HAVE YOU FALLEN FOR THE ‘FAKE & AWAKE’ MYTH?

What happens when Crown Chakra Escapism meets Root Chakra Deprivation … Sue Hunt explains how to break the Root/Crown binary on the way to Integrated Being

Transitory Nature Root/Crown binary Sue Hunt Numinous Books

Her crown chakra is lit
I’ve found my teacher! (said after taking one, three-day online course with them)
With so many students, they must be legit—I’m in

“Spiritual success” is often equated with divine powers, psychic downloads, and awakenings that are all related to our upper energy centers and are thought to demonstrate a high level of spiritual prowess. The Root/Crown binary pushes many seekers to chase this sellable vision of “spiritual evolution,” and to disassociate with our Root issues in order to pursue this dream of spiritual success.

Even the phrase “We are spiritual beings living a human experience,” used as commonplace vernacular nowadays, attempts to create hierarchy within our own self-understanding. We set off chasing the spiritual carrot while devaluing our lived human experience—even while many long-standing ancient teachings actually state that this human incarnation is not meant to be bypassed or seen intellectually as “less than.”

Chasing this “Fake and Awake” way of life looks exactly as it sounds: we chase prescriptive end goals of happiness, peace, and fulfillment, while ignoring the real, moment-by-moment work that produces these states not as achievable aims, but as byproducts of dealing with the intense, transformative work of looking at our Root issues.

Packaged in phrases and concepts like “activation,” “law of attraction,” and “manifestation,” this Fake and Awake Myth implies that we can somehow leap-frog over the messy, uncomfortable work of being human to reach a static, elevated state of perfection.

We especially see this in our modern “guru” archetypes. Our vision of a “spiritually advanced” teacher often conjures an image of a being cloaked in white, covered in mala beads, and preaching about vegetarianism while countless students gather at their feet. This person is seen as “evolved,” with an open crown chakra that can “stream truth.”

Many of us approach our gurus, life coaches, and self-help experts with an insatiable hole of Root Deprivation—coming to them to uncover a missing sense of purpose or to manifest “abundance.” As a result, we often bypass these teachers’ humanity and relationship to their own “Root,” and the extreme effort and years of hardship that went into cultivating clarity within.

Whether through gurus and teachers, or programs promising quick-fix intuitive downloads, we often end up chasing an extractive version of Crown energy—seeking to get some of that authenticity for ourselves. But true Crown energy is about cultivating a pure state of receptivity, opening ourselves to be stripped of the meta-dialogue that creates obstacles so that we can dissolve and disintegrate Karma. In this model, there is “nothing” (pure consciousness) to gain and “everything” (egoic thoughts) to lose.

Trying to “get something” from these spiritual teachings and practices only reinforces our Root Deprivation and blocks our ability to connect with the pure receptivity of an integrated Crown.

Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood carry water.

This brilliant Zen saying asks us to come down from the podium and remember that spiritual growth, in its most realized form, is a never-ending process with legs out in the world. Why don’t we hear about the Buddhist master who reached enlightenment and decided to remain a farmer, and would not accept gold for his teachings?

When we dress up our spiritual seeking with a shiny pink bow, we keep asking for “more” and chasing the next “high”—instead of choosing to resiliently engage with the daily, behind-the-scenes work of our lives on a moment-by-moment basis. When we view the movements of our lives here on Earth as the teachings themselves, we no longer need to label parts of human life as “less spiritual,” and our work needs no pedestal.

We realize that spiritual development can spring from inner simplicity that discerns rather than dissociates, and we open ourselves to having our misperceptions removed, rather than trying desperately to seek enlightenment through engaging with yet more spiritual tools and teachings.

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PERSONAL INQUIRY PRACTICE: ROOT DEPRIVATION + CROWN ESCAPISM

Interrogating how the Root/Crown binary shows up for us means noticing where we are obsessed with an over-intellectualized version of spirituality that seeks enlightenment as “success.” In tandem, it means looking at how we seek to fill our Root Deprivation hole from a more superficial outside force rather than our own organic, loving, and integral attention and self-respect.

The stuff of our lives, as they are right now, is precisely where we can access stable, objective Root energy—the ground of our being. To access this stable energy, and move towards giving and receiving with greater awareness, begin by turning your attention to how the Money/Sex/Power Root Deprivation Trinity shows up for you.

Start by exploring the realms of Money/Sex/Power in your own life:

Money + Root Deprivation

Within the Root/Crown binary, money is a relatively taboo topic—viewed as either the root of all “evil,” or as a necessary resource that gives us greater freedom and power. Within non-binary worldview, by contrast, money contains a neutral charge and is often an extension of how we run prana and circulate energy. When we examine our unchecked Root Deprivation, we can envision money as simply part of a cyclical energy flow.

Free write all of your associations with money. Let it be a stream of consciousness to allow your psyche to make the big overarching connections. Reflect back upon this stream of consciousness to find a pattern, noticing your personal definitions, cages, and strings attached to money. These patterns are your projected frequency around money.

 

Sex + Root Deprivation

Within the Root/Crown binary, sex energy is limited to a body-specific desire and physical act. In non-binary worldview, sex energy moves beyond the physical to connect us to the initiatory spark of all creation. Root Deprivation arises when we reduce this energy to the physical act, craving sex acts to bring us “back into our bodies,” and expecting others to receive us when we haven’t first cultivated the capacity to receive ourselves.

Free write about your usage and understanding of sex energy—making it a stream of consciousness to allow your psyche to make the big overarching connections. Reflect back upon this stream of consciousness to find a pattern, noticing your personal definitions, cages, and strings attached around sex. These patterns are your projected frequency around sex.

Power + Root Deprivation

Within the Root/Crown binary, power often becomes entangled with both money and sex, and with heteropatriarchal, hierarchical societal models where we either maintain power “over” others through domination, or “under” others through martyrdom and victimhood complexes. In non-binary worldview, we maintain awareness of our underlying motivations and are able to catch ourselves when we’re tempted to seek “energetic returns” from the power positions we take. Root Deprivation arises in this realm when we find ourselves using others to bolster our own influence.

In this free-writing exercise please explore all of the places you feel Powerful and Powerless. Dig into the circumstances around each of these feelings and notice any personal patterns that emerge within the embodied feelings of Powerful and Powerless. Tap into your personal and professional life to bring these lived moments into your conscious awareness.

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ROOT/CROWN ESCAPISM CHECKLIST

Alongside our investigation of Root Deprivation, we must also work to examine escapist versions of Crown energy that prevent us from dealing with our actual Root issues, making us unavailable to a purer form of Crown receptivity. Take an inventory of the Crown Escapism Archetypes listed below, noticing which might arise in your personality aspects, and pair this section with a review of the Fake and Awake myth above.

1) The Intellectual: Over intellectualizes EVERYTHING—emotions, easy decisions, relationship dynamics—and beats interpersonal situations to death by continually “discussing” them in their own mind or with others. Strokes the ego by being the smartest and most well-spoken in a situation. Lots of lip service and very little action.

2) The Seeker: Reads every book on the market, name drops, uses big spiritual words, and likes to cite all of the study programs and teachers they follow. Quotes lots of fancy “texts” with very little embodied experience or nuanced understanding, hiding avoidance of personal messiness within the well-adorned identity of being “on the path.”

3) The Commercial Mystic: Looks the part with flowy clothes and tattoos of spiritual iconography. Art-directs picture-perfect “rituals” and uber spiritual gatherings for social media. Signs up for expensive manifestation courses, claims to be constantly “tapped in,” and frames each Root-deprived side-hustle as another “epic download.”

4) The Skeptic: Always questions, in search of hard and fast “facts” that are rooted in the finite predictability of the material world. Needs over-simplifications and straightforward definitions. Has difficulty mobilizing creative energy and trusting parts of themselves beyond logic. Ignores the emotional and spiritual layers of life, lacks the levity of playfulness, and is quite pessimistic in outlook.

You might find it quite embarrassing to identify with any of these archetypes out loud. But the more clearly we commit to seeing these tendencies within ourselves, the more we can both tend the Root Deprivation that lurks beneath and access a receptive Crown. In its most potent form, aligned Crown energy is completely action-less: we can’t “do” Crown energy. And simply noticing where we attempt this helps us get closer to this action-less, purely receptive state.

And here we are, at the threshold of breaking the Root/Crown binary and priming the internal structure for receptivity. Hold on love; your life and your imprint on others and society is about to do a dramatic about-face into a space of service from a deep well of self-fulfillment. By stopping the grasping and learning how to hold the frequency of receptivity in the realms of Money/Sex/Power, you are on the path towards becoming an Integrated Being.

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Transitory Nature: Breaking Binaries for Integrated Being by Sue Hunt is out now with Numinous Books. Get your copy HERE.

What Can a Radical Buddhist Teach us About Relationship?

Being in intimate relationship, with self, others, and the world around us, is what lays the foundations for spiritual maturity and infinite growth. Radical Buddhist and Numinous Books author Sue Hunt explains how …

buddhist relationships sue hunt numinous books transitory nature
Photo: Diggy Lloyd

Relationship is the frontier of deep learning. It is where we get to explore and excavate our own hypocrisy and insecurities, and to discover our threshold for deep intimacy. Everything we do in this incarnation is within the structure of some sort of relationship. Be that to self, to another living being, to a community, to an ecosystem, or even to an institutional structure. 

Within mainstream consciousness we often associate “intimacy” with romantic relationships, close friendships, and familial connections. But expanding our definition of intimacy is key to sharpening our self-understanding and our interconnectedness with one another and all other beings. 

Intimacy speaks simply to the ability to be transparently honest with yourself, and to communicate that honesty in a non-violent way with your surrounding reality and communities. On another layer, it speaks to our deep sensual connection to the surrounding ecosystem. 

A foundational understanding of the nature of intimacy is something we have lost in our face-paced, material-centric societies. Earthly wisdom, symbiotic connection, and the chain of cause and effect, are radically important to the Buddhist’s view of reality and relationship. Spiritually the two are intrinsically linked: reality = relationship. 

There is a phenomenal teaching within several Buddhist lineages, for ease of translation it’s called Infinite Regress. It teaches that, as humans, we have the unique ability to reason, reflect and objectively view the world. This is I-consciousness; our uniquely altered perception.

Infinite Regress asks each of us to reflect upon the chain of causes and conditions that brought any person, place, or thing into our lives. This process is what begets the privilege of being in a deep intimate relationship with something or someone. 

For example, the food we consume comes from a long chain of causes and conditions. By consuming that food we are therefore in “relationship” to the entire chain of cause and effect that supported its “beingness.” This helps us to be in mindful relationship with what we consume.

Same goes for the personification of relationship. For example, a friend or a partner also found their way into our waking lives through a chain of causes and conditions, and through the relationship itself we are innately linked to the complexity of that chain. Our awareness of this is the foundation of intimacy with others.

If we played this contemplation game with many of the connections in our lives, we would be able to trace the overlap, the hardship, the fluidity, the sacrifice, and the divine states of creation that gave rise to any given relationship. 

This level of contemplation allows for deep respect for the path of creation and connection, and therefore an intimate perspective that helps center the value of the “relationship” itself—as opposed to seeing the relationship primarily for what we can get out of it, or solely from our own perspective. 

Our culture’s glorified versions of romance, monogamy, and heteronormative partnerships often bypass the foundational understanding of intimate relationship by limiting it to certain socially acceptable circumstances. This leaves an entire frontier of connection, sensuality, and awe untouched in our own explorations of self and other. 

Refining our threshold for observation, absorption and reflection, increases the depth of intimacy within all of our relationships, most importantly our ability to witness self with transparency and honesty. 

This depth of inner exploration radiates from our core, allowing others to feel encouraged to do the same when they step into relationship with us. This is the ground of non-violent relating, reflection, and respect for self and others. It creates a levity in our own heart, as we work with our karmic imprints. When we share space with others, it allows them to courageously see themselves within our reflection. 

Relationships can feel heavy, complex, and layered with unconscious power dynamics at times. These are key indicators that we have bypassed the work of building a non-violent foundation for the actual “entity” of the relationship to grow from. 

A spiritually mature way to build this ground of non-violent relating, is to theoretically see three entities within the relationship: you, the other human, and the frequency of the relationship itself as a third and separate entity. 

To do this, you and all of your glory must be passionately committed to your own transformational purpose. The other person must be doing the same, allowing both of you to grow out of the unique set causes and conditions of the past, giving way to a new reality in the present. 

This is when the third and spiritually mature container of “relationship” can truly arise with clarity as a catalyst for mutual growth. 

Over time, the relationship takes on a creative force of its own, but for it to sustain and to thrive, neither you or the other person involved can sacrifice this passionate transformation of self. It is the gas in the tank that feeds the growth of the third entity, the relationship, calling each of you to uplevel in self-transparency, inner work and objectivity with one another. 

On a physical level, I like to remind myself that I am even in pranic relationship with I deem inanimate objects. Keeping our inner and outer spaces clean and intentional also allows us to consciously choose what frequencies we actually want to be in relationship to. 

This reflection has profound effects on our rate of consumption, freeing up precious prana that can now go to developing sensuality—meaning the full engagement of all of our sense portals—and deep intimacy with all beings and all things. 

Seeing as your own purposeful transformation is the catalyst to authentic relating, it is vital to continually seek and practice self-honesty. The Infinite Regress contemplation can provide both a sensitive and a big vision perspective of our interconnectedness with all that is. 

It will highlight the triumphs and tribulations that have lined the path of beingness of self and others. Within this, a commitment to widening the scope of intimacy and its varied forms within our inner world, becomes the doorway to spiritual maturity. 

Remember, Reality = Relationship 

We must be able to see the dynamic flux of our own realities to authentically be in relationship with anyone or anything. 

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Transitory Nature Sue Hunt Numinous BooksSue Hunt is the author of Transitory Nature: Breaking Binaries for Integrated Being, out with Numinous Books on April 13, 2021. Pre-order your copy HERE—and enter your preorder details for your invite to a FREE 60-minute dharma talk with Sue on May 17.

ON ABORTION AND EQUALITY

In this excerpt from her new memoir, I’ve Had One Too, Anna Wood explains why a abortion is an issue of equality …

I've had One Too abortion memoir Anna Wood numinous books

IN THIS POLITICALLY-VOLOTILE, EVER-CHANGING, REACTIVE, RELIGIOUS, and emotionally stunted world of ours, a lot of people still seem to think the “answer” to abortion is to control women’s bodies. And as much as a world without abortion would be ideal, it is doubtful that the need for this procedure will ever go away—and certainly not because of a bunch of laws made by privileged, white men.

Further, Katha Polit, in Reclaiming Abortion Rights, explains that reproductive rights “are not a distraction from the important, economic issues. They are an economic issue: without the ability to limit and time their pregnancies, women will always be disadvantaged at work and subordinate to men.” Simply put, abortion allows women “to only have children they want and can raise well.”

For women to truly achieve economic equality, both men and women need to have equal stakes in child raising. Ideally, this would mean equal, paid, parental leave from work, as in Sweden, where parents are given a total of 480 days to split between them, of which 90 each go to the man or woman exclusively and cannot be transferred to the other partner.

As long as women are unable to plan their pregnancies, and men are not given more time off to care for children, women will fall behind at work and remain disadvantaged in the workplace. The secondary effect of this is that ultimately women will remain economically behind, which means we will continue to depend on men to some degree. 

As long as there are unwanted pregnancies (remember, that’s 50 percent of all pregnancies in the US), women should have the right to do as they need—for their futures, for their bodies, and for their own security. How can it be right that this decision is forced on us by lawmakers and politicians, who know and care nothing for the individual circumstances of the human lives at stake?

The unborn children of abortion—the lives that are at the real heart of this issue—must also be counted in this equation. How many unplanned for children are born into lives of seemingly intractable inequality? When the Alabama Human Life Protection Act was signed in 2019, Governor Kay Ivy ended her statement on the draconian law (which aims for a near wholesale ban on abortion): “We must give every person the best chance for a quality life and a promising future.”

No matter that Alabama is the sixth poorest state in the US, with 17.2% of Alabamians living below the poverty line (the national average is 14%). Given that the people most likely to be affected by this law are also the poorest—those who lack widespread access to healthcare and birth control, leading them to abortion in the first place—many souls entering the world as a result of this bill will be pre-destined for a life of poverty-induced suffering.

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And then there is the complicated, often contradictory debate about the role of race in abortion. In a New York Times article from 2019, John Eligon says, “(Some of) Those seeking to outlaw abortion lament what they see as an undoing of the fabric of Black families. They liken the high abortion rates among Black women to a cultural genocide, and sometimes raise the specter of eugenics and population control when discussing abortion rights.”

The article goes on to interview a reverend and a minister, both of whom are pro-life from a religious standpoint, but remain pro-choice politically. They are in lockstep with those opposing the Alabama Human Life Protection Act: that we as a society need to provide a life where women and children can thrive, “from womb to tomb.” A promise that bypasses communities of color in the US, where families are disproportionately impacted by poverty, mass incarceration, and institutionalized police brutality.

Now imagine a world where birth control is not only universally available, but exists in equal, effective measure for both sexes. And while we’re here, let’s expand this to envision a world where people of color no longer face the oppression and prejudice that results in racial violence and stereotyping at every turn. Where the a person’s gender identity does not impact their right to an opinion or a voice, giving women and non-binary individuals an equal say in how the world works.

Where, on a wider level, we recognize ourselves and our sexuality as a part of nature—our thriving on par with the lives of nonhuman animals and the earth itself. In a world where all beings truly are “equal,” would there be less anger and violence and hatred overall? Would incidences of emotional abuse and manipulation, domestic violence, and rape decrease, leading to fewer unplanned pregnancies and, ultimately, fewer abortions?

I still don’t know where my decision to terminate my pregnancy fits into this picture. Although I am white and heterosexual, I am a member of an oppressed class (a woman); and yet I made a decision for a nascent life that had no voice of its own. Does this make me the oppressor? Maybe. Or maybe by making a choice for the better of my own future—one that did not result in bringing a child into a familial pattern of emotional abuse—my decision will leave the world a little bit better off.

I think about an alternate universe in which I had kept my pregnancy and found myself the mother of a person of color. It makes me recall so many small moments with the broker’s family that were heart-wrenching: his seven-year-old twin nieces being teased at school for having dark hair on their faces; his ten-year-old nephew being told he wasn’t allowed to wear a hoodie out of the house.

But he’s just a child, I said to the broker. He shrugged—this was just the way of the world. I wanted to cry, to rage against a system that threatened the safety of any child, but it didn’t feel like my place. It felt like it was his grief, and I was on the outside.

Would my child have been “disadvantaged” like my friend was inclined to believe? Probably, yes. They would have faced an uphill battle in a system built to keep people of color oppressed. But just because society doesn’t respect the value of a person’s life, doesn’t mean that value is negated.

I would not have been able to protect my child from everything—no parent can. But my child would have been loved, by me and by my family. I would have done everything I could to make them know their value, as my parents did for me. In the end, this is the only shield we can offer in a world as violently oppressive to people of colors as ours.

I’ve Had One Too: A Story of Abortion and Healing by Anna Wood is out now with Numinous Books. Click HERE to get your copy.

Unwanted Pregnancies Are a Fact of Life

As long as there are unwanted pregnancies, there will be abortions – but why does the responsibility for birth control remain firmly on women’s shoulders? asks author Anna Wood, in this excerpt from her memoir I’ve Had One Too 

I've had One Too Anna Wood Numinous Books

FAST FORWARD TO THE ONE-YEAR MARK AFTER THE ABORTION. I began to spend a lot of time thinking about the circumstances of my pregnancy and how it compared to what it might be like for other women who are trying, or not, to conceive. In the past handful of years, as many of my friends became mothers, it seemed like just as many had struggled to become pregnant. Several couples I knew had spent the GDP of a small island nation on IVF treatments. Some had even considered taking an extended leave to go to South Africa for six weeks where there are top-notch private fertility clinics. Along with the expertise of those doctors, the procedure is a fraction of the cost it is here in the US. 

Listening to these stories, I felt at once great empathy for my friends, and positively treacherous for having had an abortion. I know those women would have given just about anything to get pregnant as easily as I did. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who’d been having a particularly long and trying road to pregnancy. We were on the phone the night before she was leaving for a backpacking trip in the Tetons. She updated me about where she was at in her fertility journey, I told her stories about my new life in California, and she laughed, thank goodness you didn’t stay with the broker. Can you imagine if you guys had actually had kids together! I was silent for a beat and then went on to comment how happy I was to be away from him. A lie of omission. The first and only friend I hadn’t been honest with. 

There was a knot in my stomach for the rest of our conversation. I wanted so badly to tell her what an amazing mother she’d be. I wanted to tell her how much I wanted to have a child myself, with the right man. I wanted to rage with her against the misfortune that I should have gotten pregnant at a time when she could not. I wanted to explain to her how careful I had been for 17 years, and how unfair it felt to find myself in the situation I did after one careless month. But instead, I kept my mouth shut. Maybe we would get there one day.

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As hard as it is for some women to become pregnant, unintended pregnancies also happen all the time. In 2001, 48% of all pregnancies in the US were unintended. That figure rose to 51% in 2008 and dropped back to 45% in 2011. I was blown away when I read that. Consistently, half of all pregnancies are unintentional. Just let that sink in for a moment. When I first read this statistic, I was so overwhelmed by it that I immediately reached for my phone, who could I tell this crazy thing I just learned? In the end I didn’t call anyone but ruminated on how many lives are upended by this experience. Over time, it gave me a little perspective about my own pregnancy and eased my feeling of guilt with my friends who couldn’t conceive. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one this was happening to, and maybe, I wasn’t to blame.

In the US, there is this feeling that birth control is something we have all figured out. That it is 100% effective, and we all know how to use it correctly, and we all do that all the time. But if the preceding statistic tells us anything, it’s that birth control is not all figured out. Birth control is still considered a woman’s responsibility, but it’s a burden that we don’t always want to carry. Besides which, it doesn’t always work. The pill comes in at 91% effective (99% if taken perfectly, though most women fall short of that), the shot 94% effective, and IUDs and sterilization are still not perfect—both are 99% effective. 

The other staggering number to take into consideration in all of this, is that women tend to live at the intersection of being both sexually active and fertile for a full 30 years. As a woman, you worry about pregnancy from the time of your first sexual encounter until menopause. Your options should you become pregnant—motherhood or abortion—are weighty enough without the added stigma around ending an unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy.

What toll does that level of subconscious worry take? One time in college, I received a failing grade on a Physics exam. I was devastated, and immediately set up an appointment with the professor to see what we could do about my future in the class. At that point in my life, school was everything, and the thought of not passing a class was unbearable. In the four days I had to wait before our appointment, I was a wreck—anxious, unable to focus, and with absolutely no appetite. When you have that much strain on you, it can become difficult to complete even the simplest tasks. There is a lot I want to do in this life, a lot that I think needs to be done. But how much of the time do we spend preoccupied with the question: what happens if I get pregnant? How much of my energy and focus was caught up with this worry? Women represent 50% of the population. Imagine how much collective headspace we could free up if birth control was not our sole responsibility, and if abortion was not so taboo. 

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As for the broker and I, we responsibly used condoms for the first several months of our relationship—it wasn’t like we threw caution to the wind immediately. But one night, he asked if we could skip it just this once. The conversation came up in bed, as he was getting frisky with me. It made me uneasy. He promised that he knew his body well and that he wouldn’t mess it up. I held off that first night, but as the topic came up again I eventually relented. The first time he pulled out, it was nerve wracking, but it seemed to go well. The next time I was a bit more relaxed about the whole thing, and it was then that he changed the rules of the game—he surprised me at the last second by coming inside me. I ran to the bathroom in a panic. When I returned to the bedroom I rocked back and forth on the edge of the bed, feeling the beginnings of anxiety prickling my skin. I’ve always been quite high strung, the broker in every way my opposite. He grew up in a small beach community and couldn’t be bothered to get upset about nearly anything. This was no different. He rolled onto his side to face me and said, Well baby, I guess we just rolled the dice. I retorted, We? Where was I in this decision? He laughed good-naturedly at my worry and tried to pull me into an embrace.

I can’t recall the latter part of that night. Did I sleep in his arms? My unease about the relationship was growing by then, and I often spent nights at the edge of his king-sized bed, facing the window, sleeplessly staring at the outside light spilling in around the edges of the black-out curtains. The next day I had to take a work trip, and by the time I was on the plane I had decided to take Plan B as soon as we touched down. I texted the broker to let him know. I still have a screenshot of his reply: I know I’m not always as sensitive as you want or need, I’ll work on it. I think I’m not stressed because of everyone I’ve dated I think having a child with you would be the easiest. As in I think we would agree on a lot and have similar values. So yes, I would prefer to continue to get there if we get there but an “oops” with you isn’t the end of times in my mind.” I took the pill and got on with my work.

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I’ve Had One Too: A Story of Abortion and Healing by Anna Wood is out February 16 2021. Get your copy HERE.

I’VE HAD ONE TOO: WHY WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT ABORTION

Anna Wood’s brave, beautiful memoir is a story of abortion and healing—and a timely stake in the ground for reproductive justice. Here’s why I chose to publish it with Numinous Books … by Ruby Warrington.

I've had One Too Anna Wood Numinous Books

 

I had my abortion at age 23. It was 1999; half a lifetime ago. I had been with my now husband, the Pisces, for just three months when I became pregnant, and I was fitted with an IUD at the time. I had also had my first period in years shortly after meeting him, my cycle having been disrupted by an eating disorder I’d grappled with for the duration of my previous abusive 6-year relationship. The hardcore birth control (since IUDs are considered to be more than 99 percent effective, I’d read somewhere that this made them the method of choice among female GPs) had felt like overkill; I had doubted whether my womb was even fertile.

When the second blue line showed up on the test, my first feeling was one of elation. I was sat, cramped in the tiny makeshift bathroom in the lower floor of my father’s house, where I was living at the time. I’d broken up with my ex, who I’d been living with, the previous summer, coinciding with my leaving journalism school and interning while I tried to find a job. I was broke, and while I was grateful to my dad for making space for me in his home, he had a new family now and I was there on borrowed time. My priority was finding work; the last thing I needed was THIS. But still I couldn’t stop smiling; in a fit of magical thinking, it was as if becoming pregnant against all odds was cosmic confirmation that this new person I’d been seeing was “the one.”

I knew I wouldn’t keep it. For the practical reasons: my income was minimal, I had nowhere to live, and I was barely out of the starting gate in my career. But, also, because I’d always just known I didn’t want to be a mom. I had been convinced of this since around age five, but now this knowing crystalized in me fully for the first time. When I told the Pisces, his response was shock; he’d never even considered becoming a dad (would, later in our relationship, share with me the time my father told him: “no man ever wants to have children, it just happens”). After after a brief discussion, he let it be known that he fully supported my choice. We were agreed; whatever our future together, it would not be ethical at this point in our lives to bring a child into the mix.

I made an appointment with Marie Stopes’ Reproductive Choices and was scheduled for a procedure the following month. It was free, covered by the NHS, and not once did I question my choice. In the meantime, I accompanied the Pisces to Paris, where he was DJ’ing at a party on a disused barge. His set was at 4am, and we went for fatty steak frites at midnight before heading to the club. I couldn’t tell if my belly was swollen from the food. Dancing later, as the sun came up on the Seine, I felt blessed, ecstatic to be alive; I was falling deeper in love with him by the day.

On the day of the abortion, both he and my mom accompanied me to the clinic. I was instructed to put on a robe, go to the bathroom, and place a pessary in my vagina which would help to open my cervix. Then I was led into an operating room, when I dropped like a stone into the anesthetic blackout. The next thing I knew, I was opening my eyes, as if waking from a dream about another life. As the anesthetic ebbed from my limbs, I experienced a pervasive sensation of absolute peace.

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Only as I write this now, over two decades later, am I fully aware of how grateful I am for the circumstances of my abortion. For the fact my procedure was paid for in full by the NHS; for the nonjudgmental and loving care I received from the staff at the clinic; for my partner being fully supportive of my choice; and, not least, that ending my pregnancy was a completely non-conflicted choice for me. To this day, I have never felt so certain of anything in my life—and I also have the fact that in the UK, where I am from, abortion does not carry the stigma that it does in other nations, to thank for this.

We often don’t recognize our own privilege until we become aware of the choices and the resources that are not available to others, and the past 12+ months have shone a light on just how fortunate I was back then. When sensing the visceral fear among women in my circle that Amy Coney-Barrett’s appointment to the supreme court might be one more nail in the coffin for ready abortion access (already increasingly tenuous) in the US; when watching the nationwide protests in Poland, as hundreds of thousands took to the streets to oppose increasingly oppressive abortion laws there; and when soaking in the sheer joy and relief on the faces of the Argentinian women celebrating abortion being made legal in their country.

And all this against the backdrop of working with author Anna Wood on her abortion memoir, I’ve Had One Too, our second Numinous Books release. Anna (not her real name, more on this in a bit), was the first person to contact me about publishing her story with us—a story that is very different from mine. For Anna, electing to end her pregnancy was the hardest thing she ever did—and a decision that led to her questioning everything. What was the “ethical” thing to do? Could she have made it as a single mom? Did her choice make her a monster? And not least, why do women not talk about this?

It was only in the months and years following her abortion, that Anna opened up about it to the women in her life. She was shocked at what she learned: that so many of them—including the Catholic mother of three—had had one too, but had felt too ashamed to talk about it. The ensuing conversations with these women became an integral part of Anna’s own journey of reconciliation and healing. Eventually, she decided to write about her experience to encourage more women to speak up.

It is estimated that one-in-four women in the US will have an abortion at some point in their lives. Many are mothers already, stretched to capacity when it comes to their child-rearing abilities. And yet, increasingly, any person seeking access to abortion (it’s important to note that this issue relates to trans men and many non-binary individuals, too), will have to leap through numerous hoops—be they financial, legal, geographical, or a combination of all three—in order to receive the care they need. Since the ratification of Roe v. Wade in 1973, abortion access has been subject to obstruction after obstruction (as discussed succinctly in this episode of The Cut podcast). In short, abortion access in the United States is hanging on a thread. And at a time where a reckoning with systemic racism along with structural gender and economic inequalities—issues which Anna’s book reveals to be at the heart of the fight for reproductive justice—is tearing the nation apart.

When I agreed to work with Anna on her book, I was unaware of much of the above. All I knew, was that my own abortion had played an integral role in me being free to live my life on my own terms—and that this was something I wanted for every person who found themselves in mine or Anna’s position. Having sat in countless healing circles over the years, where I had offered deep listening to people seeking both solace and solidarity, I had also come to a deep appreciation for the importance of sharing our stories as a way to make peace with our pasts, to know that we are not alone, and to heal.

Since we began working on the project in the fall of 2019, my eyes have been opened to just how damaging the silencing of stories of abortion is. Until we can openly claim our right to this essential, ethical, and deeply personal part of our reproductive lives, it will remain inaccessible to those who need it most. Now consider this: roughly half of pregnancies in the US are unintended. Many of these, undoubtedly, are “happy accidents.” But how many children are being born into economic instability (currently, 38 million US families are living is poverty), and to mothers who do not have the material and emotional support they need, because of lack of access to and enduring stigma around abortion?

This is not to presume anything about whether or not these children will be happy or loved. Whether or not their lives will be worth living. But as bell hooks writes in All About Love; “An overwhelming majority of us come from dysfunctional families in which we were taught we were not okay, where we were shamed, verbally and/or physically abused, and emotionally neglected, even as we were also taught to believe that we were loved … Too many of us cling to a notion of love that either makes abuse acceptable or at least makes it seem that whatever happened was not that bad.”

Meanwhile, in The Body Keeps the Score, trauma specialist Bessel Van Der Kolk claims he believes that child abuse is: “our nation’s largest public health problem”—given that childhood trauma (including physical and psychological abuse and emotional neglect) is linked to higher rates of obesity, heart and liver disease and cancer, as well as higher incidences of depression, alcoholism and IV drug use, suicide, and domestic violence. We have the awareness and the science to end these toxic cycles. We are also tasked, as a priority, with addressing wider issues of economic inequality (not to mention environmental degradation). Don’t we owe it to future generations to ensure they are arriving here under the most supportive circumstances possible?

Perhaps most importantly of all, Anna’s book brings to light the fact that binary thinking about abortion—you are either “pro-choice” or “pro-life”—flattens the nuance that colors both the debate about and people’s experiences of abortion. After all, the term “pro-choice” includes the right to opt to carry a pregnancy to term, even when it makes little logical sense. Meanwhile, “pro-life” was originally coined by progressive educator A.S. Neill, who wrote in his 1960 book Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Parenting: “no pro-life citizen would tolerate our penal code, our hangings, our punishment of homosexuals, our attitudes to bastardry.” And I am certainly pro every individual having access to a quality of life that includes material security and agency over their own bodily sovereignty, not to mention where “life” does not refer to a sentence in the white supremacist prison industrial complex.

When this phrase becomes co-opted to apply to an unborn fetus in its mother’s womb however, as Sally Rooney, quoted by Jia Tolentino in The New Yorker, notes, this collection of cells is being extended “a vastly expanded set of legal rights, rights available to no other class of citizen.” That is, the right to “make free, non-consensual use of another living person’s uterus and blood supply, and cause permanent, unwanted changes to another person’s body.” In the relationship between woman and fetus, Rooney writes, the woman is “granted fewer rights than a corpse.”

Does agreeing with this make me a “monster,” a label Anna finds herself confronted with so often in her book? Her work has helped remind me that abortion is not a question of morality, it is a question of humanity—the humane choice, always, being not to cause or perpetuate further suffering. Also, that being human is nothing if not a treacherous slog through the murky waters of cognitive dissonance. Part of finding our way, so often, means embracing the fact that it is possible for many conflicting “truths” to exist alongside one another, both in our hearts and in the world, and making hard choices that it is on us to live with. I have written about my spiritual beliefs about abortion before, here, and while working on this book has found me questioning the deeper karmic consequences of my choice, not once have I regretted it.

It is with hardcore admiration that I am helping Anna publish her book. And, yes, under a pseudonym. The fear women feel about sharing their abortion stories is justified, and I am steeling myself for the inevitable abuse and harassment—often, ironic coming from those claiming to be “pro-life,” including death threats—that is pelted at those who speak up. But these attempts to silence us from speaking our truths are only more evidence that we must.

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I’ve Had One Too: A Story of Abortion and Healing, is out February 16 2021. Subscribe to The Numinous newsletter HERE to be alerted when it goes on sale; and sign up for more essays from Ruby Warrington HERE.

WISHCRAFT: CREATING INTENTIONAL CHANGE

Wishcraft by Shauna Cummins introduces a powerful practice for creating intentional change …

Wishcraft Shauna Cummins

In her new book, Wishcraft, hypnotherapist Shauna Cummins explains that wishes should be said like prayers, affirmations, and blessings, all in one. Before you plant your wishes in your subconscious mind, read the below script out loud – either in a group, or to yourself – before entering into a wishing trance. Alternatively, you can record it and listen to it before you go to sleep or before you enter into the wishing trance or journey.

 

<< PAST PRESENT FUTURE NOW: WISHING SCRIPT >>

“Imagining myself in a peaceful place, I breathe in deep relaxation into my mind and into my body. Counting down from ten to one, breathing slowly and deeply. Ten, nine, eight, breathing, seven, six, five, deeper and deeper, four, three, two, one; allowing each and every breath to take me deeper into this intuitive inner space for relaxation and release, receiving even more of what I desire now. Breathing in relaxation and breathing out release. Breathing in deeper and deeper, into the intuitive inner space of the mind and body.Safe, secure and protected, just breathing. Remembering that, in my mind, I can give myself whatever resources I need: the ability to go deeper, to rise above and to give myself what I need, is my natural ability.

Now, in my mind, I find myself somewhere that brings me peace, a place in nature. I am experiencing this place with all of my senses. The colour of the sky, the sounds around me, the temperature of the air on my skin. Breathing in peacefulness and support. Drawing up courage and strength from the earth and into my body, into my mind, light and clarity from the sun and the sky moving into my mind, into my body. I experience those energies circulating throughout my body, empowering me to move forwards positively.

I now imagine myself from the perspective of my future self. I can feel or see my future self doing well, living, their wishes coming true. I step into my future self, moving around in their energy, feeling it now. I believe in myself; I trust in myself; I feel my whole mind and my whole body working with me now.

Through the eyes of my future self, I can see my present self and I notice what I admire about my present self now. I feel my present self, receiving that appreciation. I can feel those energies, from the future and the present, collaborating, working together and rising up and intuitively travelling over my life. I can look down as if I’m looking down from above, and I call out a few things I feel very proud of, things I accomplished or overcame throughout my life.

When I have those in mind, I drop down and travel to the past, to a time when I could have used more support. And I feel my future and present selves there with my past self as if I’m my own loved one or my own best friend. I give my past self whatever resources I needed, and I imagine my past self receiving those resources: protection, healing, safety. I look into the eyes of my past self and I remind them of, or share with them, what I admire about them. I share with them what they will go on to accomplish or overcome. I feel pathways of healing, releasing and receiving, flowing from the future into the present, into the past, and I can feel my past self now rising up out of that past, feeling an updated sense of love and support for who they are and who they are becoming; traveling through time and space with an updated sense of love and support for who they are and who they are becoming.

“I can feel myself in the present moment, moving forwards positively, and I can feel my future self here with me now, supporting me. Moving forwards, in my own way and in my own time, remembering how strong, resourceful and supported I really am, just being me. Enjoying myself and the process, in my own way and in my own time. I know that things take time and energy to accomplish, but I now feel an intuitive balance of focus and forgiveness, trusting in myself and the process. Each step forwards works with me, surrendering to the supportive forces within me and around me. Thank you for my positive present future now. My future dreams are a reality now.”

///

Now you’re ready to plant your wishes. Shauna has included wishes for healing, for giving, for receiving, and for different stages and phases in her book, as well as wishes for revolution. Use the below to wish for a better future for ourselves and for others.

 

<< WISHES FOR REVOLUTION >>

To be said like confessions, admitting to the wrongdoings of ourselves and others, in atonement or with the intention of coming into alignment with right action.

 

WISH FOR THE EARTH

May I awaken to recognize the Earth as a living organism. May I treat her like a divine mother and giver of life: the ocean’s waters, the trees’ air, the soil’s growth. May I begin to live my life by right actions to sustain a living future.

 

WISH FOR CHANGE

May I stand with love and respect for all life. May I listen, learn and act with compassion. May I embody the humility to admit when I am wrong and make reparations for deep, lasting, systemic change towards equality on all levels. May I learn to see others and myself as one, with generosity and grace.

 

CLOSING WISH 

In all my wishing, may I have the patience to let go of what no longer serves my highest good, moving like a river flows, surrendering to the supportive slipstreams, moving forwards positively, just being me. Trusting in myself and the process of learning and growing and becoming stronger, and more open and receptive to making my future dreams a reality now.

///

Wishcraft by Shauna Cummins is published by Hardy Grant on Jan 26 2021. Pre-order your copy HERE.

A GUIDE TO HEALING WITH ‘SHROOMS

With her book, A Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Odyssey, author Bett Williams chronicles her seven-year journey working with psilocybin mushrooms in New Mexico. The below excerpt gives a window into the healing portal this opened in her life …

 

IT BEGAN WITH a solitary trip by the fire three days later, with a cautious, less-than-three-gram dose. When there’s nothing to lose, there’s not a lot to worry about. It was easy to trust a mushroom—to trust anything outside myself and the twisted will that had landed me in this desperate clearing. I placed a small mound of tobacco at the base of a candle, a common offering I’d been practicing since I was a teenager, taught to me by herbalists and indigenous ceremonialists. I burned copal and flat cedar. Lying down on the couch under a wool blanket, I waited.

“You need to stop seeing yourself as a sick person,” the mushrooms said. They spoke to me like this, in fully formed sentences heard internally, like a memory. “In your female form you are the quintessential bedridden Victorian lady on retreat.”

“Yes, it’s true!” I replied. “I do come from a long line of sick women. My mother had polio, tuberculosis, cancer, diphtheria, and Graves’ disease. My grandmother had tuberculosis and a morphine addiction. Sickness is how I locate my ancestry.”

“Oh, I am so very sick!” the mushrooms echoed, mocking me.

“You don’t care that I’m sick?”

“We’re just waiting for you to stop pretending to be sick.”

“But I actually am kind of sick.”

“Take as long as you like.”

I wasn’t sick, the mushrooms said, but the Trader Joe’s frozen Greek yogurt I’d been eating daily was causing inflammation in my hips. What was going on in my hips was jacking my neck up and this somatic traffic jam was making me depressed and lethargic. The damage could be remedied with ginger.

“Ginger?”

“Yes, ginger. Will you let us show you?”

An intricate, multi-dimensional golden temple with a Moroccan silhouette arose in front of me. It was vast and bejeweled, with an empty throne at its center. As a lover of minimalist architecture, I find myself resentful of having to describe its attributes. I’ll just say it whacked me with its beauty so thoroughly I was hyperventilating from its splendor. The mushrooms must like me for such a thing to arise. Maybe I’m good at this, I thought.

Personal preferences were tossed in, like my favorite shade of aqua found only in paint made from Smithsonite and contrasting garnet reds and lapis blues set side by side, emanating a lovely resonant sound. And gold, tons and tons of gold, in chunks and flowing strands and the thinnest of threads, gold forming arches and furniture, walls and handrails, cups and hairbrushes.

“This is ginger? This palace?”

“Yes, and it will help you.”

“Ground or fresh?”

“Fresh is best. Keep it simple.”

The mushrooms speak to me, but I don’t hear words like you’d hear from another person talking. It’s as if language arises in my own body, though it’s nothing I’d come up with on my own. Sometimes I am aware of fully formed sentences. Other times, whole systems of knowledge present themselves, devoid of any coherent words at all.

The mushrooms told me addiction starts in the feet, for instance. Your position in the tribe has been injured. An old sheepherder set my leg on the ground. I was a foal, newly born, and my front left leg resisted contact with the earth. He stroked it until I allowed my hoof to lightly touch down. The earth’s subtle electricity flowed into the ley lines of my calf, up into my hips and my neck and shoulders, giving them relief from some long-held, useless question mark.

“You are alive now. There.”

“Thank you, sir. But I am kind of crippled.”

“Get into that loop as long as you like. But really?”

“Okay, I’m not crippled. I’m just a little bit sick.”

“Come as you are. But you’re not sick, just saying.”

“But what am I supposed to do in a healing ceremony if I’m not sick?”

I’m now living in the mushroom’s wordless answer to this question, continually.

///

I learned how to literally suck the sickness out of my body and spit it out. I was given poses—mouth wide open, tongue out, eyes rolled all the way up into the skull. This is how one’s own skull becomes that of an ancestor, ready for purification. Mushrooms showed me the resentments to which I was clinging and helped me to let them go. Sometimes I couldn’t let them go and I stewed in rage and self-loathing, observing its contours with equanimity, knowing these hard emotions are a thing shared by all people. Exploring these realms of discomfort and psychic pain, I built a storehouse of compassion for myself and all of us pitiful human beings.

There were times when I landed in a gray in-between, kin to a world of cheap plastic figurines and urban street grease, where random fractal gargoyles of childhood television shows visited only to transmit the essence of mediocrity itself into my tender consciousness. This never scared me. I figured such dislocation was one of three things: a psychic detox, bad digestion, or perhaps I really was that two-dimensional and mediocre, and I had just succeeded at being in denial. Whatever situations arose, I approached them with a strong work ethic that was often notably absent in my real life.

Unwanted images and language forms—usually pop culture detritus, unwritten tweets, random shapes, and creepy critters—always dissipated after I gave them proper acknowledgment, offered some tobacco, and calmly set my attention elsewhere. I attribute the ability to do this to dosage. I always did roughly three grams. With this dosage, a sense of ego still remains. You can steer your own ship. Over seven or eight grams, you might become the actual ship. A very high-dose mushroom trip comes with its own teachings. I’m not uncurious, but thus far, the mushrooms have not guided me to ingest a dose higher than seven grams.

In his essay, “The Mushrooms of Language,” Henry Munn explains that in the Mazatec worldview, it is important that a practitioner maintain “an ethical relationship with the real.” I have taken this as mantra to live by. It’s one that is likely dose-specific. Munn claims the Mazatec did not experience many hallucinations at all during ceremony, that their experiences were mostly somatic and linguistic. That is how it was for me, back when I kept it simple.

“The little children are to be eaten in pairs,” María Sabina said. “They are holy and a sacrament. Don’t do them in the daytime, they make you crazy. Only do them at night.” Okay, sometimes I did them in the daytime, but I tried to do them only at night. Staying close to this protocol served me well in the early days. It kept me humble.

///

Excerpted from A Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Odyssey by Bett Williams, out now with Dottir Books.

Why We Need To Talk About Spiritual Appropriation

Being a “conscious intuitive” means being aware of spiritual appropriation, says Natalie Miles

Natalie Miles You Are Intuitive Spiritual Appropriation Numinous Books

Being a “spiritual” person in 2020 means something very different to what it did the New Age movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, it felt okay to learn and borrow from spiritual traditions from all over the world, sparking an explosion of interest in Eastern and Indigenous healing modalities.

But fast forward half a century, and the world we live in has changed. These days, anybody on a spiritual path needs to practice what I call “conscious intuition”—that is, to acknowledge that we are each a unique expression of the collective energy of the planet, and that while we live our lives as individuals, we can impact and be impacted by the energy of the whole. Living from this place, we begin to understand that each and every action creates a ripple effect, and that the more aligned we are with our inner guidance, the more we can have a positive impact in the world.

This sheds a whole new light on the concept of “spiritual appropriation”—and how adopting, and especially profiting from, practices that are not in our own lineage can potentially cause harm to others. The dictionary definition of cultural appropriation is: “the act of adopting elements of an outside, often minority culture, including knowledge, practices, and symbols, without understanding or respecting the original culture and context.”

This is actually rife in modern spiritual communities, and being a conscious intuitive means doing your research and becoming aware of how you may unwittingly be exploiting the spiritual traditions you are borrowing from. For example, placing statues of gods and deities that aren’t from your lineage on your altar, or using sage or palo santo to “smudge” your home or your body of “bad vibes,” could all be labelled spiritual appropriation if not engaged in with reverence, respect, and honoring of the traditions that they come from.

For example, smudging is an Indigenous practice used for purification during ceremony and prayer. But it’s become so appropriated, that the traditional white sage used by Indigenous communities is becoming endangered, with bundles for sale in high street stores. While this is detrimental for the environment, the original sanctity of the Indigenous practice is also lost as white colonialist capitalism profits from a practice that has essentially been stolen.

In the US and Canada, Indigenous people have lost their lives to defend this practice, along with other spiritual traditions. It wasn’t until 1978 with the passing of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act that these people were even allowed to practice their own spiritual traditions. In this context, can you see how harmful it is for the descendants of white colonialists to engage with these practices without asking—and even profit from them?

Which is not to say you can’t borrow from these traditions respectfully. Ideally, find a way to participate in a cultural exchange where you gain permission to participate and learn from that culture, practice or ritual. And if smudging with sage, for example, is not something that’s in your lineage, you can engage with “smoke clearing” using other substances instead, such as rosemary, sweetgrass, and mugwort.

We must also be aware of cultural appropriation in the language used by spiritual communities. For example, the word “woke” is often used as a term for someone who is experiencing their Spiritual Reactivation—as in, somebody who has “woken up” to the true nature of the world and who they are.

But the word “woke” originated in the African American community, and was originally used to describe issues of social and racial justice. As far back as 1962, William Melvin Kelly wrote an article in the New York Times called “If You’re Woke You Dig It,” detailing how white Americans were appropriating black people’s phrases as their own. More recently, “woke” has been used by the Black Lives Matter movement to highlight the continued oppression of black communities, calling them to #staywoke and take action on the flawed political and social systems. So, using the word “woke” in the wrong context actually harms communities of color, as it bypasses and minimizes the struggles of their oppression.  

The word “tribe” is also widely used in spiritual and wellness circles, but this is disrespectful, offensive and culturally appropriative to Indigenous people. We should only be using the word when referring to Indigenous tribes—and using words such as team, group, network or collective to describe non-indigenous communities.

 If you identify as a white person, it may be triggering to read this. Which is a perfect example of being confronted by a collective shadow. While it might feel easier to brush off accusations of cultural or spiritual appropriation, and send “love and light” to all involved, can you see how this is also perpetuating systems of oppression and injustice?

 

ASK YOURSELF: WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

Equally as important as considering the lineages of the rituals and practices we engage with to connect with our intuition, is the provenance of any “tools” we pick up along the way: crystals, plants, herbs, oracle decks, tinctures, and energy clearing sprays to name a few. Some important questions to ask yourself might be:

 Where were these crystals mined or sourced from?

Were they ethically sourced?

Are they even real? (Yes, there are a LOT of fake crystals out there, just like fake Gucci handbags!)

Am I using local wildcrafted plants and herbs?

Am I buying from a reputable source?

Can I buy from a local, independent supplier, versus one of the big corporations?

Never has it been more evident that we each have a responsibility to Mother Earth. The same way we care about the province of our food, clothes, and other products, this means being super aware of the sustainability and environmental imprint of our intuition practice.

 

THE DANGERS OF SPIRITUAL LABELLING

Adding to this, it has never been trendier to label a brand or business as “Spiritual” or “Intuitive.” We’re in a time where everybody gets to be their own brand (myself included!)—and with this, there also comes the temptation to trademark “new” healing methods, modalities, products, and services. But nothing about spirituality and intuition is new. These are human tools, available to everybody, free of charge, that have been around since time began. This means Intuition is SACRED. But as spirituality becomes more and more mainstream, and develops into an even bigger industry, the power of the $$$ potential means the brand often becomes the priority.

As humans, labeling things makes them more accessible, for ourselves and our potential audience. But be aware of the spiritual labelling that is happening across social media platforms and businesses. Practice discernment. Ask yourself, “does this feel genuine? What does the energy of this brand/person feel like? Is it legit?” And remember, whenever someone says they have a “new label” to a healing modality, or have discovered a “new” way to work with Spirit, it’s just that. A new label. What we’re connecting to comes from the same source.

It’s exciting that more people are looking towards intuition and spirituality as an anchor during these shifting times. That more of us are returning to our inner power and connection. It’s also fantastic to see more people sharing their experiences and their intuitive gifts with the world. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that intuitive power and connection to Spirit are the property of the collective, and make it all about the label, the brand and the trademark.

Here’s to us all becoming conscious intuitives for the Now Age, and engaging with our spiritual growth and development in a way that benefits not just us, but the collective.

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Excerpted from You Are Intuitive: Trust Your Truth, Take Back Your Power by Natalie Miles, out now with Numinous Books.

IS IT EGO, FEAR, OR INTUITION?

How to tell the difference between ego, fear, and intuition, is about learning to listen to—and differentiate between—the different voices in your head, says Natalie Miles.

You Are Intuitive Natalie Miles Numinous Books Intuition quote

It’s the question I get asked the most: “How do I trust what my intuition is telling me? How do I know it’s real? Is it all my imagination? Is it my ego talking? Am I making this all up?”

Learning to differentiate between the different voices in your head is often the key missing piece when it comes to trusting your intuition, as it will help you tune into and prioritize what it’s telling you. The thing is, all these voices sound just like you. Let’s take a closer look at the role of these three inner voices.

Your Ego Voice is the voice of your external identity, or how you see yourself in the world. It is also the part of you that keeps up a running commentary of the fears, worries, desires, needs and judgments you generate daily just by being a human in the world. When this chatter is running the show, it’s very hard to hear the softer, gentler voice of your intuition.

It’s easy to see why common wisdom in the New Age community is that the Ego is a “negative” part of us, and that we should do our best to try to transcend it. And it’s true that paying it too much attention can be the cause of so much suffering. But if we truly lived from a place of no Ego, we’d be denying the fact that we’re still humans having a human experience on this planet. Not to mention that when we suppress our fears, desires and the emotions connected to them, it ultimately causes us more pain and suffering. It’s actually when we accept the duality that lies within us, no longer viewing the Ego and its concerns as either good or bad but simply a part of our whole self, that we truly step into our authentic truth and power.

This can also be said for the Fear voice, which is the voice of our inner survival instinct. We are all programmed with a fight, flight, or freeze mechanism to help us respond to danger. The Fear voice is the Ego voice with the volume turned up, and it kicks in during times of panic and acute stress and discomfort. Although this mind is programmed within us to help us survive in these moments, more often than not, it can be hard to distinguish between what is real and our Fear mind causing even more chaos as we lose all perspective. This is why discovering how to use and trust your Intuitive voice during these times is a skill to relearn and master.

Meanwhile, your Intuitive Voice is here to support you and guide you. It’s important to stress again that all these voices will “sound” like you. You’re not going to suddenly hear strange voices from another realm or the “voice of God” in your head. But unlike the Ego / Fear Voice, which is like your personal trainer barking at you, your Intuitive Voice will sound confident, gentle, and calm. You’ll also hear it from the “back” of your head, while the Ego / Fear Voice will come from the “front” of your mind. The Intuitive Voice also isn’t hung-up on things happening on any particular time frame, or on any specific outcome. This can make it feel riskier to trust, as nine times out of ten we want the Intuitive Voice to show up when we need an answer quickly! What actually happens, is that your Intuitive Voice will deliver its message and then disappear —the skill being learning to listen when it speaks to you, versus trying to make it show up when you want. The Ego / Fear Voice on the other hand, is ever-present, chattering away in your head and urging you to act NOW.

This is actually a key way you can distinguish between an ego / fear based message and your intuitive guidance. Notice: what message has been playing on a loop in your head the past day or so? What would happen if you just let the need to act on this go, and trusted that the “real” time and course of action to pursue will simply let itself be known?

Now let’s look at some other ways to tell the difference between ego, fear, and intuition.

 

QUALITIES OF THE EGO VOICE

-You can’t stop thinking about something and the voice keeps going ‘round and ‘round in your head. Am I doing enough? Should I do something different? Is this going to work?

-The voice has an agenda, expectation, goal, or plan. When am I going to get that job? I need to know if they’re the one. My five-year plan says I should be doing this by now.

-There is a desire for a logical and obvious “solution” to fix a situation or get guidance. I must work out a detailed, step-by-step plan for how to proceed and make changes in my life

-It wants an answer NOW! I should have worked this out by now! I don’t have time to wait! I have a deadline to make a decision.

-The ego voice often uses the words “should,” “would,” or “must.” I should do it this way. I must act now. How would that be perceived?

 

Location

The Ego voice comes from the front of the head.

 

In the body

Can make your body feel tense or tight.

 

Quality of Voice

Chattering

Fast paced

Fearful

Foggy

Easily led

 

Emotional Guide

Anxiety

Panic

Confidence

Motivation

Overwhelm

Confusion

Frustration

Anger

 

QUALITIES OF THE FEAR VOICE

-Wants to control everything around them including the actions and emotions of others. The more control I have the “safer” I will be.

-Suspicious and paranoid. Wants to question everything and everyone.

-Kicks in during stressful events, conversations, relationships, uncertainty or trauma. It’s time to get into survival and protection mode.

-Fear of the unknown, uncertainty, and not knowing. What might happen to me? I don’t have a plan. What will this mean for the future?

-Feels like it’s missing out on something. I might miss out on that opportunity. I don’t want to fail at any cost. I want to feel differently from how I am feeling right now.

 

Location, Emotional Guide, and Quality of Voice

Just like the Ego Voice it comes from the front of the head. It will have the same voice quality and emotional guide as the Ego Voice, but amped up—like having a military general barking orders at you or the volume dial being turned up to MAX. Your whole energetic intuitive body feels like it’s on overdrive, and everything seems overwhelming, chaotic, and out of control.

 

 QUALITIES OF THE INTUITIVE VOICE

-Guidance comes in and then disappears from your mind. Speak to this person. Listen to this creative idea. Do this. Go there. Take action. You will hear it once and it won’t keep niggling at you.

-Isn’t attached to any desire or outcome. Nothing is “right” or “wrong,” and it doesn’t matter what I think I “want.” 

-Doesn’t feel forced or have an agenda. I surrender up energetically to what is happening or will happen in the future.

-Feels good in your body and energetic sphere. Something just feels “right” as if I know it to be true.

-Doesn’t feel fixed or logical but you want to know more. May offer up a different path or route that you had not thought of. What about doing it this way?

-Timing is flexible or does not factor at all. It doesn’t matter when it happens, my job is to stay on the path and trust where I am being taken.

-Feels like it wants to support you and guide you. Feels like a best friend or confidante that always wants the best for you. Feels like it has your back and wants you to succeed.

 

Location

Deep in the back of the head or mind.

 

In your body

May be felt throughout your whole intuitive body, as body tingles, warmth, cold breeze

(There’s a whole chapter coming up on how you can identify the bodily sensations of your intuitive voice)

 

Voice Quality

Confident

Calm

Rational

Trustworthy

Guiding

 

Emotional Guide

Calm

Centered

Balanced

Reassured

 

Are you starting to tell the difference yet? The next step is to consciously listen out for when your intuition is speaking to you—and then take action on what it says.

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Excerpted from You Are Intuitive: Trust Your Truth, Take Back Your Power by Natalie Miles, out now with Numinous Books.

(NUMINOUS) BOOKS ARE MAGIC

Following a year-long hiatus, we’re back as Numinous Books. Founder Ruby Warrington explains the process behind this evolution, and why she believes books are magic

Nnuminous books self-publishing Ruby Warrington

As regular readers will know, I put The Numinous on hiatus in July 2019. Since attempting a failed “comeback” in November (which I knew was gonna fail, put which I put us all through anyway!), I have been in even deeper reflection about the next evolution of this platform. A very tired and cynical part of me wanted to just walk away. I was exhausted from the constant churn of maintaining the socials, the newsletter, the podcasts, the blog—and I badly needed to focus on work that actually paid my rent.

We’d had seven good years after all, and what began as a project to help me learn more about the mystical arts, had also done its job, in a way: I had learned enough about astrology to develop my own personal practice, and along the way (surprise!) I found I had begun to heal the hurting, over-achieving “good girl” part of me that felt the constant need to prove myself. A journey that is documented in the three book projects I had also put out, beginning with the release of Material Girl, Mystical World in 2017—with Sober Curious (2018) and The Numinous Astro Deck (2019) telling their own parts of my story.

But also … I’d put so much time, and love, and passion into building this thing. Could I really just walk away? NO. At least … no so fast. And so I sat, and I waited, and I meditated on a question that I have come back to periodically since reading The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks: “What is my zone of genius?”

Hendricks defines the zone of genius as the state in which you get into “flow,” and find ceaseless inspiration as you engage with your natural abilities, rather than those you have leaned and perfected over the years (the latter being your “zone of excellence”). The theory being that the more time you spend in your zone of genius, the more energized, fulfilled, and successful you will be. What I landed on this being for me? Reading. Writing. Words. BOOKS. I’m always surprised when authors talk in interviews about the “torture” of the actual writing process. Not me! Put me in a room with a laptop and a big idea and I’ll be happy for days. I love editing other people’s words just as much, and even enjoy the intricate map-making of finding my way out of writers’ block. In short, making words on a page brings me the kind of satisfaction I imagine farmers reap from harvesting a bumper crop.

As soon as I turned my attention back towards WRITING, it was like the magic magnet effect the manifestation gurus talk about hummed into action. In my burnt-out state, beginning another book project myself was out of the question. But before I knew it, I was inundated with work helping other people craft, write, and edit their book proposals and manuscripts. And able to earn a living from it. By the time COVID came along, I felt like I’d cracked the fucking DaVinci code. I found myself actually getting paid to do what I actually love … with zero pressure whatsoever to look good in selfies or have something funny, deep, or provocative to say on Instagram every day!

Halle-fucking-lujah. I call this “book doula” work, I LOVE IT, and it is currently how I’m spending the majority of my time. Not that I haven’t been working as a writer and editor my whole career—but it’s the words-to-self-promotion ratio that’s shifted. The actual “making words on a page” part of my work (i.e. zone of genius) in journalism, for The Numinous, and as an author, has always been squeezed into the margins until now. The pitching of ideas, hosting of events, and growing of the socials (i.e. constantly trying to prove myself) having taken precedence. Too much time spent on “zone of excellence” shit—now that is what will burn a person out.

As for how this applies to The Numinous? In alignment with this new personal direction, the platform is back as NUMINOUS BOOKS. Ta-da! This is where my year of soul-searching has brought me. And it feels SO RIGHT. A natural extension of my book doula work, this means I am also working with a selection of authors to self-publish their books across this platform—meaning working with them to concept, write, and edit their books, as well as consulting on the design, marketing, and PR process. Each “Numinous Book” will also have its own launch across the Numinous blog, social media, and newsletter. And you’ll be hearing about the first Numinous Books project very soon!

Over the years, The Numinous has been home to so many diverse voices and perspectives on emotional and spiritual wellbeing in the Now Age. As I have also written about here, the fact that much of the deep wisdom that’s being made available to us thanks to the internet also gets boiled down into bite-sized, snackable, and ultimately throw-away chunks of social media “content,” has also never sat right with me. Which brings me back to BOOKS.

There’s a bookstore in Brooklyn called Books Are Magic—a phrase that has spun circles in my head since I first heard it. Because it’s true. Books are also meaningful, impactful, and a slow-cooked antidote to the pace of modern life. You can’t read (let alone write) a book in the time it takes to swipe up. It is the commitment asked of us by reading (or writing) a book that gives it the power to transport and transform us, to shape the way we think, act, and see the world. Reading a book—whether it’s a novel or memoir that allows us to walk in the shoes of the main protagonist, developing empathy for others along the way, or a text that teaches us something profound—is like having a deeply private and intimate conversation with the most essential and always evolving part of yourself. Put another way, books are both our mirrors and our mediums for communicating with our unseen selves.

It’s no wonder dictators and fascists like to burn books—just like they burned the witches back in the day. And it is also an act of resistance that The Numinous will continue to be a home for books and modern mystics alike, to both the “reading” and the “readers” that we turn to for answers when trying to make sense of ourselves and the world. Thank you for being here for it—and sign up for our newsletter and keep following @the_numinous for a bit of both each week.

They say everybody has a book in them. Might yours be a fit for Numinous Books? You can learn more about our publishing services here—and contact us to set up a discovery call to discuss your project.