MY MYSTICAL LIFE: MANIFESTING SUCCESS WITH CANDLE MAGIC

Would last weekend’s Club SÖDA NYC urban retreat have been so successful without a little candle magic?

With co-presenters Siri Rishi and Sah D’Simone

When I started this platform, I had literally zero idea—or desire—to become an event organizer. And yet when it comes to all things numinous, it’s been proven to me time and again that there is no substitute for real-time, human experiences to bring the magic to life. And so a LOT of what I do now (introverted, bookish, solitary, me), is producing and hosting events. And last weekend’s Club SÖDA NYC urban retreat with Kin Social Tonic was one of the best yet!

It was a tall order. Ambitious. A day-long takeover of new NYC members’ club Habitas, with nine workshops, family-style lunch, a panel discussion on the Future of Alcohol, tarot readers, sound and reiki healing sessions, and a Kundalini Disco to round it all off. And the way things worked out, my SÖDA co-founder Biet Simkin and I also only had 10 days to promote it. But we pulled it off AND THEN SOME.

Over 150 people showed up to celebrate with us. Yes, celebrate—since it was also mine and Biet’s birthday weekend, AND the 2-year anniversary of our first Club SÖDA NYC event. But mainly it was a success because of the feedback we got. Happy faces all day long. Revelations had. Friendships made. “Please can you do another day like this again soon!”

Yes, we had a killer line-up. Had called on some of our favorite and most talented guest presenters and co-hosts. Yes the mocktails from Kin got people just the right kind of buzzed. Yes, people are craving ways to connect and experience joy and transcendence without using booze. AND I called in some extra assistance behind the scenes!

A few weeks back, I received a pair of Conjure Fixed Candles from Haus of Hoodoo (a.k.a. modern mystic Jessyka Winston). When I lit the Crown of Success candle the Thursday before our event, my intention was for this project to bring happiness, healing, and new possibilities to all who come into contact with the Sober Curious movement I am spearheading. Leaving it to burn over the course of the weekend, continually checking in and praying over it, I could feel the candle magic working!

I’ll definitely be using Jessyka’s candles again. Not that I don’t trust my own ability to make magic, or the necessity and the power of my message—but when it comes to stepping up, loud and proud, and sharing my work with the world, introverted, bookish me will take all the help I can get.

Below, Jessyka explains the method and the myth behind her candle magic. And scroll down to the bottom of the post for some pics from our event!

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RUBY WARRINGTON: Where does the concept of fixed candles come from and how did they become part of your practice?
JESSYKA WINSTON: The term “fixed” comes from Southern Conjure/Rootwork/Hoodoo. Other traditions called them “dress” or “anointed.” A candle is “fixed” or “dressed” with oils, herbs, and minerals.

RW: How can you explain how they work?
JW: I consider it a form of alchemy used to manifest a certain outcome or change current conditions. The ingredients added into the candle fixing hold their own spirit energy that is activated by breath and fire. These aren’t just candles you light and leave. There’s a connection, reverence and devotion that comes with this work. We communicate with our candle and pray over it daily. It is a ritual of its very own. The more faith you put into the ritual, the more devotion you give your candles the stronger the connection. Therefore, the more successful the outcome will be.

RW: What does the fixing involve? What spirits are you working with?
JW: I have my own spirits who work with me and bless my work. My ancestors, my guides, angels and, of course my Vodou, since I am initiated in both West African Vodoun and Hiatian Vodou. I work in my shrine room in front of my spirits surrounded by their altars. The spirits in the fixing are nature spirits. The spirit of each individual herb, the spirit in the minerals, the spirits in the oils, which are made of herbs and essential oils, as well as the spirit of fire. All these elements come together to make this work happen. In addition, the candles are blessed with prayer and intention. I pray over my candles and speak to them as I’m fixing them. The connection begins with me and then it is carried out and continued by the client receiving and lighting the candle.

Conjur Fixed Candles, $29, Haus of Hoodoo. Jessyka re-stocks her online store every Saturday at 6pm CST.

RW: Can anybody learn / use candle magic, or is this something you need to be initiated into?
JW: Yes, candle magic is for all! No initiation necessary. Candle magic is something you’ll most likely find in all spiritual practices and traditions. Even in Catholicism. Every traditions does it differently. It is a practice that can be used by all and learned by all who wish to learn about it. But I do believe it is something that can take time to master and perfect.

It’s not as simple as throwing some herbs and oils on a candle. A connection needs to be established between you and your craft. Learning which ingredients go well with each other. Also, which herbs and elements respond to you most. Though I work with hundreds of herbs I have my go-to herbs that I know will always do the trick. Each herb is a spirit and just how we connect with some people’s energies and not with others, same happens in this crafts. There will be herbs, ingredients you connect with more than others. Which is why this craft takes time. There is wisdom to be gained before you can master this work.

RW: When are the best times to use these candles – and what are they NOT for?
JW: My Fixed Candles come with instructions advising on which day of the week and time of the day to light your candle and begin your work. It is always best to be in good energy when doing any ritual or any other spiritual workings. If you aren’t in the best of energy, or are feeling ill it is best to skip lighting your candle until you’re in better spirit.

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Below are some images from our Club SÖDA NYC urban retreat. A success indeed! Sign up for our FREE weekly magazine to be the first to know about upcoming events, and join the Club SÖDA NYC Facebook group to connect with our Sober Curious community. 

Pre-Kundalini Disco warm-up

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Gathering for our plant-based family style brunch

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My SÖDA co-founder Biet Simkin with keynote speaker Hawk Newsome of Black Lives Matter

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Biet leading a meditation before our panel discussion

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And thanks to amazing Kin Social Tonic for the adaptogenic mocktails!

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: USING ARIES SEASON TO EXPRESS ANGER

The placement of Aries ruling planet Mars in our birth chart, can show how to express our anger in a healthy and progressive way …

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell

So here we are in Aries season, my birthday month. But I’ve never felt like a bone fide Aries. Bossy, sometimes. Sure I like to get my own way. But I’m not super confident. Far from confrontational. And definitely not aggressive.

When a life coach once asked about my big message for the world (the one I would shout from the top of a mountain if I had a megaphone that could be heard from Australia to the Arctic circle), I replied: Please, will everybody just stop fighting!

This was late 2016, my plea inspired by a summer of terrorist attacks and an backdrop of political warmongering. I guess I’m just a massive pacifist, I told her. Whereas Aries, ruled by passion planet Mars, is the warrior of the Zodiac. A hot-headed temper tantrum waiting to happen. The one leading the protest, shouting the slogans, and fighting for justice.

Rather, as I wrote in this piece, I see myself as a spiritual activist. On a mission to shift consciousness one open-hearted sharing circle at a time. Partly because, as Martin Luther King famously put it, I believe that “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

But also, because I am terrified of conflict. To the point that for a long time I thought I didn’t feel any anger at all. FOR REAL. From my parents’ “amicable” divorce, to my grandmother’s silent acceptance of her husband’s affairs, somewhere along the line I internalized that anger is bad. Causes more trouble than it’s worth.

This is not uncommon, among women in particular. But it’s something I’ve been beating myself up about lately. Aren’t activist activists what the world needs? People getting right up in the face of injustice. Shouting and screaming and demanding change. It’s fine for me, comfortable in my straight, white, British privilege, to sit back and preach about healing the world with hugs.

But the truth is, we each have our own flavor of fight in us—as denoted by the position of Mars in our birth chart. And my Mars (ruler of my Aries Sun, and therefore flavoring my soul essence) is in Cancer, the softest, most sensitive sign. Meaning my anger often leaks out of me as tears. Since tears are a sign of weakness, crying is “ugly,” and makes other people extremely uncomfortable, it’s not surprising I learned to suppress this part of myself.

Understanding my Mars placement has helped me to accept that part of my activism is to enable an emotional and vulnerable expression of anger—particularly teaching that it’s okay to cry. As I often do now, freely and openly, whenever I speak publicly about anything that angers or otherwise moves me. After all, the purpose of anger is to inspire action for change.

A recent example of the power of our tears? The tear-streaked speech by 17-year-old Emma Gonzalez following the Parkland shooting in Florida. Her angry tears, anything but a sign of weakness, have helped motivate thousands to join the March For Our Lives in Washington this weekend (under a Waxing Quarter Moon in Cancer, no less).

Mars shows how we can express our anger—also how we can channel our passion, our actions, and our drive—in ways that feel healthy to us. All the time I wasn’t comfortable feeling my anger, I channeled my pent-up tears into my addictions. To alcohol, shopping, work, social media. The energy of anger has to go somewhere.

Don’t know your Mars sign? You can do your chart for free HERE.

We can also see how Mars expresses itself in our most powerful activists. Martin Luther King had his Mars in Gemini—the sign that rules communication and words. Nelson Mandela, Mars in Libra—sign of the diplomat. As for Rosa Parks? Mars in Capricorn. The patient, stoic, unflinching anger that can move mountains—also the sign Mars is currently visiting through May 16.

Regardless of your date of birth, your Mars sign shows where your inner Aries lives. Because no matter how our anger is expressed, that there is a warrior in each and every one of us.

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March For Our Lives takes place in Washington DC on March 24, with over 800 local events happening worldwide. On April 4, Black Lives Matter, The Peace Accelerators and a host of others, will march through Harlem, NY in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jnr. Join them HERE.

On behalf of all those who support The Numinous and allow us to do our work, we will also be donating 10% of sales all from our Total Guide To Your Mars Sign course to gun safety movement Everytown.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: HOW TO BE A MODERN WITCH

With her new book Craft: How To Be A Modern Witch, Gabriela Herstik—one of our first ever Numinous contributors!—says it’s witches who really run the world …

Four year ago I got an email from a student at the University of South Carolina. “Let’s just say Columbia isn’t necessarily forgiving of those who chose to dress how they want and stand out,” she wrote. “My all black attire, bright red lipstick and half shaved head make me the recipient of many side eyes, but my own personal style has never faltered or strayed.” Her name was Gabriela Herstik, and she pitched a story for the Numinous on dressing to honor the Death Card in the tarot. And in doing so, became one of my first ever contributors to the site!

Gaby continued to write for me over the years, going on to become an official intern and one of our Moon Club Founding members. It’s been AMAZING to watch her career grow and blossom, as she graduated college, went to intern at Vivienne Westwood, and got her writing published everywhere from i-D to Broadly. She landed a column at Nylon called “Ask A Witch.” And when she told me this time last year that she’s been asked to write a book about modern witchcraft, it was as if the cosmos had fully aligned!

Gaby’s book, Craft: How to Be A Modern Witch, is out today. And her take on what makes a witch—”The witch is anyone who does things differently, by her own rules, attuned to her own self and magick”—reminds me of a line from her first email to me. “I’ve had to grow a tough skin to stay true to myself in parts of the south that don’t understand what it means to be different,” she wrote.

How to have a tough skin (boundaries, people) while keeping your heart wide open is one of the messages in her book. Here’s what else she told me about the witches who really rule the world, and how she’s honoring the lineage of witches who came before us …

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RUBY WARRINGTON: In the intro, you say it’s witches who really run the world. Who are some of your favorite inspirational witches, and why? 
GABRIELA HERSTIK: We do run the world! An empowered woman who knows her own magick has always been a threat to the patriarchy and I stand by that! There are so many amazing witches out there. I think the first time I was truly introduced to powerful witches were in Harry Potter. Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Professor Trelawney, Professor Mcgonagall—they all inspired my magick.

So did Oprah. I’ve been following her and her “super soul Sunday” show for years with my mom, and her insight, wisdom and power have been inspiring me for over a decade. Sybil Leek And Doreen Valiente are both historic witches who have inspired my own practice as well, reminding me that my strength and power and witchiness are forces to be reckoned with and that using my writing is a valid way of spreading my magick. Yoko Ono, one of my favorite fellow Aquarians, has also inspired me to be revolutionary without shame, showing that love and peace should always be fought for with an open heart and compassionate mind.

Starhawk is a JeWitch who has helped me embrace my own inner priestess, and has helped me deepen my craft and practice—she’s amazing! Goddesses and figures like Hecate and Lilith have reminded me of my own darkness as a gift, and that my non-conforming nature is something to be celebrate, curated and cultivated more than it needs to be shamed!

RW: In your book, you identify “the one without children” as one possible marker of a witch. This is me Gaby! Does the fact I never wanted to have kids show I’ve always been a witch? 
GH: YES! A witch has always been someone who doesn’t abide by society’s (or in many cases the church’s) rules! You taking control over your own body and future by not having kids, (even though society tells us that we must follow the path of having a job, a spouse and children to be valid) means that you are claiming sovereignty over your future and self. You’re going against the grain and honoring your own needs, feelings and emotions, which in my opinion is the basis of magick!

A witch is empowered, not by an outside force, but by herself. And in a society that tells us we must conform to be worthy, doing what you want for yourself and your own sake isn’t only the witch’s calling, but it’s also revolutionary.

RW: Why is cultivating a Moon practice—like we do in Moon Club—the first step towards activating your inner witch?
GH: Many of us naturally are enamored with the moon. She been there for as long as the earth (4.53 BILLION YEARS) which means that we are looking at the same moon that generations and generations of ancient (and modern) people have. The moon represents and rules over our emotional bodies, our intuition, our connection to the feminine; the subtle, all knowing, feeling part of ourselves that’s in everyone, regardless of gender. No matter where we live, we can look up and see the moon.

It doesn’t cost anything and it doesn’t matter what religion or spiritual path you follow—the moon is there, and she cycles through her 28 days all the same. Cultivating a moon based practice is an easy way to get in touch with the subtle aspects of our soul, and an even easier way to chart our own growth alongside that of the moon. Starting at the new moon, the beginning of the moon’s cycles, we focus on what we want to grow as the moon’s light grows or waxes, up until the full moon.

The Full Moon is a time of completion and manifestation, and after that when she starts to lose light or wane, we focus on what we want to release. This is such an easy way to start learning about your own cycles and energies, and for those of us who bleed, the moon also imitates our own cycles. The moon is just the most inspiring, beautiful, magical being. I love her and I don’t think I know a witch who doesn’t!

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RW: What was the most important step in you “coming out”and standing proud in your witchiness?
GH: Believing in my witchiness and my power! As far as physical moments, shaving off half my hair seven years ago is what I credit as my initiation as a fashion witch. It’s the first time I used the power of glamour and rebellion to transform my style and it’s what really launched my exploration of personal style.

In a broader sense, writing this book has been the biggest step in coming into my power as a witch. At the end of 2016 I decided I was going to write about witchcraft less, but the universe had other plans for me! I’ve had many incarnations as a witch (the old saying “once a witch, always a witch” rings true) and a lot of them have not ended well. Not only am I breaking this karma by embracing the title of “witch” and helping other people find their magick, but I’m also transforming the karma of my ancestry in this life.

I grew up Jewish and am ethnically Jewish as well. I had over 70 members of my family in concentration camps, including my paternal grandparents. The fact I can openly talk about being a witch, the fact that I have made a career out of sharing this practice and belief system, when my family members were killed and abused for their religious beliefs, is not lost on me. Coming out as a witch in the public eye, has been a lot of things but the most important thing is that that I’ve learned is that this is who I am. This is where my power lies. This is my path and my magick and embracing it, sharing it with others and spreading wisdom is why I’m here!

RW: What’s the last spell you cast and what was the result?
GH: The last spell I cast was at the New Moon for presence, gratitude, sex, abundance, magick and love—it’s still going (I’ve burned the candle every day since the last New Moon) but I’ve definitely been more in tune with all of those things. I did a spell last night using my rose quartz chakrub and sex magick to remove some blocks I have around my heart as “protection” and the result was some really intense, scary dreams that brought to surface some of my fears and a really intense feeling of centered peace this morning.

RW: What’s your favorite way to honor the lineage of the witches that came before us?
GH: I love this question! My favorite way to honor them is to honor my own ancestry through working with fashion magick, since both sides of my family are weavers, seamstresses and in the garment industry. As far as the witches who came before me, being vocal about how lucky we are to live in a place and time where we can openly call ourselves witches and practice witchcraft is a huge part of my practice.

My work and passion is sharing information about connecting with witchcraft and magick and goddess. This work, including my blogs and columns and articles and my book, are all dedicated to the witches who have come before me. The legacy of the witch lives on in many ways, and she absolutely lives on in me. By shedding light on witchcraft, by making it accessible, by holding space in my heart for those whose shoulders I stand on, I honor this lineage of witches.

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Craft: How to Be A Modern Witch by Gabriela Herstik is out March 15 on Penguin Random House. 

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: 5 REASONS WE ALL NEED STORY MEDICINE

#throatchakraproblems making it hard to share your truths? Here’s why Story Medicine is a way for us all to feel seen …

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell

When I first started regularly attending healing circles, I would always be holding my breath until after the “sharing” part. The part where, once everyone is seated and before you get into whatever teaching is about to happen, you’re invited to share with the group what brought you to the workshop, or some other detail from your life / healing journey.

Well, here’s an impression of me waiting for my turn—*sweaty palms, heart-racing, trying-to-work-out-what-I’m-going-to-say, if-I-can-get-it-out-past-the-lump-in-my-throat.* Sometimes, I would even fid myself choking back tears as I voiced whatever my “thing” was.

I know I am not alone with my #throatchakraproblems. When the importance of speaking up is not something you’ve ever been taught, if you haven’t been listened to when you do, or if you (or you mom or Grandma, for that matter) have ever experienced a period in your life where it hasn’t felt safe to use your voice, then there could be a serious blockage.

One that must be dissolved with love, become tears, before you can speak confidently from your heart again.

Which is what was actually happening in all those awkward moments. Why else would it feel so frightening to share my stories with these lovely humans, who had also just shared their stories with me? Each time I spoke, no matter how painful, I was chipping away at a lifetime (several lifetimes, actually) of the internalized belief that my voice, my story, did not count.

But the truth is, all our stories matter. They matter to us, because without the experiences we have lived we would not even be “us.” And they matter to others, because other people’s stories are how we fill in the gaps. Are a mirror in which to witness our reactions and judgements, and to become aware of our own blind spots.

And because of what I’ve learned about myself and others, about human nature, in those uncomfortable sharing circles, they’ve become my favorite thing. To the point I now co-lead workshops with Alexandra Roxo where the sharing part IS the workshop—where the stories are the medicine.

Our next Story Medicine circle will be in NYC on March 19. You can check out the details HERE.

Read on for five more reasons why we all need story medicine …

1 // All our stories need to be seen. We live in a world where certain people’s stories are deemed more important than others. Where some voices are louder, while others go unheard. But this does not create a full picture of our experience as one human family. Sharing our stories out loud, having our perspective, our suffering, our joy, be seen and heard by others, goes some way towards redressing the balance.

2 // Stories help us become whole. But not the social media kind of stories. We’ve learned that it’s good to be “vulnerable” and “real” online-but when you don’t know who’s listening and whether they are truly holding space for our highest good, it’s actually not 100 percent safe. As Brené Brown reminds us: “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: ‘Who has earned the right to hear my story?'” We know this instinctively, and so we edit and hold back. At our ritualized Story Medicine circles, Alexandra and I create a conscious container for us to see and be seen in our wholeness. We banish judgment, and place the emphasis on deep, empathetic listening. This is where the medicine lives.

3 // Stories take away shame. It’s the stories we think make us “weird” that it feels least safe to share. In her work, Brené Brown teaches that this is because we’re terrified of being perceived as “other,” for fear of being cast out of our social groups. And yet when we practice Story Medicine, we begin to understand that nobody is weird, or other-because everybody is. We begin to understand that it’s our quirks and differences that make our human jigsaw puzzle so multi-faceted and beautiful.

4 // Stories help us heal ourselves. We all love the way movies paint a picture in our minds, transporting us to whole new worlds. But this isn’t just “escapism.” I recently learned from hypnotherapist Shauna Cummins that watching a movie puts our brain into the same trance state that shamans use. In this state, our “imagination” helps us access our own healing powers, in the form of messages from our subconscious. When we practice deep listening, allowing ourselves to sink deeply into the colors, textures, and emotion of other people’s stories, we go to the place in ourselves where self-healing happens.

5 // Our stories are our art. How we see the world is utterly unique to us. And like all the most moving works of art, Story Medicine allows us to see the world through the eyes of others. Broadens our perspective and helps us see into the shadows. But making art isn’t just for painters, and musicians! When we paint a picture with our words, our stories offer those listening a window in to our world, as we get to process the path we have walked and make our life into our art.

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Story Medicine is also the heart of mine and Alexandra’s teachings in Moon Club, and our Moon Ambassadors regularly host FREE Story Medicine meet-ups for members and their guests all over the world. Click HERE for more info and to join our growing tribe.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE THIN FROM WITHIN?

When I agreed to co-host the launch of a book called “Thin From Within,” it was because I wanted to talk about what makes that word so triggering—and to confront our collective conditioning about body-image, weight, and food …

When I announced that I was going to be co-hosting the launch of my friend Robyn Youkilis’s new book, Thin From Within, I was expecting something of a backlash. This platform, which is so much about healing and self-acceptance, promoting a weight-loss program? Only one person actually reached out on Instagram to voice her concerns, to which I replied: “I hear you, thank you. Because we really need to talk about this.”

*Since writing this post, many more people have also let me know that my supporting Robyn’s book has been disappointing (at best) and / or been triggering for them. Over the past week, thanks to conversations sparked by this incredible, conscious and loving community, I have learned so much about the issues with promoting thinness and the thin ideal—even when approached from a holistic angle. Conversations that have been uncomfortable, confrontational, and absolutely VITAL. Not only for me as I grow into my role as a leader in the wellness space, but also as a human being with all my own messy and imperfect feelings about body-image. 

In response, I have decided to add some of these key learnings to my original piece—which I am including in bold below. Inclusivity and integrity are two of the core values of this platform. I am aware that the layers of complexity and shadow surrounding this issue mean I cannot possibly speak to each and every reader individually with my words here—but my hope is that sharing my own journey towards cultivating more awareness about the issues herein, may help others to do the same. 

Yes, it seems counter-intuitive. My own eating disorder history aside (more on that in a minute), the whole message of my book is that true health, happiness, confidence and wholeness, is the result of peeling back the layers of conditioning we’re subjected to from birth. Including, for example, the toxic message that to be beautiful, valued, and loved, our body must look a certain way and never exceed a certain number on a scale.

But the fact that our thinking about “thinness,” as women and as a society, is so fraught and so emotionally charged, is exactly the reason it was a HELL YES when Robyn asked me to co-host her launch. Anywhere there is a stigma, a taboo-the places our pain points are most easily triggered-is exactly where we need to be focusing our awareness.

*The HELL YES came from deep in my Soul—because it knew I still had so much to heal from personally when it comes to body image. That there is so much shadow work for me still to do here. They say you are not in a position to teach from your experience until it has been fully integrated and healed, and it was only after posting this article—which made me sick with nerves—that I realized how far I still had to go …

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Thinness, and what that word means to me, had also been on my mind the past year. The stress of having my book come out had led to me losing weight “naturally” for the first time ever. Meaning I was so frantic juggling everything (extreme feelings of vulnerability about sharing my most personal work to date included), I would literally forget to eat. When I had an appetite, that is. Whereas lately, it had gone the other way—meaning when things got chaotic I saw food as both pleasure and fuel, a comfort and a way to nourish and get back into my body.

This mentality is one of the reasons I’d considered myself fully “healed” from my teenage eating disorder. An anorexic, I spent the ages 16 through 20 living mainly on apples, milky lattes, and the occasional muffin or handful of dried prunes (I was chronically constipated, of course). For those who know my story, these were the “Capricorn” years.

After I left him, I found a way of eating just enough of certain “safe” foods to maintain a consistent size 2 frame. My body a tool to help me gain favor with my new fashion industry friends. As far as I was concerned, this meant I’d “got over” my issues. I never had any therapy or even really acknowledged to myself that my ongoing obsession with thinness was problematic. Not least because, as far as I could tell, my body image issues were nothing out of the ordinary.

*I have bolded a key line here. The fact I had never dug into the root of my issues—or acknowledged the “thin privilege” that I have benefited from as a result of my body shape, natural or as a result of disordered eating—makes me absolutely under-qualified to speak on this issue. Writing this post was a clumsy first step towards educating myself—since my aim was to spark a conversation that I and my readers could learn from. I am committed to educating myself fully on body-image going forward so that I can speak to this from an empowering and inclusive place. However, I also acknowledge that my own thin privilege makes me not the best spokesperson. Means that whatever my own issues, I cannot know how it feels to have been shamed, name-called, or discriminated against because of my size. And I so am also investigating ways to invite people representing all different body types to share their stories here instead.

I also found this great article on thin privilege, which everybody needs to read.

Being in an abusive relationship, coupled with my Aries competitiveness, meant I might have taken things a little further. But as far as I could see, the vast majority of women I knew (and plenty of men) felt exactly the same about thinness as me—that it was our desired / required body shape, and one which invariably meant constant, careful monitoring of our calorie intake.

A war against weight we were all obediently waging together, without ever questioning how we even came to be enlisted.

*Questioning the reasons for society’s and my own obsession with thinness has been painful and humbling—as I can now see clearly the inherent fat phobia in the pursuit of the thin ideal. Fat phobia that is RAMPANT and that goes largely unchecked in our society. I’m handing over to Jillian Murphy from Food Freedom Body Love here, who helped me understand this better: “THIN is not an ideal. It’s also not shameful. It’s just a state of being that is available to some humans but not others. Unfortunately, especially for women, THIN has come to mean superior (smarter, more together, more in control, more desirable, healthier, more fit, etc etc etc) and women are consistently encouraged to do things that are detrimental to their physical mental, emotional, and spiritual health in order to achieve the thin ideal—which may or may not ever even be possible, and most definitively does not directly result in any of those aspired qualities.” (Jill’s full comment on this post is below)

But over the years, as my career progressed, my self-confidence grew, and I began to value my peace of mind over the number on a scale, I slowly let go of all that. Including the scales themselves. Began to focus on eating “healthy.” Without thinking too much about it, my weight steadied out at where it had been after my 16-year-old body first began to bloom into womanhood. A comfortable size 4-6.

*There was no reason for me to include a “number” here—especially since I just shared how part of my healing was letting go of scales and mirrors. Numbers just create more comparison which is sheer poison when it comes to body image pride.

My “disordered” history with food was firmly in my past. Or so I thought.

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Cut to the summer of 2016. At the age of 40, I have purchased my first ever pair of denim hotpants … and I feel fucking GREAT in them. Sexy and strong and sassy. For the first time in my life, I even like the way my legs look in short-shorts and flat shoes. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I got weighed when I went for a health check and discovered I was 10lbs heavier than I had ever been.

*More numbers—ugh, this is my old magazine industry conditioning showing. It makes me so mad when magazine interviews always list a woman’s age, but rarely do the same with men. And I just did it here. Again, ugh.

It was in this moment that I truly understood what always felt like kind of a lame cliché-that “thin” (or rather, the desirable attributes we have attached to what is actually just an innocent adjective) is a feeling. Sexy, strong, sassy. How I felt at my heaviest weight ever. This was a cause for celebration, surely!

*Thin IS just an adjective—but not such an innocent one thanks to the layers of meaning we have learned to attach to it. I also can see now how sharing my personal experience of being “thin” or “heavier” here is problematic, as it further emphasizes the dangerous messaging that feeling a certain way is a result of being a certain size.  

No. Seeing that number on the doctor’s scale, my immediate reaction was “WTF. That can’t be.” Meaning, that is not a number that my body is allowed to be. The ancient conditioning hadn’t gone anywhere. I’d just got so confident and happy in myself (having shifted my career in alignment with my purpose and done a shit-ton of healing work on myself, for example), that it no longer had any hold over me.

The weight I went on to lose the following summer, following my book launch? Part of me, the part that never actually healed after all, welcomed the nausea and the insanity. Was secretly stoked that the intense heat of my anxiety appeared to effortlessly melt those extra 10lbs from my frame. There was even a certain Angelina Jolie-style glamor to it; as if this was how brave women let the world know we still had some fight in us, despite our suffering.

*This is where I began to think more deeply about WHY we are so afraid of fat. Why fatness is equated with laziness and self-indulgence, while thinness is upheld as virtue. I think this ultimately comes down to control. We, women in particular, have internalized the message that to control our appetite, our desires and our needs is “good,” while to acknowledge our hunger / needs (for food, recognition, to say no, to claim space, to relax, to come, to create), and to demand that our needs be met, is not only unacceptable—but something to be afraid of. I posted about this on Instagram a few weeks back, after I first agreed to help Robyn with her launch, along with this quote from Naomi Wolf: “A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history. A quietly mad population is a tractable one.” 

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Looking at pictures taken then, I see a thin woman. Meaning, a weak, fragile, undernourished woman (just some other adjectives for “thin”). A woman that I am ALSO learning I must love and accept as part of me, as much as I do her sexy, sassy, strong, 10lbs heavier counterpart. The past year has taught me that healing my weight and body image issues cannot mean locking the thin me away in the past and throwing away the key. Impossible, since the key—the shame and vulnerability that unlocks her padded cell—is also a part of me.

And so, it was a “YES” when Robyn asked me to co-host her launch. I even had her use one of my “thin” pictures in the artwork for the event (above).

*I have removed this image. I had thought that explaining how I really felt at my thinnest (weak, fragile etc.) would expose how this “look” is NOT ideal—but ultimately I was just sharing another picture of a thin white woman, and perpetuating the problem. In the words of one reader: “If I’m to be brutally honest, viewing that poster my thought was, ‘easy for them to talk about eating healthily and loving yourself when they’re both skinny.’ It made me feel less-than.” This has made me think much more carefully about how I can create a more visually diverse platform that is truly inclusive and empowering to all. 

The title of her book may be triggering, but without acknowledging the part of me—of us—that loads the word thin with generations of personal and societal pain, it will always be there, starving for our love and attention, and silently screaming to be heard. To give that part of us what she (or he) needs in order to be nourished, we first have to learn to listen—to find out what it is she believes “thinness” will fix. 

There is nothing inherently evil or wrong about wanting to lose weight. People will buy Robyn’s book for all kinds of personal reasons, some from a place of deep self-love, and some from a place of weakness and fragility. But what they will find within, is a program designed to help them: “finally feel the lightness you’ve been searching for on the scale.” Meaning, a way of thinking about food that has nothing to do with numbers and targets, and is all about addressing the emotional and physical dis-ease of traditional dieting (yes, especially supposedly “healthy” juice cleanses and Whole 30s).

*Robyn is a smart, loving, and inspiring voice in the wellness landscape. Yes, she too benefits from her thin privilege, and in deep conversations we have had this past week about what’s come up for her since bringing this book out, she has acknowledged her own naiveté in thinking that the title would not elicit such a charged response. At her launch, she shared how she initially said “no” when her publisher asked her to write a weight-loss book—but then realized she could use this as a way to talk instead about how to shed emotional weight. Problematic, still, as it still implies that “less weight” is “good.” But also, considering the dominant mainstream messaging about weight and body image, a step in the right direction. Robyn has also thanked me (and the Numinous community!) for helping take this conversation deeper than perhaps she ever intended—as her Soul intention is also to help end our collective fucked-up-ness about body image and food. 

As leaders, and as humans, neither of us are perfect. The best we can do when we make a mistake, or discover a blind spot, is to see it as an opportunity to become stronger and wiser. I’m going to end with this quote from Anne Richards, the second female governor of Texas, as shared by the IG account @words_of_women: “I believe in recovery, and as a role model I have the responsibility to let young people know that you can make a mistake and come back from it.” Not only that, but to use we’ve learned to help us all to heal.

I also acknowledge that this is a complex and multi-faceted issue. This post in itself may have been triggering for some, and it contains generalizations that are a reflection of my personal experiences—also that I have my own blindspots about this issue, which I am seeking to overcome. But wherever you are at in your personal journey with food, weight and body image, know that we are all in this together—and that more honest we can be with ourselves and each other about it, the more resilient to our thin-conditioning we will become.

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Thank you, my Numinous community, for your conscientious, intelligent, and ultimately loving feedback on this piece. I wanted to start a real conversation about these issues, and you have stepped up to the plate! I am expecting further comments of course, and welcome those which are in service of the core values of this platform—which center around healing and growth through awareness. I love you. 

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: 3 THINGS YOUR SPIRITUAL PASSION PROJECT NEEDS

Go slow, find your community, keep doing the work. Why these are my three top tips for pursuing your spiritual passion project …

Wearing my custom mala by Namaste Neetz. Photo: Caitlin Mitchell

I met Neetz at a book reading event I did at CAP Beauty in NYC’s West Village. She’d read my book, bought it for all her friends (thank you Neetz!), and was excited that I was doing a reading just a couple of streets away from her apartment. When we chatted, we worked out that I’d actually lived opposite her building when I first moved to the city back in 2012. Yo, serendipity!

We met up again as she wanted to tell me about a sideline she’d begun working on creating custom one-of-a-kind malas, in part inspired by Material Girl, Mystical World. The chapter on dharma, in particular, had struck a chord. Pondering her own life purpose, she’d decided to listen to her intuition for once, which had been steering her towards a store selling crystal beads that she passed on her way to work.

Before long, she was creating malas for herself, her husband, her family and friends. Then people at her local yoga studio. There had been beautiful stories of hope and healing. And now she was offering to make one for me.

I’ve never had a mala before. As I’m not a Hindu or a particularly dedicated yogi, I hadn’t thought they were necessarily “for me.” But Neetz described her creations as more like personal talismans, since each and every stone was selected with intention based on a personal, 1-2-1 consultation.

For my mala, she wound up using garnets (for creativity), phrenite (spiritual growth), and smoky quartz (grounding), with a large smoky quartz to anchor it. She even added a beautiful natural ruby! My namesake stone, said to bring passion and prosperity. I’ve worn it ever since, finding it brings me confidence and a feeling of home—especially comforting any time I’m out of my comfort zone.

And while my mala and its story are lovely, and I would definitely suggest you check out Neetz and her work, it’s part of a bigger narrative that’s been unfolding for me.

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When I wrote my book, I had a couple of goals. I saw it as a way to continue my mission of breaking the stigma around all things “woowoo,” and at the same time introduce a wider audience to the tools and practices that had been transforming my life—inside and out—since I launched The Numinous back in 2013.

Writing from the perspective of my personal experiences was the only way I knew how to do this. I also figured this would be a way to demonstrate how tools like astrology and tarot, for example, could not only merge seamlessly with “modern” life—but were perhaps also the VITAL MISSING PART OF THE PUZZLE for so many people who felt disillusioned with a patriarchal, capitalist system, that valued progress over people, and the accumulation of things over the pursuit of true fulfilment.

What I didn’t expect, but which I guess was my subconscious / real reason for writing it, was that so many people would read it and be inspired to embark on similar transformational journeys of their own. But already this year, I have been inundated with people sharing exactly this. Since the book came out in May 2017, I guess it’s taken 9 months or so (funny, that) for my early readers to heed the call, feel the fear, and get on with doing their dharma anyway!

The woman who’s started a spiritual platform for teenage girls. Another who quit her job as a lawyer and is going back to design school in her mid-fifties. The NYC PR maven moving out of fashion and into building the careers of mystics and healers. The readers who’ve been inspired to make similar changes, and who’ve joined Moon Club to feel supported in their missions.

Neetz with her malas

Neetz is one of a long list of Mystical Girls beginning to make moves on the Material World as we know it. Up the matriarchy! Somebody even called it the “Ruby ripple” effect—and if it means my book is in any way helping create a shift to a more emotional, intuitive, and healing-centered economy, then I’ll take it!

By the way, this post is NOT all like, “now you gotta go buy my book.” I’m just saying that if you, too, are feeling the call to pursue your (spiritually aligned) passion project, you’re so not alone. In fact, you are part of what is beginning to feel like a movement. Take comfort in this. We’re all in it together.

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There are also a few key pieces of advice I’ve been dishing out to wannabe matri-preneurs (?!), those busy transitioning passion-led side-hustles into game-changing main-hustles. Based again on my own findings and experience, here are my top 3:

1 // Treat your business like your baby. Meaning, DO NOT make it have to pay your rent right off the bat. Think about it: would you expect your child to start paying their way before you’d nurtured them, educated them, and were confident they were gonna be able to fend for themselves?! A project that’s born of your passion and intuition is a part of you. Allow it to grow and develop in its own time—and think about ways the skills and experience from your old life can support you as you build your new one.

2 // Find your community. This may be a women’s circle, conscious entrepreneurs club, an official coach or mentor, or even just a few close friends who “get it.” But when you’re in the business of breaking old paradigms (personal and societal) you WILL find yourself suffering regular bouts of imposter syndrome / self-doubt, and you WILL need loving cheerleaders and shoulders to cry on. This is one of the reasons Alexandra Roxo and I created Moon Club—which is also a community that give US the support we need.

3 // Keep working on you. The more you align with your purpose, the more conditioning and “other people’s stories” about you and what you “should” be doing with your life, you will likely be confronted with daily. The tools in my book are essentially ALL in service of a) becoming aware this conditioning even exists (its influence can be so subtle!), and b) discovering your personal truths. Truths that are ROCKET FUEL for your passion projects. It might feel like a “luxury” to invest in readings, energy work, and other healing modalities (like getting a custom mala!), especially while you’re in a career transition. But you can always ask friends to do an exchange (see tip #2), and the clearer your channel, the faster you’ll manifest your mission!

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Discover more about Neetz and her malas HERE, get your copy of Material Girl, Mystical World HERE, and learn more about our Moon Club community HERE. Because I love you!

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: STICKING MY NECK OUT AND FINDING MY VOICE

Meet one of healers who’s been integral to me finding my voice … a path so many of us are walking collectively.

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell

“Talk to it. Ask it why it hurts.”

I’m mid-Skype session with British healer Gail Love Schock, and I’ve just told her how my neck has gone out again. How I’ve finally put the puzzle pieces together, and realized this happens every time I launch a project, or put myself out in the world in a visible way. It had ocurred yet again as I unveiled the Four Bodies Wellness program I created for The James Hotels—waking up the morning of the launch with a stiffness in the left side of my neck, which progressed throughout the day leaving me unable to move my neck more than a few inches in any direction.

And now Gail is asking me to speak to the part of my body that keeps doing this.

The answer comes so fast and seems so obvious: “Because … you’re putting your neck on the line and you need to be careful.” Of course! Immediately, my mind adds another piece to the puzzle: “I wonder if there’s a past-life memory of a hanging or a guillotine …”

We’ve heard of muscle memory, but could this extend to past-life traumas? Gail doesn’t seem to think it’s so far-fetched. Having briefly lost her own ability to speak after a car accident in 2011, her work is focused mainly on voice retrieval. Also “being more human, less personality. Less pretense, more essence.” We began a series of sessions together last year as I was anticipating my book coming out—and facing the fear of being asked to do a lot more public speaking as a result (the #1 most common fear in America in case you’re wondering.)

Gail Love Schock photographed by Melodee Solomon

During each session, Gail let me in a guided meditation, asking me to visualize different versions of myself as a set of Russian dolls. To speak to these parts, and show them to their seat in my being, inviting the most mature self to the forefront. She passed on breathing techniques, ways to feel at home in my body. She advised me to chant, sing, massage my jaw and beat my chest before I speak, to free up the channel.

She also spoke to me of “sacred privacy,” knowing what to share and what to keep to myself, and the difference between the voice of the “controlling” and the “mature” feminine. One shrill and demanding, the other rock solid, forgiving and full of love. All ways to feel safe and secure in my truth, helping me speak without fear of being judged.

And all work that’s done its part in me feeling more comfortable speaking up—a path we’re also walking together as a collective. So many putting our necks on the line in the name of truth, justice and equality. Oh and by the way, three days before my book launch my lower back froze up so badly I could barely walk.

“Ask what you can do for your body,” Gail guides me, as we near the end of today’s session.

“Be aware, protect yourself, create good boundaries,” comes the answer. I think this one was for all of you, too.

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Gail Love Schock is a Spiritual Life Coach and Mentor, Meditation Teacher and InterFaith Minister. She teaches worldwide and is writing her first book. Discover more about Gail and her work and book a session HERE and follow her on Instagram.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: USING INSTAGRAM AS A TOOL FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

With awareness and the right intention, we can use Instagram as a tool for spiritual growth. Here are four new practices to start today, says Ruby Warrington

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell

1//We all want to be seen
Scratch that: NEED to be seen. One of the most basic human survival mechanisms is making others aware of our presence. Babies do it by screaming their heads off. As grown-ups, we got all kinds of ways—selfie culture / vulnerable social media shares being one of them. But it can be such a double-edged sword, man. Where does the human need to be acknowledged, witnessed and appreciated for our unique contribution end … and insecure attention-seeking begin?!

As I wrote about in this post, literally being seen on my feed does not come comfortably to me. And yet, when the same post got more comments and likes than I’ve ever had, it felt really good. Like goosebumps good. Which is pretty messed up. Getting this kind of validation from what is essentially a big room full of faceless strangers is exactly what makes IG so addictive—and also potentially damaging for our self-esteem. If, that is, we begin to rely on being seen and heard in IG world versus doing the often much more complex work of forging truly supportive connections in IRL.

The lesson: look at the places where you feel ignored or perhaps have not dared to speak your truth, and find ways to practice asking that your actual, offline needs to be met.

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2//People are feeding on your feed
You’ve probably heard the term “energy vampires”, which is used to describe emotionally immature people who literally “feed” off the energy of others. Lacking in empathy and often believing that the world revolves around them and their needs, these individuals believe they must take everything they can get from others and that giving anything in return will only deplete their own resources.

Since it can seem like energy is literally quantified by numbers of followers and likes on IG, the platform is essentially a big old buffet of delights for anybody feeling “less than” and looking to fill their tanks. Those perceived as both energetically stronger AND open and vulnerable become fair game, and the feeding frenzy can take many forms. Overly familiar love-bombing. Demanding DMs. And at the scarier end of the spectrum, trolling and overt bullying.

The lesson: boundaries, basically. You do not “owe” anybody a response in the online space, especially if you’ve never even met them. In the words of Gabby Bernstein: “forgive and delete”.

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3//Life is not a competition
Except when patriarchal hierarchies make it feel that way. We’re basically brought up being taught to compete: at school, at work, in looks, in love. In a society based on the belief that there is only “X” amount of wealth, success, beauty, etc. to go around, thus designed to keep a small percentage of the population in positions of power, the internal narrative goes: if I want my share (of wealth, success, beauty, etc.), I must fight for it.

Sadly, since it is literally a numbers game, Instagram has the power to suck us back into this narrative—subtly feeding our insecurities (see points 1 &2), and fueling the belief that if one person has “more” than us, we don’t have / are not “enough.”

The lesson: notice when competitive feelings come up, and use them as a prompt to give gratitude for three things you love about YOURself and YOUR life.

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4//Not everything is for everyone
I recently found this quote from Zadie Smith about why, as a novelist, she’s not on IG or Twitter: “it gives me the right to be wrong … I want to have my feeling, even if it’s wrong, even if it’s inappropriate, express it to myself in the privacy of my heart and my mind. I don’t want to be bullied out of it.” Because none of us have all the “right” opinions and answers all the time, and, as Smith is pointing out, it’s the complexities of human nature that make the best art.

Complexities we need to feel safe to explore for ourselves—and which, if expressed on social media, can cause some pretty intense reactions when taken out of context. Meaning out of context of us being whole, imperfect, sometimes confused, very much still learning, human beings.

The lesson: use your journal to work out more conflicted feelings about news stories, relationships, and elements of your own personal growth. Turn these words into poetry or stories that are just for you—THEN decide if you want to share.

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I realize this post kinds of makes it sound like I am anti-Instagram, which I am definitely not! It CAN BE an amazing tool for discovery, connection, entertainment, spreading love … and, as with everything in life, it carries a high and a low vibration. And can benefit from being approached with care.

Essentially, IG and other social media platforms are like the wild west of human consciousness, as they’ve opened up whole new ways of interacting with each other and being a person in the world.

So be vigilant, keep your integrity high, and above all, focus even more time, energy and love on the people you actually “like” in real life.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: MANIFESTING ABUNDANCE IN 2018

Some spell-crafting and cosmic intervention sure—but manifesting abundance in 2018 for me mainly means getting real, says Ruby Warrington

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell

Like a lot of us, I have high hopes for 2018—meaning it can’t be any worse than 2017. Mind you, I also had high expectations last year: it was the year my book came out, after all. And while that has opened all kinds of doors and bought a ton of blessings, it was also the hardest, most vulnerable, and most humbling experience of my life.

Add a backdrop of total political fuckery, a raging tech / iPhone addiction, family health issues, and a steady stream of natural disasters in the news, and I ended last year with a nervous system that felt shot to pieces. Um, anyone?

2017 was the first year I naturally lost weight due to stress (having taken matters into my own hands and starved myself during my traumatic teens). It was the first year I got fillers, as it felt like I began aging on fast forward. It was the year I made my first actual enemies (one of them a celebrity, who got so mad about something I didn’t even do, she sent me emails threatening to ruin my career).

There was plenty more, too, but this post isn’t about how shit last year was—because two weeks in to 2018, and I’m already feeling a MASSIVE shift. Maybe it’s because Saturn has gotten the fuck off my ascendant (moving from Sagittarius into Capricorn in December last year), or that all the all the planets are currently in direct motion (!!!), but things have just been … going my way.

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Projects are popping, my Numinous and Moon Club communities feel supportive and vibrant (I love you guys!), and I’m about to begin work on book #2. My nervous system feels healed, my actions calm, directed, and SOLID. So why the rapid turnaround?

Cosmic omens aside, here are three ways I’ve been actively manifesting a killer 2018:

// I DID A WISHCRAFT SESSION
At the end of last year, amazing hypnotherapist Shauna Cummins suggested I try her Wishcraft experience—which is kind of like a witchy, uber-directed intention-setting ceremony.

During the session, Shauna had myself and Numi assistant editor Bess (SUCH a great exercise to do with a colleague or friend) write out 10 things we love about ourselves / life in general, to get us in the mindset of abundance. Then 10 things we wanted for ourselves in 2018. Then five things we love about The Numinous, and five things we wanted for this platform.

We then did a guided hypnosis where we journeyed to the END of 2018, and envisioned ourselves celebrating the year just gone. The purpose of this was to trick our subconscious minds into believing these things had already come to pass—increasing the chance of them actually happening.

Using these ideal future outcomes, we identified three words or concepts to summarize our core desires for the year ahead. We infused these into candles to be lit again each day over the holidays, to plant our intentions deeper. Two weeks into the year, I’m already seeing results. Shaunacummins.com

// I’M MAKING SPACE FOR WHAT’S “MINE”
Meaning I am literally removing anything from my diary, my work, and my personal life, that is not 100% aligned with my intentions for my Self and my mission. This was something that came up a lot with me and various members of the Numi crew last year—how the more things we said “no” to, the faster the things that were a big “yes” for us showed up.

Which is easier said than done. Already I can hear you going “what about my resonsibilities to my family / friends / job?” Or, “How is doing less going to pay my credit card debt?”

But it was spending a week with no WiFi or cell reception over the holidays, that I was able to really see how being available and in “respond” mode all the time—thanks to email, text, DM, FB messenger, ETC.—leaves very little space for manifesting abundance when it comes to what YOU want and need.

In my book, I talk about how to cultivate healthy “higher selfishness”—something that is counter to everything we’ve been taught about how things work. We’ve learned: push / work hard to get what you want. Give to others before you serve yourself. Be accommodating if you want to be accepted. Ugh, the GUILT of putting ourselves first!

But the fact is, our bodies, brains and consciousness weren’t designed for the sheer volume of “other people’s needs” (family, friends, boss, AND refugees, disaster victims, etc.) that we interact with daily in the Now Age. It’s on us to be discerning about who and what truly deserve our time and energy, and to get okay with closing the door on the rest.

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//I’M GETTING REAL
A large part of why 2017 felt so harsh for so many of us, is that the veil was well and truly lifted. On a personal, a political and a global level, situations stacked up to remind us that NO, everything will not turn out okay if we just keep preaching “love and light!” That it’s on us to pro-actively co-create our desired reality with literally every choice we make and every word we speak.

In 2018, with Saturn coming home to its own sign of Capricorn, it’s like we’re experiencing a collective “Saturn Return”—a.k.a. the mother of all reality checks. Which means no more blind eyes and heads in the sand. Unsettling? Maybe. But this is also our moment to “grow up”, take responsibility, and face the facts head on.

In my daily life, this already looks like picking up the phone more often to check the facts, versus trying to read between the lines. It means being a lot less “nice”, and knowing it’s okay if not everybody likes me. It means telling people what’s really going on for me (the people who actually need to know, anyway). And it means asking for what I’m worth, and not settling for less because I’m scared it’s all I’ll get.

None of it comfortable or easy. But if 2017 taught me anything, it’s that comfort and ease are earned by our willingness to get real, confront our demons, and actually ASK for the support we need.

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“My Mystical Life” is returning as a weekly column, after I had to take a time-out to deal with the overall overwhelm of 2017. It’s good to be back. Here’s to manifesting abundance in 2018 and beyond!

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: GOODBYE 2016, IT’S BEEN REAL

Brand new sweats, getting sober curious in London, walking the human tightrope, and saying “goodbye 2016″…

Meeting different versions of me, and staying cozy in our new Broome St. Temple sweatshirt

:: MONDAY ::
Got interviewed by badass yogi Guru Jagat for her RaMa Radio show “Reality Riffing,” which was really kinda cool because usually I’m the one interviewing people! And luckily the moon was in Gemini and I was feeling extra chatty. We got through a bunch of stuff about spiritual activism, walking the wellness talk, and how “being in a human body feels like walking a tightrope right now” (her metaphor, but who isn’t feeling this one??). But guess what? Maybe the tightrope is the only way across the abyss. In which case, let’s keep calm, clear, centered, and never quit cheering each other on. You can listen to the full interview here.

:: TUESDAY ::
First virtual Full Moon ritual for our Moon Club members, and we had people attend from Belfast in Ireland, Toronto, London, Mexico, and all over the United States. YES, this community is global! Since this week’s Gemini Full Moon was the last full moon of 2016, it has felt like a good week to take stock of a year that has brought so many harsh lessons, so much anguish (the tightrope, remember?), and, as a result, such tremendous opportunity for growth. What have you been through this year, and who have you become? This was the theme of Alexandra Roxo’s moving guided meditation, in which we journeyed to meet the different “selves” of 2016, and ask for their lessons, and their blessings. Intrigued? New members can access a recording of the session via the private Moon Club Facebook group any time you sign up.

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Finalizing details for Club SÖDA NYC, the new name for my “sober curious” Club Soda events—which I am bringing to London on January 11 due to popular demand! And speaking of previous selves…when I left my home town five years ago for a new life in NYC, I was a full-on party girl, using alcohol and other drugs as a way to bridge the fulfillment gap (the abyss…?) that has since been bridged by creating The Numinous, and all the offshoot projects of this platform. London is also the kind of town where saying you don’t drink is often met with eye rolls and extreme pressure to “just have one,” followed by intense gossiping about how you must be a) in AA, or b) pregnant.

So to say I’m apprehensive about how my new attitude to booze will go down, is kind of an understatement. But it seems that even in the UK, the conversation is changing. Ever since I announced the launch of Club Soda on this side of the pond, I have received messages from Brits asking me to bring the events to the UK—”because we really need something like this.” Not to mention loads of newly sober (and sober curious) friends offering to help me stage a London event. Which means…it’s happening! Read more and get your ticket here.

 

:: THURSDAY ::
New sweatshirts, new sweatshirts! A couple of months back, Urban Yogis co-founder Eddie Stern approached me with the idea of creating a limited edition print of his Broome St. Temple tees (worn by people like, oh, Russell Brand and MADONNA). The Temple was Eddie’s iconic ashtanga studio in Soho, which he vacated earlier this year to set up the equally beautiful Brooklyn Yoga Club—the tees a riff on the logo for punk band The Ramones. Our version? Went went kinda glam with gold foil! As with our Chakra and Vinyasa shirts, a percentage of proceeds will  go to the Urban Yogis, to help fund the amazing work they do bringing peace to marginalized communities in the city. You can check them out and shop the collection here.

:: FRIDAY ::
And speaking of Madonna, if you didn’t already then please, please watch her acceptance speech for the Billboard Woman of The Year award she collected this week. So many truths, such powerful vulnerability, and what a fearless statement about the need for true sisterhood. But above all a reminder, fitting in the final days of 2016, that: “in life there is no real safety, except self-belief.” The tightrope is real. You’d better believe.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE THE NOW AGE IS…NOW

A manifesto for change; a new Moon Club cycle; self-care for the soul; Club SÖDA NYC; and what will you donate to Standing Rock?

With Biet Simkin, Fern Olivia and Valerie Oula at our OFF THE RÖCKS event. 

:: MONDAY ::
Finished reading an advance copy of maverick philosopher Daniel Pinchbeck’s new book, How Soon is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation. Part memoir, part manifesto, Pinchbeck basically lays it on the line—either we actively choose to participate in facilitating a radical global consciousness shift, or we’re headed for social, political, and environmental armageddon. Which, as he tells it, is not nearly as scary / daunting as it sounds!

I defy anybody not to feel super inspired by Pinchbeck’s vision for a new Earth, and one which truly is within our reach. IF we all get on board—and fast. Reading this against a backdrop of the 2016 Presidential election / Standing Rock, two inter-related situations which, for me, represent the two sides of the current doomsday we find ourselves facing, there’s only one answer to the question he poses in the title: the time for action is NOW. Which is why I call it the Now Age!

The book is out Feb 21—please pre-order your copy NOW, since I just decided we’ll be reading it together for the very first Numinous book club. Click here to get yours.

:: TUESDAY ::
Sagittarius New Moon…which means the first official Moon Club cycle begins! All our members received their Moon Mission PDF for this moon cycle (11/29—Dec 29) today, with an overview of the cosmic climate, what this actually means for us as human beings, weekly coaching exercises for each moon phase, and a reading for each moon sign. But it’s actually totally fine to sign up at any time during the month—as all new members receive a link to the current Moon Mission, and there’s some kind of scheduled activity every week.

For example, for next Tuesday’s first quarter moon in Pisces, Moon Club members will be invited to a LIVE interactive webinar with Thinx founder Miki Agrawal. One of our favorite entrepreneur activists, Miki is all about starting the kind of conversations that are an essential part of Daniel Pinchbeck’s utopian vision for the future. You can learn more about Moon Club and check out a sample Moon Mission PDF here.

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Favorite, favorite new pampering / self-care treat: the Crystal Ritual Cleanse from colorist-stylist duo Lauren & Vanessa. Which is essentially a wash + blow-dry…with added reiki, crystals and essential oils! Designed to balance and activate the upper chakras (heart, throat, third eye, and crown), the treatment begins with me laying back at a hair washing station and Lauren asking me to select the essential oil I want her to work with. She then places crystals in each of my hands, and proceeds with a reiki treatment and head massage—working the oil into my crown chakra…with more crystals!

The treatment ends with a blowout from Vanessa, and I leave feeling deeply revitalized. And something has obviously worked on a “material girl” level too—literally every person I encounter during the rest of the evening tells me how great I’m looking.

Which, if I’m honest, feels kind of frivolous to even mention against the backdrop of the election / Standing Rock. I’m getting a crystal head massage, while people are (literally) freezing on the front lines? But I think meditation artist Biet Simkin made a great point in a FB post today also: “I almost feel like there is a shame now to post anything that isn’t completely depressing. But if you kill our spirit, how will we stand against these dangers!? For what will we stand!? We must remember light! We must remember the spirit inside us!”

As well as time with loved-ones, nurturing our bodies with delicious food, and feeding our minds with inspiring words, it’s self-care and pleasure rituals like the above that help keep us connected to our sense of spirit. To what we are fighting for. Yes, the time for stepping into our roles as global change-makers is now. And can’t we also feel really great while we do it? Click here to read more and book a treatment with Lauren & Vanessa.

:: THURSDAY ::

Club SÖDA NYC. Another amazing turn-out and crowd for mine and Biet’s “sober curious” event—which also made Well+Good’s list of top wellness trends for 2017! Top tip from our panel on sober party pre-gaming? Write a gratitude list. I also had the realization during Biet’s meditation, that what we’re really craving in alcohol is a shift, an “escape,” into the right side of the brain—the intuitive, feeling, feminine side, versus the logical, linear left brain. We live in such a left-brain world (deadline-driven, progress-focussed), we’ve been left with a collective yearning for transcendence  that can often manifest in substance mis-use.

And yes, this shift to a more balanced brain state—where left and right, masculine and feminine, thinking and feeling—work in tandem, is also part of Pinchbeck’s Now Age vision. The challenge: investigate ways to get there that are also physically restorative, mentally enlivening, emotionally supportive, and spiritually fulfilling.

:: FRIDAY ::
Making plans to head to The Deep End Club community gathering tomorrow, and donate a bunch of Numinous sweatshirts to Standing Rock. They’re super cozy, after all. What have you got to give?

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: AN ACTUAL DATE WITH RUSSELL BRAND (KINDA)

Tending to my zen-den, a modern day witch hunt, and a Skype date with Russell Brand…

:: MONDAY ::
So I spent the past two weeks on vacation in Hawaii, where I had planned to switch off completely and mend my broken mind after pretty much a year of #nodaysoff. Which, for various reasons, is not how things panned out – but OH WOW, what valuable lessons and insights the Universe had in store for me instead! Why do I bring this up? Because rarely does life give us what we think we want – the Universe prefers to serve us what it knows we NEED. Basically the number one thing to keep in mind as we head into this Mercury (+ Mars + Pluto + Jupiter + Saturn!!) retro phase. So be open, be vigilant, and just watch in grace and wonder as it all unfolds.

:: TUESDAY ::
Mega congrats to my beautiful friend and collaborator Kirsty, who launched the most fabulous service today – an online subscription service for high-end, hard-to-find scented candles named Scent. When you set up an account, you’ll be asked to create a “scent profile” so all the candles you receive can be tailored to your tastes. Your zen-den never smelled better – and just in time for Mother’s Day too! Discover more at Scentfrom.us

Loving the beautiful imagery on Scent…

:: WEDNESDAY ::
And speaking of zen-dens – can we just officially acknowledge that ritual baths are currently officially a thing? Like is anybody out there not soaking with a bunch of salts, crystals, and activated herbs? Which is timely, actually, since with all those planets currently in retrograde, the big memo from the Cosmos is to slow things TF down. So check out this ritual bath recipe from Deborah Hanekamp, or stock on House of Intuition’s genius “bath bags” (like a tea bag but for your bath, see below) – and soak it up!

Clarity Bath Bags, $8, House of Intuition

:: THURSDAY ::
An interview with Jessica Knoll, who’s runaway best-seller Luckiest Girl Alive is – hello – an absolute feminist classic. Do not be put off by the breezy comparisons to Gone Girl etc, this is a straight-up Medieval witch-hunt at its most gory. And in the Now Age? Girl comes out alive and kicking. It’s not giving anything away to reveal that Jessica recently came out about the rape scenes depicted in the book as being based on her own teenage experiences – in other words, took one giant leap for female kind in re-writing history from the perspective of herstory. Read it and weep (tears of  fully empowered female joy).

:: FRIDAY ::
Got so SO close to making an actual dream come true today, when I got to speak at an event hosted by the David Lynch Foundation with none other than…Russell Brand! Only Rus ended up being Skyped in – so near, yet so far. The topic? Meditation as a tool for addiction recovery and substance abuse, and of course Russell nailed it. I’ll share a link to the whole panel discussion when it’s posted online, but one classic RB take-away to take you into your week-end: “I used substances to access a alternate state of consciousness. Now I have meditation for that.” Amen.

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: THE HOODWITCH

Gabriela Herstik talks magick, ritual and the numinous nature of the Cosmos with The Hoodwitch

Bri Luna, a.k.a. The Hoodwitch, is mesmerizing. A double Taurus babe, her energy is infectious – strong, aware and unapologetic. With The Hoodwitch, a platform preaching “everyday magic for the modern mystic,” Bri has founded a channel to help us all tap into our own sacred goddess energy – and shop for some bad-ass crystals. Oh, and we’re obsessed with her latest project – a collection of pins created with one of our favorite artists, Robin Eisenberg.

In celebration of her birthday month, we sat down with Bri for the inside scoop on her magick and her mission. Read on below…

Enamel pins, $9-18

The Numinous: Okay so – can you tell us a bit about how honoring your heritage has played into your personal brand of magick?
The Hoodwitch: I believe my being multiracial is strongly reflected by my approach to ritual and spell working. My approach draws on elements of both of my Mexican and African-American ancestry, and I’ve really enjoyed utilizing aspects of traditional folk healing from both, as well as working with other practices taught by others I’ve met and learned from on my path that I feel resonate with me.

TN: What’s your personal definition of a “witch”?
TH: You know whenever I’m asked this question I laugh a bit, because there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer. Every woman is a Witch. She may not know it, or maybe she does.  But to me, being a Witch means more than spells and candles. To me, it means freedom. The power to boldly and unapologetically embrace nature, heal yourself, and heal your community. To respect the seen and unseen realms. It means the freedom to be your most authentic self. To embrace ALL aspects of whoever that may be, and fiercely. That is the Witch.

TN: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned on your journey with spirituality?
TH: That we never really KNOW anything for certain. That there are galaxies upon galaxies in the Cosmos, and here we are floating on Earth thinking we have all the answers. I’m in a place spiritually where I choose to embrace the unknown by saying it’s okay to not know.

TN: What advice would you give baby bruja Bri?
TH: That not everyone is going to understand you, and that’s okay. Stay true to yourself, because in another 10-20 years everyone else is just going to catch on to what you’ve been doing all along haha. Also, don’t cry over boys because it’ll give you wrinkles!

TN: What’s one thing you do every day to channel your inner goddess?
TH: I like to take very long beautiful baths – my daily ritual to connects me to the Goddess within. I enjoy being surrounded by candles, while listening to soft music. Depending on the purpose of the bath, be it for attracting or self-love, aura cleansing, or just simply relaxation I’ll add in ingredients that are reflective of those purposes. Essential oils, milk, salts, or flower petals. I just enjoy the beauty of it.

Ugh – in love! Read on for more insight into the mystical world of this material girl…

 

:: MATERIAL GIRL ::

My label
“Whatever was in your grandmother’s closet. I love vintage clothing.”

Vintage Dress, $258, Nasty Gal

My shoes
“When I wear shoes, I love my metallic Nike Cortez or Vintage Peggy Bundy fluffy heels.”

Nike Cortez Sneakers, $69.99

My fragrance
“Byredo Casablanca Lily Oil.”

Byredo Casablanca Lily Oil, $550

My jewels
“I love adornments. Real gold jewelry and, of course, very large vintage Navajo turquoise rings and squash blossom necklaces.”

 

My pampering
“Every two weeks I receive manicures to sharpen my signature stiletto point nails. I also enjoy massages.”

My home
“My apartment in Seattle overlooks the city and I enjoy opening all of the windows to allow plenty of fresh air. I enjoy adding many earth elements, such as plants, large crystal clusters and, of course, candles.”

The Hoodwitch Large Celestite Cluster Egg, $180

My food
“I live for authentic Italian food! I enjoy comforting meals. I’m a Taurus, so food is a very sensual experience. It’s about indulging in all of the senses! Needless to say, I take my dining experiences very seriously. I also love fresh raw oysters!”

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My awakening
“I light a candle and say a prayer or affirmation of gratitude, setting intentions for the day.”

My sign
“Taurus sun and moon.”

Brooke Gregson Taurus Necklace, $2,340

My mantra 
“I am grounded, content, and calm, in the arms of the Earth.”

My healer
“Mother Earth. The ocean’s waves are purifying and cleansing. I enjoy doing meditations in the desert sun with a large Quartz crystal and planting my feet firmly into the soil of a forest.  All of the Earth’s elements are my healers.”

My reading
“Well, I collect and sell rare/vintage occult, and metaphysical books. My favorite authors include Doreen Valiente, Carl Sagan, and C. W. Leadbeater.”

Shop for vintage books on Bri’s Bruja Workshop

My transformation
“Honoring my intuition.”

My mission
“To provide everyday magic for the modern mystics of the world!”

www.thehoodwitch.com

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: STORY MEDICINE AND THE GOOP MRKT

Getting my emo on at Story Medicine, and Gwyneth being Gwyneth at the Goop MRKT….

No column last week since it was Thanksgiving and, frankly, I was drunk. And it was so good to let my hair down and switch off for a day! It’s been a HARDCORE YEAR (any other life path 8s out there feeling it??) and I’ve been pretty much tee-total in the name of getting some serious inner and outer work done. But turns out a dose of “spirits” medicine was actually just what the doctor ordered 🙂

Anyhow, I’m back, and I’m also trying a new format for this column, mapping my week Mon-Friday. Lemme know what you think!

:: MONDAY ::
I got to see an advance screening of the new J-Law movie Joy, and entrepreneurial ladies, this is a holiday season MUST. It tells the story of legendary inventor Joy Mangano, and busts the myth of the “overnight success.” So many times building the Numinous I’ve been like, “oh man, this isn’t not working, it’s never going to work.” And then something DOES work, and I just keep going. Joy’s story is a reminder that making your dreams real and running a business is hard. You will feel completely vulnerable. You will encounter setback, after asshole, after humiliation, after enormous IT bill from somebody who didn’t even do what you asked, but it’s what it takes and it’s worth. Every. Minute. (watch the trailer below)

:: TUESDAY ::
I was reunited with my sweet soul sister and Temple of Venus co-creator Elyssa Jakim, who spent the past few months over in Portland (only meeting the love of her life…on Tinder!) She introduced me to two exciting things: a documentary series called The Quest For The Cures, all about one man’s search for the best natural cancer treatments (weekend watch-list sorted), and the fact she’s doing Akashic records readings from 12-5pm tomorrow at Species by The Thousands in Williamsburg. GO. She’s amazing.

:: WEDNESDAY ::
I went to meet Gwyneth Paltrow at the opening of her Goop MRKT – which is essentially the NYC version of our Astrolounge @ Selfridges, a high-vibe holiday pop-up decked with all things mysti-cool. A lot of people don’t like GP, but we say back-off bitches. As beautiful Alexandra Derby (who invited me) put it: “She comes from privilege, so her putting $1K sweaters on Goop is just her being her authentic self.” And isn’t that what it’s all about?? Enough hating on the sisterhood. Less envy of those who “apparently” had better breaks than us. How about just be inspired and go get yours.

Me + GP @ the Goop MRKT

:: THURSDAY ::
Story Medicine! So Alexandra and I cooked up this idea for a crazy-ass event, where YOU, our guests would create the content by coming to share your stories. And in the process get heard and get healed. The amazing team at lululemon’s HUB seventeen said “yes,” and we hosted the first Story Medicine event last night. There were tears, there was laughter, there were many, many hugs, and there was a vegan feast from Daphne Cheng (see pudding below). There were even three dudes! But best of all was hearing all the stories. Raw, honest, human storytelling is the BEST entertainment you guys. We’re planning the next one for Feb 2016.

Out of this world chia pudding by Daphne Cheng

:: FRIDAY ::
In the spirt of no such things as TMI (see Story Medicine), I got my period today. Now, I’ve been researching how to work with your cycle, and the wisdom all says “on day one, retreat from society and go within” – since this is when your intuitive powers reach their peak. Thing is, that would have meant no column again today. Also canceling four really important meetings this afternoon. Truly committing to working with my flow is totally on my to-do list for 2016, but since my cycle is really irregular it’s hard for me to plan for down days when my bleed begins. So period experts reading this, any insight on this one much appreciated!

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: A DOSE OF STORY MEDICINE

The story behind our new event series – Story Medicine…

A couple of months back, Aly Derby and I hosted a Meditation for Peace at Maha Rose in Greenpoint, as part of a global synchronized meditation for the International Day of Peace. It began with Aly leading a guided meditation to tap us into the oneness energy of the event, and afterwards we both shared some stories around what had come up for us. And then so did everybody else in the group, and the conversation flowed, and the stories became more personal. We all left feeling connected and uplifted, and with the glow of having been heard.

This event was the inspiration for Story Medicine, the monthly gathering Aly and I will be hosting at Hub 17, a beautiful and expansive community space below the new lululemon flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. As Aly wrote beautifully in the blurb for the event:

“When we come together we create community; and when communities share our stories with each other we weave unity. In every experience we share, there is a valuable lesson for someone. And listening in itself is a gift – it’s when our stories are heard that we become healed. In this simple yet profound exchange we find ourselves uplifted, connected and more inspired by our own lives than ever before.”

As a “reserved” Brit, when I first started attending Moon rituals, and healing workshops and events I used to silently dread the “sharing” segment – when we’d go around the circle, and participants would be asked to talk a little about where they were at, and their intentions. Not least because I would often get so emotional! But if I’ve learned anything on my numinous journey, it’s that often when I cry is when I know it’s working. The healing that is.

So with Story Medicine we’re making the sharing the main event. Each month will have a different theme, and as with the Meditation for Peace we’ll kick off with a guided meditation from Aly. Then, each person in the circle will be invited to share a story related to our theme – which could be a story from your own life, a story you heard which has inspired you, or even just the story of what happened to you today.

Our first Story Medicine event will take place December 3, and you can get more details and sign up here. Since it’s right after Thanksgiving, we’ve chosen GRATITUDE as our theme. So, what does being thankful really mean for you?