QUEER HERO: 7 WAYS TO HEAL FROM SEXUAL TRAUMA

In the wake of Jupiter’s transit through Scorpio, sexual trauma has been brought to light over and over again. In his latest “Queer Hero” column, survivor and healer Danny Brave shares 7 ways to process the deep pain and move from #Metoo to I AM … Photos by Tal Shpantzer 

Portrait of Danny by Tal Shpantzer

The #MeToo movement exploded onto social media on October 15th 2017, only four days after Scorpio’s transit into Jupiter (the sign of intimacy, sex, secrets, and power). The hashtag was created by Tarana Burke, the black woman whose brilliant activism started the movement all the way back in 2006. Her decade of advocacy reached mainstream awareness when Alyssa Milano tweeted #metoo in response to accusations of sexual assault & misconduct in Hollywood.

Whether or not we wanted to deal with it, molestation, rape, and sexual trauma was being brought to light over and over and over again. Some of us felt ready for this darkness to reveal itself so dramatically and intensely, while others of us felt ill-prepared for all of the undigested emotions and traumas that these women were bringing to the forefront of our consciousness.

With Jupiter still retrograding through Scorpio, and April marking Sexual Assault Awareness Month (S.A.A.M.), I have been reflecting on all that has transpired since the initiation of this powerful planetary movement … 

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Widening the sexual trauma narrative
The stories of who is sexually assaulting who are as varied as the number of people on earth. I know white cis gender men who have been assaulted by cis white women, and I have met men who were molested by their mothers as boys. Sexual violation has been perpetrated by gay men to other gay men, by queer POC to other queer POC, by fathers to girls who come out later in life as non-binary or trans men, by white people to black people and vice versa.

The list of race, gender, sexuality, body type, and age variable narratives continues, as is reflected by the statistics:

– 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime
– Of trans people of color: American Indian (65%), multiracial (59%), Middle Eastern (58%), and Black (53%) have experienced sexual assault
– American Indians are twice as likely to experience rape/sexual assault compared to all races
– 1 in 3 women experience sexual assault
– 1 in 10 men experience sexual assault
– 44% of lesbians experience rape
– 61% bisexual women experience rape
– 26% of gay men experience rape
– 37% of bisexual men experience rape

*Statistics are for the United States only, from the U.S. Trans Survey in 2015RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), and the National Intimate Partner & Sexual Violence Survey). 

And the effects are staggering. From persistent and debilitating anxiety and/or depression, to the shutdown of one’s sexuality, and a sense of complete worthlessness and suicidal thinking, the wake of this abuse’s devastation goes on and on.

For the sake of everyone’s healing, we must not confine this widespread epidemic to old stereotypes and the rigidity of the gender binary.

Portrait of Danny by Tal Shpantzer

7 ways to heal your sexual trauma …
To provide some solutions, below is a love letter—a list of tools, rituals and advice that have helped me and my clients reclaim our lives, sexuality, and bodies in the aftermath of sexual trauma …

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1//Make art. Whatever your creative medium, express it! You don’t have to show what you create to anyone at all (unless you want to!), you don’t have to be good at it, and you don’t have to spend much money (writing, for example, costs about $3 for a cheap notebook and pen). The purpose is just to get the energy moving.

Creativity is governed by the sacral chakra, located in the pelvis, genitals, and lower back, and connected to sexual energy. When you are being creative, you are helping to unearth, clear, uplift, and release some of the stagnant or painful energy that got planted there during moments of abuse.

If you are struggling with depression in particular, making art makes you active again. It puts the ball back in your court and helps you remember that life can be beautiful, and that it is okay to feel. Become the transmuter of your own pain through your creativity and I promise you catharsis will be there, and that this will eventually (if not immediately) lead to feeling better.

*Recommended:  The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

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2//Tell someone who makes you feel safe and who you know will believe you. One of my mentors taught me that the lips of the labia and the lips of the mouth have the same nerve endings—they are connected. What this means is that sexual trauma silences us; it makes us somehow incapable of voicing our truth, standing up for ourselves, and asking for our needs (emotional or otherwise) to be met.

Telling our deep dark truths to someone we can trust can be one of the most healing experiences. Here’s a loose structure to get you started:

1 – Contact the person you are going to meet and ask them, in your own words, if they will meet with you in person so that you can vent and get something really difficult off your chest.

2 – Tell them exactly what you need from them afterwards. Is it a quick hug? To be held for a while? To say “I’m sorry that happened to you,” to say “thank you for telling me your story”? It can feel weird to make such a clear and specific requests, but people aren’t mind-readers, and our abuse stories are so intense that we often require a very specific type of support to feel just that: supported.

3 – Tell them your story and provide as many details as possible. I am talking about the date and time, who did it, the location of the abuse on your body, how you felt—the whole thing. If it makes it easier, you can write this out all out in advance. Notice the resistance to doing this and try to push through and speak your truth anyway.

4 – Set up something really lovely to do for yourself afterwards—something that makes you feel comforted, brings you back to the present moment, or brings you joy. Do you love to go see movies? To plant a garden? To paint? To go for a joy drive and blast music? After unleashing your powerful truth, make sure you engage with this activity for as long as it takes to get you back to the present moment.

*Recommended: Vagina by Naomi Wolf

Portrait of Danny by Tal Shpantzer

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3//Realize that what happened to you is NOT your fault. Something that tends to get built into the experience of sexual abuse is that we, on some level, caused or created it.

The mind of a child is more straightforward than the mind of an adult, and it does not understand that bad things that happen are not caused by them. If the abuse is being perpetrated by an adult to a child, the child knows that the parent is the one feeding and clothing them and therefore will do any and all mental gymnastics to repress, imagine, or self-blame the abuse away by taking on and in all of the pain and blame.

If you were an adult when the abuse happened to you, it’s still easy to think: “If I hadn’t been drunk, if I had been wearing something different …” If we are spiritually-inclined, we might even torture ourselves with spirituality and the law of attraction, asking ourselves ridiculous things such as: “Why did I create this experience? Maybe I wasn’t thinking positively enough … I wonder why I attracted this abuse?”

Why do we try to make something as awful as this our fault? The truth is simple: it is easier to blame ourselves and engage in self-hatred then it is to deal with the fact that what happened was not in our control and not our fault whatsoever. Doing this also prevents us from having to deal with the emotional reality of holding someone else accountable for their actions.

Hating ourselves or trying to make ourselves responsible for something we clearly didn’t cause or do is an incredibly effective defense mechanism to either defend the memory of our parents because we want to maintain a relationship with them, and/or to avoid holding the perpetrator fully accountable for the painful emotions associated.

It is because of this that I cannot stress enough: what happened to you was not your fault. What happened to you was not your fault. What happened to you was not your fault. What happened to you was not your fault.

It wasn’t.

And coming to terms with this is an all-too-necessary step that needs to happen before forgiveness and letting go (after all, if we don’t hold someone accountable to begin with, then what is there even to forgive?)

*Recommended: Repressed Memories by Renee FredricksonQueering Sexual Violence by Jennifer Patterson; Stacyann Chin’s powerful speech: Not my fault; Diana Oh’s incredible feminist art/activist installation My Lingerie Play (Especially Installation 3/10: “Even If You Found Me Like This”).

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4//Perform a releasing ritual. Ritual is a powerful way that we can find closure and healing for experiences and situations that seem impossible to ever gain closure from. By doing something physical, ritual provides a concrete moment that serves as a bridge for us to walk over and into the next phase of our lives.

Here are a couple of suggestions for releasing rituals that I have found to be incredibly powerful in healing my own sexual trauma:

1 – Write a letterto the person who did it (and don’t send it). I know, it’s intense. The thing is … if you have not done something like this already, it is likely that the thoughts and feelings you would communicate directly to this person are rolling around in your head and your body, anyway, and without an outlet.

What we are looking for here is catharsis and closure. It is not meant to be sent to the person, and that being said, it does not have to be respectful or kind in any way. Get it aaaaalllll out. And then, safely destroy it! Rip it up, or light it on fire. Afterwards, make sure you set yourself up with some really lovely after-care: a relaxing walk alone or with a friend, a gentle movie that makes you feel comforted, etc.

2 – Go somewhere in nature. Preferably a body of water (and especially the ocean). Take a stroll to find either a seashell or rock, and place it in your hand. With the object in your hand, charge it up with all of the feelings and experiences of the abuse, and all of the things that have happened as a result of it.

Take a moment to really feel all of that energy and pain moving through and out of your body and into the shell or rock. Then, THROW IT IN THE OCEAN! Boom: it’s done, it’s over. Give yourself some time to sit and have a leisurely walk or maybe even journal after you release this- again, with everything involving your recovery, taking the time for gentle after-care is important.

*Recommended: She Let Go by Rev. Safire Rose (adjust pronouns accordingly, brave ones!)

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5//Adjust your sexual expression accordingly. While it may not be the case for everyone, it has been my own, and many of my clients’ experiences that sexual abuse tends to create a polarity of subsequent sexual expression: either way too much, or way too little (basically non-existent).

This is not an invitation to judge yourself, rather to become self aware of your sexuality and sexual patterns from a place of unconditional love. Remember, the extremity is not your fault (re-visit bullet point #3 if you’re beating yourself up).

*For my way too much-ers: Take a vow of celibacy for 3 months (it’s ok: you can still masturbate). During this time, when you do masturbate, take a few breaths and ask to connect to God/Spirit/the Universe (whichever term you prefer) through your sexual energy (and prepare to be blown away!!)

Make a list of 10 other ways to feel loved, outside of engaging in sexual activity with another person, and commit to exploring one of them each week during your temporary celibacy.

*For my non-existent/way too little-ers: Make it a non-negotiable commitment to exploring your sexual nature and opening up to sexual experiences on a bi-weekly basis, working up to sharing yourself with a consenting partner, if it feels right.

Also, dance. Yes, DANCE. Take dance classes that bring the energy down into the lower chakras: African dance, hip hop, pole dancing, etc. Get out of your comfort zone!

*Recommended: Why Mother Nature is the Ultimate Goddess of Love by Tirzah Shiya

Photo of Danny by Tal Shpantzer

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6//Invest in healing that is holistic and takes your body into account. We know that the conscious mind governs only 10-20% of the totality of our consciousness. Traditional psychotherapy is typically working with the 10-20% of the conscious mind to try to get to the 80-90% that’s less conscious. Unsurprisingly, I prefer methods that go straight to the 80-90%: reiki, shamanic healing, and meditation. You might also try sound healing, hypnotherapy, tapping, somatic experience, or any other mind-body practice you feel drawn to.

The site that is typically inflicted with a sexual trauma wound for women, trans men, and those assigned-female-at-birth is the vagina, or “yoni.” Mystics and shamans know this place to be the gateway to the universe, and the key to creation of life itself—not only human life as in childbirth, but also the creation of all things, such as personal dreams and manifestations.

In my personal shamanic healing practice, I use a tool called a shamanic extraction, which uses the intelligence of crystals to safely extract pain, fear, and any other energy intrusions that were inflicted on the individual’s yoni during the time of abuse out, followed by the channeling of reiki healing energy into the area. This allows the individual to have agency over their yoni, one of the deepest and most powerful tools for us to create our lives from this place- a place of health, clarity, and integrity.

Another incredibly effective tool I use is shamanic cord cutting, which is a powerful ritual in which we take the cord of energy that is usually still subconsciously or unconsciously connecting the client to their abuser via a vibration of pain, and we release it, and follow up by channeling reiki or healing energy into the area for deep healing.

*Recommended:  My one-on-one healing workMoon Mysteries by Nao Sims & Nikiah Seeds & Boundaries by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

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7//Connect with community. The patriarchy thrives off of separation. Pain and darkness prevail when we are in isolation. This is not normal or natural, and we need matriarchy now—a matriarchy that is for all genders, races, body types, and ages.

It is imperative that in your healing journey, you find some sort of community to join where you feel safe enough to be seen. It can be a shamanic community, a monthly women’s circle, AA, a hiking club—there are tons of things to do and join in this world, both in-person and online.

Don’t do this alone. You can’t do it alone. Other people need you and you need them, and that’s okay. My hope is that we start to live in a world where our emotional needs are no longer judged as being “needy.” We all need each other, and we all heal each other. So let’s do that.

*Recommended:  If you’re located in NYC, sign up for my upcoming 6-week transformational community group HERE; also check out the Red Tent MovementMoon Club, and Meetup.com

HOLY F*CK: HOW TO CREATE HEALING AS ART

Forget plasticky mats and badly lit yoga studios. Writer, director, artist, and transformational coach, Alexandra Roxo, tells you how to make sacred sexy, and create healing as art …

Photo: Keith Carlsen

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Magic feasts & dark chocolate canoodles …
I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life working as a writer, director, and artist. At age 21, I created an immersive theatre experience, where the music, the aromas, and colors allowed people to be completely lost in the moment, forgetting who they were. 

For a New Year’s Soiree in Portland, OR, in 2007, I hand dyed invites with beet juice. I instructed everyone to arrive in white. I decorated the house with vintage candlesticks. Made little tents out of sheets for couples to canoodle in, with books of erotica and dark chocolate. Throughout the night there were surprise musical acts. Everyone dancing! And in the morning there was a feast around a long table, where declarations were spoken. It was 48 hours of Magic. A retreat into Love. And this way of crafting experiences has continued with me.

Birthday parties, events, rituals. I can “direct” and make art out of any part of my life. And my healing work is no different. I see healing as art.

Photo: Alexandra Herstik

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Full body healing & healing as art …
When I think of healing spaces and rooms, I often think of bad lighting. Sagging couches. Yoga studios with plastic mats and water bottles and the same Kunda tunes on repeat. And as a healer and a director, I want nothing more than to make the healing experience a full body, full sensory experience of art, delight and great pleasure!  

I’ve had practice crafting this in our Moon Club meetups. Just last month, myself, Gaby Herstik and Kaitlyn Kaerheart— the LA pillars of Moon Club— crafted an evening of healing as living art, the whole night directed by me, like a Mistress of Ceremonies and a High Priestess extraordinaire!

We titled the event “There is a Light that Never Goes Out,” after The Smiths song. People arrived to candlelight. Wearing black. I opened with a monologue and setting of the space, an incantation, a dropping in. We were serenaded by Kaitlyn’s sweet voice. Like an angel! Then we shared stories in the dark. We received a magical Gong Bath from North and Nomad, and hands-on healings and oils from Kaitlyn, Gaby and I. The night was a piece of theatre. A true ritual, with every detail intact. No small talk. No chatter. No same-old Trader Joe’s snacks!

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Mix your sacred with your gorgeous …
This is how I will be crafting ALL my healing experiences from now on. Healing is getting a new look. Sex. Art. Fashion. Theatre. No more yoga studios and therapy rooms. I’ll be leading healing work on beaches. In gorgeous living rooms. In the forest. Sacred acts, dedicated to the Divine! A celebration of human existence. A return to the way we once healed and worshipped. Before the puritans took the fun out of it!

And you can DIY mini experiences for yourself and your friends anytime! No more pot luck dinner dates. How about hosting something fabulous and fun and experimental? It takes less efforts than you’d think to turn a night with friends into something magical and memorable.

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Here’s how to create your own artistic healing soirée … 
1// Create your event around a theme. This could be in line with the Moon. An Equinox. A certain ritual you’ve read about and feel inspired to lead. Or your own Solar Return!

2// Art direct the shit out of it! Make Pinterest boards. Choose colors. Start to envision and most importantly to feel the world you want to create.

3// Create a run-of-play. Do you want to put love notes in secret spots for people? Create a hot seat for Compliment Showers? Put sexy questions into a hat for people to answer? Invite a musician to stop by? Have someone lay down and get an 8-hand massage? Get creative and map out a time-line. Imagine the colors. The smells. No hummus and chips and no Pandora on shuffle! Get specific.

4// Ask for help. Get a friend on board to help you execute. This is your Assistant Director. Love them and have fun together. Send them a gift after!

5// Send those invites and test it out. The first one may be clunky. Maybe the music didn’t come on at the right moment. Someone got the dress code wrong. But have faith! Things will get more clean and clear as your faith in your ability to direct gets stronger. When you commit to bringing YOUR presence is when you’ll inspire others to elevate into their own greatness, too. I promise!

Photo: Alexandra Herstik

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In 2018, I’ll be creating my most ambitious healing as art experience to date—leading a Transformational Healing Journey for six women. And I have two spots left! It begins February 1 and will entail a RADICAL six-month healing journey of magic and art and sexiness. A true return to healing and transformation as your own greatest art form!

Our journey will include SIX fully art-directed, 2-day retreats, which I’ll be co-leading with some of the most incredible practitioners from my own healing journey—many of whom I’ve written about for this column. We’ll be dancing with serpents. Suspended by ropes. Sitting in sacred tea ceremony. Diving into the wisdom of plant medicine. Taking cedar baths in the desert. Doing heart-opening work with the Divine Masculine (in divine man form!) And so much more.

Email Alexandra at [email protected] to receive all info and an application! Program begins 2/1.  First retreat is 2/10-2/11.

ALTERNATIVE HEALING AS “CURA” FOR ADDICTION & TRAUMA

Can meditation and visionary medicine break cycles of addiction, trauma, and poverty? Elyssa Jakim sits down with the makers of new documentary Cura to talk alternative healing as a tool for empowerment …

Yolanda commemorating her son’s death at a ceremony led by Ananda Ray

“When you find this disciplined practice, you discover that you can support yourself—you can be a sovereign being. That’s the big takeaway from medicine work or any of these other modalities: they help you find a way to stand up for yourself and to know when to ask for help”—Yolanda Frausto 

Cura is a feature length documentary in progress that tells the story of Yolanda and Donny, a Mexican-American mother and son breaking cycles of addiction, trauma, and poverty using community, meditation, and visionary and alternative medicine. When Yolanda loses her younger son while in police custody, she strives to save her other son, Donny, from addiction and the possibility of suicide.

As the film preps for debut (the Kickstarter is live through December 17th), Elyssa Jakim sat down with producer Ismail Ali, who’s also the Policy and Advocacy Counsel at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and Yolanda Frausto, the film’s subject, to talk film as medicine, the war on drugs and, ultimately, the healing power of community.

**Watch the trailer HERE. 

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ELYSSA JAKIM: You call Cura an “An evocative soul portrait of a mother and her son healing generations of family trauma with natural and alternative medicine.” What is a soul portrait?

ISMAIL ALI: With this film, we want to show people that there are methods to healing that are beyond the body; that require a relationship between the body and the mind, and even the spirit. As a form of soul portraiture, the film is a snapshot of the lives of Yolanda and Donny. So, it’s about their lives in a mundane way, but it is also about them as spiritual beings—a portrait of their spirits. We’re saying this is a look at who they are at their core, framed by them living in Oakland and coming from poverty.

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EJ: How did the title “Cura” come about? It seems like a word with multiple meanings. What does it mean to you?

YOLANDA FRAUSTO: To me “cura” means “here’s how we heal together. Here’s how you can find healing in yourself through my story.” There’s no one cure. It’s like the grief process—it’s a fact of life that we all go through it, but nobody can tell you exactly how it’s going to happen, you have to figure it out. I come from a background where it’s common for somebody to get stabbed or shot, overdose, or commit suicide and we don’t talk about it. So to be able to talk about grief is where the name “cura” helps. It means “let’s heal from what’s too hard to deal with and let’s do it together.” It plants the seed for healing.

Yolanda and her son Donny

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EJ: How did you discover natural medicine, Yolanda?

YF: I got sober from drugs in 2005. I needed to change my life because I was headed in a really bad direction and I just stopped using. Three years later, I was working in a hotel in San Francisco and I learned about yoga from a woman doing a teacher training there. I started practicing, eventually up to six days a week. Then I got really serious about meditation. About a year later, I found plant medicine and I was like “Oh, this is my jam!” I felt that my whole life happened the way that it did so that I could find this as a spiritual practice. All of these things fell into my path, I didn’t seek any of it out, but inside of me I knew I was ready. 

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EJ: How has plant medicine helped you work through a trauma?

YF: It allowed me to have that one-on-one communing time with spirit that people can also find in prayer or in a deep meditation practice. I found the medicine around the time my mom became sick with ALS, and when I lost my son, I was already in the medicine community. Both times that I lost family members, I found that I had this community of people praying for me, showing up for me, bringing me food. I’d never had that kind of support before and they really taught me what it is to be supported. Also when you find this disciplined practice, you discover that you can support yourself—you can be a sovereign being. That’s the big takeaway from medicine work or any of these other modalities: they help you find a way to stand up for yourself and to know when to ask for help.

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EJ: Do you believe that you have this kind of medicine work or curandera work in your ancestry?

YF: I hear the land where my great grandparents come from is peyote lands. So somehow I have a funny feeling that my great grandmother has been guiding me throughout my life and brought me home to the traditions by showing me a pathI believe strongly in the spirit world and how they lead us back to what’s home for us. When I was a kid, my grandma would cure us with folk remedies. And now I’m that person. I know the recipes and natural remedies, I know what to do. I feel like it was something that was instilled in me, but that no one taught me. I’m always saying “There’s a tea for that!” My sons would say “Oh, you’re just a witch.”

Yolanda

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EJ: As plant medicine gets more popular, what kind of responsibility do people need to be taking when they take the medicine or administer it? Is it something you believe can find a place in a more Western medical mindset?

IA: Donny and Yolanda have experienced a tremendous amount of trauma as a result of simply being Mexican-American people who grew up in a place with huge amounts of drugs and violence, and which was not set up for them to have access to power or influence. I believe the strong pushes to decriminalize or medicalize or otherwise create access to pant medicines are in many ways responses to that harm.

So how can you leverage this harmful system to bring about some sort of benefit to the people who have suffered this exact kind of trauma? We need to take an honest look at what will be necessary to make this possible, and I think that during the next five or ten years we’re going to really crystallize what those systems look like.

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EJ: Does the film speak to the phenomenon of wellness practices and techniques being inaccessible to people who aren’t of a particular ethnicity, or of a particular socioeconomic background?

IA: That’s actually why I started working on the film. These beautiful practices often require you to have resources—at the very least to be able to afford to take time off to care for your own mind. So many people are limited in this way. So accessibility is real, colonialism is real, and being aware of all these concepts and then shifting our behavior in line with addressing them is really important. The film is really about two people who are deciding to do some really serious work to break the cycles of their lineage, despite the fact that they don’t have the time and resources.

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EJ: Did you find the process of filmmaking itself to be a kind of healing?

YF: I was able to process grief in a way that I did not know was possible. I reenacted the scene when I was driving and got the phone call from the coroner about my son. After we shot it, I cried for about an hour and then felt so much relief. I only got to process my grief in that visceral way because I was part of this film-making process. How else could you act out something in your life? Whenever things become challenging to film, I know it is creating space for me and my family to process. It’s hard to have these conversations but we’ve also found a way to communicate differently while filming.

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EJ: What would you most like to see for the film?

IA: We hope people will be inspired to involve their own communities in it. We want people to watch this and to talk to the people in their lives about what all of these themes mean to them. We really think that yes, all of these healing modalities themselves are great, but part of the reason that Yolanda and Donny are where they are now is because of the community in their lives.

YF: I believe it will speak to specific people, who find something in it to help them. Maybe it just means they’ll find a way to say, “I can talk to my family, this isn’t so hard.” Quite a few friends have told me, “for you to come out and tell your story really gives me hope, trust, and faith in a future for myself and my family.” The goal was for my story to help other people heal.

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Cura is a project of Hover Pictures, directed by Ethan Goldwater. Please support the film by visiting the Kickstarter page, and sharing the link. Be on the lookout for information about future events during the campaign in Los Angeles (December 13), and New York City (December 15), and make sure to follow the film on Facebook and Instagram. 

ADORNMENT AS SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: COMMUNING WITH JOY SMITH

Channeling the Divine through the decadently bejeweled, artist and mystic Joy Smith is raising the mystical-material vibration ever higher with her transformational talismans.

Sculptress and seer Joy Smith believes that adornment is an intimate conversation—between the creator, the wearer, and the Divine.

Inspired by nature’s potent mysteries, and the light of Divine beauty that resides in every being, the artist’s ethically sourced, recycled gold pieces spark an emotional exchange between the the universe and each of us.

For Smith, connection to the Divine is always available, and through our talismans we can bring our personal conversation with the heavens all the way down to Earth.

With her newly-launched Light Sessions, Smith is raising the material-mystical vibration even higher. During these custom experiences, she uses song, meditative chants, and Reiki to channel a one-of-a-kind talisman that supports your distinctive transformation and growth.

Spirit is absolutely everywhere. Why not dress her in radiant gold?

(Hint: Start decking out your Divine with some inspo from Joy’s jewel-drenched Instagram feed!)

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Ruby Warrington: What are your own personal talismans?
Joy Smith: I wear pieces according to what I need—so I can beam my light out everywhere. I have different pieces that embody different feelings for me.

For example, I have a custom piece I made for myself that’s super special. In Milan, on a retreat with Deborah Hanekamp, we hiked to a pagan ritual place, where I found what looked like a piece of a ceramic vessel glinting in the grass. I could feel that it was infused with a spirit that wanted to help me with my healing work, and so I set it into a ring, which I wear when I’m creating pieces, and during my Light Sessions.

Even talking about it takes me back to that place. In the future, I’d like to go on pilgrimages to sacred sites to source similar pieces as part of my work.

 

My Moon, My Light Necklace

RW: Your pieces have a strong spiritual essence. What’s your relationship to organized religion?
JS: The dogma of different religions can get messy, but the essence of spirit is what’s precious to me. I connect to the idea of the Holy Spirit, which I think of as our connection to the Divine—the spirit in us. My work is about activating that in others. I’m also super interested in world religions. I see the common thread and that’s fascinating to me. All the stories are the same, just different characters.

Having grown up Catholic, I still connect deeply to the iconography. I see the etchings in my designs as radiating light, and my goal is to elicit the idea of “heaven,” which I define simply as the place where great spirit lives … bliss.

 

Guardian Rustic Shield Ring

RW: What do you see as the intersection between spirituality, craftsmanship, and art?
JS: I never thought I’d make jewelry. I knew I loved art history, and wanted to be a painter. I also connected to artists, as I felt they were connected to something spiritual with their work. I wanted that connection to come through in my work, too. I also love fashion because I see the spirit of the designer in it. It’s like art to me.

I fell into jewelry through the sculpture of making it. I initially wanted to be a fine painter, but didn’t think I was good enough and I couldn’t relay my message effectively at that time in that medium. Now, I express myself spiritually through my pieces as they relate to how I feel on the inside. I want them to be infused with feelings of beauty and light, and for this to be reflected in how I adorn myself on the outside.

I believe God, spirit, etc., created us as an expression of the beauty of the Divine. I make it a point to meditate and pray before I make my work. When we work in this way as creators, that’s spirituality to me.

The artist at work

RW: What do the concepts of God and the Divine mean to you?  
JS: I believe God and the Divine are forms of the highest spirit, a spirit greater than ourselves that also lives within us and is part of us. That guides and protects us and loves us unconditionally. Neither are religious terms for me- I see them as a universal Spirit.

My own spiritual breakthrough came in my early twenties, when I had a very severe panic attack, and found myself debilitated by anxiety. My first teacher asked about my spiritual practice, and she gave me my first spiritual book, Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Prayer. I still read it every day. It helped me remember how to pray—how to connect to God—in a spiritual way.

RW: “Light Language” is such a glorious phrase—tell us about learning to speak this language, and how clients experience it during your “Light Sessions.”  
JS: “Light Language” is how I describe my conversation with the divine, something that comes out in channeled melodies, or prayer. The term came to me via my guides during an Akashic records reading—and this really is how I feel about my conversations with God. The Light Language also comes through as automatic writing, which I carve into my talismans and artwork.

I came up with the Light Sessions since my work can be very solitary and I knew I wanted to connect with people on a deeper level. And my Light Language becomes vocal, as if I’m speaking in tongues, during one-to-one with my clients. I see it as the language of love, as expressed in my creations.

The Light Sessions are about channeling creations for transformation. We talk about stones and the style of the piece, and then my clients give me their intention and lay on my table, and I’ll either sing melodies of prayer or do Reiki and channel messages that come to me.

Afterwards, we create an intention candle together and they go home with their candle to pray / meditate with their intention in mind, and I go home and channel that energy while creating the piece for transformation. The plan is to also make this available to couples as a custom ring engagement ceremony.

RW: Who is the “Communion Woman”? 
JS: Women who wear my jewelry have a strong sense of self. The common thread is that they have a connection to spirit, and that they’re all powerful in their own right. A lot of my clients have often been through a lot emotionally.

Having experienced challenges in their lives, they have been led to work on themselves spiritually, in order to connect more deeply to themselves and to the Divine. They’ve already found this connection, and want to explore more deeply what it means for their lives. A lot of their work is in service of the greater good. They have that depth.

Discover more about Communion by Joy’s sumptuously sacred jewels HERE, and book a custom Light Session with Smith in LA. 

YES, I AM: A MANIFESTO FOR 2017

The antidote for anxiety is to create your own manifesto for 2017, says Dani Katz. All you need to begin is a passionate cry of “Yes, I am!”

Despite any and all mainstream propaganda to the contrary, I happen to know that 2017 is going to be amazing—chock-full o’ fun, joy, personal breakthroughs, real-deal love, next-level sex, and quantum leaps in consciousness, success, prosperity, and lifestyle.

I know this because I also know that I, and I alone, am responsible for how I choose to experience reality. To this end, it’s become a daily practice—aligning my heart, mind, body, and spirit with my values, my genius, my desires, and my dharma. It helps that I have created a secret weapon—Yes, I Am—a hand-drawn, transformational coloring book that supports me in being my very best me ever, and in making 2017 my most wonderful year yet.

The book is divided into twelve I Am chapters, each one focusing on a different intention. I chose the I am theme because “I am” is the most powerful phrase in every mystical tradition there is, was, and ever will be—these two words are encoded with the transformative power of the multiverse.

And so, because sharing is caring, and caring is cool, I am offering up this manifesto, inspired by that aforementioned book of intentional awesomeness, so that you, too, can make 2017 your very best year ever.

***

“I AM SYNESCOPIC POSSIBILITY”

I choose to remember that limitation is an illusion that exists to be obliterated. I don’t buy into anyone else’s attempts to limit me, and I devote myself to surpassing my perceived limitations, and surprising myself with all that I can—and will—accomplish, and be, and share.

***

“I AM LOVE”

I choose to align myself with love in every moment. I meet non-love with love. I love myself unconditionally, and al(l)ways, and I radiate that love outwards, towards everyone I meet and engage with (while remembering that boundaries and discernment are self-love, too). I know that love is a state of mind, and a way of meeting the world, and I commit to embodying this love more and more, and better and better, each and every day.

 ***

“I AM OPTIMAL HEALTH”

Because the external is ever and always a reflection of the internal, I am committed to cultivating optimal health. This means sweating, breathing, and hydrating. This means eating organic whole foods, and getting plenty of sleep, and flossing and cleansing and supplementing accordingly. It also means minding my media intake, extricating myself from toxic relationships, and not overtaxing my adrenals on yerba maté, regardless of how yummy it tastes.

***

“I AM AUTHENTIC”

While money, achievement and outward notions and acknowledgements of success are lovely, I am far more interested in being the very best, most integrated and expressed me I can possibly be. I embrace my uniqueness. I appreciate my individual quirks and characteristics, and all the ways they come together to make this once in a lifetime phenomenon called me. Fuck trends. Fuck in/out lists. Fuck envy, comparison, established standards of beauty and love and success and lifestyle. I’m carving out my own course, and I’m doing a bang-up job of it.

***

“I AM MAGIC”

Did you know that 99% of our reality is totally invisible? Yup. And so it is that I am living 2017 as a testament to unseen forces of good and love and fun and wonderful, knowing that the Universe is infinitely more mystical than I could possibly imagine, and that miracles happen every second, of every day. Bring ‘em on, I say.

***

“I AM CONFIDENCE”

I know my value. I embody my wonderfulness. I shrink for no one. I am an empowered badass warrior of light and love and giggles, and I model this elevated awesomeness for, and in service to, the world at large. We. Are. Welcome.

***

“I AM NOW”

I don’t lollygag in the past, or worry about the future, because those are mere conceptual traps that keep me from experiencing the present moment, which is where reality (and juicy magical awesomeness) reside. I don’t surrender the miracle of my now to dark, dreary future fears, or what ifs, or worst case scenarios. I meditate. I focus on sensation instead of mind chatter. I trust in divine timing. I am patient. I am patient. I am patient.

***

I AM A HEALTHY, BALANCED, THRIVING PLANET EARTH”

 

The earth isn’t just our home planet—our very own space ship, hurling us through space—it is a living, breathing, conscious intelligence. With this in mind, I honor her as I do all living creatures. I tread lightly. I conserve resources. I respect the gifts the earth so selflessly gives us—her oxygen, her water, her plants, her sunshine, and her gravity, as well as all the other beings sharing this ride with me. We are all of us earthlings. Every. Single. One. It is through this lens that I move through this magical world, ever and always grateful for these earth gifts with which we are so, so blessed.

***

“I AM ABUNDANCE”

Abundance is a state of mind that draws to it like-vibrating experiences and energies. And so it is that I attune myself to the abundance that surrounds me. I root myself in gratitude for all my blessings. I give. I receive. I know my value, which colors my every exchange. I welcome free-flowing prosperity, and abundance, and enough for everyone. And so it is…

***

“I AM OPTIMIZED”

Despite all illusory notions of time to the contrary, life is not a linear journey. It takes flexibility to flow moment-to-moment, and to hone in on what’s appropriate for said moments. And so it is that I choose to embody my most optimized version of myself, however that looks and feels in each moment. What I love about optimizing is that it requires a deep surrender to the wisdom of forces way bigger and more intelligent than I am. It’s the opposite of micromanaging. Aaaahhhh…so much easier.

***

“I AM GRATITUDE”

It was Meister Eckhart who said: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Gratitude is a magical frequency that transports us to the present moment, and infuses us with graciousness and humility and appreciation. I commit to an attitude of gratitude in 2017. I choose to honor the blessings of what is, instead of lamenting all that isn’t, and all the ways I wish what is was different. And when mood, moon cycles, weather, and mercurial boyfriends threaten my peace of mind, and I stray into the dark and murky waters of fear and doubt and grief and rage, I commit to getting grateful, and to staying grateful, armed with the knowledge that I am not a victim, that there are no victims, and that everything is happening for a blessing – al(l)ways.

***

“I AM WE”

I commit to Unity consciousness—to moving through the world armed with the integrated and embodied knowledge of our Oneness. I know that it is impossible to hurt another without hurting myself, as there is no other, and separation is an illusion. I devote myself to acting in service to the highest good of the whole of humanity, knowing that the only way to change the world is to change myself. I take responsibility for the reflections I attract, knowing that anything and everything that triggers me is merely a messenger who exists to point my attention toward shadows inviting acknowledgement and integration. I summon the courage, the will, and the fortitude to look said shadows directly in the eye, and to integrate them, in service to us all. We. Are. One.

 

Dani Katz is a human being. She writes. She draws. She dances. She lives in her native Los Angeles. Yes, I Am, her transformational coloring book chock-full of interactive inspiration, encouragement, affirmations, and awesomeness, is on sale here. Nab yourself a copy immediately!

 

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.

COSMIC CULTURE FOR MAY 2016

Check out Amelia Quint’s round-up of cosmic culture for May 2016, bringing you the most mystical new releases in music, film, and literature…

Queen Bey

:: MUSIC :: 

BEYONCÉ

If you haven’t watched or listened to Lemonade yet, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful musical events of our generation. More than an album or documentary alone, Lemonade is a work of feminist, activist art. Fueled by the blues and righteous anger, Queen Bey’s Moon – Uranus – Lilith in Scorpio conjunction roars louder than ever. Lucky Jupiter is transiting her Virgo sun in the selfless twelfth house, immaculate timing for her to give the world such an amazing gift.

Lemonade is available now on iTunes, Amazon, and Tidal.

PEACHES

Peaches

Already a mainstay in the electronic music world, Maya Jane Cole’s NSFW brand of genderfluid, sexually charged charisma has her poised for mainstream success. Peaches’ new album, Rub Remixed, was created entirely by female and female-identifying producers – how’s that for divine feminine? Her Sun, Moon, Venus, and Neptune are aligned in magnetic Scorpio, and she has Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius, a placement known both for its poetic potential and ability to shock.

Rub Remixed is set for release on May 27.

:: TELEVISION ::

Prince

Don’t waste your precious energy on TV this month, as May is heartbreakingly devoid of any high-vibe premieres. Instead, take the time you’d spend binge-watching Netflix and pay respects to the incredible artists that have recently passed beyond the veil.

David Bowie

Watch Prince as he debuts his signature purple style and Jimi Hendrix worthy guitar riffs in Purple Rain, or David Bowie in his iconic turn as the Goblin King in Labyrinth. Light a candle, listen to their music, or perhaps write something of your own. Ask yourself: “What legacy do I want to leave behind in this world when I move on to the next?”

:: FILM ::

HIGH RISE

High Rise

An adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s critically acclaimed novel, this dystopian thriller follows the tenants of a luxury high-rise apartment building as they descend into Lord of the Flies-esque tribalism. The novel is a cutting critique of materialism and excess in modern society – must know themes for any modern mystic. If the Kubrick inspired poster is any indication (A Clockwork Orange, anyone?), this is going to be good.

High Rise is scheduled for US release on May 13.

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

Alice Through the Looking Glass

What witch can resist the charms of Lewis Carroll? In this sequel to the live-action 2010 film, wild card Gemini Johnny Depp reprises his role as the Mad Hatter, along with many other original cast members including Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway. In keeping with the ancestors theme, Alan Rickman is featured here as the voice of the Blue Caterpillar. Go for the memories of Professor Snape, stay for what’s sure to be an magical escape.

Alice Through the Looking Glass is scheduled for US release on May 27.

THE WITCH

You can read our full review of The Witch in last month’s Cosmic Culture post, but great news…

The Witch will be available on DVD on May 17. Yes, please!

:: BOOKS ::

THE INNER FIX: BE STRONGER, HAPPIER AND BRAVER

Addictive Daughter

In the first book from Persia Lawson and Joey Bradford, the YouTube self-help divas known collectively as Addictive Daughter share their personal strategies for navigating life in an overstimulating world. With practical videos like “The Trick to Manifesting Your Ideal Lover”, “Why It’s Okay to Be Jealous of Your Friends”, and “How to Stop Anxiety & Panic Attacks in an Instant,” their written advice is sure to be as entertaining as it is enlightening.

The Inner Fix will be available on May 19 via Yellow Kite Books.

365 TAROT SPELLS: CREATING THE MAGIC IN EACH DAY

365 Tarot Spells

Are you a tarot lover who wants to learn magick? This book is for you! In Sasha Graham’s follow-up to 365 Tarot Spreads, she offers a spell for every day of the year based on the archetypes of the tarot. According to the book description, each spell has a list of ingredients, visualization, meditation, affirmation, and card layout — oh my! With enchantments for money, career, creativity, love, and more, Graham definitely has your magical needs covered.

365 Tarot Spells will be available May 8 via Llewellyn Worldwide.

CASTING MY SPELL: CONFESSIONS OF A WHITE WITCH

“I see writing as a spell, decorating my home as a spell, singing as a spell. Whenever I express myself I am casting MY spell.” Shaheen Miro shares what it means to grow up and embrace being a white witch…

I have always had an intimate connection to the unseen – as a child I could feel the pulse of magic in the world around me. I spent my time wandering through the shadows of trees, marveling at the menagerie of creatures forming, looming, and dancing on the ground around me. I gathered stones, flowers, and found objects to create charms for change and good fortune. I spent my time talking to invisible forces…the spirit of the river, the rocks, and my little calico cat.

A little fairy on the edge of dreamland, roaming between worlds, and unraveling mysteries, sometimes I found myself lost, and confused by things I could not put into words. The loneliness of abandoned buildings made my spine tingle, and spirits of the dead danced in and out of my awareness – difficult things for a child to articulate.

My mother and grandmother were my advocates. Strong, beautiful women with big hearts, strong hands, they were brave witches who honored this path, and these gifts.

And so we explored the tangles of nature together. Singing with the plants, and soaking up the light of the moon. My grandmother always spoke of angels as divine helpers who could be called upon at any time, and my mother gave me the gift of the Tarot as a small child – her way of helping me cultivate and hone my blooming psychic abilities.

To some, my story may sound fantastical, the musings of a child captivated by fairytale visions. But all myths are rooted in reality, and I’ve simply always been aware that magic is alive and well in the “real” world.

As such, I never “grew out” of my exploration of the mystical world. I learned to read between the lines, to see the space beyond the eyes. In every moment, in every situation, and in every person, I can see a bead of magic. How we are all made of the same light and shadows – divine beings on an arduous and essentially liberating earth-walk journey.

I have found magic in books, in stories, and in art, and my life has become a pilgrimage to reclaim the folds of the mystical world, while remaining grounded here in the physical. Because this is where magic has the most power.

To quote Stevie Nicks (a weaver of spells through songs): “The stars are apart of us.” Witches know the ebb and flow of the Moon, and we hone and honor this powerful tide of energy in the understanding that we are equal parts spirit and flesh. Our bodies know the grace of the seasons, and the tides of the Moon, and when we channel this energy we become super-powered.

As such, the Moon has always been my muse and my teacher. I spend time soaking in her milky light. I talk to her, expressing my deepest wishes, and my heaviest regrets. My mother and I wander out into the landscapes of the moon and light candles in honor of her light and glory. The moon has become a portal to our inner world, and even when we are apart we know that the Moon connects our souls.

How else do I live it?

There is nothing like wrapping myself in an aura of black chiffon, and letting my wings catch the wind as I spin and spin in the moonlight. A little white witch taking flight into the mystical; transcending my body, and moving through time. I feel alive in the cool hush of the night. Night sounds are prayers that awaken the soul. Witches know the night holds mysteries, and so they seek refuge in her subtle energy.

And the white witch knows the power of magic lies in the ability to evoke what is cradled within. Spells become nothing more than a rhythm of expressing and exploring intention. We mingle with, and call upon the latent potential of objects. Calling on the spirit of botanicals, igniting the influence of candles, and mingling with the essence of crystals.

The Shadow self has also become a teacher for me – for there are gifts to be found here, in the parts that are suppressed, feared, and therefore unacknowledged. When you reach into the dark, you can pull out treasures and heal what’s stuck. So when I encounter the dark, I try to communicate with it. To see what my Shadow Self has to say.

I call myself a White Witch, because I know I am the night and the day. I seek to understand the dark, rather than fear it. To do this, I must know and honor my intuition, seeking out the patterns of the Universe unfolding around me. In omens, cards, and tea leaves. And it’s when I ignore the messages that I find myself falling off kilter.

This is why owning the word “witch” is an act of power. Sometimes it can feel easier to grow numb to the whispers of the magical world. To put your head down, and do what you are told. To act “normal.” But you are not living if you are not expressing, and you are not expressing if you are not telling the whole story. So now I find my power in being “different” – and stepping into the flow of my eccentricities.

For me, witchcraft is a way of life, an inborn desire to truly live. This also means following my creative impulses as an act of scared communion. I see writing as a spell, decorating my home as a spell, singing as a spell. Whenever I express myself I am casting MY spell.

This applies to all the powerful ones, the thought leaders, the rebels, the eccentrics, the artists. The ones who operate in the Earthly realms from a deep seated desire to bring their inner world to life. Magic asked them to channel their vision into being. All they needed was to be their unique expression. And the world changed because of it.

Witches know they do not have to explain their doings. They just do what feels right. Whatever feeds their spirit. And since this takes real bravery, witches don’t do well with fear.

MEDITATION ARTIST: AN INTERVIEW WITH BIET SIMKIN

The girl making meditation the new nightlife, Biet Simkin shares her spiritual practices and how her higher self embraces the shocks of life with Kiran Gill

Artist: Viki Forshee

The Numinous: You’ve experienced a lot of loss in your life, including the death of your parents and daughter, and you describe these events as shocks that have connected you to your higher self. How have these shocks aided you in your spiritual journey? What advice would you offer someone going through a similar experience?
Biet Simkin:
Life is beautiful, but it wasn’t created to be a whole experience. It was broken into millions of shattered parts for our exploration. This is why we sometimes see the beauty in the shattered glass, and at other times the grief and rage. My advice for anyone at any time is to listen, listen to that inner voice and stay close to it. “This too shall pass,” is what they say. And eventually it does, and you will realize it was all worth it. In my life I actually remember experiencing ecstasy around these shocks. My higher self does not want a boring life. Only my mechanics or what some people call “ego” wants it all to be easy. My soul is interested in challenge and loss. My soul is interested in heartache and fear. Get interested in what is breaking you, look closely, it is in the center of these things that your grace can be found.

TN: Your father was a shaman/psychotherapist from Russia. How did his work and beliefs influence you as a child? In your present work, how do your father’s beliefs influence you?
BS: As a child, his influence aided me in being lazy, poetic and curious. He always insisted that I do whatever I want. Being the sad and confused child that I was, having just lost my mother, I didn’t want to do much but sit around, make art, eat snacks and cry sometimes. Eventually, this lack of structure led to rock and roll, drug use, world travel and many lovers. And finally, his passing eight years ago led to a complete shift in being, rendering me a most disciplined and focused entrepreneur in a healthy relationship, with a healthy diet, sober life and perpetual tangos with joy. I am his daughter; I continue his legacy of mixing fun with art and spirituality. The real icing on the cake of his legacy was laughter, and I carry that on.

TN: You have previously described yourself as having a “strong sensual energy.” How have you cultivated this part of your identity in a society that frequently represses and condemns female sexuality?
BS: I do not pay attention to that stuff and consider myself rather masculine, actually. I never really bought into the whole gender thing, it seems kind of silly to me. There are so many feminine men and masculine women….what is gender anyway? I am sexual because sex energy is the highest energy we have on Earth. It is love energy and it is the force with which we create. I consider myself a creator, and to me that is about the sexiest thing a person can remind themselves to be. I think all people want to create, so when they see someone doing it they get excited!

Artist: Frej Hedenberg

TN: You advocate for a more emotional meditative experience that encompasses beauty and gratitude. Why is that? How does this differ from more traditional meditative practices?
BS: My work is more than that of just a meditation teacher. I am an artist who realized that utilizing meditation and space (artistic space or otherwise) could transmute the state of a human being, so the next obvious action was getting human beings into beautiful spaces where I could assist them in transmuting their state! Everything about my work differs from anything else out there because it is an experience created from my inner world. Just like a Kubrick film is different from a Spielberg film. In my film, my work is about exploring the emotional center in a super intellectual way. I like to marry these two, and I do it well. People often comment in their testimonials that there is wit in my work. I believe that part of what makes my meditation experiences so emotional is that I laugh a lot and don’t take life too seriously.

TN: Likewise, you speak of cultivating “divided attention” throughout your day. What is “divided attention” and how does one master it?
BS: Divided attention simply means placing your attention on many things at the same time. So, one would experience the music in the room, their hand on the tea, the tea itself, and perhaps the people around them, and do that all at the same time. This helps slow down time. As it is a difficult practice, it is the ultimate practice. It’s easiest learned in a group or from a teacher, but it must be done out in the world.

TN: What are some of your greatest tools in your spiritual tool kit? Do you have a daily spiritual practice/ritual? What is it?
BS: Listen to your inner voice. It is telling you what to do and you do not listen. When you listen, you will hear it give you clear direction. My daily practice is obedience to this voice. Come hell or high water I will pursue what serves this voice within me. This means I do all the things you would imagine someone does who guards their higher state: I meditate daily, I work out, I pray, I journal, I see friends, I help people, I laugh a lot, I make love, I eat sustainable healthy food, I sleep well…It sounds kind of boring I guess, but it actually sheer ecstasy! Also, I practice gratitude as a way of “being” not “doing.” It is in being in a state of gratitude all day that everything I experience gets transmuted into food for my higher self.

To learn more about Biet and her work visit BietSimkin.com, and follower her on Instagram @guidedbybiet. Biet will be one of the featured instructors at SoulLOVEFest in September.

DANNY BRITO AND THE CULT OF WITCH KITSCH

Miami-based Danny Brito is our latest fash-art obsession. He talks feminism, magic and alien abductions with Gabriela Herstik

Danny Brito Alien t-shirt and witch tote – back by popular demand 09/03/15!

Okay so first off, totally digging the cute meets sassy meets edgy theme you have going on. When did you decide to start selling and creating your art? Were any aliens involved?
I started selling my art right out of high school. I would hand paint tote bags and sell them on Livejournal! But I would say I started taking it seriously in about 2009, when I decided I wanted to start working for myself. I don’t think aliens were involved, although I completely believe in the supernatural…all this sass has been with me since birth. I really feel like my style is a reflection of myself. I’m a very opinionated person who likes really cute and weird things.

You’re based in Florida. Do you love it? Hate it? What’s it like?
Yep I was born and raised in Miami. I really hated it for a while, and spent most of my early 20s trying to move somewhere else. In the past two or three years though I’ve really grown to love it here. I live about two miles from the beach so it’s kind of a slow paced lifestyle, which I like, but it also has some of the allure of city life at times. Miami also has a really great art scene. If I’m feeling especially uninspired, I like heading down to Wynwood in Downtown Miami and just taking in the street art that’s literally everywhere.

Self-portrait

So as you can probably tell, we’re a tad obsessed with all things mystical. What stirred your inspiration to create pieces like the Junk Food Pentagrams and Ali?
I grew up going to catholic school my entire life and as a weird gay kid my body basically repelled the lessons of the bible. I was also really into science fiction and reading about magic and stuff and it’s still kind of stayed with me as an adult.

Are you into the mystical and numinous side of life? If so, does this impact what you create?
I’m not a super spiritual person, but I do believe in karma and that there are spiritual, mystical things out there in the Universe. I personally just like to focus on being a good person, or the best ‘me’ I could be. I think it impacts my art, especially my more feminist or motivational type pieces. I like being able to uplift people with the things I create.

He’s a feminist too

Besides all the pieces in your shop, you have some wild art pieces – a lot of which also happen to feature totally rad women! Is this intentional?
It’s completely intentional because I’ve just always drawn girls, even when I was younger. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized the injustice women face every day. I’m a cisgendered gay man, but I consider myself a feminist and I like to create things that support women. I think the girls I draw are inherently girly but still strong.

Don’t think you’ve escaped more questions about aliens just yet – we have to ask, are you a believer?
I am! Absolutely, I mean I’ve never personally seen any proof but I just find it so interesting. If there’s a low budget alien movie, I’ve probably seen it. I’m also an avid X-Files fan. I’ve seen every episode more times than I can count.

Last but not least, are there any life lessons you’re dying to pass on to our Numi readers?
I think just be yourself, 100%. People can see when somebody is genuine, even through the internets. If you want to get to know me, just follow me on Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. Essentially my social media is my brain just spewing out onto the web.

P.S. Numis – Mention The Numinous when you’re checking out of the Danny Brito Etsy store and you’ll get a special surprise! Keep scrolling for a selection of that’s on offer…

Junk Food Pentagram buttons, £3.50
Danny Brito All Seeing Eyes and Crystals Zipper Pouch, $10
Danny Brito All Seeing Eye lapel pin, $8

LIKE A VIRGIN: HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FIRST TIME AT BURNING MAN

Into the final prep for your first time at Burning Man? Look no further than our total guide to life on the Playa…Words and illustrations: Dani Katz. Photography: Soul on Fire series by Victor Habchy via Behance.net

You’ve been wanting to go for years. Your biggest regret is not having gone back in ‘97, when those two surfer dudes offered you a free ticket and a ride in their VW bus. You almost went in 2003, but ended up at an Iyengar retreat on Maui instead. Whatever. No one cares. You’re a newbie, a Playa virgin, and you’re (finally) heading to Black Rock City to party like a fifth dimensional rock star, and see what all the fuss is about. And you only kinda, sorta know what you’re doing.

Not to worry, dear Burner-to-Be. I am a seasoned Playa veteran, and I have some tips for you:

MAKE ACTUAL CAMP
While paying to crash at an established camp with showers and a meal plan and maybe even hot Tantric hookers seems to be all the rage these days, if this is your first Burn, please, please, please resist the urge to go the princess route. Burning Man isn’t just a ritual, it is an initiation, and there is something to be said for driving yourself to Gerlach with a carful of water, kale chips and camping gear, and finding yourself a spot. Hammering rebar into the hard desert earth, pitching your tent, and fashioning your shade structure. Spending the week getting dirty and staying dirty, and being responsible for keeping your nest clean and safe and welcoming.

It’s grounding, the act of making/maintaining your own camp, and it connects you to the Playa and to the festival in ways you’ll otherwise miss if you pay someone else to do it for you. Radical self-reliance (a foundational Burning Man tenet) doesn’t actually mean: Pay people to do shit you can’t be bothered to do yourself. Just sayin’…

DO THE GIFTING THING
For starters, Burning Man is a gifting economy, so be sure to bring offerings for your fellow Burners – the heartfelt kind that make people smile, and laugh, and feel delightful. Gifts are a great way to break the ice with strangers, as well as to seed the Playa with your energy. So, make sure your offerings are thoughtful, and high-vibing –handmade key chains, gluten-free hash brownies, extemporaneous odes to noteworthy brow arches – that sort of thing.

HYDRATE
The desert has an unquenchable lust for moisture, and thus spends her time sucking every possible drop out of your system. Dehydration can sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention, and slurping steadily. Plus, you have to factor in the toll the drugs and the alcohol are taking on your system, as well as the exertion from so many cross-town bike rides. Commit yourself to following the cardinal rule of hydration: if you’re not peeing A LOT, you’re not drinking enough. Period.

BRING A BIKE
And lock it – even if you think you’re only darting into Center Camp for a quick chai. Time isn’t ever linear, but it’s especially un-so at Burning Man, where fourth dimensional synchronicities trump your iCal…and some people just suck. Oh, and be sure to put something glowy and instantly recognizable on it so that you can find it in the dark, while tripping your face off.

CLEAN UP YOUR S***
Literally. Take pride in helping to keep the Port-a-Potties clean, and don’t throw shit down the hole that didn’t come out of your body, or isn’t toilet paper. If you sprinkle and splatter, clean it up. Don’t squat on the seat with your Playa filthy shoes and not wipe it down after. Think of the person stepping in after you. Are you leaving the port-a-pottie cleaner than you found it? If not, what can you do to tidy up? This is your festival, Black Rock City is your town. Show some pride. Participate in its maintenance. Lead by example.

CARRY SUPPLIES
Carry a bag with you at all times. Put these things in it:

Water
Sunscreen
Lip balm (with sunscreen)
Electrolytes
Aromatherapy spray (You. Are. Welcome.)
Offerings for others
Snacks
A ziploc bag for trash
Enough drugs to share with those in your immediate vicinity
Goggles
Scarf or hankerchief

BE A DUSTBUSTER
Prepare for Playa dust. It is everywhere and unavoidable, and will turn anything and everything white, including your hair and your car. This is what the goggles and the scarf/hankie are for – to cover your face during those impromptu dust storms that blind you in an instant. It is also why you must tie down everything in your that could possibly blow away. It is your responsibility to keep the Playa pristine. It is your responsibility to keep your fellow Burners safe from flying water bottles and feather boas.

WARDROBE
Nights get cold. Wear layers. And shoes you can easily/comfortably dance/ride/leap/skip/run/dance/dance/dance in.

HAIR AND MAKE-UP
Don’t even try to brush your hair. It will dread, and be disgusting. Sunscreen is your friend, as are wide-brimmed hats and daytime sleeves. I know plenty of gals like to go the naked/lingerie-clad route, and that’s just dandy, but do be mindful of the intensity of the sunlight on your skin, and take the necessary precautions.

Slather your feet in Dr. Bronners every morning to stave off the dreaded Playa Foot, and don’t even think about walking barefoot on the earth. Playa Foot is essentially a chemical burn caused by the very alkaline dust that comprises the hard, crackly desert floor. It hurts, and is gross; and you, my friend, want nothing to do with it. Trust me.

Bring biodegradable baby wipes with which to bathe yourself. Use them daily. Share them freely. Bring more than you think you need. Abundance rocks.

THIRD BASE ONLY
Even if you’re sure he’s your soul mate (or at the very least your twin flame) and every cell in your body is screaming Put it in!!!, you are still wise to avoid penetration during the festival. Even if you’re sharing a tent with your husband, and you’re both totally in the mood, you’ll still probably want to avoid penetration, because Playa dust mixed with sex goo is just straight up gross. Stick with foreplay. Plus, it’ll make the sex you have once you’re back in civilization all the better.

 

SEE THE SIGHTS
Spend some quality time with The Man, The Temple, and the art. Traditionally, we give The Man those energies, patterns and thought forms we are ready to release. Keep this in mind while paying him a visit. Carve out some time to acknowledge the things, people and energies that are no longer serving you, and offer them up; that’s what he’s there for. The Temple is a deeply mystical, feminine structure in which we honor our friends, colleagues and loved ones who have passed on from this realm. Do participate in these rituals. They are real. They are meaningful. They are the energetic architecture of the entire Burning Man experience. And the art? Well, the art is just rad. I mean, where else can you engage (i.e. poke, lick, caress, climb) a giant, flaming animatronic snake skeleton underneath a starry, full moon-lit sky?

DON’T JUDGE
Watch your judgments. Look at your contractions. Commit to assuming the best and focusing on the wonderful. Your every thought, gesture and comment absolutely shape the collective experience. So be your best. Radiate that stuff far and wide.

BE AUTONOMOUS
As long as we’re on the topic, if you happen to be going to Burning Man with your lover, do not stay glued together at the hip the whole time. Make proper Playa dates instead. Also, create clear agreements as to what sort of extra-relational canoodling is fair game. Arm yourself with emotional/relational tools to deal with what comes up. Jealousy happens, but it certainly doesn’t have to ruin your Burn.

LOSE YOUR CREW
Be sure to have some solo adventures – this will open you to experiences you might not otherwise attract/brave in an insulated communal cluster. Wander into the deep Playa by yourself. As well, take some quiet time to yourself each day. Allow yourself to receive and to integrate the magic you are co-creating. Rest. Replenish. Nourish.

BE YOURSELF
Finally, remember that what makes Burning Man so amazing is that it is a safe and expansive playground in which you get to be you. Your favorite you. Your most open, authentic, real-deal you. Remember that this is who you really are – always – and that you don’t need to wait for a week-long freak fest in the desert to be it. So commit take this you home with you, and amplify it out into the world where it inspires others to be their own best, most authentic thems, as well. In the name of planetary service ‘n all.

I think that about covers it. Godspeed, my friend. Here’s to your best Burn ever!

What advice have you got for a first time Burner? Connect with us and share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

 

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: HAYLEY STARR

Painting rainbows, Chanel shoes and Conversations With God…Meet Hayley Starr, the high-vibe Hollywood artist on a quest to heal the world.

The woman has an extremely healthy obsession with rainbows (and we all know how I feel about rainbows) – just one reason we’re granting artist, designer and boutique owner Hayley Starr instant super-Numi status. And when she’s not creating a collection of candy-colored esoteric charms to help raise money to heal the planet, she can mainly be found party-hopping with Hollywood’s finest. Swoon.

Hayley’s boutique, The Quest, in Venice Beach has also become a hotspot for the local Now Age set, and is the venue for regular consciousness building classes, seminars and workshops (many of which you’ll find listed in our events section). Was this always her intention for the space?

“I originally opened The Quest in West Hollywood in 2004, when it was a collaborative installation space for allll kinds of artists to tell stories together through our work,” she explains. Closed in 2008, she re-opened in the current Lincoln Blvd location in 2012, where: “and it’s been a my studio and gallery, a store for my works, as well as an event space catering to all things magical…”

“Emotions” by Hayley Starr

Beyond the rainbowtastic artwork on the walls (a visit is not complete without a trip to check out the mural in the restroom), it’s also where you’ll find Hayley’s collection of hand-made, high-vibrational dresses – including her one-of-a-kind Astral gowns (see below). Even better, all the dresses are now available for hire.

Read on for a dive into the Mystical World of a way cool Material Girl…

Dress from The Astral Collection

:: MATERIAL GIRL ::

My label
If I had to choose I’d say Maiyet and Valentino. I don’t actually wear them, I just love what Maiyet stands for and I love what Valentino creates.

Cosmic print dress, Valentino pre-fall 20015

My shoes
I don’t really have the luxury of a shoe addiction as I have a size 12 foot – my shoes come as I’m able to find them! Back in the day when my family had lots of money to spare, my parents bought me Chanel shoes, as they were one of the only brands who made my size. I supposed those are my favorite, I have pairs that are 15 years old. As a matter of fact, I’m wearing a pair now ☺

Lace-ups, Chanel A/W 2015

My fragrance
Essential Faith Perfume Oil. Love it. Smells completely different on each person, and I love the way it melts with my pheromones.

Essential Faith Perfume Oil

My jewels
Mostly vintage. I love searching the Rose Bowl for cool and unique items. One of my favorite searches used to be for original Eastern Star, Jobs Daughter and Rainbow Girl pieces – clubs that are the female counterparts to the Free Masons.

Vintage Order of the Eastern Star ring

My pampering
I love a good massage. In fact, I should be more specific and call it body work. I don’t just want to loosen muscles, I want to get my energy moving and flowing.

My home
I live in Venice, California. My place is ‘tiny’, but very light, with 16-foot ceilings and a beautiful little private garden. Plantings and caring for my plants and flowers has become a favorite new pastime.

My food
I’m a healthy eater, and stick to lots and lots of veggies, salads and healthy homemade snacks. My newest recipe is for onion crackers, mixed with tons of raw veggies and made in a dehydrator.

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My awakening
I’m assuming you mean when did I have mine? I was 17 in Paris. I’d decided I needed to get to the bottom of what I believed in, so I went to my favorite place with a bunch of books on the world’s religions and decided I was a ‘spiritual’. The book that opened my eyes was Conversation with God by Donald Walsche. What ‘God’ said in its pages rang deeply true.

The Complete Conversations with God

My sign
Capricorn sun, Capricorn moon, Taurus rising, and Venus is in Pisces.

My mantra
“There are zero mistakes” – and I have a Vedic one, but I’m not ‘allowed’ to share it.

My healer
Myself – and the countless healers of all kinds that I periodically see depending on my needs.

My reading
One of my best friends and I recently picked up the original Tarot deck while visiting Paris, and it turns out we’re INCREDIBLE readers! We have given nearly 15 readings over the past few days to friends in cafes, and event the reluctant were floored. Dopereadings.com…I already bought the domain 😉

My transformation
My Saturn return!

My mission
My mission is to allow God to create through me. I create dresses to heal the feminine. I write children’s books to empower kids. I paint and draw art to share inspired spiritual understanding. I make charity charms to amplify positive intentions and raise awareness and money for charities doing awesome work. On a personal level, I have made it my mission to embody my truth, my femininity, and my happiness.

Opal Charity Charms, $95 each (20% of sales go to charity)

Find out more about Hayley Star and her Quest, as well as details of dress hire and the Charity Charms collection, at Hayleystarr.com

10 WAYS TO WORK WITH VENUS RETROGRADE

The planet of love, money and luxury goes retro this week. Star Sign Style’s Kimberly Peta Dewhirst has 10 ways to make this Venus retrograde work for you…Images: The Bedroom by Tasmin Jade Donaldson via Behance.net

Romance, fashion, friendship, affection, intimacy, sweet moments and all the girlie things (think: sugar, spice, all things nice), are ruled by the goddess / planet Venus. The same goes for money and your bank balance, and all things sensual (beautiful scents, pleasing art scenes and landscapes, valuables, material wealth, riches etc.)

And she’s all set to do an about turn – a.k.a. begin a retrograde cycle – from July 25 – September 6.

Before you freak out at the sight of the “R” word (man has Mercury retrograde got some explaining to do), Venus retrograde could actually be a good thing for your relationships, your indulgences and your bank balance.

While Mercury rules all things communication related (technology, social media, commerce), it makes sense that the confusion that accompanies this planet’s retrograde phase can throw us some seriously frustrating curveballs.

But with Venus retrograde, we can expect our sensual nature to be activated and investigated, as we are asked to contemplate, reflect on and review what and who we love, how we show affection, flirt and attract a mate. Also, our relationship to money, our sense of self-worth, and attitudes to abundance.

One word of warning, however. If you hear people complaining during a Mercury retrograde phase that they messaged the wrong person and lost their mobile phone, during Venus retro listen out for and beware making outlandish declarations of love, and avoid extravagant purchases made on a whim.

Here are ten ways to make this Venus retrograde phase work in your favor…

1. Reassess What Beauty Means To You
Venus rules how we dress up and beautify ourselves and our surroundings – in fact, you can look to your Venus sign for clues on your personal style. When Venus retrogrades you can remodel your choices, and this is a great time to create a mood or inspiration board to redefine your personal tastes.

Do NOT however book in for a drastic haircut or get the decorators in just yet – this is the contemplation stage. Wait till Venus goes direct to make any major changes (dates below).

2. Review Your Finances
As Venus rules over money, the retrograde period is prime time for rebalancing your books. But hold off implementing any financial overhauls – this period is for reevaluating your commitments, tying up loose ends, and revisiting old debts. It could be a great time to go and get a refund and have people pay up, or likewise to reimburse or repay any debts that have been hanging over you.

3. Resist The Lure Of Luxe
Just as buying electronic equipment isn’t advisable during Mercury retrograde, you’re better off waiting to buy any luxury goods and beauty related purchases now. Avoid large expenditures where fashion and frivolities are concerned – this is not the time to pull together a capsule wardrobe of ‘investment’ pieces, and definitely not on credit. Your instincts about what’s worth the splurge could be off during this period, so stick to window-shopping.

It could however be a great time to manifest and attract some beautiful vintage or second-hand pieces into your life – think flea markets, and antique fairs. One mans trash is another’s treasure, as the saying goes, and people could be reviewing their valuables during this time.

4. Research Your Purchases
One way to use the Venus retrograde to you advantage when it comes to shopping, is to know the true value of what you’re buying and make an informed choice. It can be a great time to barter and bargain, as long as you’re the one in the drivers seat (and you’ve researched the returns policy).

5. Retreat From The Dating Scene
Projects, relationships, people and businesses all carry an astrological imprint, and a relationship commenced during Venus retrograde could get off to a repetitive or exasperating start. At best you could have a long, drawn out honeymoon period, while a suitor could seem far more magnificent, charming and fabulous than they really are. Then, when Venus resumes normal function the rose tinted glasses come off.

If you do meet somebody, don’t trust the heat of the moment during the Venus retrograde. Instead, enjoy the flirtation stage and plan to commit when the planet goes direct.

6. Re-evaluate your relationships
If you’re in a relationship however, Venus retrograde offers you an opportunity to resolve any issues with your partner and recommit – if you’re wed you may even decide to renew tour vows!.Reaffirm your love, rekindle and reignite the romance, rejoice…and reproduce! Now is the time to reassemble the jigsaw of your relationship to create a more beautiful picture.

7. Remember The Good Times
Venus retrograde speaks of past relationships coming out of the woodwork (that goes for both romances and friendships), and reminiscing together actually be therapeutic, especially if you’re ready to go back and dig up treasures from the past. Ensure a reexamination is positive by appreciating the good times, even if you acknowledge that you aren’t right for each other now. Seek gratitude for the happiness you experienced in that moment. But if you DO decide an old flame could be reignited, the Universe could well support you now.

8. Revisit Your Passions
Venus favors feminine hobbies, and you may rediscover a love of jewellery making, beauty and fashion, make-up and hair, baking, flower arranging and interior decoration now.

With Venus retrograde in the creative sign of Leo (the majority of the time) the energies throughout the retrograde period are particularly supportive for recreation and play. The Numinous Temple of Venus is a perfect place to explore this energy, and you can check out all the upcoming events and workshops here.

9. Rethink The Sweet Stuff
Sounds silly but if you suffer from sugar cravings, Venus retrograde could be just the time to tackle your habit! Venus rules over cakes, biscuits, sweets (candy) and chocolate. There are so many documentaries on the hazards of this highly addictive substance (I’m talking about the refined white stuff – not sugars found in fruit), and once you research and reeducate yourself on this subject, this could be a supportive phase to regain control over a sweet tooth.

10. Reinstate Femininity
Invite the divine feminine into your world and cement its presence with this Venus retrograde. Dedicated some quality time to friendships with the women you love, taking time to really appreciate their soft yet strong attributes – embrace womanhood and what it means to be an empowered female today. Regroup or plan a reunion with your girls, recollect and celebrate them and why you value their friendship. Repair and patch up relationships that are lacking.

Your star dates as follows…

• Venus enters the shadow period Sunday 21st June
• Venus goes retrograde – Saturday 25th July
• Venus goes direct Sunday 6th September
• Venus is out of the ‘retrograde zone’ by 9th October 2015 – phew!

Author Kimberly Peta Dewhirst would love to hear your stories to support her growing understanding of the Venus retrograde period. Email: [email protected] with your birth data (time, date and place of birth) and details of your Venus retrograde experiences. (All information will be kept confidential)

Numinous community art project and interactive altar The Temple of Venus is a space dedicated to celebrating and healing anything that falls under the remit of the Goddess planet, and is open until August 19.

BEAUTIFUL, MYSTICAL, MOVING: PLAIN INDIANS EXHIBIT AT THE MET

When Gabriela Herstik happened upon the Plain Indians exhibit at the MET, it was a fashionable reminder of her own awakening to  MYSTICAL spirituality. Main image: Karolina Daria Flora

I’m all about synchronicity and the wonderful way our life stories seem to loop together over time. My most recent “moment” came together last week, when for the first time in 10 years I found myself back in the Big Apple. A mandatory trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art was made, and as I was walking up the beautifully grand stairs to the entrance I saw it – the sign that read; “The Plain Indians; Artists of Earth and Sky.”

I first learned about the Navajo and Iroquois tribes in elementary school a decade ago, after my family had moved to Buffalo, NY, from San Diego. Looking back, I can pinpoint learning about the different Indian nations as the entry point to my interest in shamanism and mysticism – a journey that has connected to me to an understanding of whatever it is that truly lies beyond. By learning how the different tribes incorporated a belief in something bigger than them in nearly every facet of their lives, I was inspired to do the same – a way of being that’s seeped into my own life day-to-day.

The exhibition turned out to be an incredibly curated collection of Plain Indian art, displaying both the wonderful spirit of the tribes and the incredible talent of artisans across the nations. There were pipes carved with animal spirit guides and helpers; there were painted animal hides recounting tales of battles; there were exquisite war bonnets and, a favorite, an incredible shield embellished with a Buffalo spirit guide.

A large part of the exhibition, however, was dedicated to the absolutely exquisite and divine (in the truest sense of the word) clothing. There were hand-beaded jackets in dusty blues and vibrant reds; leggings with horsehair fringe and rich, dark blue beadwork; there was an absolutely breathtaking pair of completely beaded brogues with a matching bag from 1901…there was EVERYTHING a girl for whom fashion – self-adornment – and spirituality will be forever entwined. And all very Etro SS2015…

Etro SS15

There were also paintings and photographs of the Plains, with the exhibition designed to chronicle the art of the tribes from the 19th century to the present day – a visual account of the experiences of these tribal nations, ending with different artists’ personal interpretations of what the future of the tribes may look like. A touching spiritual and artistic experience, the Plain Indians exhibit at the MET was beautiful and mystic and moving.

The Plain Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC until May 10 2015

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: RAW VEGAN BLONDE

Amber Locke, a.k.a. @rawveganblonde has gained a cut following for her beautiful and unique farmers’ market art. We meet the woman behind the phenomenon, and ask her…what vegetable would you be?

The artist at work…

How long have you been a Raw Vegan Blonde, and what drew you to the lifestyle?
I’ve always been blonde, but only discovered the concept of raw food about 18 months ago! I first read about it on the blog of Ralph Lauren model Valentina Zelyaeva and decided to try it out as an experiment, but I was so blown away with how amazing it made me feel after just a few days, I carried on.

Eating raw gives me incredible energy, improved mental clarity and a general feeling of calmness, harmony and well-being. I’ve become far more in tune with my body and very aware of how what I eat can dramatically affect how I feel both emotionally and physically.

What makes you so passionate about vegetables?
For me it’s the fact that fruit and veg not only taste amazing, they’re visually fascinating and have the power to nourish and heal our bodies too. They really are super foods.

Zucchini Shadows print, £180 from Ambaliving.com

And why do you think they’re so beautiful to you?
I love the beauty of natural elements, and I’m constantly amazed and delighted by their different shapes, colours, textures, and character. So my designs aim to showcase their unique qualities and reflect the changing seasons of the year, as well as being a celebration of living a healthy lifestyle.

If you were a fruit or a vegetable, which would you be and why?
I think I’d probably be a candy beetroot. They look pretty much like a normal beetroot on the outside, but when you slice them, they reveal their amazing pink and white striped flesh and it never ceases to make me smile.

What’s the most out there plant-based experience you’ve had to date?
I’m not sure I’ve had an ‘out there’ experience…but I always get a sense of something greater at work when I’m composing my designs. I sometimes stand back and wonder how I did it.

:: M A T E R I A L  G I R L ::

My label
I love Hermes and although I only own a few pieces (mainly leather goods and scarves) they all have special memories and are so exquisitely made they will last a lifetime.

Hermes Zebra Pegasus scarf, $1175

My shoes
I’m addicted to Belstaff boots as they’re so comfy, look great and fit my narrow shins well! I have several pairs and wear them almost all year round.

My fragrance
I’ve worn ‘Un Jardin Sur Le Nil’ by Hermes for years. I think the top notes are green mango but I love it as the smell reminds me of tomato leaves which are one on my favourite fragrances along with orange blossom. I’m still pursuing my quest to find the perfect orange blossom perfume and the closest I’ve come across so far is by Jo Malone and I wear this sometimes in the Summer.

Un Jardin Sur Le Nil by Hermes, $131

My jewels
I don’t wear much jewellery apart from my boyfriend’s old Breitling watch which I love as it’s so big and chunky on my wrist, and an antique silver fob chain given to me by my Mother which I wear as a charm bracelet.

My pampering
A trip to the hairdressers! I recently took the plunge and had 10” chopped off by the brilliant team at Richard Ward Salon in London, their colourist David Viner is a legend too!

My home
I live in a quirky house in a small countryside village. Its part Tudor, part Georgian, part Victorian and part Medieval so it’s a real mix of architectural styles.

My food
I love to eat a mainly raw diet so my kitchen is always full of fresh fruit and vegetables and I eat this way at least 90% of the week. I love green smoothies, as well as my beloved high-speed ‘Blendtec’ blender makes them super smooth, rich and creamy.

Blendtec blender, $649.95

:: M Y S T I C A L  W O R L D ::

My awakening
I have a very simple morning ritual; I drink a large glass of water (warm water and lemon if I have time) then take a walk with my dog before making a big green juice for my boyfriend and I. We’re really into stronger flavoured spicy juices now the weather has turned colder so I use a lot of ginger, lemongrass, whole lemons and sometimes a bit of green chilli for an extra kick.

My sign
I’m a Capricorn

My mantra
I don’t really have a mantra as such but I love the line in the Baz Luhrmann song ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’ which goes: ‘Enjoy your body… it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own’. I think so many people live unhappily with their body but if you can learn to love it and feed, nourish and exercise it properly the rewards of such team work can be incredible.

My healer
I think a balanced diet of fresh, natural food can be a great healer – physically, medicinally and emotionally.

Hermes-esque print, £180, Ambaliving.com

My reading
I’m fascinated by food so for me it’s any book related to the subject (I have hundreds!) and I really love searching out vintage cookbooks and out of print titles.

My transformation
Trying out a raw food diet was a big transformation for me as I had no idea eating this way had the ability to make you feel so good. I think it should be renamed the ‘Happiness Diet’ as it’s almost like nature’s happy pill.

My mission
I love to share my passion for fruit and vegetables (through my designs and recipes) and if that encourages or inspires others to eat more of them then that makes me very happy!

Purchase one of Amber’s limited edition prints at Ambaliving.com, and follow her on Instagram @rawveganblonde