THE APRIL 19 LIBRA FULL MOON WANTS YOU TO BLOOM BIG

The second Libra Full Moon of 2019 is sweet and thorny, inviting us to set a boundary and go big, says Sandy Sitron

Photo: D-ng-tr-n-qu-c

Full Moon // April 19, 2019 // 7:12 am EDT // 29 degrees Libra

Rose bushes tantalize with sweet smells and bright colors. Underneath the surface are an army of bloodthirsty thorns.

Visualize this lunation as if it represents the diverse ecosystem of a rose bush in bloom. Many pathways available, many roses to be smelled, many insects, and small animals to encounter. There’s a headiness as the perfume intoxicates, and a pain that lingers when you are pricked. You can have the best time revealing in the beauty or you can get stuck in the thorns.

On Friday April 19th there is the second Libra Full Moon of 2019. This one is asking us to get it right. There’s not much time to waste. It’s time to spark the flame of your desire, go for it, and bloom big! That’s what you’ve been working on this Aries season, even though part of the time the process was foggy, slippery, and subconscious.

And this fiery evolution of the self has been punctuated by the need to be clear, communicative and reach toward another person in diplomatic action. You’ve been asked to set boundaries that help you be more of yourself, alone and in partnership. That’s the thorny truth of what this pair of Libra Full Moons are asking you to do.

The rose is the perfect metaphor because it is peaceful and beautiful, like the Libra archetype. But it is also clear about its boundaries, the way both Libra and Aries must be to create truly balanced partnership. The rose is also the symbol for the open heart, and to be truly open-hearted you must have pointy thorns to defend yourself. That saves you energy and makes openness safe and sustainable.

The overall message of this Full Moon is to work on your self awareness so that you can communicate and enjoy both individuality and balanced partnership.

I’ll be honest, the delivery of this message is not super gentle. This Full Moon might try your patience. It might ask you to find a new path through the thorny brush. You might get some scratches. But it’s all worth it if it helps you practice self-awareness.

During this lunation there is a lot of pressure. At its best, this pressure will ask you to change. The way to handle it is to be consciously open to a mental, spiritual, and even physical upgrade. Ask for a fresh perspective. As the Sun transits close to Uranus, this upgrade might come through sometime next week.

If you are subconsciously afraid and not truly open to change, you will just feel the pressure of the grand cross that’s formed between the Nodal axis, Pluto, Saturn, the Sun, and the Moon. That pressure invites regression to old behaviors that don’t serve you anymore. It might feel majorly limiting and frustrating.

Being open to change is a state of mind.

At this time, any old patterns will catch you up in the briar patch of thorns. You need new perspective and change is supported. Meanwhile, true expansion is likely with a supportive assist by Jupiter. Jupiter is your cheerleader, reminding you that …

-You can find a new way of saying yes to who you are and what you need.

-You are ripe to open up to another person and communicate your truth.

-The old way is ending and the structure for a new way is being created.

Revel in the fact that life in the rose bush is far from boring. You are under pressure, and it might hurt a little, but the chance to blossom and show your truth has never been so vibrant!

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Moon sextile Jupiter
A graceful willow.
The willow goes with the flow. There is no breakage because there is no tension. So the branches flourish and grow lush The flexibility results in strength. You have access to support without trying. There is friction and tension at this Full Moon to be certain. But remember that sometimes you get further by going with the flow instead of hustling. Look around to see where you want to reap rewards with less effort.

Moon opposite Uranus
Lightning bug.
Keep your eyes peeled for surprising flashes of illumination. You don’t need to know where it’s going to come from. And it would be impossible to anticipate. But if you look for it, you won’t miss it. The brilliant light can show you a new path to follow.

Moon square Pluto, Saturn and North Node
Putting an irrigation system in place.
You need to find a new way forward and you will need to work to create it. Without ingenious new solutions, you will dry up. you might find buried root systems that block your path and the task might take months longer than expected. but keep trying to remove the old obstacles and welcome a new way to nurture yourself and others. You can figure this out.

7 SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS OF MY NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE

What you really get from a near death experience is a numinous new perspective on life, the Universe, and everything, says Worthy Stokes  …

The last thing I remember before leaving my body was the U2 song playing on my iPod shuffle: It’s A Beautiful Day. I was out for a morning jog wearing headphones and stopped at a crosswalk to wait for the signal to change. When it turned green, I turned up the volume and raced straight into Death.

A van had run a stoplight, and at the very moment it crashed into me, the world disappeared. Instead of memories of my skull breaking against pavement, I remember only that song and an image of wide, open sky. Thus, U2 serenaded my departure from this life; the ensuing brain trauma erasing everything except for Bono’s voice. So, when I tell the story of my Near Death Experience (NDE), I always think of him.

Five years have passed since my harrowing return to my body, during which time the nuts and bolts of universal intelligence have emerged in waves and codes. During this time, seven spiritual teachings have emerged — to inform my life and work here on Earth 

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1. Consciousness is not religious, humans are. When I dropped into the vastness of the primordial, cosmic soup, I came face-to-face with infinity. I was lucid in my perception of an elegant, fluid order, and, at the same time, the experience felt wholly incomprehensible to my human brain. I felt neither shock, or distress. I floated about leisurely, as I noticed, rather abruptly, that religion simply does not exist beyond the human mind.

Having previously “believed” in Buddhism, I came back into my body with a transfigured cosmology for which I have no translation. My faith rests instead in a mysterious beauty that remains unencumbered by mortal bias, dogmas, or doctrines—all of which, I see now, are highly destructive to human beings. Religion perpetuates guilt. Consciousness activates possibility.

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2. Death is a choose-your-own-adventure experience. If you like Jesus, he’ll be there. If you love practicing meditation, maybe you’ll see a monk. If you are tired of patriarchy, perhaps a fierce Goddess or tree spirit will greet you. For atheists or stoics who think this is nonsense, the journey into Death is destined to unfold in a way that is relaxing, uneventful, and not at all weird. Each of us naturally transitions from one state of consciousness to another without the slightest bit of pain—which brings me to the idea of Hell, which isn’t real, so everyone can relax. There is no darkness in that final exit, and if there is, it’s probably because you wanted it that way.

3. We are all as connected as we are separate. There is an individuated blueprint in each of us describing multiple portals to other dimensions, but how this system mechanically functions is beyond us. Invisible points of contact, layers of free will, shifting realities, and elements of destiny all move and meld in ways that are too complex for us to ever name. In the popular TV series about NDEs (OA), there are gestures coupled with movements to be found in the afterlife, which combine in an eerie combination of breath and choreography.

This hints at an interlocking system we all share and must sort out together, because each of us carries a vital piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fully work until connected with others. In other words, the success of our collective matrix depends on its parts functioning as coherent, interactive particles engaging consciously. So yes, your healing journey is valuable to all of us. My NDE showed me that we are linked, and we are separate. We have shared paths, and we engage singularity. We are interdependent, and we are alone.

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4. Some things do not heal. Consciousness is not just for manifesting a Ferrari or a mate or healing a primal wound; it is not a spoon we can learn to bend with our minds. We do not have as much control as we wish we did, and we do not get to know why some things heal and others don’t. Asking why X still hurts (despite having done all the Work), as so many of us like to do, leads nowhere. Let’s ask each other instead, “What happened? What can happen next?”

Our job here is to hold each other’s fragility, alongside qualities of strength, power, purpose, and possibility. Even after having seen in my NDE how vast we all are, and how very little control we have in our lives, I returned with a belief that wanting to heal something was enough. Over time, I learned I was wrong. I learned instead to make peace with hundreds of things I cannot fix. Now, I pay close attention to what IS possible here, in the realm of the living. I find enormous solace in my understanding that on the other side, there is no pain.

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5. Transformation is your birthright. We have the right to change what we do not like, need, or love, in this wakeful, transient life. Further, we are spiritually and neurologically wired for transformation. I’m not saying transformation is easy, and I am also not saying it’s going to be an affordable, realistic, or linear process. Nor is it a test or an experiment. There are no grades, or getting it “right” or “wrong.” Showing up and exploring is what counts. Dreaming, breathing, building, evaluating, noticing, and repeating what works. Getting into your carpe diem flow while motivated by visions of awesomeness is a very good place to start. Find mentors, make revisions, and don’t be afraid to color outside the lines.

Photo: Ameen Fahmy

6. We need our people guides more than our spirit guides. We are each like turtles bringing houses of consciousness from oceans of possibility to this shared, changeable world. Like turtles, we carry pieces of our primordial homes on our backs, which means we are all, always, “at home.” From this space, we can choose to be fiercely, tenderly present for each other, right here and right now. Yet I see countless seekers hitching rides on decorated spaceships to visit fancy vortices in search of “answers” and healing. The irony is we already boarded the most cosmic spaceships of all, our bodies, and we traveled a very long way to reach this life. Meeting each other in the flesh is a fantastic, holy, and healing event, in and of itself.

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7. Being human is the ultimate spiritual path. As spiritual beings, we are elements of unified consciousness, and as physical beings, we are connected by way of our neurobiology. Being human and being here in this life IS the ultimate path; regular meditation or devotional practices that nourish our relationships with each other are simply ways to maintain our connection with the Divine.

The task at hand, truly, is to care for each other in the physical domain, as creatures who age, break, triumph, and fail, through moments of tragedy and ecstatic, heart shattering joy. There is no need to look beyond this reality. Presence is what we are, and life inside of these beautiful days IS the messy, sacred experience we came here for. When we look outside of ourselves for truthful meaning, we shut down access to the very miracles we seek.

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Worthy Stokes is a healer, seer, and sage. Learn more about her work at thisworthylife.com, get her free meditations on Insight Timer, and follow her on Instagram @thisworthylife. Get on her mystical frequency with code NUMINOUS and a 20% discount: HeartMind: A 10 Day Meditation Journey for Sensitives and Survivors on the Path of Spiritual Awakening

WHY SKINCARE IS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

Fed up with the beauty industry’s impossible standards, Giselle La Pompe-Moore set out to heal her relationship with her skin at soul level. She explains why skincare is a spiritual practice …

Giselle La Pompe-Moore

Have you ever thought about your skin beyond aesthetics?

We can spend hours in front of the mirror analyzing every pore and perceived flaw, but we rarely see beyond this. But on a deeper level, our skin is a barrier between our internal and external worlds. Something both public and deeply personal at once.

This skin allows us to experience the universe around us, to touch and be touched in return. This is why skincare is a spiritual practice.

The color of my skin was different from most of the people I grew up with, and from the women I saw in the media. I loved my skin, but as a black woman I always felt like an “other.” Was always comparing my skin to that of somebody else. The black women I DID see on TV and in magazines seemed hyper-real, with flawless, perfect skin. In an attempt to replicate this for myself, I pursued a career as a beauty editor, drowning myself in products.

Over the years, I began to notice that while creams and treatments can heal the skin externally, they do nothing to address feelings of not being good enough, of shame, and of endless comparison.

And so I took a step back to shift my focus from how skin looks on the outside to what it reflects about our inner life. To investigate the impact of spiritual tools, such as reiki, meditation and tarot, on our relationships with the skin we are in.

Now working as a healer specializing in skincare, I’ve seen how acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema have impacted the way my clients move through the world. I’ve listened to stories about what they’ll do once their skin is “healed, better, or different,” while denying themselves of the life they could be living right now. I’ve also learned that our skin is the physical embodiment of our innate self-worth.

Whether you’re working through a skin condition, are struggling to accept your physical appearance, or want to add some spirit to your skincare, here are the tools that I’ve used on myself and my clients to help shift our skincare mindset …

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1// Give yourself a crystal facial massage
Crystals can work wonders helping to set intentions around your skin—and one way is with a crystal facial massage. Here’s how to do it:

  • Choose a crystal that symbolizes your skin intention. Pink Transparent Calcite (for non-judgment and comparison), Apatite (willpower for shifting your skin mindset) and Malachite (forgiveness, committing to this journey) are some of the crystals I’ve prescribed to clients.
  • Get comfortable, cleanse your space, and connect to the crystal. Hold it in your hand and feel its energy. As you hold it, visualize your intention. If it’s to help you to forgive yourself for the unkind words you’ve said about your skin in the past, imagine this forgiving energy passing through your body. Then ask the crystal to offer you support and guidance in achieving this.
  • With the crystal in front of you, start to massage all around your face in upward and outward strokes using a face oil. With each movement, feel your intention sinking into your skin at the same time.

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2// Journal to go beneath the surface
A lot of our limiting beliefs about our appearance reside deep below the surface. Use journaling to investigate your relationship with your skin and unearth subconscious beliefs.

Here are a few questions to start with:

-How would you describe your skin? Think about the language you use, is it positive or negative?
-What does the word ‘comparison’ bring up for you, in relation to your skin?
-What memories do you have where someone made a comment about your skin or appearance and how has this had an impact on you?
-What has your inner critic said to you today? Do you believe what it told you? How do you usually talk to yourself when you’re in front of the mirror?

Through journaling, I realized that I used only negative words to describe my skin and would skip past the features I liked. So I decided to start accentuating the parts of my face that I did love, like my lips. See what comes up for you and what tools you can use to release and heal these limiting beliefs. I’ve used tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique), binaural beats and visualization in response to what I uncovered in my journal, and written letters to my skin.

Giselle guides a client

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3// Synch your skincare with the Moon
The phases of the Moon phases can provide a mirror to examine our self-image triggers, and a framework for charting our inner work and emotional landscape over a period of time. Here’s how to incorporate each phase into your skincare routine …

New Moon. Use this time of new beginnings to set an intention for your skin. It could be to reconnect with your skin. Start with self-massage, simply feeling the skin beneath your fingertips. This is also the time to add any new products in to your beauty routine.

Waxing Moon. Check in with the intentions you set at the New Moon, examining how you’re feeling about your appearance now, and thinking about how you can move closer to growing your intentions and reconnecting with your skin. Your skin is also the most absorbent and receptive to nutrients now, so add in a serum with hydrating properties or a nourishing face mask.

Full Moon. Take a moment to celebrate yourself, thanking yourself for all of the work you’ve been doing to shift your skin mindset. There can be heightened emotions and energy at this time, so make sure you’re filling your cup back up with restorative baths or an Ayurvedic abhyanga massage.

Waning Moon. Use this phase for journaling and exploring the limiting beliefs that might have come up for you over this cycle, reflecting on what you need to release in order to grow. To support this internal cleansing and shedding, use an exfoliating body scrub, try body brushing, or add in a detoxifying charcoal soap to draw out impurities and toxins.

Dark Moon. Give yourself a break! It’s easy to end up with spiritual overload, I’ve been there many times – digging into shadow work, past life astrology, and the deepest crevices of my psyche all before lunch ain’t easy! Allow yourself this time to restore, heal, imagine, and to press pause.

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4// Use the tarot to talk to your skin 
The tarot is a powerful tool for working on your mindset and self-worth, and I use it daily for both myself and in my rediscovery: skin sessions. You can start with a single card pull, asking the deck to show you how you can work on your self-image. Use the cards to start a conversation with your skin and listen to what it needs.

Example:
In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Two of Swords depicts a blindfolded woman with two swords crossed over her. The moon is above her and a body of water lies behind her. This card is all about taking the time and space to be still and look inwards. To embody this card, think about how you can create a boundary that allows you to dive into your own self-care. Allow this stillness to offer you intuitive guidance as to where you’re in need of healing and any areas of low self-worth. Use this as an invitation to see through your third eye rather than your physical eyes.

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5// Meditate for both mind and skin
Meditation is a powerful tool for shifting our skin mindset, and for relieving the stress that can trigger or aggravate neuro-inflammatory conditions such as acne.

In sessions, I guide my clients through a skin-focused meditation, which fosters gratitude, forgiveness, acceptance, and kindness, and includes a simultaneous facial self-message that creates physical connection with the skin.

*You can download a version of this meditation HERE. You’ll need cleansed skin, a comfortable space, and a facial oil in easy reach, then plug in and tune out.

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Giselle La Pompe-Moore offers one-to-one rediscovery: skin sessions that guide you to shift your skin mindset to a path of acceptance and gratitude. Her rediscovery: soul sessions incorporate reiki, tarot, and meditation. Both are held either virtually or in-person in London. She also hosts monthly Mirrorscope skin healing circles

WHAT I LEARNED AT PRIESTESS SCHOOL

Seeking to reawaken her innate magic, Ani Ferlise enrolled in Priestess School. She shares how you can embody this ancient vocation …

Graell Corsini and The Goddess Temple of Ashland

Four years ago, I was feeling alone and unfulfilled. I was dissatisfied with the way I’d spent my college years, and I was frustrated with what was expected of me. And so, seeking more of the magic I had always felt in my heart, I left New York and moved to small, magical, Ashland, in Oregon—and it was here I first heard the word “Priestess.”

I had found my way to Graell Corsini, a loving, fiery, pixie Priestess, and founder of the Goddess Temple of Ashland. The Temple itself, a beautiful dome, is surrounded by gardens, flowing mineral springs, beehives, and tall oak trees. Inside, you are greeted by a wood stove and an altar, decked with Samhain decorations and offerings. Immediately on arriving here, I felt something nostalgic and familiar awaken inside of me.

I began my working for Graell at temple “melissae,” cleaning the temple, organizing, sprucing up the altars, and clearing the space. One year later, I asked Graell if she would be willing to do a one-on-one apprenticeship with me and teach me how to Priestess for myself. Over the course of a few short weeks, I immersed myself completely in this ancient vocation.

What I learned totally blew me open, while new insights continue to unfold every day. This is what I have learned so far about the Priestess way …

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A Priestess brings magic to the mundane
Graell told me how part of her practice was to make places more beautiful than when she arrived. If she goes into a bathroom that’s dirty, she cleans it. Graell sees this act alone as a living prayer, bringing the sacred to something so everyday. That’s just one example. Taking a shower can become an energetic cleanse, with lavender or rosemary soap, as you visualize the heaviness of the day going down the drain. Cooking can become kitchen witchery when you say, “Thank you for nourishing me,” as you stir intention into your split pea soup with a wooden spoon. The way you Priestess will be as unique as your fingerprints.

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A Priestess honors the darkness along with the light
Focusing only on the light is a major imbalance in the spiritual world—for we are made of love, light, AND a deep, deep darkness. We are all born from the darkness. The womb-space, the unknown, the place of rebirth. We confront our darkness every day, and to deny this is to deny yourself of your humanity. The deep, dark unknown must not only be looked at but loved. To honor the darkness, the unknown, the places that scare us in ourselves and in life, is sacred.

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A Priestess does not have to be perfect to be in service
We are all capable of manipulation, of stretching the truth a little too much, of judgements, of ignorance, and more. We are always going to be exploring our motivations. Being of service doesn’t require ridding yourself of these human parts. The Priestess approach is to muster up your strength, vulnerability, and courage, and instead of trying to rid yourself of imperfections, to nourish and be gentle with yourself, so that you are overflowing with love. Everything that is not in alignment will then flow out of you naturally.

The Temple

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A Priestess creates sacred space
Holding sacred space is a beautiful opportunity with a lot of responsibility. This space can be energetic or physical. You can push your cart into the cereal aisle at the supermarket while a toddler is throwing a tantrum, and you can ask the mother how she’s doing. Or you can be in ceremony, looking each person in the eye, letting them know that you hear them. You never know when the opportunity to hold space will show up!

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A Priestess nurtures self always
Being a Priestess means creating a (literal) sacred space for you, too. This space is used to pray and to nurture yourself—a place, when something is too big for you, to give it over to the Higher. Natural disasters, terrorism, and societal injustice, are impossible to take on by yourself, nor are you supposed to. You are here to do your part, and whatever is beyond you needs to have a place to go. So create that space. Organize, clean, and beautify it, so you can show up AND feel held.

Whether it is a home altar, a spare room, dresser drawer, or even your car dashboard, use whatever is accessible. My altar has each of the elements represented, and I use the Wheel of the Year for my inspiration. I keep it beautiful and divinely scented with flowers and plants based on the season, with candles and oils to match, and with crystals and incense to set the tone.

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A Priestess celebrates life with ceremony
Every life event can have a ceremony or ritual. Going through a breakup? Moving into a new home? Feeling grateful? Needing to cut ties from a person? Yearning to honor a loss? Ceremony is key to bringing the mythic to the seemingly mundane. Ritual is an invitation for the sacred to come in. While there’s nothing like having a trained guide for major life gateways, there are many opportunities to support yourself during times of transition. For example, if you just experienced a break up, take a cleansing bath with rose quartz, and drink a heart-opening and nourishing tea like Damiana.

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A Priestess is a part of nature
When you begin to pay attention to the transitions of the seasons, the shifting of the Sun from sign to sign, and the phases of the Moon, it’s hard to understand how we are supposed to operate separately from nature. Like the Moon and the tides she turns, our lives ebb and flow. From socializing to solitude, from sadness to joy, from confusion to certainty, and from giving to receiving—a Priestess understands that we too are constantly cycling. Be gentle with your tides.

My life has changed significantly since becoming initiated as a Priestess. I came to Graell searching for meaning, and what she taught me is that we find this in making the world better than when we find it, in ways big and small.

Ani at Priestess School

Embracing the magic in the mundane lights a fire in my heart like nothing else has. Turn toward those who have walked this path before you, for more guidance on living a sacred life. If you have any questions, you can find me at kozmicryder.com or @kozmicryder on Instagram, and Graell Corsini at the Ashland Goddess Temple and at priestessgraell.com.

MANIFESTO FOR AN INCLUSIVE WELLNESS INDUSTRY

After discovering that there was nothing “wrong” with her body except conventional health messaging, Jillian Murphy shares her manifesto for a more inclusive wellness industry …

Photo: Samantha Santy

I had put on 40lbs in my second pregnancy and they seemed to have nestled in for good. I was eating well and moving my body religiously but I just couldn’t lose the weight.

Every well-intentioned health care professional I worked and interacted with as a naturopath was happy to offer up advice about what must be wrong with my adrenals, thyroid, hormonal health, sleep patterns, food combining, mindfulness, sugar intake, etc. etc. etc. and I had worked on it ALL. But to no avail, and I was exhausted from the effort.

Frustrated, I hired a body image and emotional eating coach and, after explaining my long and convoluted health and weight story to this new mentor, she told me something I was wholly unprepared to hear:

“There is nothing wrong with you except for your belief that your body is wrong. You are exceptionally healthy: you don’t have a food problem and your body is exactly, happily, where it needs to be.”

It was one of the strangest, most revolutionary things I’d ever heard. It simultaneously crushed and liberated my soul. Crushed, because, OMG! All the lost time I’d spent trying to “fix” my body. Liberated, because I’d finally been given permission to shed the physical expectations of our culture and just live my life.

The mere suggestion that my body weight and shape may not dictate my health nearly blew up my brain. It set into motion a 7-year journey of critical thinking, self-discovery, and research that would ultimately serve to heal my relationship with food and my body and revolutionize my understanding of health.

What I realized was:

Conventional health messaging flattens beautiful, complex, and biodiverse individuals into 2D facsimiles. Squishes us into mathematical equations, diets, and wellness checklists that promise abundant health and complete control over our bodies.

This messaging makes us believe that if our bodies don’t fit, we are at fault – too lazy, not enough willpower, intelligence, or effort. And in our attempts to conform, we offer up our emotional and spiritual wellbeing, our peace of mind, and sometimes our sanity.

Now, we in the wellness industries are being called to dismantle and challenge outdated, oppressive, and limiting beliefs about food, movement, weight, and health. To present a model for inclusive wellness that is respectful of ALL bodies; critical of information that leaves us feeling confused and in lack; and that offers alternatives to restrictive and prescriptive health ideologies that ignore the lived experience and values of the individual.

This is my manifesto for a more inclusive wellness industry ….

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1// Pursue physical health without compromising your mental, emotional, and/or spiritual self.

When we exercise though our body is asking for rest; when we cut carbs or calories despite our body begging for sustenance; when we skip dinner out for fear of not having the “right” food options; when thinking about food and health consumes our every thought – we sacrifice our sense of peace, connection, and joy in the pursuit of physical “health.” The outcome is a feeling of depletion despite doing “everything right.”

The shift: Put physical health back in its place, as one piece of the health puzzle and not the whole picture.

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2// Respect and appreciate the diversity of human bodies. 

All bodies deserve access to quality healthcare and health resources without judgment or shame. Current body type and weight ideals are problematic and unscientific (including the Body Mass Index or BMI). They negatively impact our relationship with food and movement, and encourage the stigmatization of all but a small percentage of bodies deemed “appropriate.”  Those in bigger bodies are judged harshly and mistreated in every sphere of society, from the workplace to medicine.

The shift: We must shed the belief that losing weight is the #1 path to health and wellness and work instead to pursue behaviors that have been proven to have a positive impact on health – whether we lose weight or not – while developing a much broader and inclusive definition of bodies we deem healthy, attractive, and worthy.

Photo: Samantha Santy

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3// Define “health” and “wellness” for yourself. 

These terms are social constructs that differ across communities and cultures. It’s also important to recognize that many people don’t have the privilege of prioritizing wellness, even if they want to. We can own our own investment and interest in health and wellness without projecting it onto others. Imagine how many hours a day/week could you free up if you let go of food, body control, and worry.

The shift: Consider what aspects of health and wellness actually light you up. Can you think of moments when you’ve judged the health and wellness choices of others? Begin to think about how our narrowly drawn ideas about these concepts impact the overall health of our society.

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4// Become the leading expert on YOU.

We have been taught that we must rely on externally devised, highly moralized food plans telling us how much to eat, what to eat, and when to eat. The Now Age way is to turn to models for nourishing ourselves that put us back in touch with our innate ability to regulate food variety and quantity. These models consider the needs of our physical bodies, while also taking the mental, emotional, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of food, movement, and health into account.

The shift: Promote eating based on our bodies’ internal cues instead of following fad diets or parroting somebody else’s food rules. (ED: read Jillian’s tips on using body positivity to unlock your intuition).

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5// Cultivate a sense of purpose and worth beyond your physical form.

The exhaustion, digestive issues, inflammatory processes, and body concerns I see in so many of my patients are one part physical, two parts spiritual/emotional. We feel disconnected and the stress of floating through the world unsure of where we belong, what makes us worthy, and what our purpose is shows up as dysfunction in our thought processes and bodies. We then cling to the rituals, routines, and ideologies of wellness and weight that serve as the ultimate distraction.

The shift: Replace diets and health “regimens” with rituals that connect you to the moon, meditation, talk therapy, dance parties, ditching toxic relationships, eating mindfully, speaking up, saying no, walking in nature, swimming in the ocean, lighting a candle, giving back. Anything that reminds us that our worth is inherent, we are more than our bodies, and we are connected to everyone and everything.

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6// Work to change the systems in place that deeply affect the health and wellness of our culture and community.

Socioeconomic status is the leading determinant of health. Accordingly, we must work to shift these issues on a systemic level if we truly care about our health and the health of those around us. There are systems in place that can’t be “love + light”ed away, and we all have a responsibility to pull apart our own oppressive beliefs and work toward amplifying the perspectives of those who experience this system differently.

The shift: Realize that representation matters – if we want to feel normal and acceptable in our various forms, we need to SEE those forms and diverse paths to health. Start with your social media feed by including a wide range of body shapes, sizes, races, abilities, and gender expressions, and enter into those spaces with the intention of listening. As you learn, commit to engaging those who share your social identity in conversations that question your current health and wellness beliefs. Be an active catalyst for change.

HOW TO MARRY YOURSELF

Want to take self-love to the next level? Find out how to marry yourself with poet and activist Lisa Luxx’s guide to pledging your solo spiritual commitment …

In 2016, I married myself. Legally taking the name of my higher self, I became Lisa Luxx, had the initial of selfhood tattooed on to my ring finger, ‘I’, and vowed to always come home to me.

It’s been two years since then, a period of time that has burgeoned with political chaos, which continually leads us back to ourselves to question our position within the greater whole. So in 2018, I decided it was time to re-meet my commitment in ceremony, an act that I intend to re-visit every couple of years to steer the course of my affections for both myself and the wider world.

Here are my top tips on how you can hold your own marriage to your self, because 2019 just might be the year for that … 

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1// Pick a date that’s meaningful
When I initially planned to renew my vows it was due to be on the 7th of December. But I hadn’t had my eyebrows done in time and I figured if I’m not going to start turning up for myself now, what chance does this marriage stand? It wound up being on the 21st, which has been my favourite number since I was a young child. An auspicious one, at that. Actually 7 is a number I always associate with my ex; now I’m sure my lazy beauty routine was actually divinity intervening.

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2// Choose your witness/es
The idea to renew my vows in a ceremony came up during a therapy session. My therapist/life-facilitator is one of the few people who really speaks my language, so I asked her to be my sole human witness. However, I also had the four elements present to witness. I filled a very small corked jar with soil from my parents garden, placed two green candles on my Tata’s old gold candlestick holders, took a homemade smudge stick to bring forth the air and lashing of local Yorkshire water. I sat the elements on a mirror in front of me as I read my vows.

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3// Get yourself sexy
On the morning of my ceremony, I soaked myself in a rose water, almond oil, lavender, and sandalwood bath. Rubbed coconut oil into my warm skin. Danced with myself naked in front of the mirror before spritzing my fave Diptique perfume and slipping into my Dalmatian suit. Serve the best of yourself to you. Your beauty is for your pleasure first and foremost.

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4// Write your vows in the mirror
My vows were a mix of everyday bona fide daily lifestyle choices, such as always putting my actual body before my mind’s desires; ‘I will not finish catching up with Whatsapp’s or reading to the end of my page when the rumble comes, when the thirst coarsely reminds me of my physical needs.’ And commitments for how I’ll manage to make myself a better person in community; ‘I’ll actively practice unpicking and dissipating insecurities, as my duty to our world. So that I can see the world as it is, not as it could hurt me. So I don’t hurt myself through my fear of being hurt. So I don’t hurt others through fear of pain.’

While rehearsing my vows, I caught my reflection, laughed and said “hey, you’re not supposed to be hearing these yet” – getting so used to spending time with my reflection until I reached a point of comfort where I could have fun with it was a melting point.

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5// Say the vows in the mirror until it sinks in
Loving yourself in front of a witness won’t always come easy. It will feel awkward at times and you’ll be in head mode rather than heart mode. That is to say if you’re like me you’ll be feeling so self-conscious at times, you’ll notice you’re not embodying your words. To counter this I repeated a vow numerous times, looking directly into my own eyes in a mirror, until I felt what I was saying sink in. Take your time, speaking your promises to you until they become a physical sensation. The unexpected outcome of this is that now, whenever I’m feeling low or anxious, if I can find my reflection I can bring myself back to a place of loving comfort.

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6// Find a charitable cause to support
I requested wedding gifts from friends and family in the form of donations to The Syria Campaign, an organisation that means a lot to me. Marrying yourself is not an insular act, it’s about mobilizing yourself to be a better link in the chain of ‘we.’ A very overt way of setting that in motion from the get go is to encourage your friends and family to support your love for you and your simultaneous commitment to them all by making a donation to an NGO, delivering bags of shopping to a food bank, or volunteering at a local grassroots initiative for a day.

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7// Prepare for pain
I’d love to say that since the ceremony I’ve been doing exactly as I promised in my vows and ‘never forgetting how much I love to dance with you [me].’ But no, it has been uncomfortable. I cast my mind back to that day and sometimes feel an urge to delete it all from my therapist’s memory and mine; I feel shame, I feel pain. No good rebirth comes without a death. Let yourself feel that, let it exist within that day as much as the joy will.

In becoming the best of you, you are becoming a human complete; this is about owning your responsibility to the world through commitment to self-observation. See yourself without interfering. Don’t cling on to the parts that are breaking off.

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8// Consummate the ting
I have a practice that I like to call ‘astro-masturbation,’ whereby I make love to apparitions of myself. It can be me as I am, me with a better haircut, me in my trans dreams, but it’s always me. Sometimes there’s two of me, sometimes there’s three, four, five of me, but they’re all visions of me making love to me. I get to switch between giving and receiving endlessly and equally, and they’re the best orgasms I’ve ever had.

Lay down your favorite blankets, light that incense, and make sweet love to yourself while listening to Banks sing ‘I fuck with myself more than anybody else.’ My vows promised, ‘I will make love to you not because I want to use you as a tool of pleasure but because I love you, because you turn me on, because your body, my body, is my favorite body of all the bodies on earth.’

If you feel moved, Lisa asks for wedding gift donations to The White Helmets, unarmed volunteer rescue workers operating in Syria’s most dangerous zones, risking their lives daily to save the lives of others.

ARE YOU A MOON PLUTO PERSON?

Some of the cosmos’ most emotionally intense astro babes, Moon Pluto people dive deep and love hard, says Aliza Einhorn. Find out if you’re one of them and how to navigate the depths  …

Photo: ActionVance

WHAT IS A MOON PLUTO PERSON?
In my early 30s, I got an astrology reading. It was my second one ever, I think. The astrologer took one look at my birth chart and said to me these words: emotionally intense! He was eyeballing that Moon Pluto conjunction in Virgo in my First House.

Please don’t fret if my astro-jargon is confusing. Here’s the gist:

If the Moon and Pluto intermingle in your chart, you’re a Moon Pluto person. This means your emotions are powerful, forceful, intense. And those emotions, at times, may get you into trouble.

Moon = feelings and Pluto = powerful. Pluto always intensifies what it touches.

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YOUR CHART IS A MAP OF YOU
Your birth chart is a map of your soul’s adventure in this lifetime, but also your day to day personality. Throughout their lives, Moon Pluto people are told: you’re too sensitive, too emotional, too obsessive, too serious!

The feelings can be so intense, all consuming, that we often feel we must DO SOMETHING with them, and we should, although there are good and less good options.

What I describe below may seem intense, but being a Moon Pluto person really is a gift, and I’ll tell you why: we are deep, sensitive, creative, intuitive. This is good! The depth comes from the feelings, especially the ones we don’t want to feel, the ones that may scare us and others too. This world is rarely equipped to handle such intensity and passion pouring out of a single individual.

It’s up to you to save yourself, my darlings, but I can help …

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ARE YOU A MOON PLUTO PERSON?
The following is a general and not exhaustive list for how to identify a Moon Pluto person in the wild.

*Note: if you respond to what I’m saying here, but can’t claim any of these chart placements, your Moon-Pluto-ness is likely showing up in some other way in your birth chart. Also, additional chart factors can tame or exacerbate one’s Moon Pluto intensity.

Does your birth chart have any of the following? 

1// The Moon in aspect to Pluto somehow, someway 
In astrology, the most talked about aspects (aspects = how the planets in your chart relate to each other) are the conjunction, square, opposition, sextile, and trine.

The first three are noteworthy for the challenges they bring, and the last two for their helpful or lucky qualities. Although the conjunction may be the most disruptive and the sextile or trine the easiest to integrate, ALL Moon Pluto mash-ups make you a Moon Pluto person.

The conjunction 
Truth: You feel everything intensely and need constructive outlets for your passions. Or else!

Risk: You blow up at people. You blow up at yourself. “Alone forever!” you cry.

The square
Truth: Emotions are as strong as with the conjunction, but held in. They get buried like bones in the yard until they rise from their graves like the figures on the Judgment Tarot card!

Risk: Trouble identifying exactly how you feel, but feeling the churning and burning within. It’s not heartburn and yet it is.

The opposition
Truth: Most Moon Pluto people get bullied at some point in their lives, but the opposition aspect brings particularly formidable (i.e. scary) foes.

Risk: Staying too long in bad, bad relationships. Many Moon Pluto people are at risk for getting stalked, in guess you were wondering why this has happened to you over and over.

The sextile + trine 
Truth: Congratulations! You’ve won the Moon Pluto lottery. The sextile and trine are less angsty overall. You have the positive traits of the other placements and fewer of the extremes.

Risk: No known risks except that depth and sensitivity are rarely in style for long 😉

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2// Moon in the Eighth House 
Because we associate the Eighth House with Pluto, Moon in the Eighth is a Moon Pluto combo. You feel. You feel deeply. You obsess. You keep secrets about those obsessions. You’re a natural medium. You know stuff. Spooky stuff. Lots of it.

Life Advice: Use your magical powers for good.

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3// Pluto in the Fourth House 
Because we associate the Fourth House with the Moon, Pluto in the Fourth is a Moon Pluto combo. This is the tumultuous-home placement. If you were born with Pluto in the Fourth, there was trauma in childhood. You experienced it or witnessed it or both.

Life Advice: Find that safe and secure home to call your own.

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4// Moon in Scorpio 
Another Moon Pluto mash-up because Scorpio is associated with Pluto. Does anyone really know how you feel? Enigmatic on the outside. Fiery cauldron on the inside!

Life Advice: Learn to let go. As much as I LOVE telling Geminis to meditate (usually the last thing they want to do), I love teaching Scorpio Moons about letting go, whether of unrequited love or vengeance.

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MOON PLUTO MAGIC
So now what? What to do with all the tzuris? Here are five ways to soothe your aching Moon Pluto soul:

Art. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether you paint or write or fire dance, make crystal grids. Even housework can be artful. You must EXPRESS YOURSELF. I call it “getting the poison out.” When you create something, you get the Moon Pluto whirlwind out of your body.

Talk. It doesn’t have to be a therapist. It doesn’t have to be an astrologer, tarot reader, healer or anyone you pay. You can talk to a friend, to a stranger at a cafe, as long as your person listens, doesn’t judge. Moon Pluto people feel shame for feeling so much and not always able to master it. They need good people around them.

Heal. I know this may sound like a stretch if you’ve never considered it, but Moon Pluto people are healers. Maybe it’s crossed your mind and you’ve never explored it. Explore it. The healing you give the world could be with your words, your voice, your touch, but I guarantee that you heal yourself by healing others.

Study. Most Moon Pluto people I know are interested in mysticism or magic. You have natural psychic ability and psychic development will not only interest you, but soothe you too. When you study the occult, it’s like a mirror. You see yourself. Find a class on-line or in person or a few good books.

Sweat. Move your body. This is one more way to express those powerful emotions and one of the best ways to release what’s inside of you. It’s an exorcism that you do for yourself. Best if the movement leads to sweat and even tears (blood not required).

Dear Moon Pluto people, I promise you’re not doomed! You can create your life — not in spite of your intense emotions but because of them. With them! Include them in your world and you’ll be the happy happy Moon Pluto person you were always meant to be. 

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Aliza Einhorn is the author of The Little Book of Saturn, published by Weiser Books, and is a practical mystical astrologer and tarot reader with clients all over the world. She assists spiritual travelers with their dark nights of the soul, help witches refine their spells, and answer questions about love, loss, and life purpose. Find her at Moon Pluto Astrology, and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

BEST OF THE NUMINOUS 2018

This year rocked us to our personal and collective cosmic cores. From sex tarot 101 to the future of masculinity, our Best of the Numinous 2018 charts the course …

Photo: NordWood Themes

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1// Spread ‘Em: Sex Tarot 101: Alessandra Calderin gave us a crash course in casting cards between the sheets …

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2// Healing From Trauma With Psychedelics: Psychiatrist Will Siu, MD, shared insights into a very human way to heal …

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3// How To Work With Your Lilith Sign: Rebecca Farrar’s astrological guide led us back to our unbreakable inner wildness, during a year when we needed it most …

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4// Is Visiting Mexico City’s Sonora Market Spiritual Appropriation?: During a journey of spiritual self-discovery, Danielle Dorsey shared why she decided not to visit the famously witchy landmark …

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5// How Body Positivity Can Unlock Your Intuition: After a lifetime of food issues, Jillian Murphy discovered that living fully in her own skin was the key to her magic …

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6// Work Your Saturn Sign & Feel Solid As A Rock: As Saturn transited its home turf of Capricorn, this astro guide helped us harness our biggest growth opportunities …

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7// Coming Home To My Hoodoo Roots: Growing up British but with her family history in Mauritius, Stephanie Victoire’s journey to reconnect with her Hoodoo roots finally led her home …

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8// Why Radical Dharma Is Your 2018 ‘Must Read’: This incomparable text tapped eradicating systemic racism as THE healing issue of our times …

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9// Holy F*ck: How To Reach EcstasyAlexandra Roxo revealed that experiencing ecstasy is the key to strengthening our channel …

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10// How To Explain Your Spiritual Awakening To Your Religious Family: In a deeply polarizing climate, Fundamentalist turned Now Ager, Kate Forristall, gave us a primer in navigating the spiritual-religious divide …

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11// What Is The Future of Masculinity?: As we grappled with how to dismantle patriarchal oppression, trans man and diversity and inclusion activist, Aaron Rose, shared his vision for the future of masculinity …

USE THESE 5 MAGIC WORDS TO CREATE BIG CHANGE

With Mercury poised to station direct tomorrow, author of Little Languaging Hacks for Big Change, Dani Katz, reveals 5 magic words you can use to shift your consciousness right now …

The subconscious mind is getting a lot of buzz these days, as the folks leading the personal development/human potential/manifest-your-best-life-ever movements have honed in on it as the method behind our proverbial madness (i.e. how and why humans operate the way we do).

You see, the subconscious mind is responsible for 95% of our decisions and behavior. It is the lens through which we organize our realities, as well as the command center that determines how our realties organize themselves; and it is programmed – first, foremost, and only – through words and repetition.

Words and repetition.
Words and repetition.
Words and repetition.

This factoid would be one thing if words were objectively neutral symbols, solely defined by intellectual connotation, singularly serving as symbolic reference points for the things and ideas they represent. Alas, words are infinitely more complex, multidimensional entities, each encrypted with a unique vibrational frequency that is itself coded with oodles of metadata that palpably affects our emotional, energetic and psychological bodies in subtle – and not so subtle – ways.

The words we use to communicate with others, as well as the ones running on the incessant loops in our heads as thoughts and self-talk, double as hyper-nuanced programming codes that serve to either empower or disempower us in every given moment. Every word matters, as the subconscious mind tracks and responds to each one we utter, think, type or scribble, without exception.

Quantum Languaging is a fun, simple method of deconstructing and perfecting the myriad ways, whys, and hows that words shape our every experience. I dive into lots of juicy and rollicking detail about it all in my new book, The New P. Handbook Vol. 1: Little Languaging Hacks for Big Change.

In service to up-leveling our lives and our world for the infinitely more wonderful, I offer up these five words we’d all be wise to wield on the regular … 

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1// Choose
We live in a world weighty with have-tos. We “have to” work, and make money, and floss, and kegel, and ground, and tap-in, to say nothing of the bills, and the paperwork, and the insurance premiums, and all the other matrix-y tasks that can really get a gal down, if she’s not mindful of how she’s framing her life.

The whole have-to paradigm is super disempowering, because it alleges that we are victims to external demands, and that we are enslaved to the tasks we are engaging.

This is where choice comes in. The reality is, we don’t actually have to do anything, ever. I can choose to skip flossing and kegeling, in exchange for gum disease, leaky pee sneezes, and mediocre sex. I can choose to skip my morning meditation, and let my mind run wild, and approach my day as a scattered, ungrounded, airy mess of discordant thoughts and vibrations.

It’s all a choice. I have free will. I can do whatever I want, as long as I understand that my actions have consequences. With that in mind, it is infinitely more empowering to frame these supposed have-tos as choices that we are willingly engaging as deliberate creators who are authoring our lives as we are authentically inspired.

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2// Thank you
“Sorry,” blurts the woman I jostled while squeezing my way through a crowded party, even though I’m the one who bumped into her, and she’s the one with kombucha dripping down her hand.

For what, exactly, are you apologizing? I want to ask. For inhabiting a body? For placing it in my path? For existing?

Sorry vibrates at the frequency of sorrow, which means that every time we utter a senseless sorry, we are sprinkling sorrow vibes on our reality, and basically, bumming out the planet. To this end, a hearty Thank you is an infinitely wiser, more uplifting way to quell the sting of the oopsie, while acknowledging the awkwardness of the engagement.

When I observe the urge to apologize (which is so often a cleverly disguised excuse to self-flagellate), I will instead offer a simple Thank you, which serves to honor the person for showing up as a valuable reflection in service to my/our growth, while adding some levity to the situation. As in, Thank you for giving me an opportunity to witness my clumsiness, or Thank you for letting me accidentally touch your boob, and refresh your obviously parched wrist.

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3// As
Languaging our intentions in the future is a great way not to manifest them. The subconscious mind is fully steeped in the present moment. So when we say we are “going to” do something, it takes our words to heart, and goes about putting off third dimensional realization for an imaginary future day that never actually comes.

Present moment languaging hacks the subconscious mind, and tricks it into collapsing the perceived distance between our future, and our now, thus bringing our desires into our material realities quickly and easily.

While there are lots of words that shift us from future-based craving to present moment experiencing, as is my current fave. As is affirmative; and it has the agency, the authority, and the mojo to move our manifestations from concept to reality, quickly and efficiently, because that’s how we do. It’s why I’m not going to fall in love when I open my heart; I am falling in love as I open my heart; and, I am not going to relish in all the opportunity and abundance that will come my way when I finish writing my book; I am enjoying all the spoils and wonderfulness flowing in as I write my #1 bestselling literary sensation.

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4// Historically
Just as new p. (paradigm) superheroes choose to language our intentions in the present moment, we frame our shadows in the past, because we are not tethered to the trials, tribulations, hardships, or identity constructs that lead us to this present moment, and we certainly aren’t going to seed our futures with them.

We are sovereign beings, deliberately creating our realities in each and every moment, which we know to be fresh, and new, and rife with possibility. And so, while I have historically tended towards the clumsy, I am now embodying ever-expanding levels of bodily awareness and mastery that have me moving easily and gracefully through the world. And crowded house parties.

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5// Omniscopic
om•ni•sco•pic adj. every moment access to every possibility that is, was or will be.

The word omniscopic is pretty much your new BFF. It’s a handy-dandy alternative to the words limitless and unlimited, which – despite their best intentions – only ever tether us to the frequencies of the “limitation” they profess not to espouse. Remember, the subconscious mind is super, very literal. This means that, well-meaning though our suffixes and prefixes may be, when they are employed, the subconscious mind latches onto the actual word these little guys are attempting to modify, and goes about organizing reality according to the very frequencies they claim to cancel out.

Luckily for us, language is an ever-unfolding work in progress. And so, having happened upon this gaping hole in our lexicon, I have taken it upon myself to toss some linguistic novelty into our collective mix by crafting this handy-dandy new word.

I recommend using it widely and often, while enjoying the spoils, sparkles, and giggles that come from living life as an empowered creator in a world of omniscopic abundance, and awesomeness. We’re welcome.

Dani Katz’s The New P. Handbook Vol. 1: Little Languaging Hacks for Big Change is out now, and you can connect with her on Instagram, Youtube, and danikatz.com for more wisdom. 

SEX DRIVE: A JOURNEY TO THE CLITORIS OF AMERICA

In an excerpt from her new book, Sex Drive: On the Road to a Pleasure Revolution, which chronicles her cross country search for a lost libido, Stephanie Theobald embarks on an “ecosexual” nature walk led by porn star-turned-performance artist Annie Sprinkle

Photo: Jan Phoenix

Annie Sprinkle christened San Francisco’s Bernal Park hill “the clitoris of America.” Researching my new book, Sex Drive, I knew I had to visit for myself, and so Sprinkle and I met in a local diner for breakfast. After demonstrating her ability to have an “energy orgasm” on the spot (think Meg Ryan’s infamous turn in When Harry Met Sally, but for real), she promised to take me on a Bernal Park “ecosexual” nature walk, where she would show me how to do it too …

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An X-rated nature walk 
By this time, I’m quite keen to get up onto the Clitoris of America and try it all out myself. So off we set on a climb up the hill to Bernal Park and an X-rated nature walk begins. It’s not X-rated because Annie’s going to take her clothes off. The plants are going to be doing much filthier things. “Look at that,” she says, stopping in front of a cherry tree in full bloom. “Flowers are tree genitals. Basically, you’re looking at porn.”

We walk on until the siren call of another tree brings Annie to a halt. “Look at this trunk, it’s like a big penis. Isn’t it beautiful?

Hockey pitch nature walks with Miss Corbett at the convent were never like this. Annie says that I need to find my “E-Spot,” her ecosexy take on G-Spot. (She’s great at coming up with new words). I’m drawn to an exuberant hibiscus flower. “Oh yeah!” she says approvingly in her raunchy porn voice. “Hibiscus stamens!”

I wonder if David Attenborough shows ever give her that Deep Throat feeling. We approach the hibiscus and she says, “You can smell it casually. Or you can imagine this plant is a lover and it wants to give you a gift.”

She smells her new lover, pulls off one of its genitals and sticks it on her third eye. She sticks one on me too. None of this strikes me as stupid or odd. Cornwall isn’t a million miles away from California in terms of country weirdness. My eco or “E-Spot” as she calls it, kicks into action as I notice that a tree we’re passing looks a bit droopy.

“Don’t you think this tree looks a bit sad?” I say.

“It is a little heavy, isn’t it?” she nods.

She knows immediately what to do. “You just need a hug,” she tells the tree enfolding it in a bosomy embrace.  “Oh, love you.” I participate in the love-in, realizing only afterwards that I have just hugged a tree in California. This is the sort of thing that people make fun of back at home, but American Stephanie doesn’t care. Annie looks wistfully at the tree then mumbles something about, “I may be projecting…” She slaps the tree’s butt. “You’ll be OK,” she cracks. “Hang on in there.”

It’s fun going on a nature walk with an ex-porn star. She’s not great on the names of flora and fauna, but she does things like saying hi to her favorite Eucalyptus tree. She plucks a leaf, thrusts it under my nose and chuckles, “Sniff that pantie!”

The sap must be rising from the ecosexy nature walk because I soon have a sort of sexual panic attack. I start gabbling about how I want to check out some seedy places in San Francisco and how I really want to get laid and, “you know that feeling when you want to have sex and you’re not having sex and…”

“Stay in the moment,” she puffs as we carry on up the steep road. They’re magic words and I immediately calm down. I think back to my interview with Barbara Carrellas back in New York a month ago. I arrived too early for the interview and the prospect of writing a book about masturbation suddenly overwhelmed me. What the hell was I thinking of?! I wasn’t even sure what I meant! So I just experimented with letting go: dropping into my body, unsticking from the world so that for a few moments I was just snow and boots and crunch. When I came ‘back’ a few seconds later, it felt like a shot of a week of the best sleep ever.

The author heads into the wild …

And then suddenly Annie announces that we’ve reached “the urethral sponge” i.e. we’re in Bernal Park but not quite on the clit. My main feeling is that the Clitoris of America has had a bit of a bikini wax. Its green pubic hair is a bit patchy. There’s a lot of uncovered soil. Maybe the dog walkers nobbled it. There are a lot of them. Annie says it’s the drought. It’s been a serious problem in San Francisco. Annie has actually married the main culprit along with a group of ecosexy friends.

“If you think about it, right now the sun is penetrating your pores,” she says in her incantatory broad-from-the-1950s voice. “They’re fucking your whole body.”

When I ask her how she knew the sun wanted to get married, she says, “We can only assume that things respond well to love and appreciation. Like, if you cruise a bunch of girls or guys, you’ll get the message who’s available.”

She and Beth have also married the mountains, the snow, coal and the ocean. I try and impress her by saying, “My favourite drugs are sugar and the sun.” She enthuses, “Oh, I love sugar too,” but adds that she has to lose weight for the filming of her and Beth’s upcoming ecosexy tour. “Saying it’s OK to be fat, it’s the one thing about feminism I don’t agree with.”

By now we’re sitting on the very top of the park, a bumpy grassy area that slopes down with massive views over the city on every side. Looking at the view, it suddenly strikes her that, “Maybe the earth is the clitoris of the universe.” She laughs. “Betty would say, ‘Oh that’s bullshit!’” She tells me that we’ll do the energy orgasm right here.

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Meditation + masturbation
She describes the technique as similar to something she used to call “medabation,” meaning a combination of masturbation and meditation. But mainly, she says, it’s like learning tennis because, “It’s a technique and at first it’s confusing and you’re like, ‘Woah! How do I hit it and how hard?’” She confides that it took her three years to learn how to do it properly.

I realize that this “energy orgasm” is her take on the heart wank that Barbara Carrellas told me about back in New York. Annie explains that the idea came about when she and Carrellas were investigating more spiritual ideas about orgasm during the AIDS years. “All of us had lovers who got HIV, so we had to figure out how to have safe sex.” They adapted the breath technique from a method taught by a Native American called Harley Swiftdeer. He calls it “Firebreath Orgasm,” but Annie doesn’t “because I didn’t take the very expensive training that initiates you.”

And so my tennis lesson begins. She starts by telling me to, “Say, ‘Yes’ to erotic energy. You have to allow it because it’s there just for the asking.” She points to the tree in the near distance and says that the ideal would be to, “Start feeling sexy and then direct your energy to the tree and see what happens.” She tells me to do some kegels (clenching of the vagina as if you want to stop a stream of pee) and undulating movements of the pelvis. “That’ll stoke the furnace.” After that comes the most important thing of all: the breath.

“You’re really sucking the inhale and relaxing the exhale.” She advises to make noises because that helps shift energy in the body. “The idea is to bring in energy through the feet and end up shooting it out of the top of the head. Fake it til you make it,” she quips in what she tells me is jargon from the porn world.

Annie Sprinkle on the path to “the clitoris of America”

It’s a great lesson. It reminds me of the Transformational Breathing technique I tried out in my hippie journalism phase with the British teacher Alan Dolan. Basically you breathe quickly in and out, taking in more than usual amounts of oxygen until a wave of euphoria hits you.

And then there I am, lying on a hillside in San Francisco as the woman once dubbed “The Golden Girl of Porn” makes sounds ranging from deep Witches’ Sabbath to mid-range horny-bitch-on-heat to high-pitched damsel-in-distress to glass-shattering Kate Bush on the moors. “Wooo! Woo!”

Listening to the tape afterwards, I do sound a bit stuck in Witches’ Sabbath mode. Clearly I need to work on moving my energy up to more damsel-in-distress mode. Meanwhile, I am in the ludicrous position of lying with my feet towards the top of the hill and my head towards the bottom because I want to face the sun. But something is definitely happening. I get to the state where I forget to worry about what the dog walkers must be thinking of us.

I have a flash of some of the boring-looking dog walkers I’ve seen in Presidio Heights. I want to unzip them and show them some love. Tell them it’s OK. Occasionally I get distracted by the fact that I’m not feeling anything remotely like an orgasm although Annie is now sobbing. Wailing almost. We get in breathing synch. I try and keep up with her her “Ah! Ah!”s until finally she makes a prolonged, “Oh yeeeeeeah!” presumably when the energy passes out of the top of her head.

I open my eyes and the sky is indeed bluer. There is also dog shit on the bottom of my right boot. I think I won’t say this to Annie. She’s clearly having a moment.

“When I masturbate like this, I feel the pain of the world, I really do. The Boko Haram, The Charlie Hebdo shootings. The animals, everything.  I become a channel sometimes. I just need to release the pain. It’s like truly connecting. It sounds really strange.”

“No, it doesn’t sound strange …” She’s right that the concept of words becomes shaky after this kind of tennis. I struggle to speak.

“We can’t really experience pleasure on a really grand scale unless we can feel the suffering and the blocks and the disconnect somehow.”

Watching Annie with tears streaming down her face, it strikes me that this is what a modern-day nun looks like. Sending an orgasm to promote peace in Nigeria and Paris isn’t that weird. Christians and Buddhists send off distilled thoughts known as “prayers” to try and alleviate world suffering every day. Yet the kind of energy generated during orgasm is jet fuel compared to the economy petrol that comes from a morning at mass.

Stephanie Theobald’s Sex Drive: On The Road To A Pleasure Revolution is out now. Join Stephanie in LA for the launch party on December 7th from 6-9pm at The Pikey 7617 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and check out mysexdrive.org  for more details. **And discover more about Annie Sprinkle’s SexEcology HERE!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF MASCULINITY?

The “divine feminine” is often invoked as a Now Age ideal for our gender evolution. But how to really dismantle systems of patriarchal oppression? Trans man and diversity and inclusion activist, Aaron Rose, shares his vision for the future of masculinity …

Photo: Aziz Acharki

From Parasitic Patriarchy to Abundant Symbiosis 
When Now Age mystics speak of “divine masculinity,” what they are describing is simply: masculinity. Exalted qualities of heart-centered action, fierce loyalty, innovative logic, and earthly strength are what masculinity truly is. Everything else is an aberration, a mistaken idea, and a misuse of energy.

The divine masculine is complemented by the divine feminine archetype: the universal energy of intuition, receptivity, nurturance, creation, and collaboration. These energies are not inherently gendered. They flow within all of us.

So how do we reclaim healthy or conscious masculinity? How do we end our crisis of sexual violence? How do we build a world with true gender equality?

In the #metoo era, it can sometimes feel like the goal is total eradication of an inherently “toxic masculinity,” an embrace of androgyny, or an exclusive exaltation of the feminine. But the destination of our evolution is not about erasing our differences or course correcting from toxicity to divinity; it’s about reclaiming gendered archetypes while embracing an even wider spectrum of expression.

Patriarchy is the collectively held (and externally manifested) idea that men are superior to people of other genders, that there are right and wrong ways to be men and women, and that there are rewards for reinforcing these ideas, and penalties for violating them.

And if patriarchy is a result and a manifestation of parasitic scarcity consciousness, then we’re more than ready for abundant symbiosis.

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A Different Way to Be Human
When I first began my transition from female to male, I was terrified of becoming a man. It was who I was – a person who had been female-assigned at birth and who felt called to a male identity and masculine embodiment – and yet, I could not have been more scared.

As a woman, I had lived a life defined and constrained by male violence – from the abuse of family members, to the harassment of strangers on the subway, and the subtle discrimination at work. The manhood I saw around me did not represent the kind of person I wanted to be. And the people I loved were quick to reinforce this idea: You’ll become a tool of the patriarchy, they said. The world doesn’t need another MAN.

On a physiological level, I knew that taking testosterone (in the form of hormone replacement therapy) was right for me. My body needed it, hungered for it like a too-late dinner after a long day. But on an emotional level, I was paralyzed, wracked by immobilizing guilt.

I was afraid of losing the part of myself that cries at Pixar movies and gathers my friends into huge hugs and composes love letters to my beloveds. The part who really, really listens to my people when they’re hurting. I was afraid of embodying toxic masculinity. I was afraid of becoming (even more of) a stranger to myself.

This deterministic model of gender is one we’re all used to. We’ve all heard “that’s just how men are” and any number of absolutist statements that divide the population squarely down the middle, into two prescribed boxes: man and woman. I was just as trapped as anyone.

But equally, in making the choice to transition I knew I was signing up for a lifetime commitment to proving the idea that there was another way to be a man than what I had been shown. That ultimately, there was a different way to be a human altogether.

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Dismantling the Deal with the Devil
This commitment, this faith in the future of masculinity, has fueled my decade’s plus of evolving work in diversity and inclusion—a key part of which is leading conscious masculinity workshops in which men and masculine people of all genders have an opportunity to take themselves off of cultural autopilot and reclaim healthy masculinity.

Patriarchy invites men to make a deal with the devil: trade your eternal wholeness and humanity, in exchange for earthly and temporal power.

Time and again, I witness men become emotional in my workshops when we talk about gender equality and allyship. When I ask why, they say things like: “I feel like I don’t have anything else to offer,” or “What more do you want from me?,” or “Not everyone gets to be treated so nicely, you know.”

As the conversations unfold, we identify, again and again, that they are fundamentally bewildered about why or how they should be giving something to someone else that they do not feel they have themselves: gentleness, a reason to truly accept themselves, a full range of self-expression, emotional presence.

⁣⁣In my workshops, we inventory our masculinity stories, going all the way back to our first memories. And themes emerge, like the first moment of shame, often attached to a memory of playing with feminine clothing, hugging other boys, or crying when we were sad. We bring loving witness to these wounds, and then we choose again.

If the story was: “when I am emotional, the people I love reject me”—we elect to write a new story: “my vulnerability brings me closer to the people I care about.”

Photo: Sir Moon

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What is your role in this process? Here are 4 ways we can all help bring about the future of masculinity … 

1// Separate masculinity + femininity from gender identity and sex assigned at birth.
“Sex assigned at birth” is the label you were assigned at birth based on the external anatomy your doctor observed. Gender identity is your innate, internal, sense of your gender.

Within our current western gender model, which has its origins in European colonization and white supremacist social control, sex assigned at birth, gender, and gendered energy are all conflated. If you are male assigned at birth, it is assumed you will be a man, and that you will behave in a masculine way. This deterministic model belies the truth of our experience — the truth that indigenous people of many cultures have always embraced — that there are as many possible genders and gendered experiences as there are people.

For example, I currently have a pretty masculine embodiment – short hair, muscles, a deep voice, a flat chest, traditionally male clothing. However, my energy is a blend of masculine and feminine – I am a go-getter who is often charging forward on the next big idea AND I create space for the people I love to be vulnerable, where I too surrender into vulnerability with them.

We all contain both masculinity and femininity. The unique mix and balance of this energy within us is as essential as the flow of oxygen into our lungs and bloodstream.

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2// Conduct a patriarchal thought detox.
What are the stories you’re telling yourself about men and masculinity, and about gender overall? Do an inventory of your beliefs about masculinity and men, and choose some different stories.

Some of our big collective stories that you may have running on cruise control include: men should not be emotional, women are more emotional and nurturing than men, there are only two genders, men are just like that, what your body looks like determines your gender, and more.

Set a timer for 10 minutes, write these old stories out, and then decide what you want to replace them with. Write down your new narratives and reread them out loud every day for 21 days.

One my biggest autopilot scripts was that conscious men are few and far between, and that if I was really myself and spoke about gender the way I do, then I would have few connections with men, personally and professionally. I’m choosing to tell a different story now, to affirm that conscious stewards of masculine energy are all around me. And you know what? Bit by bit that community is emerging.

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3// Understand that this work is not just for “bad guys.”
When I discuss my conscious masculinity work, I often witness men immediately deciding that it’s not for them. Or women deciding that it’s not for their husband or their brother or their friend. Because they’re already “good.” They haven’t assaulted anyone recently. They don’t make gross jokes.

⁣We have this mainstream idea that there are “those guys,” those really bad guys, who have really messed up, who really need to get their act together. They’re the problem. They’re the patriarchy. They’re the ones who need an intensive on conscious masculinity. ⁣But the truth is that this work is for ALL of us. We all have an opportunity and a responsibility to become stewards of a new era of masculinity, of gender, of humanity.

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4// Embrace and reclaim the masculinity within yourself.
No matter your gender, you contain an alchemical blend of both masculinity and femininity within yourself. How does your masculinity manifest? In the clothes you wear? In the role you play in your relationships? In the way you tackle a project or negotiate a deal? In the fictional characters you identify with and seek to emulate? How conscious is your masculinity? How much have you chosen it, rather than operating it on autopilot? What do you love about your masculinity? How does it symbiotically complement and amplify your femininity? What do you wish others could see about it?

Write a love letter to your masculinity. Honor what you learn about yourself in the process.

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5// Practice inviting others into this conversation.
Where do you see others running on autopilot about masculinity and femininity? Maybe you’re a mom and you see how other parents assume so much about their children based on their sex assigned at birth. Assuming how their child’s body looks determines what their gender will be. Assuming boys will be tough and girls will like pink. Assuming girls will be nurturing and boys will be adventurous.

Just the other day I spoke with a mother who was grappling to understand why her 8-year-old son had been described by a teacher as “sensitive” and “safe” for the other kids to play with, because of how gentle and unaggressive he was. “I would have no problem seeing my daughter this way,” she said. “But it’s hard to compute how a boy could be described like that. It’s not how I see him.”

Maybe you’re a man and you are aware of how conditioned you are to not call out other men when they say something sexist, or to shame each other for expressing emotion. Maybe you’re a woman who feels super supported by your community of women, but feels like your male partner, family member, or friend, isn’t conscious of his masculinity and how it impacts you.

It’s okay to call the people into your life into greater accountability and connection. To do this, get honest about what your unique role is, however uncomfortable or scary it might feel. Whoever you are, your voice matters, and others will resonate with it.

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A Manifesto for Conscious Masculinity 
The work of remaking our relationship to masculinity and femininity is, like all other fundamentally spiritual work, ultimately about restoring our capacity to self-determine our identity, to trust our intuition, and to unconditionally love ourselves.

We are the generational clean-up crew, taking ourselves off of the autopilot our ancestors ran for centuries, mending the wounds they did not know how to tend. As we emerge from the shadow, it is our birthright to embody unprecedented levels of self expression, connection, and ease. It is the work of a lifetime, but it’s why we’re here. And we don’t have to do it alone.

The future of masculinity is not an erasure of the traditional masculine archetype (ie strong, rugged, powerful, action-oriented), but a conscious release of the shadow sides of these traits (domination, control, emotional suppression, violence) and a conscious choosing of what our masculinity means to us. ⁣⁣

The future of masculinity is the reclamation of this true divine masculine archetype, by whoever resonates most deeply with that energy.

The future of masculinity is amends and repair for generations of harm done, the honest reckoning of personal and collective shame and grief for violence committed, or violence not stopped.

The future of masculinity is an embrace of action without aggression, of leadership without dominance, of impetus and initiation without steamrolling, of grace without repression.

The future of masculinity is creation without collateral damage, strength without silencing, devotion without obsession, responsibility without control, power with rather then power over.

The future of masculinity is the intentional embrace of intuition, rather than the unconscious whim of instinct.

In short, it is a human life, fully and bravely lived, with self-love and connection with a Universal intelligence at its core, with nothing to prove and everything to share.

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Ready for more support reclaiming a positive masculine archetype, for yourself, or someone else in your life? Registration is open for my online Conscious Masculinity Intensive. Use code NUMINOUS for 20% off all ticket levels through next Tuesday, November 20th. It’s open to men, masculine people of all genders, and allies; we even have a few parents of male-assigned-at-birth kids joining too! Join us in co-creating the future of gender, together.

SCORPIO SEASON 2018: FEELING IS HEALING

Scorpio Season 2018 is awash with opportunities to let our tenderest emotions out, in the name of our collective healing, says Bess Matassa …

Photo: Joren Aranas

Slip into the hot tub cauldron clad only in your charcoal masks, Numiverse. Scorpio Season 2018 asks us to uncover the profound pools of pleasure that are present when we go beyond the surface, and to fully feel into the wet and wild whirl of our desires.

With Venus retrograde traveling back through Libra’s heart-shaped castles in the sky, and Mercury and Jupiter adventuring their way through barebacked Sagittarius, there’s a magic carpet quality to the Scorpio Season intensity this year. Rather than a burn-it-to-the-ground funeral pyre, can you treat your transformations like a technicolor trip of shifting forms and stop-motion emotions? Scorpio Season 2018 invites us to relish the full-throttle ride, without having to empty our tanks.

As powerhouse Mars enters Pisces, and the North Node of collective calling slides into Cancer, we’re being ushered to fight for our tenderest feelings and to come forward exactly as we are. It’s a time for remembering that forgiveness is a secret source of badassery: proof of our capacity to make peace with ourselves, so we can extend our humanness to others. Lubricate, loosen, and liberate the parts that are shrouded with the most shame and fear.

The stakes are high, whispers Scorpio Season 2018. We’ve only got one round to make it real in these bodies. So mix your hardcore with your softest self, and risk serving it up real and raw.

Listen to the full Scorpio Season 2018 report from Numi resident astrologers Bess + Sandy on SoundCloud and iTunes and read on for the quick and dirty on the season’s 4 key astro events …

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Photo: Sarthak Navjivan

Sun in Scorpio (10.23-11.22) and Venus Retrograde in Scorpio Enters Libra (10.31; stations direct 11.16) 90s Dance Music

The Scorpio Sun, combined with Venus retrograde in Libra, invites us into the drama-drenched stylings of a teenage dream. Riding the waves of bittersweet emotion, we’re invited to stay present for every dip and rise on the rollercoaster without having to assess its “rightness.” The grand finale of Venus Retro wants us to consider the way we assimilate pleasure, while harnessing the power to police the doors to our boudoirs when necessary. What is love? Let the pumping, plumped-up beats of guileless 90s dance music lead you on a solo, sweat-soaked journey, as you relish the rhythm of the night.

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Mercury in Sagittarius (10.31- 12.1; Stations Retrograde 11.16) and Jupiter enters Sagittarius (11.8) // Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

We get a powerful hit of energy from the zodiac’s wildly nomadic pony this month, reminding us to find magic and meaning in every moment. As we slough off old skins, we must also become the seeker, racing across the open plains of our next adventure. Dance with your “whys,” and recapture a sense of sparkling curiosity amidst the detritus. These planets in Sagittarius urge us to roll the dice and risk expansion that blows the lid off our limiting beliefs. Let young Virginia’s infamous turn-of-the-century letter to the New York Sun (linked above) remind you that a mystically meaningful world is perpetually pulsating just beyond view.

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North Node Enters Cancer (9.30) // Enya

The North Node’s journey charts our collective destiny. Shifting into Cancer’s blue lagoon this month, this call to embrace cardinal water energy urges us to fight for the vulnerable, and to use the intensity of our feelings to reshape the landscape that surrounds us. While sometimes written off as frivolous fairy fluff, Enya’s potent pipes transport us to a melodious cave that’s both soft-lit and surprisingly badass. Let her languid croonings remind you that you have ever right to sing out from your wellsprings of sentimentality, and that yin yearnings have a prime place at the table of social change.

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Mars in Pisces (11.15-12/31) // Jacuzzis

After this Summer’s Mars retrograde schooling, we’re poised to harness our power. In Pisces, this penetrating planet is asked to act with both courage and compassion. Let your motivation stem from your most secret waters, and allow your actions in the world to feel like the call and response of salt soaks on the shoreline. There’s nothing to do and nowhere to go until you’re urged forward by a much deeper siren song. An invitation to slip only into actions that fit us like a second skin, Mars in Pisces reminds us that fighting for our right to some sweet retreat can feel luxuriously healing.

Want more on Scorpio Season 2018? Listen to Bess and Sandy Sitron’s latest podcast HERE.

HOLY F*CK: HOW TO REACH ECSTASY

Want to have Divine on speed dial? In her latest Holy F*ck column, Alexandra Roxo reveals that experiencing ecstasy is the key to strengthening our channel …

People have been seeking ecstasy for a long time. Whether it’s through herbs and psychoactive and psychedelic substances, or through ritual, prayer, meditation, fasting, sleep deprivation, pain, sex, and extreme temperature baths, most cultures have rituals and celebrations that invoke deeply ecstatic states.

From Greek rituals involving mind-altering substances, to the Sufis’ dance into ecstatic bliss, and the tantrikas’ journey into oceans of “samadhi” (ecstatic union with God/Goddess), religious texts usually speak of this search. In Norse mythology, the berserkers would enter into an altered state to be able to fight. And even animals have sought out herbs and fermentation that brought about some sort of consciousness shift.

These exercises can allll produce states of BLISS that allow the participant to commune with “God” or the Divine. And, well, who wouldn’t want that? 

I’ll tell you who! A culture that DOES NOT want its people to be empowered to know the Divine on our own terms. That would prefer us to have to pay into the Divine via tithing (offerings), and bow to the leaders of a church. This being one of the epic reasons WHY ecstatic states became stigmatized in the U.S., specifically, and in the Western world in general.

Personally, I blame the Puritans for labelling seeking ecstatic states as scary, transgressive, or somehow shameful. If people, and women especially, had the Goddess on speed dial, than what would they need the church for?!! SO, they got the ax. Or rather, in the case of the Witch trials, when women would dance themselves into states of ecstasy, the noose.

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What exactly is an “ecstatic” experience? 
In my terms, it is an experience that overrides the default mindset, the internal and external conditioning, and allows for a mind/body/spirit connection that transcends the normal, the typical, and the everyday.

This can result in waves of bliss, with senses ablaze and alive, heart open to a massive flow of love. Where the normal perception and experience of reality is transcended and expanded into a massively blissful, joyful, and loving one that shakes you at the core.

I’ve been exploring this for many years. At age 12, I was attempting to speak in tongues and faint on the floor at Baptist Church camp. And I experienced my first waves of sexual ecstasy around the same time. Since then, I’ve experimented with meditation, prayer, fasting, ritual, dance, song, pain, sex, and psychedelics. Each produces a different type of ecstasy.

Now, I take other people on journeys in my work through ecstatic states that can reframe and contextualize trauma, release stored emotions, and promote a deeper connection to self. Within a safe space, this process of finding ecstatic states can be very, very healing. 

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A dating app for ecstasy? 
I am drawn like a fly on honey to people who know and experience ecstatic states without drugs.

A few years ago, I met two men who had participated in the Sundance ceremony, which involved piercings on the chest, and days of dancing and fasting. To me, these were the HOTTEST men alive! “Um, you spent multiple days with flesh wounds on your chest while fasting and dancing and singing, in the name of uniting with Divine energy and helping save the Earth?! Sign me up!!!”

There is nothing sexier to me than someone who sees and understands the value of finding ecstatic states on the regular without having to pop a pill. Someone so adept at meditation that turning their body to light is NBD. If there was a dating app for this category of human, it would make my life a lot easier!

It’s not Burner vibes. It’s not adventures with psychedelics. I’m talking about people with a thirst for ecstasy that comes from wanting to know the Divine. Wanting to know love. From a remembrance of a state that your soul knows, and longs for.

Anybody else with me on this one?

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5 paths towards ecstasy for the Modern Spiritual Human
**A disclaimer: When you enter into ecstasy, you are opening yourself up massively, so you want to allow for this shift in your reality, perception, and internal state to happen in a safe setting. If you enter into an ecstatic state in a train station for instance, you could get taken away to a mental institution. So set and setting are key! You want be in a safe space. Surrounded by people you trust. Or alone. Remember you are opening ALL the channels and you want to do this with care. Especially if you are new to it.

1// Start simply. If you want to start safely, you can explore ecstatic states through something simple like chanting or ecstatic dance. Many cities have “Ecstatic Dance” communities and classes. Places with DJs and it’s sober and you just shake it out.

If you’re a yogi, chanting mantras in Kirtan could produce these states. You can seek a Bhakti yoga practice. Many cultures and religions have their own styles of song, and some may take you into ecstasy. Some not. When I used to go to the Agape Church in LA, their gospel choir had me in tears and I sang and danced til I lost myself.

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2// Explore your blocks. 
Because it can take years to release your default programming and open to the ecstasy available through song and dance, many people reach for a psychedelic or drug—because it offers a quick way in! But that also means it may have the most emotional, spiritual, and physical hangover, since you are literally stretching into an expanded state very quickly, flooding your body, and then snapping out fast.

You can micro dose different plant medicines if you want to go slowly. But beware; before you are granted ecstasy, you will likely first be shown any blocks you have to ecstasy! If you take MDMA, for instance, you may be opened quickly, but will likely be asked to deal with some spiritual and mystical pain the day after from that flood of chemicals and expansion, and the ensuing lack thereof.

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3// Ease in with meditation.
It may take years before you get to ecstasy this way, but it will happen. Trust me! I’ve been meditating for 15 years and it happens often now. I feel like I am being made love to by an invisible force (consensual of course!) and it is amazing.

If you want to reach ecstatic states in meditation and not wait 10 years, you can try White Tantra or a Vipassana retreat. Both are in-depth practices and you’re likely to access ecstasy faster. But no guarantees of course!

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4// Get it on (consciously).
If you establish trust, a deep connection, and emotional and physical safety, you can achieve insane ecstatic states with sex. Again though, if you open too fast, without a safe container and the spiritual and emotional components, you will suffer the repercussions. Chances are, you will feel depressed, anxious and shitty for days after. Perhaps you will feel guilt and shame as well.

Conscious BDSM is an amazing way into ecstasy in a safe space. Set the intention to open to the Divine before you begin. Japanese rope bondage and suspension work in particular has taken me to great heights of ecstasy, and I led two retreats last year that took women into that space for transcendence, ecstasy, and healing.

Pain can be a tried and true portal to ecstasy. Again, within a safe container, an intense consensual pain session with spanking or flogging or whipping or caning can produce deep and ecstatic bliss. Some religious sects also used pain as a portal to divine and ecstatic bliss. Light spankings are a safe place to start!

You can also start a self-pleasure practice that opens you to ecstasy. It will take time. Practice. A safe space so you can let go and scream and cry and release. At dinner the other night with my two besties, I was talking about my magical rose quartz wand and the orgasmic bliss I have with it, and their jaws dropped. It’s profound!

Japanese “Shibari” rope bondage

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5// Remember that integration is KEY.
Integration means the time you take in between practices to process, rest, release, and allow your system to recalibrate. If you mix drugs and sex and pain and all of it you may go into wild ecstasy, but have a “WTF did I just do?!” the next day, feeling like you got hit by a train.

Unless you have stretched yourself internally to hold some levels of ecstasy over time, you will fuck with yourself psychologically, spiritually, emotionally and physically if you rush things. Seriously. I’ve learned this the hard way.

If you don’t have the skills or tools to integrate ecstatic experience into your life, you can blow a fuse, go back to exactly where you were before, or contract even smaller. But if you integrate your experience fully, you can allow the ecstatic experience to expand you. And you can STAY expanded, therefore experiencing levels of ecstasy OFTEN.

Begin by simply noticing when you feel ECSTATIC and take note. Breathe it in. Don’t zip by. As you notice, your capacity will grow. As you practice, you will stretch into holding more.

Rest. Be gentle on you. You’re re-teaching your system that’s its safe to feel this good. After centuries of being told that IT IS NOT. Write. Journal. Take salt baths.

Start slowly, but be diligent and don’t give up on finding this KEY and GIFT to your human system!!

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Stay tuned for more Holy F*ck from Alexandra. Over the next few months, she will be interviewing women who learned how to access deep healing and ecstatic states during her yearlong program. Learn more about Alexandra and her work HERE.

COMING HOME TO MY HOODOO ROOTS

Growing up British but with her family history in Mauritius, it was reconnecting to her Hoodoo roots that helped Stephanie Victoire finally feel at home …

My grandmother always said that bad luck could never follow you across water, the oceans would purify you anew. That the ocean could take away spirits who wanted to join you for the ride, and you’d land on the other side of water, cleansed and blessed.

Flying every few months back and forth from England to Mauritius as a child, I was always set to start anew. On hot tarmac I’d step with tiny feet in jelly sandals, my hand in my Nana’s, and my English tongue would immediately be lost, Creole nestling itself into my small canon of words. Crossing the Indian Ocean back, somewhere over the Sahara desert I’d leave that language behind again, which at the time had no dictionary—no official place in the world. And, just like that, I’d become English again.

I acquired a nickname with my Mauritian relatives: Ti Anglaise, “Little English One.” With English-born island friends at school, we’d laugh that I was a “coconut”—brown on the outside, white on the inside. But I also remember how confused and disconnected from myself this made me feel. I was two different things, rather than one whole. I was being mocked for my Englishness, while being called out as somebody who looked like she had roots elsewhere, but was actually clueless as to what they were. From a very young age, I had no idea who or what I was—something I would grapple with well into my adult years.

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My parents are both Mauritian, my mother white with green eyes, my father dark-skinned with brown eyes. It was hard to explain to people that I wasn’t ‘mixed-raced’ as they classed me. The simple fact was, the French somewhere in our lineage had milked our tea-colored skin and heavily creamed my mother’s. I wanted to look like her, to be her child in the eyes of strangers as we walked down the street together.

But there’s no denying I was birthed of my grandmother’s line. Even though her skin is also pale—more European-looking than Mauritian—there’s no question that she is Creole. It’s a glint in her eye as she bites into her chilies, the way she fries up salt-fish, kneads flour for roti. Her Creole is in her accent; thick, warm, and wise. She is full of phrases and double-entendres that only hold meaning in the language they were first created in. There is magick in everything she does and says, in the way she speaks to God under her breath.

Mauritius humbly hosts a multi-religious population. A Hindu temple is built next to an Islamic mosque that’s built next to a church. Be them Hindu, Muslim or Catholic, all will tell you that they are Mauritian. I learned very early on that I was not Indian-Mauritian or Chinese-Mauritian, or of any other Asian heritage. We were Creole people, descendants of African slaves, the first people to inhabit the island when it was colonized. We had grown with the sugar cane fields from the ground up, with the papaya and lychee trees. We were the ones who sang sega songs to feel some small piece of freedom in our voices, beating our cries into the Ravanne drum.

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I was sent to Catholic school in London, with my very English packed-lunch of ham sandwiches, crisps and yoghurt. But Mauritian Catholics are not exclusively Catholic. Sure, they feel connected to saints and enjoy the ritual of prayer and church service—but they also believe in hexes, ghosts, omens and witchcraft. And I had all this knowledge with me, too.

But I had no translation for what I witnessed growing up, playing in the tropical gardens of my Mauritian kin: the incessant sweeping, the lighting of candles at the mini mausoleums, which to an outsider seemed like a prayer space. I did not know back then that these shrines were for keeping the garden protector spirit, Gardien Lakour, appeased, with offerings and prayers in exchange for keeping ‘evil’ spirits away from the house.

I also learned that if you sweep a bachelorette’s feet with a balyé—a makeshift broom traditionally made of twigs and vegetable matter—the single lady will never be married. If you throw salt under the chair on which an unwanted guest is sat, they will not return to your home; another handful on the doorstep after they leave will ensure they’ll never darken your door or your life again. If I had a rupee for every time I heard such superstitions from my grandmother, I’d have enough to buy myself a villa on the beautiful Northeast coast. Except these were not superstitions but traditions, brought from Africa, the same way they arrived in Haiti or New Orleans or anywhere else the magick found itself.

Stephanie with her grandmother, Giselle, in Mauritius

Rebelling against everything I was taught in my teens, I left my ‘Mauritianess’ alone, confused about whether I’d really had it anyway, and certain I didn’t want to be Catholic. But after a brief spiritual hiatus, witchcraft found me. Just as Mauritius is a patchwork of different nations and different religions, I developed my own blend of spiritual truths, mixing in Pagan, Hermetic, Native American, and Eastern ideas and practices. Along the way, I’ve worked on healing my confusion around my identity. But I’ve still never felt fully in my skin—more one with the cosmos than with life here on Mother Earth.

Mother. The very word can knock me unsteady, see me crying on my knees. I’ve wanted so much to feel I belong here, I’ve dug my hands into cold, loose soil just to see if I could feel a heartbeat. I’ve travelled the world to try to make the whole planet my home. And it was during a trip to New Orleans last summer, I discovered there was something I’d overlooked.

The Creole words, the Creole faces. Similar to those of my family’s island, but not quite, still I was asked to explore it. I felt it in puddles of rum, the worn wooden doors, the whispers of ghosts. Something was being recalled in my blood, and I warmed to the sensation of ancestral spirits drawing close. It was powerful and overwhelming, a feeling that I was being called back to something I’d find depth and beauty in—the depth and beauty of where I truly came from, that was the makeup of me.

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I started to read books on Hoodoo, and as I read through conjures and fixings, I heard these stories in my grandmother’s voice. Because of course there was Hoodoo in Mauritius. We had come from the same place as the Creoles of New Orleans. Brought our magick down generations with the teachings of the tongue, the ways of the elders, and my grandmother was no different. Old tales told under the moon on a balmy island night; the properties of herbs explained in the kitchen; candles lit for prayers; curses broken with salt, heart and will.

She is a witch, a priestess; a spirit woman, just as I am growing to be. As I recovered memories of the magick in my family, something in me shifted. I had found the roots I was looking for. I stepped further into my power, shedding from myself a fragmented identity, and in its place claiming one that feels like the entire Universe itself. Each star, each planet, each galaxy is a piece of me—a complex and powerful harmony I can feel as I walk the land of this great mother we call Earth.

All of it is mine to belong to, and all of it is me. This magick that Mauritius possesses so quietly finds its voice in me. A witch, a priestess and a spirit woman. This has been my birthright to claim all along. I feel blessed to have been born in England, to speak a language that can share with the world the stories I have stored in my Creole blood. I will tell them with pride.

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Stephanie Victoire is a London-based writer and author. You can discover more of her writing HERE, and follow her on Instagram @petalandmossapothecary for more about her HEALING WORK.