MY MYSTICAL LIFE: TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION, AND MORPHING INTO TRUDIE

I finally tried transcendental meditation, hit up a NYFW zen-den, and decided we must be morphing into Sting & Trudie Styler…Main photo: Ruvan Wijesooriya

:: MONDAY ::
This week has been A LOT about meditation, beginning with a visit to Numinous writer Ellie Burrows’s MNDFL meditation studio in downtown NYC. Ellie and her business partner Lodro Rinzler opened up shop in November, offering New Yorkers in need a space to come breathe – that also looks and smells divine, and has Rishi tea on tap. “But when are you coming to Brooklyn?” I whined, since as beautiful as the MNDFL experience is I can’t see myself getting on a subway to go meditate. Or maybe I should take a leaf out of one member’s book, who travels in from Willamsburg to attend two classes per day – now that’s what you call a dedicated practice.

Ellie Burrows and Lodro Rinzler of MNDFL

:: TUESDAY ::
Speaking of which, having dabbled with various meditation techniques over the past five years, I have yet to find one that’s stuck. Mindfulness, zen Buddhist meditation, the Headspace app…I’ve lasted a few months with each at best. And then there was transcendental meditation (TM), which I always figured had to be the real deal since it demands two 20-minute sessions per day, but was always totally intimidated by for the same reason. Until I met Bob Roth from the David Lynch Foundation, who tried to convince me that actually TM was an effortless technique. Well this was the week I took him up on his offer to teach me and…WOW. Effortless IS the word (who knew?), and even a few days in I’m like: why would I not maintain this practice in my life? It’s like I can literally feel my body being de-programed of stress at a cellular level while I sit.

:: WEDNESDAY ::
The limited edition astrology collection by Christian Louboutin for Moda Operandi. That is all.

:: THURSDAY ::
A blissful start to New York Fashion Week at the Serene x Bandier pop-up SereneHouse – a totally high-vibe zen den at fitness fashion store Bandier’s new Fifth Avenue space, Studio B. Oh who am I kidding, I don’t do NYFW (TF), and basically swung by to say hi to beautiful Serene Social founder Millana Snow, who curated the space, get me some reiki and grab a juice from The Butcher’s Daughter on the way to my next TM session. And if you’re in NYC this weekend, I suggest you do the same. The full event line-up is at the bottom of the post and you can RSVP here to reserve a spot.

:: FRIDAY ::
So when the Pisces (husband) and I first got it together BACK IN 1999 (see main pic), we were basically Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue in this music video. Then we got married and went through a kinda David and Victoria Beckham phase (mainly me helping him work on his look). As for our latest incarnation? Well we’ve given up booze and eat mainly plant-based, and we meditate together when we wake up. Our plans for V-day: “fancy trying tantric sex?” he asked last night. Which can only mean our metamorphosis into the next Sting ‘n’ Trudie must almost be complete 🙂

BEST OF 2015: THE NUMINOUS YEAR IN REVIEW

So many fantastic contributions from the Numinati this year! Here’s a month-by-month run down of some of our favorites in a special best of 2015 review…

JANUARY :: WHAT IS DHARMA? THE JOY OF SERVICE AS LIFE PURPOSE
Author: Naomi Costantino / Artwork: Erin Petson

 

FEBRUARY :: FASHION DESIGNER TAROT
Words: The New Age Hipster / Image: Alexandro Palombo

 

MARCH :: THIS ONE TIME, WHEN I WENT TO SHAMAN SCHOOL…
Words: Wolf Sister / Image: Karolina Daria Flora

 

APRIL :: SEXUAL HEALING (A.K.A. FINDING F***ING ENLIGHTEMNENT)
Words: Hanna Bier / Artwork: Romain Gorisse

 

MAY :: 20 THINGS I LEARNED AT CRYSTAL SCHOOL
Words: Ruby Warrington / Artwork: Karina Eibatova

 

JUNE :: INSIDE CAITLYN JENNER’S BIRTH CHART
Words: Kimberly Peta Dewhirst / Image: Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair

 

JULY :: HOW TO CAST A MONEY SPELL
Words: Nabeel Afasr

 

AUGUST :: TAKE A LOVER WHO LOOKS AT YOU LIKE MAYBE YOU ARE MAGIC
Words: Ellie Burrows / Portrait: Mikal Marie

 

SEPTEMBER :: HOW TO NAVIGATE YOUR SPIRITUAL ROADMAP
Words: Shaheen Miro / Images: Benoit Paille

 

OCTOBER :: HOW TO WORK WITH EACH MOON PHASE
Words: Hannah Ariel

 

NOVEMBER :: PROTECT YOURSELF FROM VAMPIRE LOVERS
Words: Alexandra Roxo, Natalia Leite, and Cat Cabral / Artwork: Pa-kwan Promsri

 

DECEMBER :: THE ART OF SACRED ADORNMENT
Words: Kitty Cavalier / Photography: Anna Dabrowska / Illustration: Mara Gonzalez Telman

MY MYSTICAL WEEK: IN SEARCH OF THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE

In which I get prescribed a 30-day “self-pleasure diet”…

Confession. There has been a sad lack of the above (laughter) in my life lately, and this is a shout out, please, for some inspiration when it comes to the pleasure principle. Don’t get me wrong, life is pretty freaking amazing right now. I have somehow made manifest a career that reflects all the things I care about, and allows me total creative expression on a daily basis. I’m writing a book. I just launched the most incredible project with an iconic London department store, and moved into a super-cool new apartment in NYC. I’m in a loving relationship, I have a beautiful new nephew (okay thank you for indulging me in a much-needed gratitude list).

But still, and it’s written into very the DNA of entrepreneurship, life has been feeling very much all-work-and-no-play lately (I haven’t, actually, taken a day off this year I don’t think). And as was discussed with my friend Lucy in London last week, co-creator of spirituality un-conference Higher Selfie, what’s the point of dedicating yourself to your passion and your purpose, if your passion and your purpose then turns around and tries to make you its bitch?

The subject came up when I went to see Sandra Lanshin Chiu for acupuncture last night. She said she could tell from the way my tissue was “clinging” to my bones how hard I’ve been working, and how little room for pleasure, laughter, and FUN, this had left. “You’re all in your masculine energy, and that’s great for getting stuff done. But you’re a woman and you have a yin body, you need to create some space for flow,” she explained (kind of nailing it). Okay so her prescription? “A 30-day self-pleasure diet.”

As in, exactly what you think! Whether or not I decide to take up the challenge and schedule a 20-minute masturbation break into my daily routine isn’t something I’m gonna discuss here, but I will say this is by no means the first time the conversation has come up lately. According to Sandra, “self-pleasure is one of the jewels in a woman’s self-care toolbox.” Another friend in London is writing a book on the topic, while a self-administered orgasm had been suggested to somebody else I spoke to recently as a “grounding” practice.

But yeah, any other suggestions for bringing the joy balance back into my life would also be very welcome. In the meantime, you will mainly find me trying to carve out some good old fashion vacay days and keeping busy with my gratitude practice.

Or maybe the answer is meditation? This week I’m also giving a shout out to Numinous contributor Ellie Burrows, who opened her dedicated meditation studio, MNDFL, in Manhattan last night. Okay, wow, we first chatted about this project in the spring (I remember cos it was the first day she’d worn open-toe shoes this year), and six short months later, enter a beautiful, chic and cosy space in the Village offering a “space to breathe” seven days a week. (Although how much space to breathe this project will allow Ellie while it gets up and running remains to be seen – see above! And enter my acupuncturist’s other suggestion – “a slow-entrepreneurship movement.”)

Most classes are 30-45 minutes, with a few juicy two-hour workshops thrown in (like the one on Love & Justice next Thursday) – and are categorized along the themes in the image below. Read the MNDFL manifesto and check out the full class schedule here. Ellie Burrows, we love you!

 

TURNED ON: “TAKE A LOVER WHO LOOKS AT YOU LIKE MAYBE YOU ARE MAGIC”

“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic” – Ellie Burrows is inspired by the classic line behind our most popular Instagram post to date…. Portrait: Mikal Marie Photography

“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic…”

This quote is often incorrectly attributed to Frida Khalo, but it’s actually a line from a poem called Frida Khalo to Marty McConnell by Marty McConnell. I guess I can sort of see how that would be confusing. You can watch McConnell perform it beautifully here, and if you’re really listening it becomes clear this poem is a reflection on a break up, rather than an ode to mystical love.

But no matter who said it, taken out of context this line never ceases to inspire those who read it. It pushes our internal heart button and causes us to double-tap the external one too – there are thousands of likes associated with it across Instagramland, the Tumblrverse and the Twittersphere.

Magic…

One meaning of the word is “inexplicable things” and that’s the definition I want to focus on. But first, I need to clear a bit of smoke from the air, and throw out some mirrors.

Let’s pause for a throwback: When I was growing up and would get into trouble for hanging out with the fast crowd, my mother would say to me “you’re judged by the company you keep.” And although 15-year-old Ellie would call me a sellout for saying this, my mother was totally right.

So hey Magic, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you have to stop hanging out with the word “trick.”

I can’t tell you how many people I know who are seeking meaningful relationships via suspect means. All around me I see people trying to conjure love, undoubtedly what feels like a rather tricky business of late. In the contemporary dating world, some of the newest tricks in the book are actually very old tricks called “illusions.”

She gives him the impression that she’s fine with an open relationship in order to make him stay.

He creates a mirage of interest and strings her along because it makes him feel less lonely while he gets all those oats out of his system.

And my favorite – she doesn’t respond to a text message right away because then it appears like she’s busy and indifferent. (The latter we call playing hard to get. Since playing is the operative word, it would indicate that she is just pretending and is in fact, easy to get. Just saying.)

The Magician card from the Star Child Tarot

While these tricks can deliver results, they actually involve zero magic. And they don’t usually add up to anything meaningful.

Friends, your act isn’t working. It is time to drop the top hat and the rabbit. If you are an adult and seriously looking for love, then why are you choosing to forget that tricks are for kids?

I’d like you to consider that the illusions listed above have nothing to do with magic. Instead, they involve another M word: manipulation. Definition: “control or falsification.” And when you think about it, a stage magician is really more of a master manipulator. He is highly skilled at fooling you, but no – that woman didn’t actually get sawed in half.

But a true magician? Well, that’s something else entirely…

According to the Tarot, the Magician, #1 in the Major Arcana, is considered the bridge between the spiritual and the material. With his right hand pointing a staff toward the sky and his left bringing our attention the ground, he can channel the power of the Universe and bring it into the physical plane.

You can see it on the table next to him, which holds all four suits of the Tarot (Pentacles, Wands, Cups, Swords), each of which corresponds to one of the four elements of the ancient alchemists (Earth, Fire, Water and Air). These symbolize the proper use of mind, heart, body and soul in the process of manifestation.

A real magician is not an illusionist, but a creator. This card is all about the best use of our highest self, turning ideas into actions with the power to make a difference in our own lives. This card begs questions like “Am I using my powers for good or evil?” and “Am I tapping into my fullest potential?”

The Magician from the Spirit Speak Tarot

We are the magicians responsible for taking our abstract, sometimes inexplicable, feelings and bringing them through to the material plane. This is unbelievably challenging, since it requires the full engagement of physical form to lay our souls’ desires on the proverbial table.

When I’m building a relationship, I can feel my entire system using its “powers” to do so. My mind must ground the fears of judgment, rejection, and loneliness. My heart must glow with unconditional self-love, trust, and honesty. My body must swim against the current of its biological predisposition to fight or fly in the face of vulnerability in order to genuinely communicate my wants and needs.

We are all magicians who must work daily to create clear unobstructed pathways within ourselves in order to travel more freely in the confusing world around us. We are the magicians who must understand that our internal worlds are so complicated that we must endeavor to create external simplicity wherever we can.

But if instead we focus on crafting trap doors and smoke screens that are just there for effect, then authentic relationships and clear outcomes will be center stage when it comes time for the disappearing act.

So if what you’re looking for is, in fact, a real relationship, leave your bags of tricks at home. Instead, put something like the following on the table next to your drinks:

“I am going to be super natural with you.”
“I am looking for something serious.”
“I am looking for love.”

Because then you would be the fucking unicorn of the dating world, and then I guarantee your lover will look at you like maybe you are magic.

TURNED ON: SPEAK YOUR TRUTH, RESCUE YOUR RELATIONSHIP

Imagine the heartache you’d avoid if you could just speak your truth. Numinous relationships expert Ellie Burrows examines the sacred partnership between our tongue and our heart chakra…Portraits: Mikal Marie Photography

I believe in astrologers, tarot card readers, psychics and mediums. However, I do not believe my boyfriend is a mind reader.

Most people are the opposite. They don’t believe in astrologers, tarot card readers, psychics and mediums. However, they think their boyfriends, spouses, partners and lovers should be able to intuit what they’re thinking.

It makes my brain explode.

For clarity’s sake, I’m not talking about couples and friends who can finish each other’s sentences. Although sweet and impressive, that kind of reminds me of what happens when women live together and all start their monthly cycles at the same time. A bit of a stretch maybe, but I think we all can all agree that when you spend enough time with other humans you begin to adopt their mechanics.

No, I’m talking about when you lash out at your partner for not knowing how you wanted something done. For buying the wrong brand of organic milk, for not pleasuring you properly, or, most commonly, for not knowing why you’re upset.

Thinking about this, I reached out to a guy friend who writes relationship advice for some major publications. I asked him for a concrete example in which someone’s partner thinks he or she is a mind reader. He responded with a one liner email: “Uhm. Yeah. My life.” I quickly realized no one was safe from this issue and that it needed addressing.

Enter my friend, let’s call her Sage (this is The Numinous after all).

Sage and I had had a long, very tiring day running around outside the city for various obligations. For a few reasons that I promised not to disclose in this article, her emotions were at “an all time high, like freak out level.” And, unfortunately for her and her wicked attitude, she was scheduled to have dinner with her husband and another couple later that evening. All Sage wanted to do was cancel her plans, spend a quiet night on her sofa with her man and quite possibly have sex.

Cut to 5pm, us stuck in traffic on our way back into the city, and Sage astutely describing our state as “eternally stuck in midtown.” A bad situation was getting worse.

Meanwhile, in another dimension called Downtown, Sage’s husband had enjoyed a gloriously leisurely Saturday. Having spent all day at home, he’d decided to run some errands and notified her by text that he was headed out now and would meet her at dinner.

Oh no he didn’t.

Everyone. Run for cover.

The conversation escalated quickly. Sage couldn’t understand why he decided to leave just as she was coming home. She thought it was “rude and unnecessary, when they hadn’t seen each other all day. How could he be so thoughtless?”

But Sage was saying this to me. Not to him.

As if it was the most obvious thing in the world (because it was) I turned to her and calmly responded: “Why can’t you just ask for what you want, and tell him what you need? Ask him to cancel the plans and stay home with you instead.” But Sage wouldn’t say it. Sage couldn’t say it. She rolled her eyes, let out an “ugh” and told me that wasn’t the point. I felt pressure in my chest. My heart constricted a little.

Sadly, the story of Sage is a universal tale – and I believe it’s deeply tied to desire.

My first piece in this series was all about arousal energy, Qi, and how when we allow ourselves to open and soften it can circulate within and excite us. I wrote: “for me, arousal is really about accessing the heart and I use my whole being and all my senses to do that. If my heart isn’t activated and engaged, then I can’t be turned on.”

Now Sage had no problem accessing her heart. Her heart knew what it wanted, but was trying to reach her husband’s mind without going via the tongue. The energetic equivalent of: “do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.”

If in Chinese medicine the meridians are the paths or channels in the body through which the Qi flows, it’s no coincidence that the external part of the heart meridian is the tongue; this organ and this muscle are bound in sacred partnership.

Now let’s backtrack a little. As babies, communicating our needs to the one we love unconditionally (our mother) relies largely on the power of intuition, as we do not possess the ability speak. And in the beginning that works, because our needs are rather simple. But as adults we have more needs, and those needs are rather more complex. We also have an entire dictionary at our disposal. Yet sometimes, when we encounter what feels like unconditional love again, we regress and forget how to use it.

Put like this, it seems only natural to assume our loved ones should be able to intuit our needs. But the thing to remember is that their needs are often very different to our own.

Any time we use the word ‘should’ we are also creating pressure and strain. Probably not a good idea when it comes to our heart meridian as that’s how heart attacks happen, energetic ones at least. The kind that can take gallons of ice-cream, buckets of tears, and endless reruns of Sex And The City to heal. Luckily, simply expressing the want, calmly and without judgement, is usually enough to alleviate the pressure.

By the time we’re grown-ups, we’ve also hopefully learned that we don’t have to get what we want. But our body never unlearns the importance of expressing what we need.

Do you have trouble expressing yourself in relationships? Connect with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and share if you dare…

TURNED ON: SCENT AND SENSUALITY

Our sense of smell is a basic bitch. This month, resident sex and spirituality columnist Ellie Burrows investigates a case of scent and sensuality. Image: The author shot by Mikal Marie Evans

I am a human animal. I know this because I spend most of my time relatively upright asking important existential questions like ‘why am I here?’ or ‘what is the meaning of life?’

But lately, I feel like a complete and total beast. I’m talking about the kind that walks on four legs, doesn’t speak, and just sniffs its way around its habitat. Like those kind of animals, I’ve been at the mercy of my nose.

Recently, I smelled the best-smelling human I have ever smelled in my life. It came from the neck, right behind the ear. No, it wasn’t cologne. Yes, it was just skin. The smell was so compelling, so intoxicating, so layered in deliciousness that I was completely and totally hooked from the first whiff. It was a case of scent and sensuality.

Even for a writer, describing the mute sense is challenging, but I think it smelled something like clean laundry, drenched in fresh water, wrapped in sandalwood, sprinkled with bergamot, dipped in Yerba Mate, and peppered with masculine musk. I realize these could be the notes in a ubiquitous fragrance called “Eau de New York City Man,” but this scent was specific. It was his scent.

Smell. It’s like the basic bitch of the senses. It’s the sense associated with Muladhara chakra: the first and lowest, the base chakra. This energetic center has to do with basic needs and survival. No one wants to have first chakra problems: trouble making money, and feeding oneself. If we can’t work these things out, it’s pretty hard to function in the world. But the smell I smelled, I would happily get low for, like first chakra low. I would literally get on all fours for it.

Sadly, many people are grossly misinformed and rank smell as the sense they would be most likely to forfeit. But smell is associated with the first chakra because it is the origin sense, both in science (did you know our entire brain grew from what was once a primitive olfactory cortex?) and other schools of thought, too.

I’m not a particularly avid bible reader as that’s not necessarily how I contextualize my spirituality, but so many of the spiritual parameters of the western world, are rooted in The Book. So it’s worth noting that according to the Judeo-Christian piece of the spiritual pie, our nose is how we got our souls: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7). And so it goes; no nose, no breath, no soul, no life. The inability to smell is considered a spiritual impairment, as then the body would not be connected to the soul.

Beyond the bible, in all sorts of spiritual circles, smell is wildly important when it comes to creating scared space. Walk through any house of the divine and you might smell Frankincense or Himalayan herbs. When it comes to my own sacred space, I would never sit down to write without burning something like Spider Woman, a handmade incense to enhance creativity from The Sword and Rose in San Francisco.

But sadly in urban society, smell doesn’t get a lot of attention unless we are avoiding bad aromas, or being lured into a restaurant by the part of our sense of smell that’s connected to our taste buds. And FYI The estimated size of the global antiperspirant and deodorant market in 2015 is $18 billion. That’s a lot of hush money when it comes to B.O.

If our sense of smell is the basic bitch, then in modern society sight is like top dog. Although perhaps touch should be alpha when it comes to love, just consider the fundamental M.O. of generation Tinder: we decide whether or not we’re willing to even meet someone via Google image.

Now more than ever the Internet has forced us to determine attraction in the context of sight, and this is highly problematic. Your eyes can’t tell you important things like if he smells like truffles* – or if he will like the taste between your legs.

I remember a period of time when looks mattered most to me, but that theory went out the window when I met a bald, portly guy who excelled in touch. And in college there was this guys who was totally HST (Hot, Smart & Talented), but something about him smelled like that acronym too – if you add an “I” and rearrange the letters. He smelled of mothballs, stale laundry, last night’s beer, and whatever is growing underneath your nails. You could argue that most college guys smelled like that, but there was something in his skin that was repulsive to me. Easy on the eyes, but extremely hard on the nose.

For all the sight hype, looks can grow on you provided you enjoy someone’s personality or feel they love you in the way you need to be loved. But I would be willing to bet big money that the same doesn’t go for smell. It’s too polarizing. It’s too ancient and primitive, too deeply tied to good and bad and fight or flight. I couldn’t hang around a person who smelled vile no matter how many boxes he or she ticked.

I knew I couldn’t write this piece without reading Rachel Herz’s The Scent of Desire and in it she writes this: “body chemistry plays a startlingly large role in who we are attracted to, and our nose speaks loudly to our souls even if it seems like only a barely audible whisper.”

The smell I smelled on him, spoke unequivocally to my soul – but rather than a whisper, it was an ecstatic scream. It turns out it was actually the mating call of an immune system complimentary to mine, a seed’s serenade to its ideal fertile soil. This scent, which scientifically can belong to one person and one person only, was designed for me. And so, my humanity must surrender and be humbled.

I’m an animal. I know this because lately I feel comfortable on all fours and my nose knows the answers to the questions like ‘who should I have sex with’ and ‘how can I ensure my children will survive.’

Fun Facts:

*Some truffles contain a steroid, androstenol, which gives them the musky nutty taste. That same steroid is also synthesized by human males in the testes and secreted by their sweat glands. I love truffles. I love men. Makes so much sense! Makes me want to listen to this.

Also:
No, it’s not pheromones.
Why using your nose isn’t foolproof.
When Kate met Steven.

Further Reading:
The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell
by Rachel Herz
A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman

TURNED ON: ME AND MORGAN LE FAY

Who was Morgan Le Fay? Ellie Burrows gets up close and personal with an everyday Goddess. Portrait: Mikal Marie Evans

Ellie Burrows shot by Mikal Marie Evans

Morgan Le Fay is sweating me.

I recently bought a The Goddess Oracle Deck & Book Set, and I’ve gotten into the habit of pulling a card each morning. And the strangest thing has been happening.

No matter how much I shuffle, I get Morgan. And the last time a friend was over, she showed up for her, too. The Goddess obviously has something to tell me.

I didn’t really know much about Morgan Le Fay, except that references to her can be found throughout the Arthurian legends, that she’s supposedly a fairy (neé fay), and the main character in a book called The Mists of Avalon that’s been sitting on my shelf, unread, for no less than five years.

In July, prior to her recurring role in my morning routine, I went to Glastonbury, her home turf. I put my feet in the Chalice Well and Gardens, and did not hear her siren song. I felt zero connection to her. I always thought Kali, Kwan Yin, and Artemis are more my jam anyway.

According to my deck, Morgan Le Fay is there to help us honor our own rhythms and show us that we are the master and mistress of our own clock when it comes to eating, sleeping, exercising, and making love. Since my routine is pretty on point (what up, black tea, Body By Simone, 8+ hours of sleep per night), it felt like this was about something else entirely. So I decided to do some digging. And that’s when I began to hear Morgan’s song.

In books, Morgan Le Fay is a healer, a heroine, a seductress, or sorceress. Her realm of expertise lies beyond the concrete (unlike my beloveds, listed above). Morgan is a bit harder to pin down, and often considered controversial. Her influence is consistently twisted and turned in service of a story.

So it looks like Morgan and I do have some things in common; my essence too can be twisted and turned in service of stories.

Observe:

Ellie the Healer: In 2008, Ellie was diagnosed with a permanent pain condition in her lady parts. Through ecstatic breathwork, deep relaxation, emotional exploration, copious amounts of sleep, a cleaner diet, and routine exercise, she healed herself and now is fully functioning down there and everywhere.

Ellie the Heroine: An average student at an intense high school, Ellie decided to get her shit together and ended up graduating magna cum laude from Northwestern University. She had a moderately successful career in the film business, before heading off into the sunset to explore the world as a spiritual tourist and pursue her dream career as a writer. She often uses the monomyth aka the hero’s journey in her personal essays, in service of helping herself, and others, evolve.

Ellie the Seductress: Ellie often uses her words and body to attract and send messages. She is warm-hearted and vulgar-mouthed. She likes putting pictures of herself online that show off her body by Simone. She’s uses extreme amounts of eye contact and takes an inordinate amount of pleasure in distracting people from their work in favor of more hedonistic pursuits.

Ellie the Sorceress: Ellie believes anyone can talk to the Universe and that it will talk back. She often makes decisions based on astrology, and consults psychics, tarot card readers, and mediums when necessary. She relies heavily on her intuition and ardently believes in the existence of the soul. She claims to have had visions of things before they happened. Kind of like Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl.

In addition to the above, I can also identify with the loving sister, nagging girlfriend, super-down hook up, naïve millennial, fearless adventurer, or reclusive homebody. For as long as I can remember, I have tried to define my person using personas, casting myself as characters in various stories as a means of figuring myself out. Humanity is really hard to make sense of, and that’s why we’re busy telling so many stories in the first place. And we all know where stories are generated: solely in the mind.

That thing in our chest – it’s a place of confusion. The heart knows no classification, no characters, no story. It knows nothing – but it feels everything. That’s why someone who “follows his/her heart” is someone who we would call “free.” Free from the judgment, free from stories.

I think Morgan wasn’t a Goddess at all. I think she was an actual human being, and that’s why she’s hard to identify with and her role and influence greatly debated. Morgan will never be just one thing. Neither will I. And so I choose to see her as a real woman, suspended between mind and heart, trying to make it work in Medieval Times. I can so relate; bubonic plagues and lack of electricity aside, Millennial Times has its challenges, too.

Okay Morgan, message received. Drop the stories. Drop the personas. My everyday Goddess deck just wants me to be an everyday woman. An everyday human.

Nota Bene:
For more on archetypes see Katy Perry’s Elle cover story.
For more on “real” women: See Maggie Gyllenhaal’s acceptance speech at this year’s Golden Globes.

THE NUMI YEAR IN REVIEW: BEST OF 2014

2014 has been a year of SELF-EXAMINATION, TRANSFORMATION and ADVENTURE! Here are 11 posts that made us laugh, gasp, cry…and take a good long look at our lives from the inside (listed in no particular order of awesomeness).

1. YOGI VEGAN LEZ: DIARY OF A DETOX A DEUX

The yoga was the fun part…

When Alexandra Roxo decided to embark on a hardcore nine-day Ayurvedic cleanse, she had no idea her girlfriend would decide to come along for the ride. Cue tears, tantrums and an ocean of emotion.

2. TURNED ON: THE TANTRA OF ONLINE DATING

Dancing between masculine and feminine…

Ellie Burrows is pretty sure she’s discovered the secret to online dating. And it’s Tantra. Not super-connected, total body orgasm, tantric sex – rather the energetic concept that makes that kind of sex possible: a balance of the masculine and feminine energies.

3. NEED-TO-KNOW: YOUR SPIRIT POWER ANIMAL

Feel so much more powerful knowing he’s on my side…

Dealing with a situation that had left her feeling vulnerable and alone, when Ruby Warrington met her spirit power animal last year…it got emotional. Here’s how to connect with your own beast of the wild unknown.

4. TO SKINNY DIP OR NOT TO SKINNY DIP: KNOW YOUR YOGA RTREAT ETIQUETTE

No hiding behind your hair all week…

Yay, you’re going on a yoga retreat! You want to get the most out of your experience, right? Who better than Heather Lilleston and Kumi Sawyers fromYoga For Bad People to lay down some summer retreat etiquette. We’re talking less freaking out, more more F.U.N.

5. KUNDALINI CALLING: HEAVEN ON EARTH WITH GURU JAGAT

Guru Jagat shot in Venice Beach by Lisandra Valazquez

Guru Jagat is the outspoken face behind the Ra Ma Institute, the only all kundalini yoga studio in California’s Venice Beach. She talks to Madeline Giles about her vision for the Age of Aquarius, life on the 33rd parallel and outsmarting the Global Elite. Conspiracy theories or conscious debate?

6. DARK FAIRY DELIRIUM: WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE A GEMINI

Image by Bela Borsodi for Document Journal

Right after a powerful New Moon in multi-faceted Gemini, gifting us an opportunity to embrace the quicksilver side of ourselves, Nadia Noir gives an insight into a life spent searching for “the other me.”

7. THE NU RULES: ATTRACT THE RIGHT RELATIONSHIP FOR YOU

See yourself through your lover’s eyes…

Can’t seem to attract the right relationship? It’s not him, honey, it’s you. Jennifer Kass re-writes The Rules, beginning with a lesson in self-love…

8. 26 LIFE LESSONS MY BURNING MAN EXPERIENCE TAUGHT ME

Ruby and her husband Simon on the Playa…

Connfession: My Burning Man Experience was too full-on to be called fun, says Ruby Warrington. But when it comes to life lessons, a week on the Playa delivered pure gold.

9. SPIRITUAL AWAKENING: THE REBIRTHING OF BROOKE CANDY

Image: Brooke Candy’s Instagram account

Lessons in Kabbalah with Madonna and a “little spiritual trip to Hawaii.” Brooke Candy tells Ruby Warrington how following a more “soulful” path has been a lesson in self-love…

10. BEYOND BFFS: HOW TO CREATE A COVEN

Cara and her coven, photographed by Richard Bush for i-D magazine

Something very special happens when women come together in ceremony. Erin Telford explains how to create a Coven – and bonds that run deep as blood.

11. ORGASMIC MEDITATION: INSIDE THE CULT OF CLIT

Orgasm as spiritual exchange…

Empowering women’s movement, or de facto sex cult? Dani Katz gets intimate with the practise known as Orgasmic Meditation…

TURNED ON: MY LOVER, MY ALTAR

In this month’s column on sex and spirituality, I’m showing my lover the same reverence as my altar says Ellie Burrows.

I have altared the way I see my partner.

A couple of weeks ago, Business Insider published an article titled Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down to Two Basic Traits. Numerous people posted it on their Facebook pages and at least ten people, men and women, forwarded the article to me. In it, the journalist showed how from The Gottman’s 1986 and 1990 studies of relationship “Masters” and “Disasters” to Shelly Gable’s 2006 study on the importance of the “active constructive response,” kindness and generosity emerge as the two most important components in a successful relationship.

If you’re a living, breathing human being, then this finding should make complete sense to you. But you also know that living, breathing human beings screw those two up all the time.

Every day I see couples treat each other poorly. They desecrate and decimate, creating a cloud of dysfunction. They drop the f-bomb when the other one fails to flag an available cab, hate on each other’s families, roll their eyes when their lover orders the wrong dish, or stomp their feet when they forget a simple task. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to lean over to the table next to me and tell the arguing couple to cut their losses, walk away, and start over again.

In relationships, I’ve also been guilty of some of the above (especially the f-bomb part). I can be cruel just like anyone else. There have been moments where I’ve brought out the worst in my partner and vice versa. But I don’t grow in a hostile environment and neither do my partners, so over the last couple of years, I’ve made a conscious effort to weed out my bad behavior. And when I read that article, I found myself nodding and agreeing as if I had done the research and written it myself.

Science and spirituality have a complicated relationship (some say no relationship at all). But to me, loving someone is a spiritual practice – and now it seems the science just proves my point. In practice I’ve made it simple: I approach my beloved as if they are an altar.

These days, I choose to see my partner as a symbol, an emblem of love, opposed to love itself. My partner is a physical representation of love in the same way a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha is a physical representation of enlightenment. Love itself is infinite and eternal and cannot be contained by a physical body. But the way I treat that symbol or body, that somebody, is indicative of my level of reverence for the love between us. And like any devoted believer, I try to always approach my man altar, that constant reminder of the love consciousness, with humility, generosity and respect.

Altars are traditionally a place for sacrifice, and offerings used to be kind of messy – a slaughtered goat, perhaps. With this in mind, I’ve always found it particularly funny that we say we’re “leading someone to the altar” when talking about marriage. But dead animals and divorce rates aside, contemporary offerings come in the form of candles, money, incense, or prayer.

Ellie’s altar: “An act of devotion to the consciousness I’m seeking”

I have a beautiful altar in my house where Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion, resides among treasures from my different spiritual journeys: a stick I picked up from the Tor in Glastonbury, mala beads from Bhutan, an ancient fertility Goddess necklace from my Auntie, a hamsa from Israel, and minerals ranging from clear quartz to emerald. When I’m having trouble writing or sorting through something, I often sit in front of it. I light some incense, quiet my thoughts, and deepen my breath. I concentrate on these meaningful symbols and connect to them as an act of devotion to the consciousness I’m seeking.

And echoing this practice, concentrating on your partner, regularly connecting to the way you treat them is act of devotion to the kind of love you are seeking. I cannot imagine anything more generous in a partnership than offering up your best self. An act of generosity, that also shows your appreciation. The writer of the Business Insider piece states that successful couples: “are scanning the social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully.”

Respect. Purpose. I like those words. They are words of reverence. Of course, sometimes shit gets hard and we say and do things we don’t mean. And just last night (the night before this article was due), I slipped. I found myself in a heated conversation in which I said something I shouldn’t have. It wasn’t respectful, and I didn’t do it on purpose. I was totally offering up my worst self. But the misstep was perfectly timed, as was the dream I just woke up from. I was kneeling at the feet of a beloved, heart full of love, repeating an important three-word mantra that we all know well.

And this morning, knowing I need to be generous, I also know exactly what I’m going to offer up to my altar:

“I. AM. SORRY.”

Read more from Ellie Burrows at Ellieburrows.com

TURNED ON: INSTAMACY VS. INTIMACY

In the latest instalment of her column on sex and spirituality, Ellie Burrows is Tuned On by slow burn of genuine intimacy. Portrait: Mikal Marie Photography

Ellie Burrows shot by Mikal Evans

I have a Masters in Instamacy.

Instamacy: A feeling that’s created when two strangers come together and all walls effortlessly tumble down while you tumble into each other.

Sound romantic? Yes.

Is that the same thing as intimacy? No. And I have recently been schooled in the difference.

I can’t tell you how many first dates I’ve been on where the dude sitting across from me tells me his deepest darkest secret only a couple hours in. Yes, this has happened more than once and it’s typically followed by something like “I have never told anyone that.” Believe it or not, I’ve had more than one supposed guy’s guy cry on a first or second date: “This is embarrassing. I can’t remember the last time I cried” or “I don’t usually do this. Who are you?”

Each time I would be totally turned on. Each reveal felt like a little victory of sorts, an advantage right out of the gate. It made me feel special like I had some magical ability create an environment in which the person sitting across from me felt unusually comfortable. It was like I was a mutant, my name was “Heart” and I had the power to crack open someone’s center in an instant, leaving them emotionally exposed and totally exhilarated.

Well, long before X-Men there was Greek mythology. And the story Psyche and Eros, beautifully illustrated in the Suit of Cups in the Mythic Tarot, has been a barometer for relationships for centuries. It’s Greek lore, so their story is peppered with misogyny, but we would be remiss not to acknowledge how mind-blowingly contemporary this story is, particularly as an allegory for intimacy. See, it’s ultimately a story about boundaries, an if you’re reading this and living in the year 2014 then you know how complicated that whole conversation has become. Insert Google-stalking, Instagram-following and Facebook-liking here.

Now, please indulge me in a brief retelling of Psyche and Eros – updated and annotated for your modern enjoyment:

Psyche was one seriously hot chick. Aphrodite wasn’t having it. She sent her son Eros, the cupid, to destroy her, but instead he fell in love with her. To save her, he called on his boy Apollo to give an oracle that Psyche must marry a monster. But instead, Eros clandestinely carried her away to a dope palace, married her, slept with her, and before morning made her promise never to look at his face.

Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss by Antonio Canova

Psyche had never felt love like this before, so she agreed. But it was only a matter of time before her fear and insecurity got the best of her. Worried that her new husband must be a beast; she grabbed a lamp, lifted up the covers and took a peek. And holy shit, he was an angel! But she fucked up, dripped some oil from her lamp on that impeccable face and he awoke, enraged. In an instant, her nice digs and perfect husband disappeared and she was left out in the cold.

Heartbroken, she begged Aphrodite for help. Mothers-in-law are tough (I can’t speak on this firsthand, but so my friends tell me), so she put Psyche through a series of humbling and humiliating tasks. Ultimately she had to prove her love to Eros by going to hell and back. But it all worked out – he returned to her and put a ring on it, but this time it was in front of all gods and mortals.

Like Psyche, I used to love to lift the covers and peek behind the curtain. My past relationships were less about two separate subjects slowly coming together and more about a quick merger, a melding into one. I used to want to know everything about my lover as soon as possible – behavior that only betrayed how much anxiety I had around the unknown. I wanted to collapse all boundaries ASAP, because waiting for something to unfold was unnerving.

I thought if I could really see my partner then I would really know my partner. If I was “friends with the monster that was under my bed” (amen Eminem) then I could protect myself. I thought that’s what intimacy was all about. But I was wrong.

In spiritual circles, people love to throw around the phrase “into-me-see” and I think it’s misleading. Intimacy is not about seeing and knowing; it’s about feeling and experiencing.

For the first time in my life, I have recently experienced a natural progression towards true intimacy. It has felt like a slow build, not a swift shakedown. I am psyched that I respected his privacy. I do not need to peek behind the curtain; there is nothing to hide. Instead I am Psyche in her true splendor, patient and vulnerable to the unknown. For me, that feels like going to hell and back. If I thought I was turned on by instamacy, I had no idea the kind of pleasure that was waiting for me in the dance of getting to know one another…slowly.

And as much as I would like to tell you everything about him, I can’t. I’m focused on getting my Doctorate and I need to respect certain boundaries.

Read more from Ellie at Ellieburrows.com

TURNED ON: FALLING FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF DESIRE

Ellie Burrows has a confession. The mood of the Autumnal Equinox has got her turned on to the idea of…commitment? Portrait: Mikal Marie Photography

I’m hanging in the balance.

It’s the Autumnal Equinox and we’re halfway between rosé in the sand with a tan and cashmere socks and Schnaps.

For the Earth, the Equinox represents a point of balance. This year, for my heart, it’s the tipping point.

June, July and August are releasing their hypnotic hold on me. My rear view mirror is filled with the boys of summer and their hard bodies at pool parties. No more fist pumps to summer jams or kisses that taste like Pina Coladas. Goodbye to short shorts and tiny dresses. Gone are the days of sweaty hands up my skirt and sticky rolls in the sheets while blasting AC to bring down all the heat.

Fall means I’m 90 miles from mistletoe with just one stop for turkey. It’s about back to school, back to work, a return to obligations. It’s time for knitwear and leggings and with them along comes all sorts of longings. We’re plunging into colder climates, descending into darkness, and harvesting in order to hibernate. And all that impending cold just makes me want to snuggle up and pair down. Fall always sings songs of commitment and for the first time in a long time, I want to sing along and settle in with a romantic partner.

When I initially sat down to write this article, I wanted to explore the transition from a Summer Fling to a Fall of Love. The original pitch was something about “turning your Montauk share into a home ownership.” In New York City, the hot months have an echo and it sounds like “dating in the summer is hard.” Trying to get a relationship off the ground in high season is like trying to swim against an undertow. Everything is in motion and everyone is gone on the weekends. But when autumn arrives and beach rentals end, the restaurants in the city are filled with hopeful singles once again trying to figure out how to keep their beds perpetually warm for winter.

Telling my readers how to turn a steamy summer hookup into something more substantial felt like teaching them how to take a cold shower. When you let the hot air out of the balloon, it floats to Earth. It felt strange to try to decode the alchemy of love, because it’s a magical process of transformation and the infinite combinations make it impossible to boil it down to a single formula. The heart is just not a transactional place.

But something is shifting in me and it’s right on schedule with the Earth’s rhythms. In my own personal Equinox it feels like I’m on a seesaw suspended in air at zero degrees. From this place of balance, I can see exactly what’s changing in me.

I never really dated with the purpose of finding a boyfriend, a husband, or “the one”. Like masturbation, I date because it feels really good. I learn by experience and it’s always been up to the experience to determine its own purpose, a purpose that only comes into focus in hindsight. I always felt that being attached to outcome when it came to dating was a hindrance, a one-way ticket on the disappointment express. However if I’m being really honest with myself, my lack of vision was buying that same ticket at a cheaper price.

It seems rather silly to think about it now, but the idea of what I actually wanted out of dating never factored in. I think I may have flat out ignored it. I always thought I would figure it out along the way and that my wants, whatever they were, would reveal themselves to me in the process. Yet the only things that were continuously revealed were my “don’t wants.”

I want a man that’s mine. I want to wake up in the morning next to someone and I want that person to bring me black tea. I want to have a raging argument, walk out of the house and know that he will be there when I return. I want it all. I want to be alone and I want to be together. I want to be alone together.

This year, I’m not sad to see the dog days go. I’m leaving my summer playground in search of something more. I’m going to harvest my experiences and move into the winter of my being where it’s the quietest. Deep inside of me there is a burning desire to be in a devotional partnership. Somehow admitting that on the Internet is scarier than talking about my aroused vagina. It feels outrageously vulnerable, like standing on the street, in the middle of an epic blizzard, totally naked waiting for him to bring me a jacket. But, saying it out loud feels a million times hotter than playing it cool.

Ellieburrows.com

@_ellieBurrows_

TURNED ON: SEXTING ACROSS THE MADONNA WHORE DIVIDE

Is sexting the same as cheating? It all depends if you’re playing in the shadow or the light, says Ellie Burrows. Image: Katie Fischer

Sigh, the Madonna and the Whore. Is there anything more banal then reducing a woman to one of those two archetypes?

Madonna: Non-sexual woman. Keeper of morality. She offers her breasts to her children. She tempts you into eating your peas. She tempts you for your own good.

Whore: Sexual woman. Debaser of morality. She offers her breasts to everyone. She tempts your husband. She tempts you for her own good.

For thousands of years women have been cast in one of these two forms. There is no shortage of literature or decorated scholars who have devoted their lives to studying them. And, there are many feminists who have fought fiercely to destroy such narrow-minded classifications.

But I have a confession. I totally recognize this duality in myself and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Enter: Sexting – digital fingering at its finest, and the space where I recently encountered my inner Madonna and Whore pushing their respective pleasure agendas. As it turns out, I was able to marry them when I understood how to align their supposedly conflicting interests. They were willing to sign a sacred contract, but they had to look each other in the face to do it.

A few months ago, I found myself in a budding Millennial relationship: we were really into each other but having a tough time sorting out the commitment piece. It forced me to evaluate my own feelings about monogamy. And when this column launched in April, it brought some men from my past out of the proverbial woodwork.

I hadn’t talked to Eric in years (name obviously changed). We grew up in the same place and had always had that energetic-sexy-vibe thing happening but we never actually acted on it, mostly due to timing with a dash of trepidation. He reached out to tell me that he was proud of me and confess that he had fantasized about me since his preteens. Before I knew it, we were sexting and it was tons of fun, like major smile-ear-to-ear fun. And if I’m being totally truthful, it happened two more times. Over Gchat. Off the record. That was the problem.

Hello Whore Ellie. Eric has a very serious girlfriend.

The next weekend I was with my boyfriend-who-wasn’t-my-boyfriend. He put up an Instagram that also drew out a woman from his past. When I saw his facial expression when he peeped at his screen, I was intrigued. He told me that she was someone he had a one-night-stand with and since then had occasionally sexted with. He assured me that I had nothing to worry about.

But, I wasn’t concerned at all. Like, at all. See, I knew that I had just engaged in a sexting conversation with someone I was attracted to and it had absolutely nothing to do with him. It wasn’t going anywhere: I’m monogamous and I like to flirt. Of course, someone could say that if I really loved him I wouldn’t have sexted with someone else. If you’re that someone, please go buy Esther Perel’s Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. Immediately. #requiredreading

Then the following came out of my mouth:

“It’s okay if you sext with her.”

“What?”

“Well, I’m not sure sexting with her is a direct reflection of how you feel about me. It has nothing to do with me. It’s just an aggressive form of flirting. I would be fine with it as long as she knows that I know that it’s happening and it doesn’t actually become physical.”

“Explain.”

“If you both know that I’m aware that it’s going on and are still willing to sext, then you’re playing in the light. Then we are all engaging in conscious behavior and all of us get to enjoy the fantasy. However, if you can’t share it with me and you don’t think I can be part of the fun then that’s playing in the dark. That would be messy.”

Then I dropped the bomb. “In fact, I sexted with someone last week.”

“Really? Look at you.” He had a mischievous smile on his face that mirrored mine.

“Yes, and that exchange had absolutely nothing to do with my love for you. Totally mutually exclusive. It’s sophisticated flirtation. Except his girlfriend doesn’t know about it which is a problem.”

It was like we were sitting in an energetic room and the ceiling was lined with fluorescents. I could see everything. Deception is the fertile soil where the Madonna and the Whore’s separateness is able to survive. And that really is some holy shit.

The next day, I reached out to Eric and shared my revelation. He loved his girlfriend very much but was doing this behind her back, casting her as the Madonna and me as the Whore. I didn’t like engaging in this kind of shadow behavior because it didn’t allow us to play together. It kept us separate.

Maybe Eric believed that his girlfriend couldn’t see the duality and understand the nature of our flirting and so he felt the need to hide it from her. That, or he actually felt like it could go somewhere with me. But by going along with the deception, I wasn’t holding a space; I was trampling straight through one. And if we couldn’t play in the light, then it needed to end. So I ended it. I told him we could speak as long as we could keep it PG. Sadly, Eric and I haven’t spoken in months.

Hello Madonna Ellie. I support monogamy so I wanted to support Eric’s relationship. I also wanted to honor his girlfriend and only play with Eric if we could all play together.

The Madonna and Whore archetypes are in all of us. Both are remarkable extremes in their own right. I intimately know my Madonna and my Whore, and my life is an exercise in integrating them. It’s way beyond just being “a lady in the streets but a freak between the sheets.” I love both of them and so they love each other. I offer each a seat at my well-lit table and that is where they are able to break bread.

Read more from Ellie Burrows at Ellieburrows.com

@_ellieburrows_

TURNED ON: SHAPESHIFTING TO MEET MY MANIMAL

In this month’s column, Ellie Burrows investigates how the ancient Shamanic art of shapeshifting has infiltrated her relationships – and what she’s learned about herself in the process. Portrait: Katie Fischer.

Ask any of my friends – when it comes to my lovers, I’m known to be a shapeshifter. As in, I change form depending on my bedfellow. I admit it.

In 1998 I met my high school sweetheart. We wore Air Max 96’s, Jordans, Nike snap pants, and listened rap music in his black two-door Ford Explorer Sport. I had cornrows and rhinestone sunglasses. He was captain of the basketball team and regularly had one pant leg scrunched up to the knee. Young love at its finest, we were a match made in 1990s high school heaven. We were each other’s dawgs.

In the summer of 2006, I met an Israeli businessman twenty years my senior. It was always DJ Tiesto and the mispar echat (number one) everything: the number one restaurant, the number one hotel, the number one vodka, the number one yacht. Lots of excess, free love and bacchanalian behavior. Everything was a teachable moment and I learned all sorts of sexual lessons. He was a bird of prey and I was his helpless kill.

In my twenties, it was my seriously cool East Village architect. All raw denim all the time. No shampoo. He taught me how to dial down the fancy, wear my curly hair like a mane and eat meat off a bone. I was a lioness and he was my lion, the king and queen of a concrete jungle. We had a lot of pride. And frankly, that’s what killed us.

Shapeshifting litters the landscape of divine folklore and shamanic traditions. Magically speaking, it’s all about changing form in order to take on and assume the nature and qualities of a specific creature. A shapeshifter morphs in order to alter or enhance particular thoughts and perceptions or acquire new abilities. One changes shape to see and access the world from a different perspective.

As the dawg, the kill and the lion, I fully embraced and emulated the quality of each manimal I was with. I immersed myself in our love and thoroughly explored their natural habitats. I invoked their energy within myself, adopted their characteristics and saw the world from their vantage points.

This was a practice of sorts, the method by which I connected to the symbol of my desire. And it was most definitely a symptom of my immaturity. When I loved what they loved, enjoyed what they enjoyed and preferred what they preferred, I felt a deeper sense of closeness and communion. I think it goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, not love. And in fact I royally fucked up because I lost myself completely in each beast.

As of late, my ability to shapeshift is non-existent. Turns out, I prefer not being anything but myself. Venturing into someone else’s habitat and taking on their views, behaviors and tastes to enhance our connection no longer serves me – especially when that person drinks like a fish, doesn’t work out, lacks a connection to the divine or fucks without reverence for the act of fucking itself. I tried to get down with that species and it just didn’t work.

Changing form to align myself with my partner stifles my own needs in relationship. I became unrecognizable in the mirror and then there was no perspective at all. And if I can’t see my self in the mirror, then it defeats the whole point of partnership in the first place.

The mirror is one of my favorite metaphors for a lover, spouse, significant other, partner, friend or soul mate. It can feel vulnerable to step in front of a mirror and take a good look. You will see all your beauty, your ugly, your gains, your losses, your shortcomings and strengths. It can be exhilarating, humbling, ecstatic and painful. The human mirror is an extraordinary thing because we have the capacity to really understand our very existence in the presence of another being.

What ultimately serves me in my relationships now is to be in my true form, my authentic self, and see how I occur in the context of another human being. I’ve learned that it’s my responsibility to grow as a result of that reflection. And if I’m really honoring myself, then I can honor the other too, and hopefully be the ultimate mirror for them.

Ellie Burrows is a storyteller, seeker, mystic and guide living in New York City. Discover more at Ellieburrows.com
@ellieburrows (Instagram)
@_ellieburrows_ (Twitter)

TURNED ON: LIFE AS A CONSTANT STATE OF AROUSAL

In the first of a regular column on sex and spirituality, Ellie Burrows explains how getting really turned on is about allowing your body to open up to the world around you. Portraits: Katie Fischer.

I’m always turned on. I walk the earth in a constant state of arousal. It’s. The. Best.

Everything turns me on: my morning ritual of almond butter and raw honey toast accompanied by black tea with a dash of milk; an episode of Scandal; a conversation about the Universe; a pair of Alaia boots; meditation dance at 5Rhythms; riding the subway listening to Beyoncé; having my hair pulled; cleaning my bedroom; practicing mindfulness; fancy lingerie; a cute puppy on the street and its hot owner holding the leash. Basically, I’m experiencing one big Lifegasm.

Last weekend, I was strolling through Manhattan with the current object of my affection. We stopped at a corner and waited for the crosswalk to change. He let his hand brush up against my ass and I felt an energetic burst in my second chakra. A simple gesture with a massive impact, my vagina actually pulsed, warmed, relaxed, and opened for him. My body sent out a physical invitation hoping for an RSVP marked “Will Attend”. An example of arousal in its most pure form (and for the record, he attended, to it, later).

If we’re most familiar with arousal in a sexual context, most of us associate it with being DTF. And frankly, I’ve come to believe that’s totally limiting. We should really consider all the definitions of “arouse”: to awaken, excite, evoke. The highest level of arousal happens when we’re alert and open to all that’s around us. It’s about the expansion of our sexual energy well beyond the confines of sex.

Turned on from sunrise…
…to sunset

In ancient Taoist traditions, life force energy is called chi and supposedly we can feel this energy moving through us. The subset of this energy that’s specifically sexual or creative is called ching, which is believed to be essential to our health and wellbeing. Well, I can definitely feel my ching moving through me and it’s absolutely vital to my existence. But somewhere along the way, through various forms of cultural conditioning, we were taught that this energy should be strictly reserved for the bedroom. I think the Taoists, Justin Timberlake and I are all agreed that it’s WAY better when we bring sexy back into everything.

So how do we do this? How do we carry that powerful energy beyond the bedroom? How do we decorate every moment with this sexual electricity? Well, firstly we need to allow it to spread beyond our penises and pussies. It needs to evolve and literally “grow up” into our hearts and minds. We need to make like an aroused vagina and feel it pulsing through our entire bodies, warming the cold parts of ourselves, thereby relaxing our insides and creating an opening in our beings.

So let’s try a simple visualization. Imagine you’re staring at a chocolate chip cookie from Levain Bakery on 74th and Amsterdam (if you don’t know what this is I feel mildly sorry for you, and instead invite you to just envision the moistest, most chocolate chocolate chip cookie in the world). How do you feel about this cookie? What does it look like to you? To me it’s a big, dense, delicious, warm pile of goo and I can’t wait to have it in my mouth.

Turned on by cookies…
…and being Buddha

I’m breathing in the intoxicating smell of fresh baked goodness. I can feel the desire for this cookie all over my body. I can feel my deep appreciation for the cookie in my heart. My mind is doing summersaults just thinking about those chocolate chips dancing on my tongue. Holy shit, this cookie is turning me on. I can’t stop smiling at it. But see, I don’t want to actually fuck the cookie. The experience of eating it, appreciating and enjoying just became heightened, elevated and way more awesome.

Sometimes arousal happens to me on a subway when I see someone give up a seat to a pregnant lady or a senior citizen. I feel a pulsating sensation in my chest, a sense of warmth spreading through my being. I can’t help but smile at this display of human kindness and feel a deep connection to the other beings on the train. For a moment, I am in love and energized by the small simple gesture of one human towards another.

The vagina is the mother of all gates and most people think it’s the only doorway to arousal. And yes it’s an arousal superhighway, but for me, arousal is really about accessing the heart and I use my whole being and all my senses to do that. If my heart isn’t activated and engaged, then I can’t be turned on.

Real arousal creates openings in our being. It’s a state of connectedness with the world around us, in which we let it awaken and excite us. It’s the sensation of being genuinely excited about life. This column will touch upon arousal in many different ways. Often sex will be the entry point, but ultimately it’s about elevating our consciousness around our sexual energy to enhance all our experiences. Most sex columns are about getting off. This is an arousal column and it’s going to be all about turning on.

Ellie Burrows is a storyteller, seeker, mystic and guide living in New York City. Discover more at Ellieburrows.com 
@ellieburrows (Instagram)
@_ellieburrows_ (Twitter)

NAILS BY MEI: NOW AGE NAIL ART

In mystical iconography, our hands represent protection, healing and peace. In New York City, they’s also a blank canvas to display your spiritual leanings, says Ellie Burrows.

From Hamsas to Ahimsa to Mudras, the hand is ubiquitous in the world of sacred iconography. Considered a highly mystical appendage, it can symbolize protection, healing and peace. On a more material plane, the hands are a dexterous double act that allow us put food in our mouths, wear cute jewelry and communicate with rapid speed on tiny little devices.

And while some of us wear our heart on our sleeves,  I wear my spirituality on my nails. Just like I adorn the walls of my house with images of Ganesh and Guanyin to feel connected to a divine presence, I decorate my nails with little totems too, so I can connect with that energy on the go. It’s like a little wink from the universe every time I watch a set of miniature hand-painted Avalokitesvaras opening a door, or the planets swiping my Metrocard through a turnstile.

What began for me as an indulgent and rather flashy hobby has become a meaningful way to make a statement. The hands will always symbolize the sacred, but I like mine to also display it.

New York Numis! Manifest the metaphysical on something physical, and schedule an appointment with fairy-like Miho Kawajiri (@ciaomanhattan2012). Nails by Mei is a genius, a gifted artist, and the truly best in the business.

@ellieburrows

 

 

 

 

Miho Kawajiri, aka Mei, master of Ellie Burrows’ mystical nail art