HOLY F*CK: RECLAIM YOUR SEXUAL POWER & HELP HEAL THE WORLD

Reclaiming your sexual power and potential is part of the collective awakening happening now. And it’s never too late, says Alexandra RoxoPortraits: Alexandra Herstik

I’ve taken a few months off from really diving into topics of sex, eroticism, and partnership here in my column. Why? I must admit, I’ve been distracted by politics and found myself thinking: “How can I dare talk about sex, as the world is seemingly in dire need of discourse about so many other things?!”

Well, as my passion for sharing about love and sex wandered around my brain like a disenfranchised child with no home, who else but Sigmund Freud swooped in to validate it—and shove it back into the world!

Freud said that sexual repression is the chief psychological problem of humankind, and the root of many crimes, illness, war and woe. As if I need a dead white man to remind me of something I already knew! But I did. Touché Dr Freud, touché.

And his theory reminded me that it’s okay to continue sharing about love, sex and partnerships—even in a time when ICE raids are being done to innocent people, families are being separated and deported, and the whole structure of a country that felt like it was moving towards progress is being threatened.

Because this includes LOVE and SEX.

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THE SEXUAL LANDSCAPE YOU WERE BORN INTO

Let’s take a very brief tour of history. Some say that we once lived in a “partnership” society, where people co-existed in some states of harmony. This shifted into a “dominator” society. Have you seen the movie or read the book “Mists of Avalon?” In the book there is a battle between the “old” religion—a religion honoring nature, The Goddess, the many faces of the Divine—and the “new” religion, a religion honoring ONE man.

Pantheistic to monotheistic. This shift changed everything for humanity. When the Goddess religion/pantheistic religions went out, so did our connection to nature, to ecstatic states, to sex, to the Feminine. By denying sex we denied nature! As Terrence McKenna said in his book Food of the Gods: “The dark night of the soul for planet Earth began.”

The “Wild Woman” (seen as a reflection of nature herself) was then sought to be tamed. We saw the literal possession of women. Burning of witches. Corsets. Chastity belts. Women’s rights being taken away in many many cultures. The polarization of “the virgin” and “the whore.” And this, my dears, is what YOU were born into.

Fair enough, in this country we got it about the LEAST bad—we are able to vote, get an abortion, wear what we want. BUT this also created a dichotomy that can be VERY confusing.

You were told you can speak up and be you. But you must also be sweet and pretty and skinny. You were told it was slutty to enjoy lots of sex. But you were told also “Claim your sexuality!” You were told you could wear what you want. But when you wore it you were treated differently. At least when it was scandalous to show an ankle it was very clear. ANKLE = SLUT. Now the dial is all over the place.

If you were born into any religion that is monotheistic and patriarchal then whether you want to accept it or not, you probs have internalized all kinds of sexual repression with a side of shame, and a dash of guilt on top. (If you somehow escaped all this then…GODDESS BLESS!)

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SO, HOW THE HELL DO WE MOVE BEYOND THIS?

It’s going to take a lot more work. See my piece from last year about “Sexual Healing” for a refresh and jump start.

The biggest thing we can do is keep QUESTIONING. Everything. In sex. Redefining our experiences as our own. Making our own rules. Reclaiming what is our human right.

FOR EXAMPLE. Perhaps by society’s standards it’s not acceptable to sob uncontrollably during sex. HOWEVER, the energy of sex is MAD powerful, and when used to it’s full conscious potential can be a shamanic experience. So, if you are having conscious deep deep sex, and start releasing trauma or shame or guilt from your body you will probably sob. This can cause more shame because we’ve been taught that’s not okay.

My first girlfriend was a shamanic mover of energy and she knew it. The orgasms I had with her moved massive amounts of shame I had internalized growing up in the Christian south, out of my body. She held space for me. Made me feel safe enough to completely release into my body and use the energy of sex for deep healing. Sometimes that meant opening further and further when I thought I couldn’t anymore, but she helped me keep going, much like in a plant medicine ceremony, or even running a marathon. The altered state that one enters during sex can be a place where so much work can take place.

So how do you allow yourself to let go enough to work with the energy of sex, or even love or partnership, for healing and ecstasy?

HOW TO LITERALLY RECLAIM YOUR SEXUAL POWER

Create a conscious container. By container I mean a defined space. Whether you are coming together just for sex or also for a certain amount of time weekly for sexual exploration define the rules, the terms. How long? What do we do if someone wants to scream or cry?

Communication! If you want to have a soul sob with a deep cervical orgasm you have to make sure your partner can “hold” you through it. Instead of saying, “Hey babe. What’s wrong? Don’t cry,” educate them to hold the space for you, and say instead: “I’m here. Let it out. Stay with it. I love you.”

When you release some of the pain in your body that’s hidden deep within your cervix or womb of COURSE there will be tears, shouting, laughing—ALL OF IT! But you will feel so much lighter and freer afterwards if you let those emotions come out and you don’t hold them in. Not worrying about what you may look like or sound like. Instead, being like a raging river, embodying Kali, embodying Venus, the rivers of Oshun, the energy of a storm, the energy of the ocean. She is never ashamed for her moods and needs. She just IS.

If you look at sex as expansion beyond the “get in and get off” vibe we’ve been taught by movies and TV our whole lives, you will see it has massive healing potential to clear through chakras and move blocks—while increasing your radiance and attraction levels in a major way! It’s a super power and that’s why it has been repressed and controlled for so long.

If you think back to how you “learned” sex it was probably mostly through media. Women “sound” like this or that. They make these faces during sex. They lay on the bed in this or that way. What if that was all learned behavior and in order to reclaim your full sexual potential you get to go on the journey of FINDING OUT what your natural sexual state is?

What faces you make. What sounds. Maybe you sing when you cum! Or make low guttural grunts. Maybe you sob uncontrollably for A YEAR as you release shame from your body. Does that mean something is wrong with you? NO. HELL NO. Maybe you find your fantasy and realize you like to be flogged or spanked. Does that mean something is wrong with you? NOPE.

It’s a choice. You make the choice to embody Bridget Jones. Or Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Or Carrie in Sex and the City. Or…Venus emerging from the ocean. Kali emerging from a fire. Persephone diving into the Underworld and coming back renewed. You choose.

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RE-WRITE THE SEX SCRIPT

Here are some practical ways to begin to rewrite some of your sexual programming…

– Be Curious! Read books. Listen to podcasts. Don’t be ashamed if you want to learn about polyamory. Or multiple orgasms. Or whatever the hell you’re into. Nothing is too strange. Nothing is too weird. As you begin to delve, protect your little seed of curiosity before sharing with everyone. You don’t need anyone’s opinions about your desire to learn about 1950’s Occult Sex Parties or prostate massage. It’s your exploration. Keep it sacred.

– Look at your demons. Your shadows. Your shames. Have you engaged in healing around your sexual history? Chances are your first sexual experiences were rather “unconscious,” maybe with alcohol attached and not centered around heart opening and connecting. And if not, well, kudos to you! (Mine were pretty dope with candles and a fountain and fairy lights and soft music and eye gazing even when I was a preteen cause I was #BornThisWay. But then I’ve also had about 100 that were NOT like that at all…) If you feel you have work to do around love and sex then start journaling about your programming, stories, traumas. Engage in conversations. Do the healing work with a coach or in a group.

– Create the space to explore. If you’re in partnership then consciously communicate with your partner about wanting to make the sex more conscious and expansive, and work to bust through some of the cultural norms together. Perhaps this means engaging in some connecting work before sex. Eye gazing. Doing some tantric breath. Giving each other space to hear fantasies without judgement. That means if your lover says “I’m turned on by watching horses fuck” you have to listen and hold space for that and not be like “EW!” immediately. Trust is very important when opening in this way. If you’re solo then start getting in there and doing your own exploration work with your self. Learn your fantasies. What feels good and what doesn’t.

– Be aware of your words. Stories you perpetuate with your words which can cast magical spells. Sometimes I catch myself talking like Samantha from SATC and I stop myself. Some of that languaging and programming is NOT conscious at all. Sure, it’s fun, but it’s creating a reality that I picked up from TV. Not my own heart.

– Question everything. This can be fun! “Do I actually like to wax my puss? Or do I do it cause someone told me to?” Hmm well for me honestly I think it’s the later. “Do I actually like lingerie and Agent Provocateur?” Resounding YES for me on that one! “Where is my sexuality at on the Kinsey scale?”

– Talk to your friends. THIS IS HARD. One time when I brought up the transcendental power of fisting to catapult you into an altered state in a car of women there was RADIO SILENCE. It was awkward. But without discussion things continue to be taboo Unspeakable. Hidden away in dark corners. So moving past that awkward silence with some laughter and humility is enough to open the floodgates. Before you know it someone will be sharing how they once used a cucumber as a dildo and you won’t feel alone.

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If you want to work with a group on this, I’m doing a monthly HOLY F*CK workshop starting on the New Moon of 2.26!  This is a little different than the salon I did last year as this is deeper work, and enough to keep you busy exploring and reprogramming and rewiring your sex energy until the next month’s workshop! Sign up HERE. And as always I do one on one mentorships and coaching sessions which you can book HERE.

SPARK JOY: A STYLIST-TURNED-SHAMAN GETS KONDO’D

Is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up really a book about energy healing? As Marie Kondo publishes her follow-up, Spark Joy, stylist-turned-shaman Colleen McCann gets kosmic with her possessions purge…

Colleen in her fashion stylist days

As the founder of Style Rituals, a biz that celebrates our closets as gateways to the cosmos, I was well attuned to the connections between the mystical and material world. And a recent move from Brooklyn to Venice Beach and back, means I am also very familiar with the process of packing and unpacking.

For my latest move back to NYC, I had gotten a personal ping from the Universe that I needed to ‘go light’ this time. Accordingly, I picked up a copy of Marie Kondo’s now infamous The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and got to work. Overnight, this went from a cross-country move to a total life enema! But I figured if anyone could lead me through the jungle of my beloved belongings to minimalistic bliss, it was Kondo.

I had barely made it to page four when I realized that this wasn’t just a guidebook for spatial cleanliness, but was also an under-the-radar handbook in energy healing. Marie’s discussions about holding items close and thanking them for their existence was directly connected to the Shamanistic belief that every object carries an energy or vibration. Perhaps, I thought, Ms. Kondo is a secret Shaman. 

Inspired by this discovery, I combined Kondo’s teachings with my energy healing know-how to bring you this guide to navigating the spiritual wilds of your own material treasures …

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NUMBER 1 // There Is a Universal Method to the Madness, aka Memento Meltdown 

The Closet Cleanse: According to Ms. Kondo, one must sort possessions in the following order—clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and, lastly, mementos.

The Secret Shamanism: Shamans believe that working with fire allows release. When I do closet cleanses with clients, sometimes, we literally build a bonfire of emotionally-charged items and let it burn. While Kondo-ing my own closet, I discovered that Marie’s method was perfectly constructed to inspire a similar emotional release. With a background in fashion, I assumed clothing would be the most challenging step for me and wondered why she’d put it first. But I soon understood why mementos went last. I started reading old love letters from boyfriends, thumbing through my high school yearbook, and doodling with coloring pencils from my college fashion illustration class. I eventually found myself on the floor cry-laughing in ‘someone’s’ sweatshirt that I had un-accidentally kept after a weekend rendezvous. I couldn’t believe how many memories had been holding space in my abode that just weren’t part of my life anymore. Time to go!

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NUMBER 2 // Sartorial Reiki, aka Thank Your Lucky Clothes 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests that you hold each item in your hands and thank it for how it has served you in life.

The Secret Shamanism: Is Kondo also a secret Reiki Practitioner and Psychometrist? Psychometry, aka Token-Object Reading, is a form of extrasensory perception that allows us to “read” the energetic blueprint of objects, even if we know nothing about their origins. Similarly, Reiki infuses universal energy into people and items. Kondo’s approach fully acknowledges the spirit present in objects, and the necessity of honoring this energy. As I blended her recommendations with my intuitive skills, it became quite emotional. I remembered sights, sounds, and smells associated with each piece and channeled this energy to facilitate release.

‘Shaman Kondo’ giving reiki to a sweater?

NUMBER 3 // The Art of War with Yourself, aka Plunge into the Pile 

The Closet Cleanse: When purging your closet, Kondo commands you to throw everything in a giant heap in the middle of the room.

The Secret Shamanism: Sun Tzu’s teachings in the The Art of War state that “in the midst of chaos, there is also an opportunity.” For this neat and tidy (perhaps OCD spectrum) Virgo, creating a messy clothing monument was a Xanax-worthy endeavor (Céline and Chloe definitely didn’t want to be wrinkled, snagged, dirty, or stepped on). Yet my chaotic heap allowed me to push my personal limits. As I split my clothing commune into two smaller tribes of “keep” and “discard,” I excommunicated parts of my past life that no longer fit my current lifestyle. And, surprisingly, throwing things about and jumping into the pile of clothes made me feel like a kid again.

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NUMBER 4 // Everything Changes (Even Joy), aka Swapping Fashion School for Fortune Telling 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests that you ask yourself if an item truly brings you joy BEFORE deciding to keep or discard it. Do not try it on or even think about how often you use it. Just hold it in your hands and ask this simple question.

The Secret Shamanism: Guess what I realized? Joy evolves. And the things I wanted to keep were energetic fortunetellers of the life I wanted to lead right now. My transition from the fashion world to the healing world was anything but seamless and I was still in the throes of figuring it all out (going from styling, designing, and brand consulting to seeing ghosts and hearing voices was never gonna be comfortable). While sorting, I realized I was casting aside old items from the fashion world in favor of mystical mementos that fit my current and future vision of myself even better.

 

NUMBER 5 // Come Back to the Present Moment, aka Boyfriend Jeans are Real! 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo states that people are unable to let go of certain items because they are either attached to the past, fearful of the future, or unwilling to live in the present.

The Secret Shamanism: This is for all the girls out there who are still holding onto college sweatshirts, worn-in t-shirts, or anything else that belonged to “the X.” Wonder why a former lover still lingers in your head? Because you’re still sleeping, lounging, and working out while wearing those memories on your sleeve, literally. During my Kondo-ing, I was going through a major breakup and the practice of purging catapulted me from the past to the present. I realized that it wasn’t about “him,” it was about me. I needed to be proactive about doing everything I could to move forward, and holding onto his belongings was definitely not helping.

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NUMBER 6 // Say Yes to Your Life Right Now, aka Magic Rocks Are Heavy but Old Memories Are Heavier 

The Closet Cleanse: When you look at an object and say “I might use this one day,” remember Kondo’s warning that “someday” means “never.” You don’t have room in the house-of-me for “perhaps one day.”

The Secret Shamanism: I carry around lots of heavy crystals in my bag of tricks, but the energy of old memories that no longer served me was WAY heavier. Why was I keeping mementos of people and things that weren’t aligned with my happy-place? As I bid adieu to objects associated with energy vampires from my former life, I severed the cord so that both parties could move forward.

Shaman McCann at work

NUMBER 7 // Repurpose with Your Love Language, aka Mermaids for my Roomie 

 The Closet Cleanse: While Kondo warns against unloading your purged belongings onto unwilling participants, finding new homes for past treasures can be an act of love.

The Secret Shamanism: In Shamanism, when we receive a physical or emotional gift we refer to it as “receiving medicine.” You are getting the “medicine” that you need at exactly that moment, no matter what form it comes in or where it comes from. Mid-purge, I started leafing through Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, and remembered that my love language was gifting. The result? A friend got all my old-life high-heels. One of my favorite adventure buddies is now enhancing her metaphysical talents using the giant crystal I moved from my alter to hers. And my former roommate discovered her passion for sea spirits through my houseplant decorated with a collection of plastic mermaids. Show love and pay it forward.

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NUMBER 8 // Spiritual Smoke, aka Burn, Baby, Burn! 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests removing discarded possessions from your apartment as soon as humanly possible.

The Secret Shamanism: After following Kondo’s practices on how to sort, I decided to insert some of my own Shamanic practices to release any dense energy that can quickly adhere to people, places, and things. Sage what you decide to keep—with the windows open or in an open area outside. As I burn my bundle of herbs, I like to say out loud: “Any energy that is not mine or of my highest and greatest good, get the f*** out … with love, but seriously, it’s time to go.” Even though the purge scared the hell out of me, as I moved the energy I felt like the shackles had been taken off my ankles—I was light and free!

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NUMBER 9 // That Elusive Equilibrium, aka Stilettos & Sage 

The Closet Cleanse: Après cleanse, I was NYC bound with two suitcases of clothing, and one small suitcase filled with the contents of my Shamanic practice (crystals, feathers, tarot cards, sweet notes from clients, sage, sound bowl, etc.).

The Secret Shamanism: Marie Kondo always asks what brings us joy. I’d recently experienced a full moment of joy when I was hired by a former fashion client to speak about the power of rituals and manifestation. As I waved a sage stick around a room full of execs while wearing fake eyelashes and stilettos, I was so joyful I could have cried. Fittingly, while purging, I realized I had to make a conscious choice to let my worlds collide. I wasn’t willing to give up all my high heels or my signature pink nail polish, but I did need to make space to bring back a bit of California in the form of a stack of yoga pants and a massive collection of crystals. To be in my “joy,” I needed to marry the sparkle, fun, and creativity of the fashion world to my personal promise to recharge in nature often, keep a devout meditation practice, and embrace a newfound love for juice.

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NUMBER 1O // The Transformation Cycle, aka Meeting Kali in the Closet 

Did I mention that this was also one of the most traumatic weeks of my life? Within five days, I had ended a relationship with someone I truly love, my beloved aunt died and, oh yeah, the cross-country move was in full swing. In Shamanism we speak about embodying the energy of an archetype. Post-purge, I felt like the Goddess Kali had hung me by my ankles and shook all of the change loose from my skinny-jean pockets.

In other words, f***ing great and completely naked at the same time. With three suitcases to my name, I was a full-on gypsy. I was light, free, mobile, and personified. And while I know that I’ll need to shape shift again and again, as of today I’m bouncily nimbly between New York and L.A. with only my most joyful possessions. All I’d needed to do was step through that closet door. 

Colleen McCann is a fashion stylist turned Shamanic Practitioner with practices in NYC & LA. She realigns the energetic with the visual through Intuitive Crystal Readings, Shamanic Hands-On-Healing, and Feng Shui Space Balancing. Make sure to follow her on Instagram, and pick up one of her new Energy Healing Kits  and Medicine Bags on Goop to jumpstart your cleanse!

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HOLY F*CK: HOW TO FIND YOUR EDGE

Only in the places of discomfort can we experience true healing, says Alexandra Roxo. PLUS 5 ways to find your edge…

Goddess power earrings by Marcia Vidal. Non toxic lipstick by Ilia Beauty.

“There must be something deeply disturbed about a person who wants to be flogged or spit on.” As my friend said this I nearly spit out my kombucha. It was a sunny day and we were sitting on a blanket in the Bay area, having some girl talk, munching on goji berries, having just completed two nights of plant medicine ceremony together.

I started to feel sweaty and hot which means my deep soul was having a freakout. I put my cup down, took a deep breath summoning massive courage and said: “I disagree. It can also be about a person wanting to push their edges. It can be a game, power play, fun, and a vehicle for catharsis. Something beyond the human polarities of ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ Just as enlightening as any other medicine that pushes you to your edge and into a place of expansion.”

Let’s be real, in a lot of spiritual circles we tend towards the light and white, the higher chakras, high vibes…And well, usually as far away as possible from the dark, scary underbelly of things. Be it talking about BDSM or deep wounds, many of us shy away. After all, IG posts that are dark/revealing and heavy, usually get a lot less likes than the ones that are bright and all “I’m floating up here with my Spirit team!”

Well I say…Fuck. That. In the past few years I’ve found the scary bits—the “nevers,” the edges, the parts that make my heart beat fast—to be possibly my biggest teachers. Lately I’ve been wanting to talk about them more and more among circles of women whose faces might go white as an angel’s wing if I said something about squirting being transcendental. But ladies, the time has come! (And yes squirting, and even fisting, can be transcendental. But more on that another time. Or just DM me, lol.)

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You know those friends who push you to your edge? Usher you out of your cozy wozy comfort zone full of sheepskin rugs and Palo Santo, into a scary dark place you cannot control and force you to pull down your “Everything’s okay!” mask? I LOVE those friends. In the moment, I hate them for “making” me hitchhike with a creepy Mexican man on a beach in Oaxaca into the jungle.

Or for saying: “I saved you a spot on the three-day plant medicine retreat where we’ll be fasting and sleeping under the stars. Bring a poop bucket!” Or for calling me out on my shit. HATE THAT. But I really LOVE it. Thank Goddess for the friends that help you to your edge.

I recently signed up for an online course called a “Relationship Detox” with Perri Gorman. On Perri’s intake form you get to say to what level you want to be pushed. I checked off “HOT ORANGE” or something. Basically as hot as possible. (#overachiever!) So in class the other day, when I had to say what conclusions I had come to after making a relationship chronology, and I started rambling, “Well, we were dating and he said some really mean things but you see I’ve been meditating and doing a lot of WORK on this for months. Many healers. I really feel great about it now!” She stopped me mid-sentence.

“No you don’t. Pull off your mask, get in your pussy and tell me the story again!” I was taken aback but I knew immediately what she meant. I breathed through my mask, told the story again, deeply rooted into my truth, shared all the embarrassing parts, tears running down my cheeks, feeling such a huge catharsis: the feeling of being grounded deeply into my body. And then Perri told me: “Ultimate kindness is to risk saying something the ego may detest but that the soul is craving.” Which a wonderful teacher like that can make happen.

So forget smiling pleasantly with a namaste! Let’s get messy together. Hold space for each other to WAIL. Ask real questions to women who have birthed many babies. Talk about fucking. Sob until snot is running into our mouths. Have multiple orgasms that make us scream uncontrollably and then weep in a puddle of our own fluid. Not be afraid to pull down our masks.

“Thank Goddess for friends who call you out on your shit!”

Be it a paddling to the ass, or a projectile purge into a bucket in a room full of people or simply allowing yourself to feel anger, it’s only at the edge that we’ll find the collective catharsis we are looking for—a massive reconnection into the present of our bodies. And especially into our pussies. Into the force which creates life. Pushing us past our edges into a new land, the land of growth.

I try to push an edge every day. Last week I drove for an hour while still on mushrooms. A few days ago I admitted to a room full of people choking through sobs my deepest darkest shadows in love and relationships. I kissed a snake on the lips a few weeks ago. Just finished 40 days of chanting to Kali. Who knows what tomorrow will bring!

:: 5 WAYS TO FIND YOUR EDGE ::

1. Make a list of all the things that make you uncomfortable, or that you said you would never do or say or be or admit. This could be getting naked in front of someone. Crying in front of someone. Admitting to yourself your heart is closed off and you need help. Going on a vision quest. Camping alone. Now get to know that list. Put it on your altar. Start to allow it into your consciousness.

2. Break it into steps. Maybe it’s opening a Tinder account and asking someone out. Or spending time alone. Maybe it’s working out in a sports bra instead of a t-shirt. Signing up for a primal screaming course. A tantric sexual healer. Not exercising for a few days. Everyone’s edge is different! Start small and BREATHE through it. If it’s not making your heart beat fast, then it’s not an edge.

3. Ask for help. I could not have done this alone. Find a friend who helps you find your edge. Or a coach. A teacher. A witness. Someone to keep you accountable and help you and hold you when you cry.

4. When it starts getting tough do not abandon ship! There is a point in the work where we wanna say “Okay cool! I think I’ve got this and I’m gonna take a break.” Don’t do it! Push yourself just a little more. When you make it over that hump it is going to be glorious I tell you!!!

5. When in doubt go back to your pussy and breathe into your roots. Dance alone naked. Shake it off. Keep going. Cry through it. Do not give up. Umm, yeah, Earth hasn’t given up on us though we’ve pillaged her. Our bodies keep going after disease and childbirth and self-hatred and eating disorders. We owe it to ourselves and to the grandma’s that came before us to not give up and get too comfortable.

And P.S. Remember your edge is your own. Do not compare to the friend who did ayahuasca 366 times in Peru. Do not worry about your friend who saw Jesus when she was cumming. Your journey is about YOU. And in your dark personal corners, you could find something so magnificent…you really have NO idea!

If you wanna go deep and investigate your patterns with love, sex and relationships, join us for The Numinous: Re-write your Love Story Retreat July 15-17th in upstate New York! We’re offering an early bird special while Venus is in Gemini of $50 off EACH if you bring a friend (#healinghangdate time!)

SHADOW EMOTION: HOW TO WORK WITH ANGER

Mars retrograde stirring up any suppressed…rage (um, Lemonaid)? You can use your anger as a powerful tool for transformation, says Erin Telford

Anger is my favorite shadow emotion. It’s powerful, it gets things done and it is excellent at creating boundaries and change.

But anger is also one of the most misunderstood and underutilized emotions. As women, we are socialized in both overt and covert ways to be nice, not make a fuss and not rock the boat. When we are taught by our loved-ones and by our culture to bite our tongue in service of keeping the peace, we can get very disconnected from trusting our feelings and from feeling safe to work with this emotion when it flares up.

The thing is, most of us have never seen a healthy expression of anger. We associate it with road rage, throwing things at people, screaming, crying, cursing, fear, abuse, physical threats, danger, and out of control people. These are all examples of unhealthy anger. It’s not an emotion we appreciate so we try our very best to suppress it out of existence.

But it’s actually unexpressed or suppressed anger can get ugly. And beyond the stigma, all anger is, is a catalyst for change and an opportunity for some honest communication. Anger can actually work for you if you work with it.

Anger in its purest form simply says: “I don’t like this. Something needs to be different about this situation.” It’s a call to action! You don’t like it? Okay, change it!

One of the best examples of healthy anger is peaceful protest. This is anger put to work—a group of people turning their collective anger into action to create change. We are seeing this right now in politics, the environment, and human rights. It is impossible for anyone with a beating heart to turn a blind eye to what is going on in our world. We are riled up, expressing our opinions and getting involved!

We can all do this in our personal lives as well. Anger is a very powerful force and if wielded with grace and finesse, it can move mountains. Where we get into trouble with anger is when we push it down, causing it to build.

Anger is connected with the season of spring. This is because it speaks to the catalytic energy surge required to turn a seed into a plant, to push it’s little head above the soil and reach for the sun! Spring, our liver, and by association the energy of anger, are connected with upward and outward growth.

So what happens if your growth is inhibited? What happens when someone tells you “no”? A ridiculous new policy is created at work? What if you are simply just trying to walk down the street and everyone is in your way? You didn’t get the apartment or the job or the acceptance letter, a flight is delayed, a class isn’t offered, you didn’t get the promotion?

These are ways that an obstacle interrupts the smooth flow of our life. We don’t like obstacles. We don’t like no. We don’t like interruptions to our plans.

And so our natural reaction can be anger. Which is totally fine. We are upset.

But to deny this is to block our access our personal power. When we feel guilty about what we feel or label ourselves as being “negative” when we feel angry, we miss out on an opportunity to out-create our circumstances.

Rather, if we can sit with our anger, can look at where it’s coming from and why we feel it, we can polish it into a nugget of transformational gold. If we have been hurt or upset by another person, rather than lashing out, we can advocate for ourselves and clearly state our needs to that person. If someone continually disrespects or hurts us, you may need to use that anger to create a change in the terms of that relationship!

You may have heard that anger turned inward results in depression—an oversimplified expression, since depression has many roots and takes many forms—but there is some weight to it.

When we repress our anger toward a partner, friend, loved one or co-worker by not sharing our truth, we are betraying ourselves. We are inadvertently communicating to ourselves that our feelings don’t matter and we are not worth standing up for. Self-betrayal is the most painful betrayal of all and can decrease self-esteem and confidence—leading to depression.

So we stay snippy and unexpressed and we self-medicate even more or our tense up even more, or our digestion suffers. It doesn’t have to be this way. Use your anger as a call to action to change your circumstances.

Breathe it out. Dance it out. Run it out. Write it out. Scream it out (not at someone else!) Sing it out. Create it out. Talk it out. Paint it out. Boot camp it out. Express it out.

You have to feel it to heal it. You have to let it out to transform it. Just don’t be afraid of anger.

The more you know your triggers and can feel when it’s rising in you, the more gently and safely you can manage this emotion. Anger is so powerful and properly harnessed it can do so much for you. Think of anger as your inner Mama Bear, your inner Kali, and your inner badass.

And let it be fuel to create powerful change and transform your life.

DEAR DIARY: A CONVERSATION WITH THE DIVINE

As Neptune goes direct and the Sun moves into Sagittarius, it’s the perfect time to instigate a conversation with the divine. And your journal is the place to start, says Katie Simpson.

Almost 18 years ago, I bought my first journal. It was a small back hardbound book covered in pictures of Mickey Mouse designs. I’ve since journaled for self-care, self-expression, and so much more.

In the past year, my journal has provided a surprising new benefit: it’s become the space where I have dialogues with the Divine. This began on more intense days, such as in the build up to a New or Full Moon ritual. But now I can have these conversations during lunch breaks, late nights, or days when I am sick.

To be clear, these conversations don’t require any mind-altering substances. The most I have in my system may be a cigarette or a glass or two of wine. And my most profound conversations with the divine occur when I’m completely sober.

Journaling and talking to God both happen in my journal but look very different. When I’m journaling, I write my thoughts down as they come. With the Divine, it’s a written conversation. It sounds and looks like two different people having a discussion. I will write something, and then She responds. The best way to explain it is like the old written notes we used to pass in class. Only I am both one of the writers and the messenger.

These dialogues are a gift, but not one that’s unique to me. I believe that with a little time and effort, you can have these kinds of conversations as well. Here are a few practices that have helped me commune with the Divine through the written word.

:: The faces of God ::
As a religious studies major in college, I learned a lot about the different faces of God. For example, in Hinduism, you could see Kali, Goddess of destruction, and Sarasvati, Goddess of wisdom, as two separate entities. Or they could represent two different aspects of the same Divine Feminine.

So often in the Judaea-Christian West, we focus on God as a judge, ruler, or father figure. But for many women, it’s difficult to connect with this. Personally, I connect best with Jewish idea of the Shechina. She is the feminine, the maternal presence, that I see when I reach out to God. And as such, she is the one who communicates with me on the page.

To begin a dialogue with anybody, you need to feel a connection with them. It’s the same with the Divine. Perhaps you need God to be a fierce warrior. Or perhaps you prefer the idea of God as Sophia, or wisdom.
There’s no wrong answer. So think back to which icons, saints or experiences really made the divine manifest for you. Is there a pattern? What images and ideas do you gravitate towards now? Exploring this is a great start to feeling a connection with the Divine.

:: The inner God block ::
For me, God has never just picked up the pen on her own and started writing: she writes through me. Which means that before the Divine can show up on the page, I have to make space for her – space beyond the doubt, the criticism and the disbelief around God, that so many of us have developed.

To give her space, a free-writing practice is critical. Each morning, I sit down and write three pages, either typed on my computer, or in a hardbound journal. No editing, no second guessing, just writing. Have I perfected this practice? No, but showing up helps me be honest on the page. This way, when the Divine does decide it’s time for a chat, I don’t fight it. I just keep writing.

This practice does take time: I’ve been doing it for over two years now. A couple glasses of wine could be a faster way to muting the inner critic. However, drugs are only a quick fix. Taking the time to show up and write will prepare you to have a dialogue with God, whether it’s 8am or 8pm.

:: Just ask ::
My dialogues with the Divine don’t start off in a complicated way. In fact, they usually begin with a vulnerable honesty.

“I’m so scared of telling him, what will happen?”

“I’m feeling so tired today, I just want to rest in your arms.”

I don’t believe there’s one right way to start chatting with God. For me, it’s about being simple and direct. My dialogues began by me being honest about where I was and what I needed – while the maternal Shechinah simply listened, and held me.

It’s very rare that God reaches out to me or begins the dialogue. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have had any dialogues with God if I hadn’t started the conversations. Why? I wouldn’t have even known I was hearing the Divine.

And what YOU need when chatting with God could look and sound completely different. However, it is up to you to show up. It’s up to you to say you want the conversation, and in fact it’s critical that you ASK for it. The Divine is all around us, waiting. It’s up to us to show we’re ready for a deeper connection.

:: Say Thanks ::
I’ve seen it time and again in human relationships. Want to mess something up? Take a person for granted. Believe that your employee will simply continue producing great work and never leave – and just watch that relationship ferment into a bitter and moldy fruit.

The Divine doesn’t need gratitude. However, simply assuming that you can continue to have dialogues with God won’t do, since becoming proud and assuming of this connection is a surefire way to destroy the dialogue.

Being in the presence of the Divine should always feel like a gift. As such, showing good manners and saying even a quick thank you after the fact can help. There are other ways to show your appreciation: donate money to your favorite charity; give a loved one a call and tell them you love them; pick up some trash from your park.

Divine dialogue has become a gift that helps me be the best version of myself, for others and for myself. Whether you find God on the blank page or in the woods, know that it is your birth right to have time and space directly with her. But taking time to discover what aspects of the Divine resonate with you, and then actually asking for that relationship, are fundamental to creating and sustaining this connection for the long haul.

NAVARATRI: HOW TO WORK THE GODDESS ENERGY FOR FALL

The Indian festival of Navaratri begins today, and is a nine-day opportunity to work with the Goddess Energy of the Divine Feminine to amplify your personal power. Anita Kaushal explains how…

Autumn signals colder, darker nights and this can leave many of us feeling physically and emotionally fatigued. At times of weakness we need to summon strength and this can take many forms. So it’s fortunate that Tuesday 13th October signals the start of Navaratri – the nine-day Indian festival devoted to Durga – the Goddess of Shakti, or power and strength.

Nava-ratri translates to ‘nav’ meaning nine, ‘ra’ meaning night and ‘tri’ meaning the three aspects of mind, body and soul. This festival happens twice a year – in spring to celebrate sowing seeds, and autumn, when we reap the harvest. The exact dates are determined by the lunar calendar and the celebrations pay homage to the three aspects of Goddess Durga – as Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Together the three aspects of Durga represent the Divine Feminine energy that creates all that is. Here we share with you how you can tap into the Divine at this sacred time, and in doing so supercharge your inner strength to bring you greater fulfillment and peace.

:: October 13-15 ::
For the first three nights of Navaratri, meditate on the destructive aspect of Durga as Kali – a symbol of change, power, creation, preservation and back to destruction. Here we see Kali as the destroyer of ego, the mind-made personality that cultivates fear based thinking, leading to anger, greed and hatred. However, this is not a time to deny these aspects of your personality, as to deny is to strengthen. Instead use this time to reach a greater understanding of when and where these mind-made habits took form and how they are triggered in the present.

Cultivate the understanding that you are not these labels, and allow the feelings to come and then go. Thank these feelings for bringing you closer to the aspects you wish to cultivate, which represent your true nature. Let Kali guide you to turn anger into patience, greed into trust and hatred into love. Above all this is a time to simply surrender, knowing that nothing is permanent. Kali is often depicted with her tongue hanging out and you may know this stance from yoga – you exhale the negative and let it go.

:: October 16-18 ::
Spend the next three nights meditating upon the Divine Mother as Lakshmi – the Goddess of Abundance. Depicted with four arms, sitting resplendent on a full-bloomed lotus with gold coins cascading from her hands, Lakshmi represents the beauty and bounty of nature. Her four arms represent the four ends of human life: “dharma” or righteousness, “kama” or desire, “artha” or wealth, and “moksha” or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. This is the perfect time to connect to your heart space and get clear on what abundance means to you.

Trust that the abundance meant for you cannot be taken away, and is simply waiting until you are ready to receive the download and that can only happen when you get clear and free from free of fear. During these three days, give freely of all you would love to receive. Nurture yourself by creating sacred space for beautifying, balancing rituals, buy yourself something special and then wear it – special occasion or not! Savor good food, give compliments and be open to receiving them too – this is the time to feel abundant with all your being. And if you don’t do it already, now is the time to start a gratitude journal – fill it with all you already feel grateful for and watch it multiply.

:: October 19-21 ::
On the final three nights, meditate upon the Divine Feminine as the wisdom-bestowing aspect known as Saraswati. The Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and wisdom, Saraswati brings the joy of learning and of self-realisation. This is an excellent time to sign up for a course, read inspiring articles, read a translated version of the Gayatri Mantra to further deepen your knowledge and create a mediate practice.

Equally, it is a time to create a ‘to don’t list’! Learning should be fun and if you have a long list that is not getting done, ask yourself if you ever really wanted to do it in the first place? Why set yourself up to fail? Who are you proving things to and for? Use this time to truly connect to what you want and give up everything else. Think about all the lessons you have learnt and give thanks for growing wisdom.

Throughout the nine days of Navaratri, focus on breathing as an opportunity to inhale the qualities you wish to nurture and exhale the qualities that no longer serve you. Traditionally, the 10th day concludes by offering nine girls from the local neighbourhood treats of some kind, be it sweets and clothing – to symbolize an offering to the Divine Goddesses. We offer gratitude to the Divine Mother and celebrate in a state of sat-chit-ananda, or truth-consciousness-bliss, and conclude with Vijayadasami (Vijay – victory, and dasami – tenth day), symbolizing the victory of the Goddess over all demonic forces. Think about the small but significiant victories you have made as you have focused on Durga, and give thanks for how far you have come.

Anita Kaushal is the founder of Ayurveda-inspired natural beauty line Mauli Rituals. Find out more about her and her journey at the link, and follow her @mauli_rituals.

TURNED ON: ME AND MORGAN LE FAY

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

Ellie Burrows shot by Mikal Marie Evans

Morgan Le Fay is sweating me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET DOWN AND GET GOD: A DANCE PARTY WITH THE DIVINE

What if the way to enlightenment wasn’t through your crown chakra…but your feet? Nadia Noir heads to the nearest dance party to find out.

Prayer and meditation are awesome tools for channeling moments of introspective clarity. But as a spiritual species that spends an unfathomable amount of time psychoanalyzing ourselves through mantra apps, self-help books on Audible.com, and grounding ourselves through following our favorite guru via social media, channeling a primal version of Miley Cyrus while gyrating to Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” can be a bridge into unbridled bliss. We live in our heads enough already. Enter the body-purifying sweat of a good old-fashioned, orgiastic dance sesh.

It wasn’t just the ancient Greeks who encouraged the human iterations of their gods, goddesses and muses to get down and get God through song and dance. The Torah calls for dancing, not only as a celebration of God or as a way to worship, but as a way to create the frenzied, supercharged atoms between two lovers in Song of Solomon. In Hinduism, there are the Apsarases, 23 celestial gods that dance to “express the supreme truths in the magic of movement.” Sufis twirled themselves into ecstasy and the Ancient Egyptians thought of everything they did in life as one eternal dance. They even danced at funerals, ready to dance their way through the darkness of death and into the afterlife.

If you’re still perpetually feeling low-grade anxiety or self-abusing your ten pound weight gain, maybe that’s because the answer isn’t in your crown chakra. Sure you can keep seeking a connection to a higher power, but you might never understand what true liberation is until you strip away your sins at classes like Sheila Kelley’s S Factor, talk up to yourself at Patricia Moreno’s Intensati, bump-and-grind your way into a state of Bhakti at Yoga Booty Ballet, or the spiral-sensationalizing of Buti.

But about just hitting up a dance club and twerking shamelessly to a raunchy Nicki Minaj song, feeling the sensation of strength and pleasure crawling up your root chakra, through your core and into your heart. You could stomp it out to some metal like the world’s sexiest Kali, destroying the earth below you and incinerating any doubts you have in yourself. Or, if that’s too hardcore for you, if you’re one of those supple, gentle souls that drowns in tears and whiskey, go sing some old country songs by Patsy Cline at your local karaoke dive bar. Studies even say that moderate drinking accompanied by karaoke is super good for your health.

And in case you’re like, “When am I going to have the time to do any of this stuff? I’m a super woman trying to be a spiritual being having a human experience and those bills don’t pay themselves,” here are four easy steps to just sing when the spirit says sing and twerk when the spirit is like, “Work it girl.”

GET OVER YOURSELF
That’s right. Who cares if you’re flabby or ungraceful or if you’re hailing a cab on a busy street. The minute negativity starts creeping into your psyche, do a little dance on the sidewalk or belt out some Beyonce. The only person who is embarrassed by what you’re doing is you. Maybe other people are jealous or hating, but a majority of people will feel inspired by your little performance. They might just join in. Spontaneous soul-healing flash mob? Sounds awesome.

PLAY ON, PLAYA
Keep a playlist on your iPhone for those times that you really need to really play. Songs you can dance to in the mirror while dripping wet from the shower or to encourage anyone around you to join you for a slow dance. If that sounds awkward, ABBA usually works.

RECORD YOUR POSTERIOR FOR POSTERITY
Have you ever looked back at pictures of yourself when you were in high school or college or some other time you were mired in angst and depression and went, “Damn. I looked hot. What was my problem?” It’s always good to keep visual reminders to yourself that sometimes your pain can be blown out of proportion by your own psyche. There’s no better way to document yourself than at the height of some fun time; dancing, singing, glowing. You might grimace, but guarantee you, when you’re 70-years-old, you’ll be thinking, “I was having the time of my life.” Like me in this video singing Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” I kind of hate it, but in five years I’ll love it. Don’t shortchange your future with how you feel about yourself today.

GRAB YOUR PARTNER BY THE HAND
Mix things up in your relationships with some Sir Mix-a-lot and a mixed beverage of your choice. Or just let the wild nymph out to play and make up some songs in the middle of  a hike or something. Start a fake band. Create a fake dance. In fact, keep faking on it ‘til you make it. Let your fake persona, the confident and sassy one, override your warped internal programming to bring out the “real” and really dope damsel and dimepiece that is you.

But you know, some things work for some people and other things work for other people – a really simple and trite statement, but it’s true. If you hate something, you’re not going to keep doing it. If meditating and mantra-repeating doesn’t work for you, you’re not broken. You’re not spiritually unevolved. It’s just up to you to find out what you vibrate with. And maybe, just maybe, what will really reshuffle your chakras and shake up your soul is a sultry striptease in front of one other living being who will never judge you—your cat.

Read more from Nadia Noir at Illuminadia.com

@NadiaNoir