IS VISITING MEXICO CITY’S SONORA MARKET SPIRITUAL APPROPRIATION?

On a solo journey of spiritual self-discovery in Mexico, Danielle Dorsey decided NOT to visit the famously witchy Sonora Market. She explains why …

Mexico City’s Sonora Market was up there as I had compiled a list of the city’s witchiest landmarks to visit during my two-week stay. The sprawling bazaar is famous for being the largest market dedicated to witchcraft in the country, offering patrons everything from tarot readings to limpias (or spiritual cleansing), banishments, love potions, and more. Earlier in my spiritual journey, I likely would have sated my curiosity and went, but the more I learned about the market’s offerings—which range from healing arts to the darkest magic imaginable—the less inclined I felt to go.

One obvious reason to take precaution before visiting the Sonora Market is its location. Nestled in the historic La Merced neighborhood, the market and its surrounding areas suffer from higher crime rates and poverty. Although generally safe during the day, those who stand out as tourists are more likely to be targeted for theft and scams.

Along with candles, herbs, and other trinkets for your spells, you’ll also find vendors selling animals in various states—taxidermied, encapsulated in liquids, or even alive (and often malnourished). Each vendor is its own business, so supporting a tarot reader who happens to be working there does not necessarily equate to endorsing animal abuse, but still I felt cautious about the volatile energies that might be encountered in such a space.

For all intents and purposes, the Sonora Market is an energetic vortex, where one can cleanse themselves of suffering at one booth and then curse someone at the next. For anybody not familiar with how to protect themselves with such conflicting energies at play, it could be easy to fall victim of a psychic attack.

I spoke with Shannon O’Neill-Loyola of Radical Reiki, who currently lives near Mexico City and has familial ties to the region that trace back for centuries. She told me that, “Aside from the fact that there’s dark magic, I won’t go because of the polarization of forces that occurs there. It attracts so many lower entities and earthbound souls who will do anything to latch onto anyone who has an opening in their auric field. People go there out of novelty, and with a superficial view of magic, and don’t realize how impactful these rituals and ceremonies are. Ultimately, this shows a lack of respect, and people who visit as ‘spiritual tourists’ don’t realize that they may leave with attachments.”

Mercado de Sonora México DF 20 04 07.jpg
Offerings on display at Mercado de Sonora. Photo: Maurice Marcellin 

Another reason I decided to pass on the Sonora Market is my wariness of casual tourism through others’ sacred belief systems. One of the best things about social media and the internet are their ability to connect us to cultures and people all over the world, but it’s also easy to trick ourselves into believing that we are more familiar with these practices than we actually are. We might mistake watching a video of a sacred ceremony with being qualified to host our own, even though we have no ties to that culture or deeper understanding of what it represents. Not only is this appropriative and intrusive, it belittles the spirituality of those that we are borrowing from.

When you take into account the different intersections of privilege and the historical oppression of certain cultures whose rituals are now being profiled by Vogue et al., it becomes even more vital that—if and when we participate—we make an effort to do so with intention and respect. That might mean sacrificing an Insta-worthy picture of creepy Santa Muerte statues and respecting the merchant’s request to keep your phone in your pocket. It might also mean that if your Spanish isn’t advanced enough to have a genuine conversation about someone’s offerings and what they can do for you, it might not be the right time to visit.

A good rule of thumb for distinguishing cultural appreciation from appropriation, is that appreciation typically includes an invitation to participate. If you’re truly interested in learning from Mexican brujas or brujos, you’ll have to foster a genuine relationship and prove that your interest stems from more than simply colonizing their beliefs. This might be difficult to achieve if you’re only visiting for a week or two. There’s also a chance you could approach somebody in a completely respectful manner, and they still won’t be interested in mentoring you. Remember that no one owes you their labor, spiritual or otherwise.

However, this doesn’t mean that spiritual enlightenment isn’t awaiting you in Mexico. If you’re looking for spellcraft items, you’re likely to find a few botanicas in just about any neighborhood market or tiangui, which are weekly pop-up markets that occur all over Mexico City. I also recommend a visit to White Willow Cafe in the Roma Norte neighborhood, which hosts weekly tarot and other mystical workshops.

Mexico is a country with a rich history and the same wisdom you are seeking from a bruja or brujo can also be found by simply tuning into the energy of the land. I was surprised at the downloads that came through during a few minutes of meditation at the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan, located just an hour outside of Mexico City. I had a similar experience in Frida Kahlo’s house and was struck with visions as I toured her bedrooms and kitchen, leading me to spend some time journaling in her garden. Even during long bus rides, I found myself bulldozed by spiritual insights while my eyes drunk in the gorgeous countryside.

If you do decide to visit Mexico City’s Sonora Market, take appropriate measures to protect your energy. As with anything else, do research so that you can be sure of what services you’re asking for and don’t get taken advantage of. Meditate and ground yourself before embarking on that trip. Slip a black tourmaline or obsidian crystal into your pocket to ward off negativity and envision yourself in an impenetrable bubble that one must be invited inside.

If, like me, you’d rather be safe than sorry, there are plenty of other ways to find spiritual healing in Mexico without putting yourself at the mercy of such potent energetic forces and engaging in spiritual appropriation.

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Danielle Dorsey is a content creator, publicist, copy editor, social media coordinator, and event planner. Read more from her at Danielledorky.com and follow her on Instagram

TRIMARAN BOTANICALS: SKINCARE BLESSED BY A SHAMAN

Mimi Young, founder of Shamanic skincare line Trimaran Botanicals, shares her journey and her process…

Occasionally, a brand appears on the horizon that just vibrates authenticity – and Trimaran Botanicals, a skincare line out of Vancouver, is one such offering.

Created by modern shamanic practitioner Mimi Young, it’s no surprise to learn that each and every product is interwoven with the energetic imprint of the spirit realm – to create a line that nurtures the beauty of the user, inside and out.

It’s been an honor to collaborate with Mimi on this piece, in which she discusses her connection to the spirits (“No different than a friend texting you – those little communications just happen…”) her products, and her process…

The Numinous: How did you originally connect with your plant spirits?
Mimi Young: It happened by accident, really. For almost two decades I had been psychically smelling plants – smelling fragrances of plants (and other substances) that are not physically in my surroundings, and it took me a long while to realize that this was the spirits calling to me for recognition, to be heard.

I then realized I had the gift of communicating with these spirits when I was in Mexico. There was a tropical house plant where were staying – the leaves resembled a peace lily, although to this day I am not certain what species it was. I was in the bathroom, and I quite clearly heard the voice of the plant, “It would be so nice to experience this Mexican sunshine!”

So right away, I picked her up and put her on the deck, and it was crazy because then I kept hearing, “Thank you, thank you.” When I returned home, one of my house plants – a peace lily that had not flowered for years – was blooming with radiance. I interpret that as a beautiful token of gratitude from the spirit.

I can hear plants, animals, and crystals – and, as mentioned, experience clairscent-based communication from those realms; I perceive scents beyond the limitations of physical space and time. This morning I was talking to fern, dragon, the wolves… I wasn’t asking for this, I just held the space and it happened.

Cellulite Oil, $138

TN: And when did the idea for Trimaran Botanicals come up?
MY: Pun intended, it happened “organically”! I was searching for a product to assist with reducing cellulite after having a child, and so I made myself a body oil. To add to its benefits, I blessed it to ensure not only its physical efficaciousness but its emotional and spiritual effects as well.

The Numinous: How do you create your products now? What’s the process?
MY: I work with the spirits. I am physically the only human being when I am making the products, but I truly see it as a collaborative effort.

As a shamanic practitioner, I live my human life but the door to the spiritual realm, and to the plants, is always open. And the plant spirits (or animal, or crystals) will come to me and tell me things throughout the day. No different than a friend texting you – those little communications just happen. I mean it’s spectacular and beautiful, but it’s so much a part of my everyday that it’s normal for me now. A great example is that the plants just told me the other day to add to our current AURA COLLECTION, explained to me the functions of each new product, and even the ingredients I should be using!

In terms of filling orders, my process is both orderly and intuitive:

– I examine each order as if it’s a medical chart, as I allow myself to tune in to that customer’s order.

– I ask my plants what this person might need, be it an item from the line or a custom order.

– I always hold the product in my hand and bless it with that person’s name so it becomes “for” that person, but also adding that it’s also “for anyone else that might receive this product,” in case it ends up being passed forward – as a gift, in sharing, etc.

– I will also add to my blessing a mantra, an invitation for something like security, groundedness, self-compassion, etc. Sometimes I even write it down on my founder’s card to be placed in the shipment.

– Before it’s shipped, the order is placed in a nook in my studio – a space set up for my assembled inventory, surrounded with crystals and plants – to be charged with more intention, solfeggio music, sacred plants diffused in the air.

– Once it’s been charged, I pack it and anoint the package with sacred sage, asking that the order be delivered swiftly and without damage. So even the shipping process is energetically blessed. And I kid you not, all my orders end up being delivered far faster than expected!

Good Vibes Elixirs, $44

TN: Do you take the same care sourcing your suppliers?
MY: I have multiple suppliers. My requirements are their integrity as artisanal suppliers of the finest pure, wildcrafted, organic, botanical ingredients such as cold-pressed plant oils and first-distillation, solvent-free essential oils, but I the energy with the people themselves also has to feel right. All of my suppliers believe what I believe – I can quickly pass on any messages from my plant spirit to them, and it’s like everyday coffee break conversation!

I didn’t set out looking for shamanic suppliers, it just turned out that I attracted a network of suppliers who work the way I do: they speak with the plants, they too fulfill my orders with loving intention and anoint my shipments with sage for protection. They understand my process and share the same values. As such, my raw ingredients are always handled with love, and have not been sitting in a stale, cold, business as usual factory/storage space.

TN: How long have you been practicing shamanism – and what was your initiation into the tradition?
MY: Becoming a shaman isn’t like choosing to become one and taking a course (although I understand that there are courses out there), it is a spiritual inheritance, and it is through my work with a seasoned shamanic practitioner that I have honed my abilities to connect in an ongoing way with the spirit realm. What I have learned cannot be learned in the Western definition of learning, it’s been through spiritual experience and touch.

My shamanic practitioner did give me the formal tools and language for me to remove my “self” from my “ego,” however. In doing so, my ability to honor my “unknowing” and to ask for guidance from the spirit world has given me the ability to go deeper into my journeys and collaborations with spirits, and to bring back into the physical world a deepened intuition, and heightened senses.

Ultimately, my “knowledge” come from the messages I receive in my journeying, and with the plants – being a shaman means listening first.

Sacred Smudge Mist, $46

TN: What will women gain by approaching beauty from a shamanic perspective?
MY: My hope is that the experience of using Trimaran Botanicals will bring a person’s inner beauty to the surface, as that is the purpose of the brand: alignment of deep inner beauty with the outer.

I also hope that Trimaran Botanicals is something that people can use to continue their own practice of connecting with themselves, of coming home to themselves, and of acknowledging that the plant world is interconnected with ours, so that they can truly connect with the outside world from a “whole” and holistic place.

TN: What’s your definition of beauty for the now age?
MY:
I often question why we need to define beauty. For example, the lightness we experience when we are one with nature cannot be experienced through a facial or fitting into a pair of skinny jeans.

That said, beauty to me speaks of internal balance. It’s being happy with yourself, where you fit in the world, and where you fit in your own skin. When we can nurture this and cradle ourselves, is when I think we can begin to understand that we are really, truly beautiful.

Discover more about Trimaran Botanicals on Instagram or shop the brand at Trimaranbotanicals.com

WHY IS GAY TANTRA SO TABOO?

Why is gay tantra so taboo? It’s time to call an end to the dogma of patriarchy and traditional gender roles, says Lisa Luxx

Credit: Concha on Behance

Here we are at a mountain top tantric yoga retreat on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. The love of all my lives is trembling in zen beside me. Class is about to adjourn after our first day and it’s been enlightening; a breath of fresh mountain air into the depth of my ‘yoni’ after a year of undiagnosed vulva pain and gender delusions.

Then the goddess leading the workshop goes and says something that brings the screeching banshee of psychosexual trauma right back. “Your homework is to think about having sex with the opposite sex.” A fellow dyke raises her hand and asks, “Why has it got to be the opposite sex?” The goddess, unmoving, diverts her eye line from the gays and announces stoically, “Because tantra is for man and woman.”

Oh. I wonder why no one ever told me that before. I’d e-mailed the school ahead to tell them, “My girlfriend and I would like to do the practical tantra retreat,” and they opened their pockets wide for us to dispense our money. But they never said, “Tantra is for man and woman.”

On our walk home my girlfriend expresses how uncomfortable she is to have been given these instructions, I argue that it’s probably okay, trying to diffuse the upset. And start to think about having sex with men. It plays out like a Kung Fu fight in my head until some element gets thrown through the stain glass windows of my eyes and I see in front of me that it’s way too 2016 for this kind of disheartening heteronormativity.

It seems, this super straight approach to tantra comes from the misled belief that Shiva and Shakti literally represent man and woman. However, I got mulling this over with my friend Stephanie (who’s written a book called Sex Drive on liberating her orgasm) and she introduced me to the cult icon Barbara Carrellas who wrote the first ever book on queer tantra: Urban Tantra.

“Shiva and Shakti, in Hindu tantric philosophy, are actually huge entities representing consciousness (Shiva) and energy (Shakti). When Shakti and Shiva had sexual intercourse it gave birth to the world. How this got confused with vagina and penis, I do not know,” Barbara explains on the phone to me, after I’ve returned to England.

Back at Hridaya in Mexico, Antoaneta’s teaching became more cracked and twisted as we went on. By the second day she had termed, and continued to refer to, the clit as the “little penis.” An offensive that landed like the shells of warfare in the trenches of my creed.

I’ve toured spoken word performances that educate women on the facts that may empower their clit and one facet of this is that the clit is not small; it can extend up to 9 inches within us. The clits of many straight women will be bigger than their partner’s dick.

The course leader – who began the retreat glowing in light and by now had morphed into this disheveled, haggered devil of a being – proceeded to laugh off lesbian sex as something that only happens in yoni therapy, not a real manifestation of love on this earth. We walked out. My girlfriend cried all the way back to our cabana.

The next day we bumped into another lady from the course who was quite distressed. She told us she too was gay and what we’d missed in the final day was a ceremony whereby many unknown men had entered the space. Men who had not been on the course but who were marched in to save any woman having to pair up with another woman during the sensual massage.

This lady we spoke to, who we’ll call Kirsty, had left in floods of tears, “I feel stupid because I don’t know why I came back to tantra. I thought it was worth giving another chance but discrimination is all I’ve ever experienced at tantra schools.”

When I spoke to my queer friends about my experiences in Mexico, they had all nodded solemnly and said, “Yeah, homophobia is a real problem in mainstream tantra.” And, that was the key lesson for me to learn; there is a mainstream tantra, which doesn’t have the social awareness that some of us expect.

For anyone who has ever experienced ‘energy genitals’ they’ll know that the line between owning a dick and a pussy can be smudged. I’ve had a dick before. Insomuch as I’ve felt the erection rise from my pelvis and enter my girlfriend, and she’s felt it inside her. I wouldn’t have had the linguistics to explain this before speaking to Barbara, who coined the term ‘energy genitals’.

“There is a position called Yab Yum where the person on the bottom could have a physical possession of a vagina and the person on top could have a physical penis. But the person with the vagina experiences a penis. Once they start rocking and holding eye contact the man feels he’s being penetrated by the woman.”

This is a genderless phenomenon. And for someone who exists in the grey area between genders and doesn’t always feel wholly assigned to the physical sexual design given unto me, tantra appealed because it focuses on energy rather than physicality. And tantra does exist as beautifully open as that. Barbara Carrellas runs her own courses which allows for magic to happen off-script.

For example, “One guy came to a women’s class because he couldn’t make it to another. So he was doing the breathing technique for women and he was flying just as far and as fast as any women in the room. To which I realised, there’s a lot to this I don’t understand and I think I’m being fed a lot of myths and lies.”

The Radical Faeries, once a gay male counter-culture network in the US is now opening up to all gender and sexual identities. Within their discourse is tantric teachings. The network has now spread globally too.

When one embarks upon a tantra course they lay themselves open and become ultra vulnerable, any teacher who is insensitive or who makes you feel invisible can emboss serious damage within you.

It’s important to find a workshop leader that is emotionally equipped to the complexities of sexual identity. When humans come together and open themselves up in a small space it’s bound to get messy and as my friend Jessie says “you just have to hope for a great facilitator”.

Jessie is part of women’s only tantric program called Shakti Tantra which she tells me is a great place to heal. But the divide should not be a must for us to feel safe. For any tantric workshop to serve its purpose it needs to be free of patriarchal dogmas. That doesn’t mean being free of men.

Ask lots of questions before you book your space on a course: will I get split up from my partner, will I have to be paired up with anyone I don’t want to, will I have to reveal details about my sexual past, and so on. If you don’t get the answers you’re looking for then keep searching for the right tantra course. There are retreats friendly to all persuasions, genders and sexualities (including polyamorous types).

Tantra began as a deliberately transgressive art form. It was the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll of its day. It was a political movement. So take these homogenous tantra fundamentalists with a pinch of salt and reclaim the art form. As Barbara says: If you want to practise the semen retention that’s fine but, don’t tell the rest of us that’s the only way to do it!

FOR THE LOVE OF CHOCOLATE: WHAT IS A CACAO CEREMONY?

Love chocolate? Well chocolate loves YOU! We discover how in ceremonial doses, raw cacao is a powerful heart opener that paves the way to transformation through self-love…

Heart Beats Raw Cacao and Dance Ceremonies founder Guinevere Short

A while back, we had an intern working at The Numinous who celebrated turning 21 at a raw cacao ceremony. “Most of my friends would have been downing shots of tequila…but I was getting high on chocolate!” she joked. But it turns out raw, ceremonial grade cacao has been used for centuries to unlock euphoric states, release negative emotions, and connect to pure heart energy.

Chocolate + ecstatic healing and transformation. Seriously, is anybody NOT down for some of that?

Guinevere Short has been working with cacao in ceremony since she founded Heart Beats Raw Cacao and Dance Ceremonies in 2013. We got her to give us the lowdown on why chocolate is essentially a catalyst to radical self-love…

WHERE AND WHEN DID CACAO CEREMONIES ORIGINATE?
It’s thought cacao was first used as a health elixir and ceremonial medicine as far back as 1900 BC by the ancestors of Central America, the Olmec people, before becoming a ritualistic medicine used by the Aztec and Mayan cultures. Signifying both life and fertility, it was ingested by Royalty in ceremonial God worship and in sacrificial ritual.

CACAO IS ASSOCIATED WITH UNIVERSAL LOVE – WHY IS THIS? IS THIS WHY WE GIFT CHOCOLATE TO OUR LOVERS?
Due to certain active ingredients that help release ‘feel good’ emotions, cacao is considered a heart opener. Creating feelings of emotional intimacy and pleasure, it has long been considered a luxurious delicacy, especially with the addition of sugar and spices to suit modern palates. Without realizing, we still get to enjoy a small fraction of it’s potential when we eat cacao in a regular chocolate bar. And yes, this is why it has become associated with romantic gestures and pleasurable indulgence!

Guinevere with her shamanic drum photographed in Thailand, 2014

WHAT IS A CACAO CEREMONY, AND WHEN DO PEOPLE SEEK THIS MEDICINE OUT? 
A cacao ceremony is an opportunity to connect to yourself and open your heart. Because of cacao’s ability to increase your connection to your inner self and your heart chakra, it aids in any transformational shift you are working towards, whether you are looking to deepen your understanding of who you are, release old patterns and traumas, or move into a more self-confident space. Whatever your path, the intention is yours to set, and the cacao allows you to the insight and awareness to move towards that goal.

HOW DOES A CEREMONY GO – WHAT’S THE RUN OF PLAY?
I have attended many different ceremonies, and they vary in their approach. I was introduced to cacao initially by my mentor, Daisy Kaye, who brings in a powerful five elements dance journey, and I have also worked with a shaman in Guatemala who honors the cacao with meditation and inner reflection. In the ceremonies that I hold space for, we begin by sitting in sacred circle, honoring the cacao spirit with shamanic prayer, and humbly asking for our intentions to be heard. We serve the cacao in liquid form, and drink together.

Depending on what’s being called for, I intuitively offer sound healing or meditation. We then enter into a sharing with each other, of what we want to let go of and what we are calling in, which creates an intention for our journey. This is a very safe and intimate space, and the people that attend always surprise themselves at how they are able to open up to strangers, especially when they start to realize they we are all a mirror for each other, all just human beings with the same fears and sufferings, the same hopes and dreams. We end with dance, during which the cacao activates within the body and the heart, allowing a truly transformative and ecstatic process to unfold.

Ceremonial cacao is taken in liquid form. Image: Julie Gibbons

HOW IS THE CACAO SOURCED AND PREPARED? WHAT IS A CEREMONIAL DOSE?
I have used cacao from Bali, Equador and Mexico, but I discovered a ceremonial grade cacao sourced in Guatemala by a man now internationally known as the Cacao Shaman, who has been working with the medicine and connecting it to the Western world for many years. Keith and his Guatemalan compadre Tat Isaias (Tat meaning Shaman) work alongside the local indigenous community to provide the highest grade cacao possible, grown in the purest conditions and harvested and prepared with love. A ceremonial dose is around 1 – 2 oz of cacao, mixed with water into a drink. Traditionally cacao was served with chilli and honey, but I have sometimes combined it with other herbs or super foods to assist a particular journey.

WHAT IS THE IMMEDIATE PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECT?
One of the main active ingredients that we experience in our physiology during ceremony is Theobromine. Theo-broma literally translates as God-Food, and potentiates the release of dopamine, the ‘pleasure’ hormone. This, alongside phenethylamine, which is known to help relieve stress and depression and which is released in the body during emotional euphoria, create heightened sensation and empathy. Alongside these, the high amount of nutrients in the cacao support and nourish the body, whilst also inducing a detoxifying effect on the liver and kidneys.

AND THE EMOTIONAL IMPACT?
Due to the euphoria inducing ingredients, the emotional impact can be profound. Everything feels heightened within the physical and emotional body, including your awareness to your deepest sense of self and to your heart. The experience of love and empathy, particularly for yourself, can literally feel as if your heart is opening like a flower. With this, the body can become flooded with the many emotions stored in the heart, some of which can be painful. It is not always an easy experience, and I have seen many tears shed as people peel away old layers of hurt. But as the cacao facilitates a deep sense of self-love, tears are always followed by smiles of deep gratitude. In other moments, the sheer ecstasy felt from the cacao can be described as nothing other than a divine experience.

Shiny, happy people: Sophie Teakle of The Numinous following a cacao ceremony with Guinevere in Guatemala

WHY IS THIS SUCH A PERSONAL PASSION OF YOURS?
Because I believe in love! In the heart. In opening wide to our potential to follow that heart and be guided into the most alive and joyous expression of our selves possible. Acting on the momentum this creates, people can transform their lives to be living in their highest potential, creating positive experiences for themselves and everyone around them. This for me is a story of evolution; the more that people connect to self-love and awareness of themselves and their behaviors, the more that they can make loving and conscious choices for the greater good of all.

My personal story is that cacao has been part of a journey to heal myself from a chronic illness that left me bed ridden for most of a year. I had lost any sense of who I was or why I was here. Cacao came into my life at a time of transformation, and revealed insights to me that I had waited years for. It was a big part of restoring me to feeling fully alive in myself, totally connected, and fully empowered. Now I am truly blessed to be able to share that medicine with others.

HOW HAVE YOU SEEN PEOPLE’S LIVES CHANGE AS A RESULT OF WORKING WITH CACAO?
I am continually amazed by the transformational aspect of working with cacao, and there have been many emails and phone calls to tell me that since the cacao ceremony, ‘everything has changed’. I think cacao gives you the space to enter into a place of deep reflection and self communion. It allows you access to the subconscious to reveal and heal the deepest aspects of yourself. Especially when used in a ceremonial and intentional way, cacao gives you an opportunity to move towards the fullest expression of who you truly are…and this can be catalytic in removing barriers in all areas of your life; relationships, career, personal growth, creativity, or wherever your focus is. Ultimately, cacao can help deepen your connection to your heart, and expand your capacity to love and be loved. In a world where we’re realizing that everything is love, that’s a pretty potent medicine. And everyone deserves a taste.

Find out more about Guinevere Short and what is a cacao ceremony at Heartbeatscacao.com, and connect with her on Facebook.

YOGI VEGAN LEZ: ZEN AND THE ART OF CELIBATE DATING

When Alexandra Roxo signed up for a peyote medicine ceremony, she forgot to tell her girlfriend this would mean a week of celibate dating. Uh-oh…Homepage image: Fab Ciracolo 

Stuck between a rock and…a psychedelic cactus?

The night before my last peyote medicine ceremony, I was almost asleep when my girlfriend climbed on top of me and started a slow dry hump. I was jarred awake, shocked, and didn’t know what to do. No, not because she’s hideous or I’m no longer attracted to her or dry humping is gross. Not any of those reasons. But because I wasn’t supposed to be sexual / have sex for three days before my medicine ceremony! This essentially meant a week of celibate dating.

So I was faced with a dilemma. A) We’d been having a rough time and hadn’t had sex all week. B) I didn’t tell her I was supposed to be celibate for three days prior to taking the peyote and three days after. Woops. And C) Well shit, C is that I love her and she’s hot.

I found myself between a rock (or rather, a cactus) and a hard place. Also between 300-thread count cotton sheets and a hot bod. So I somehow justified that I’d let her masturbate on me or with me and it wouldn’t count. Not exactly rational but it was the best I could come up with. She finished quickly, I didn’t let her touch me, and somehow I felt no guilt about it all. Until. The next night.

I’d had two peyote ceremonies with the same medicine man before, which were both “deer ceremonies” in the Apache tradition, one in a teepee upstate and one in Mexico. Both times it was incredibly enlightening. I’d worked through deep parental issues that were a part of my Saturn return, and sung in the dark wearing a white muumuu as I released the pain of my youth.

Alexandra and her soul sister Natalia Leite at her first deer medicine ceremony

But this ceremony was different, in that I got a real ass kicking. I felt like I was gonna puke but couldn’t. I felt like I was having the worst period cramps in my life. I couldn’t lay down. And I kept seeing dark visions. Had my soul become a dark vault in the last few months? OR WAS IT THE SEX? (I mean, half sex really, but…)

Worse, after the ceremony the ass kicking continued for a full week. My GF and I’s relationship was pulled apart and rebuilt, like three times. Meaning I was crying in public again. At one point Orian and I were sitting on a bench in the park and I was crying and she put her hands over her head and commented that her shadow looked like a deer.

At that moment I got it. Everything came together. She was in on this ass kicking from the Universe too! She didn’t even know I had done the deer medicine but the plant had obviously used her lovely spirit and they’d been in cahoots all week to school and teach me.

This interconnectedness of my lessons has revealed itself again and again over the years, sometimes in a calm and magical/twinkly way, and other times in a more grotesque and “punch in the face” way. It still amazes me. This time, I’ve come to realize that managing sexual energy in times of spiritual growth can be very, very challenging.

Essentially, when I’m deep in some growth and lessons, the LAST thing on the planet I want is to open my physical body to some “poking.” To put it crudely. ‘Cause when I’m not in the sex zone, that’s kind of what it feels like. Like an intrusive visitor showing up at the very wrong time.

When I want to hold my energy close and exist in my higher chakras, I’m thinking about my angelic spirit guides and the work I’m doing here. And sex? Well, sex feels incredibly mundane. But how is this fair to your partner? And how do we navigate these moments as a couple?

I’ve also started meditating every night before bed recently. You know, releasing my day by doing visualizations and setting my dream time intentions. And lemme tell you…this can be a major buzzkill in the bedroom. The other night my girlfriend and I were kissing on the couch and when we moved into the bedroom I stopped the fun and was like: “Wait, just let me meditate real quick!” When I opened my eyes 15-20 minutes later and looked over, she was passed out and snoring with her mouth open. Dammit.

On the other hand, I find myself trying to turn the work I’m doing into “our” work. The other night, instead of meditating, I asked her participate with me as we shouted what we are grateful for. “Thank you Universe for coffee! Sunshine! An HBO Go password from a friend!” And then I guided us through some vibrational chanting.

I know this is sounding like a Christian teen sleepover or a day at a Waldorf school, but it was great. But we don’t live alone, so there’s that. Instead of that awkward moment in the kitchen, “Shit, did our roommate hear me cumming?” it’s “Did he hear us… doing vibrational chanting work and daily gratitudes??”

“Did our room mate hear us chanting before bed?”

Thankfully, taking the leap into the land of heart-warming cheesiness can be just as bonding as sex. Sometimes we tackle the bigger questions in relationships like cheating, differences in values, or whether or not we want kids.

But the small ones can be the scariest to tackle. Like telling your partner you aren’t really feeling sexual, and them being able to respect that space and not feel threatened/slighted/or like you think they’re ugly now. Being able to say; “Hi. I’m wanting to not have sex for a bit ’cause I’m tryna connect with my guides and my third eye this week.” Or “Hey I can’t have sex cause I’m cleansing/grounding my energy before a ceremony.”

And them being able to accept where you’re at, and not go parading around in Agent Provocateur panties or send you nude selfies of them masturbating or watch porn beside you at high volumes while you’re trying to meditate.

If your partner is down to respect and accept where you’re at, then maybe during this time they can do something useful with their energy too, like work on their kickboxing moves or reorganize the fridge. And then when you’ve ridden out that wave and got what you need, you can come back together roaring and ready to meld energies, have sex all night and transcend together with some candles, wine and Kenny G.

@yoga_vegan_lez