MATERIAL GIRL MYSTICAL WORLD CHANGED ME: THAT WAS THE POINT

A lot has changed since the original publication of Material Girl, Mystical World in May 2017 … which was kind of the point.

When I began writing Material Girl, Mystical World in early 2015, I didn’t realize it would be a book about a personal transformation—a transformation that has been unfolding ever since. I was a different woman when it was commissioned, by the time I had finished writing it, and when it was finally published in May 2017. Once you stop resisting their tug, this is how transformations go, continually unfolding until life becomes unrecognizable.

When they told me the paperback would be published this fall, I questioned whether it still felt like my story (which of course it is, and always will be). I had continued to change and evolve, as the work I chronicled in the original manuscript continued to do its work on me. And world events were also reshaping the world around us in unprecedented ways—did any of us think, and act, and see anything the same these days?

Reflecting on these shifts, I asked my publisher if I could write a new conclusion for the paperback, and they agreed. The resulting essay is published below. I invite original readers to reflect on how they have continued to evolve as a result of awakening to a more numinous outlook, and for anybody new here to consider what this might mean for you.

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New York City. November 11, 2016

Two days after the 2016 US presidential election I hosted a gathering titled “Thank Goddess.” It was a launch event for fellow author Rebecca Campbell’s new book, Rise Sister Rise. When we came up with the name, we, like liberal-leaning “feminists” everywhere, were pretty certain we would also be celebrating the election of the first female president of the United States.

I had envisioned us referencing this as yet more evidence of the rise of the Divine Feminine (the subject of Rebecca’s book), as we high-fived a collective WIN for the sisterhood. Instead, forty women filed into the yoga studio on the Lower East Side with faces drained of color. A haunted silence hung over our circle. It felt important to be together, but, still barely able to process the news, nobody really knew what to say.

Rebecca and I were cohosting with our mutual friend, Madeline Giles, who ended the session with a signature Angelic Breathwork healing session. Along with the rest of the group, I lay down on my yoga mat and began to engage the stimulating three-part breath. But this time, when the tears came, there was no cathartic release. Instead, I sat up afterwards feeling disembodied and even more confused. Struggling to address the group to close, the lump in my throat was like a hot coal, my whole body reverberating with the static of our collective anxiety.

What the actual fuck was happening? And where on Earth did we go from here?

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The hardcover edition of Material Girl, Mystical World was released six months later, and in the original conclusion I wrote about all the ways in which my life and my world were transforming as a result of the tools, philosophies, and practices I’ve covered in its pages. How my periods had regulated for the first time in my life, and how I’d healed my persistent IBS (having finally addressed the emotional issues that had been gnawing at my gut for years). I also shared how I viewed myself as a “recovering fashion industry victim,” and now bought 90 percent of my clothes second hand—the ultimate “sustainable” fashion!

I also mentioned that these external changes were really just the fluff since I could see how adopting a more numinous outlook was also making me kinder, more compassionate, more giving, and less self-absorbed. How it had completely transformed my relationship with my mum. And how seeking to truly know, accept, and forgive myself—how to unconditionally love myself—meant I no longer felt the need to accumulate stuff to make me feel good—as what was beginning to feel really GREAT was the idea that, in some way, whatever I did with my days was contributing to the greater good.

And, almost three years on from that Thank Goddess event, it is clearly evident that my own healing path reflects a collective awakening of sorts. That my confronting my personal demons has been part of a larger unmasking of “evil” forces operating behind the scenes—from political corruption, to the roots of the institutionalized racism that remain embedded decades on from the civil rights movement, and the largely unchecked exploitation of the natural world. My friend, Sushma Sagar, a former Marketing Director for Kate Spade turned energy healer, once described her own healing as a process of “un-brainwashing” herself, meaning it entailed confronting whatever subconscious beliefs and associated behaviors had been keeping her locked in cycles of pain. Pain that she, like myself and so many of us, self-medicated with cocktails, fancy clothes, drama-filled relationships, and an endless quest for career status.

Would our world look any different today had we elected a female president in 2016? If anything, without the collective wake-up call/“un-brainwashing” that has accompanied the Trump presidency, it seems as though the aforementioned societal woes would have been left to fester in the darkness even longer. And, as painful and confronting as this process has proven for many, I believe it has also been part of an overall raising of consciousness that began with the new age movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and which has sped up and gone viral thanks to our twenty-first century technologies.

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The term “new age” was coined with reference to the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, a 2000-year-plus astrological era we began transitioning into globally in the middle of the last century. Moving us out of the preceding Age of Pisces, an era in which religious fear-mongering and hierarchical power structures reigned supreme, this new age heralds the rise of “Aquarian” values such as humanitarian efforts, power to the individual, freedom of information, and rebellion against the status quo.

I coined the term Now Age because, well, this new Aquarian age is happening NOW! Which also means anybody born between the 1950s and the 2050s are what I call the generational “pattern breakers” karmically tasked with ushering in this new evolutionary paradigm. Yes, that likely means you. And yes, that means that part of your purpose here on Earth is to help birth a more open-minded, less dogmatic, and overall more equally opportunistic Aquarian era.

And you thought my book was going to tell you all about what crystals to buy, and where to get the best tarot readings. Sorry! I kinda tricked you there with the hot pink cover and all the talk about “high vibes.” I have been known to refer to The Numinous as a “Trojan My Little Pony”—all rainbows and sparkles on the outside, concealing an army of freedom fighters within. As we witness the outdated systems of the Piscean Age begin to topple and fall, what will be your contribution to bringing the Now Age into being?

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In Material Girl, Mystical World, I describe the shamanic view of humankind as “a giant people patchwork, with each and every one of us a vital stitch helping keep it all together.” Well, this is when you get to weave your story into the mix. What this means is, I hope you will feel inspired by this book to begin, in earnest, the thorough and searching process of un-brainwashing yourself, and a simultaneous investigation into your truth and your path. Meaning the path of your ultimate freedom, fulfillment, and empowerment, and, as a result, the path of your dharma.

You can begin by getting to know your birth chart (using The Numinous Astro Deck if it speaks to you). Of all the tools mentioned in these pages, astrology remains my preferred method of recognizing my inherited and/or subconscious patterning, behaviors, and beliefs—all the better to rewrite the script! And of course, do the yoga, the meditation, and the green juice (yada yada), but THEN pay attention to the wider changes you will very likely find yourself feeling called to implement as a result.

I often describe the practices and healing modalities covered on The Numinous as “the missing piece in the wellness puzzle”—because, guess what? In my experience, when you clean up your diet and begin to take better care of the physical, you will automatically be asked (by the Universe, Source, your higher Self, etc.) to pay more attention to your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and to make any necessary adjustments to your priorities accordingly. And I guarantee that any discomfort you experience initially will be offset by a level of fulfillment, a depth of intimacy in your relationships, and a sense of meaning and purpose for your life that you may never have known.

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Eddie Stern, my philosopher friend whom I introduce in the chapter on yoga, wrote a piece for The Numinous about the Hindu concepts of sakala, the reality we experience “with form,” and nishkala, the reality that is “without form.” In other words, our outer, quantifiable world (body, possessions, money, social media, even the Universe) and our inner, unquantifiable realms (knowledge, love, compassion, dreams, hopes, and potential). The Material and the Mystical. The here and now and . . . the numinous. “In yoga,” he wrote, “knowing who we are is the solution to all misery. For when we don’t know who we are, we are limited by the external things we measure ourselves against (sakala). We measure, we compare, and we are miserable in doing so, because we always come up short. Yoga teaches that when we truly know who we are, we are immeasurable, pure consciousness (nishkala).”

In other words, it is in seeking to know the unknowable, to connect to the truth of our numinous nature, where our unlimited potential— and our true freedom—lies. And if I could wish anything for you, me, and (why not?) for all humanity, it is for us to be free.

The paperback edition of Material Girl, Mystical World is out now with HarperOne books.

WHY RADICAL DHARMA IS YOUR 2018 “MUST READ”

Eradicating systemic racism is THE healing issue of our times. For anybody confused about your role in this, make Radical Dharma your must-read this summer …

 

Around this time of year, book stores and magazines are filled with suggested summer reads, the books the publishing industry has decided will best satisfy our yearning to escape into a good read. But you likely won’t find the book I am going to recommend as your “must-read” for summer 2018 among them. Because this year I am more interested in the notion of escape as it pertains to liberation.

Radical Dharma is a seminal work by Rev. angel Kyodo williams, a queer Black (her capitalization) Buddhist author and activist. The subtitle is “Race, Love and Liberation” and in it, Rev. angel, along with co-authors Lama Rod Owens and Jasmine Syedullah, PhD, (also both Black and queer) explain how genuine liberation means not needing to escape, because there is no longer anything to escape from. Means living free of the chains which seek to bind us, free to be unapologetically ourselves, unbeholden to any systems of oppression.

Published in 2016 in a rush ahead of the last U.S. election, in the intro Rev. angel writes: “We foresee an increasing collective anxiety about transitioning from the first Black U.S. president.” And in the 18 months since, this prediction has played out in every area of life. This time has been a period of awakening in which the notions of liberation and oppression have taken on extra weight for me—as they will have for anybody with so much as a toe in the healing, wellness, and self-help communities.

As a socially conscious person in a post-Trump era, I know I have not been alone in attempting to integrate the implications of my white privilege. A term that was barely on my radar two summers ago, and which, thanks to everything from Black Lives Matter to the voices of women like Layla Saad (among many others) has since become the lens through which I see the world. Meaning, through which I can no longer not see the world. 

To be more specific, in my case this also extends to my educated, mixed-class, hetero, married, cis-gender, thin, white privilege. Sort of like the opposite of rose-tinted-spectacles, through this lens I have been able to see how the circumstances of my birth and my upbringing have placed me within a system of oppression—in which my whiteness makes me the oppressor. Not that the ravages wrought on marginalized and indigenous people by “the system” is exactly news. What’s new is that my eyes are now open to exactly how insidious our acceptance of this has become.

During this time, I have struggled against my own conditioning (“but I’m not racist!”) to accept that alarming terms like “white supremacy” and “systemic racism” absolutely apply to me. As they apply to each and every one of us. I have felt my throat constrict as I have tried to swallow this jagged little pill, while simultaneously being made aware that taking time in silence to absorb and process this information is another function of my privilege.

I have also been slow to speak up on this issue because I am ashamed I didn’t get here sooner. Embarrassed. But I am also not surprised. After all, I was raised to consider the term “racist” to be on a par with “pedophile,” the knee-jerk reaction on hearing it applied to me to deny it, vehemently. And yet, on closer inspection, this does not reflect the world that I grew up in. A world where I can count the number of black and brown people in my school classrooms on two hands. Where I had not one teacher with darker skin than me. Where in 16 years working as a journalist in London, I encountered only one black colleague—who was subjected to subtle racial bullying.

Where every TV show, awards ceremony (besides those attached to sporting events), industry bash, and beach holiday has been predominantly white. A world, after moving to NYC, where nine out of 10 of the service jobs (as far as I can see) are performed by people of color. Where these discrepancies are routinely normalized to the point of invisibility.

Of course, as a white person, my life has been a procession of predominantly white spaces. We are a pack-oriented species, we move in groups, and we gravitate towards our own. Thing is, what makes a space “white” is not just the ethnicity of those occupying it—it is the entitlement, the education, the opportunities, and the affluence that are available. Confronting my own racist conditioning (the unconscious belief that I am somehow entitled to the privileges of my whiteness) has been like discovering I have been host carrier for a highly infectious disease, without displaying any symptoms. Having received my diagnosis, the work now is to eradicate it from my system.

Which has meant reading a lot of articles and watching a lot of TED talks (find a comprehensive list here). It has meant keeping following Instagram accounts which can trigger week-long bouts of internal gaslighting (“I am not racist … and yet my whiteness makes me racist”). Showing up for pot-luck discussions on the topic of “Race and Wellness” with others in my community committed to doing this work. It means that, behind the scenes, I have been engaged in a thorough inventory of my work on this platform, working with a diversity and inclusion coach to identify my blind spots and craft a content mission going forward that takes into account the implications of all of the above. Not to mention help me make sense of all that has been arising in me.

Rev. angel Kyodo williams

You may well be further along this path than me, and I acknowledge all those who have been the torch-bearers in this movement. For this is the literal raising of consciousness in real time. The whole point of all the healing and the personal development and the “self-love” practices. Rather than disavow or shrink from it, it’s thanks to the spiritual resilience I’ve been able to develop over the years building this platform, that I am now able to lean in to the shadow of shame and guilt and fear that has accompanied this part of my awakening. To not take each and every post and op-ed on white privilege personally and to accept responsibility for my part in our collective healing around race.

The reason I am recommending Radical Dharma as your summer must-read is that it’s the egg that has helped everything come together.

Presented as a series of essays and conversations dissecting systemic racism from a Buddhist perspective, the wisdom contained within its pages has helped me to feel fully seen and understood within the problem of my whiteness. Has helped me understand that racism (particularly as it relates to hyper-capitalism) is, literally, the physical manifestation of our modern “disconnection epidemic.” The pain of our separation from each other, from self, and from Source. That I am as deeply implicated in this suffering as any person of any ethnic background. Above all, as a person invested in helping others heal, it has shown me that we will never escape our suffering, as individuals and collectively, will never be truly free, until we heal THIS.

In short, in a year where the conversation about race has had me questioning my sanity at times, this book has helped me feel more whole. And I am suggesting that you read it because I know you want to feel this way too. Below, I have shared a few of my favorite teachings from its pages—and before you go ahead and finish this post, you can order your copy HERE.

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ON THE CONSTRUCT OF RACE
“Race is the ultimate delusion in that it both does and does not exist in reality. Somebody went on around and decided to come up with something so that they could sell folks that they could be ‘better’ than other people, and yet, because of the paradigm, because of the system and the structures, the impact of that creation, that projection, this is felt and experienced as suffering—not only by the people who are on the shit end of the stick but also by the people who are, often unbeknownst to them, continuing to carry that stick.” – Rev. angel Kyodo williams.

ON DECONSTRUCTING WHITE PRIVILEGE
“The lens of awareness must be placed outside of the construct. As a direct result of privilege, white practitioners (and teachers) have mistakenly entitled themselves to place the lens of awareness inside of whiteness, hence they are unable to see it’s machinations.” – Rev. angel Kyodo williams.

ON GETTING MESSY
“The tiptoeing around race and other forms of difference as if in fear of waking a sleeping lion is one of the most subtly toxic attributes of whiteness in our culture right now. Everyone fears making mistakes. For white folks, though, the coexistence of being historically lauded as the creators of what is right, making mistakes must be hard. We are all waking up. It is going to get messy.” – Jasmine Syedullah, PhD

ON ALLOWING FOR IGNORANCE
“We also have to demystify this notion that somehow people of color have all the information and know it all and white folks don’t, and that it’s just like Black and White. Because it just isn’t. We have to really allow ourselves to create some space for people now knowing, not understanding, and just saying stupid things. I mean stupid as in ignorant … we have to figure out how to create room for that, rather than policing each other, so that people can actually get into the conversation.” – Rev. angel Kyodo williams.

ON THE LINK BETWEEN RACISM AND HYPER CAPITALISM
“I have this theory that racism is required in order to keep capitalism in place … I’m not mad at trade and exchange and barter and all of that … but cancerous capitalism, hyper-capitalism, parasitic capitalism … requires a division of people so that we have people that consume, people that are producing what is consumed, and frankly, people that are consumed.” ­– Rev. angel Kyodo williams.

ON DISRUPTING COMFORT
“We have to disrupt spaces that are not seeking truth, that are not upholding our potential for liberation, because they are invested in their comfort. Usually that comfort means they are invested in perpetuating white supremacy … And not disrupt them by trying to figure out how to be on their boards and their diversity communities; we have to disrupt them by saying ‘I am out.’ I am not going to participate in this and letting them know why.” – Rev. angel Kydodo williams.

ON DISCOMFORT AS THE PATH TO LIBERATION
“If you’re going to any place of spiritual enrichment in which you are not meaningfully experiencing discomfort, not all the time, but meaningfully uncomfortable frequently, you are not doing your work, and you are not walking the path of liberation.” – Rev. angel Kydodo williams.

ON HEALING BEGINNING ON THE INSIDE
“I’m working to end racism, but at the same time I want to be liberated. I want to thrive. I want to be happy … I think it’s an immature view that believes ‘I have to do all the external conditions and have them change before I can be happy.’ I’m not willing to have my happiness wait for what might happen out there.” – Lama Rod.

ON BEING THE CHANGE
“If you are a really well-positioned member of a sangha (spiritual community), make sure you’re reaching out. If you’re a person of color in a sangha, make sure you’re reaching out to other new people of color coming through the door. Be the one who extends your hand and welcomes them and just talks openly. Model that kind of inclusivity for people.” – Lama Rod

Get your copy of Radical Dharma HERE and visit Angelkyodowilliams.com for more on Rev. angel and to find her upcoming speaking dates. You can also follow @lamarodowens on Instagram 

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE THIN FROM WITHIN?

When I agreed to co-host the launch of a book called “Thin From Within,” it was because I wanted to talk about what makes that word so triggering—and to confront our collective conditioning about body-image, weight, and food …

When I announced that I was going to be co-hosting the launch of my friend Robyn Youkilis’s new book, Thin From Within, I was expecting something of a backlash. This platform, which is so much about healing and self-acceptance, promoting a weight-loss program? Only one person actually reached out on Instagram to voice her concerns, to which I replied: “I hear you, thank you. Because we really need to talk about this.”

*Since writing this post, many more people have also let me know that my supporting Robyn’s book has been disappointing (at best) and / or been triggering for them. Over the past week, thanks to conversations sparked by this incredible, conscious and loving community, I have learned so much about the issues with promoting thinness and the thin ideal—even when approached from a holistic angle. Conversations that have been uncomfortable, confrontational, and absolutely VITAL. Not only for me as I grow into my role as a leader in the wellness space, but also as a human being with all my own messy and imperfect feelings about body-image. 

In response, I have decided to add some of these key learnings to my original piece—which I am including in bold below. Inclusivity and integrity are two of the core values of this platform. I am aware that the layers of complexity and shadow surrounding this issue mean I cannot possibly speak to each and every reader individually with my words here—but my hope is that sharing my own journey towards cultivating more awareness about the issues herein, may help others to do the same. 

Yes, it seems counter-intuitive. My own eating disorder history aside (more on that in a minute), the whole message of my book is that true health, happiness, confidence and wholeness, is the result of peeling back the layers of conditioning we’re subjected to from birth. Including, for example, the toxic message that to be beautiful, valued, and loved, our body must look a certain way and never exceed a certain number on a scale.

But the fact that our thinking about “thinness,” as women and as a society, is so fraught and so emotionally charged, is exactly the reason it was a HELL YES when Robyn asked me to co-host her launch. Anywhere there is a stigma, a taboo-the places our pain points are most easily triggered-is exactly where we need to be focusing our awareness.

*The HELL YES came from deep in my Soul—because it knew I still had so much to heal from personally when it comes to body image. That there is so much shadow work for me still to do here. They say you are not in a position to teach from your experience until it has been fully integrated and healed, and it was only after posting this article—which made me sick with nerves—that I realized how far I still had to go …

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Thinness, and what that word means to me, had also been on my mind the past year. The stress of having my book come out had led to me losing weight “naturally” for the first time ever. Meaning I was so frantic juggling everything (extreme feelings of vulnerability about sharing my most personal work to date included), I would literally forget to eat. When I had an appetite, that is. Whereas lately, it had gone the other way—meaning when things got chaotic I saw food as both pleasure and fuel, a comfort and a way to nourish and get back into my body.

This mentality is one of the reasons I’d considered myself fully “healed” from my teenage eating disorder. An anorexic, I spent the ages 16 through 20 living mainly on apples, milky lattes, and the occasional muffin or handful of dried prunes (I was chronically constipated, of course). For those who know my story, these were the “Capricorn” years.

After I left him, I found a way of eating just enough of certain “safe” foods to maintain a consistent size 2 frame. My body a tool to help me gain favor with my new fashion industry friends. As far as I was concerned, this meant I’d “got over” my issues. I never had any therapy or even really acknowledged to myself that my ongoing obsession with thinness was problematic. Not least because, as far as I could tell, my body image issues were nothing out of the ordinary.

*I have bolded a key line here. The fact I had never dug into the root of my issues—or acknowledged the “thin privilege” that I have benefited from as a result of my body shape, natural or as a result of disordered eating—makes me absolutely under-qualified to speak on this issue. Writing this post was a clumsy first step towards educating myself—since my aim was to spark a conversation that I and my readers could learn from. I am committed to educating myself fully on body-image going forward so that I can speak to this from an empowering and inclusive place. However, I also acknowledge that my own thin privilege makes me not the best spokesperson. Means that whatever my own issues, I cannot know how it feels to have been shamed, name-called, or discriminated against because of my size. And I so am also investigating ways to invite people representing all different body types to share their stories here instead.

I also found this great article on thin privilege, which everybody needs to read.

Being in an abusive relationship, coupled with my Aries competitiveness, meant I might have taken things a little further. But as far as I could see, the vast majority of women I knew (and plenty of men) felt exactly the same about thinness as me—that it was our desired / required body shape, and one which invariably meant constant, careful monitoring of our calorie intake.

A war against weight we were all obediently waging together, without ever questioning how we even came to be enlisted.

*Questioning the reasons for society’s and my own obsession with thinness has been painful and humbling—as I can now see clearly the inherent fat phobia in the pursuit of the thin ideal. Fat phobia that is RAMPANT and that goes largely unchecked in our society. I’m handing over to Jillian Murphy from Food Freedom Body Love here, who helped me understand this better: “THIN is not an ideal. It’s also not shameful. It’s just a state of being that is available to some humans but not others. Unfortunately, especially for women, THIN has come to mean superior (smarter, more together, more in control, more desirable, healthier, more fit, etc etc etc) and women are consistently encouraged to do things that are detrimental to their physical mental, emotional, and spiritual health in order to achieve the thin ideal—which may or may not ever even be possible, and most definitively does not directly result in any of those aspired qualities.” (Jill’s full comment on this post is below)

But over the years, as my career progressed, my self-confidence grew, and I began to value my peace of mind over the number on a scale, I slowly let go of all that. Including the scales themselves. Began to focus on eating “healthy.” Without thinking too much about it, my weight steadied out at where it had been after my 16-year-old body first began to bloom into womanhood. A comfortable size 4-6.

*There was no reason for me to include a “number” here—especially since I just shared how part of my healing was letting go of scales and mirrors. Numbers just create more comparison which is sheer poison when it comes to body image pride.

My “disordered” history with food was firmly in my past. Or so I thought.

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Cut to the summer of 2016. At the age of 40, I have purchased my first ever pair of denim hotpants … and I feel fucking GREAT in them. Sexy and strong and sassy. For the first time in my life, I even like the way my legs look in short-shorts and flat shoes. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I got weighed when I went for a health check and discovered I was 10lbs heavier than I had ever been.

*More numbers—ugh, this is my old magazine industry conditioning showing. It makes me so mad when magazine interviews always list a woman’s age, but rarely do the same with men. And I just did it here. Again, ugh.

It was in this moment that I truly understood what always felt like kind of a lame cliché-that “thin” (or rather, the desirable attributes we have attached to what is actually just an innocent adjective) is a feeling. Sexy, strong, sassy. How I felt at my heaviest weight ever. This was a cause for celebration, surely!

*Thin IS just an adjective—but not such an innocent one thanks to the layers of meaning we have learned to attach to it. I also can see now how sharing my personal experience of being “thin” or “heavier” here is problematic, as it further emphasizes the dangerous messaging that feeling a certain way is a result of being a certain size.  

No. Seeing that number on the doctor’s scale, my immediate reaction was “WTF. That can’t be.” Meaning, that is not a number that my body is allowed to be. The ancient conditioning hadn’t gone anywhere. I’d just got so confident and happy in myself (having shifted my career in alignment with my purpose and done a shit-ton of healing work on myself, for example), that it no longer had any hold over me.

The weight I went on to lose the following summer, following my book launch? Part of me, the part that never actually healed after all, welcomed the nausea and the insanity. Was secretly stoked that the intense heat of my anxiety appeared to effortlessly melt those extra 10lbs from my frame. There was even a certain Angelina Jolie-style glamor to it; as if this was how brave women let the world know we still had some fight in us, despite our suffering.

*This is where I began to think more deeply about WHY we are so afraid of fat. Why fatness is equated with laziness and self-indulgence, while thinness is upheld as virtue. I think this ultimately comes down to control. We, women in particular, have internalized the message that to control our appetite, our desires and our needs is “good,” while to acknowledge our hunger / needs (for food, recognition, to say no, to claim space, to relax, to come, to create), and to demand that our needs be met, is not only unacceptable—but something to be afraid of. I posted about this on Instagram a few weeks back, after I first agreed to help Robyn with her launch, along with this quote from Naomi Wolf: “A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history. A quietly mad population is a tractable one.” 

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Looking at pictures taken then, I see a thin woman. Meaning, a weak, fragile, undernourished woman (just some other adjectives for “thin”). A woman that I am ALSO learning I must love and accept as part of me, as much as I do her sexy, sassy, strong, 10lbs heavier counterpart. The past year has taught me that healing my weight and body image issues cannot mean locking the thin me away in the past and throwing away the key. Impossible, since the key—the shame and vulnerability that unlocks her padded cell—is also a part of me.

And so, it was a “YES” when Robyn asked me to co-host her launch. I even had her use one of my “thin” pictures in the artwork for the event (above).

*I have removed this image. I had thought that explaining how I really felt at my thinnest (weak, fragile etc.) would expose how this “look” is NOT ideal—but ultimately I was just sharing another picture of a thin white woman, and perpetuating the problem. In the words of one reader: “If I’m to be brutally honest, viewing that poster my thought was, ‘easy for them to talk about eating healthily and loving yourself when they’re both skinny.’ It made me feel less-than.” This has made me think much more carefully about how I can create a more visually diverse platform that is truly inclusive and empowering to all. 

The title of her book may be triggering, but without acknowledging the part of me—of us—that loads the word thin with generations of personal and societal pain, it will always be there, starving for our love and attention, and silently screaming to be heard. To give that part of us what she (or he) needs in order to be nourished, we first have to learn to listen—to find out what it is she believes “thinness” will fix. 

There is nothing inherently evil or wrong about wanting to lose weight. People will buy Robyn’s book for all kinds of personal reasons, some from a place of deep self-love, and some from a place of weakness and fragility. But what they will find within, is a program designed to help them: “finally feel the lightness you’ve been searching for on the scale.” Meaning, a way of thinking about food that has nothing to do with numbers and targets, and is all about addressing the emotional and physical dis-ease of traditional dieting (yes, especially supposedly “healthy” juice cleanses and Whole 30s).

*Robyn is a smart, loving, and inspiring voice in the wellness landscape. Yes, she too benefits from her thin privilege, and in deep conversations we have had this past week about what’s come up for her since bringing this book out, she has acknowledged her own naiveté in thinking that the title would not elicit such a charged response. At her launch, she shared how she initially said “no” when her publisher asked her to write a weight-loss book—but then realized she could use this as a way to talk instead about how to shed emotional weight. Problematic, still, as it still implies that “less weight” is “good.” But also, considering the dominant mainstream messaging about weight and body image, a step in the right direction. Robyn has also thanked me (and the Numinous community!) for helping take this conversation deeper than perhaps she ever intended—as her Soul intention is also to help end our collective fucked-up-ness about body image and food. 

As leaders, and as humans, neither of us are perfect. The best we can do when we make a mistake, or discover a blind spot, is to see it as an opportunity to become stronger and wiser. I’m going to end with this quote from Anne Richards, the second female governor of Texas, as shared by the IG account @words_of_women: “I believe in recovery, and as a role model I have the responsibility to let young people know that you can make a mistake and come back from it.” Not only that, but to use we’ve learned to help us all to heal.

I also acknowledge that this is a complex and multi-faceted issue. This post in itself may have been triggering for some, and it contains generalizations that are a reflection of my personal experiences—also that I have my own blindspots about this issue, which I am seeking to overcome. But wherever you are at in your personal journey with food, weight and body image, know that we are all in this together—and that more honest we can be with ourselves and each other about it, the more resilient to our thin-conditioning we will become.

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Thank you, my Numinous community, for your conscientious, intelligent, and ultimately loving feedback on this piece. I wanted to start a real conversation about these issues, and you have stepped up to the plate! I am expecting further comments of course, and welcome those which are in service of the core values of this platform—which center around healing and growth through awareness. I love you. 

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: JASMINE HEMSLEY

Jasmine Hemsley is the British former model turned foodie, who found fame as half of healthy eating sister act Hemsley Hemsley. But her new book, East By West, is a solo venture—a modern take on the ancient practice of Ayurveda … PLUS she shares what makes her a Material Girl in a Mystical World.

THE NUMINOUS: So Ayurveda. Why is it having such a moment? Is it a backlash to the “clean” eating movement?
JASMINE HEMSLEY: I think it’s because when we talk about “wellbeing,” is not just about the physical anymore—what we look like. We want to FEEL great too, so it’s also become about mental and spiritual health. For example, yoga is so mainstream now, and Ayurveda is the framework for this practice. It also isn’t a fad diet. It’s a philosophy that’s been tried and tested over 5000 years. It’s a way of eating that’s comforting, and that can also feed a whole family.

TN: Having been exposed to lots of different diets as a model, what’s the one thing you’d like to teach the world about food + healthy eating?
JH: That it’s time to take a beat to really enjoy our food. So often we talk passionately about food, but do we really savor it? How about treating each meal with respect, like a ritual, and taking the time to ask: do I actually like this? Does it make me satisfied? Do I really need more? These kinds of observations can help us begin to figure out what we need in life, let alone on our plates.

TN: For a newbie, Ayurveda can look so complex—how would you sum up the philosophy in a sentence or two?
JH: Ayurveda is about finding your balance, and going with the ebb and flow of life. It’s as simple as, if you’re feeling hot eat something cooling, and when you’re feeling cold eat something warming. But what’s really magic about Ayurveda is the herbs, which are nature’s medicine cabinet. For example fennel and ginger are great for indigestion, turmeric is anti-flammatory. By sprinkling your food with these herbs and spices you’re fortifying yourself against whatever the day will bring.

Jasmine also creates pop-up sound baths as Sound Sebastian

TN: So many popular food philosophies have a kind of “one-size-fits-all” approach. Which is not our experience of life! What is the best thing about embracing our inconsistencies and ever changing physical and emotional states?
JH: I see mind-body awareness as a framework for understanding our whole selves—for example, coffee makes me go a bit erratic and crazy, so I know it doesn’t suit me. I can drink it on holiday when I’m a bit more chilled, but when I’m in London, buzzing already, it sends me into overdrive. What you’d say in Ayurveda is having too much “vata.” It was this awareness that coffee was making me anxious that helped me find ways to bring more calm into my life. It’s about feeling empowered to make choices that are right for us as unique individuals—with hot beverages, and with life!

TN: You’ve already got a name as being part of Hemsley Hemsley with your sister, Mel. Why did you want to do a solo project?
JH: It’s been seven years with Mel, and we’re still a team and we’ve still got lots of projects going on—but this is my passion project and an expression of all the things that excite and inspire me individually. I have a Filipino mum and a British Dad, so I’m East by West by upbringing. And my travels through India and the influence of the natural wisdom in the way of eating there has always completely fascinated me.

TN: What’s your fave recipe in the book and why?
JH: That’s a hard one! I love tasty, easy comfort food that makes you feel all cozy inside—and there’s something so warming about the Rasta Dal. The recipe was taught to my meditation teacher by a Rastafarian, and also shows that Ayurveda isn’t just curry, or “Indian food,” it’s part a bigger philosophy. It’s got coconut milk, it’s got French mustard … I don’t know anyone who hasn’t tried this and begged for the recipe! But I have to get a sweet in here too, as I have a sweet tooth—and my buckwheat banana bread is my ultimate crowd pleaser, toasted with butter. It hits all the spots.

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:: MATERIAL GIRL ::

My label
Mother of Pearl dresses and anything vintage!

Wanda dress, $925, Mother of Pearl

My shoes
Barefoot where possible … otherwise I’m loving Veja sneakers, anything with a block heel for going out, and in this weather some snug Sorel walking boots.

Organic cotton Veja sneakers, 120 Euro

My fragrance
At the moment I can’t live without Sequoia Ayurveda Vata Perfrume—it just makes me feel calm and grounded, and everyone comments on it.

Sequoia Ayurveda Vata Perfume, $30

My jewels
My engagement ring from my long term partner Nick—a chrysoberyl (lime green crystal) in a gold setting. And my vintage turquoise eternity ring which he actually gave to me first!

Engagement ring + lentil dahl. Photo: Nick Hopper.

My pampering
Massage all the way! Particularly with oils, deep tissue, and any Ayurvedic massage.

My home
All I need is a comfy (and big!) bed and my three dogs and I’m home.

My food
…is everything! Tasty comfort food, loads of flavour, global inspiration—with a touch of Ayurvedic magic.

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:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My awakening
I try to beat the sun and rise at sunrise for maximum energy. I begin with a morning meditation and sun salutations for at least five minutes (which activates 95% of the body!), some tongue scraping, oil pulling and a hot herbal tea, followed by a nourishing hot porridge or stewed apples. Then I wrap up and get walked by my dogs!

My sign
Aquarius

Aquarius and Air ring, $325, Lulu Frost

My mantra
Slow down and breathe! I’m very Vata—airy and ungrounded.

My healer
The philosophy of Ayurveda, which includes food, meditation, mindfulness—it’s all about balance.

My reading
At the moment I’m reading Real Love by Sharon Salzberg. I love a feel-good read that reminds me what life is about.

My transformation
Discovering Ayurveda over 10 years ago.

My mission
To bring the wonderful world of Ayurveda to the mainstream so everyone can discover it.

East By West: Simple Recipes for Ultimate Mind-Body Balace by Jasmine Hemsley is out now.

IT’S MESSY: A CONVERSATION WITH AMANDA DE CADENET

With her new book It’s Messy, photographer and media-preneur Amanda De Cadenet is inviting women everywhere to abandon the quest for perfection—and get real about the flaws that make us fearless. She sat down with Ruby Warrington to talk self-love, creativity, and why fame is the biggest head f*ck of all …

RUBY WARRINGTON: I love the title of your book—and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I feel like we’re really seeing that the world is damn messy! Like, no matter how things look on the surface, there’s a ton of crap going on underneath. Was there an epiphany when you were just like, “I’m not gonna fight this anymore. I’m just gonna embrace the mess, and see its beauty”?
AMANDA DE CADENET: There’s no way you can do any serious self-reflection if you aren’t willing to be honest with yourself about your own messiness. The biggest danger is the lies we tell ourselves, and to recover from the trauma I’ve experienced in my life, I’d be dead if I wasn’t willing to get honest about who I was a long, long time ago. For people who really haven’t done that kind of self-reflection, it can be like, “Oh, my God. How can you accept this stuff about yourself or say that about yourself?” But there’s just no way you can progress and evolve otherwise. We would’ve found a way around it if there was.

RW: People try to avoid going there do through substances, shopping. All the stuff …
ADC: Right? Which is fine until all that stops working, and then you’re like, “Right. Fine. I guess I’m going to have to deal. Okay.” To get really brutally honest about who I am was not my first choice. I did try everything else. Clearly!

RW: It also takes so much energy to pretend everything’s “fine” when it’s really not. And there just isn’t time, especially when you get on any kind of a mission in the world!
ADC: I keep showing up to interviews looking kind of … messy. And I’m like, “Well, this is who I am!” I haven’t got time for hair and makeup. I’m running a company. I’ve got three children. I’ve got another book out with #girlgaze in two weeks. So, I look a bit messy and I’m okay with that. That’s the whole point. I don’t have a problem with it. If someone else has does, that’s their problem.

RW: How about in your work life? How do you let yourself off the hook when you “mess up” publicly, or something doesn’t work in a professional sense?
ADC: Hosting live TV in the UK as a teenager, I learned fast that there was no safety net. You just got on and did it. And that’s how I made (Amanda’s chat show) The Conversation. I knew enough about cameras and sound equipment to be like, “Right. We’re just going to do it.” And the sound on the first ones was so bad because I didn’t know how to do it properly and I couldn’t afford anyone else to do it. But the important thing is, I made the thing.

And by the way, every successful woman or person I’ve ever interviewed has talked about the difference between having a good idea, and actually acting on it. They’re not like, “Oh, I’m going to wait until it’s all perfect.” No. I’m launching. I’m putting it out in the world, and then we’ll clean up whatever we need to clean up.

RW: I really like when you talk in the book about how the biggest head fuck of all was becoming famous at age 18, and learning at a really young age that you were loved and adored for being that person. You go on to describe how: “real and lasting self-worth comes from consciously creating a life that you’ve earned and that is authentic.” It gives me chills, because I think it’s so where a lot of people are at right now.
ADC: The thing is, unfortunately, the way we look and our level of fame are the biggest commodities in the world. Never more than now do we live in that culture. And it’s extremely dangerous, because it means people have zero investment in the internal self. How do you raise kids or encourage people to develop anything else, when they can point at so many people who are basically famous for being famous, and say, “Why do I have to develop myself as a person? This one didn’t and that one didn’t.” It’s like, what’s the upside to developing yourself?

RW: So, what is the upside of developing yourself?
ADC: Well the downside to NOT, is that you’re constantly relying on external sources to validate you, whether it’s how many social media followers you have. Whether it’s how many pictures of you are published in magazines. Whether it’s how many paparazzi are outside your door. Whether it’s how much free stuff you get. Whether it’s what you get paid to do an ad. It’s all about other people validating your self-worth, and that is a very, very dangerous place to live, because you’re constantly relying on outside sources to feel okay about yourself.

RW: And when that all goes away, where are you? Literally, what’s left?
ADC: Exactly, you don’t exist because there is no mirror. There’s no one to reflect back at you that you exist.

RW: You mention many years of therapy, but in terms of, like, “Who is Amanda, and what am I here to bring into the world?”—what are your practices for staying connected to that place of authentic self-worth?
ADC: It’s been different things over the years. For a period of time, it was yoga, and kundalini yoga specifically. At another, it was Buddhism. Then 12-step. Another time, it was simple prayer and meditation. I’ve taken bits and pieces from everywhere and now I’ve kind of got my own thing going on. My own tool kit. I also practice TM, and nature is a fail-safe for making me feel grounded and connected to myself.

RW: I think sometimes when you’ve been using a practice for a while, you may have realizations that can create a permanent perception shift. Like you learn to recognize, “Oh, I’m in this kind of behavior pattern. I know where that leads me.” And so you no longer need the practice, because you’ve learned how to bring yourself back.
ADC: You’ve got the years of experience, and that’s what growth is, right? The most painful place to be in for me, has been to know that I needed to stop a behavior, to observe myself doing it and know the pain on the other side of it, but not be able to stop myself. I just had this upstairs just now, where I was like, “Gosh, why do I keep going to this person for proof that I’m not good enough?”

There’s a certain person in my life who’s the least responsive, the least enthusiastic, the least excited to have anything to do with me, and yet I keep going there. Out of the 10 times I might have gone to them in the past, I probably do it two times now. The eight times I don’t, I’m really proud of myself because I’m like, “Well done. You didn’t ask for more proof that you’re not good enough.”

RW: I obviously looked at your birth chart, and your Moon is in Leo, which suggests a real emotional need to be seen and celebrated. Out of balance, this can manifest as things like the love addiction you talk about in the book, for example. Have you come to a place where you can recognize the sorts of situations that will flip you into your pain body?
ADC: I do know those people and those situations, and impulse control has been something I’ve had to work on a lot, to not tell people what I think of them.

RW: Interesting … Addiction to drama is another trait of Leo Moon out of balance. Like, “Let’s stir things up so you can pay me more attention” kind of thing!
ADC: So interesting. I come from a lot of neglect, so it makes sense that I would do that. However, I also know now that it’s just a way of creating a distraction from what I actually need to deal with in myself. I recently abstained for a year from telling someone what I thought of them. Someone I’m really close to, one of my best girlfriends. I did it as an experiment, and wrote all these emails and letters and just never sent them. Over time I learned that I just don’t need to go there, and I probably would have taken the situation to a completely different place if I had.

RW: Lastly, I want to talk to you about self-love, and specifically self-pleasure. Both our books mention the taboo around female masturbation, and you talk about how, as girls, we’re not taught that sex is meant to be pleasurable. It’s basically something to be feared, because it’s what gets you pregnant or in trouble. I draw the connection between our sexual pleasure and our creativity. How does the fact that we’re not taught to pleasure ourselves impact women’s view of ourselves as creators, as leaders, and our confidence about putting ourselves out in the world?
ADC: It’s all connected. If you’re oppressing or suppressing any aspect of yourself you’re prevented from having a full life experience. Whether it’s your sexuality, your intellect, your creativity, your spirituality, if any aspect of you is closed down, you’re not living authentically and you’re not living to your full capacity. It means you’re limiting your experience of life. Creativity does come from the same place as sexuality, and I’d actually be very curious to know about the sex lives of the women who are considered to be successful in that area.

RW: It would be a very interesting study to do actually. And a really good interview series …
AC: Yeah, right? There you go. One of us will have to do it!

It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs and Baddass Women by Amanda De Cadenet is out now.

HOW TO MAKE AN ABUNDANCE ALTAR IN YOUR WALLET

As Venus goes direct, get active with your money manifestation and create an abundance altar in your wallet, says Ruby Warrington

Wallet altar from Re-Found Objects.

Several years ago, I found myself scouring Shopstyle in search of the perfect wallet. I was looking for one that was red, gold, or green, three colors that would make my wallet a money magnet. I had learned about this theory from my friend Gala Darling, and as an entrepreneur living in NYC (huge rent! no regular income!), I was like, “what the hell?”.

It took another year or so for me to find a red wallet that also fit my personal style—one by Philip Lim that was even embossed with a subtle dollar sign. Flawless! Whether it’s played any role in my never missing a rent check as I’ve juggled building this platform, writing a book, and launching Moon Club, I can’t really say. But what I do know is that a recent Skype meeting with a woman known as The Modern Money Witch (a.k.a. Lara-Rose Duong) took the concept of using your wallet to actively attract cash to a whole new level.

And OF COURSE she reached out to me during Venus retrograde! The planet ruling love and abundance has been in a backspin since March 4, 2017 (resuming direct motion today, April 15!), during which time all things concerning love, money, and self-worth have been up for review. And according to Lara-Rose, love is money. It’s the grown-up symbol for the nurturing (food, shelter, hugs) we receive as “love” when we’re babies.

Lara-Rose Duong, a.k.a. The Modern Money Witch

Step one in Lara-Rose’s system for receiving more money in your life is to create an actual abundance altar in your wallet. Fun! And what better activity to get active with your manifestation process?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating an abundance altar in your wallet:

1. Take everything out of your wallet and smudge it with smoke from white sage or Palo Santo.

2. Hold your empty wallet with both hands and set an intention. Something like: “I am open to receiving abundance so that I may share it with the world,” would work great. Say it as you hold your wallet.

3. Choose a space for your abundance “altar” in your wallet—it can be an individual pocket or an entire section.

4. Place items in your abundance altar. Some classic things to include: an image of Lakshmi, or other abundance icon (I chose a card of prosperity Goddess Abundantia); a piece of citrine, a silver dollar, or an abundance spell, sealed with a pentagon sign. Feel free to choose items that are meaningful to you.

5. Also include a paper money offering to your abundance icon. This bill is not to be spent, but can be refreshed annually on a date that resonates with you (like the Spring or Fall Equinox, Beltane, or your birthday).

6. Toss our old receipts, business cards, etc., and return only the items you absolutely need to your wallet. Commit to regularly clearing out any unneeded items to keep energetic pathways of abundance clear.

Discover more about Lara-Rose Duong and her work at Lararoseduong.com

This post first appeared as part of my new weekly column over on Horoscope.com! Check out what else I’ve been writing about here.

HOW CAT MARNELL COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN ME

Magazine career, eating disorder, bad boyfriends, addiction. In another life, could Cat Marnell have been me, asks Ruby Warrington?

Cat Marnell

What I like best about Cat Marnell’s car crash autobiography How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir is that she makes absolutely zero apologies for who she is. Yeah there’s a line in there about “white girl privilege” (“warning! If you’re grossed out by it (who isn’t?), you might want to bail now”), but otherwise Cat tells her story with an utter lack of self-judgement and the kind of honesty that is a direct channel from the heart. Fuck yeah!

For the uninitiated, Cat Marnell rose to notoriety earlier this decade as the openly drug-addicted beauty editor for titles Lucky, Vice and xojane.com. Her drug of choice was Adderall (with pretty much everything else layered on top), her stories (GONNA WASH THAT ANGEL DUST RIGHT OUTTA MY HAIR: “Miracle” (Uh-Huh) Treatments To Help You Pass Those Follicle Drug Tests, Naughty Nancys!) written on no sleep “in an amphetamine spell.”

How To Murder Your Life reads like a Bret Easton Ellis novel (except it’s real life) and is the story of the ghouls behind the gloss. In Cat’s own words: “AUUUUGHHH!” But what struck me while I was reading it, was that served a different set of life circumstances, Cat Marnell could easily have been me.

Let’s examine the evidence…

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She was a teenage magazine addict. Like Cat, when I first discovered magazines at around age 12, it was like being given an instruction manual on how to be a woman (read: look good so I’d fit in and boys would like me). Like Cat, I gravitated towards a career in magazines—when she moved to New York, she became hell bent on scoring a role at Conde Nast.

Unlike Cat, when I moved to New York I began work on the Numinous, and immersed myself in exploring all the other very, very important things it means to be a human. Not to mention began to see the glossy magazine message for what it often is—a way to keep readers locked in the cycles of craving (for trends, for stuff to make us happy, for a “better” body) that fuel the capitalist machine.

She’s a perfectionist. Cat’s birthday is September 10, making her a Virgo. And if Adderall had a sign…it would so be Virgo! Total “no-sleep-until-every-last-detail-has-been-quadruple-checked” vibes. Plus Cat started taking amphetamines because “I felt like such a failure getting those terrible grades.”

My perfectionist streak comes from Mercury (Virgo’s ruler) conjunct my Sun in Aries (“must-maintain-image-I-have-it-all-together-at-all-times”). Cue teenage eating disorder (me too, Cat), and reaching for drugs (in my case booze) as a way to just chillax for a sec. These days, meditation and a whole lot of healing of my inner child is what keeps the perfectionist in its place.

Her parents are mental health professionals. Cat’s dad, a psychiatrist, was the first person to prescribe her Ritalin (and then Adderall) at the age of 16. In America, most psychiatric consultations seem to end with a prescription.

Back in the UK, my mum trained to be a psychotherapist in her late 50s, having faced her own demons with years of talk therapy. Years of therapy that have made her the kind of parent who wholly accepts me for who I am, since she accepts herself for who she is. Part of the reason I used drugs and starved myself was because I didn’t believe this. But as my own healing journey has shown me, all the years I thought my mum / society was judging me, I was judging myself.

She idolizes Marilyn Monroe and Edie Sedgwick. The damaged (and self-medicated) heroines of late 20th Century folklore! I collected Marilyn books from around age 10, and even made a magazine about her for my first big school project. And I fell in love with Sedgwick’s story when I read Edie: American Girl (the SO GOOD) biography of Andy Warhol’s muse.

As archetypes, these two women represent some of the ways our inner wild woman acts out when we get duped / spooked into playing by the rules (be beautiful, thin, submissive, SMILE!). And I no longer idolize them. I see them as a mirror for the parts of me that still don’t believe I’ll be accepted / loved unless I am beautiful, thin, submissive, and happy.

She loves fake tan. It makes you look thin and like you got enough sleep. In other words, like taking drugs, faking a tan is another way to fake feeling good about yourself. Another addiction I developed in magazine land (my friend Henry used to call me Umpa Lumpa) and one my Numinous path has not yet helped me kick.

She’s lets men use her like a sex doll because she thinks it’s normal. Some of the hardest stuff to read in Cat’s book, and one of the themes in mine. I tear up every time I re-read my chapter on the Divine Feminine, and I would love for Cat to read it sometime too. For a lot of women to, actually.

She had a lot of fun on drugs. Some might say Cat glamorizes drug use, but one dictionary definition for “glamour” is: “magic or enchantment; spell; witchery.” And if drugs do anything, it’s cast a spell, creating an illusion of happiness, connection, enlightenment, etc, making narcotics by their nature “glamorous.” I too fell under this spell coming of age in the UK’s rave culture, and I have also had some pretty “magical” experiences getting high.

Which is not to make light of addiction, which is both a killer and a tragedy. My heart wept for Cat every time she reached for the Adderall again in her book. But it’s also way too simplistic to label all drugs “bad.” And unlike Cat, as I write about in a chapter of my book called Healing is The New Nightlife, I have discovered SO many better ways to get high on my own supply.

Writing her book was a healing experience. Not least because having an 80,000-word deadline was the thing that finally made her take rehab seriously. We leave Cat listening to Louise Hay affirmations, getting eight hours sleep a night, and even praying. “Spirituality is so dope,” she writes. But best of all; “I’m supertight with my family now. Can you believe it?”

And yep, writing my book had a similar effect on me—my own 80,000-word deadline being what helped me kick booze once and for all. But living my subject matter, day-in-day-out, has also taken my relationship with my mum to a completely new level of intimacy and mutual respect. Not least because, the way I see it, as women our relationship with our mother is often a reflection of our relationship with our self.

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I loved Cat’s book so much. Yes, because I can relate (anyone?) But also because it’s a straight-up, honest-to-Goddess account of living with addiction, AND the society that feeds it. Meaning a society that medicates the fuck out of any personality type that doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter mold for “success”; that places utmost value on productivity (fuel for the capitalist model); and that celebrates thinness and the ability to dress like you swallowed a copy of Vogue as the epitome of attractiveness / worthiness in women.

And also because the lessons of my Numinous journey mean I have written something kind of like the antidote. Perhaps I should have called it How Not To Murder Your Life.

Material Girl, Mystical World is out in May 2017 on Harper Elixir. Read more and pre-order your copy here.

HOW I DISCOVERED THE BOOK THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

Material Girl Mystical World is out May 2 2017. Here’s how I wound up writing the book that changed my life…

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.

Chasing the SATC dream…

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!

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.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE THE NOW AGE IS…NOW

A manifesto for change; a new Moon Club cycle; self-care for the soul; Club SÖDA NYC; and what will you donate to Standing Rock?

With Biet Simkin, Fern Olivia and Valerie Oula at our OFF THE RÖCKS event. 

:: MONDAY ::
Finished reading an advance copy of maverick philosopher Daniel Pinchbeck’s new book, How Soon is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation. Part memoir, part manifesto, Pinchbeck basically lays it on the line—either we actively choose to participate in facilitating a radical global consciousness shift, or we’re headed for social, political, and environmental armageddon. Which, as he tells it, is not nearly as scary / daunting as it sounds!

I defy anybody not to feel super inspired by Pinchbeck’s vision for a new Earth, and one which truly is within our reach. IF we all get on board—and fast. Reading this against a backdrop of the 2016 Presidential election / Standing Rock, two inter-related situations which, for me, represent the two sides of the current doomsday we find ourselves facing, there’s only one answer to the question he poses in the title: the time for action is NOW. Which is why I call it the Now Age!

The book is out Feb 21—please pre-order your copy NOW, since I just decided we’ll be reading it together for the very first Numinous book club. Click here to get yours.

:: TUESDAY ::
Sagittarius New Moon…which means the first official Moon Club cycle begins! All our members received their Moon Mission PDF for this moon cycle (11/29—Dec 29) today, with an overview of the cosmic climate, what this actually means for us as human beings, weekly coaching exercises for each moon phase, and a reading for each moon sign. But it’s actually totally fine to sign up at any time during the month—as all new members receive a link to the current Moon Mission, and there’s some kind of scheduled activity every week.

For example, for next Tuesday’s first quarter moon in Pisces, Moon Club members will be invited to a LIVE interactive webinar with Thinx founder Miki Agrawal. One of our favorite entrepreneur activists, Miki is all about starting the kind of conversations that are an essential part of Daniel Pinchbeck’s utopian vision for the future. You can learn more about Moon Club and check out a sample Moon Mission PDF here.

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Favorite, favorite new pampering / self-care treat: the Crystal Ritual Cleanse from colorist-stylist duo Lauren & Vanessa. Which is essentially a wash + blow-dry…with added reiki, crystals and essential oils! Designed to balance and activate the upper chakras (heart, throat, third eye, and crown), the treatment begins with me laying back at a hair washing station and Lauren asking me to select the essential oil I want her to work with. She then places crystals in each of my hands, and proceeds with a reiki treatment and head massage—working the oil into my crown chakra…with more crystals!

The treatment ends with a blowout from Vanessa, and I leave feeling deeply revitalized. And something has obviously worked on a “material girl” level too—literally every person I encounter during the rest of the evening tells me how great I’m looking.

Which, if I’m honest, feels kind of frivolous to even mention against the backdrop of the election / Standing Rock. I’m getting a crystal head massage, while people are (literally) freezing on the front lines? But I think meditation artist Biet Simkin made a great point in a FB post today also: “I almost feel like there is a shame now to post anything that isn’t completely depressing. But if you kill our spirit, how will we stand against these dangers!? For what will we stand!? We must remember light! We must remember the spirit inside us!”

As well as time with loved-ones, nurturing our bodies with delicious food, and feeding our minds with inspiring words, it’s self-care and pleasure rituals like the above that help keep us connected to our sense of spirit. To what we are fighting for. Yes, the time for stepping into our roles as global change-makers is now. And can’t we also feel really great while we do it? Click here to read more and book a treatment with Lauren & Vanessa.

:: THURSDAY ::

Club SÖDA NYC. Another amazing turn-out and crowd for mine and Biet’s “sober curious” event—which also made Well+Good’s list of top wellness trends for 2017! Top tip from our panel on sober party pre-gaming? Write a gratitude list. I also had the realization during Biet’s meditation, that what we’re really craving in alcohol is a shift, an “escape,” into the right side of the brain—the intuitive, feeling, feminine side, versus the logical, linear left brain. We live in such a left-brain world (deadline-driven, progress-focussed), we’ve been left with a collective yearning for transcendence  that can often manifest in substance mis-use.

And yes, this shift to a more balanced brain state—where left and right, masculine and feminine, thinking and feeling—work in tandem, is also part of Pinchbeck’s Now Age vision. The challenge: investigate ways to get there that are also physically restorative, mentally enlivening, emotionally supportive, and spiritually fulfilling.

:: FRIDAY ::
Making plans to head to The Deep End Club community gathering tomorrow, and donate a bunch of Numinous sweatshirts to Standing Rock. They’re super cozy, after all. What have you got to give?

YOUR AGE OF AQUARIUS HOROSCOPE (THAT’S THE NEXT 2,160 YEARS)

As children of the Age of Aquarius, we have an important role to play in the evolution of humanity. Aurora Tower explains what this means for your sign…Artwork: Kathya Tornero

Besides maybe Mercury retrograde and the Saturn Return, there are few astrological phenomena that have imprinted in the collective consciousness as much as “The Age of Aquarius.”

But what really is the Age of Aquarius? Are we already in it? And what role do each of us have in it’s unfolding?

The tribe of light workers and rainbow children now populating the earth, and sharing messages of consciousness and sacred wisdom, is one of the harbingers that we are indeed at the cusp of the Age of Aquarius—the “new age” that began to dawn with the Uranus Pluto conjunction of the late 1960s (just as the famous song was released in 1969). And by most accounts, the cusp period is roughly 150 to 200 hundred years. So by the early 2100s we will be fully enmeshed in the Age of Aquarius.

Why a new “age,” or era, for the whole world? Since the earth wobbles on its orbit, it is actually rotating v-e-r-y slowly around it’s own core. A full circle of the earth around it’s core axis takes approximately 26,000 years—the length of each World Age, as described in ancient astrological text, The Procession of Equinoxes.

During each 26,000-year age, each of the twelve constellations will be visible in the sky behind the spring Equinox (usually March 21st) for about 2,160 years. When Babylonian astrologers codified the Zodiac around 1,000 BC, the sign of Aries was present behind the sun during the spring Equinox. And so this was the Age of Aries—a time of warrior clans, representative of the the Aries fighter spirit.

Near the time of the birth of Christ, as the Earth moved around it’s own axis, Pisces became visible behind the sun during the spring Equinox—marking the dawning of The Age of Pisces. This astrological era, which we are now transitioning out of, has been marked by religious crusades and spiritual dogma, reflecting Pisces connection to the divine.

And now we are transitioning from the Age of Pisces into the Age of Aquarius—a sign of Aquarius related to technology, innovation, humanitarianism and collective ideals.

During the Age of Aquarius, we can expect to see a radically group-oriented culture that values humanitarianism and individual rights extremely highly. The recent emergence of the “sharing economy” (AirBnB, Uber) is reflective of the movement towards collectivism that will impact every realm of life. And the exponential rate of technological advancement will make all of our science fiction dreams come true.

And having been born during this cusp phase, each of us has an important role to play in the unfolding of the Age of Aquarius. Read on to see how embodying the traits of your sign will help lead us into the next phase of human evolution…

:: ARIES ::
You have an important role to play in the collection and dissemination of information. Your bright and curious mind is always three steps ahead and the ideas and brainstorms that move through you are very valuable in spreading messages that are having a positive and awakening affect on humanity. Explore and learn as much as you can, so that you can build bridges and connections between different ideas. Meeting people and having a vast network of acquaintances will also help you on this task, as will keeping everyone up-to-date via whatever methods of communication become available through technology.

:: TAURUS ::
Your role now is as a protector of sacred Earth energy. You have an important role to play in nurturing our planet and humanity through an ecological and humanitarian crisis. By staying grounded and focused in our bodies, conscious of the food we eat, and our own level of kindness and self-care, we can heal together. And since your wisdom is deeply rooted in the Earth and connection to our bodies, you have a vital role to play as the strong backbone of this transition away from blind consumption and consumerism, and toward engagement with our resources in a way that truly nurtures us—and the planet.

:: GEMINI ::
Your creativity and leadership play a central role in this coming age. As another mental Air sign (like Aquarius) you resonate strongly with the incoming energy of the Aquarian Age. So your task is to step out of the shadows and embrace a leadership role in inspiring others to be their best selves during this time, and to follow their own unique paths as well. You are especially adept at working with children and younger generations, and infusing a spirit of fun and playfulness into your work. The more you come from the heart and lift those around you, the higher you can rise.

:: CANCER ::
Your consistency, thoughtfulness and attention to detail are some of the most important qualities you can present to the world during this transition. As old systems break down and new systems replace them, you will have an important role to play in making sure the details of these transitions are handled smoothly and effectively. Your tremendous patience and dedication will help you play this vital role, as will your genuine care for the well-being of others. Learning to artfully navigate change and make the most of complicated situations will also greatly benefit you in your personal life.

:: LEO ::
You have a very important role during this time. As the opposite sign of Aquarius, your energy is also being strongly activated now. What is most crucial is that you use your tremendous gifts of magnetism, charisma and creativity in service of the greater collective good, rather than falling pray to temptation for self-aggrandizing. The more you focus on how your actions impact your partnerships, the groups you are a part of, and the world at large, the more opportunities you will see to be of assistance. Then you can claim your place as a central force for positive change through your inspiring leadership and strong network of connections.

:: VIRGO ::
Your role in the Age of Aquarius is subtle but powerful. As a careful, observant and hard-working soul you can accrue much power and influence during this time, as others appear to blindly stumble through the chaos. By watching and seizing opportunities that present themselves, you could find yourself with access to political and financial elites. Influencing important people and situations with your prudent and rational perspective, can help steer the course of history in very meaningful ways. Take care to only invest, personally and financially, in situations that are a true match for your priorities.

:: LIBRA ::
As the peacemakers and negotiators of the zodiac, you have a central role to play in uniting people across different countries, cultures and boundaries. By engaging with others to come up with solutions together, you play a pivotal role in calming the deep fragmentation and negative cultural projections that have done so much damage during the Age of Pisces. Using your articulate language skills and natural sense of justice, you can build bridges where there has previously only been mistrust. This work is crucial since mutual trust and strong alliances are necessary underpinnings of a functional collaborative era.

:: SCORPIO ::
Your presence and your power is seen and felt strongly during this time, and others are looking up to you. You are a natural leader and now is the time for you to step into your destiny and make meaningful changes and transformations within the world’s largest corporate and governmental agencies. Your ability to cut through bureaucratic deadlock and find better solutions to the world’s problems, and implement them in a practical way, is essential to transforming our major institutions. Using your innate confidence and networking skills to help you achieve your aims, your work provides a real and lasting impact on the world.

:: SAGITTARIUS ::
You are a visionary who is not tied to old-fashioned concepts about how things should be done. Because of this, you have an important role to play in envisioning future technologies and social institutions. Being open-minded to different people, perspectives and opinions helps you to find the most innovative and promising solutions to the many problems at hand—and working with lots of different types of people allows you to learn and grow in exciting personal ways as well. If you can dream it, you can make it happening in the Age of Aquarius, and you are at the forefront of these bold and courageous ideals.

:: CAPRICORN ::
Naturally a very business-minded person, your role now is to truly align with your spiritual purpose so that you can use all of your pragmatic skills and talents for their highest service. This may require moving farther away from the familial or social culture in which you are enmeshed and spend more time nurturing your own unique bond with your higher wisdom and guides. This is challenging work, and it may take a long time for you to feel truly connected at the heart level to what you feel you must do, but this is a far greater service to the world than maintaining the status quo.

:: AQUARIUS ::
It’s your party, Aquarius. You are completely in synch with the coming Age and your natural sense of self-motivation, unique personal vision and strong humanitarian values means that you will be one of the beacons of light who truly inspires others. Simply by staying on your course, and encouraging others to do their part and follow their course, they will see how many wonderful things are possible when you commit wholeheartedly to living your value system and delivering what you promise. Creating groups and organizations may nourish you, but leave yourself flexible to keep exploring your own path.

:: PISCES ::
You are very sensitive and receptive, and the chaotic changes that happen during this shift may affect your energy in complex ways. So a crucial part of your role, is to focus on self-love and self-care as a path to health and healing. Your compassion and selflessness are extraordinary, but you cannot be of service to others if you are not first whole and healthy within yourself. Your role is to cultivate this for yourself, and to be an example to others of living in your own truth in ways that support your priorities but are also respectful of others. These healthy boundaries keep a collective culture strong.

Aurora Tower has been studying astrology since she was 10 years old, and has been at the helm of the iconic Cosmopolitan Bedside Astrologer brand since 2012—which reaches more than 30 million people per month in the magazine, online and on Snapchat. Her first book, Cosmopolitan Bedside Astrologer: The Ultimate Guide to Your Star Power, is out now.

RISE SISTER RISE: Q&A WITH REBECCA CAMPBELL

Whatever Donald Trump—the Divine Feminine is RISING! Ruby Warrington talks to Rebecca Campbell about her new book Rise Sister Rise, and hears why it’s time for the Wild Woman to be heard…

RUBY WARRINGTON: Your background is in advertising—what are the secret cues in advertising messages that have blocked the rise of the Divine Feminine?
REBECCA CAMPBELL: Wow, this is a BIG question. Generally speaking though, patriarchal society (which is exaggerated in advertising and the media) has tried to contain women to fit into a limited number of socially acceptable archetypes: the Maiden and the Mother.

There has been very little representation of the Wise Woman—the woman who is not afraid to share her voice, who cannot be contained, or restrained of the Crone, who becomes wiser and more potent with her years.

Advertising is also based on making the product a hero—which means exaggerating a problem it is designed to “solve” (often perpetuating fears). For example, when talking about periods, it’s about being discreet. When talking about aging, it’s about halting this natural process. So you can see how we’ve been taught that embracing the cyclic nature of being a woman is “a problem.”

RW: Was there an “aha” moment for you in terms of focusing on this work with your new book?
RC: I was very much in my feminine when writing my first book, but I soon realized I had no idea how to run my business from the this place. A career girl who learned to make it in man’s world, I reverted to the old patriarchal ways of being the hard worker, the warrior, the good girl. Of using pressure not pleasure as my driving force. Of putting my service to others above service to myself.

My client sessions were booking out six months in advance, and I kept promising myself that I would tend to filling my well when things quieted down. But days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. I became increasingly aware that it was not possible to bloom all year round and that there had to be a different way.

Then I had a dream that was just so real, I woke myself up mid sob. In the dream I had a baby—and everyone was in awe of her because she never ever cried. But because she didn’t cry, a whole week passed without her being fed. Guilt-stricken, I scooped her up and brought her to my breast. As I looked down at her face I saw myself, my mother, and all the women in my family.

I then checked my phone and discovered a text from my dad to call home because mum had breast cancer. Later, I looked up the metaphysical meaning of her illness, and discovered that it can be to do with a refusal to allow ourselves to receive and be nourished.

I saw how even though I had left the corporate world, I was still operating this way too. So I cleared my diary for a week and went to the Chalice Well Gardens in Glastonbury—to fill up my inner well at the mother of all wells. It was here that I heard the first whispers of Rise Sister Rise.

RW: Who and what have been key figures and teachings for you in terms of awakening the Divine Feminine in you?
RC: There are so many! Maya Angelou, The Magdalenes, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Christiane Northrup, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Marion Woodman, Sally Kempton, Starhawk, Gurumayi Chidvilasnanda, Alexandra Pope, Monica Sjöö and Barbara Mor.

RW: You talk about the importance of healing our relationships with our mothers—why is this? And what has been your own experience of this?
RC: We receive a blueprint of what it means to be a woman from our mothers, and often the relationship we have with her will be mirrored in how we see the world. How held we believe we are by Life. How to give and receive love, nourishment and support.

When we heal our relationship with our mother, we have the opportunity to heal and connect ourselves to Mother Earth in the process. To let our own inner rhythm sync back into harmony with the rhythm of the planet and of all life. We are also able to give ourselves the mothering that we need, and are able to show up to life full rather than looking at the world and other people to fill us up.

RW: In what other ways do you bring your inner Wild Woman forth in your day-to-day life?
RC: First, by acknowledging my fears and feelings when they surface—no matter how inconvenient, uncomfortable, crazy or embarrassing (I’ve got an amazing whatsapp group of ladies where we hold the space for us to do so without judgment—there are A LOT of emoticons).

I then work on transmuting these feelings through creative expression (rather than pushing them down). This could be through dance (Sia is great for this) or some form of creation such as writing.

And finally, by really honoring the wild woman phase of my monthly cycle (PMS time). I have learned that if I push down what’s rising in me and what is falling away during this time, I will probably find a destructive way of keeping myself contained and restrained such as overeating or having a few too many glasses of wine.

RW: In what ways do you think the rise of the Divine Feminine is already creating a shift in society?
RC: I believe it is becoming safer than ever for her to be seen and heard. We can see her in Michelle Obama, and in shows such as Girls. We can see her at work as women rise together in collaboration rather than in competition. With every new woman who rises, by following her intuition, claiming her power, and sharing her voice, she makes it easier for another woman to follow her lead.

This era of history has been prophesized by the mystics and sages of all the ages, and I believe that social media and the rise of the female entrepreneur has had a lot to do with this coming to pass. It’s becoming easier for women to come together in circle, to collaborate, and to unite.

RW: And what do you think differentiates this movement from, say, the 1970s feminist movement?
RC: To me, the rising feminine is feminism of the soul. And as we recover from the past few thousand years (!) of patriarchy, I believe it is important not to seek its polar opposite—to move from patriarchy to matriarchy. Rather, it is time to bring the sacred masculine and sacred feminine energies back into balance. As the sacred feminine rises, may the sacred masculine rise along with Her.

RW: Looking 20 years into the future, what do you think the bigger impact of a feminine uprising could be?
RC: I believe if we all honor the cyclic nature of our bodies and of life, the planet will go back to a state of harmony. We see ourselves as separate from nature but that is just not true. We are part of nature but so many of us have disconnected ourselves from it—and in doing so, we have disconnected from both The Great Mother (Earth) and from ourselves.

The sooner we surrender to our own cyclic nature (for example: for women, our monthly cycles are connected to the waxing and waning of the moon), the sooner this planet will move back into balance. I do believe it is possible and I do believe that we are all being called to surrender to this calling before it is too late.

Rise Sister Rise: A Guide to Unleashing the Wise, Wild Woman Within is out now on Hay House. Rebecca Campbell will also be joining Numinous Founder Ruby Warrington and Madeline Giles of Angelic Breath Healing for a special event in NYC on 11/11 2016. Full details to be announced!

GABBY BERNSTEIN: “SOBRIETY STARTED MY SPIRITUAL AWAKENING”

For Gabby Bernstein sobriety played an important role in her spiritual awakening. Ruby Warrington asks her, could we all benefit from a more sober life?

I received my copy of Gabby Bernstein’s new book, The Universe Has Your Back, right when I was in the middle of organizing our #TuneInPeaceOut initiative for World Peace Day. Translation: I had zero time to sit down and read it. But an interesting thing happened.

Flicking through the pages, every time I stopped Gabby was riffing on how her sobriety had played such an important part in her spiritual journey. And experimenting with a sober life myself right now (check out my Club SÖDA NYC project here) the message that this is exactly the right path for me came through loud and clear (thank you, Universe!)

It was also clear that for Gabby Bernstein sobriety had played an important part in her spiritual awakening. I decided to sit down with her, to talk about the link between sobriety and spirituality, and get her advice on living sober.

(And p.s. the day I’m running this post—October 02 2016—is her 11 years’ sober anniversary!)

Ruby Warrington: So the reason I’m trying to be sober is because the way I feel when there’s no alcohol in my system is like, “Fuck, this is who I AM.” And honestly, I no longer feel like I can show up and properly serve on my mission these days unless I’m 100% myself.

Gabrielle Bernstein: I love that, and I think you should be sober then. That’s part of the reason I’m sober. This is the only consciousness I want to have. Although of course sometimes I’m like, ‘bye bye, get me the hell out of here’!

RW: That’s the thing, sometimes that still sounds nice! Especially when, and I know you’ve had issues with this too because you’ve written about it, I end up replacing alcohol with work. I fucking love what I do, so that’s okay. But then, where’s the release, where’s the escape?

GB: I have had to find that in the last five or six months. I realized I had become severely addicted to work, because I’ve been running for so long from these fears that I didn’t want to see. In the beginning stages of healing from this, I would find myself going to my desk and sitting down and literally numbing out with work. I was like, “Oh my God, that’s how I’ve been hiding.”

RW: I do that too. There’s a sense of relief when I can say, “Oh good, I’ve got like three hours of solid emails now and I can’t think about anything else.”

GB: Exactly. So what I’ve done is freed up a lot of that space for meditation. I meditate a lot longer.

RW: More meditation than your two TM sessions?

GB: I’m doing this Doreen Virtue chord cutting meditation in the morning, and then a TM meditation in the afternoon. It’s super good, I’m going to send it to you. As a result, I’ve been feeling more connected than ever. It also has to do with not playing into the word addiction, and being willing to heal.

Carrot juice on our interview date

RW: So on the sobriety thing, one reason I created Club SÖDA NYC is because I don’t feel like I identify the word “alcoholic.” As somebody in recovery, do you believe there is a middle ground when it comes to alcohol addiction?

GB: Absolutely. And it’s so good that you’re doing that. There’s some people that don’t find their way to AA but they want to have a way to get out of alcohol.

RW: When do you remember first finding an escape with alcohol and drugs?

GB: I guess in college, when it was uppers that I liked. I didn’t really even like alcohol that much, it was more like the snorting things.

RW: You mean uppers like Adderall?

GB: Yeah that’s what I was in to. I never liked alcohol, I just needed it to balance myself out. But by the time I hit my rock bottom in 2005 I was doing drugs and drinking every day.

RW: Were you fully aware of that being a problem?

GB: Yeah everyday I’d be like, “Shouldn’t do that again.” And then do it again. It was probably only seven months that it was really bad. The really bad didn’t last that long.

RW: So how did you seek help?

GB: I went to an addiction specialist who helped me understand that I was an alcoholic, because at the time I thought that I was just a drug addict. He was like, “No, you have an alcohol problem.” And I was like, “what do you mean?” He’s like, “Well what do you do every time you have a drink?” I was like, “I do drugs.” He showed me how this meant I was drinking unmanageably.

RW: I recently read an amazing book on alcohol addiction called “This Naked Mind.” And based on the teachings of this, plus my personal observations, I feel like a lot more people than will ever admit—even to themselves—are in a similar situation with alcohol and drugs. Do you believe this to be the case?

GB: I think that people definitely struggle…but it’s hard for me to comment because most of my friends today are sober. Well not “sober,” they just don’t really drink because they’re really health conscious. So I don’t see that much abuse of substances in my day to day. A lot of people come up to me and say, “Oh I got sober because of Spirit Junkie.” I hear people’s sobriety stories, but I don’t see people in their addiction anymore. But overall, I think it’s an epidemic. I mean addiction is an epidemic.

RW: And actually alcohol still kills more people than all prescription and all illegal drugs put together…

GB: Even more heroin?

RW: Insane, right? And in tests it’s the only drug that falls into the “extreme risk” category for addiction. Yet it’s the one that’s pushed on you from every direction the minute you’re old enough.

GB: Right. And I do think that from a spiritual perspective, if you want to have a closer connection with God then you can’t be muddying your consciousness.

RW: Which leads me to my next question. Do you believe that anyone who identifies as being on a spiritual path or who is seeking in that way, would benefit from at least trying an extended period of sobriety?

GB: Absolutely. I don’t want to say that if you’re on a spiritual path, you have to be sober. There are plenty of people that I know that are fine with a glass of wine. They have it once a week and they’re fucking fine. But I do think that it will only benefit you spiritually to have a sober life.

RW: My experience of this has been feeling truly “whole.” I think this is because as much as alcohol is about numbing out from fear, it’s also about hiding the parts of yourself that you don’t necessarily understand. That you find it hard to love and accept.

GB: Yes, that you don’t want to admit to, and you don’t want to feel.

RW: Totally. So I think for me, that sense of wholeness has been about accepting that even if I don’t really like myself today, that’s still me. It’s all part of myself. You know? So what about the plant medicines that everybody’s doing now, like ayahuasca?

GB: Well, I think sober is sober, and that’s a mind altering substance. You know my spiritual teachers do it and I’m not going to judge anybody, but I would definitely say that’s a relapse if you think you’re sober. Most sober people wouldn’t even take NyQuil!

RW: I hear you! So I’m kind of at this point where I’m experimenting with trying to experience each situation I would normally associate with drinking sober…

GB: You want to know how you quit drinking? You no longer give yourself permission. We all have permission giving thoughts—and, for example, I’ve been off sugar for three years now because I no longer give myself permission to have sugar. if you were like, “I’m no longer giving myself permission, any more, to have alcohol,” then interesting things could happen.

RW: Vacation are the really tough one for me…

GB: I feel like that’s okay! I think you can maybe not give yourself permission unless its a vacation. Except you have to be really strong, like, “When I come back I have to stop this.” Because even eating things on vacation that I wouldn’t normally eat, like cheese or bread. I come home and I want those things!

RW: Well I’m ready, because the more I commit to not drinking, the more I feel like this is a part of the consciousness shift that’s occurring right now. Like people are really invested in the idea that you can get high by tuning in, not numbing out. I think you’ve helped to spearhead this, and it’s actually been a really important part of your story, you know?

GB: There’s no doubt that getting sober was the catalyst for my spiritual awakening. I’ve had many, many more since that day, but that was the turning point for me. It was when I chose a life of deep connection rather than a life of numbing out. It was when I chose to wake up.

Gabrielle Bernstein’s new book, The Universe Has Your Back, is out now on Hay House. And we’re giving away one signed copy!

To win, tag your next Instagram post with #NumiUniverse. Make sure to follow and tag @The_Numinous and be sure to add the hashtag #NumiUniverse—otherwise we won’t see your post! Winners will be picked at random and notified via direct Instagram message.

Deadline for entries: 1 p.m. (EST) October 5, 2016.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: WEEDS AMONG THE GRASS ROOTS, AND MEETING MY MINI ME

Big up to the grass roots entrepreneurs, an infrared detox, meeting my Mini Me…and the lies we buy about booze.

Witchy vibes in the streets of Sibenik with Alexandra Roxo and Jayne Goldheart

:: MONDAY ::
Massive shout out to the organizers of Obanjan, the Croatian music and wellness fest I returned early from today. Early because a gnarly confluence of eco-operational-political factors meant they had to postpone the opening…the night before the opening, having already flown artists and contributors in from all over the world! And with close to 300 guests and press arriving for the big reveal to boot. A.k.a. every entrepreneurs worst. Freaking. Nightmare.

And here’s the thing. It’s fear of monumental s*it like this hitting the fan that keeps most of us from stepping up, pursuing our dreams and truly doing our dharma. From putting our heart, soul, balls (ovaries?) and life savings on the line to create something we truly believe in. Anybody who’s built a business or launched a project or product will have experienced similar setbacks—falling somewhere on the sliding scale of devastation. I know I have. And it feels HORRIBLE. And I keep putting my heart, and soul, and ovaries and life savings into my projects anyway.

We all say we want less corporate, less branded, more DIY experiences, right? Well down in the grass roots, there are also gonna be some weeds.

Sure, it was an inconvenience to fly half way across the world for nothing. (Although it wasn’t for nothing really, since I got to brainstorm with my boo Alexandra Roxo, hang out with Shauna and Morgan from Unlimited, FINALLY bond with brilliant Jayne Goldheart, and meet the magical Gail Schock). And yeah, if the holiday I’d booked got cancelled/delayed at the last minute, I’d be pretty pissed off too. But really? Fairly minimal annoyances compared to what the organizers were going through.

All I kept thinking as I witnessed the fallout, was: Good for you. Good for you for feeling the fear, and doing it f*cking anyway.

AND latest update is, Obonjan opens for business Friday Aug 5 (yes, that’s today!!) Keep following their Twitter and Instagram accounts for more updates.

:: TUESDAY ::
Shout out to another badass entrepreneur, Henry Holland, who I watched set up his label House of Holland from scratch out of the fashion cupboard of the magazine we were working on together 10 years ago. Wow, a whole decade! And with PLENTY a “character building” road-bump along the way. Anyhow, this rather special sweatshirt (below) from his latest collaboration with Lee arrived in the mail today. #COSMIC!

Sweatshirt, £102, House of Holland for Lee

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Infrared saunas, anybody? It’s a big YES PLEASE from me after my first visit to HigherDOSE today, a new spa offering private infrared sessions in Manhattan. I kind of never got the sauna thing, but secluded in my little wooden hut, my own music on the speakers, sweating tennis balls of toxic travel stress (see: Monday), I found myself thinking: well this feels like it’s REALLY good for me. Kind of like Bikram, without the pain part. Maybe it’s cuz I was also reading their info pack—”decreases cortisol, increases serotonin; detoxifies heavy metals, radiation, and environmental toxins; stimulates collagen, reduces wrinkles; burns 600 calories a session (!)”—and maybe it’s cuz Kate Bosworth was in the booth next door. But I’ll be back. Discover more: Higherdose.com

:: THURSDAY ::
Got the actual date my book will be published next year…which meant I could finally do her birth chart!! (Yes, she’s a she). AND, it turns out we have the same Rising (public image), Moon (emotional center), Mercury (communication style) and Midheaven (professional path). How freaking rad is that?! Talk about Mini Me. She also has her North Node (karmic destiny point) at 0 degrees Virgo—which says she’s destined to be of service in the world, but colored with some unbridled Leo North Node self-expression. I want to be her friend already 🙂

:: FRIDAY ::
Will be mainly spent spreading the word about my next Club SÖDA NYC event with Biet Simkin and special guest Betsy LeFae, Sex, Lies & Alcohol. Turns out summer (not to mention toxic travel stress: see Monday) is a major drinking trigger for me (anyone?)—the “lie” my inner booze demon spins, that day-drinking in the sunshine is what August is made for. My personal truth being that nothing feels as blissfully free (my core desired feelings from day drinking) as…never being hung-over! It’s been getting super down with my intuition—simply, what feels right and what feels wrong for me—that’s helped me truly connect to this, which is why I’m so happy intuition coach Betsy is joining us for this event. Read more and get your ticket here.

PERIOD PRIDE: IT’S TIME TO LOVE YOUR LADY LANDSCAPE

Lisa Lister is the British witch and all around goddess at the forefront of the period pride movement. Ruby Warrington hears all about her new book, Love Your Lady LandscapeArtwork: Merakilabbe

The Numinous: Love Your Lady Landscape is a call to action for Now Age women. Tell us about it…
Lisa Lister: Well there was a time, roughly 5000 years ago, when the space between a woman’s thighs was considered a power portal with a direct hook up to Source. But for over 2,000 years now, the potent powers of our wombs, our cyclic nature and our menstrual cycles have been disregarded, and we’ve lost our daily connection to mumma earth, to the Moon, to the seasons and their cycles.

As a result, we often ignore our deepest needs as women because we no longer trust ourselves and our own body wisdom. We apologize for our tears, suppress our anger, and self-medicate with whatever will numb the pain of not being heard or telling our truth.

Worst of all, we have an epidemic of ‘down there’ pain and dis-ease—PMT, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, fibroids. Overwhelm, anxiety and infertility are at an all-time high and we manage our menstrual bleed with synthetic hormones, denying ourselves the experience of living fully in our power.

So, Love Your Lady Landscape is about exploring, navigating and loving your lady parts. It’s about how to care for them, how to trust them and how to reclaim them.

TN: What is the number one thing a woman needs to understand about her period?
LL: That we are cyclic, not linear. Each month we try to maintain the same level of energy and productivity as our male counterparts throughout our whole cycle, so we can ‘compete’ and ‘keep up.’ But our energy, hormone levels and sex drive ebb and flow each month as we cycle through the four phases of the menstrual cycle—pre-ovulation, ovulation, pre-menstruation and menstruation.

Each of these phases hold super powers and hot spots and when we understand that we show up differently in each phase of our cycle, we are then able to use our menstrual cycle as a map to understanding ourselves better each and every month.

TN: Your previous book, Code Red was all about periods too. Why is this your pet subject?
LL: My entire 20’s were ruled by my menstrual cycle. I bled more days than I didn’t every cycle, I had to cancel social engagements ALL the time because I was too scared to bleed through my clothes, the pain was debilitating at times.

I also got myself a reputation as a total flake, because I was too embarrassed to say: ‘I can’t come out/to work/to the meeting because I’m bleeding through industrial super-size pads and my bed looks like a scene from the movie Carrie.’

So, when at 25 I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, there was a moment of relief. I had a name for it. Except in the very next breath the doctor said: ‘Endometriosis means that babies are no longer an option, so it makes sense that we whip out your womb and ovaries so you can function normally again.’

What???

For a moment I considered it, but, and I didn’t know the incredible power that we hold in our womb space at the time, this woke a fierce rage in me that meant I simply wasn’t going to let this happen. Instead, I read about other women who have endometriosis – each case was different – and most importantly, discovered that it didn’t necessarily mean I couldn’t have children. I then got extra mad at modern medicine’s quick fix ‘whip it out’ mentality, and for the last ten years I’ve been on an adventure to explore, navigate and most importantly, love my lady landscape.

And that work starts with the most powerful game-changer of all—knowing ourselves through our cycle.

 

TN: Why are periods a feminine ‘super power’?
LL: Our blood is GOLD. The actual act of bleeding used to be considered sacred and it was honoured by both men and women, from the first day you bleed through to the day you stop bleeding, you are a witch, a sorceress, an all powerful woman. You are a lightening rod for the divine, your womb is an oracle.

And when we work WITH our cycle and not against it, we have access to a series of feminine super powers all month, all of which can be leveraged and used to create a bloody amazing business, relationship and life. A concept I go into in detail in Love Your Lady Landscape!

Book

TN: So many women have irregular cycles. Why do you think this is?
LL: Many reasons, but some of the top ones are:

– As I said previously, when we try to do life in a linear way, we work against our cyclic nature and we suffer for it. Sometimes that will manifest instantly in the form of PMS, irregular cycles, cramps, heavy bleeding (all of which are our body’s way of trying to slow us down and pay attention) or over time in the form of anxiety, stress, depression and ‘lady-parts’ dis-eases like Endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids.
– We’re not listening to the wisdom of our bodies and our monthly cycle because we’re medicating her with synthetic hormones—the pill, implants, coils.
– We’ve not been taught what a ‘regular’ flow looks and feels like because menstruation is still seen as taboo subject. It’s spoken about in hushed tones and advertising teaches us to ‘stuff up’ our bleed with tampons so we can ‘carry on as usual’ partying, riding on boats and rollerskating in white jeans – this is shown as ‘normal’ when it’s anything but for most women.

TN: I love your term ‘called girl’ for a woman who’s in touch with her cycle—can you give an example of how this looks from your life?
LL: The Called Girl experiences life moment-to-moment. She’s in tune with the feminine cycles, rhythms and seasons that allow her to fully own her divine power. She works in, not out. She trusts herself and thoroughly enjoys inhabiting a female body.

A Called Girl doesn’t hold on too tight to a defined and specific outcome. Instead she shows up, roots into mumma earth, listens to her pussy, trusts her gut, raises her heart and boobs to the sun and remains open to the infinite possibilities that occur when you collaborate with what I call SHE.

I trust my body’s wisdom and the way that SHE (divine/source/goddess) uses my cycle to work through me. Each and every month in each and every phase, I unravel and unfold more and more understanding about the woman that I am.

This means I can grow strong and powerful roots in the truth of why I’m here, what I need to learn, who I’m here to serve and how I’m meant to do it—meaning I can fully rise as a woman who trusts herself and is fiercely in her SHE power. Rarrrr!

Crowned ‘the defender of female awesomeness’ by Cooler magazine, Lisa Lister is the author of Love Your Lady Landscape and Code Red. She’s a menstrual, fertility and reproductive health practitioner and founder of the SHE Flow system; a personal invite to celebrate the fiercely feminine, sensual pleasure of being a woman through movement, massage, mysteries and magic. Discover more at www.thesassyshe.com

 

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: A YOGIC IMMERSION, AND A POET WHO DIDN’T KNOW IT

An Immersion with my yoga preachers, an animal spirit out of balance, and an epic journey of self-discovery…

New pals! @welltodomag @thevoguetrip and @mind_body_bowl

:: MONDAY & TUESDAY ::
I’m dedicating some extra space today to THE most incredible weekend with my friends at lululemon. “The Immersion” was a four-day experience in Austin, TX, hosted by lulu ambassadors Gabrielle Bernstein and Baron Baptiste—creator of mega transformational practice, Baptiste Yoga. And it came at the perfect time for me, since 2016 has been the year I’ve finally found a dedicated yoga routine, but have found myself yearning for ways to tap the spiritual side of the practice. As in, use it as a way to commune with the Universal oneness, y’all!

Well of course this is Gabby’s whole jam with her Kundalini practice, which she described to us (50 of the most switched-on, diverse and interesting disrupter-entrepreneur types I’ve had the privilege of spending some dedicated hang-time with—and what an HONOR to be numbered among them!) as bringing “physicality to my spiritual practice.” A long-time meditator, “I was always like, ‘how do I get my body involved?'” And I may not be the most dedicated K-head (“K” as in Kundalini, obvs), but every time I do practice I can be guaranteed some pretty out-there downloads from the energy I call “spirit.”

Gabs getting her Kundalini on

And then there was Baron, a prime example of a breed I’ve named the “yoga preachers.” Not in the sense that he’s preaching a certain way to be or dogma to believe. If anything, his philosophy centers around the concept of “santosha”—sanskrit for something like: “satisfaction with the status quo…tinged with curiosity for where this could go.” But he’s one of those teachers with a sixth sense about precisely the right words to deliver at precisely the right moment in the practice to unlock the door to the divine. That is, to an understanding of your Self as a limitless being of pure light consciousness. Hallelujah!

Baron Baptiste: the preacher man himself

:: WEDNESDAY ::
A also brought along my new Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck, a.k.a. my favorite new toy. The card I pulled for guidance about my time at The Immersion? The Firefly—a flighty, creative energy that burns super-bright, but can easily burn out. Which sounds exactly like me—a major introvert—in full-on retreat mode. The suggestion to bring this energy into balance? “Write a poem.” Which I’ve actually never done before, but which has rapidly become my favorite thing! Kim Krans’s practical tips are one of the best things about the deck. Have you been using yours yet? I’d love to hear what you think.

:: THURSDAY ::
So Ellen Degeneres is a secret Numi. Um, going through the research for a recent interview I did with her uncovered the following evidence: she came out after a trip to spiritual development center Esalen, where, “What came up was: ‘would they still love me if I was gay?’ It made me feel ashamed that I was pretending to be something else, just to make people like me”; she’s a long-time advocate of Transcendental Meditation – “when your computer goes crazy, you just shut it down and when you turn it on, it’s okay again. That’s what meditation is for me”; AND in 2010 she founded a record company called eleveneleven. #materialgirlmysticalworld

…oh and she’s 99% #vegan

:: FRIDAY ::
You guys—I’m so so close to handing in the final manuscript for my book! And writing it has been the most epic journey of self-discovery, something I was reminded of today when I re-worked the intro I wrote as part of my original proposal waaaay back in early 2015. From the overall tone, to my knowledge and understanding of all things numinous, the process crystalized exactly how much I’ve grown in the past 18 months—not least as a result of me literally living what I’ve been writing about. Which bodes well for the impact the finished result could have on YOUR lives, dear potential readers! Safe to say I’m fully psyched to share my baby with y’all next year.