SPIRITUAL SHROOMING: MY UNLIKELY AWAKENING

Strung out on repressed feelings, a health crisis and mental break became an unexpected awakening for Meg Hartley, care of some spiritual shrooming…

“During my four-day break with the mundane, I connected to a bigger part of myself, which also happened to feel like an infinitely more stable part of myself”—Meg Hartley 

When I was 19, I wasn’t in a good place. I had lost my mother to suicide four years prior, and my once-successful “smashing down” of feelings had relentlessly resurfaced into every part of my consciousness.

I usually avoided the pain by staying busy all day, then intoxicated into the evening via copious amounts of marijuana or whatever else was floating around the dorms: ‘shrooms, ecstasy, and lots and lots of cheap alcohol.

But late at night, when I’d try my hardest to sleep and fail miserably, I couldn’t hide from the pain. I had taken to scratching at my skin until it bled because it hurt less than the storm that wailed inside. It was like there was so much unprocessed pain my mind didn’t know where to start. Agonizing thoughts just whipped around in my head, out of control and going nowhere.

I’d soon learn about meditation and mindfulness, which gave me a life raft to embrace during these times. But before then, I’d go home to Alaska for summer break and have a four-day experience a psychologist called a “mental break” and a philosophy teacher called “a preview to awakening.”

But to me, it simply felt like a very long dream that showed me true happiness was a real possibility … even for me, which seemed impossible at the time. This set the scene for my subsequent spiritual exploration and gave me a reason to commit to my emotional healing.

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The year was 2002. My first year of philosophy classes in college had finally given form and texture to vague spiritual ideas I’d always had intuitive knowings about. The ideas that this life is an illusion, that humanity is currently experiencing a shift in consciousness, and that we’re each here to learn specific things, were presented by different religions and philosophers from all over the world.

This deja vu sense of remembering (that my teacher said was normal, but which sure felt like magic to me!) combined with all the partying left me ungrounded, spacey, and generally disinterested in “mundane” everyday life. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I also had a B12 deficiency that was hitting mental health symptom levels. In addition to this, there was a cyst growing on my pineal gland, which is known to augment spiritual experiences.

And so, not yet privy to the drawbacks of being ungrounded, and unaware of this explosive combination brewing in my brain, I celebrated my return home by eating yet more ‘shrooms with a dear friend.

The experience of taking psilocybin is different for everyone, but in my experimental days it was something that I regarded with reverence––like a really fun church. During every trip, the idea of “God” or a benevolent bigger something, seemed obvious and present to me. There was silliness and hilarity, but also times where I would leave my friends to go sit with my favorite tree for hours, my head filled with streaming thoughts that were ontological in nature- the answers to all of life’s big questions, more ideas I’d later study in ancient texts.

And this time, for four days after the mushroom trip ought to have ended, my thoughts remained consistently in the ontological realm––a far cry from my daily headscape at the time, which was mostly centered around losing my v-card and being “too fat.” 

In stark contrast, everything I encountered had meaning on top of meaning, and life felt so beautiful that I cried happy tears. From the inside, the experience felt like a blissful and meditative state where therapeutic dreams met real life. Colors became more vibrant as I released dark twisted pains from deep within like a long and satisfying belch.

Meg with a handmade lithograph about her experience

Of course, it’s not “normal” to weep from joy at the sight of a mountain that’s there every damn day, or to stare at everyday items babbling about “the language of the Universe” and “signs.”

Everyone in my world thought I had lost my marbles. When I finally noticed this reaction in others, I very suddenly snapped out of it, shocked at their concern and upset about making an ass of myself. That clouded my vision of the experience, as social acceptance was the form of surrender I was most familiar with at the time. But I now look back on it as being as helpful as it was hugely bizarre: the juice was totally worth the squeeze (it can be freeing sometimes to have people think you’re a little nuts, anyhoo!) 

I was immediately changed, and the depression didn’t return for many years (not until my B12 levels hit a fantastic new low and a whole new set of challenges revealed themselves). It was like I had been dusted from the inside out, I felt clear and centered in a way that I had never experienced. I carried on with the drug experimentation for a couple more years and nothing like that happened again- something that brought both great relief and a fleeting sense of disappointment.

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During my four-day break with the mundane, I connected to a bigger part of myself, which also happened to feel like an infinitely more stable part of myself.

And that connection––and many times just the memory of that connection—brought a cherished light into the darkest nights of my soul. It also provided the motivation for my subsequent spiritual and emotional journeys: remembering that mental landscape, and knowing that if I stayed on the spiritual path then that sense of peace and connectedness would eventually feel like home.

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Meg Hartley is an Alaskan artist and writer happily replanted in wonderfully weird Portland, Oregon. She loves really great trees, cashew ice “cream”, mysticism, and is totally obsessed with mindfulness. Her new book is called How I Lost All My Fucksa one-month experience that will have you losing all yours! Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  

MOONERS & SHAKERS: THE MOON CLUB MEMBERS MAKING WAVES

Get inspired by this month’s Mooners & Shakers, the Moon Club members making waves and fueling their passion projects!

HEBA TALLAH, LUMINOUS FEMME
“The medicine is in the remembrance. Cutting through the BS and the noise – going straight to the truth, and calling on it.”

The Project 
A Luminous Femme is a woman who has remembered that her greatest power, beauty, and strength, have been within her all along.

She knows that her trials and tribulations are opportunities for more self-awareness, growth, and compassion. And she jumps into this journey of deeper and deeper self-love and self-awareness with gusto and no apology. She cultivates a deep love and respect for her Femmebody, for the way she waxes and wanes, and for her inherent superpowers along the way.

The Medicine
I have been called here to anchor the Light and the Divine Feminine (in the Middle East, no less) and across all borders on Mama Earth. I feel the deepest honor and gratitude for carrying this calling. And such reverence for this life!

Being a woman (or a human, for that matter) in today’s world can feel so draining, confusing, and sometimes downright infuriating. Claiming who we inherently, truly are—and our connection to Source that is right here, in our heart space, in our every cell, at any given moment—is the fast track to inner peace. The medicine is in the remembrance. Cutting through the BS and the noise—going straight to the truth, and calling on it.

The medicine is also in knowing that the divine feminine that is within us all is awakening en masse—and she is not to be tamed, or quieted, any longer. I created Luminous Femme as a container to facilitate a woman’s return to her inner core, which is already perfect and whole, and to remember how to live from that space on the daily. Because there’s nothing juicier or more healing for the world than a woman in her divine feminine element!

The Birthing Process
It has been at least five years (more like my lifetime really) since I’ve had this luminous gift and voice pulsing inside, wanting to be expressed. This has meant healing myself and my blocks, my stories, and working through them all. It’s been knowing I had a message to share but having life keep throwing me curveballs to fill in all the blanks and help me get over whatever held me back in the past.

Discovering yoga at age 18, becoming a teacher 12 years later, and the journey it takes me on a daily basis is humbling and so fulfilling. My mat is my healer, my sanctuary.

The Moon Club Inspiration
It really feels like the coolest place to hang out on the web. I’ve been a Numinous reader for years and a lover of all things Moon related, which is a big part of Luminous Femme philosophy—cyclical living and connecting to the Moon phases.

When I see how this conversation is so normalized in the club, and the presence of all the women in the group who are so strong and healing and brave, it fills me up with so much juice and passion for this way of life. We’re all so connected and willing to do the work—to show up, to accept, and to self-realize. It’s not only deeply informative, it’s also so much fun, like a cosmic pajama party! It’s such an honor to walk this way with you all.

Discover more about Heba and Luminous Femme here. 

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Feeling the inspo? Read more about Moon Club here and become a member to start working your own Moon magic! 

CURIOUS COMMUNION: THE ART OF LAURA BERGER

The art of Laura Berger discovers communion in curious places. Below, she talks positive imagery, humanness, and making art as a healing practice.

The Party’s In Here

Whether lounging under palm fronds or tucked inside rainbows, Laura Berger’s figures delight in their sheer nakedness. As they collide with the wondrous world and each other, they appear both freshly hatched and deeply wise. “I guess I’m often painting what I dream of,” says the artist and yogi. And what does she dream of? Chosen families, phones with cords, and the imperfectly perfect adventure of living.

On the healing journey: I think I’ve been on that journey for many years, ha! It’s an ongoing process for most of us, right? I think making things is a good way to generate natural healing vibes, and the themes I’m working with are very positive. So when you spend many hours working on positive imagery, I like to think it slowly, slowly sinks in and has an impact, both consciously and subconsciously.

On chosen families: My own family is now very small, so I have this very deep longing to be a part of a close-knit group of people who can fill in that void a little bit. Like a chosen family—a group where you can feel completely safe to be wholly who you are, and where you can experience a sense of true understanding and belonging. I don’t currently have that in my life, but I value it so much. I miss the old way of communicating. Let’s do handwritten letters and face visits and pony rides and get phones with cords that stay in our houses when we go out.

On surrendering to the experience: Life unfolds so randomly and imperfectly perfectly. I’m interested in the push and pull between trying to control our experiences and accepting what comes, and how this works. Questions that there’s no rigid answer to. I think a lot about death, ritual, adventure, and finding ways to honor ourselves and sit calmly in the center of all of these conflicting experiences that we have.

On discovering humanness: I feel like [making art and practicing yoga] just gets you closer to the experience of it: more aware of your own extremely complex human-ness and the equally complicated human-ness of others. Hopefully you find more compassion across the board, and more appreciation for and empathy towards this shared, insane experience of being a human that we are all swimming through.

On the most challenging part of the creative process: Sitting down and starting.

And the easiest: Anytime after I’ve actually started.

On the moments when you feel most alive: When I’m not trying to do anything but be alive.

Crew
Time to Chill
Crowdsurfing
Personal Mountains
Let’s Get Cosmic

Discover more about Berger’s work at lauraberger.com and follow her @_lauraberger_

This piece was adapted from Aligned Magazine’s interview with the artist, originally published October 10, 2016.