Think you have to drop out of the mainstream to tap into soul-deep healing? “Real world” mystic Michael Ventura chats with Alexandra Roxo about infusing the corporate landscape with cosmic creativity …
“Yes, I’d have a hard time smudging the conference rooms of some of our clients without getting some serious side-eyes, but we can ‘smudge’ in different ways … ” – Michael Ventura
During the height of my Saturn Return at age 29, I felt like the world was caving in on me and I sought a LOT of healing assistance. Peyote. Ayuasca. Reiki. These were dark days for me, and served as my own initiation into the underworld, into becoming a healer myself, and as a woman.
When I stumbled upon Michael Ventura during this time, I had no idea what to expect. I went into this dark ad agency late at night, empty except for a treatment table and a tall bearded man.
In the years I worked with Michael, he helped heal my own relationship to masculine energy, and my grudge against the patriarchy and my own dad, in addition to giving me courage to see myself as a healer and step into that path.
Michael models something I preach about in Moon Club and aspire to myself- by day, he runs a creative agency in the “regular” world, and by night he does magical healing work on the top floor.
Through these double worlds, he’s helping to create a new world where instead of us all quitting our jobs to become healers and yoga teachers, we bring conscious healing work to all the industries that need it.
I sat down with Michael to chat empathy, healer archetypes, and changing the corporate world from the inside out …
Alexandra Roxo: You are the CEO of a creative agency that works with mega brands and you are also a healer! What are your thoughts on the different types of healer archetypes that are awakening within so many people as they bring those practices to a diversity of industries?
Michael Ventura: One of my teachers once told me, “We don’t need more monks in monasteries, we need monks in our cities.” I’ve always loved this notion and have hung onto it.
I wholeheartedly believe that as our own intuition and gifts are awakened, we have a great opportunity to help bring our full self to the communities we serve. For me, bringing myself to a board room is no different than a treatment room. I am the same person. I have the same tools in my toolbox.
Yes, I’d have a hard time smudging the conference rooms of some of our clients without getting some serious side-eyes, but we can “smudge” in different ways. With different tools. As we learn and increase our capacity to work with energy, to work with people, and to work with the elements, all of this becomes part of our daily expression of our self.
As the saying goes, “not all heroes wear capes,” and to the same effect, not all healers need candles and sandals to work their magic.
AR: I always describe your work as energy work that combines Reiki, shamanism, and Chinese medicine. What kind of traditions and modalities did you study?
MV: I often refer to my work as “indigenous medicine.” My practice has roots in both traditional Chinese medicine as well as the Mesoamerican shamanic traditions of the Nahuatl indians.
But what’s also true is that part of my work is derived from that which is most indigenous to my own spirit. As I have refined my work over the past decade, I have come to trust my oldest, innermost voice, and to use that trust to help expand the work I offer.
Whether we are in the mountains of Peru, the river lands of China, or simply in the depths of our own spirit, there is powerful medicine waiting to teach us. We don’t always need to travel around the globe to find ourselves. Sometimes, our true self is right here beside us, waiting to open up and teach us something new.
AR: I used to be very private about my spiritual work while working in the commercial directing space, but now I’m more open. How do you bring your energy work into the advertising world?
MV: Interestingly, what’s happened a lot over the years is that a mutual friend of mine and the client’s will come and see me for a session and then share their experience with the client in casual conversation. I often then get an email or text that says something like “I’m with so and so and they told me you do energy work. I want some!”
To me, those are great moments where worlds collide. And that’s how it should be. We are all living in a real world and have real lives and are trying to not just get by, but to thrive. If I can be of service to someone in that way, I can sleep well at night knowing I did something right with this existence.
More practically, I also find that some of the work we do for clients allows us to bring a sense of integrity, wellness, mindfulness, or simply kindness into their brand. And while some organizations just aren’t ready, I encourage our team to use those projects to help put more fuel in our collective gas tank to do more with the communities we serve. In some long karmic loop kinda way, I have to believe that it’s all worth it in the end.
AR: Do you think everyone has an inner “healer” archetype that wants to come out? Or just some of us?
MV: Everyone is a healer. 1000%. I have no doubt. It is just that many of us lose touch with – or never explore that side of – ourselves.
The capacity to heal comes from YOU. I’m just a pair of old jumper cables helping you to get your car running smoothly again. I recently read a quote from a Chinese medicine practitioner who said that he calls everyone he treats his “student.” He said that every session is an opportunity for them to learn more about themselves, for them to learn how to heal themselves. I loved this idea and think it’s absolutely true.
AR: You’ve created a beautiful deck that displays what you call the “archetypes of empathy.” How did you create these archetypes and how do we embody them?
MV: Over the span of about 6 months, myself and a group of colleagues here at Sub Rosa (my design firm) explored behaviors that allow us to understand each other. We looked at our own habits as well as those we worked with and admired.
We started to see a variety of themes emerge. Once we felt like we had found a strong group of seven behaviors, we utilized a spectrum of questioning called the “whole self” that’s based on the chakras, among other things. These archetypes explore the physical self, the emotional self, the aspirational self, and others.
Each archetype helps us see the world from a different vantage :
The Sage: Be Present. Inhabit the here and now.
The Inquirer: Question. Interrogate assumed truths.
The Convener: Host. Anticipate the needs of others.
The Alchemist: Experiment. Test and learn at all costs.
The Confidant: Listen. Summon the ability to observe and absorb.
The Seeker: Dare. Be confident and fearless.
The Cultivator: Commit. Nurture and intentionally grow.
AR: I’m feeling a personal move from the “alchemist” archetype (major curious human who will try anything) to something new. Do you think we move through different archetypes as we grow?
MV: Actually, I believe that all of us embody all seven of these archetypes – just not in equal measure. Some we feel very comfortable with, but others are daunting. That’s the point. The cards and the questions within them are meant to help you “limber up” a bit and stretch your perspective in order to make you a more well-rounded empath. Your desire to shift to another archetype is totally normal. You are all of them. Keep trying different ones on and you’ll see how all of the perspectives start to emerge from within yourself over time.
AR: What’s the role of self-work in your healing practice? What does being devoted to your path mean to you?
MV: In the past decade, I’ve observed that more and more people are realizing that the best service they can provide to others is to start with healing themselves. Years ago, many people would be mortified if others knew they were seeing a therapist or a Chinese doctor. People’s reactions would immediately go to “what’s wrong with them that they need someone like that.” That era is long gone and self-work is no longer taboo.
But the pendulum can also swing in the other direction. It’s not uncommon for me to hear about someone doing an ayahuasca ceremony, followed by a week of intensive Rolfing, then doing a 10-day cleanse of some kind, then this, then that. It’s important to walk the spiritual buffet line from time to time, see what’s on offer and what you’re called to, but it’s also important to commit and focus on the things that work. To go deep and not be tempted to just try the next thing that comes through the door.
For me, the balance of freedom and discipline in all of this self-work is where the real medicine resides.