MY MYSTICAL LIFE: THE MAGIC OF PLANTS PARTS 1 & 2

The week that showed me there’s no denying the magic of plants…

Medicine woman: Deborah Hanekamp

Magic of plants part 1. I’m completely fascinated by the whole plant medicine revolution that’s happening right now. The concept that thousands of people, often the opinion-formers and change-makers of the world, are being sought out by the consciousness of Mother Earth via these medicines, and experiencing vast awakenings.

In fact, I was joking with my friend the other day that the current financial system won’t collapse because of dodgy bonds and unchecked “quantitative easing” – but because all the bankers will end up doing Ayahuasca, and quitting their jobs to make a positive difference in the world instead!

To date, I have not been called to sit in a ceremony myself. The stories of emotional and often physical intensity frighten me, and I know from past practice that I am capable of having similarly (third) eye-opening experiences using alternative, gentler methods.

But still, the fascination remains, and so when I learned about Deborah Hanekamp’s Medicine Readings, which she described as being as close as you could get to a ceremony without actually drinking Ayahuasca, I was obviously super intrigued.

Cut to Tuesday afternoon, when I met Deborah for a reading at my fave spot, Maha Rose. She began by asking what I was working on (as in emotionally), and from her questions about this I could tell immediately that she is a gifted intuitive, with an open and true connection the subtle realms.

I was then asked to lie on her treatment table, and begin a steady tri par viloma (three-part) breath. For the following hour Deborah would invoke the spirit of the plants using scent, in the form of sweet floral tinctures, healing stones and different sound instruments, including her own voice as she sang the haunting “Icaros,” traditional Peruvian medicine songs.

All the time I felt very much in my body – while I was shown, with incredible clarity and in the form of deeply held memories rising effortlessly to the surface of my consciousness, the very root of the issues I’d been grappling with during the recent eclipse period. Tears flowed freely as I was able to make sense of situations that my psyche had chosen to keep hidden from me until now, but in understanding and putting these pieces of my past together, I also felt a sense of forgiveness.

Coming out of the session, I was aware that I’d actually been in a trance-state – my body felt slow, my blood thick, as if I’d be dosed with a heavy anesthetic. One designed to null any pain, allowing me to face the truths that arose without flinching, or looking away. Writing this now, I realize this is probably very similar to what happens in a plant medicine ceremony.

Deborah then told me what spirit, the Grandmother consciousness of the plant, had shared with her during my reading, all of it deeply relevant. We finished the session with her giving me a prescription for a special bath I was to prepare for myself in the coming week, along with a crystal, a meditation, and a mantra to work with.

They say that when you are ready, the spirit of Ayahuasca will find you. And in a week of much confusion, actually, following the two eclipses, last weekend’s Blood Moon, and in the final throws of this Mercury Retro period, she offered herself to me in exactly the form I needed.

Check out more about Deborah and her work at Unityessences.com

Magic of plants part 2. I also watched the brilliant documentary Cowspiracy this week – which has totally cemented my commitment to being vegan. This is something that goes beyond health, beyond all the completely unnecessary bloodshed, and even beyond environmental issues for me now (although, if you need any more convincing, check out this ridiculous fact sheet). For me, this taps into the evolution of consciousness.

Because okay, how’s this for theory. Animal agriculture is by FAR the biggest contributor to the destruction of the rainforests – responsible for 91% OF AMAZON DESTRUCTION. How freaking cool, then, that the Amazonian plants themselves are fighting back – the Ayahuasca revolution opening so many influential minds to the wider implications of this issue.

The broader message of this film + my interaction with plant consciousness with Deborah this week have made me more aware than ever of the connection we as humans share with every other living being (animal + vegetable) on Earth, and the responsibility of love and care to our extended “family” that comes with this.

Also, you can think about it from a karmic perspective – with so much environmental destruction in the name of using flesh for food…doesn’t it make a sick kind of sense that our addiction to animal protein (because that’s what it is, since all tastes besides breast milk are acquired) could be what brings about the extinction of our species?

Wow – big stuff. But it’s not too late! As one commentator in the documentary puts it: “No other lifestyle choice has a father reaching and more profoundly positive impact on the planet than choosing a plant-based lifestyle.” Amen to that.

From the streets of LA…where they’re all about the magic of plants!

 

FEET ON THE GROUND: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR TAURUS

The coming month is a time for rooting your dreams in reality. Get grounded with this yoga sequence for Taurus, says Ash BakerImage: Anthony Maule and Carine Roitfeld for Harper’s Bazaar.

Ruler :: Venus
Element :: Earth
Modality :: Fixed
Anatomy :: Throat, neck, vocal cords, tonsils, thyroid, tongue and mouth

2nd sign of the Zodiac

We are now heading into the mid-spring month of the Bull. Think earthly sensuality and grounded, focused qualities. Perfect timing for meditating on what you would like your summer to look like. What can you create in your life with precision right now that will bloom into something magical in a couple of months? Taurean energy is what to embody wherever you need some stability in your life. Our practice this month will help cultivate empowerment through pressing into the earth and opening our hearts.

:: Lions Breath ::
Take a deep inhale through your nose, and as you exhale, open your mouth and stick out your tongue. Curl the tip of your tongue towards your chin. You will make a “Haaaa” sound. Give your tongue a good stretch and really push the air out of your throat. Inhale through your nose and repeat. Go through three-five rounds.

Now bring your hands to your heart and think of something you would like to offer to yourself or another person. Yoga can be seen as a moving meditation so what would you like your intention for this session to be?

:: Tabletop spinal extension ::
Come to hands and knees. Tuck your tailbone slightly and firm your abdominals. Inhale, reach the right leg out behind you and press through the heel, firing up all the muscles of the leg and giving you more support. Fully exhale.

Then with your next inhale reach the left arm out in front of you. Keep your palm facing inward. Looking down feel the length being creating in your spine as you reach in opposite directions with arm and leg. Release the arm and leg back to the floor. Repeat with the left leg and right arm. Hold for three rounds of breath. Complete two rounds on each side.

:: Low Lunge ::
From a standing position step the right leg/foot towards the back of the mat. Drop your right knee down onto the floor, tucking the toes under for more balance. Exhale and bend the front left knee. Make sure the knee is bent directly over the ankle. Tilt the pelvis slightly under and lengthen up through the spine.

Squeeze the inner thighs towards one another to get a little lift and then release slightly and let the pelvis sink down towards the floor allowing some opening in the right hip flexors. Inhale the arms up overhead and reach through the fingers. Hold for three-five rounds of breath. Repeat on the other side.

:: Triangle/Trikonasana with arm circles ::
From a standing position, turn to face the left and take a wide stance with your legs. Take your front right foot and point it forward and take the back left foot and point it to a 45-degree angle. You can have heel to heel alignment or wider depending on your hips and what makes you feel stable.

Reach your right arm out over that front leg and begin to reach as far forward as you can. Once you reach your edge, take the same hand to your shin, foot, a block or the floor. Take the left arm and gently reach it upwards. You can look up towards your hand or, for more stability, down to the floor. Add some flow by sweeping the left arm down towards your hip and back up creating a full circle. Take a few circles and repeat this pose on the other side.

:: Grounding Meditation ::
This meditation can be done anywhere you have the ability to place your feet on the ground or any other supported surface. I kid you not, some of my best meditations have been on a public city bus, feet planted on the floor and eyes lightly closed. So just find a space you can sit or even stand for a few minutes and begin to simply feel your breath move around your body, flowing in and out of your nostrils.

Now begin to focus on the feeling of your feet against the ground. Take time to connect with that support. Feel how strong it is and apply those qualities to the areas in your life that need more stability. Stay there breathing, feeling those focused, strong, and stable qualities within yourself. Know that you are always supported. Divinity is designed that way.

Monthly Mantra: I am supported, secure and strong in all my actions.

FEET ON THE GROUND: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR VIRGO

As Virgo brings its back-to-school energy of diligence and efficiency, Ash Baker shares some grounding poses to bring purification and clarity. PLUS a meditation to purge your fears ad connect you to the innate gifts within.

VIRGO
August 23 to September 22nd

Ruler: Mercury
Element: Earth
Modality: Mutable
Anatomy: Intestines, upper bowel. gallbladder, liver, pancreas and nervous system

6th sign of the Zodiac

The pure and curious creatures of the skies come out from the Cosmic woodwork to say hello this month. As we enter the earthy sign of Virgo, you may feel the winds of change begin to beckon. This month is about an ushering in of the first feelings of Autumn, and a deliciously crisp edge to the atmosphere reminding you to harvest what you’ve been working on.

Virgoans are all about service, purity, analysis and self-containment. All of which characteristics can be used to our utmost advantage. Being in service is gratitude in action and a much needed practice for living in the present. It inspires us to be grounded in a system of a high moral code. Analysis is POWER when used to discern what your heart and soul needs most. Just be careful not to over analyze yourself! And this sign teaches us that when we use self-containment to fill ourselves up with that which we need (gratitude, self love, and truth) we become an unstoppable force of light.

In honor of the Virgo energy that infuses our existence now, here are three poses to detox your whole body, strengthen your liver and calm your nerves. If you have time, flow through a few rounds of Sun Salutes to warm up the body before you move into the more static postures below.

Half Lord Of the Fishes // Ardha Matsyendrasana

Find a comfortable seat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Begin to draw your knees up and drop the left bent knee down to the left. Your left foot should be tucked just under your right seat. Then cross the right foot over the left leg and place it down next to the mid outer hip. This leg will stay upright with the knee towards the ceiling.

Inhale and reach the right arm up, exhale with a slight twist and place it behind your right seat. Take the left upper arm and elbow either around the outside of the right knee or to the outer right hip. This is a deep twist so use your inhales to gather length in your spine and twist deeper on the exhales.

Remember, the twist should be happening in the mid to upper spine. Think ribs up! Hold for five rounds of deep breath and then repeat on the other side.

*Gratitude practice: Inhale and think of something you are grateful for. Exhale and energetically let it surround you.

Bridge Pose // Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

This asana offers specific benefits to your liver by strengthening the core muscles that support it. Come down to lie on your back and bend your knees. If you have neck issues take a folded blanket under your shoulders to assist in creating a natural cervical curve.

Make sure your feet are directly under your knees. Rest your arms at your sides. Take a deep inhale through the nose. On your exhale begin to tuck your tailbone, activating the glutes and press your lower back down against the floor. Allow the exhale to lift your hips off the floor. Bring your shoulder blade tips closer together creating space in the front shoulders and collarbone.

Take your arms underneath and clasp your hands together. Press the forearms, hands and feet firmly into the floor. Release on an exhale and slowly wave your spine to the floor. Stay with this pose for 30 seconds up to 1 minute.

*Do not turn your head in this pose. 

Supported Shoulderstand // Salamba Sarvangasana

Begin by folding two blankets into a rectangle shape about one-foot by two-foot. Come to lie on your back with the knees bent and your feet on the floor. Make sure the top two-foot edge of your blanket is lined up with the tops of your shoulders. Your head should be resting on the floor. Inhale, and on your exhale place your arms at your sides.

Firmly press your arms down into the floor as you draw your knees up and your thighs in towards your chest. Take a bend at the elbows making sure they are in alignment with your shoulders and place your palms on the small of your back for support. Begin to really curl your tailbone and extend the legs straight up towards the ceiling while simultaneously walking the hands up the back towards the floor.

Reach up through your toes and focus on bringing your chest towards your chin. Maintain a nice curve to your neck and do not turn your head. Hold this for 30 seconds if you’re a beginner, or more advanced yogis can hold up to five minutes.

To come down, exhale while gently bringing your knees towards your chest and roll the spine out long.

*Allow your body to relax and soak up the benefits of these poses!

You are a jar of stars meditation // Cosmic canned goods

Find a blissful space to sprawl out under a blanket. Maybe even under the moon and stars. Take an inhale for the length of five seconds, hold the breath in for five seconds and exhale for the length of five seconds. Go through 10 rounds of this more controlled breath. Then find a nice, soft rhythmic breath that suits you and place both hands on your belly.

See yourself laying there in your mind’s eye. Understand your body as a container for anything you wish to either get rid of or cultivate. Virgos are masters of discernment and can be an example when it comes to weeding out what we do or don’t want. As you inhale find the positive strengths you possess and view them expanding within you. You are your own cosmic universe.

As you exhale, visualize letting go of the negative junk that makes you feel sad or insecure. Allow your body to be a vessel for change. Lay here as long as you wish.

Monthly Mantra: I am the master of my own domain and I honor my truth.

Cultivatewithin.com 

@missashbaker

BEACH TAROT: AN ELEMENTAL SHIFT

Artist and island dweller Monica Ruiz shares why she finds a deeper connection to her Tarot practise at the beach, where the elements conspire to create soul connection, serenity and focus. Will you follow her lead this summer?

“…treat them kindly. Build a relationship with them that is respectful. Spend time with them, especially at first. Look through the imagery and handle the cards daily…Be sensitive to how you feel when you handle the cards…Allow the ritual of using them to be positive, exploratory, & even fun…” ~ Kim Krans

I’m in love with my practise of Beach Tarot: besides breathing and meditating with my cats (of course), it’s one of my favorite ways to center my energy and bring much needed clarity to my dream endeavors, my emotions and the daily happenings in my life.

At first I was hesitant about bringing my deck to the beach with me, thinking the sand, spray or a random raindrop may “ruin” them. But when I thought about it, I remembered how much I love the elements of the beach with all of my heart: the sand (earth, grounding); the ocean (water, flow); the clouds and mists (air, breath); and of course the SUN (fire, heart).

Breathing, reading, thinking and writing, as well as watching the love of my life surf in the swirl of these elements, as represented in the Tarot, brings me pure joy – so why wouldn’t my beloved cards benefit from the same energies and vibrations that I treasure so much?

 

When I use my cards it’s about listening to my heart, inspired by intuitive visual imagery that vibes with me and my mind’s eye, which is why I gifted myself with The Wild Unknown Tarot deck by Kim Krans at the beginning of this year. From the first time I came across Kim’s magical illustrations, I felt like my spirit became entwined with the secrets of the Universe and the soul of Mother Nature when I gazed at them. That’s the thing with art: when it makes your heart tick, you FEEL it.

I pull a card at least every other day at home, when I’m setting intentions, looking for some guidance or just in need of a friendly reminder to listen to my gut. I LOVE to cover my art projects in my Tarot cards as well, to infuse them with the same beautiful and natural gifts I get from the sun at the beach. Gifts of light and energy.

But I breathe deeper and slower at the beach, and because of the love and respect I have for this environment I believe it creates a stronger more authentic connection with my deck, and so the guidance the cards provide feels more loving and natural. The beach allows me to tap into a “Be Here Now” experience, where pretty much all nonsense dissipates. When I gaze at the horizon, I immediately start to feel calmer and am able to rationalize my thoughts and keep my intentions solid without the innocent distractions I may find at home. The voice in my head sounds loving and knowing, while the elements contribute to an overall feeling of serenity, and I can focus.

 

 

Mother Nature provides the best environment to heal, meditate, ponder and celebrate your existence – wherever that may be. Forests, the mountains, a meadow, park, your backyard or even a favorite garden, are all amazing places for sole/soul attunement. Even just sitting with your houseplants helps. I take advantage of this as a form of self-love, so it makes sense that my Beach Tarot practice brings me a sense of true connection to my core being.

 

Once settled on the sand, I shuffle my cards for a few minutes and just focus on the ocean and my breath, to help center my mind on what is truest in my heart at that moment. When I draw my card, (or, as actually happens quite often at the beach, the wind chooses a card for me during my shuffle) I sit with it for a couple of minutes. During this pause I absorb and contemplate the image, along with my thoughts, paying attention to my heartbeat, before looking up its meaning.

 

After reading about the card and meditating for a moment, I set my card in the sand and allow it to “re-charge” while I stretch and usually do some writing. I will journal about my connection to my card, about its meaning and usually write out a set of affirmations that pour out of me, inspired by the card. If it feels like an extra potent card, like the message couldn’t be more perfect, I’ll usually carry it with me for a few days afterwards, in my journal or whatever book I’m reading.

In this way, bringing my cards to the beach with me has become a fun, sacred practice, combining heartfelt intuition and magical imagery with energetic pulse of the majestic sea. This is my Beach Tarot.

Island dweller Monica Ruiz is a collage artist, hardcore daydreamer, HayHouse book reviewer, bloggess, burrito lover, cat enthusiast, librarian assistant and wanderluster who is obsessed with good hip-hop beats, Lana Del Rey and Paris, France. She owns way too many black clothes, swoons over Sofia Coppola films and loves the concept of protecting your magic with an open heart.

www.lechat808.com

@LeChat808