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.

///

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

NUMINOUS TAROTSCOPE DECEMBER 21 2017: NINE OF CUPS

Nine of Cups is the “wishing card”, and it’s asking us to lean in to our intentions, says Lindsay Mack

HOW TO TURN YOUR WORKOUT INTO A FORGIVENESS PRACTICE

Feeling bloated from pie and difficult holiday season emotions? Resident fitness witch Russ Marshalek shows you how to burn calories AND bad feelings by making your workout a forgiveness practice …

For most of us living in post-Woke America, the “saveable” facet of the holiday season is the food—and idea of togetherness at any cost, through gritted teeth, regardless of how racist Grandpa is.

And what you “indulged in,” this can also be a time to practice the art of forgiveness.

“Why should I let that asshole off the hook by forgiving and forgetting?” you might ask (especially if you’re a witch with a penchant for revenge).

Well, true forgiveness isn’t the same thing as forgetting or shitty faux-happiness. Instead, it’s the act of acknowledging what’s happened, and actively choosing to allow past grievances to be fuel for your personal power. 


You’ll be surprised at how damn good it feels—so good, you may even be able to deal with good ol’ racist Grandpa without biting your own hand off.

Turning bullshit into power: that’s magic.

But it also takes practice and rock solid awareness. Try these 5 fitness practices to summon the core strength and mental fortitude you need …

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1// Walk it Off
When you can’t stomach any more negativity and are ready let go and let Goddess, take a walk and hug a tree. Seriously.

As witches, the healing power of nature is a truth we hold to be self-evident, but I feel like it bears repeating til the cows come home.

Feel your negative energy leaving you and imagine the tree breathing a deep green or white energy into you in its place. If you want to add more to this—a run, sprint, etc, or incorporate this into an existing outdoor workout—feel free. But the important and non-negotiable part is to hug a tree. Definitely do a quick but sincere offering to the local spirits as a thank you after.

Music: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Store”

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2// Sit with Forgiveness, aka “Let’s take a time out”
Ok, so Grandpa/Uncle/whathaveyou was offensive, admitted to voting for Trump, and basically stands in total opposition to you, your beliefs, and your existence.

The best way to let that shit go? The incredibly challenging practice known as active meditation. This guided meditation from The Mindfulness Movement is an excellent starting point until you’re able to guide yourself.

Music: Motion Sickness of Time Travel’s “Totality” 

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3// Breathe Into Self-Forgiveness
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck,” you say to yourself, “I can not fucking believe I did that.” Whatever THAT is, I can assure you that you are dwelling on it way more than anyone else. And even if that’s not the case: so what?

Use this planking exercise to embody the sensation of “letting go,” get over it/yourself, and be grateful for the experiences that have brought you here, even the sucky ones.

While holding a plank, suck your stomach all the way in and tighten your stomach muscles. Breathe normally, ideally through your nose. Hold this position for one minute, and then relax your stomach slowly as your lower down to the ground from plank position. Try raising the length of the exercise by 30 seconds every week to keep pushing yourself.

Music: Black Heart’s “The Day The Whole World Went Away” 

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4// Knock This One Out
Feeling overwhelmed by all of the internalized crap you’ve been bottling up?

Try this drill for starters. Imagine the air in front of you filled with the charged emotions that have made you feel bad, kept you from moving forward, and locked your heart in a dark place. Then punch it out, imagining the air in front of you purifying into a bright white light.

Music: Portishead’s “Machine Gun” 

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5// Reps for Retribution
Ok, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t include a post-Thanksgiving “Bye, Pie” type workout in here, so this is that one. Sure, you can meditate on the meaning of self-love or whatever, but mainly this is here to make you sweat.

Throw that yoga mat down on the ground and do 25 burpees, 25 pushups, 25 plank pushups, 25 shoulder touch planks. Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat. Repeat for 3 rounds.

Music: Knifesex’s “Sex and Death” 

MODERN FAMILY: A HIGH-VIBE HOLIDAY SURVIVAL GUIDE

In her holiday survival guide, Erin Telford has some tips for staying zen when you’re home with the fam… Images: Ofir Abe via Behance.net

 

“If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.” – Ram Dass

Nothing is truer than this statement, since THIS is the real spiritual work. Take it off the mat, take it out of the personal development book, take it off the cushion – family time means time to walk the talk.

If you are mentally steeling yourself for holiday family time this year, know that you are not alone. We always revert to children when we go home, no matter our actual age. And this inner child will always re-experience the same unmet needs for attention, affection, allowing, acceptance or appreciation.

This inner child may even be coming into a family gathering with an expectation of feeling old hurt. This child may unconsciously be watching and waiting for familiar signs that he or she is inadequate, unwanted, or less than.

And if these wounds haven’t been addressed and healed, even if there isn’t an overtly toxic situation to navigate there will always be people present that push these buttons.

The trigger might be a casual remark about your job or relationship status, your parenting style or appearance. The deeper the wound, the more power these off hand comments can have to throw you off your game, creating a spiral of anger and insecurity. Happy holidays!

And we’re talking deep, subconscious stuff, the kind of stuff it’s hard to see coming. One minute you’re “fine,” the next, an insecure little girl who wants to lash out teenage rebel style – or else go hide in her room.

With this in mine, here are a few tips to keep in your back pocket while you navigate…

:: EVERYONE IS FEELING IT ::
And truly doing his or her best (even if it doesn’t look anything like it from where you’re standing).

What if everybody was overtired, over sugared, feeling small, feeling ugly, feeling overweight, feeling anxious, feeling insecure, nursing old wounds, hurt by something that was just said to THEM, grieving, feeling lonely, feeling sick, trying to stay sober.

There are any number of reasons that people don’t act the way we wish they would, especially when our usual routines and coping mechanisms are taken away. They are trying with everything they have just as you are.

:: FORGIVE YOURSELF FIRST ::
If you lose it, if you feel petty, if your buttons get pushed, if you respond exactly the way you didn’t want to, if you fall into old unhealthy patterns of relating, if you get sucked in…you are ALSO doing your best. Here is my prayer for you: A Prayer to Release Your Burdens

I forgive myself.

I will no longer be held hostage in my own mind.

I will no longer replay events and wonder if I could have/should have/would have done more/been more.

I did all I could do.

I gave it everything I had.

I acted with all of the tools that I have and to the best of my abilities.

My intent was always love.

I forgive myself.

Say this in the bathroom when you sneak off to get away. Say it into your pillow at night.

:: WE CAN’T CONTROL HOW WE FEEL BUT WE CAN CHOOSE HOW WE DEAL ::
You are not a victim. You are an adult who has created a cozy little corner of self-love, proud achievements, acceptance for your authentic self, and emotional stability back home. HOLD ONTO THIS VISION.

If we walk into a situation feeling insecure and anxious, we are already poised to get knocked off our center. No wonder, then, that first obnoxious or critical comment already feels like the famous Last Straw.

It’s important to remember that what’s been said is magnified by the open wound we’re already re-experiencing. It’s like the salt jar accidentally fell in. So we can pick up the gauntlet and do battle, we can withdraw, or we can decide to eat/drink our feelings, depending on our personalities.

Or we can pause, we can breathe, we can excuse ourselves, and we can physically shake it off with a jog around the block or a brisk walk. Our call.

:: FOCUS ON GOOD SLEEP, EXERCISE, WHOLE FOODS, MEDITATION, PRAYER :: 
…but since it may not feel that easy to maintain your usual high-vibe routine, you can also ground and own the holiday space with this simple visualization. It will help shift the energy wherever you are to support you and help you feel comfortable:

Imagine a column of golden light in the center of the space you will be in. This column extends from the center of the Earth to the heavens.

Place a golden rose at the top of the column with three words that signal your intention for your experience. These can be words like Stable, Peaceful, Relaxed, Strong, Joyful, Happy.

Imagine writing your name on all of the walls in the space or hanging pictures of you smiling and having fun.

This exercise helps you to set the energy of the space to a vibration that supports your highest good. And I wish you the absolute loveliest holiday season and strength for any challenges that come your way!

ADORN YOURSELF: 10 HIGH VIBE TALISMANS WE LOVE

Jewelry designer Kirstie Gibbs explains the importance of finding a piece that speaks to your path. PLUS 10 high-vibe talismans we love! Main images: Jacquie Aiche Holiday ’15 campaign

Several years ago, in my role as jewelry buyer for Harrods department store in London, I was introduced to the idea of worn treasures being used for a higher purpose and energetic attraction.

It was around this time a friend gave me a symbolic ring and told me confidently it would bring me love. Having just come through a challenging personal period, I thought ‘why not give it a try?’ and wore the ring every day.

The year that followed was filled with bad dates and disappointments, but what never failed was my deep belief that when the time was right I would find love, because every morning when I slipped that ring on, it uplifted me and gave me new hope. I realized this was my modern day, rose gold and white diamond talisman.

By definition, a talisman is a physical object that is thought to possess certain magical properties and can provide positive and protective energy to the person who wears it. They are generally made of crystals and gemstones, and commonly worn as a necklace or other piece of jewelry.

Throughout history it was the role of the alchemists, shamans, witches and priests to create and provide these magical objects. Talismans ranged in value, material and craftsmanship, but were worn to protect against violence, illness and bad luck – the sorts of human problems that are still rife and troubling to this day.

And so it’s fair to say that talismans are still needed and embraced in our modern society. In fact, in our world of over-stimulation I believe it’s even more important that we awakening women stay tuned in to our own purpose and carry a personal, sacred object of our choosing.

Everyone from Jennifer Aniston, Madonna, Heidi Klum and Rhianna have been spotted wearing the Hand of Fatima/Hamsa – an ancient symbol of luck and protection – so it seems that even these seemingly blessed individuals are still looking for an extra bit of magic in their lives.

And as more and more of us remember who we are and return to a spiritual way of living, we want to celebrate and support our commitment to this connection. When a woman wears her own talisman she charges herself with the energy of what she wants to attract and/or harness, be that protection, a successful Tinder date or a flow of creative ideas in her work life.

And while our core values and fears may not have changed much in thousands of years, our style certainly has. Recognizing this, is a new breed of jewelry designers are creating beautiful and meaningful pieces to take you from the juice bar to dancing on tables.

This was the inspiration behind my brand, The Alkemistry. Recognizing the desire among spiritually minded women for meaningful objects, I created a powerful online tool that harnesses the power of astrology and numerology to match-make women with the finest gemstone jewelry.

It is my hope and wish that all women can find the right talisman to help them manifest their desired intentions, just like the ring I wore for love. It might have taken a year, but once I slowed down, took a step back from dating and allowed myself to just receive, eventually love found me.

Thealkemistry.com

Orion bracelet, $600, The Alkemistry

 

 

 

Lone Star ring, $1080, Rock & Raw

 

Multi-coin necklace, $490, Laura Lee

 

Journey Shield ring, $1025, Communion by Joy

 

Blesslev keychain, $245, Jacquie Aiche

 

Heart Chakra fragrance pendulum necklace, from $325, Unearthen

 

Snake totem ring, $1320, Logan Hollowell

 

Moon seal necklace, from $665, Jessica De Lotz x Louise Androlia

 

Eye of Protection ring, $49, Satya Jewelry

 

Amethyst pendant, $185, Pound Jewelry

HOLIDAY CHEER: ON SPIRITS AND SPIRITUALITY

Among more spiritual circles, alcohol is considered the lowest of the low-vibe highs. Facing two weeks of steady holiday drinking, Ruby Warrington considers what her attachment to booze really says about her.

Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid with the structural formula CH3CH2OH, often abbreviated as C2H5OH or C2H6O. It is also used as a psychoactive drug and is one of the oldest recreational drugs still used by humans. Ethanol can cause alcohol intoxication when consumed. In common usage, it is often referred to simply as alcohol or spirits.

I’ll be drinking alcohol tonight, and pretty much every night now until the new year. Happy holidays! But in two weeks time, I can pretty much guarantee I’ll look like crap, be feeling anxious, depressed and like putting myself into some kind of self-imposed rehab – in fact, I’m already looking forward to how I’m going to feel after my first ever Dry January. Yes, that’s some serious future-tripping right there, and so not reflective of my usual glass-half-full outlook on life. What about the thrills? The bonding? The laughs? The drunken fun times that await!

Sure, there’ll be all that. And all that used to be one of my favourite ways to pass the time. Being British (a nation of “high functioning alcoholics” according to this former NY Times London correspondent) and a journalist (one of the high-risk professions for alcoholism, I’ve been told), in my circles the fact I spent most Sunday nights in my twenties and early thirties mapping out my week according to my drinking patterns was nothing to shake an AA manual at.

And I learned to drink late – I was teetotal all through college. My boyfriend back then was a big-time weed smoker and by default so was I, but actually in the end it was alcohol that gave me the Dutch courage I needed to get out of that soul-destroying relationship. He was so anti-booze, considering it, along with cocaine, the lowest of low-vibe highs, that when I took up drinking I might as well have been having an affair right under his nose. Which in the end, with the help of some very strong cocktails, I did.

Talk about messy. But right off the bat, alcohol represented freedom to me. And I guess this was the real kicker, but I also found it helped me access a happier part of myself. No surprises there – isn’t this why most people drink, if we’re honest? Even if this means something different for everybody. In my case, I can be kind of intense and alcohol helped me loosen up and see the funny side of life. Felt like it got me out of my head and into in what was going on around me (you can imagine what a miserable pot-head I was).

This to me felt like magic. Here was a potion that sprinkled the world with actual freakin’ fairy dust. And if creativity is akin to spirituality (as the divine Elizabeth Gilbert suggested when I interviewed her recently), didn’t the fact that drinking helped shunt me into the right side of my brain also, in some way, mean it was helping me get closer to…God, the Universal oneness, or whatever? How did we think spirits got their name, anyway? The fact that alcohol had a dark side (the morning after) felt right, like karma.

But like a relationship that sours overnight, something shifted when I hit 35. Maybe it was the onset of my North Node return (a whole other story, but for the astro geeks out there I’m on the Taurus / Scorpio, material / mystical axis – go figure), but I began to fall out of love with my liquid crutch. The hangovers were lasting longer than the highs, and I noticed, as if coming ‘round from a stupor, that certain relationships relied on a steady flow of cocktails to really mean anything to me.

It was also interesting, and unsurprising, that a lot of the people I was meeting who described themselves as having “woken up” to a more spiritual connection with life (you know who you are, readers!) had kicked alcohol to the curb along with negative thought patterns and the majority of foodstuffs besides kale. This got me questioning the real connection between spirits and spirituality. Not least, what it said about my spirit that I still felt (feel!) the “need” to dink in certain situations.

If spirit is the oneness as expressed in each of us, then yes, there’s no doubt that spirits – in the form of a Ketel One martini with a twist, in my case – can feel like an Access All Areas pass to an audience with our higher self. Ego inhibitions slain, I know I’m not alone when I admit I only dance like nobody’s watching after martini number three. And actually dancing when nobody’s watching? Pretty much one of my favourite ways to party with my inner soul tribe.

But note the use of the words “feel like” in the previous paragraph. What my own experience of heightened spiritual awareness has shown me, is that a back stage pass is in no way a satisfactory substitute for paying upfront for the best seats in the house. In other words, sneaking in the back door with access to the free hospitality bar, you’ll probably miss half the show – and have a hard time remembering what parts did touch your soul in the morning.

Now note the use of the word “probably.” Some of the most spirit-affirming moments of bliss I have experienced have been under the influence of spirits. Singing my heart out (don’t you love that expression?) with my girlfriends on a rooftop bar in Ibiza at 2am, because the only other people up there just got engaged; any tear-jerk sunset viewed from the edges of that same mystical island; experiencing sheer, all-consuming love on the dance floor of any given wedding; knowing that the person I’m expressing my love to feels exactly the same as me.

Which goes back to my point about alcohol being a social drug for me. Sober moments of bliss are often the ones I experience on the inside – like the intense feeling of calm after a dead night’s sleep; being guided by a healer over Skype to meet my shamanic power animal; or experiencing a heart-wrenching psychic connection to my father during a deep Kundalini meditation. The fact that I’m experiencing both on a regular basis (veering towards the internal, for what feel like deeper reaching ramifications and for my vanity) feels to me like balance.

Among my more spiritual friends, the fact I’m still quite attached to the external kind – and the substance that helps me reach them – I sometimes feel like Paris Hilton lining up for a hug with Amma. But hey, I’m only human, still a material girl just beginning to explore the true depths of our mystical world. And the fact I’m preparing to drink my way through the holiday season? A couple of years ago I would have been planning the outfits. These days, like I said, I’m already planning the detox.

@The_Numinous

The author, under the influence.