Five years ago I moved to New York City, with high hopes that I was basically going to morph into Carrie Bradshaw—with a closet full of designer shoes, fabulous cocktail-fueled social life, and a column in Vogue. 15 years working as a fashion journalist in London had taught me two things: 1) my sense of self-worth was directly linked to the level of kudos attached to my job, and 2) you could never have too many shoes.
My first apartment was on Christopher Street in the heart of the chichi West Village, and even had a walk-in closet. It also had holes in the wall exposing live electrical cables, and was infested with vermin. With hindsight, this is pretty much a metaphor for the holes in my materialistic worldview. Because it turns out no amount of Cosmos was a substitute for the friends I’d left behind, and that as a lowly freelancer, working out of my dingy kitchen using my ironing board for a desk, I barely even got to wear the shoes.
As my SATC dream began to crumble, I found myself questioning everything. Why was my NYC adventure so fraught with anxiety? If none of the editors I tried to get meetings with ever called me back, did I even exist? And how come every Skype with my mum made me feel so angry? As if the physical ocean between us served as a reminder of how emotionally distant we’d become over the years.
Which is right about when I decided to create The Numinous, and in doing so totally flip the script.
Let’s face it, five years ago I was kind of an entitled, over-privileged asshole. And definitely not a happy asshole either. Today, I definitely still love shoes. But I’ve also remembered that, for me, true “success” means being connected to myself and others, and contributing something valuable to the planet. Less conspicuous consumption, more conscious creativity. A journey I’ve written about in my upcoming book Material Girl Mystical World. Yes, MY book is the book that changed my life!
My personal revolution has actually been a result of walking the talk and embracing with an open heart and soul the mystics, the teachers, and the healers I’ve encountered on my Numinous path. Diving head-first into the transformational experiences of the Now Age, many of which are chronicled in all their far-out, emotional, and often hilarious glory in my story.
All with the aim of showing how (contrary to the Eat, Pray, Love school of spiritual awakenings) you don’t have to travel to an ashram in India to find yourself. I found “me” in the heart of NYC! The birthplace of the American Dream—the capitalist ideology that tries to convince us true happiness comes in the shape of a Louis Vuitton handbag. And which, since the Mad Men have made it to the Whitehouse, it is increasingly evident is the root of so many of the evils of the modern world.
So how did I get here? In the book, among other heart-and-mind-expanding topics, I talk about:
Astrology As Basic Life Skill. Raised atheist, astrology was the first thing that ever spoke to the deep human need in me to feel connected to something greater than myself. To feel like I have a unique role to play in weaving the fabric of humanity. This chapter explains the basics of birth chart interpretation as the path to Cosmic connection.
Doing My Dharma. How I came to understand the concept of my work as an act of service—opposed to pursuing a career for the status, the financial security, and the shiny baubles alone. (*When you pre-order the book you’ll gain access to a special Dharma School webinar with me, to help you discover your dharma too!)
Finding My Divine Feminine. A deep dive into modern feminism, and how this is intimately connected to the social, political and environmental issues of the 21st Century. Also, how connecting to my Divine Feminine has been instrumental in healing my sexual identity and my relationship with my mum.
The Inner Beauty vs. Botox Debate. Why it’s possible to get Botox and still love yourself / identify as spiritually woke. But also how cleaning up your emotional life and doing your dharma, AS WELL AS the yoga and the green juice, is what will truly give you that “glow.”
Healing As The New Nightlife. How I have slowly but surely replaced the cocktail highs with spiritual highs, and become a happier, healthier, more compassionate and more WHOLE human being as a result. Who. Freaking. Knew.
The book is out May 2 2017 (yes, she’s a Taurus—the original “material girl”) and the above is just a taster. There’s so so SO much more juicy content—and in the lead-up to the pub date I’ll be hosting a series of Facebook Lives to introduce the different chapters, and take your questions. Keep following on Facebook and Instagram for more details.
There’s also a sweet BONUS PACKAGE when you pre-order! Including the Dharma School webinar I mentioned, an exclusive missing chapter on how to work with Angels & Spirit Guides, and a month’s free membership to Moon Club. Get all the details and order your copy here.
So there you have it. THE BOOK THAT CHANGED MY LIFE. I hope my story can help you re-write your own.
Alexandra Roxo meets radical thought leader Daniel Pinchbeck, to talk spiritual materialism, future planetary solutions, and the rise of the extreme right…
Daniel Pinchbeck is a writer, thought leader, speaker, and one of few modern radical voices that come from a grounded, realistic, and holistic perspective. Today we are in dire need of leaders and thinkers who can articulate and envision a path towards union and healing that includes our political, environmental, cultural, AND our spiritual state. Daniel speaks of the whole picture, with a balance of right/left, masculine/feminine, science/art.
His new book How Soon is Now REALLY resonated with feelings I’ve been having for years about the nature of the world we live in, which I have explored in my own writing here on The Numinous and in some of my films. This includes the need to make a shift from focusing on the personal, to focusing on the global. To overcoming spiritual materialism. To escaping hyper-individualism and coming together.
Also, how plants may be aiding in our evolution on multiple levels. How our approach to love and sex is so heavily politically guided and conditioned. The need for rites of passage and the need for ecstatic connections to the cosmos and to each other, through experiences like Burning Man, with psychedelic experiences, and a reconnection to the Earth.
Beyond all this, Daniel’s book reveals to us how we can engage with the planetary shift and initiation that we all know at soul level is in progress, and in doing so be a part of the healing of our planet.
Even better, Daniel is going to be LIVE with us for Moon Club this Sunday Feb 5, which means you can join and ask him questions too! Click here to sign up.
I sat down with him for a little prelude to Sunday’s talk…
ALEXANDRA ROXO: So you’re an author, a TED speaker, a radical thinker, a writer. You wear a lot of hats in terms of your work. What’s the common thread? DANIEL PINCHBECK: I think that the core of my work is a philosophical quest for the nature of reality.
AR: Word. Was there was a clear point at which this search began? DP: I had a major spiritual crisis in my mid to late 20’s. I’d been writing for magazines, and it just began to feel very nihilistic. I felt this kind of total emptiness. I also realized ultimately that when people believe conscientiousness is only based in the physical hardware of the brain, then life has no particular meaning. I was like, ‘okay, how can I actually inquire into this?’ I remembered my psychedelic experiences in college as having suggested that there were these other layers of psychic reality that I didn’t really understand.
So I went back to them and went to West Africa, to do Iboga and I went to the Amazon to work with a tribe in Ecuador with ayuasca and so on. These travels informed my first book Breaking Open the Head, and then new questions kept opening up—because these experiences had completely transformed my world view.
AR: The subtitle of How Soon Is Now? is: “From personal initiation to global transformation.” To me it feels like that is what we’re all being called to now, on a micro and a macro level. DP: I came from a leftist background, and I always had this uneasy feeling about our culture and the direction our society was headed. And then when I looked more into the ecological disaster that we’ve constructed and the amount of poverty and inequality that the system creates, I also saw this whole “new age” spirituality thing, with the meditation and the yoga, as kind of like a trap—because I felt that people were using it as just another distraction, getting so obsessed with their own little healing journeys.
AR: There is definitely the idea of: “I’m entitled to my healing and my enlightenment and I gotta just focus on that.” Healing individually is very necessary too—but how do you see us then finding a way to integrate this into healing the Earth? DP: It would require for those of us who’ve been on this evolutionary initiation path to reach another level of our capacity to…hold a new frequency, to express it to people who are out of the loop. One thing that really began to upset me overtime was Burning Man. When I first went I was like ‘oh of course, this is the model for this new society. The point is to now bring this out into the world.’ But overtime I saw it become more like another entertainment complex. I saw the people who run Burning Man being really kind of pleased with themselves because all these rich people wanted to hang out with them.
But I think a shift is actually happening, because of this geopolitical emergency that we’ve unleashed. For example, I saw a really good thing on Facebook—this guy wrote that he used to have three different groups of friends that didn’t really integrate very well. One was artists, one was meditators, and the other was activists, and he was, like, thanking Donald Trump because now they’re all in the same group. We’re basically confronting a very, very severe existential emergency with this situation, that I think people are beginning to comprehend in kind of waves.
AR: In the book you use Burning Man as an example to show how if society praises you for good behavior, like cleaning up your own trash for example, and if we praise each other for good behavior, we can start to rewire the conditioning that says it’s somebody else’s responsibility to ‘do the right thing.’ DP: I feel that what Burning Man reveals and why it was such an ‘aha’ moment for me is that our social nature is extremely malleable and changeable, and humans will conform like putty to whatever reward system presents itself. So, say you get laid by becoming a Neo-Nazi and hating on the Jews, a bunch of people will do that. If you have lots of lovers or one lover or whatever you need, as a result of being generous, altruistic, and sharing your gifts open heartedly, you’ll do more of that that.
AR: So how did things tilt so far to the extreme right? DP: Unfortunately, the extreme right has managed to marshal a lot of collective intelligence by expert use the media system, whereas the progressive community has been much more slow and much less strategic and tactical.
There’s actually been a phenomenon of people on the coasts in LA and New York having greater freedoms, better lives, more opportunities, but we haven’t really taken care to transmit these benefits to the rest of society. And, rightfully in a sense, the rest of society realized they were just being shafted and got extremely angry. I think that theoretically, the more conscious we are of this, we have to bear the blame when things go this wrong.
AR: That’s a tough wake up call for people. If you’re living in light and love all the time, you don’t want to hear “hey, this is your fault, take responsibility, step up to the plate.” DP: But this awareness is spreading rapidly right now. In a sense, what I am trying to show with the book is that the progressive mystical counter culture hasn’t done a good job of articulating the world that we want to bring into manifestation, beyond our individual process.
For example, let’s take The Beatles at their word: “All you need is love.” But how do you actually create a society centered around altruism and sharing and empathy, what does that look like? In the book I am pretty rigorous looking at this in terms of love and relationships, in terms of monetary systems, even questioning whether private property is good for us. I’m sure many people will disagree with some or many of my conclusions but that’s good. At least we have something to disagree about, which can lead to debate and innovation.
AR: I write about sexual healing quite a bit and you share an anecdote about the community, Tamera, in Portugal, that’s so moving—how a young man’s first lovemaking happens with all the group gathered around the house, celebrating and holding space for him. I cried. There is so much internalized sexual shame in our society. I grew up in Georgia in a very, very Christian space and I was totally shamed from a very young age. When I heard that story, I was able to envision people not “losing” their virginity, but embracing this as a rite of passage—leading to us totally flipping the way that we approach love and sex. DP: One of the founders of Tamera in Portugal said that sexuality is a superpower that radiates throughout all different facets of society, and we can totally see that with this last election. We saw it with Trump and the grabbing of the pussy, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Roger Ailes who was the Fox News head who was taken down in a big sex scandal, and all of their connection to Jeffrey Epstein, the pedophile…
In a system where sexuality is oppressed, alpha male types seek power and wealth (versus creating a system that spreads wealth evenly) so they can have sexual access, you know? Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, society is more open about sexuality, but it’s actually been reintegrated into a system of domination and control. So it becomes MTV Spring Break or Sex in The City, that type of vibe.
AR: Yes, those pop culture markers reveal that on one level we can “have sex” and “be sexy” but on another level it’s absolutely not okay as a culture to accept our sexual nature. DP:Rupert Sheldrake writes about the idea of “morphogenic fields” or “morphic resonance”—that actually, when a small number of a species is able to fully discover or integrate something new it can become generally available to the collective sort of non-locally. So if there’s a small number of communities that have shifted into this different frequency of collective care and responsibility and kind of a truly liberated Eros, or attitude to love and sexuality, then that could really propagate quite quickly. I mean Neo-Nazism didn’t seem to exist two years ago…and now it’s all over the place. Or look at something like Facebook, and how quickly everybody began using it. Ultimately, I think it’s fully possible that positive shifts towards empathic and responsible social system could also happen rapidly.
The Numinous: You’re both a poet and a musician, how do these two worlds intersect? Is the creative process similar or different? Markus Almond: They are pretty similar I think. Writing feels more natural to me. With music, I would have to fit a certain number of syllables into a melody and then sometimes make it rhyme. But with writing prose, I’m able to say exactly what I wanted to say without making it fit into an existing format.
TN: Where do you get the inspiration for your writing? MA: The inspiration comes from different things depending on what I’m writing. Sometimes I’m just writing thinly veiled notes to myself or people I love. Other times, I’m telling a story or trying to pass on some sort of advice.
TN: What is your definition of spirituality? MA: It’s that unexplainable power that you feel when you close your eyes and let go.
TN: Do you have any daily rituals or practices to aid you in your writing? MA: I meditate every day. And I listen to music in my headphones when I write. I prefer to write with the lights off and my office locked. It helps keep me focused on the task at hand. And I can usually only write at night after everyone else has gone to sleep.
TN: What was the impetus for putting your work out onto the Internet and becoming a published author? MA: I was going through some personal stuff a few years ago. And I was so over-worked and tired of looking at a computer. So I bought this little manual typewriter and made a limited edition zine with some scissors, a glue stick, and a copy machine. It was the first thing I ever published. And people seemed to like it so I published some more, built a website and started writing books.
TN: What life experiences have had the biggest impact on your work? MA: Being a musician has probably had the biggest impact on me. That journey took me to so many different places (both spiritually and geographically) that there is just so much material to write from. I’ve got enough stories floating around in my head that it will take me the rest of my life to get them all down on paper.
TN: We love your existential take on self-help – are you a fan of any traditional self-help authors? Who and how has their work impacted you? MA: Yeah, I read self-help books all the time. Right now I’m reading two books by Thich Nhat Hanh and also The 12 Week Year. I think books are like software for our brains so it’s important what we read. It can have a great impact on our lives if we read helpful things.
TN: What do you hope your writing will inspire in people? MA: Honestly, I hope that they’ll just email me once in a while and tell me I’m doing a good job. I don’t really write books for mass appeal or with the intention of selling a million copies. I write them because I enjoy writing. But still, it’s nice to know that people like them from time to time.
TN: What are the biggest challenges of being human? The greatest joys? MA: Fear can be one of the biggest challenges. It can manifest itself in all kinds of weird ways. I think if you can learn to spot fear and get through it without stopping, you’ll go far in the world. The greatest joy of being human is probably different for everyone. For me, it’s those happy things that happen by accident. Sometimes lucky magic just crosses our path for no reason and that can bring a sense of joy.
Call it an exercise in trading comfort for terrifying uncertainty (she does, in this brilliant blog post), but when something broke in Tatum Fjerstad in December last year, the only option was to pretty much quit what she’d been doing and start again. Which looks a lot like setting off across America to teach her twin (okay triplet) passions of yoga, meditation and writing – a.k.a. her Move, Sit, Write tour, which will take place in 15 studios in seven states, beginning March 3 in Portland, Oregon.
Up until this point, Tatum had been making her life / career decisions a lot like: “If I do this, people will think it’s cool. If people think it’s cool, then I’m cool. If I’m cool, people will like me and then I don’t have to work so hard to like myself because everyone else will be doing it for me.” And if you too suspect, on any level, you might also be living this life: “Get out now,” she advises. “It will bring you to a very dark place where you will feel so very disconnected with your own wants and desires that you’ll start to have bleak feelings about how we’re all just atoms bumping into each other and everything is meaningless so what’s the point.” Our point, in general, precisely.
It’s been through her own move, sit, write practice that Tatum has learned to re-connect to and value her sense of self – and since it’s often our own wounds that lead us down the path to our dharma, who better to guide others to do the same. Here, she shares 10 reasons to write and meditate every day…
1. Take An Inventory: When you create the space to listen to your patterns by meditating on and writing down whatever is bouncing around in your head, you (and only you) can decide what you want to keep and what you want to release. This doesn’t happen after one go at it. You have to do it every day.
2. Own Your Shit: When things are rough, this practice can help you get super clear on your hand in the matter. All of us are walking around with a LOT of baggage, no matter who you are, and we can’t unpack it by ignoring it.
3. Sleep Harder: I started meditating twice a day everyday and journaling once in the mornings almost a year ago. Since then, I have had some of the best naps, dreams, and deep sleeps. When you give yourself the time to slow down during the day, your body settles much easier when it’s time to do so.
4. Deeper Connections: When you become a better listener to yourself, you become a better listener to others. It’s a lot easier to put your phone down during a conversation and make eye contact with another person if you know how good that feels when you do it for yourself.
5. Forgive Freely: This soft quiet practice initiates the nurturing of your inner teacher, who happens to be pretty benevolent, empathetic and compassionate. You’ll start to be more lenient on yourself and that will trickle down to others because you’ll realize that we’re all doing the best we can with the tools we have.
6. Treat Yourself: So many of the people I teach think this sort of work is too indulgent or they say they don’t have time. If you have time to scroll through your Instagram feed in bed in the morning, or wash your hair every day, you have enough time to get up a little earlier and do yourself this favor.
7. Increase creativity: When you sit and watch your thoughts and freely write them down you are sitting at the seat of creativity. You can’t force that shit. It has to come on its own with space and sweetness. What better space than writing and meditation?
9. Inspire Others: The longer you do this, the more your friends will want in. They will see your softness emerge and they will ask for your secrets. Share them.
10. Get it Out: Omg, it feels so good to write a bunch of shit about someone who is pissing you off. It feels WAY better than telling them this stuff and then immediately regretting it. I’ve solved entire friendship dramas without speaking a word to them and having the conversation with myself until I was done with it. Sometimes that takes a few days, sometimes much longer.
11. Be Your Own Best Friend: You know that feeling when it’s whatever-night-of-the-week and you don’t have any plans and everyone is doing cool shit and you feel like a big loser full of FOMO? That goes away because you’ll start to really love those cuddly moments with yourself when it’s just you, a good book and some great music.
Working with metaphysical text A Course In Miracles has helped Gingersnaps Organic founder Jamie Graber enjoy every step of her journey – anxieties and all. She shares how…Images: John von Pamer
It can sometimes feel like all roads to spiritual awakening lead back to A Course in Miracles – a channelled, self-study workbook perhaps made most famous by the likes of Marianne Williamson and Gabriel Bernstein, who both reference the teachings of ACIM heavily in their own work.
Most recently, the classic text popped up on our radar thanks to a weekly study group that meets at chic West Village juice bar Gingersnaps Organic. Inspired by founder Jamie Graber’s own journey with the teachings of ACIM, here she shares how the Course has helped her re-imagine her relationship with food and step fully into her life purpose…
The Numinous: When did you discover A Course In Miracles? Jamie Graber: I discovered ACIM three years ago through Gabby Bernstein, who I met when she used to come and get juice when Gingersnaps was in the East Village, near her apartment. I was questioning a lot of stuff in my life at the time, and the Course helped me realize I could see things a different way. In turn, this helped me see that I had power over any situation.
TN: What inspired the ACIM study group at Gingersnaps? JG: Because it was always my vision to have my restaurant be a place of community. I also noticed that the more I talked about ACIM, the better I felt, so I thought having the weekly meetings would be a beautiful way to start giving back. An amazing woman name Anne Marie Imperiale leads the class, an incredible coach who uses the Course in her work. We meet every Monday from 8-9pm, the class is free, and people come early to gather and connect. I love it.
TN: Why do you think the teachings of the Course resonate with so many people? JG: Because because they give YOU the power. It’s not about idolizing or following rules, it’s about remembering that ultimately we hold all the power over how we see things. If we accept this and choose to really live in it, we begin to see that we have the answer for everything within us. The Course really teaches how to live in love and not fear, and who doesn’t want that!
TN: Can you give an example of this from your own life? JG: My journey with Gingersnaps Organic actually began with a massive fear around food. I was extremely uncomfortable with my body, unable to embrace or love it, to the point I would actually say I say I hated my body. But out of that, I found raw food and plant based living, which in turn led me to discover my passion in life and to really be able to experience joy around food. I even married a meat-eating chef, and my favorite thing these days is to travel the world eating amazing food with him!
TN: So how has the Course helped you heal your relationship with food specifically? JG: The lessons helped me realize my illusions about food were just that: illusions. For example, the idea that eating food would automatically make me fat and grotesque to everyone around me. At the time, I was 5 7″ and 85lbs, but when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was fat. In hindsight, I can see this was insane – but at the time, the the illusion felt very real to me.
TN: What’s been your key take-away from the teachings? JG: That when I’m uncomfortable or going through something tough, I know it’s because I’m in a place of transition and that I have to make a change – and there’s an incredible sense of ease that comes along with that. Also that while often healing hurts, and feels uncomfortable at first, the more you’re willing to push through discomfort, the faster you will come out the other side to a place of joy and freedom that you didn’t even know existed.
TN: And what’s your very favorite lesson from ACIM? JG: There’s one I love so much I actually set it as a reminder on my phone every night:
“Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait and wait without anxiety”
We often think we know what’s best for us, and have an idea of exactly what that should look like. We give a lot of power to this vision, and when things don’t go exactly as we “wanted,” we can lose faith and become anxious that we’re never going to get what we want. True faith believes that we are taken care of. We have to understand that we can’t always see the path ahead – but that if we have faith that everything we encounter is actually a gift, then we can enjoy every step of the journey.
Reaching the “destination” isn’t worth it for me any more if the journey is filled with anxiety and fear, so when I’m stressing about something, I will often read this lesson and mediate on it, remembering I am protected, and that everything is for my best interest. When I first opened the space in the East Village, I was a ball of fear and anxiety, so every day there was torture. I had no faith, and only frustration that things didn’t look like I thought they would.
Having Gabby and The Course in my life really took me back to my childhood, when I believed and trusted. I was the little girl waking up early before school to clear my crystals and talk to Spirit, and when I first opened up Gingersnap’s Organic, I had forgotten that. Opening up in the West Village has been completely different. I’ve done it with ease and trust, and chosen to just let things play out. Even when anxiety sets in, using my tools from ACIM, I am able to release it and actually enjoy waiting for how I want things to be.
“Women ourselves have bought into this idea of ‘feminine’ as meaning ‘weaker’…” Jo Becker‘s Marianne Williamson interview speaks to what it means to be woman and a spiritual activist.
Marianne Williamson is a powerhouse. The fierce voice of modern spirituality shares her love-driven ideas on how to heal America far and wide: she’s written four New York Times #1 bestsellers, chats with Oprah on the regular, and even ran for Congress in 2013. To me, she embodies the future of feminine leadership and spiritual activism.
I’m inspired by her eloquent commitment to heart-centered change. Years before I read her books, I heard her life-changing statement from A Return to Love, the quotation she is now famous for:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I caught up with her at an Institute of Noetic Sciences conference. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell founded IONS back in 1973 after experiencing samadhi during the flight back to earth. Since then, IONS has been devoted to bringing together science and spirituality. I see Marianne Williamson as similarly groundbreaking in her work: she joyfully and relentlessly marries political activism with spiritual awareness.
The Dalai Lama said, “The world does not need more successful people. The world desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of all kinds.” Personally, I think the world needs successful peacemakers, healers, and lovers; and numinous women like Marianne Williamson are shining examples.
A lot of people think that “spiritual activism” is a contradiction. What would you say to them? Spiritual activism is a change in thinking: from a mental filter of fear to a mental filter of love. Given that thought is the causal level of all experience, active thought and change of thought is the most powerful force in the Universe.
Earlier today, a scientist was talking about how information, as in data, is only 10% of what causes people to actually change their behavior. And we have the data. We know what climate change is doing, we know how dangerous nuclear power is. We have the data on what violence on television and video games is doing to young people’s brains, we have the data on the carcinogens that are in the air…So why is it that “knowing the data” isn’t enough to make us change?
What makes us change comes from a deeper place, and that’s what spiritual activism is. It’s when something of the spirit, of the heart, becomes active in our thinking, and our thinking gets lit up. Because the mind itself can be used for purposes of love or purposes of fear, so spiritual activism is when we seek to do whatever it is we do from a place of love and with the intention of love.
And I’m talking about the love with which the mother lion protects her cubs. The love with which the adult female [and some males] of any species that survives and thrives exhibits fierce behavior when she senses that her cubs are threatened. So the marginalization of spirituality, the minimization of love as force, is just part of the ego mind’s propaganda.
Do you resonate with what the Dalai Lama said: “the Western woman will save the world?” Of course I resonate with it, but with all due respect to the Dalai Lama, I don’t think we need any man’s verification. I have a bit of a problem with the fact that we’re quoting a man to affirm our own power. I have the same great respect and reverence for His Holiness as anyone, but come on girls! I think what’s most important is that you say it. And I say it. Because we are affirming what we are doing: that this world is changing because we say so. Because we say so.
You’re doing a lot of work right now with balancing masculine and feminine energies in women. Why is this important to you? It’s such a significant issue. I am a product of the 1970’s wave of feminism—obviously the women’s movement is a wonderful thing, obviously I consider myself a feminist. But there is what I think of as a flawed strain of feminism, through which we actually suppressed the feminine in the name of feminism. And we embodied in many cases the archetype of Athena. She goes out there, she goes into the world, she manifests, she makes things happen.
But we get to embody as many energies, i.e. goddesses, as we choose, and Aphrodite is important as well. She embodies romance and beauty and pleasure, and I think many women, myself included have had a lot of psychic scars from buying into the belief that cultivating the masculine side of ourselves was actually more important than cultivating the feminine side.
I also think a lot of women have come to a very confusing point in their lives, realizing ‘I made this happen’ or ‘I made that happen.’ ‘I had these professional goals—some of which I’ve manifested, some of which I haven’t.’ But when are the other areas of my life, which are just as important to me, going to occur? Old wise women don’t get pregnant.
I’ve seen a lot of young women particularly deeply saddened, even traumatized, by the fact that while they feel they’re on some track professionally, their relationships, and child-bearing and deeper issues of cultivation of the family and romance have become…it’s like women are standing there saying, ‘How did I become clueless in this area?’ And then not only ‘How did I become clueless?’ but ‘What are the clues?’ They’ve become lost.
Inviting in the Aphrodite energy of love, pleasure, beauty – what does that look like in a woman? The integration of the Aphrodite and the Athena in my own life has been so important. I think obviously we’re all masculine, we’re all feminine, but women are here to major in feminine. It’s part of honoring our incarnation not to sideline something so fundamental to our being. And women ourselves have bought into this idea of ‘feminine’ as meaning ‘weaker’ without knowing it. Not women as weaker, but feminine attributes as weaker. I think many of us are seeking to reclaim lost pieces of ourselves, scattered pieces of ourselves.
What advice do you have for young women? I think my biggest advice to young women would be, ‘enjoy it while you got it.’
And not try to be the ‘wise woman’ before your time? The decades of life are like different rooms in the house. I have a daughter, early childhood, junior high, tween, high school college, now she’s a woman on her own. None of those phases is more or less magnificent than any other. And being in your 20s is fantastic, so be in your 20s when you’re in your 20s. Being in your 50s is fantastic; being in your 60s is fantastic. With every phase you lose something and you gain something. Be where you are when you’re there.
Having said that, I think something good is happening among American women. We’re starting to catch up, and we need to. We’ve not been the most mature group compared to women in other societies. And we’ve acted like we’re clueless regarding the suffering of women around the world, particularly at the hands of our own government in too many cases. We decry the policies towards women of a place like Saudi Arabia and for good reason, but when we invade countries that didn’t do anything to hurt us, a lot of the people who are dying in such invasion are women and their children.
So this is not a time for women of any age to be ditzy. This is a time to be deep. But I see many women of all ages seeking greater depth and it’s inspiring.
How do you think we can start to wake up to the suffering of others without dismissing it as ‘other people’s karma’? Oh please! What a brilliant ego device that is. It might be that person’s karma to be starving, but it is my karma to give them food. Their karmic challenge might be that challenge; my karmic challenge is to help those who suffer that way. The ego is brilliant at coming up with excuses for not helping. There is no serious spiritual path, and there never has been, that gives any of us a pass at addressing the suffering of other sentient beings.
Now, get sucked in by it? Absolutely not. But there’s a difference between denial and transcendence. If you don’t even look at it, you’re not in transcendence. You’re in denial. But if you look at it and practice positive denial, which is: I deny the power of this phenomenon to continue. Why? Because I said so. Because I’m gonna do something about it. Because I know other people are gonna do something about it and we’re gonna make sure this ends. That’s positive denial.
Do you have a daily spiritual practice? I am a student of A Course in Miracles. The course is 365 days of lessons; mine today is, ‘I will be still an instant and go home.’ Yesterday was, ‘I trust my brothers who are one with me.’ It’s a specific curriculum for dismantling a thought system based on fear, and accepting instead a thought system based on love. So spiritual exercise becomes like physical exercise. You are rebuilding your body, but with spiritual exercise you are honing your attitudinal musculature, just like in yoga. You want the correct position in your attitude, just like in your body. With physical exercise, you are developing your physical muscles so you can be strong and run. In spiritual exercise you are developing your capacity to be still. Your capacity for impulse control.
What practical applications does this have? It means there is a greatly diminished probability that you will send the frickin’ text that you will regret for six months. It diminishes the possibility you will say or do something or push the send button that will so sabotage a relationship or work situation or whatever. It diminishes the possibility that you will be so distracted by the meaningless chaos of the world that you will not be able to show up fully as a fully actualized human. We wake up in the morning and we take a shower because we want yesterday’s dirt to be cleansed off our bodies, but if you don’t meditate or pray, you might not be cleaning yesterday’s dirt from your mind. So internal purification is as important as external purification.
Marianne Williamson’s The Aphrodite Training began October 23 2015 and will continue to be available via live stream through October 25 2015. Get all the details and sign up here.