COSMIC CULTURE FOR JUNE

All that’s Nu in music, movies, books, and film: read on for Amelia Quint‘s round-up of cosmic culture for June…

Virgo Florence Welch at Glastonbury

:: MUSIC ::

It’s music festival season! Time to adorn yourself with sigils, pack your sage smudges, wear your favorite talismans, and get going. Here’s your mystical guide to the best music festivals happening this month, and the lowdown on which one will give your soul the nourishment it’s craving.

Gentle reminder: have fun, and while you’re there, please practice proper safety. Love and respect the place you’re in, love and respect yourself and those around you, and all will be chill.

GLASTONBURY

June 22 – 26, Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset, UK

The ladies rule Glastonbury this year, just as Morgan le Fay once did. Go for what’s sure to be a stunning performance from the high priestess of all festival stages, Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine. Stay for Adele’s ferocious pipes, the PJ Harvey’s uncompromising artistry, and up-and-comer Låpsley’s dream-pop. If there’s time, let Unknown Mortal Orchestra sweep you off your feet with their cinematic brand of rock. Also, word on the street is that there’s a secret set from Radiohead in the works, so be ready to drop everything and Thom Yorke dance at any moment.

THIS FESTIVAL IS FOR: Lunar goddesses. Water sign people who want to touch the sublime parts of life through music.

BONNAROO

June 9 – 12, Great Stage Park, Manchester, TN, USA

Bonnaroo may have the most universally appealing lineup out of this year’s festival set, with an undeniably danceable blend of crowd pleasers. There are your typical festival darlings like Tame Impala, Haim, and Blood Orange, supplemented by a few nostalgia acts (Third Eye Blind) and hot young things (Sunflower Bean). Still, for a festival that has a history of catering to a niche crowd, this year’s list refreshing! Hip-hop lovers, put Bryson Tiller and J. Cole at the top of your list. Fans of The Weekend and Kanye West circa Late Registration will definitely approve.

THIS FESTIVAL IS FOR: Magpie Air sign people who want a little bit of everything.

Gemini Fetty Wap at Electric Forest

ELECTRIC FOREST

June 23-26, Double JJ Resort, Grand Township, MI, USA

This gathering is unique in every way, from its eclectic lineup to its singular location. Set in the heart of the Double JJ Resort’s beautiful ranch property, the forest provides the perfect environment for people to release the wildness within their souls. The lineup consists primarily of electronic dance music mainstays, including Bassnectar, Bonobo, and Disco Biscuits—the kind of music that will keep you dancing into the wee hours. Club favorites like Fetty Wap and DJ Mustard (Needed Me, Or Nah) are also on the bill, so there’s something here for everyone’s inner maenad.

THIS FESTIVAL IS FOR: Fire sign people looking for an ecstatic route to enlightenment.

MOUNTAIN JAM

June 2-5, Hunter Mountain, NY, USA

If you’re looking for a festival where you can kick back, relax, and let me music move you—this one’s tailored to you. Top billing goes to Beck, Wilco, and The Avett Brothers, with support from Brandi Carlile and high vibe favorite Michael Franti & Spearhead. He’s so loved by those of our ilk that you can even take a yoga class while he serenades you through sun salutations! If you can deal with the fact that Train will be covering Led Zeppelin II in its entirety, this is a show you won’t want to miss.

THIS FESTIVAL IS FOR: Grounded Earth sign people who want to reconnect with their roots.

:: FILM ::

THE NEON DEMON

In this Valley of the Dolls-style thriller, Nicolas Winding Refn of Drive acclaim follows an aspiring model’s descent into the fashion industry’s dark underworld. Elle Fanning stars,and it’s rumored to have been inspired by Venus-in-Leo-gone-wrong, Elizabeth Báthory, who allegedly bathed in the blood of virgins to preserve her own youth. Will the film be a successful indictment of youth worship, or will its model-filled scenes prove otherwise? Reviews so far are mixed, so you’ll have to decide for yourself. If nothing else, it will be beautiful.

THE NEON DEMON premieres June 24 in the United States.

TIME TO CHOOSE

In the new documentary by the Academy Award winning director of Inside Job, Charles Ferguson explores solutions to the climate change crisis. He interviews experts in the energy field, including politicians, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, innovators, and individuals already directly experiencing the catastrophic effects of climate change. Come to help save Mother Gaia, stay for the narration by your internet BF, Oscar Isaac.

TIME TO CHOOSE premieres June 3 in the United States.

:: TELEVISION ::

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Surprise—Orange is the New Black may be the most woke show on television! Last season’s brave exploration of faith and miracles was, in many ways, a depiction of what we’ve all experienced in our respective journeys. Watching the Litchfield women do full moon rituals, gather kitchen supplies for spells, fear judgment for their beliefs, and grapple with doubt was, for me, a deeply humbling experience. I don’t want to spoil anything, so suffice to say that let’s hope they continue that narrative in the forthcoming season. We need it.

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK premieres on June 17 on Netflix.

AQUARIUS

If you’re experiencing The X-Files withdrawals, this could be your fix. Set in the psychedelic 1960s, David Duchovny goes undercover to investigate Charles Manson’s infamous cult. It’s not an mystical show per se, but his descent into the Manson family’s world illustrates how Aquarian age concepts go wrong when lower Neptune urges (think sex, drugs, rock and roll, and madness) distort the original message. Aquarius is worth watching as a modern mystic.

AQUARIUS premieres June 16 on NBC.

:: BOOKS ::

THE PAST LIFE PERSPECTIVE

Curious about who you may have been in a past life? In this book, licensed therapist Ann Barham opens the doors of her office for a revealing look at what actually happens in past life regressions, including her own experiences and those of many clients. She explores the potential of regression as an aid for personal healing, spiritual inquiry, and discovering your true nature across multiple lifetimes.

The Past Life Perspective will be available June 7 from Atria/Enliven (Simon & Schuster).

THE GAIAN TAROT

After a long hiatus, this beloved tarot deck from Joanna Powell Colbert will be back in print with an updated guidebook and illustrations. The art is a mix of animals and people living in wild nature, and the deck’s comforting energy is grounded and relatable. As an owner of the deck, I can say that it provides incredibly accurate readings, especially for personal journaling and spiritual practice. Get your hands on this quickly, because copies will go fast!

Gaian Tarot will be available June 28 from Schiffer Publishing.

PEACE ON EARTH: A PRAYER FOR THE PLANET

Recorded for The Numinous in August 2015, during Guru Jagat’s RaMa Glastonbury Retreat, Rebecca Campbell‘s Prayer For The Planet is a chanting meditation designed to raise our collective vibration and send peace to the world. Visuals: Christel Chaudet

Mother Earth doesn’t need us in order to survive but we need Her.

After launching my book Light Is the New Black last summer, I found myself feeling exhausted and depleted. No amount of meditation or Netflix marathons could fill up my well. And when I listened, what I heard was my soul was calling me to return to the mystical land of Avalon (in the UK’s Glastonbury) to be nurtured by Mother Earth. It didn’t make sense at the time, but knowing my intuition when I hear it I cleared my over-spilling diary, packed a bag and set off – for what would become a magical mystery tour of the region’s ancient sacred sites.

24 hours later I found myself laying star shaped in the long grass and roses of the Chalice Well Gardens. My body felt replenished, as my own well filled to the soundtrack of the red springs bubbling eternal from the depths of Mother Earth. And just ten minutes later, while back in my B & B playing kundalini mantras, there was a knock at my door.

I opened it to find a white-clad yogi standing there, asking me if I was here for the RaMa retreat starting the next day. “I must be,” I thought, and soon found myself joining a group of 30 yogis (including the Numinous’ Ruby Warrington, Guru Jagat and Madeline Giles) chanting our way around the sacred sites of England (more on this here).

The magical thing about returning to sacred lands our soul once trod is that something is unlocked, not just in ourselves but in the land too. It’s as if the Earth has called us back to remind us of things once forgotten.

I realized this visiting a Vesica Pisces crop circle near Avebury. The moment I stepped inside, it I was overwhelmed by an sense of being held. It was subtle yet extremely significant and powerful. As the group formed a circle in the center of the sacred symbol, it was as if Mother Earth was welcoming us into her arms, rocking us back to a place of deep receiving, healing and surrendering. As we began to chant I hit record on my iPhone, knowing that this moment was not only for those of us who had physically journeyed there.

And so I offer this sacred chant up to you. May it soften your heart to receive all of the love, healing and wisdom needed as you navigate the next portal of your journey. For as we each soften, awaken and heal, our magnificent planet does too.

MY MYSTICAL WEEK: KUNDALINI HEAVYWEIGHTS, THE POWER OF SAGE, AND A BOX OF TREATS

Will I ever be hardcore enough to be one of the kundalini crew, asks Ruby Warrington?

I HUNG WITH THE KUNDALINI HEAVYWEIGHTS. So kundalini yoga is generally one of those things I do because I don’t want to. I figure anything that makes my ego flip-out the way this practice does has gotta be good for furthering my personal ascension goals – plus I’ve experienced some of my most profound life realizations on my sheepskin. Like full-on psychic visions about the best next steps to take in life. So when I learned that Guru Jagat (a.k.a. the woman spearheading the current kundalini global takeover bid) was hosting a retreat with her Rama Institute in Glastonbury last weekend, OF COURSE I extended my recent stay in the UK so I could go.

Here’s a sampling of the kind of stuff that went down:

Daily 4am sadhana. Literal translation: “spiritual exertion towards an intended goal”. My translation: “a battle of ego over sleep-deprived mind, and absolute evidence that kundalini yogis – who practise sadhana every morning – are the most hardcore of yogis.”
My first 2.5 hour meditation. About 4.30am on Saturday morning, Guru Jagat announced she’d had a download that we were going to do the “Master’s Touch” meditation that morning. Here’s a video. We did this for 2.5 hours (but faster, without music, and with our hands held in the ‘crossed fingers’ position). TF for her caveat that anybody “new” to kundalini was welcome to nap if needed.
Shopping for Jupiter rings. One think I love about the kundalini community is that they’re generally dripping with jewels – and the first opportunity we got we headed to Stone Age, a high-vibe crystal jewelry store in Glastonbury town. Wearing a ring on your Jupiter finger (the pointer finger) is said to symbolize power, leadership and authority…which is interesting since most women were saying they don’t like wearing rings on that finger because it feels “ugly” and “clunky.” Hmmm!
A trip to the top of the Tor. As in, the hill that presides over Glastonbury – and which is also the axis of the mythical Earth Zodiac (which, never fear, I will write about at length in another post!) Cut to bemused stares from the ‘regular’ tourists, as our 40-strong group moved from seated meditation in the grass (substituting sheepskins for black trash bags to protect our kundalini whites)…to insane selfie excitement in the natural wind machine created by the ruins of St Michael’s castle (see below).

I BOWED TO THE POWER OF SAGE. I actually had to leave the retreat early (which means I missed seeing Merlin’s Cave, the crop circle excursion, and the final 4am sadhana AT THE TOP OF THE TOR), because of an electrical issue that needed sorting in my London home. My shower had been giving off a *tingle* of electrical charge (eek), and the electrician had already been in twice to figure out what was causing it – to no avail. He needed to do a deep dive he said, and un/rewire my entire house to get the bottom of this one (see dollar signs stretching to infinity in my mind’s / third eye).

I figured I might as well do my bit, so I picked up a GIANT bunch of sage at Star Child Original Medicinal Botanicals in Glasto and smudged my place the night before – paying extra attention to the bathroom. I mean it could easily be an energetic problem, right? Ghost of tenants past making a watery plea for freedom? And what do you know, 15 minutes into the job, my man Shane had found and fixed the problem! He was scratching is head over how he’d missed it before…while I smiled inside cos I figured I’d essentially smoked that mo-fo out.

I RECEIVED A BOX OF TREATS. One thing I miss about my “old life” in the mainstream media is the constant stream of free beauty products I used to get sent. In fact, there was a whole other lesson in ego eradication when the supply dried up once I left my old staff job. But when I returned back to NY, I was amazed to find a box of beauty goodies from Blue Mercury awaiting me – and even better, the majority of them were all natural!

Perhaps they were a gift from Jupiter, planet of abundance, who just moved signs into my house of health and wellbeing. Or from Venus, Goddess / planet of beauty, as a thank you for honoring her with our Temple of Venus art project this past month. I mean, these are the kind of questions a girl has to ask when goodies appear from out of no-where. And my fave product in the box? A chemical-free nail lacquer from Smith & Cult in a shade of poppy red called Kundalini Hussle – of course.

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.

NOTES FROM THE NUMIVERSE: 26 LIFE LESSONS MY BURNING MAN EXPERIENCE TAUGHT ME

Confession: 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.

So I wasn’t planning to write about my Burning Man Experience (BME). And not because ‘what-happens-on-the-Playa-stays-on-the-Playa,’ but because I have been embarrassed to admit that I didn’t have THE MOST AWESOME TIME OF MY LIFE. I feel like this is the response my friends all were all expecting when they asked, with the utmost and cutest enthusiasm, to hear my tales; ‘OMG how was it?!?!?!?!’ Because ‘I had the time of my life,’ is pretty much the standard response when you ask people about their BME.

But Burning Man is HARD. It forces to you face yourself in ways we have devised so very many modern distractions (television, the internet, flushing toilets, retail therapy) to avoid. It is also a hot, horny, fear-and-loathing-inducing humdinger of a festival, and considering the only way I could ever do Glastonbury was by staying in a local B & B where the owners gave us a glass of chilled Chablis before we headed into the fray each day, I should perhaps have guessed that my BME would kind of be a challenge.

But if I’ve learned ANYTHING this year (thanks to this lady in particular), it’s that challenges are what we human beings are here for! And that a fully textured life is always about the road less travelled. So friends, followers, here are the vital and sometimes evolutionary lessons my BME taught me:

We are hopelessly addicted to stuff: Witness hundreds of Burners buying up literally the entire contents of Walmart in Reno in preparation for a week of ‘radical self-reliance’ in the desert. Next year (oh yes, there will be a ‘next year’) I pledge to make ‘minimalism’ my motto.

Enforced fun can still be fun: We’d been on the road for pretty much 40 hours straight (give or take a whiskey-infused power nap) by the time my friend Sophie and I made it through the gates to hunt down our fellow campers – leaving my husband Simon in what was shaping up to be an 8-hour wait in ‘will call’ for his ticket. As a BM ‘virgin’ it was the greeters’ job to make me lie down on the Playa and make a ‘dust-angel’ to mark my entry. I was not in the mood, but getting to lie down for a minute did put a smile on my face.

Anticipation is the mother of the anti-climax: Even if you haven’t been to BM, you know what BM looks like, right? This is because we live in the information age, goddamnit, and sites (like this one) won’t stop publishing pictures of Black Rock City and its freaky-deeky population. I actually kind of hated myself for not being ‘in awe’ of what I saw out on the Playa my first day. Was I that jaded? But I basically saw exactly what I saw in the images and YouTube clips I’d GORGED on before the event. In fact, if you haven’t been to BM and you think you might go at some point in the future, maybe stop reading now. The joy of discovery is a beautiful thing.

Just follow the signs…

But nothing can prepare you for the TRIP that is your first night on the Playa: Thankfully you can’t photograph a feeling, and here’s a sensation you’ve never got to experience before and will never experience anywhere else. It’s just you, your bike and a sea of LEDs. No roads, no rules, no edge separating Earth from the rest of the Universe.

Being an Aries with Sag rising and Cancer Moon makes for a very conflicted camper (see above re. Glastonbury): The Aries and the Sag want PARTIES, PEOPLE, ADVENTURE! The Cancer needs ALL MY CREATURE COMFORTS, INCLUDING LOTS OF PRIVACY, ALL THE TIME. Yikes.

And…if you have a Water Moon, try to camp with at least one other Water Moon: My gift to my beautiful fellow campers was a personal astro reading, so I had all their chart information ahead of time. And wouldn’t you know, I was headed into a desert storm of pure Fire and Earth. Which of course made for the most incredible camp set-up (fully functioning kitchen, hand-washing station, outdoor shower – with curtain, evaporation pool for our grey water) and a consistent party vibe (mushrooms for breakfast, a carefully calculated six cans of beer per person, per day, plus a seemingly limitless supply of spirits). But my goodness, the outpouring of emotions when I finally managed to track down my friend Tali, and her blessed Scorpio Moon.

I am a total music snob: Tali says it’s because I’m an Aries, who she always admires for our “discernment” (erm, I believe “arrogance” is another adjective associated with my sign). But I also blame (again) my Cancer Moon. To make me move, music has to have soul. Worse, anything that can be loosely categorised as dubstep, breakbeat, trap, minimal techno, EDM or drum ‘n’ bass actually causes a physical reaction in my body that feels a lot like anger. WFT? Even if I’ve taken really amazing drugs (not that I necessarily think drugs are amazing, see below). Unfortunately, these seem to be the preferred genres of most DJs manning the art cars and sound systems at BM, providing a 24-7 soundtrack to life on the Playa straight out of my worst musical nightmare. But thank f*** for a camp called Basshenge!!! Pumping out a soulful, heartbeat bassline that kept me dancing in the dust ‘til dawn, I <3 Basshenge.

Sound clash is sleep deprivation for the soul: The only thing worse than waking up to a full on trap set happening right next to your RV at 9am, is a full on drum ‘n’ bass set happening 10 feet away at the same time. Note to organisers: my friend Gina had a lovely idea – “an hour of silence” every day. (Note to self: add a set of noise cancelling headphones to the minimal ‘must-haves’ list for next year)

“Love is Love”, especially in the desert

“No critters live in the desert”: How cool is this – apparently there’s a special camp in BRC for people to drop off random animals and bugs they find in their camp. This is because, seeing as the desert conditions are too harsh for any living thing to survive (erm, no shit), any “critters” have to have travelled in with you. Even better, there’s some kind of Dr Doolittle animal sanctuary outside the Playa where they all get deposited after the event. What a fun time we had imagining how that little man-made ecosystem is progressing year-on-year!

But BRC is actually a very safe place for humans to live: Discussing the medical room stats listed in the Black Rock Gazette one morning, our camp-mate Bryan (a professional anaesthetist – which, yes, makes for some very interesting conversations about recreational use of ketamine) was able to confirm that the incidence of accident and injury is way lower than the average American metropolis. Despite the lack of rules and policing, and the disproportionately high incidence of all-day intoxication in BRC.

A mini torch makes the best MOOP: Okay, I might have fallen off my bike riding over it out in the deep Playa, but having a mini torch to strap to my Vega Jewelry crystal necklace was a revelation – literally! Mainly down to no more hold-your-breath-and-guess moments in the porta-potties in the dead of night. Yay PERSONAL ILLUMINATION!

The Playa is not a beach: It is a beautiful, uncompromising, arid, dust-bowl. Not to be confused with somewhere to kick back, relax and sink a few cold ones before cooling off in the surf.

Hedonism is one of the deepest expressions of human spirituality: Since when did hedonism get such a bad name anyway?? In the dictionary, it’s defined as – the belief that pleasure or happiness is the most important goal in life. The fact that people will go to so much effort in the pursuit of this ideal, suggests to me a serious pleasure/happiness-unbalance in our daily lives. And being happy means being better equipped to want to contribute to other people’s happiness. This is one of the best BM lessons of all.

Men, even gay men, think very long, wavy hair is sexy. Even if it’s green: I have never received more compliments from the opposite sex than the night I donned this wig. This must be why women get addicted to hair extensions. And doesn’t it say something interesting about gender representation? No matter how progressive the humans, the Disney Princess vision of female beauty still holds sway.

“Radical self-expression” = a lot of costume clichés: See top hats, striped meggings, faux-fur moon boots, leather bras…and green wigs. Turns out most of us humans actually prefer to conform, and a couple of days into the 80kg dressing up box of sequins, wigs and fake tattoos I’d lugged from Brooklyn, I too became acutely aware that I was actually putting together a series of ‘Burning Man outfits’ that were less about an expression of my own personal style than a desire to fit in. I worked in fashion for a long time, I know what that is. Next year I’m just gonna pack a bikini, some Teeki yoga pants, and my boiler suit (below), which is what I ended up feeling most ‘me’ in.

Basically, the best boiler suit ever

I might have had my Burning Man moment a decade (and a half) ago in Ibiza: Between the ages of 24 and 32, I made a twice-yearly pilgrimage to the ‘spiritual’ party island of Ibiza. And daytime dancing at Distrikt, downing shots of Whisky with old gay dudes in leather skirts, riding out at night into a sea of LEDs, allowing myself to merge with the Cosmos out on the edge of the Playa…was basically flashback central to then. What I got from ‘the Ibiza years’ was a sense of connection to a tribe of likeminded hedonists, a deep respect for the numinous beauty of nature and a lot of dancing in the sand beneath the stars. Sound familiar? So now I know I’ve ‘been there, done that’, time to set some new intentions for my BM experience next year.

The best Bloody Mary’s are frozen Bloody Mary’s: But what you don’t get in Ibiza, is some dude named Dave serving up the most incredible frozen Bloody Mary’s (just freeze the mix and stir in lashings of vodka as it melts) in exchange for a sweaty hug. In Ibiza the Bloody Marys will set you back $25.

In no way, shape or form do drug highs measure up to spiritual highs: I first took E when I was 14, and it helped me understand a whole other plane of human existence (not to mention get out of facing my feelings about my parent’s divorce). It took about 20 years for me to realize that seeing as that veil had already been lifted, I would never experience the same sense of ‘enlightenment’ from drugs again – and that in fact, taking drugs is kind of like opening the door to your soul to an unknown entity and handing over the controls (which is why a lot of drug highs feel so scary). There are lots of drugs at BM, and part of my brain (the drunk part) still believes in those kind of highs. But experience – mainly experiences of the numinous variety – has shown me that when your soul is allowed to navigate its own route to bliss, there is no fear, there is no comedown and there is UNLIMITED POTENTIAL FOR PERSONAL GROWTH.

But take enough and you might experience time travel: So my friend-who-shall-remain-nameless met a ‘medicine woman’ dancing at Robot Heart, and asked; ‘what can I learn from you?’ They spent the next 24 hours together out in the deep Playa, during which time the medicine woman gave my friend ‘more drugs than I’ve taken in my life – cocaine, LSD, mushrooms, molly’, and my friend claims she experienced time travel and understood that immortality is entirely possible. Those are the kind of drug experiences I guess I would like to have, but am basically scared s***less of.

Even in the deepest of Playa, where you literally feel like you are on the edge of the Cosmos, a tweaking raver from Liverpool will hunt you down and try to fill your head with her relationship problems: Know that you do not have to let this totally kill your mushroom buzz, and that it is always within your power to simply stand up, kiss her goodnight and ride away.

Sunset: navigating the duality of night and day

Life is an exercise in duality: Clean, dirty; give, receive; high, low; hot, cold. All of which it feels like BM is set up to make ABUNDANTLY CLEAR.

Whiskey Flats RV park (Hawthorn, NV) is the Park Hyatt of RV parks: Okay maybe our perspective was somewhat skewed…but man, I could have kissed the pristine, floral-scented toilet when we stopped off here on our way back to Vegas to clean our RV and empty the putrid ‘black water’ tank. Oh and they also have free coffee and a Laundromat!! I’ve always loved doing laundry. Doing it here was like doing laundry on ecstasy. This is the website in case you need it for next year.

Digital cold turkey isn’t difficult: I’m addicted as the best of us, but I can honestly say I didn’t miss social media or email ONCE during my BME. I even found it hard to let it back into my life, like I’d got a newfound respect for exactly how DICTATOR-LIKE it is. The sense of serenity that comes from being offline is blissful, and observing my online life from the other side I was able to witness the physical, emotional and intellectual hold technology has on us. But, you know, now I’m fully back on the juice and loving it.

I am actually obsessed with the Body’s Ability To Bounce Back (BABB): Okay it’s taken a week to muster the brain cells and the discipline to get this post together, but that’s a lot to do with the fact I’ve also spent a lot of time marvelling at how GOOD IT FEELS to inch my way back into the healthful, spiritually aligned, fully embodied state I usually seek to maintain (a.k.a. get over the comedown). Bryan (the anaesthetist) said he still marvels daily at the BABB, how our organism is consistently seeking to bring itself into balance. Seriously, gotta love the BABB.

Even in the most Mystical of Worlds, I am very much a Material Girl: But I’ve always been pretty upfront about that one, hey.

My life is really freaking awesome: Since my return to the ‘default’ world, I’ve been feeling THE IMMENSEST AMMOUNT OF GRATITUDE FOR – in no particular order of wonderfulness – being clean, fresh water and the sewage system, work that brings me so much satisfaction and helps me define my ‘edges’, electricity, the bond I share with my beautiful husband, groceries, my cat purring, blowdries, the Internet. And an event like Burning Man, for helping me TRULY appreciate the fact.

Burningman.com

HOLLYWOOD HIGHS (AND HOTELS): IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LEY LINES

YOU’VE got Ibiza, Glastonbury, and…Hollywood? Certain global locations just seem to rob people of their inhibitions and inspire the kind of semi-naked, joyous hands-in-the-air dancing photographer Brad Elterman captured at this 1977 pool party at a mansion behind the Beverly Hills Hotel. Maybe it was just the 1970s (“back then it wasn’t too much of a big deal going to a Mega Mansion party in Beverly Hills with nude girls, because I attended three or four a week!” he says) – or maybe you could put it down to the ley lines.

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