SPARK JOY: A STYLIST-TURNED-SHAMAN GETS KONDO’D

Is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up really a book about energy healing? As Marie Kondo publishes her follow-up, Spark Joy, stylist-turned-shaman Colleen McCann gets kosmic with her possessions purge…

Colleen in her fashion stylist days

As the founder of Style Rituals, a biz that celebrates our closets as gateways to the cosmos, I was well attuned to the connections between the mystical and material world. And a recent move from Brooklyn to Venice Beach and back, means I am also very familiar with the process of packing and unpacking.

For my latest move back to NYC, I had gotten a personal ping from the Universe that I needed to ‘go light’ this time. Accordingly, I picked up a copy of Marie Kondo’s now infamous The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and got to work. Overnight, this went from a cross-country move to a total life enema! But I figured if anyone could lead me through the jungle of my beloved belongings to minimalistic bliss, it was Kondo.

I had barely made it to page four when I realized that this wasn’t just a guidebook for spatial cleanliness, but was also an under-the-radar handbook in energy healing. Marie’s discussions about holding items close and thanking them for their existence was directly connected to the Shamanistic belief that every object carries an energy or vibration. Perhaps, I thought, Ms. Kondo is a secret Shaman. 

Inspired by this discovery, I combined Kondo’s teachings with my energy healing know-how to bring you this guide to navigating the spiritual wilds of your own material treasures …

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NUMBER 1 // There Is a Universal Method to the Madness, aka Memento Meltdown 

The Closet Cleanse: According to Ms. Kondo, one must sort possessions in the following order—clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and, lastly, mementos.

The Secret Shamanism: Shamans believe that working with fire allows release. When I do closet cleanses with clients, sometimes, we literally build a bonfire of emotionally-charged items and let it burn. While Kondo-ing my own closet, I discovered that Marie’s method was perfectly constructed to inspire a similar emotional release. With a background in fashion, I assumed clothing would be the most challenging step for me and wondered why she’d put it first. But I soon understood why mementos went last. I started reading old love letters from boyfriends, thumbing through my high school yearbook, and doodling with coloring pencils from my college fashion illustration class. I eventually found myself on the floor cry-laughing in ‘someone’s’ sweatshirt that I had un-accidentally kept after a weekend rendezvous. I couldn’t believe how many memories had been holding space in my abode that just weren’t part of my life anymore. Time to go!

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NUMBER 2 // Sartorial Reiki, aka Thank Your Lucky Clothes 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests that you hold each item in your hands and thank it for how it has served you in life.

The Secret Shamanism: Is Kondo also a secret Reiki Practitioner and Psychometrist? Psychometry, aka Token-Object Reading, is a form of extrasensory perception that allows us to “read” the energetic blueprint of objects, even if we know nothing about their origins. Similarly, Reiki infuses universal energy into people and items. Kondo’s approach fully acknowledges the spirit present in objects, and the necessity of honoring this energy. As I blended her recommendations with my intuitive skills, it became quite emotional. I remembered sights, sounds, and smells associated with each piece and channeled this energy to facilitate release.

‘Shaman Kondo’ giving reiki to a sweater?

NUMBER 3 // The Art of War with Yourself, aka Plunge into the Pile 

The Closet Cleanse: When purging your closet, Kondo commands you to throw everything in a giant heap in the middle of the room.

The Secret Shamanism: Sun Tzu’s teachings in the The Art of War state that “in the midst of chaos, there is also an opportunity.” For this neat and tidy (perhaps OCD spectrum) Virgo, creating a messy clothing monument was a Xanax-worthy endeavor (Céline and Chloe definitely didn’t want to be wrinkled, snagged, dirty, or stepped on). Yet my chaotic heap allowed me to push my personal limits. As I split my clothing commune into two smaller tribes of “keep” and “discard,” I excommunicated parts of my past life that no longer fit my current lifestyle. And, surprisingly, throwing things about and jumping into the pile of clothes made me feel like a kid again.

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NUMBER 4 // Everything Changes (Even Joy), aka Swapping Fashion School for Fortune Telling 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests that you ask yourself if an item truly brings you joy BEFORE deciding to keep or discard it. Do not try it on or even think about how often you use it. Just hold it in your hands and ask this simple question.

The Secret Shamanism: Guess what I realized? Joy evolves. And the things I wanted to keep were energetic fortunetellers of the life I wanted to lead right now. My transition from the fashion world to the healing world was anything but seamless and I was still in the throes of figuring it all out (going from styling, designing, and brand consulting to seeing ghosts and hearing voices was never gonna be comfortable). While sorting, I realized I was casting aside old items from the fashion world in favor of mystical mementos that fit my current and future vision of myself even better.

 

NUMBER 5 // Come Back to the Present Moment, aka Boyfriend Jeans are Real! 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo states that people are unable to let go of certain items because they are either attached to the past, fearful of the future, or unwilling to live in the present.

The Secret Shamanism: This is for all the girls out there who are still holding onto college sweatshirts, worn-in t-shirts, or anything else that belonged to “the X.” Wonder why a former lover still lingers in your head? Because you’re still sleeping, lounging, and working out while wearing those memories on your sleeve, literally. During my Kondo-ing, I was going through a major breakup and the practice of purging catapulted me from the past to the present. I realized that it wasn’t about “him,” it was about me. I needed to be proactive about doing everything I could to move forward, and holding onto his belongings was definitely not helping.

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NUMBER 6 // Say Yes to Your Life Right Now, aka Magic Rocks Are Heavy but Old Memories Are Heavier 

The Closet Cleanse: When you look at an object and say “I might use this one day,” remember Kondo’s warning that “someday” means “never.” You don’t have room in the house-of-me for “perhaps one day.”

The Secret Shamanism: I carry around lots of heavy crystals in my bag of tricks, but the energy of old memories that no longer served me was WAY heavier. Why was I keeping mementos of people and things that weren’t aligned with my happy-place? As I bid adieu to objects associated with energy vampires from my former life, I severed the cord so that both parties could move forward.

Shaman McCann at work

NUMBER 7 // Repurpose with Your Love Language, aka Mermaids for my Roomie 

 The Closet Cleanse: While Kondo warns against unloading your purged belongings onto unwilling participants, finding new homes for past treasures can be an act of love.

The Secret Shamanism: In Shamanism, when we receive a physical or emotional gift we refer to it as “receiving medicine.” You are getting the “medicine” that you need at exactly that moment, no matter what form it comes in or where it comes from. Mid-purge, I started leafing through Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, and remembered that my love language was gifting. The result? A friend got all my old-life high-heels. One of my favorite adventure buddies is now enhancing her metaphysical talents using the giant crystal I moved from my alter to hers. And my former roommate discovered her passion for sea spirits through my houseplant decorated with a collection of plastic mermaids. Show love and pay it forward.

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NUMBER 8 // Spiritual Smoke, aka Burn, Baby, Burn! 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests removing discarded possessions from your apartment as soon as humanly possible.

The Secret Shamanism: After following Kondo’s practices on how to sort, I decided to insert some of my own Shamanic practices to release any dense energy that can quickly adhere to people, places, and things. Sage what you decide to keep—with the windows open or in an open area outside. As I burn my bundle of herbs, I like to say out loud: “Any energy that is not mine or of my highest and greatest good, get the f*** out … with love, but seriously, it’s time to go.” Even though the purge scared the hell out of me, as I moved the energy I felt like the shackles had been taken off my ankles—I was light and free!

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NUMBER 9 // That Elusive Equilibrium, aka Stilettos & Sage 

The Closet Cleanse: Après cleanse, I was NYC bound with two suitcases of clothing, and one small suitcase filled with the contents of my Shamanic practice (crystals, feathers, tarot cards, sweet notes from clients, sage, sound bowl, etc.).

The Secret Shamanism: Marie Kondo always asks what brings us joy. I’d recently experienced a full moment of joy when I was hired by a former fashion client to speak about the power of rituals and manifestation. As I waved a sage stick around a room full of execs while wearing fake eyelashes and stilettos, I was so joyful I could have cried. Fittingly, while purging, I realized I had to make a conscious choice to let my worlds collide. I wasn’t willing to give up all my high heels or my signature pink nail polish, but I did need to make space to bring back a bit of California in the form of a stack of yoga pants and a massive collection of crystals. To be in my “joy,” I needed to marry the sparkle, fun, and creativity of the fashion world to my personal promise to recharge in nature often, keep a devout meditation practice, and embrace a newfound love for juice.

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NUMBER 1O // The Transformation Cycle, aka Meeting Kali in the Closet 

Did I mention that this was also one of the most traumatic weeks of my life? Within five days, I had ended a relationship with someone I truly love, my beloved aunt died and, oh yeah, the cross-country move was in full swing. In Shamanism we speak about embodying the energy of an archetype. Post-purge, I felt like the Goddess Kali had hung me by my ankles and shook all of the change loose from my skinny-jean pockets.

In other words, f***ing great and completely naked at the same time. With three suitcases to my name, I was a full-on gypsy. I was light, free, mobile, and personified. And while I know that I’ll need to shape shift again and again, as of today I’m bouncily nimbly between New York and L.A. with only my most joyful possessions. All I’d needed to do was step through that closet door. 

Colleen McCann is a fashion stylist turned Shamanic Practitioner with practices in NYC & LA. She realigns the energetic with the visual through Intuitive Crystal Readings, Shamanic Hands-On-Healing, and Feng Shui Space Balancing. Make sure to follow her on Instagram, and pick up one of her new Energy Healing Kits  and Medicine Bags on Goop to jumpstart your cleanse!

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MY MYSTICAL LIFE: YOGI SWEATS, AND A SHAMANIC CLOSET CLEAR OUT

Time for another shamanic closet clear out – PLUS sound baths, breathwork, and the latest in the plant-based revolution…

 

:: MONDAY ::
Skype date with beautiful yogini Shona Virtue (above) – a.k.a. one of the main reasons we are RE-LAUNCHING OUR YOGI SWEATSHIRT LINE! Shona picked up a couple of the original (v v limited edition, pretty much sold to friends-and-family only) sweats, and has been on at us to make more ever since. So we listened. And they’re going on sale reeeeeealy soon! The pic is a behind-the-scenes peak from our photo-shoot this week. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when they go on sale – and maybe win one too!

:: TUESDAY ::
I hadn’t actually planned anything special for Eclipse night, and so I figured a last minute invite to a sound bath meditation hosted by Well+Good co-founder Melisse Gelula and her friend Summer Rayne (real name) sounded just about perfect. Plus the sound bath itself was being performed by Sara Auster – whose name had literally crossed my radar three times in the past week. It was beautiful, and a precursor to further group meditations in Summer Rayne’s Brooklyn apartment. So let’s just talk about the apartment for a moment…The girl is plant CRAZY, and has created an actual. Freaking. Urban jungle in her home. Full story (on her basically teaching me how to cure my “black thumb” – since I seem to kill anything green that enters my auric field) + pics to follow in a future post…

Sound bath good to go

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Psychic closet clear-out! I first enlisted the help of a psychic to help me to an energetic blitz on my closet a couple of years ago, and having moved twice since then things had been getting kind of messy again. Enter Colleen McCann, a stylist-turned-shaman, who essentially does this FOR A LIVING. To kick our session off she read my crystals (yes this is a thing), and used my birth chart details to map my Ba Gua – kind of feng-shui-meets-human-design (I know!!) to map the power places in my apartment / wardrobe. Then we hit the rails. Not enough red (my power color), and everything needs to be reorganized by clothes for my behind-the-scenes vs. front-of-camera life (to invite more “front of camera” opportunities in). To finish, Colleen ran her hands over every piece – and anything holding any extra dense energy had to go, to create space for more high-vibe alternatives. Including a pair of McQueen stilettos, beautiful but wicked painful relics from my “old life” (and which are currently sitting in the Eleven Consignment boutique on NYC’s First Avenue, just FYI).

VERY SPECIAL CRYSTALS in Colleen’s Shamanic “mesa” (medicine bag) + neon pink nails #materialgirlmysticalworld

:: THURSDAY ::
JUST YES RAVI DEROSSI – the vegan restaurateur dedicated to bringing plant-based eating to the hipster masses. Like in his East Village tiki bar Mother Of Pearl, where vegan chef Daphne Cheng has just launched an entirely meat-free menu of bar snacks and small plates. I met Daphne there today to talk future Numinous projects (she also hosts supper clubs at her space Exhibit C – sign up for info about what we’ve got planned) and got to sample a ridiculous Edemame Spring Rolls and King Trumpet Mushroom Crudo. #plantpower #futuroffood

:: FRIDAY ::
Date-night with Erin Telford – because, Breathwork. I’ve written many times about how much I love this incredibly healing, vibe-raising, multiple-crygasm inducing pranayama workshop, but it’s not something I do on the regular. Rather, my body will just be like “GO. NOW” whenever some stuff has come up that needs to be breathed out. Like, y’know, the Friday night following a FULL ON Pisces New Moon Solar Eclipse…Click the pic below for Erin’s upcoming Breathwork schedule 

 

PSYCHIC AWAKENING: FROM FASHIONISTA TO SHAMANISTA

Fashion stylist Colleen McCann knew something had to give when people started shouting “witch!” at her in the street. Here’s how she went from fashionista to shamanista, and found a way to merge both her worlds…

Shit got real when I heard my first “voice” in the Bodega on South 4th Street and Bedford Avenue over a fight about bananas – and I haven’t looked back. Okay, let me rewind a bit first.

My name is Colleen McCann and up until six years ago I was a typical Brooklyn girl. I lived in Williamsburg, I rode the J-train to the city every day. I brunched at Five Leaves, I threw elbows at sample sales and I had a successful 15-year career in the fashion industry as a designer, stylist, brand consultant and serial entrepreneur.

So what happens when you add “hearing voices” to your repertoire? Well, you start hearing more voices and rubbing elbows with the spiritual renegades that roam the streets of the city.

During the next fashion week, a gypsy woman approached me and wanted to further examine my vibrant green aura at her psychic salon. I darted away and she kept calling “Wait, this is really important come back!”

Quickly followed by my encounter with Joe of the Marcy Street subway platform, who came up to me and said: “Don’t worry about him” and proceeded to read every single thought I had on my mind about my then recent breakup with my boyfriend. I said to Joe “Wait, what did you say you did for a living?” He was a mattress salesman. We enter a long pause together, and he then says: “But I’m really into Astrology.” He winked at me and got off at the next stop.

The real icing on the cake came when this crazy lady on 33rd Street started screaming violently: “witch, witch, witch!” I turned around to see who crazy pants was aiming her opinions at, and unfortunately it was me. Run! I thought…but was I running from the eccentric pupu platter of NYC street weirdos, or was I running from my newly found freakish self?

Colleen’s old life involved a lot of shoes

Okay Universe, I hear you loud and clear. Time to get a second opinion – and maybe not at the psych ward.

So where do you turn in a situation like this? I was scared, embarrassed, uneducated on all subjects of mystical matters. Also, just plain fucking freaked out. But as luck would have it a random girl, now one of my best friends, came up to me in the hallway at my client’s office in midtown and randomly (or not so randomly) asked if I believe in psychics.

“Ummmm, I guess so?” I said, thinking: “Oh god she knows! She sees something is happening to me!” She proceeded to direct me to a psychic who had his mystical lair in the back of a 2nd floor botanical emporium in the flower district.

Following my nose, I soon found myself walking up a set of rickety, shabby chic stairs and swatting cherry blossoms and orchids out of my face to get to the unmarked door of my future destiny. I felt like I was headed for the latest speakeasy – one that was not yet reviewed on Yelp.

Walking in, I was greeted by a man I don’t even think remembered my name. But his black eyes locked with mine and he ran over and grabbed my hands and said: “Oh, honey you’re not crazy, you’re psychic! Sit down and let’s discuss.”

I stood, frozen, and as if watching a movie montage I flashed back through all the “WTF” moments I actually experienced since childhood. Do you remember those grade school contests where you had to guess the number of jelly beans in the jar? Well, I would guess the exact amount every time.

There was the time my little sister was playing tea party with her two imaginary friends, Dan and Carl, and I sat in silence thinking: but I see them, what’s she talking about?

Well – I may have been a weirdo, but at least I now knew what kind of weirdo I was, and I embarked on a mission to figure it all out. Which meant I did what any brazen New York girl would have done…I traded my high-heels for hiking boots and decided to get educated on all things mystical.

Shamanista boot camp…

I attended Shaman school in the wilds of the Chilean outback and against the desert back drop of Joshua Tree. As part of my training, I traveling the unpaved paths of Mount Shasta, Hudson Valley, Big Sur, Kauai, and any other energetically charged hot spot I could get to between days on set.

I have studied Peruvian Shamanism with the Four Winds Society where I learned how to do hands on healing with the chakra system and how to connect with my spirit guides. I also learned the art of channeling in the Nordic and Celtic traditions and regularly attend sessions with a group of Curanderas where I learn about plant medicine and tinctures.

In my free time? You can generally find me in a crystal shop in the back woods of Chinatown, where I learn about gems, mediation, astrology, auras, Feng Shui and medicinal teas from a group of women I affectionately call “The Chinese Crystal Mafia”.

I really put myself through the mystical wringer in an effort to work with my inner freak, but in the process I found I had manifested a whole new calling out of this adventure to reclaim my sanity. So now what?

As I continued my trip down the crystal-laden rabbit hole I started feeling a lot of internal moral conflict, not to mention external physical exhaustion, with the double life I was living. Arriving on set, it would be impossible to ignore the toxic side of the fashion industry: greed, vanity, ego, drug addiction, workaholism, alongside a whopping dose of eating disorders. Did I really want to subject myself to this any longer?

Being a fashion stylist is back breaking work. The hours are long and the work very physical. There are always a plethora of personalities to juggle in the room, and not to mention the constant jet-lag. So what’s a girl to do? I had been maneuvering this double life for six years straight, and I needed to make a shift. So instead of turning my back on the industry that had embraced me for so long, I decided to take my lemonade…and make a lemonade stand!

It was simple: my fashion clients have become my healing clients. These days, I address the underlying issues in my well-dressed community, as who better than me to truly understand the unique brand of pressure and stress they experience day-to-day.

Truth be told I was a little nervous to start telling my crew what I had been up to in my free time. Would I be socially ostracized? Would I lose my clients? As I started confessing my weekend whereabouts, people would stare in silence for a minute and then say something: “Ohhhhh, that explains a few things. When can I get a session?!”

Eureka! There was room in my life for my passions to coexist. I did however have to make a few changes to accommodate my morals, schedule, energy level and a budding new business.

Since coming out of the Shamanic closet, I started a business called Style Rituals. I use my fashionista roots AND my spiritual know-how to realign the energetic body with the physical body. I may still clean out someone’s closet, but we are removing low vibrational clothing, along with a hands on healing, manifestation techniques, altar building and a discussion with their spirit guides.

And while the majority of my work now is healing-based, I also made a conscious decision to do fashion projects with people I enjoy being around, or who’s projects are doing good in our society.

Next up? I’ll be taking my place as resident Shaman with LA-based Daily Bliss Yoga Retreats when we head to Thailand in March. And I’m creating an online webinar to help women who are spiritually blasting wide open and have no idea what’s happening to them work out the, ummm, “kinks” shall we say.

Having been there and done that, I’m honored to be able to help others that are going through exactly what I did. To help them remember who they really are, and re-gain their sovereignty – while navigating modern life in the modern world.

Find out more about Colleen and her work at Stylerituals.com