Ahead of her appearance at the MOTHERSHIP festival in Joshua Tree, Alexandra Roxo chats to founder Laura Wise about feminism, kundalini, and kink…
High vibe festivals are everywhere. From Wanderlust to Symbiosis to Spirit Weavers—there’s a festival for ever breed of seeker. Or is there? MOTHERSHIP—happening November 4-6th in Desert Hot Springs, CA—is unique in that it’s feminist AND queer AND spiritual. You can do yoga , celebrate sacred adornments, and then go to a Kink workshop. Amazing, right?
I sat down with the founder (who is also an activist and therapist) Laura Wise to get the deets.
ALEXANDRA ROXO: What can we really expect at a festival like MOTHERSHIP? LAURA WISE: Women are so typically the caretakers. It is engrained in us to be sweet/kind/giving and that is why self-care is so important. Mothership is full of healing elements and ways to explore your spiritual side. Sierra Dowd is running a “Circle of Release” exercise in which participants can work to release negative aspects of their lives. We have reiki healers, chakra aligning yoga, punk rock yoga, meditation, nature hikes, stargazing (there will actually be a meteor shower during this time!) and lot’s more…
AR: How did the idea for Mothership emerge? LW: MOTHERSHIP is the event I’ve always wanted to attend. After visiting some pretty magical festivals and gatherings and learning that the pool of women’s festivals is teeny-tiny and nearly extinct, I knew that this was a need I wanted to meet. Women thrive when we unite and work together. We learn from each other and we empower one another. I knew that if I created something fun—with a side of empowerment—there would be an audience for that. This is the era of a fresher, more inclusionary feminism, and I really want to have a hand in building that.
AR: How is it different from other female-focussed festivals or retreats? LW: One thing I knew was crucial in the creation of MOTHERSHIP was that it was trans and gender-queer inclusive. If you take a look back at the history of women’s festivals—the most established being the Michigan Womyn’s Festival which ended several years ago—there was a clash in new and old thinking. They didn’t allow trans women to attend and the younger generation wasn’t okay with that. We wanted to correct that and update the idea of a women’s festival.
AR: What kinda gal is your typical attendee? LW: She doesn’t exist! The MOTHERSHIP crowd is diverse and forward-thinking. But our participants all have an appreciation for idea exchange, art and letting loose. We have a lot of interesting, smart women involved and the thing I’m most excited about is seeing all of these great minds culminate & celebrate!
AR: What are your wildest hopes for the weekend? LW: My personal goal is that everyone leaves with a little less shame and self-doubt, and a little more personal pride. I hope that MOTHERSHIP can serve as a reminder to us all to celebrate & empower the women around us. I hope that the gal who thought the event sounded fun, and didn’t know much about feminism, leaves saying “yeah I’m a feminist and I have every right to be proud of that.”
AR: Any must-see workshops? LW: Gosh I really want to brag about everyone involved, I am stunned at the level of awesome-ness! We have a lot of unique workshops happening, including a self-adornment area with tons of free costumes, accessories and body paint/glitter etc. paired with a Self-Love Photographer, to help you get just the right photo to document your experience. There’s also an intro to kink and BDSM sex workshop, which I know a lot of people are curious about. Late-night we will be having a silent disco…and then there’s the musical lineup—which is also pretty epic!
PLUS our very own Numi Alexandra Roxo will be speaking on Saturday night at the HER Talk: Women’s Sexuality in the Media panel. Get your tickets at this link—Numinous readers get 10% off with the code “MOON”!
Also the week of 5am wake-up calls (thank TM), a cosmic soup diet, and a message from Mother Mary…
:: MONDAY :: Skype time with the one and only Guru Jagat, kundalini queen of the Ra Ma Institute in Venice. We were talking all things yoga for some research for MY BOOK (have I mentioned I’m writing a book? Only 2 more chapters to go *wipes sweat from brow*), and her parting piece of advice for anybody getting serious with their spiritual practice is to set your alarm for before sunrise (“any time from 3-5am is great”) to do some kind of meditation. Well…as the cosmos would have it, I’ve been waking at 5am on the dot (no alarm needed) for the past few days. I’m blaming the TM.
:: TUESDAY :: So I’ve been eating a lot of soup – because basically the Universe said so. As in, a few days ago I overheard 4 different conversations where people were talking about soup and how great it is (seriously – like in the yoga studio, on the subway, in the street), the same day I saw some thing about this book called THE SOUP CLEANSE. Had to be a sign, right? So I had soup that night and it just felt so GOOD! And so nourishing, and so and right for my nutrition needs right now. And so not fancy, I’m getting mine from Amy’s Organic. The Universe delivers her guidance in mysterious ways.
:: WEDNESDAY :: Got my first Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards! Yep, more book research, and also because I had a mini Goddess reading with lovely Erica Wiederlight of We The Light last week and the cards that came out were SO inspiring I was like, yes I’ll have more of you in my life thanks. Funny thing is, Mother Mary keeps coming up – which is weird for me since I don’t connect with the myth of Christianity on any level. But I do like her message – “Expect a Miracle.” As as for the immaculate conception…well it does feel like I’m currently birthing a #bookbaby (did I mention I’m writing a book?)
:: THURSDAY :: Got the first peek at samples of the sweatshirt line we’re launching on the site next month! So so good, I literally can’t wait to get share them. Even better than my Aries Arise “Don’t Be Square” shirt (see main pic), which has become my standard book-writing attire (did I mention…?) Also, something strange. I’ve always been majorly selfie-averse (upcoming 40th birthday etc), but for some reason I had no qualms whatsever posting this “make-up free” pic today. It honestly feels like something has shifted in the way I see myself this past week. Again, I think I’ll blame / thank the TM.
:: FRIDAY :: So this is the year I’m really, fully, embracing sobriety. Not in a total abstinence sense, more of a “this feels like the healthiest choice for me and actually it appears to be making me really happy” kind of way (p.s. I’m also working on a really exciting project to further this conversation – watch this space!) And so today I’m on my way to the left coast for…a sober Las Vegas weekend! I used to have this thing about certain destinations (Vegas, Ibiza) being off-limits if I wasn’t drinking, but how lame is that? I’m excited to see what the bright lights look like through the lens of absolute clarity. Oh and ALSO it means I’ll finally get to visit Vegenation – the downtown Vegas vegan joint I’m totally obsessed with on Instagram… #sobervegas!
Meet Shiva Rose, Earth mother and holistic creatrix, and discover the fashion and beauty finds that rock her Mystical world…
“We escaped Iran when I was ten years old, one cold winter night as the country was in the throes of a bloody revolution. We traveled to Germany, then London and finally to California, where my mother and her family is from. We settled in LA.”
So speaks actress, activist and curator Shiva Rose, whose lifestyle blog and online store The Local Rose celebrates her local community of artisan makers and mystics. And it was going from “a childhood nurtured on imagination and nature to life as a refugee,” that in fact fueled her passion for fashion and paved the way for her current incarnation as a woman dedicated to promoting a holistic, healthy and authentic lifestyle.
“I was a bit shy and awkward, and the trauma of escaping a revolution didn’t help. My refuge and escape from this reality was immersing myself in what I loved best, which was old European/Hollywood films and great books. I fell in love with story telling and being told stories,” she says. “I feel today I do this with each product I create and curate. The story behind the power of the ingredients rules me.”
Shiva Rose currently lives with her two daughters, Colette Blu, 19 and Charlotte Rumi, 10, in the Santa Monica Mountains, where the family is virtually self-sufficient. In itself an important part of her evolution as a woman.
“I feel like I have only become an adult in the last five years. There have been immense challenges and yet I have so much strength now that things that I couldn’t even dream of doing a few years ago are a welcome treat now. Things like fighting off a pack of coyotes that are trying to get my chickens by the light of the moon in my garden!”
The most vital lesson of all on her life path, however; “is that i have finally realized no one is going to make me happy unless I am happy, content and fulfilled on my own.”
Here’s a peek into the Mystical World of Shiva Rose, Earth Mama and Material Girl.
When can drinking a cup of tea make you feel like you’re “melting into kaleidoscopic clouds”? When it’s part of a Living Tea ceremony, says Madeline Giles. Images: Lisandra Vazquez Photography
This time last year I enjoyed my tea bagged, bought from Whole Foods. I took jasmine green for breakfast, cacao yerba mate in the afternoon, and chamomile after dinner. If you asked me what I thought about tea then, I probably would’ve said: “It’s a cozy alternative to coffee. It tastes good. I like it. Yum!” And that would’ve been the end of that. Like most Westerners, I related to tea as just a beverage. A constant companion I told my life’s story to, but never considered listening to for a response. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know there was more!
Then I moved to California, and by the grace of the tea gods, shortly thereafter I experienced my first taste of Living Tea during a love potion consultation. In one simple sip, the Tea pulled me out of my overly contemplative mind and into my body, where I felt transported into that magically meditative place where everything and nothing is known at once. It was heaven and earth alchemized in one simple swallow, and, as dramatic as this might sound, I felt I would never be the same.
“Really good Teas – that I call Living Teas – are from Old Growth forests in the high mountains and valleys of Yunnan, China and Taiwan, where the trees are hundreds and sometimes thousands of years old,” explains Living Tea founder Colin Hudon. We’re seated in his quaint Santa Monica cottage enjoying bowls of Purple Tea, which smells like wildflowers and makes me feel like I’m melting into kaleidoscopic clouds.
“If you think about a tree that’s 100 or 500 or 1,000 years old, it’s been gathering and concentrating a profound accumulation of chi – or energy –from the sun, the moon, the stars, the birdsong, the plants, and all the animals it’s encountered over that time. The roots of a Living Tea tree can grow up to 100 meters deep, so they’re pulling up trace minerals and phytonutrients that we don’t get in our regular diet – that most plants we consume don’t have. Then we process it in a certain way and bring it back to life with fire and water. It’s alchemy.”
Hudon began relating to Tea as a Tao when he synchronistically connected with a Taiwan-based Tea teacher during his travels through Asia in 2010. “I stayed for a whole month at [my teacher’s] home, which is also a center called The Tea Sage Hut. I was profoundly moved by my experience there – it really kicked off my whole deep immersion into Tea. Prior to that it was just a curiosity of mine, a hobby.” When Hudon returned to California, he began selling Tea, serving Tea ceremonies, and ultimately inspired a local tea community that’s been growing ever since. Here, he shares the wisdom of Living Tea…
WHAT MAKES LIVING TEA DIFFERENT FROM CONVENTIONAL TEA? The vast majority of Teas I carry are Old Growth, so they’re from hundreds to thousand-year-old trees in wild forests. Unfortunately, 99 percent of tea in the world today is industrialized plantation tea. These tea farmers deprive the soil of certain nutrients so the trees are forced to grow more leaves for sustenance. Then, they pick those trees eight to 12 times a year, sometimes more.
Really good Teas – what I call Living Teas – are only pruned once or twice a year, and sometimes even left for a couple years, to grow as wild trees in the forest. Also, drinking Living Teas and relating to them as medicinal botanical herbs is very different than sipping a cup of plantation tea from Starbucks, or even a bagged tea from Whole Foods.
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT USING LIVING TEA AS A TOOL FOR MEDITATION? Oftentimes meditation is about shunning the sixth sense – the mind. In an attempt to turn inwards [various Eastern] traditions often refer to the five senses as distractions to that path. Yet ultimately, we exist in the world – and you still have to get up and pay bills and call your dad and you’ve got to walk the dog and do the dishes, you know? So the question is: How can we bring that degree of mindfulness, of presence, of awareness, of connection, of open-heartedness to the more humdrum, prosaic aspects of our lives?
Tea is one bridge from the inside to the outside, because if I can brew Tea and talk to you and have a daily practice of coming back to this awareness of my body, my being, and of my life through Tea, then I’m building up this energy of mindfulness. And the more you build it up, the more of it you have. Tea is just one of many tools, but it’s a very profound and powerful tool for this – especially if you come back to it every day. It’s also very accessible, whereas for many people, sitting in meditation and observing their breath – doing some form of meditation or yoga or whatever they do – can be very challenging.
WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP WITH LIVING TEA? I tell people you can relate to Tea like a person. Every person we meet, we have an impression of them. Some are aggressive, some are loud, some are abrasive, some are gentle and soft and quiet and introspective and creative, and on and on and on. We meet people from so many backgrounds, and you can’t meet a person without also meeting their education, their enculturation, their upbringing, their family – and the place they came from, which is true of Tea, too.
A lot of times when we do these Tea meditations or Tea ceremonies, it’s about the senses initially, but as you drink tea, if you really pay attention, oftentimes images will start to arise and people can see the place from which the Tea came. We say when She or It or the Tea starts to communicate with you, then She or It becomes the teacher. Soon, how long you steep a Tea, how many leaves you use, what type of Tea ware is the most appropriate – all of that is something that the Tea communicates to you, It’s not something you can read in a book.
HOW CAN PEOPLE WHO DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO A TEA COMMUNITY GET INVOLVED WITH TEA CEREMONY? When a person starts to open the door to Tea beyond it just being an everyday beverage, it can be overwhelming. People will go, “Do I need to buy all this Tea stuff and do I need to learn all these traditions?” But the essence of Tea as a Tao, as a way, is simplicity. When my teacher, Wu De, introduces people to Tea, he says start with just a bowl and a couple leaves. Four to eight leaves of a large leaf Tea – because if it’s too small, the pieces get stuck in your mouth.
All you need then is just a way to heat your water, a big leaf bowl, and the leaves. Step two is more about the methodology and aesthetics of Tea, whereas step one – bowl, leaves – is about letting all of that go. You can do that alone or invite friends over and explore. It’s not about conversation, it’s about experience.
WHEN I FIRST MET YOU AND TOLD YOU ABOUT MY INITIAL EXPERIENCES WITH THE TEA, YOU SAID, “YOU MUST HAVE GOOD TEA KARMA.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? There’s a saying in our tradition that as the man seeks the man, so the leaf seeks the man. If a person has a profound respect and reverence for Tea as a path, if they create space in their life for it, then certain types of Tea will find their way into their lives. If a person relates to Tea the same way they relate to any beverage, then a different type of Tea will find their way into their lives – but that’s true of anything. In a sense, we get what we give.
To learn more about Tea as a Tao and tea ceremony, check out LivingTea.Net and Global Tea Hut. Numinous readers can also get a 10% discount on any purchases from Living Tea – just add the code “NUMINOUS TEA” at check out.