also, I incorporated more abstract elements: sketches & imagery conveying rich, splendid experiences I wanted to have, which no object could render for me.

(Still hazy about what you truly, soul-rockingly want? You might need a whole re-education about desire. If so, there’s a book for you! Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map. I’ve written before about using the Desire Map. Bookmark that post to read for later.)

When you’re feeling pretty clear on at least one item on your list of Authentic Preferences, move forward to the next section!


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So, you should now be able to distinguish your fancies from your burning desires. One feels like pure fun & pleasure; the other feels like an open gateway to a fuller, brighter, sweeter Self you’re dying to rush into. (With rainbow-colored balloons tied to the gate!)

...Don’t haul the board back out just yet, though.

With this new info, we can now dig into the creative visualization process. Creative visualization is essentially the craft of building up your phantasm. You can build a phantasm for each Authentic Preference or dream-weave a scene swirling your Preferences altogether. 

All you have to do is give the visualization process 100% of your awareness. 

Phantasms are alive with sensation; built in your mind’s eye out of flavors, textures, images, & even having a sense of space & volume. The most effective phantasms are ones so arresting, conjuring them immerses you into a scene where you are experiencing the fulfillment of your magical intentions. 

Carolyn Elliott (in that same book) calls the creative visualization process Virtualization, because you’re virtually creating your ideal reality, with all the sensation & resonance of your ideal will have when manifest.

Because in order to create a better world, you’ve got to imaginatively get the feel for what it would be like & impress that feeling upon your soul. This works because imagination, as my hero Ralph Waldo Emerson realized, is not just making stuff up. It’s actually a kind of insight, or what Emerson called ‘a very high form of seeing.’ It feels like ‘making stuff up’ at first because our imaginative light is dim to begin with.

Here’s the 3-step process to crafting your phantasms through creative visualization. When you can vividly build the scene, you’re ready to start rebuilding your vision board!


STEP ONE. Select one item from your list of Authentic Preferences. Remember, this item must be one that you would still want even if you were blissed out 24/7. Don’t stress that the item shouldn’t be an object, because it might be. That’s okay. As long as it’s just a cherry on top of your bliss.

STEP TWO. Grab a sheet of paper. Write the object or state of desire-satisfaction in the heading, then write 5 subheadings: Texture, Sound, Fragrance, Flavor, Imagery. Under each subheading, list 3-5 descriptors or sentences.

Here are some prompts to get you moving:

🌙  What does the object / experience feel like? What are the textures? Be as descriptive & specific as possible. You can feel the buttery-soft leather of the brand new blazer you’re wearing for the unbelievable new job you scored. It feels heavy & smooth… like reaaal pow-wah.

🌙  What does the object / scene sound like? Does it emit a noise, elicit a sound from you, or does the scene itself come with its own audial carousel? Is there a song which immediately swallows you up in the feelings associated with your true desires? You're in your new, deluxe condo---the one you're moving into after your divorce. You can hear the ratta-tat-tat of rain pattering against a skylight. Candle flames flutter around you, like tiny butterfly wings.

🌙  What does the object & scene taste like? If the desire doesn’t have a flavor or you’re not sure how to associate a flavor to it, imagine a scenario where you’re enjoying the desire. Incorporate flavors from that scene. You resist literally smacking your lips after swallowing a glug of water, infused with sliced mandarin oranges, typing up instructions for your VA for the big launch that's coming up. Your work space is sooo fresh & energizing, you can stay immersed for hours.

🌙  What does the object & scene smell like? Can you smell the night-blooming jasmine of that gorgeous neighborhood you want to move into? Does the object of desire have that new-car smell? 

🌙  What does the object & scene look like? For me, this is the easiest sense to conjure. Make note of any symbolism, like a logo, plus patterns or shapes.

🌙  Most importantly, how are you enjoying the object / experience of desire? How do you interact with the fulfilled desire? How does handling or living with the fulfilled desire enhance your bliss? Use analogy, simile, & metaphor to make this experience feel real. Your new romance feels like a self-published supernatural YA novel. Being together feels like vacation sex, because you're both always wearing loose, shifty clothes to meet up. 

STEP THREE. Practice imagining the scene where you’re handling the object or experiencing the state where all these extra-sensory details come together.

This is creative visualization: partly meditative, partly lucid dreaming. 

Block off about 20 minutes or so to immerse yourself into your phantasm, even though you probably won’t be able to go for longer than 10 minutes in your first round. 

Make yourself comfortable. Create a playlist to go along with your visualization sesh, if you’re pretty certain it would help create an ambiance. 

If you have to, review your notes from Step Two. During the session, your mind may wander, but don't berate yourself; just let it wander back into the scene. Home in on those delicious little details you crafted earlier, panning out every so often to see the scene as a whole.

This is an immersive experience, so don't be afraid to let time get away from you!

If the scene takes a nasty turn (you feel guilty or ashamed of what your envisioning; or someone shows up & throws hella shade on what you're visualizing), smack the reset button. Build the scene again.

Schedule another 20 minutes for the following day. Conjure the phantasm. You’ll layer more sensational details with every run through. What’s there will become more enhanced & more coherent within the scene.

Okay, PAUSE. Real-talk for a minute. I already know, because I’ve experienced it: even if you consider yourself crazy imaginative, you'll very likely struggle with this whole "sitting quietly & simply conjuring images." Even if the imaginary episodes are made of things you really love.

So, I want to give you a template to start with! It’s one I use whenever I’m working on a new phantasm, whether for a new moon ritual, prosperity spell, or even a Tarot Cast. 

I’ve whipped it up onto a pretty PDF you can download for free after enrolling in my newsletter, Magic ❤︎ Mondays! I send weekly updates with links to what’s inspiring me, what’s new up on the blog, & also other resources to help make your week magical!

Is creative visualization starting to sound like work? Actually, creating phantasms is like passive income: you invest time-attention-energy upfront creating the phantasm itself, meditating until the kinks are worked out, & of course energizing it in a magic ritual. (I’ll dig into that at the end of this post.) 

But after it’s built, the phantasm does all the heavy lifting! Your intentions are set & sealed. Your vision is alive & breathing. No babysitting. Just basking in your own self-induced sweet vibes. 

After you’ve spent at least a couple hours (cumulatively) crafting your phantasm, you’re ready to start re-building your vision board!


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The most important thing is to make your vision board gooey-glittery-sensationally-real. Just like building a Goddess altar, your vision board should have a fragrance, textures, & imagery that evokes your phantasm….

...and zero clutter. 

Phantasms travel well. Enchanted babes build vision boards in their planners, in their jewelry boxes, into tiny bags they carry in their purse... Everywhere. A slab of corkboard is really just a fall-back choice! Because your vision is multisensory, you can dribble pieces of it everywhere

Here’s what you can do to make your vision board phantasmic:


Building a vision board in your planner, grimoire, or diary? Take a few extra of those perfume testers you find at Victoria’s Secret or Sephora. Spritz with perfume or daub with essential oil, wrap in tissue paper, then slip into one of the compartments of your planner or in the binding of your book!  


Remember when I said you're vision board probably isn't working, because you're cluttering it up with a bunch of Photoshopped junk?

It's not the junk that's the problem, so much as the literalism. Does it have to be that specific car, or just a car that feels safe & pretty? Does it have to be that type of body, or just a body that looks & feels vibrant?

Catch my drift? Often, in our hunt for an image depicting that specific object of desire, we wind up sublimating a weird mood. 

The remedy: select fewer images & only images with a certain mood... 

...not a certain image.

Curate images mindfully & try not to think too literally. If you clip images from magazines, trim the images down to where the faces, objects, & environment look ambiguous, but the feeling of the scene shines through. This post gives you the 411 on creating mood boards--a tool used by designers to guide how they’ll craft a project in such a way that evokes the desired emotion.

Also, remember to incorporate sigils & symbols! Visit this link for a little how-to on crafting sigils, which are basically symbolic line drawings corresponding to your intentions & desires. You can also photocopy Tarot cards, print onto cardstock, then pin to the board. (Keep your actual cards safe!)

If you happen to love the collage aesthetic of traditional vision boards, build a collage, then take it to FedEx Office to be laminated. Hole-punch it & insert into your planner or school notebook, where you’ll spot it every day!


Pop over to Spotify & start curating songs. I’ve noticed that many of the affirmations I use in intention-setting actually started off as song lyrics, so compile a soundtrack to play when you’re dream-weaving, while you’re gratitude journaling, or whenever you need to straighten out your mood!

If none of the songs in your iTunes library quite match up, Google for “songs” + the feeling, transformation, or object of your desire. Review your notes from Step Two in the previous section. There are definitely keywords in some of the other sensations of your phantasm!


If you're bored to tears of scotch-taping clippings to your wall, why not carry the essence of your heart’s desire with you--tucked into your purse or your bra? Read this article to learn more about what goes into building a charm bag.

All you need: essential oil, herbs, & a crystal corresponding with your intention (or a patron deity whose realm oversees the type of fulfillment you want), a lodestone (with food, which you can score from a metaphysical shop), & a piece of paper where you can draw a symbol or write a few sentences about your desire. (Alternative: insert a clipping or tiny print-out of your desire.) Tie it all together in a piece of cloth. I use a super-soft chamois cloth satchel, but many magical babes will actually score swatches from the fabric store. 

Fasten the bag together during the waxing moon & voila! Tote your charm bag around in your purse & sleep with it under your pillow. Whenever your hand brushes it or you get a whiff of the herbs / oils, you'll be transported to your happy place.

You’ll have to research a little about what materials correspond with your specific intention, but that can be part of your phantasm-building process!

If you're not quite digging on charm bags, remember: you can buy zipper pockets for your planner. Instead of storing receipts or sticker sheets, slip inside small handfuls of sequins or tiny plastic jewels! Write affirmations on pieces of colorful cardstock, then trim down into circles or hearts. Paste images or draw a sigil on their backside, so when you flip the pocket over, you see more! 

Also consider consecrating a totem. Shop Amazon or Etsy for little objects you can attach to your key ring, wear like a piece of jewelry, or set on your altar. Bind the totem to your vision by holding it while you're creatively visualizing.

You can also put a vision board in your wallet! Laminate a small image or piece of cardstock imprinted with your sigil, then slip it in where you keep your bills. Spritz that associated fragrance onto one of those tester strips from the store & tuck it into your bill fold, so when you open your wallet, you smell your vision. Doodle sigils on the emergency cash you carry & consider zipping a tiny crystal corresponding with your phantasm in your coin pouch!


Here are some places to practice phantasming:


New moon rituals bind us to our intentions & are the perfect setting for creative visualization! Visit this post for a complete walk through for building your own. (Plus score a printable ritual roadmap to help you get into that mystic swoon a little easier!)


Crafting a phantasm is also a great way to visualize how your Patron Goddess appears to you. You decide how she dresses, the color of her eyes, her scent, the sound of her voice, & everything else. Visit this post to learn about finding your Patron Goddess


I've already mentioned: your vision board is an altar. And like any altar, a vision board, wherever & however built, has a location. That location gathers pow-wah with the more time, attention, & energy you apply to it. That consciousness can be nourishing, replenishing, even, if you’re trying to make mad shit happen. Manifest, baby.

Visit this post to learn how to make a Goddess altar


The whole point of this tutorial was to show you: the magic isn’t even in your vision board. The magic is in the consciousness you bestow upon it!

Locationality helps a lot of cosmic babes--having that sacred space to pour & breathe in spiritual fumes when their psychic juice dries up. In that way, vision boarding can turn into a crutch...

...we stop "working on" what we really want. It's a lot of work holding the vision in our mind's eye, handling it, re-layering it. We'd rather just clip out a pre-fab'd image. 

In a way, the best tactic for manifestation: sprinkling your life with phantasmic sensations.

So, remember to invest in the details. Spend a little extra on the wallet that sparkles & glows in that exact way your desirous heart prefers. Skip the every-other-daily Sbux so you can invest in the professional-level eyeliner that will make you feel like a rockstar. Spritz, lacquer, dribble, weave, & waft those sensational elements into your ordinary life. 

The goal is to stay immersed in your phantasm. To live in a state of creative visualization is to commit to lucid dreaming. 

When noticed, appreciate those phantasmic details. During your usual morning routines, light a candle that stays beside the board or light incense. Also set a small potted orchid or other type of plant nearby, which will remind you to pay special attention to that area--it requires nurturing.

Plus, watching the plant grow will make you feel as if your dreams are growing, as well!

This may sound trivial, but it’s how you midwife visions into reality. It might feel like manifestation is on the backburner, but crafting phantasms is how you keep stirring the cosmic pot. You’re ever-mindful of what’s brewing, even if you don't always have your hands on it. 

Don't forget to sign up & download your copy of my template for creative visualization! It's basically training wheels, until you can get your creative viz process rolling regularly. Grab it here:


Any Qs re: the printable template or creative visualization en general, Tweet me or float an email my way

May your dreams manifest!

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