Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

I Could Never Eat My Own Foot!

Written by: on November 14, 2023

Scary Start

The title, the cover art and the first few lines made me a bit skeptical about what I was to read. I was genuinely confused and had to work through a few things before opening the book. First let’s talk about the title. Spellbound, sounds creepy, spooky, and instantly brought the image of the movie, Hocus Pocus to mind.

There is a famous scene in the movie when Bette Midler says, “Another Glorious Morning, Makes Me Sick!” I should say that I love all things Bette Midler and have quoted this line with many variations over the years. The variations range from, “Another Glorious Monday, No Thank You!” to “Another Glorious Day, Maybe Not!” I spent too much time thinking about Hocus Pocus before actually shifting to the reading. So, let’s also talk about the image on the cover, the ouroboros. The ouroboros is “an ancient symbol of a snake or serpent eating its own tail, variously signifying infinity and the cycle of birth and death.”(1) I searched for images of this, actual images of a snake eating its tail. I found a YouTube Video that I’ve shared with you.
Please watch this short clip.

I wonder if the King Snake in this clip is thinking about infinity and the cycle of birth and death, probably not yet I researched why a snake would eat its tail. I was shocked to discover that “Kingsnakes and rat snakes, which are cannibalistic, can mistake their own tail for that of another snake, and bite it for that reason.”(2) I can’t fantom eating my feet because I think they belong to a predatory animal or because they look like a yummy snack. The image of the ouroboros disturbs my sensibilities.
Needless to say, the title and the cover art took me down a rabbit hole that had little to do with the actual book. Perhaps the fatigue that I am experiencing and the pressure to finish the semester aided my overloaded mind to wander off track. I opened the book to begin reading, the first line on the first page read, “There is someone living in your head besides you.” (3) After the Spellbound title, the image of the ouroboros and the first line of the book, I found it difficult to continue reading. I had no choice, I kept reading.

Unconscious Mind

“There was a college professor who wasn’t well liked by the women in his class. They felt he favored the men, an accusation he vehemently denied. Things boiled over when, as part of an exam’s instructions, he wrote, “A pen is required for this test”. At least that’s what he intended to write. Unfortunately for him, the accidental omission of a space between the second and third words appeared to confirm the student’s suspicious.”(4)
I don’t think I could have found a better segway into a discussion about unconscious. I have been privy to some awful slips of the tongue but never to this magnitude. We can’t know for sure if the professor made this error because the accusations of his favoritism were on his mind or if he really felt that you need a male sex organ to take the test. What is certain is that his unconscious mind influenced what he said to his students. Daniel Kahneman’s System One and System Two came to mind. System One thinking which is automatic and fast and operates without conscious effort is what I believe the Professor was experiencing. He operated without conscious effort, and it resulted in an offensive and thoughtless response. The unconscious is important to recognize it, name it and try to resolve it. In other words, use System Two thinking to guide more conscious actions and deliberate decision-making.


After reading Chivers, How to Read Numbers, I have reconciled my relationship with numbers. I have been more conscious of how I report numbers and how I interpret those. I have also become more aware of how others use and misuse numbers. For example, my son asked me if Girl Math was a real thing. Before I could say “no”, my teenage daughter said, “of course it is”. I cringed! Girl Math is best explained by these three examples:
1. If it is on sale, then you are making a profit.
2. Always pay more for free shipping.
3. If I preload my account, it’s free.(5)

Girl Math totally ignores the numbers, yet it is totally in line with Lieberman’s view of numbers as mystical entities. Lieberman states, “a mystical understanding of numbers is another doorway into the hidden chambers of the human psyche.”(6) There is definitely some mysticism in believing that preloaded money is free money! Lieberman continues in this chapter looking at numbers one through ten “as the most important numbers from a magical standpoint.”(7) Although the number 7 is often regarded as God’s Perfect number, I decided to look at number 5. It is pretty significant in my life. Regarding number 5, Lieberman says, “It’s a divine substance that exists beyond the four physical elements.”(8) He continues, “Five takes spirit to the next level. Its spirit is aware of itself. Five is the human number. …It combines conscious with unconscious matter to create something strange and new—an animal that has been awakened into awareness.”(9) Sounds pretty accurate to me! What is the number that is most significant in your life?

1. Dictionary.com, accessed October 24, 2023, http://www.dictionary.com/.
2. Why Do Snakes Eat Themselves (Or Bite Their Own Tail)? | ExoPetGuides
3. Daniel Z. Lieberman, Spellbound: Modern Science, Ancient Magic, and the Hidden Potential of the Unconscious Mind (Dallas,
TX: BenBella Books, Inc., 2022), 1.
4. Ibid., 16.
5. “Girl Math” Explained In 9 Examples (buzzfeed.com)
6. Daniel Z. Lieberman, Spellbound: Modern Science, Ancient Magic, and the Hidden Potential of the Unconscious Mind (Dallas,
TX: BenBella Books, Inc., 2022), 176.
7. Ibid., 176
8. Ibid., 176.
9. Ibid., 183.

About the Author


Jonita Fair-Payton

8 responses to “I Could Never Eat My Own Foot!”

  1. mm Russell Chun says:

    The video was amazingly creepy. Still a cool rabbit trail. One wonders when the snake would STOP.

    I like how the cohort is bringing in reading from our previous semesters. Connecting the dots with Kahneman and others. Nice.

    Still I am uncomfortable with some of the blogposts that agree with harmonizing our unconscious and conscious minds. I sort of want to rise above my baser instincts. I want to work on behavior that glorifies God. I don’t want to give space to my abundance of dark behaviors.

    I want to transcend above all of that junk.

    Only with the Holy Spirit will I have the strength to do it.


    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


      Can you tell me more about your feelings around harmonizing the unconscious and unconscious mind? I guess I view it as a way to rationalize those thoughts that may be living in our unconscious. It seems like you may have a different view.

    • mm Russell Chun says:

      I was reading Jenny Dooley’s post and I share it now.
      “Our Christian faith and spirituality are gifts that come along side to help us safely engage the unconscious mind. Dr. Lieberman lands on meditation with the appropriate caveats and warnings which also apply to our spiritual practices.[15]

      Christian spiritual practices offer us ancient ways of engaging with our unconscious mind and integrating our shadow self.

      Spiritual practices that have aided my journey thus far are lectio divina, the examen, centering prayer and breath prayer, and spiritual direction.

      All encourage awareness of God’s presence and activity in my life, center me on God’s loving-kindness, and gently move me closer to my truest self in Christ.”

      She shared some books with me that cover these and I am going exploring.


      • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

        All of these, “Spiritual practices that have aided my journey thus far are lectio divina, the examen, centering prayer and breath prayer, and spiritual direction.”, have been gifts to me. I did not discover them until about 8 years ago. I sometimes wonder if I would have been able to navigate some difficult seasons of life differently if I had been introduced to spiritual practices earlier in life.

  2. mm John Fehlen says:

    You weaved a story, and connected some dots that would make any preacher smile.

    And I smiled!

    Especially the “pen is” story!


    Jonita, you are the BEST!

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


      That story had me literally hollering in my kitchen. What an awful slip of the tongue! Thanks for reading and for your comments. I’m grateful to be on this journey with you.

  3. Travis Vaughn says:

    Jonita, I’ve never seen Hocus Pocus! But our neighbors down the road had some Hocus Pocus decorations in their yard this year for Halloween. Maybe I now need to see it.

    You mentioned Kahneman’s System 1 and System 2 ways of thinking. The more books we read, the more Kahneman seems to come up (or maybe it just seems that way?). I keep thinking about how healthy organizations seem to strike a balance between the two, while factoring in System 2’s ability to help hold people accountable for their decisions. That aspect of system 2 has stuck with me since originally reading Thinking Fast and Slow. Have you considered integrating Kahneman’s two systems into your consulting work with the organizations you serve?

  4. mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


    I have never thought of integrating it into my work. But as I read you comment, I instantly thought of a current situation that it might be useful for. Thank you for the suggestion. I’ll keep you posted.

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