HOW TO EXPLAIN YOUR SPIRITUAL AWAKENING TO YOUR RELIGIOUS FAMILY

When Fundamentalist threats of Hell left her wanting more, Kate Forristall turned to Now Age practices. But how to explain your spiritual awakening to your religious family? Kate shares her top tips for making the holidays less hellish …

Photo: Diana Vargas

Christmas 2017.  Reaching for a beautifully wrapped present (the gene I didn’t get, sigh), I notice my sister Sally give our mother a nervous glance. Given my family’s tradition of one-at-a-time unwrapping, there’s no hiding what’s inside, but I have to smile as I open my package and see an intricately carved wooden box … with a pentagram on top.

I steal a glimpse at Sally’s face and feel her telepathically communicating with me in a desperate Tim Gunn voice, “MAKE IT WORK!” I lift the new repository for my tarot deck (pentagram covered by my palm) and wave it quickly, “A wooden box!”

“Who’s next?!” Sally chirps, as we simultaneously head into the kitchen to get coffee and put my gift away. When it comes to the spirituality we now embrace, we’ve decided pick our battles.

///

Finding a faith to set me free … 
At the age of 15, I began attending a church youth group known more for fun and community than hard line theology. Leaders preached the Gospel, but it was as simple as the original version (appropriate for humans without a pre-frontal cortex). The Jesus People movement had paved the way for a faith that was about loving God and loving each other, and I was happy to go along for the ride.

Unfortunately I got hijacked on the way.

In college I met Christians who could recite whole passages of the Bible and never seemed to struggle to obey all the rules the way that I did. They let me know that I wasn’t doing it right and by the time I graduated, the shame I felt over my failings was enough to send me right into the arms of Fundamentalism.

There were no sermons about the messiness of life, no Young Adult Group talks about how hard it was to be in your 20s. Floundering was considered moral failure and the threat of Hell was always looming. My goal became security, for myself, and eventually, my growing family, and I lost the delight and wildness of the God I’d met as a teenager.

In other words, I can help you explain things to your conservative mother, because I’ve been her. But while I forgot the kindness of the Divine, it did not forget me, and over the past 20 years I’ve managed to unload the toxic institutional religion that held me captive, while finding a faith that set me free.

Such faith means changed opinions about almost everything in life – politics, sexuality, social justice, capitalism, feminism – topics my family has often been less than thrilled that I brought up at the Thanksgiving table. But they were small potatoes compared to announcing I’d fully embraced New Age practices that we once believed were nothing short of demonic.

The new practices of my faith—meditation, spiritual direction, energy healing, multiple sacred texts, astrology, body work, and tarot—came from a period of darkness and spiritual searching, a time when I lost the ability to hear God and believed I’d been abandoned.

Now I can see that I was never alone, that my unknowing was, in fact the gift that pushed me through the Life-Death-Life cycle and into a belief that now sees the Divinity of all things.

///

So as you prepare for Thanksgiving and the inevitable questions about why your life looks different than it used to, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way … 

1// “Preach … at all times. When necessary, use words.” 
This advice from St. Francis is the best wisdom I’ve ever found for sharing experiences that have changed my life. If your example is one of serenity, service, love and hope, you’ll have no better evidence for the truth of the New Age spirituality you’ve embraced.

2// The Bible is your friend. Really. 
I know, right? Whether it’s the Wise Men who used the stars to find Jesus, God noting the wheel of the Zodiac when conversing with Job, or Jesus feeling the energy leave his body when a hemorrhaging woman touched him, the Bible has an awful lot of examples of “New Age” faith. The word meditate is mentioned 20 times and if you do a Google search you’ll even find phrases like “centering prayer” from many corners of traditional Christianity.

3// Because science.
Meditation’s benefits are now proven by so much data that if your loved one can’t handle it, they probably believe in a six-day creation. Measurable energy fields of everything from the flowers in your garden to the heart in your body have uncovered a universe way weirder than science fiction. Neuroscience has revealed that our brains are supercomputers capable of affecting objects miles away (hello, pray much?) If none of that lands, find an empty room, light a candle … and meditate. At least you’ll feel better.

4// Try not to brace for impact.
This phrase has carried my family through many an anticipated rough situation. Neural communication studies show how much we convey before we ever say a word and I can tell you from experience that if you are telepathically shrieking, “I fucking dare you to make fun of my Tarot practice,” someone is going to comply. Moments like these are when the rubber meets the road. The Buddhist practice of accepting suffering while trusting its transitory nature has completely changed my life.

5// Baby steps. 
I’ve always been an evangelist. Whether it was Jesus or toasted pecans in chocolate chip cookies, if I love something, I can’t wait to tell everyone I know. But when asking people to expand beyond a fear-based bias, I’ve learned that you need to move like an acrophobe in a skyscraper – one floor at a time. My mother now knows that I own a tarot deck. We’ve discussed the astrology of the moment on multiple occasions, and for her birthday, I gave her a book about manifestation. But it’s been seven years since I began this journey and my goal isn’t conversion. It’s that she too would find the path of greatest freedom for her life, no matter what it looks like.

///

My resistance to the New Age movement wasn’t because I hated everyone outside my church. It was because I was terrified that it could destroy people I loved. Those who cling to fundamentalism are inordinately motivated by dread – circling the wagons to protect a God they can’t imagine being bigger than their sanctuary. Considering how vast and unknowable the Divine is, that’s a pretty sad perspective and I’ve given my kids unlimited permission to make fun of me forever for all the dumb stuff I did that was driven by fear.

Ironically, the greatest thing my New Age practices have taught me is how to deal with the fear I meet in this life. “If I go to the depths of the sea, You are there,” says the Psalmist to God, an understanding that no circumstance can separate us from Them—including, no matter how scary it is, spending the holidays with your family.

Kate Forristall is a writer, actor, mother, and lover of stories. Connect with her at #IRL Project, and on Twitter and Instagram

13 MAGIC SYMBOLS AND WHAT THEY MEAN FOR YOU

When we know how to listen, the Universe has a message just for us. We enlisted the help of mysti-cool, eco-conscious jewelry line Alex + Ani to help us tune into the magic symbols sending us cosmic downloads right now …

“Let go of coincidences and believe that the Universe is constantly trying to communicate with you”—Alex + Ani founder, Carolyn Rafaelian

The Universe speaks to us through signs + symbols. 
It could be a repeating number, a chance encounter, or seeing the same piece of graffiti everywhere you go. The first step to hearing the message, is to believe that this is true … 

Having based her (pretty freaking incredible) career creating powerful magic symbols infused with pure intent, Alex + Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian’s vision is to help her customers tap into this cosmic conversation.

“If you quiet your mind and look around you,” says a spokesperson for the design team, “you’ll notice the signs. Sit with them. Let them resonate. Use them to course correct, or to be assured in your direction.” 

And to ensure accuracy, the company even employs a “Chief Symbologist” to research each new or redesigned symbol used in the collections. This can be a lengthy process—for example, the team’s new Buddha symbol was sent to Buddhist monks across the globe to verify the correct alignment.

>>>

So what message does the Universe have for you RIGHT NOW? 
Whether you’re drawn to the physical form of any of the symbols below, or by its intent, check out the descriptions of 13 magic symbols from let Alex + Ani’s navigational “meaning” wall help you work out the symbol that’s speaking your Cosmic language …

*Want to explore further? Use this personal blueprint tool, which uses astrology, numerology, and your intentions to curate a personalized jewel prescription just for you! 

>>>

TRUTH
The Feather: Ancient Egyptians believed a pure heart weighed as light as a feather. This symbol asks you to keep your heart light and pure, and let truth be your guide. Be honest with yourself, is there somewhere in your life where you haven’t been one hundred per cent upfront? Now’s the time to come clean.

>>>

INTUITION 
Crescent Moon: Ruler of watery cycles of change and transformation, this bright celestial body reminds us that light will always come, even when we feel like we’re totally in the dark. As we teach in Moon Club, life is about cycles, and the Moon symbol is asking you to trust that when you follow your intuition, you’ll be led into the next phase of your personal evolution. What is your gut guiding you to move towards in your life right now?

>>>

PRIMAL POWER
Wild Heart: Tap into animalistic intuition and fearlessness with this symbol for antimony, a silver crystalline element used in alchemy, emblazoned on a panther’s forehead. Where in your life does fear keep you small? What would it mean to take up some delicious space in your life and seize your power?

>>>

DIRECTION
Compass: North represents home and wisdom. South embodies passion and creation. East signifies new beginnings and inspiration. West symbolizes introspection and reflection. This symbol asks that you clarify what you’re seeking so the path becomes clear. Are your actions in alignment with what lives in your heart? What is your soul mission and how are you taking steps each day to achieve it?

>>>

POTENTIAL
Unexpected Blessings: Symbolized by an acorn, never forget that the mighty oak grows from this tuny seed—and that sometimes miracles come when you least expect them and often in the smallest packages. Are you comfortable with experiential, process-based learning? What tiny steps could you take each day to start moving towards your larger dreams?

>>>

ROOTS 
Tree of Life: Like the tree’s powerful branches, we are all connected in an ever-evolving, mysterious cycle of life. This symbol encourages us to feel the eternal bond between mankind and Mother Earth, and to root down in order to grow towards the sky. What is your support system? What relationships and habits do you have in place that can let you grow wild and free?

>>>

DESTINY
Endless Knot: Embrace love that defies time and space, and trust in the unfolding, with this eternal pattern. What is everlasting to you? This could be a relationship that’s endured, but could also be a part of your self, or your world, that you deeply believe in. What would it look like to recommit to an enduring belief in life as an eternal process?

>>>

UNITY
Healing Love: Harness the healing power of love for yourself and humanity with this symbol that makes the world go ‘round. What does healing look like to you? Have you been spending enough time on self care? Are you balancing between giving and receiving? How could you bring this exchange of self love and external love into greater equilibrium?

>>>

FRIENDSHIP
Pineapple: A symbol of hospitality, New England sea captains traditionally placed a pineapple outside their homes as a symbol of a safe return. Let a genuine sense of welcome forge lasting connections. When is the last time you gathered your tribe close? Or smiled to a stranger? Feel into moments during your day when you can open the doors wide rather than shut down.

>>>

SERENDIPITY
Fortune’s Favor: Find yourself in the right place at the right time with a symbol that fuses the horseshoe, heart, and shamrock, and channels the Roman goddess of good luck, Fortuna. How would you act differently if you truly believed that life was on your side? What chances would you take right now?

>>>

ADVENTURE
Godspeed: Channeling the Old English blessing for the start of a journey, this symbol’s magical sincerity protects you on your path. What kind of journeys are you ready to take? Review the great adventure you’ve been on thus far and don’t be afraid to project that into the future. Mood board it and get excited about all of the paths not yet traveled!

>>>

ALIGNMENT
Cosmic Balance: Manifest your dreams by integrating the masculine and feminine symbols of the Sun’s light and Moon’s reflection. What does a balance of yin/yang, masculine/feminine look like in your life? How can you find a healthy equilibrium between acting and intuiting, between shining your individual light brightly and listening in to the subtler rhythms of the world as it is?

>>>

ABUNDANCE
Hand of Fatima: Originating from the Hebrew word hamesh, which literally means “five”, this ancient talisman channels feminine power and fosters miracles by deflecting the gaze of the evil eye away from the wearer. Where do you operate from scarcity versus an abundance mindset in your life? What kinds of “negative” influences sap your energy? Get crystal clear on where energy is leaking and how you can redirect it.

Want more magical messages? Check out Alex + Ani’s customized cosmic jewels HERE, and follow them on Instagram.

MESSAGE FOR THE VIRGO NEW MOON ECLIPSE: HAVE FAITH!

This weekend’s Virgo New Moon eclipse is an invitation to go big, or go home. Just have a little faith, says Chani NicholasPhotography: Dana Trippe. Model: Rachel Barnes

It’s that time again. Eclipse season.

Things speed up. Choices come rapid fire. Life alters, and we either keep up or get left behind. Eclipses tend to bring themes of major openings and closings. Portals of opportunity beckon us towards them. Things get cut short. Endings draw near without warning. Experiences are stark. Stakes are high.

The Virgo New Moon eclipse on Saturday, September 12th at 11:54 PM PST at 20 degrees of Virgo is a solar one. During a solar eclipse, the light of the Sun is diminished, obscured and confiscated (though not for those of us that will be experiencing it during night time). Life depends upon the light of the Sun. We depend on the light of the Sun. When that light appears to be threatened, so too are we.

We realize there are things we have no control over. Like the planets. Like our lives.

This eclipse is in Virgo. Virgo wants to know the specifics, the design and the down-and-dirty details of the situation. Virgo over thinks, over stresses, and over analyzes. There is no one that I would trust more with any kind of job that required a sincere and honest effort than a Virgo. This sign is unparalleled for its ability to work diligently at a task.

The Virgo New Moon eclipse also occurs near the North Node of the Moon – the point in the zodiac representing what we strive towards and want to accumulate. As such, we could say that this eclipse is propelling us forward, opening us up to our appetites, asking or taunting us to push our boundaries and find our edge, while possibly calling us to fulfill some aspect of our destiny.

Minutes before the eclipse, there will be a New Moon in Virgo. Every New Moon marks a new beginning, energetically opening up the sign it occurs in, as well as any major planet that has recently entered that sign.

And Jupiter has just landed in Virgo. Jupiter’s influence expands what it touches, creates opportunity, makes magnanimity its monogram, flaunts blind faith as a virtue and enlarges whatever it touches. Jupiter’s year long stay in Virgo is asking us to spend some time considering how we deal with the organizational aspects of our lives, how to work in efficient ways, and what details to expand upon. But more importantly Jupiter is hard at work developing the house in our chart that it is transiting in a critical, thoughtful, discerned fashion. Jupiter was last in Virgo 12 years ago – what area of your life was expanding, and opening up, back then?

With this eclipse of the new Moon, Virgos the world over are getting extra bouts of growth-inducing game thrown their way. And all of us are being asked to pay special attention to the part of our chart that contains Virgo (you can do your birth chart for free here). These are the areas of our life to focus on at the eclipse, to be tended to, worked on, explored, opened up, expanded, brought into form and made into something.

Because Juno, Guardian of Women and Goddess of Marriage, is sitting next to the Virgo New Moon eclipse, we can also ask ourselves if we are willing to committo marry ourselves, to the most pressing issues this area of our charts holds for us. Because this eclipse is sitting with Jupiter the benefic, we can be certain that whatever the effects, they will be BIG. Because this eclipse is making a friendly sextile to Saturn, we can know that our efforts to stabilize and make real are being aided. Because this eclipse is making a trine to Pluto we are invited to go deep and be real, to get ready to embrace our power and use it for good.

But. And. Finally.

Mercury, the planet that governs both the Virgo New Moon eclipse and Jupiter’s stay in Virgo, is slowing down to station retrograde on September 17. This might muck things up a bit, or at the very least make for an extra strange eclipse season. One that urges us to take well-assessed risks, but one that can’t guarantee the outcome. One that wants us to have faith in what we know, but might not show us all the information. One that asks us to serve the design of our lives, while it conceals an important part of the blue print.

This eclipse calls for critical faith.

Read the full, unedited version of Chani’s message for the Virgo New Moon eclipse at the link. You can also purchase her Eclipse Season Survival Guide here.

What area of your life do you want to open up with the cosmic energy of this New Moon eclipse? Share in the comments below, and connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!