HOW TO EXPLAIN YOUR SPIRITUAL AWAKENING TO YOUR RELIGIOUS FAMILY

When Fundamentalist threats of Hell left her wanting more, Kate Forristall turned to Now Age practices. But how to explain your spiritual awakening to your religious family? Kate shares her top tips for making the holidays less hellish …

Photo: Diana Vargas

Christmas 2017.  Reaching for a beautifully wrapped present (the gene I didn’t get, sigh), I notice my sister Sally give our mother a nervous glance. Given my family’s tradition of one-at-a-time unwrapping, there’s no hiding what’s inside, but I have to smile as I open my package and see an intricately carved wooden box … with a pentagram on top.

I steal a glimpse at Sally’s face and feel her telepathically communicating with me in a desperate Tim Gunn voice, “MAKE IT WORK!” I lift the new repository for my tarot deck (pentagram covered by my palm) and wave it quickly, “A wooden box!”

“Who’s next?!” Sally chirps, as we simultaneously head into the kitchen to get coffee and put my gift away. When it comes to the spirituality we now embrace, we’ve decided pick our battles.

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Finding a faith to set me free … 
At the age of 15, I began attending a church youth group known more for fun and community than hard line theology. Leaders preached the Gospel, but it was as simple as the original version (appropriate for humans without a pre-frontal cortex). The Jesus People movement had paved the way for a faith that was about loving God and loving each other, and I was happy to go along for the ride.

Unfortunately I got hijacked on the way.

In college I met Christians who could recite whole passages of the Bible and never seemed to struggle to obey all the rules the way that I did. They let me know that I wasn’t doing it right and by the time I graduated, the shame I felt over my failings was enough to send me right into the arms of Fundamentalism.

There were no sermons about the messiness of life, no Young Adult Group talks about how hard it was to be in your 20s. Floundering was considered moral failure and the threat of Hell was always looming. My goal became security, for myself, and eventually, my growing family, and I lost the delight and wildness of the God I’d met as a teenager.

In other words, I can help you explain things to your conservative mother, because I’ve been her. But while I forgot the kindness of the Divine, it did not forget me, and over the past 20 years I’ve managed to unload the toxic institutional religion that held me captive, while finding a faith that set me free.

Such faith means changed opinions about almost everything in life – politics, sexuality, social justice, capitalism, feminism – topics my family has often been less than thrilled that I brought up at the Thanksgiving table. But they were small potatoes compared to announcing I’d fully embraced New Age practices that we once believed were nothing short of demonic.

The new practices of my faith—meditation, spiritual direction, energy healing, multiple sacred texts, astrology, body work, and tarot—came from a period of darkness and spiritual searching, a time when I lost the ability to hear God and believed I’d been abandoned.

Now I can see that I was never alone, that my unknowing was, in fact the gift that pushed me through the Life-Death-Life cycle and into a belief that now sees the Divinity of all things.

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So as you prepare for Thanksgiving and the inevitable questions about why your life looks different than it used to, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way … 

1// “Preach … at all times. When necessary, use words.” 
This advice from St. Francis is the best wisdom I’ve ever found for sharing experiences that have changed my life. If your example is one of serenity, service, love and hope, you’ll have no better evidence for the truth of the New Age spirituality you’ve embraced.

2// The Bible is your friend. Really. 
I know, right? Whether it’s the Wise Men who used the stars to find Jesus, God noting the wheel of the Zodiac when conversing with Job, or Jesus feeling the energy leave his body when a hemorrhaging woman touched him, the Bible has an awful lot of examples of “New Age” faith. The word meditate is mentioned 20 times and if you do a Google search you’ll even find phrases like “centering prayer” from many corners of traditional Christianity.

3// Because science.
Meditation’s benefits are now proven by so much data that if your loved one can’t handle it, they probably believe in a six-day creation. Measurable energy fields of everything from the flowers in your garden to the heart in your body have uncovered a universe way weirder than science fiction. Neuroscience has revealed that our brains are supercomputers capable of affecting objects miles away (hello, pray much?) If none of that lands, find an empty room, light a candle … and meditate. At least you’ll feel better.

4// Try not to brace for impact.
This phrase has carried my family through many an anticipated rough situation. Neural communication studies show how much we convey before we ever say a word and I can tell you from experience that if you are telepathically shrieking, “I fucking dare you to make fun of my Tarot practice,” someone is going to comply. Moments like these are when the rubber meets the road. The Buddhist practice of accepting suffering while trusting its transitory nature has completely changed my life.

5// Baby steps. 
I’ve always been an evangelist. Whether it was Jesus or toasted pecans in chocolate chip cookies, if I love something, I can’t wait to tell everyone I know. But when asking people to expand beyond a fear-based bias, I’ve learned that you need to move like an acrophobe in a skyscraper – one floor at a time. My mother now knows that I own a tarot deck. We’ve discussed the astrology of the moment on multiple occasions, and for her birthday, I gave her a book about manifestation. But it’s been seven years since I began this journey and my goal isn’t conversion. It’s that she too would find the path of greatest freedom for her life, no matter what it looks like.

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My resistance to the New Age movement wasn’t because I hated everyone outside my church. It was because I was terrified that it could destroy people I loved. Those who cling to fundamentalism are inordinately motivated by dread – circling the wagons to protect a God they can’t imagine being bigger than their sanctuary. Considering how vast and unknowable the Divine is, that’s a pretty sad perspective and I’ve given my kids unlimited permission to make fun of me forever for all the dumb stuff I did that was driven by fear.

Ironically, the greatest thing my New Age practices have taught me is how to deal with the fear I meet in this life. “If I go to the depths of the sea, You are there,” says the Psalmist to God, an understanding that no circumstance can separate us from Them—including, no matter how scary it is, spending the holidays with your family.

Kate Forristall is a writer, actor, mother, and lover of stories. Connect with her at #IRL Project, and on Twitter and Instagram

THE YEAR I UN-BRAINWASHED MYSELF

After a lifetime of swallowing the societal pills of so-called security, 2017 was the year Sushma Sagar officially “un-brainwashed” herself and began living straight from her radical core …

Sushma starts to see the light

It was pretty much drilled into my generation that the path to success and happiness was getting a secure job, getting married, and having kids. For a long time, it didn’t even occur to me that there was an alternative way to live. But when I found myself coming out of the spiritual closet in my corporate career, it started a chain reaction that led to me starting a full-time healing business last year.

And beyond my working life, reassessing my professional priorities also found me re-thinking my personal goals. Did I need to be married with a family to be happy? Did the people “in charge” know what was best for me? Do I want to be motivated by fear, as at seems some of our leaders would prefer? What do I actually think, need, dream of, once familial, societal and social conditioning is removed?

Seeking to learn the answers made 2017 the year I officially un-brainwashed myself … 

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I began to think about the karmic consequences of our decisions … 

I attended a private girl’s school in the 80s, whose mission was to prepare their students to be strong independent females who would make it in a man’s world. We were educated to be career motivated, and highly successful, be it in law, finance, medicine etc. As I was a daughter in a high achieving Indian family, it was an ethos that was also echoed at home.

It was a challenge for somebody creative like me, as I didn’t see where I “fit” into this model. And anyone who didn’t fit was very much on their own. 

I found a way to smooth the edges of my artistic leanings, studying textiles instead of dance and fine art, for example. Then working in marketing instead of designing. My need for approval and acceptance was so strong, that I gradually convinced myself to become someone else entirely. Eventually, I forgot who I was underneath.

For years, I remained blissfully ignorant. But in 2016, with the country divide on Brexit, I was galvanised to think about politics and how it affected our everyday lives. I began to think about the karmic consequences of our decisions. I began questioning what I was being told in the media. I became aware of a world order at play, and found myself dismayed by the lies and corruption being unveiled.

This “awakening” spilled into my own life, as I began questioning if I was living my truth. Was I living with integrity for myself? 

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I felt the very fabric of my existence unravelling … 

Our education system drills us to follow those in charge, and not question authority. But when it becomes clear that those who lead us often don’t have the answers themselves, it’s like realizing that your parents are only humans after all. A sign of maturity, that brings with it the freedom and the duty of taking responsibility for your own choices.

At times this transition felt good, my creative juices started flowing after so many years of being frozen. But at other times it was disorientating and extremely uncomfortable. The eggs had been broken, but the omelette wasn’t quite coming together yet—as I felt the very fabric of my existence unravelling.  

The biggest belief to crumble, was do with identity and purpose, and my definition of “success.”

If I’m not a superwoman in a highflying career, married with four adorable children, then who am I? What am I? Why am I here? What will my legacy be? My self-worth was tied up with a traditional viewpoint, but I felt alienated from the values I’d grown up with. It was on me to rewrite a definition of success that felt congruent with my inner knowing. 

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There were two milestones along the way … 

In 2012 I fell head over heels for someone who was everything I ever dreamed of. Handsome, intelligent, devastatingly charming. Finally marriage, children, and the life I hoped for seemed to be rolling out just like in the story books. Then after a close death in the family, the relationship deteriorated, and I fell into a grief spiral. The dream plan went awry. 

A few years later, I found myself working as a resident healer at the Obonjan festival, doing intensive healing sessions in a pine forest. During one session, I had an incredible spiritual experience where, among other things, the trees began communicating with me. It broke me down and I found myself weeping tears of joy. Life suddenly felt very different, and I was aware of my soul evolving. I had tasted something profound that my current existence had not been giving me. I suddenly understood that success to me involved service and connection.

I have continued with this very deep, personal healing work. Shamanism, sound healing, meditations, acupuncture, family constellations, womb work, goddess work, inner child … you name it, I’ve done it! The need to connect with Spirit became all consuming, leading me to live a higher vibrational lifestyle. 

I became very sensitive to the things that affected my connection, such as meat and alcohol, and naturally reduced them. Of course, my own reiki practice has supported me from the beginning, and I’ve used this to navigate life and heal.

I’m lucky in that my family and friends have always been supportive of my healing work, in spite of them never fully understanding what I do. However, the more work I do on myself, the more I am able to understand what makes us all tick, and the more my relationships with others have improved.

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How to undertake your own “un-brainwashing” … 

In order to unlearn deeply ingrained patters, I believe you have to:

1// Examine your beliefs. 
Identify and becomes aware of your beliefs about key areas of life. For example: self, love, sex, family, religion, faith, society, culture, right and wrong, how life and the universe actually work etc.

Then go back and consider how you learned that belief, where it originated from. Was it from a teacher at school, or a family member for example?

Now ask yourself: if that origin were removed, and there was no judgement from anywhere, would you still feel the same way? Consider whether the belief makes you feel happy or obligated. 

Physical sensations will often occur when an idea resonates with you: goosebumps, chills or even a prickly feeling. Your body knows what is true for you and what is not, so look for the signs. How do different concepts, and beliefs about how to live your life, make you feel?

For example, after the breakdown of my relationship, I realized that part of my grief was to do with the loss of a life path I thought I wanted. I had blindly trusted that I needed to be married with children to be happy. However, under deep scrutiny, I realized this idea originated from my culture and society in general, and I hadn’t really thought about my needs as an individual and a healer.

I concluded that being a parent might bring satisfaction, but may not actually make me “happier.” Besides, wallowing in mother-fomo was bringing me down. So I determined that it wasn’t going to be a deal-breaker and have felt a lot better since.

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2// Find new teachers.  
Trying to unlearn everything, pick it all apart and work out who I was under all the conditioning, has been incredibly challenging. Listening to teachers, in particular Shaman Durek, has helped and continues to help me navigate this process.

However, my biggest teachers have actually been my personal spirit guides, accessed through deep Shamanic work. I learn and continue to learn more from them more than anyone else, and they have helped me to discern what “I” think and want.

Finding your teachers is about using your intuition. Ask around for recommendations, Google subjects of interest, and see what authors you’re attracted to. Be guided by synchronicity. Whose face, voice and attitude resonates with you, or charges you up? Find people who challenge your status quo and make you think twice. 

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3// Honor your natural talents.
You were given your talents for a reason, and it’s your duty to nurture them—and, when you have mastered them, to share them with others. In the sentiment of Oprah Winfrey, speaking and living your truth is the most important thing you can do!

I launched my own healing brand, The Calmery, so that I could create something in my own vision, and not be answerable to anyone, but I’m still sometimes plagued with a “be nice, be liked, head down” corporate hangover.

There is certainly more work for me to do, to be living in my full wattage power. But my un-brainwashing is well underway, and I’ll get there soon enough.

 

Sushma Sagar is a former global fashion brand director turned Reiki Master Teacher, and is the founder of London based healing practice The Calmery. She offers private reiki sessions, tuition, and workshops by appointment. Join her for Reiki Level One Training on Sunday, February 18th in London. 

BEST OF THE NUMINOUS 2017

It’s been one hell of a ride. From crystal dildos and wombifestation, to becoming a spiritual activist, our Best of The Numinous 2017 charts a truly transformative year …

Photo: Chansereypich Seng

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1// Andre J on Self-Expression as a Self-Love Practice: Gender trendsetter and spiritual mentor Andre J shared how a lifetime of fearless self-expression has been the ultimate self-love practice …

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2// Use Your Birth Chart to Meet Your Shadow Self: In a year where we faced our collective shadow on oh so many levels, we learned how to come face-to-face with the skeletons in our cosmic closets …

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3// How to Master the Art of Wombifestation: With the focus on ways to shift to a more feminine paradigm, Latham Thomas revealed the real secret to the law of attraction …

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4// Date Night as Spiritual Practice: As part of her popular Holy F*ck column, Alexandra Roxo shared how to make date date a mirror for where you’re at on your spiritual path …

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5// Healthcare Vs. The Wellness Industry: As the wellness industry came in for yet more criticism, we asked: what’s worse, a broken healthcare system or the elitist wellness industry?

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6// What’s Your Asteroid Goddess Sign? As the Divine Feminine demanded to speak up and be heard, Rebecca Farrar showed us how to harness the full feminine force of the stars …

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7// 7 Things I Learned Starting a Crystal Sex Toy Company: Adding to the conversation about self-pleasure as a healing practice, Chakrubs founder Vanessa Cuccia shared the deep spiritual lessons of her entrepreneurial path …

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8// Shaman Durek Says Spirituality Is Just Common Sense: On a mission to put shamanism in the hands of the masses, Shaman Durek explained how loving integration of our darkest places unleashes the power to heal ourselves …

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9// Mooners & Shakers Anniversary Edition: As we celebrated our one-year mooniversary, we celebrated the loving, empowering, and fearless community that is Moon Club

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10// Did You Know You Have a Tarot Type? With Tarot becoming more popular than ever, Hayley Ed Houseman shared how to discover your tarot type, and start casting spreads that speak straight to your spirit …

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11// How the Patriarchy Made You Fear Goddess Day: A.k.a. Friday the 13th. Lucy North shared the real meainng behind this “spooky” day, along with simple ways to reclaim its feminine power …

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12// 9 Tips for Running a Spiritual Business: Teeing up her new “Ask a Spiritual CEO” column (launching Jan 2018), Maha Rose founder Lisa Levine shared how to mix some magic with your business mojo …

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13// Why We Have to Get Real About Diversity in the Wellness Industry: Fundraising for her new Harlem, NY, location, SHAKTIBARRE co-founder Corinne Wainer confronted the issue at the heart of her biz head on …

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14// Dreaming About Sex With Straight Dudes … When You’re Queer AF: With gender and sexuality politics front and center, what were her dreams about having sex with straight men trying to tell Wolf Medicine Magic?

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15// Why You Need to Discover Your “Ikigai”: With more people than ever questioning our contribution, Sushma Sagar shared the ancient Japanese art of Ikigai, or how to discover your life purpose …

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16// 8 Ways to Be a Spiritual Activist in 2017: In a year of protests and political resistance, Numi founder Ruby Warrington shared timeless insight into how peace begins with each and every one of us and the daily choices that we make …

WHY WE ARE ALL HEALERS IN THE NOW AGE

We are all healers in the Now Age, says Nicole Adriana Casanova—and self-healing is the first step towards discovering your unique medicine for the world …

If you are being called to the healing path, recognize that this has come from deep within you. That you have stilled yourself enough to hear a voice that has always spoken. It’s not that something within you is awakening, but that your awareness is awakening to a part of you that was never not there.

Every human being on this planet is a Healer. We are all Pacha: a word that speaks to the essence of being, that is the most pure and distilled part of ourselves and unique to only us. For some of us, Pacha may express through art, through writing, our ability to connect people to other people or opportunities that benefit them; for others, Pacha manifests through music, or the way we prepare food, our ability to hold space for others, maybe even the crafts: oils, jewelry, the way that we appoint our homes, the clothing that we make or wear…

One thing is certain, when we are working with our soul, our fundamental truth, with a desire to marry our will to the divine will, our Pacha radiates through everything we touch and brings great healing to the world. To our own lives, and the lives of those around us.

What this means is, we all carry medicine. We are all healers. Just think about it for a moment. Think about the last time you really connected to the creative spark and answered that unique calling in your soul, allowing it to ignite you from within and light up what you put out there. Feel it. Feel it deep in your bones. And remember the impact that it had on your community, your home, even your own consciousness.

Remember the permission that you created for yourself and others by actually allowing yourself to embody your Soul. This is a very potent medicine. A subtle silent medicine that influences everything around you and inspires it to open.

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Expressing this is part of the grand design of our human race. We are not meant to be exactly like each other, which is why we exist as separate beings. But within this separation we are united. And if each of us were to consciously decide to live our Pacha, the world would transform. It would become much more interesting and rich. Rich with love, courage, and the fire of our innermost passion. Fire that brings transformation and clear vision, an ability to see how we are all unique and how that uniqueness is needed in order to illuminate the human experience here on Earth.

Pacha is not solely reserved for gurus or masters or teachers, it is within each and every one of us. And when we came to this life, the Earth provided everything we would need in order to thrive. All of the food, the shelter, the elements, the terrains, all of the teachings, the animals, the plants, the minerals, the vegetables, the family, the friends, the art, the songs, the medicines…

All of this is just a metaphor for how we truly need a diverse landscape in order to remember ourselves. Within the gift of this remembrance is the understanding of natural order, and how we must continue to carry our inborn essence and bring it outward to share, to provide for others, to honor the sacred traditions of the humanity, the Earth, and our Souls.

We close the circuit by being who we truly are, by accepting others as they are, and by understanding the divine order within this sublime diversity. It is an undoing of false identities that leads us to this truth.

Imagine the incredible healing that would take place on this planet if we integrated this ancient wisdom and let go of scarcity, competition, jealousy, fear, rage, comparison, separation. How would our entire experience level up if we were simply able to accept what is? Our selves, our Souls, each other.

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So, are you committed to awakening the healer in you?

Before you embark on this path, self-healing is an extraordinary and necessary part of learning how to be of service to others. Self-healing helps us strip off all the false identities, the false masks, social constructs, familial inheritances, etc., that clog our minds, hearts, bodies, and spirits from being able to truly hold and express our Pacha. Because Pacha takes space and commands a level of integrity with ourselves in order to hold it. 

Eventually, the realization dawns that our own self-healing is actually the most beneficial offering we can give to the world.

Why?

Because we are all connected. By healing ourselves, by being in truth, we become as gardeners creating a beneficial environment for everyone in our lives to also embody themselves authentically. Like the metaphor of the Earth, we begin to thrive in our interrelation and interconnection.

The seeds we plant today become the food of future generations—the systems of this planet teach us through simply being how we can regenerate as humans, and how to live in harmony. So, begin by looking at what you are taking in. What do you feed yourself, literally and figuratively? And then look at what you provide for those you love? And then look at what you feed your garden. Is it struggling? Is it thriving?

This is your Pacha. Tend to every part of it with fierce compassion, the world awaits your medicine. 

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Nicole Adriana Casanova is a student if Maestro Manuel Rufino, Taino elder and founder of Golden Drum cultural center in Brooklyn, New York. Nicole is a writer, poet, and storyteller, a 200 RYT Yoga Alliance certified, a certified Reiki Master in the Usui and Karuna Reiki Riojo, a Shamanic Practitioner, a Human Movement and Meditation teacher, and Magical Awakening Practitioner. Discover more about Nicole and her work HERE and follow her on Instagram.

SPIRITUAL SHROOMING: MY UNLIKELY AWAKENING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meg with a handmade lithograph about her experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

NUMINOUS WEEKLY TAROTSCOPE: FEBRUARY 3—7

The Judgement card is “the reason for the season.” This week, it is an invitation to understand that there is no “other,” says Lindsay Mack

HOLY F*CK: RELATIONSHIPS AS A PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT

In her latest Holy F*ck column, Alexandra Roxo finds herself on the path to enlightenment with relationships coach Perri Gorman

Lettin’ my hair go full Leo in the Croatian sun…

I met Perri Gorman when someone who I had met once messaged me on Facebook and was like: “I think you would like this teacher.” Perri was leading something called a “Relationship Detox,” and it DID seem appropriate, since I had decided to take a six month break from sex, dating, alcohol and drugs to focus on my healing. But then again, randoms send me FB messages all the time so I couldn’t be sure.

When I got Perri on the phone she was INTENSE. I’m an intense woman too, so when I come head to head with another of my kind I can adopt a “been there done that” attitude. Like, “Oh yeah, I’m not afraid to look at my shadows. I do it all the time.” And “Um duh. I’ve done the work.” But somehow she convinced me to sign up for her class. And it was the best gift ever. She called me out on places I had been hiding from my truth and still living from deep rooted childhood fears. (Ugh when does it end????!) At the end of the class I felt palpable changes. Like major shifts. Like, I had looked at all of my uglies in the face and hugged them and given them space to, well…turn into butterflies. Cheesy, yes, but true!

I sat down with Perri to try and understand this alchemical process a little deeper.

Alexandra Roxo: Your website says “TRANSFORMATION IS NOT OPTIONAL” in huge letters which kinda freaks me out but in a good way. Why did you choose that?
Perri Gorman: It’s a bit of a story. When I was living in Hong Kong back in 2007 my life felt like Ground Hog’s day. I had actually hit a certain level of success, but I was like “Is this IT? Like, Is THIS my life?” I had a magnet on my refrigerator that was my savior, which said: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” Oh, I must be in a cocoon I used to think. This part sucks. But just hang in there! After my life began to transform (longer story), my online moniker became and still is Bethebutterfly, and the butterfly is my inspirational creature.

Later, I went to a lecture by someone who was also fascinated by the life of the butterfly. She told a story of going to a butterfly farm and asking the keeper; “Does the caterpillar have a choice?” The answer was no. They either transform or they die. It’s not optional. And in this life, I think it is similar for us. Sounds grim but the stakes are really that high.

AR: I agree, and I also feel like the world needs transformation more than ever. Which is what I experienced on your relationship detox course. It’s hard for me to describe how you work though. It’s alchemy! Can you explain?
PG: Well, I am a guide and I create experiences. I walk people down a path that I have been down to and experienced transformation myself. If I haven’t been able to personally alchemize it (whatever “it” might be) I don’t create the experience. Rather than teaching, I help my students facilitate this in themselves. This part is really important. Often if you just “tell” people something, then either the Ego rejects it and can’t hear it—or the Ego hears it, rejects it and turns on you in the process! So in order to stun the ego, you have to guide the spirit and let the “aha” moments come naturally.

Each person has a different speed at which they transform, too. Mine was REALLY slow—partly because I had so much pain inside, it wasn’t safe for it to come out all at once. It was a process. Think of it like detoxing from chemicals. Since your body stores toxins in your fat cells, it won’t actually LET you lose weight too fast if you are toxic because it would poison the body. Awakening is similar. There is a massive pain body that you need to work through in order to open fully.

With the Relationship Detox specifically, it is designed to reframe your entire experience with relationships and have you see the divine messages that meant for you in each experience. By going through the process you are able to let go of behavior that is no longer serving you and choose something new.

Perri Gorman: relationships guru

AR: In the moments you’re coaching me I always start “strong” and then you get in there and crack me open. How do you always manage to do that?!
PG: I think a big part of my work is feeling “you” underneath the “strong,” which is usually a defense mechanism. It’s there to say “yeah I’m cool, nothing to see here, keep moving!” But if you listen closely there is another voice in there saying, “Hey! Don’t listen to her! I’m in here!”

My work is not for the faint of heart as you know, and I think it’s unique because I live it deeply myself. I am not perfect or enlightened but I have a deep deep practice of looking at my own stuff in every situation. I have unwound some really complex and tricky (and not so attractive) patterns in myself, so I can see the patterns more easily than others in many cases. So if you are like me and you have patterns that fog or trick other people, you come to me and I slice the head off that puppy and you feel so much better!

AR: So how is a relationship a crucible? That sounds scary as hell.
PG: Relationship as a crucible means that you don’t do this fairy tale thing of “acquiring” a relationship and then passing out back to sleep. It means staying conscious within the relationship, and being willing for it to “burn” the patterns in you that no longer serve you. It means looking deeply at the other person as a mirror and using that mirror to look at where you can be a better version of yourself.

AR: Yes! I find the deepest work I do is often in partnership. It’s like boot camp. No hiding! Wanna give us an example of what this can look like?
PG: Sure. Right now in my own relationship (I am getting married in October) I am working on a pattern where I try to fix him when he is down because his pain makes me really uncomfortable. So instead of letting him have his experience, I do things that would make him feel better. That sounds like the “nice” thing to do but it is not the “kind” thing to do. The thing to do is focus on myself, support him how he wants to be supported and not need him to be any way other than how he is.

As I started to look more deeply at it, I was like “Why do I do that? Where does that pattern originate?” It comes from childhood and being afraid that things going wrong were my fault and not wanting to get in trouble. But if I fixed it then that meant I did something good! It’s a rescuer pattern where I get personal validation that I am a good person by making him feel better.

But if we are practicing being conscious, then I have robbed him of his down which it is NECESSARY for him to get through himself to get to the freedom on the other side. By trying to help him feel better, (i.e. distract him from his feelings or helping him cover them with yummy things like a chocolate milkshake) I have helped him numb out and I have kept him from feeling what he needs to feel. So I notice it and then I actively practice doing something different so I can shift that piece of myself internally. It’s a practice.

AR: I love this, and I’ve been on both sides of this same coin. Allowing the uncomfortable is tough. People are always looking to “be ok.” But I wonder if some of us are avoiding the shadow. The truth. The messy side. Hiding under a mask of “zen.”
PG: We all have masks and patterns, which is why relationships as reflection from others is so important. I surround myself with people who can penetrate my defenses so the truth can get through. Of course we avoid it. I don’t think that I ever said “Oh hey, I want to be awake and spiritual.” I was a fucking walking ball of chaos and destruction, and I had no choice. It was transform or die. I had to learn how to use all the energy. For others, they feel dead inside or their relationships don’t work or they are bored. In this sense, it’s like we all have different locks that require a different key.

***

So there you have it. Perri always pisses me off with our work, but then she breaks me down and then I cry and feel so happy and see the light!  It’s an amazing process if you surrender to it.

And next up from Perri: self-love. Something I think gets misunderstood A LOT. Self-love doesn’t just mean treating yourself to a mani pedi. It means cutting off toxic relationships. Releasing self-judgment. Body shame. Sexual shame. Owning your voice. Standing up for your needs. Creating healthy boundaries. Self-love is deep. I’m still learning it more and more everyday.

Perri’s new experience, PRESENCE, is all about coming home to yourself through the path authentic self-love. Not in the “everything needs to be good and nice” kind of way, more like “I will sit here with you through it all—good or bad”—something she admits has been one of the most challenging practices for her, and so a major focus of her own healing journey.

Registration for PRESENCE opens August 1 for a limited time. To sign-up, and to learn more about Perri Gorman and her work visit: Theschoolofalchemy.com

FACE YOUR FEARS…AT A SEX, DRUGS AND DEATH RETREAT

Personal development can sky-rocket when you decide to face your fears—as Rose Surnow discovered on a sex, drugs and death retreat…

Here’s me facing my fear of looking fierce AF.

I’m afraid of… basically everything. Swimming in a dark pool? What about sharks? Even though that’s impossible. Cute guy asks me on a date? He probably just wants to murder me and sell my pubic hair on Craigslist. Amazing job opportunity falls in my lap? It’s obviously a Ponzi scheme run by terrorists. So many fears, so little time!

Raised by intelligent but pathologically anxious parents, I was taught that the world is a land mine where nothing is safe. Wear a sweater! Wear a helmet! Wear a hazmat suit! Better yet, just don’t go outside. SOMETHING COULD HAPPEN. “Being Jewish is so relaxing,” said no one, ever.

So, it goes without saying I’d be terrified of things like sex, drugs and death. My greatest fear is probably having sex on drugs, and then dying. So, when I was invited to a mindfulness retreat called “The Taboo Weekend” to discuss these exact topics, I jumped at the chance. It was time to face some fears.

Organized by bohemian power-couple Michael Hebb and Angel Grant, the event is meant to help people open up about difficult subjects in order to live a more meaningful life. Hebb and Grant started the company Death Over Dinner, where they host dinner parties all over the world, to get people talking about death.

Held at a beautiful luxury retreat center in Atlanta, called the Inn at Serenbe the event was three days of discussion, meditation and reflection. And it was an incredible. I felt my heart break open a little more, my walls come down a couple inches, and my spirit get lighter and more free.

If you ever find yourself at the Taboo Weekend (which I highly recommend) or any retreat at all, check out my tips on how to get the most out of it. Because if I can get out of my fears and be present, literally anyone can.

:: PARTICIPATE FULLY ::
It’s easier to be a Skeptical Susan, judging life from the sidelines, than a Participating Pam. But Pam always wins in the end.

On the last day of the retreat we had a “sex lunch” which meant we sat in randomly assigned groups, ate fried chicken and took turns answering really personal questions about our sex lives. A dude in recovery confessed that sober sex was really intimidating. A beautiful blond talked about how her anti-depressants made climax impossible. And a hot German guy admitted that he didn’t like casual hook-ups and needed an emotional connection.

Everyone just spilled their insecurities like it was no big deal, and it was kind of an epiphany. Maybe our biggest insecurities aren’t that big of deal. Maybe we’re all just people doing the best we can trying to figure it out. I left that conversation feeling lighter than I have since I was a kid.

This was our bangin’-ass hot tub where I met my retreat boyfriend.

:: GET IN THE HOT TUB ::
I think it was Shakespeare who said, “Hot things happen in hot tubs.” So get in already! (And, if your retreat doesn’t have a Jacuzzi, what the fuck are you even doing there?)

On the first night of my Taboo weekend, I ended up in a Jacuzzi with a group of cute, young people because, doy. Slowly, everyone left to go to bed until it was just me and this hot guy named Brian. HOW CONVENIENT. We looked at the stars for a while and pretended to ignore the implications of being the last ones left. Then he walked me to my hotel room where we made out until the sun came up.

The point is you could die at any moment, so get in the hot tub of LIFE and make-out with Brian. Sidenote: straight men who go on mindfulness retreats are amazing lovers. Slow, sensitive and sensual it almost makes up for every single dude you slept with in college.

:: INTERVIEW A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR BUT, SOMEHOW MAKE IT ABOUT YOURSELF ::
The speaker who gave us a lecture about drugs was best-selling author, addiction expert and Holocaust survivor, Gabor Mate. Even though he’s 72 years old, he’s still fine as hell in that tormented Eastern European way. He looks like if Adrien Brody melted.

Gabor spoke a lot about the mind-body connection and if I can reduce his two-hour lecture to one sentence, it would be: Every problem in your life stems from not getting the love you needed as a child.

Obviously, that’s incredibly simplistic, but I can’t summarize his entire lecture here (but you should definitely watch his Ted Talk).

After hearing Gabor talk, I interviewed him about his life. I asked about his experience in Budapest during the Holocaust and then somehow we ended up talking about depression. Gabor has been on and off Prozac for decades, and I’ve been on Lexepro since I was 19. Then Gabor started asking me all these really personal questions about my life, my childhood, my family. Suddenly, I found myself crying about my parents’ divorce…when this motherfucker SURVIVED THE HOLOCAUST.

I’ve never felt more millennial: “Oh, your grandfather was murdered by Nazis. That sucks. My dad didn’t support my art!”

By the end of the conversation, Gabor had me smiling and laughing. “How do you feel now?” he asked me.

“I feel great, relaxed,” I said.

“That is your true essence,” he replied. “That is who you really are.”

Gabor thinking deep thoughts.

:: STAY CALM WHEN A WOMAN GETS POSSESSED BY KUNDALINI YOGA SPIRITS ::
Weird things happen at New Age retreats. I was sitting in a small lecture with Gabor Mate when all of the sudden this woman started violently convulsing. Gasping for breath, jerking, and shaking, I thought for sure she was having a panic attack.

Apparently, she was experiencing some kind of “Kundalini episode.” Whatever it was, it was scary to watch. I was starting to feel a little panic-by-proxy, when Gabor started to calm her down.

“What’s going on, right now?

“I can’t control it,” she said.

“That’s okay. How are you feeling?” he asked.

“I’m embarrassed. I feel like I’m being too dramatic. I feel like I’m too much for people,” she cried as she flailed around.

Then Gabor asked us all to stand up and get out of our chairs and imitate her movements. “We will do it with you, so you’re not alone.” We started jerking and shaking and it was kind of fun. We looked like a group of white people trying to dance. Finally, she calmed down.

It was like magic. Gabor turned this weird, edgy experience, into a supportive, playful exercise. Everything was okay. She was okay. She just needed to feel like she wasn’t alone.

***

If there’s one thing I learned over and over again on this retreat is that we’re all WAY TOO HARD ON OURSELVES. I spent three days having radically honest and open conversations with all types of people, from all types of backgrounds. And the thing I heard most was how much pain people were experiencing at their own hand. And I’m no exception.

All our problems are rooted in not feeling loved enough. And it starts with ourselves. I realize this article vacillates between sarcastic and cheesy, genuine and silly, but that’s me. I had no idea what to expect on a sex, drugs and death retreat. But what I got was compassion. A real sense of compassion for other people, for myself and for life.

When you face your fears, maybe the world’s not such a scary place after all.

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: LULU BRUD

A.k.a. Lady Lu of The Wolves, Pretty Little Liars actress, storyteller, and interior designer Lulu Brud is the most mystical of material girls. Here’s a peek into her world…Portraits: Taren Maroun

WE’RE STARTING A NEW EVENT SERIES CALLED “STORY MEDICINE.” AS A TELLER OF STORIES YOURSELF, WHAT DO YOU FIND HEALING ABOUT STORYTELLING?
Stories are mirrors, reflectors of humanity that can reveal the great archetypes throughout history. They can awaken a connection to seemingly far away lands, spirits, and forgotten or imagined times. Stories are teachers and invokers. They lend us the words when we have gone silent or inspire empathy where perhaps before there was none.

WHERE DID THE NAME OF YOUR BRAND – “OF THE WOLVES” – COME FROM?
I dated a man a long time ago who gave me this book, Women Who Run With the Wolves. It was as if he had been sent just to give me this important thing, because I never really heard from him again after that! Later that year, for my 25th birthday, my best friend gave me a Wolf Ring that has become a talisman in my life. I joined Instagram the same week I got the ring, and as I was searching for my moniker, the name just sort of came to me. I didn’t go out looking for the wolves, the wolves came looking for me.

AS AN INTERIOR DESIGNER, WHAT MAKES A HOME A SANCTUARY?
We spend a lot of our lives out in the world, sharing space and entangling ourselves with the energy of strangers. It’s important to have a home to return to that feels like a calm and grounded sanctuary of our own making. My personal approach to interior spaces is inspired by natural and warm elements like plants, crystals and wood, different patterns and colors in textiles and tiles, and up-cycled/repurposed pieces. I love bringing inside living, outside, and outside living, inside…in other words, I don’t like such hard defined lines between the inside of one’s home and the wild outdoors.

WE LOVE THE SOUND OF YOUR “PICNICS OF THE WOLVES” GATHERINGS! WHAT INSPIRED THIS IDEA AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?
I love gathering with women (and sometimes men too!) over food, drinks and chats doing crafts and/or at lectures. Working with our hands, healing through laughter and shared stories, that’s what it’s about. I’ve done a few of my own gatherings now, and they are organically growing into something really special. There will be several coming up in 2016 – Lindsay Mack of Wild Soul Healing will be in LA in May for a Tarot focused Picnic, and I’m hoping to get a Cob Oven building workshop on the books too, things like that. The sign-ups will be listed on my website as they become available!

ACTORS ARE EMPATHETIC SOULS BY NATURE – HOW DOES ONE KEEP YOUR ENERGY FIELD CLEAN OPERATING IN A CUT-THROAT ENVIRONMENT LIKE HOLLYWOOD?
To be honest, I struggle with it a lot, but Of the Wolves has saved me in many ways. My days are filled with storytelling in many forms, and I go to bed feeling creatively fulfilled at night. I have had the opportunity to work more this year than I ever have before, with a small arc on Pretty Little Liars and an appearance on Ray Donovan, but for now, it’s all quiet again on the acting front.

The ups can be really exciting and thrilling, the downs can be pretty heavy and dark, and rejection is an everyday occurrence. The trick, for me at least, is staying balanced and grounded through it all, keeping my hands busy, telling good stories, and not pausing for too long to dwell on things that are so out of my control. At the end of the day, it’s just a job. It’s hard not to compare my path with that of those around me, but I just can’t do it…their story isn’t my story and my story isn’t theirs.

:: MATERIAL GIRL :: 

My label // Reformation or vintage finds from old closets.

Bordeaux dress, $278, Reformation

My shoes // Black vintage lace up Justin boots (that I’ve had resoled 5 times), PFKaufman Mules, Minnetonka Moccassins.

Mules, $350, PFKaufman

My fragrance // Jiva Apoha 1967 Body Oil or if I’m feeling fancy D. S. & Durga Freetrapper.

Body oil, from $53, Jiva Apoha

My jewels // Alkiemie Wolf Ring, Communion by Joy Eye of the Warrior Ring, my wedding ring with a family crest that my husband and I designed together, and Native American vintage turquoise pieces

Eye of the Warrior Ring, $1985, Communion by Joy

My pampering // A quiet solo night at home with a good playlist, candles, bath time, and a glass of wine.

My home // Rustic + Bohemian + Cabin feels nestled into a hillside on the east-side of LA.

My food // I love cooking any foods with good people and high-vibing ingredients

The Plantpower Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My awakening // Waking up slowly and cuddling my husband and our eight-year-old tea cup poodle. Then lighting candles in our meditation room, burning Juniper Ridge incense, and sipping coffee until I need to face the music and get the day started.

White Sage Incense, $12, Juniper Ridge

My sign // Sun: Scorpio | Rising: Taurus | Moon: Cancer.

My mantra // “I am enough.”

My healer // The colors and the quiet of Momma Earth – deserts, oceans, mountains.

My reading // “Women Who Run with the Wolves” – “The Anthropology of Turquoise” – “Just Kids” – “A Handbook of Native American Herbs”

Just Kids by Patti Smith

My transformation // When I stopped limiting myself to just being a storyteller through acting, and opened myself up to all of the other ways I tell stories – home designing, sharing stories on my blog, making goods, and curating my online shop.

My mission // To awaken and connect people back to one another and their wild sides, and to instill a new paradigm of protectors for the sustainability of this planet.

www.ofthewolves.com

A LESSON IN LOVE: THE PEYOTE DIARIES

“If Ayahuasca is the head medicine, Peyote is to heal the heart.” One woman shares her Peyote journey, and tells how the mystical cactus helped her find her family. Images: Daniel R. Moore (homepage) and Abbey Watkins (post), both via Behance.net  

“I first heard about Peyote about four years ago when a friend told me about his experience in Arizona at the Church of Peyote, where he went to one ceremony after another for three months straight. I was captivated, and let him talk for three hours. His story was magical and he told it with so much love I could feel it. Also having known him for a while, I could see how his experiences had changed him as a person.

He continued to tell me whenever his “Roadman” (what the Church of Peyote call their Shaman) was doing a ceremony, and I always thought about doing it but the time was never right. Until my ex-boyfriend, also a mutual friend, texted me out of the blue three days after his first ceremony saying; “hey, I think I found OUR medicine.”

He and I share a very intimate knowledge of each other’s problems, and having taken Peyote he said he thought it could help me in the same way it helped him.
And so six months later, when I found out that he was organizing a meeting in Europe in two weeks time, it felt like a no-brainer. I had $200 in my pocket, but I was like, ‘fuck it, I have to make it work.’

He’s a pretty social guy and word had got around, so there were about 40 people in attendance. It was taking place in quite a remote place, and I travelled 24 hours to get there and missed the first round of medicine, so I was asking everybody how it was. They told me; “if it’s for you, life will just make sense.”

But I already knew it was for me.

Each tribe has their own way of running their ceremony, but I’ve done four ceremonies with the same guys now and it starts with burning tobacco, which opens up a channel to the spiritual world. The Roadman runs the ceremony, and then there’s a Fire Chief, whose job it is to make sure the fire, the “Grandfather,” stays bright and beautiful all night.

The person arranging the ceremony is in the “sponsored seat,” and they set the intention for the night. The Doorman’s job is to make sure people are sitting in the right spot and to keep things clean when people “get well” (throw up). The Drummer drums for everybody individually, and we all sing. And if the men run the ceremony, one female is also chosen to bring food – corn, meat and fruit – and water in the morning.

After the tobacco the Sponsor sets the intention for the night, then the medicine starts rolling, which comes in completely different forms depending on the Roadman. My first time, it came in four forms – a paste, a fresh form, a tea and a cold juice, and we were invited to take a portion of each. It’s a very acquired taste and all you can smell for two days afterwards is Peyote…I can’t describe it, because there’s nothing else like it and you know it right away; the mescaline.

As for how it makes me feel? The first time it made me really, really tired. So tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open. So the challenge was to sit and pay attention for nine hours straight.

It also really amplifies feelings. If Ayahuasca is the head medicine, then Peyote is the heart medicine. With Aya you take it and you go somewhere else, but with Peyote you’re completely grounded. I could talk to you like I am now, no problem, it’s just everything is amplified. In your head you’re able to connect the dots, like when you’re smoking weed, but in your heart it’s like taking MDMA – when you feel connected to everything, and you’re able to understand what everybody else is feeling.

Some people get trippy visuals but I never have. That first time I did feel raindrops on my shoulder which obviously weren’t there, and which turned into a feeling of joy that spread over my whole body. For me it feels like love is in that tepee, I don’t know how else to explain it. And afterwards, I always feel supercharged.

After my first time, I did two more ceremonies in the space of two weeks. I only took a small amount the first time and didn’t get well, but the second time I decided I wanted to dedicate my experience to different people in my life and wrote down ten names – so I took a spoonful of medicine for each of them…and got super well!

I saw it like there was obviously something that needed healing in each of those relationships, because when I took a spoonful for each of the same ten people the next time, I was flying high – a high that lasted six months. You go to places in your head where you get so emotional, and I often cry all the way through which is an amazing release in itself.

Now I feel like I’d do it once a month to keep me on track, like you might see a therapist. It can become a way of life, but for some people once a year is enough. Personally, I’d like to learn more, to understand the culture more and all the details about how to run a ceremony. They’d never let a woman put the tepee up, but I’m fascinated by the way they tie the knots in a certain way to honour the elements and stuff…and to learn about it, I just need to spend more time with them.

Also, the Roadman I follow is hilarious – he’s covered in tats, like a Mexican gangster, and he’s a funny motherfucker! For me he bridges the gap between my world and the ancient spiritual world, which makes it all so much more relatable to me. I told my friend I think I’m in love with him; he was like, ‘get in line!’

More recently, visiting Phoenix Arizona for a ceremony to celebrate the 13th wedding anniversary of my Roadman and his wife was one of the most beautiful things I’ve every experienced. I felt so blessed to go to the place where they’ve been doing these ceremonies for thousands of years. It was like visiting the holy land. But I’ve also done one with a different tribe in the Bronx in New York City, which was run by my Roadman’s ‘brother.’

People in the Peyote families know each other as relatives, and they believe that if you bring a partner into the circle and sit next to each other, that means you’re partners for life. It comes down to the fact that if you know this medicine works for you, then you feel a connection to other people in the same circles. It’s like there’s something in your makeup that’s the same, or you understand that maybe you experience the same kind of problems in life.

For me, the most beautiful part of my whole experience has been learning what real family connection feels like. Seeing how much the families respect each other, it’s ridiculous – and it’s why I keep going back.

Growing up, I never understood what family values were – my parents were there, but not emotionally. We’re very distant as a family. My friends are the people I would take a bullet for – but through the ceremonies, I’m learning how to forge a connection with my blood relatives too. The most important lesson has been to understand their value in my life, and to respect that. I appreciate them more for who they are now – and understand why maybe I should text my mom just to tell her I love her from time to time.

Elsewhere, it’s brought me so much clarity. Meeting new people, I can tell what kind of relationship we’re going to have, and if I used to have a tendency to give too much, now I’m aware of when that’s happening so I can stop. It’s like I’ve been granted an outside perspective. I’ve also learned to listen more and absorb stuff without feeling like I need to react right away. To just sit, and pay attention. I feel like I approach everything in a more peaceful, patient and positive way. And my close friends have all been able to see it.”

Image: Daniel R Moore via Behance.net

SOUL FOOD #2: A NUMINOUS READING LIST FOR 2015

Feed your mind, and the rest will follow…The 16 books in this Numinous reading list are guaranteed to rock your worldview, heal your life, and feed your soul.

:: Ruby Warrington ::
“As soon as I heard about Russell Brand’s Revolution, I knew I had to read it. I’m a bit obsessed with how Russell has reinvented himself, and gone from ridiculous if charismatic addict and Hollywood wannabe, to bone fide Now Age guru – it reeks of a genuine spiritual awakening. His experience of this, told through the filter of his pop culture background, his intelligence, and with his entertaining way with words, is positioning him as one of the voices with the potential to really cause a shift in consciousness at a very mainstream level. The book is every bit as brilliant as I’d hoped, as entertaining as it is profound and agitating.”

:: Erin Telford ::
Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by Caroline Myss was the first game changer for me. I read it in high school. I grew up in a total hippie household and we would get crystal therapy when we were sick and my parents had a guru, so this lifestyle was very comfortable to me but it wasn’t something that I had consciously chosen. It was just what I knew from my family. When I read Anatomy of the Spirit it was my first personal connection to the idea that we could heal our own bodies and that the Western medical system wasn’t the only model…was in fact a very poor and deficient model for healing. The concept of “dis-ease” blew my mind wide open because it just made so much sense. It opened me up to the vastness of what we could do as individuals to self heal.”

:: Alexandra Roxo ::
“The book Be Here Now changed my life greatly at age 19. I saw that this world was merely a TV screen, a matrix of lights, all a constructed illusion, and how everything works together. I learned about food, karma, God…and something clicked. The knowledge Ram Dass spoke touched my soul and awakened existing wisdom within my heart. It was the first major awakening I had, and I remember thinking: “YES. Finally.” In 2014 I decided to listen to all of his talks on my iPhone and was re-inspired,10 years later.”

:: Erica Jago ::
What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, my dear friend who is a therapist and shaman. He shared the poem, “The Invitation,” with me and I wept. It was the first time I acknowledged and felt my own depth, and from that point forward my own personal healing began.”

:: Madeline Giles ::
The Master’s Touch: On Being a Sacred Teacher for the New Age by Yogi Bhajan. Yogi Bhajan was not a man. He was an avatar in a human suit – I guess we all are in some sense, but Yogi Bhajan was wide awake to it and the technology he transmitted to us is guaranteed (with consistent practice) to make you happy, healthy, and holy. Need I say more?”

:: Dani Katz ::
Right Use of Will: Healing and Evolving the Emotional Body. Hands down. No question. Right Use of Will came into my life several years ago, when I was heavily into ayahuasca, and tons of shamanic endeavors. It’s a channelled book – supposedly straight from the mouth of God – that lays out right and aligned third chakra relating. I take all channelled material with a grain of salt, but this book vibes high and true, and resonates on way too many levels for me to NOT take it to heart. It’s all about power – personal power, relational power, cultural power – what constitutes a distortion, and what serves the individual and the collective together. Since reading it, I move through life with a very clear certainty about how to exercise my own personal power with others and the world at large, while also being clear as to when others are out of line in how they are wielding their power with me/the world. It has since smoothed out my every human relationship, because I am clear as to what is right relating, as regards to will, and what isn’t. Armed with this knowledge, I know immediately when others are overcompensating for an underdeveloped third chakra, and can thus engage them in ways that support their empowerment.”

:: Sarah Hay ::
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas, and When A Billion Chinese Jump: How China Will Save Mankind — Or Destroy It by Jonathan Watts – these three books changed my life in 2014, and I believe that until people have read the information contained in them they will be functioning from a place of confusion, unknowing ignorance and powerlessness. Every single world event we are seeing today, from recent events of extremism in Paris, Nigeria and Syria, to extreme weather flashes in Gaza and the Philippines and water shortages in Yemen, plus extreme energy extraction in Canada, the US and the UK are all connected. We have the power to change everything, and climate is the one issue that’s teaching me this every single day.

:: Betsy Cohen ::
The book I feel every women should read is Make Every Man Want You by Marie Forleo. Marie is a huge hearted genius. Not many people know that this book exists, and when I read it I thought: “This is everything that I’ve been channelling through readings (in my work as a professional psychic medium) for the past four years about relationships all in one place!” I always tell people I hate the title but LOVE the book.”

:: Sarah Durham Wilson ::
“Shortly after my awakening four years ago, I remember being in a bath tub on a horse farm on Martha’s Vineyard and reading Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book), and watching my life change in the air around me. A wonderful human handbook, for certain.”

:: Jennifer Kass ::
A Course In Miracles. I always tell my clients it’s the template for reality. After knowing the basic spiritual truth that only love is real and fear is an illusion, we can drop everything we hear, think, learn into that template and know what’s real and what’s false, what will best serve us and what will not. Discovering the truth of reality freed me from fear and activated my own ancient love and knowledge within and allowed me to step into my divine life mission and become who I really am.”

:: Victoria Keen ::
“It would have to be…The Holographic Universe: The Revolutionary Theory of Reality. I discovered it a couple years ago in my studies about Sound and the nature of reality, and it is a thorough and fascinating investigation into the gaping blind spots in modern science. It brings to light, in a very succinct and easily comprehensible way, a scientific paradigm for truly understanding our connectivity and the power our thoughts have on shaping ‘physical reality’. This books lays the ground work for all energetic medicine, and I am so grateful it exists!”

:: Raquel Griffin ::
“HANDS DOWN, Marianne Williamson’s The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money, and Miracles. I discovered it a little over a year ago and it totally changed my life…..it’s the definition of a GAME-CHANGER. This book completely redefined how I thought about money, work – and miracles for that matter. Marianne clearly illuminates the spiritual aspect of money (i.e. that money and spirit are linked), which is absolutely key to understanding and ultimately breaking the lack cycle. I honestly believe if every human lived by the concepts she elucidates in this book, our world would be a VERY different place.”

:: Sophie Teakle ::
“Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. I have listened to this more than once as a recording, and find new meanings every time. I’m also in the process of rereading The Kybalion which has such astounding depth and profundity I know it will be at my side for a life time, its meanings changing as I too grow and evolve.”

:: Laurie Di Biagio ::
The Alchemist. 18 months ago, this book opened my eyes to my own purpose – the fact that I too was on my own personal pilgrimage to the pyramids. That life is lived through the heart, not the head. And that what the heart tells you…you must follow. It came to be at the exact time it was meant to, as weeks later I embarked on a life of entrepreneurship.”

THE NUMI YEAR IN REVIEW: BEST OF 2014

2014 has been a year of SELF-EXAMINATION, TRANSFORMATION and ADVENTURE! Here are 11 posts that made us laugh, gasp, cry…and take a good long look at our lives from the inside (listed in no particular order of awesomeness).

1. YOGI VEGAN LEZ: DIARY OF A DETOX A DEUX

The yoga was the fun part…

When Alexandra Roxo decided to embark on a hardcore nine-day Ayurvedic cleanse, she had no idea her girlfriend would decide to come along for the ride. Cue tears, tantrums and an ocean of emotion.

2. TURNED ON: THE TANTRA OF ONLINE DATING

Dancing between masculine and feminine…

Ellie Burrows is pretty sure she’s discovered the secret to online dating. And it’s Tantra. Not super-connected, total body orgasm, tantric sex – rather the energetic concept that makes that kind of sex possible: a balance of the masculine and feminine energies.

3. NEED-TO-KNOW: YOUR SPIRIT POWER ANIMAL

Feel so much more powerful knowing he’s on my side…

Dealing with a situation that had left her feeling vulnerable and alone, when Ruby Warrington met her spirit power animal last year…it got emotional. Here’s how to connect with your own beast of the wild unknown.

4. TO SKINNY DIP OR NOT TO SKINNY DIP: KNOW YOUR YOGA RTREAT ETIQUETTE

No hiding behind your hair all week…

Yay, you’re going on a yoga retreat! You want to get the most out of your experience, right? Who better than Heather Lilleston and Kumi Sawyers fromYoga For Bad People to lay down some summer retreat etiquette. We’re talking less freaking out, more more F.U.N.

5. KUNDALINI CALLING: HEAVEN ON EARTH WITH GURU JAGAT

Guru Jagat shot in Venice Beach by Lisandra Valazquez

Guru Jagat is the outspoken face behind the Ra Ma Institute, the only all kundalini yoga studio in California’s Venice Beach. She talks to Madeline Giles about her vision for the Age of Aquarius, life on the 33rd parallel and outsmarting the Global Elite. Conspiracy theories or conscious debate?

6. DARK FAIRY DELIRIUM: WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE A GEMINI

Image by Bela Borsodi for Document Journal

Right after a powerful New Moon in multi-faceted Gemini, gifting us an opportunity to embrace the quicksilver side of ourselves, Nadia Noir gives an insight into a life spent searching for “the other me.”

7. THE NU RULES: ATTRACT THE RIGHT RELATIONSHIP FOR YOU

See yourself through your lover’s eyes…

Can’t seem to attract the right relationship? It’s not him, honey, it’s you. Jennifer Kass re-writes The Rules, beginning with a lesson in self-love…

8. 26 LIFE LESSONS MY BURNING MAN EXPERIENCE TAUGHT ME

Ruby and her husband Simon on the Playa…

Connfession: My Burning Man Experience was too full-on to be called fun, says Ruby Warrington. But when it comes to life lessons, a week on the Playa delivered pure gold.

9. SPIRITUAL AWAKENING: THE REBIRTHING OF BROOKE CANDY

Image: Brooke Candy’s Instagram account

Lessons in Kabbalah with Madonna and a “little spiritual trip to Hawaii.” Brooke Candy tells Ruby Warrington how following a more “soulful” path has been a lesson in self-love…

10. BEYOND BFFS: HOW TO CREATE A COVEN

Cara and her coven, photographed by Richard Bush for i-D magazine

Something very special happens when women come together in ceremony. Erin Telford explains how to create a Coven – and bonds that run deep as blood.

11. ORGASMIC MEDITATION: INSIDE THE CULT OF CLIT

Orgasm as spiritual exchange…

Empowering women’s movement, or de facto sex cult? Dani Katz gets intimate with the practise known as Orgasmic Meditation…