CITY TOUR: A GUIDE TO SPIRITUAL CHICAGO

Forget everything you know about the Windy City—there are plenty of high-vibe happenings in Spiritual Chicago, says Andrea Kasprzak

 

The Windy City may be better known for the Cubs than the cosmic, but it’s not all deep dish pizza and boozy baseball fans. When it comes to tapping spiritual Chicago, you just have to know where to look. Here’s our itinerary for a day of crystals, yoga, and high vibrational cuisine.

9AM :: Kundalini Yoga at Sat Nam Yoga
The second you step into this cozy, sanctuary-within-the-city you’ll want to curl up on a white sheepskin rug and never leave. Take a kundalini class in the sun drenched front room, shop for sage and crystals in the store, or book a treatment with some of the area’s most sought after healers. Not to be missed: lunar tune-ups in the outdoor courtyard during monthly new and full moon rituals and cosmic vinyasa (yoga and symphonic gong immersion under the projection of the stars).

Sat Nam Yoga

11 AM :: Soak at Float Sixty
Whether you consider sensory deprivation tanks a spiritual experience or a just a slightly trippy way to spend an hour, you’ll never regret the experience. Head to this River North haven to soak in style. The industrial cool space features tons of tubs, a meditation room to hang out in post-soak, and a grooming area. Try the Samadhi Tank for a super cool intergalactic womb-like vibe.

1PM :: Juice and Crystals at Infiniteus
Kill two birds with one (high energy) stone at this Wicker Park rocks and juice shop. First, hydrate with a cold-pressed juice or purified alkaline water amidst massive amethysts and orange calcite covered tables in the cafe. Then, hit up the back room to shop for gems and crystals. Owner Alex Drummond is super knowledgable and on hand to help. Bonus: they’ll even deliver your gems and juices to your door.

2PM :: Gong Therapy with Mason Pain
Transportive, elevating, and a little bit other-worldly, getting gonged by sound therapist Mason Pain offers deep release on a higher level. Surrender to the healing vibrations of three gongs, as well as singing bowls and chimes. Sessions begin with Yoga Nidra to open you up to maximum receptivity.

Maison Pain

3PM :: Nut Milk at Owen + Alchemy
Think you’re over juice after too many cleanses? This gothic cool Logan Square juice bar from Anne Owen and Jared Van Camp may change your mind. Try the nut milks. We suggest the dessert-y 54 (raw hazelnut, cacao, cinnamon, vanilla bean, raw local honey) or the fresh and creamy 59 (young raw coconut juice and young raw coconut meat).

4PM :: Tarot Reading with Laura Gonzalez
Laura, a self-described Mexican witch, has felt a true connection and psychic insights since childhood. Tarot card reading is her passion and it shows. Sessions are meant to offer guidance and clarity. Go deeper by asking specific questions. Laura’s hyper presence makes it easier to digest tough truths.

5PM :: Reiki with Jerry Mikutis
Clear energy blocks and connect with a like-minded sensi soul during a session with Reiki healer and yoga instructor Jerry Mikutis. Her warm personality and magic touch puts clients at instant ease.

6PM :: Vegetarian Dinner at Green Zebra
Bar and ballpark snacks may get first bill, but there’s still plenty of high vibe, creative and veggie-centric places to grab a bite. Case in point: Green Zebra. Fresh, local, and elevated, the West Town restaurant is a standout not to be missed. Small plate dishes like the Hen of the Woods mushroom pate and fermented beet tartare with borscht yogurt, candied pistachios, and dill pickles are plated to impress.

Green Zebra

8PM :: Crystallsage Massage at Ruby Room
Cap off the night with a Crystallsage Massage at this Wicker Park healing hybrid space. Sessions start with a flower and gem essence spray and reading. Move into a treatment room for an intense 90-minute massage featuring Himalayan salt crystals for serious grounding. After, shop for crystals and spend the night in one of the upstairs rooms.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: SHAMANIC SKINCARE, AND ALOHA TO HAWAII

Plus: healing my throat chakra, refining my elevator pitch, and conversation with the sober curious…

:: MONDAY ::
Skype chats about possible future collabs with beautiful Fern Olivia turned into a mini coaching session for me, after I shared how nervous I was feeling about hosting our Club SÖDA NY event this week (see below!) Public speaking is NOT my thing you guys. So Fern gives me a beautiful meditation to do beforehand to help open my throat chakra: lying down, place a crystal (either something blue, or a Rose Quartz) on my throat, and slowly chant “haaam,” feeling the vibrations resonate through my throat. This while visualizing a ball of blue light spinning and expanding there, until it fills up my whole body – and beyond. Which I share with YOU in case, y’know, public speaking isn’t your favorite thing either.

:: TUESDAY ::
My 11-year-old nephew (visiting from the UK): “What’s your book about Ruby?”
Me: “Well, it’s about how I used to work in fashion, but it was really unfulfilling, and so I decided to use astrology, and things, to bring more meaning to my life…”
Nephew: (looks non-plussed)
THE NEXT DAY…
Me: “You know what I said my book was about? (nephew nods) Well it’s really about how to be happy, by always making choices that are right for you.”
Nephew: “Sounds great!”
*way to work out your elevator pitch*

:: WEDNESDAY ::
A delivery from shamanic skincare line Trimaran Botanicals – as in, it’s skincare made and blessed by a shaman! Made in Vancouver, products are not only vegan, toxin-free and filler-free, but are also blessed with spirit messages from the plant and crystal realms, and imprinted with transformational mantras and vibrational potencies. I’m trying out a serum, which smells heavenly and feels like magic as I anoint my (almost 40-year-old) face with it. Self-care doesn’t come much more high vibe.

Facial Serums, $128 CAD, Trimaran Botanicals

:: THURSDAY ::
Blown away by the beautiful souls who came out for my Club SÖDA NYC event with Biet Simkin (see main pics). The discussion was on learning to trust your body to make you feel fantastic, your life to get you inspired, the people you love to feel connected, and your SELF to stay true to a life of high integrity that supports your highest purpose. And to quit outsourcing any and all of the above to the quick fix of alcohol. We pitched the event as a social experiment for the sober curious – and our findings were that this is a conversation that’s only just getting started… Join the Club SÖDA NYC Facebook group to connect and find out about our next events!

:: FRIDAY ::
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!! And what a moment in time astrologically to be stepping into my FIFTH decade. Not only did yesterday’s Aries New Moon (potent intention-planting potential) conjunct my natal Sun to the very degree, Uranus (planet of breakthrough transformation) has passed over the exact SAME degree these past two weeks. Talk about the stars aligning for me to step into my future self with a whole fresh perspective on life, the Numiverse, and everything – which I’ll be shaping during a two week vacation in Hawaii. Which is a long way of saying, no Mystical Week column now until April 29. See you on the other side!

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: SHONA VERTUE

We spoke to Shona Vertue, poster girl for our Designer Yogis sweatshirt line, on seeking inner peace and harmony in our inner cities… Portraits: Cameron McNee Hair and make-up: Andjelka Madic

White Vinyasa shirt, $70

“Okay, I no longer have nature all around me. How can I still be healthy, and still be present?”

Meet Australia-born yogini and personal trainer Shona Vertue, who decamped to London’s urban jungle in January 2014. A move that’s propelled her career to new heights – but where she’s also had to seek new ways to find the sense of inner expansiveness she got from regularly being out in nature back home.

It’s a situation faced by so many city dwellers (whether we recognize it as a problem or not) – where days can become weeks can become months without so much as an open sky to help connect us back to an understanding of ourselves as all connected by and to the Cosmos.

Shona’s solution? “I spend all my money on crystals for starters, like crystal retail therapy,” she jokes, telling how she recently realized it wasn’t her laptop but a two-kilo rose quartz she likes to keep close that was making her bag too heavy to lug around.

But seriously: “finding the sense of connection to myself that I used to get from being in nature, means closing my eyes a lot. It takes daily meditation,” she says. Which currently means sitting cross-legged in bed for 15 minutes every morning on waking. “I keep my Native American flute alarm clock going while I meditate because it transports me to another place – the Grand Canyon or something!” she says.

Black Chakra shirt, $70

It’s a conversation that makes Shona the ideal poster girl for our new Chakra and Vinyasa sweatshirt collection, which we’re selling in aid of Urban Yogis. An initiative out of Queens, NY, the program helps empower young people who’ve been affected by violent street crime to share the tools of yoga and meditation in their local inner city communities, as a way of cultivating peace, acceptance, and awareness.

“Awareness” being the basis of the Buddhist teachings that Shona studied in-depth back home in Australia. In essence, Buddhism is about becoming aware of how and why you are suffering, and then treating the cause of your suffering rather than just the symptoms.

“This is based on the belief that once we strip away the layers of suffering, at the core of every human being is an innate state of bliss that we all have access to at any time – if we choose,” explains Shona. As many readers will have experienced through their own yoga and meditation practice, and spending time in nature. Practices and experiences which can be made to feel like luxuries, available only to a privileged few – but which are actually all our birth right.

Inner peace – isn’t this what anybody who identifies with the term “seeker” is really looking for? We salute the awakened souls, like Shona and the Urban Yogis, who are dedicated to lighting the way.

Black and gold Vinyasa shirt, $70

:: MATERIAL GIRL ::

My label
Dharmabums – they are ethical and sustainable!

Leggings, $90 AUD, Dharma Bums

 

My shoes
New Balance

Paradise Awaits sneakers, $79.99, New Balance

My fragrance

Anything with Geranium and Sandalwood

Radha Fragrance Oil, $36, The Goddess Line

My jewels
Anything silver with Moonstone

Moonstone ring, $200, Pamela Love

My pampering
A bath with magnesium salts

My home
My pillow & my outrageous collection of crystals!

Raw Rose Quartz, from $6, The Hoodwitch

My food
Authentic Italian pizza & French Creme Bruleé

Pizza by Roberta’s, Brooklyn

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My awakening
Morning meditation with affirmations – an absolutely non-negotiable practice.

My sign
Cancerian

My mantra
“Every morning we are born again; it’s what we do today that matters most.”

My healer
I’ve most definitely had more than one in this lifetime. At the moment it’s Francesca Zampi.

My reading
Abraham Hicks, Paulo Coelho & Timber Hawkeye

My transformation
I’m still trying to break the cocoon open, but at least I can feel my wings.

My mission
This lifetime? To realize my secret powers and help others find theirs…

White Chakra shirt, $70

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!

 

FEATHER JUNKIES: CRYSTAL YOGA VISIONS

We fell down an IG rabbit-hole and discovered this incredible photo shoot by Ashley Featherston, a.k.a. The Feather Junkie. Yoga + crystals + trippy visuals. What’s not to love, asks Sophie Teakle?

The Feather Junkie launched in 2010 after Ashley purchased her first pair of real feather earrings (“not the $5 ones you get at Forever 21”) at the Wakarusa festival in Arkansas; “These feathers were nothing like I’d ever seen or held before. They moved freely as I did and I instantaneously felt love and happiness in wearing them,” she says.

She was soon making earrings for friends – “I wanted to spread the joy and peace they helped me feel” – and so something beautiful was born.  Ashley’s site is stacked with gorgeous images like these to inspire your spirit journey, and as for the message of the feathers themselves? “Our goal is that these feathers help you move more freely through your daily lives and not to stress the small things. Everything happens the way it’s supposed to. You are exactly where you are meant to be.”

Read more about Ashley’s Crystal Yoga Visions below..

You say this project came to you in a dream. Does that happen often?
“Not usually. Most the time I can’t remember my dreams, but this one was meant to be shared so it stuck with me.”

Who’s the girl, and how do you know her?
“Missy Shaw, a.k.a. @SparkleOmYoga, was the model, and we know of each other from running in the same music scene. Believe it or not, Missy was also one of the very first feather junkies to get hair feathers from us at our first set up in Dallas, TX.”

What does your own yoga practice look like?
“Yoga is something that has opened me not only physically but mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I started yoga to help de-stress but now I keep doing it for the peace and serenity it gives me…my whole being craves it. It has helped my life fall into place and has mellowed me out in so many positive ways, which I think is has to do with learning to listen to your body in the poses and your soul in the silence and appreciate your mind. In that reflection you see things differently.”

So crystals and yoga together – why?
“This is something Missy and her boyfriend Forrest have been doing for some time now, nothing I had thought of until I saw Missy post an IG picture of her doing yoga around a crystal grid. I thought that was an ingenious idea. Incorporating the two is something no-one has brought to life before and something that not a lot of yogis have probably tried yet, but it seems like a natural progression to incorporate crystals with your practice. When combining two forces that have an underlying spiritual context the effects can be euphoric.”

You say you want to inspire people to “let their hair down and dance to their own music” – what does that look like to you?
“Don’t mistake coincidence for fate. Everything happens for a reason so embrace it. Don’t look to your left and then your right to see what others are doing, or even if they are looking at you. Always do ‘you’ and happiness will follow.”

www.thefeatherjunkie.com
@featherjunkie

“You must be free, be light and like a feather take flight. Wherever the wind may take you, wherever you shall fly, live life to the fullest until the day that you die.”