MATERIAL GIRL MYSTICAL WORLD CHANGED ME: THAT WAS THE POINT

A lot has changed since the original publication of Material Girl, Mystical World in May 2017 … which was kind of the point.

When I began writing Material Girl, Mystical World in early 2015, I didn’t realize it would be a book about a personal transformation—a transformation that has been unfolding ever since. I was a different woman when it was commissioned, by the time I had finished writing it, and when it was finally published in May 2017. Once you stop resisting their tug, this is how transformations go, continually unfolding until life becomes unrecognizable.

When they told me the paperback would be published this fall, I questioned whether it still felt like my story (which of course it is, and always will be). I had continued to change and evolve, as the work I chronicled in the original manuscript continued to do its work on me. And world events were also reshaping the world around us in unprecedented ways—did any of us think, and act, and see anything the same these days?

Reflecting on these shifts, I asked my publisher if I could write a new conclusion for the paperback, and they agreed. The resulting essay is published below. I invite original readers to reflect on how they have continued to evolve as a result of awakening to a more numinous outlook, and for anybody new here to consider what this might mean for you.

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New York City. November 11, 2016

Two days after the 2016 US presidential election I hosted a gathering titled “Thank Goddess.” It was a launch event for fellow author Rebecca Campbell’s new book, Rise Sister Rise. When we came up with the name, we, like liberal-leaning “feminists” everywhere, were pretty certain we would also be celebrating the election of the first female president of the United States.

I had envisioned us referencing this as yet more evidence of the rise of the Divine Feminine (the subject of Rebecca’s book), as we high-fived a collective WIN for the sisterhood. Instead, forty women filed into the yoga studio on the Lower East Side with faces drained of color. A haunted silence hung over our circle. It felt important to be together, but, still barely able to process the news, nobody really knew what to say.

Rebecca and I were cohosting with our mutual friend, Madeline Giles, who ended the session with a signature Angelic Breathwork healing session. Along with the rest of the group, I lay down on my yoga mat and began to engage the stimulating three-part breath. But this time, when the tears came, there was no cathartic release. Instead, I sat up afterwards feeling disembodied and even more confused. Struggling to address the group to close, the lump in my throat was like a hot coal, my whole body reverberating with the static of our collective anxiety.

What the actual fuck was happening? And where on Earth did we go from here?

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The hardcover edition of Material Girl, Mystical World was released six months later, and in the original conclusion I wrote about all the ways in which my life and my world were transforming as a result of the tools, philosophies, and practices I’ve covered in its pages. How my periods had regulated for the first time in my life, and how I’d healed my persistent IBS (having finally addressed the emotional issues that had been gnawing at my gut for years). I also shared how I viewed myself as a “recovering fashion industry victim,” and now bought 90 percent of my clothes second hand—the ultimate “sustainable” fashion!

I also mentioned that these external changes were really just the fluff since I could see how adopting a more numinous outlook was also making me kinder, more compassionate, more giving, and less self-absorbed. How it had completely transformed my relationship with my mum. And how seeking to truly know, accept, and forgive myself—how to unconditionally love myself—meant I no longer felt the need to accumulate stuff to make me feel good—as what was beginning to feel really GREAT was the idea that, in some way, whatever I did with my days was contributing to the greater good.

And, almost three years on from that Thank Goddess event, it is clearly evident that my own healing path reflects a collective awakening of sorts. That my confronting my personal demons has been part of a larger unmasking of “evil” forces operating behind the scenes—from political corruption, to the roots of the institutionalized racism that remain embedded decades on from the civil rights movement, and the largely unchecked exploitation of the natural world. My friend, Sushma Sagar, a former Marketing Director for Kate Spade turned energy healer, once described her own healing as a process of “un-brainwashing” herself, meaning it entailed confronting whatever subconscious beliefs and associated behaviors had been keeping her locked in cycles of pain. Pain that she, like myself and so many of us, self-medicated with cocktails, fancy clothes, drama-filled relationships, and an endless quest for career status.

Would our world look any different today had we elected a female president in 2016? If anything, without the collective wake-up call/“un-brainwashing” that has accompanied the Trump presidency, it seems as though the aforementioned societal woes would have been left to fester in the darkness even longer. And, as painful and confronting as this process has proven for many, I believe it has also been part of an overall raising of consciousness that began with the new age movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and which has sped up and gone viral thanks to our twenty-first century technologies.

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The term “new age” was coined with reference to the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, a 2000-year-plus astrological era we began transitioning into globally in the middle of the last century. Moving us out of the preceding Age of Pisces, an era in which religious fear-mongering and hierarchical power structures reigned supreme, this new age heralds the rise of “Aquarian” values such as humanitarian efforts, power to the individual, freedom of information, and rebellion against the status quo.

I coined the term Now Age because, well, this new Aquarian age is happening NOW! Which also means anybody born between the 1950s and the 2050s are what I call the generational “pattern breakers” karmically tasked with ushering in this new evolutionary paradigm. Yes, that likely means you. And yes, that means that part of your purpose here on Earth is to help birth a more open-minded, less dogmatic, and overall more equally opportunistic Aquarian era.

And you thought my book was going to tell you all about what crystals to buy, and where to get the best tarot readings. Sorry! I kinda tricked you there with the hot pink cover and all the talk about “high vibes.” I have been known to refer to The Numinous as a “Trojan My Little Pony”—all rainbows and sparkles on the outside, concealing an army of freedom fighters within. As we witness the outdated systems of the Piscean Age begin to topple and fall, what will be your contribution to bringing the Now Age into being?

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In Material Girl, Mystical World, I describe the shamanic view of humankind as “a giant people patchwork, with each and every one of us a vital stitch helping keep it all together.” Well, this is when you get to weave your story into the mix. What this means is, I hope you will feel inspired by this book to begin, in earnest, the thorough and searching process of un-brainwashing yourself, and a simultaneous investigation into your truth and your path. Meaning the path of your ultimate freedom, fulfillment, and empowerment, and, as a result, the path of your dharma.

You can begin by getting to know your birth chart (using The Numinous Astro Deck if it speaks to you). Of all the tools mentioned in these pages, astrology remains my preferred method of recognizing my inherited and/or subconscious patterning, behaviors, and beliefs—all the better to rewrite the script! And of course, do the yoga, the meditation, and the green juice (yada yada), but THEN pay attention to the wider changes you will very likely find yourself feeling called to implement as a result.

I often describe the practices and healing modalities covered on The Numinous as “the missing piece in the wellness puzzle”—because, guess what? In my experience, when you clean up your diet and begin to take better care of the physical, you will automatically be asked (by the Universe, Source, your higher Self, etc.) to pay more attention to your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and to make any necessary adjustments to your priorities accordingly. And I guarantee that any discomfort you experience initially will be offset by a level of fulfillment, a depth of intimacy in your relationships, and a sense of meaning and purpose for your life that you may never have known.

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Eddie Stern, my philosopher friend whom I introduce in the chapter on yoga, wrote a piece for The Numinous about the Hindu concepts of sakala, the reality we experience “with form,” and nishkala, the reality that is “without form.” In other words, our outer, quantifiable world (body, possessions, money, social media, even the Universe) and our inner, unquantifiable realms (knowledge, love, compassion, dreams, hopes, and potential). The Material and the Mystical. The here and now and . . . the numinous. “In yoga,” he wrote, “knowing who we are is the solution to all misery. For when we don’t know who we are, we are limited by the external things we measure ourselves against (sakala). We measure, we compare, and we are miserable in doing so, because we always come up short. Yoga teaches that when we truly know who we are, we are immeasurable, pure consciousness (nishkala).”

In other words, it is in seeking to know the unknowable, to connect to the truth of our numinous nature, where our unlimited potential— and our true freedom—lies. And if I could wish anything for you, me, and (why not?) for all humanity, it is for us to be free.

The paperback edition of Material Girl, Mystical World is out now with HarperOne books.

HUMAN DESIGN: THE MYSTICAL PRACTICE EVEN YOUR DAD WILL GET

Human Design makes the mystical super accessible—and Erin Claire is the woman bringing it to the masses. What’s your type?

Image: Alessio Lin

There are probably some people in your life you just don’t talk to about astrology. Your dad. Your accountant. Your boss (unless you work for Emily Weiss at Glossier). But chances are, the less mystically-minded people in your life may well be open to a conversation about their Human Design.

Incorporating elements from all your favorite mystical traditions (astrology, the I-Ching, Kabballah), as well as info about your biochemistry and genetics, Human Design rolls them up into a nicely scientific-sounding system for self-knowledge and personal development—without so much as a whiff of Palo Santo.

Granted, the first time I heard about Human Design six years ago, it was in a workshop hosted by a woman in a tie-dye jumpsuit and sporting purple streaks in her hair. I was blown away by what I learned and wrote about it in one of my very early blog posts for this site.

But at the hands of Erin Claire, also Director of Programming at upscale conscious members club The Assemblage (in itself a marker of how the modern spirituality scene has evolved since I launched this site), Human Design has been packaged for an altogether more mystic-averse audience.

Working mainly with corporate clients. “I come under the guise of helping people discover their leadership styles, while making their teams more efficient,” she says. “When really, these qualities are by-products of helping people understand themselves on a deeper level.”

During Erin’s sessions, participants each receive a “Humanual” (if we needed any more evidence that we are, literally, morphing into machines)—a 30+ page document detailing everything from their Leadership Type and Communication Strategy, to their Skills and Public Role, and the Distractions that prevent them from fulfilling their potential.

So far, so straight out of Dave Eggers’ dystopic Silicon Valley satire, The Circle.

But while Erin’s delivery of the information itself remains overtly practical, it is highly emotive and, yes, human, in tone. For example, as a “Classic Builder” (the “Generator” type in old school Human Design), I learn that my Decision-Making Authority—literally the most effective way for me to make decisions—is to use my “Gut Response.”

“You are designed to use your gut to respond to opportunities and questions that show up for you. Engaging with your gut allows you to tap into your powerful and creative energy correctly,” Erin writes in my Humanual. Relevant to the 70% of the population who make up the Builder category—and pretty much the opposite of what they teach in business school.

It’s a line I’d love to chant in the face of every person I’ve encountered along the way who tried to tell me I’d never succeed without a plan. And a reminder that “success,” for me, is ultimately the result of following my intuition down a continually unfolding path of possibilities.

Seeing this in black and white feels strangely validating, in a way that astrology, even for a fully subscribed believer like me, rarely delivers so succinctly. Requiring zero interpretation or understanding of the subtle workings of the cosmos, it is simply stated as Fact. An element of my innate design.

As Erin puts it: “Astrology invites so much self-enquiry—a reading is more of an intuitive and collaborate experience. This is more prescriptive.”

It helps that a person’s Human Design chart also looks like the motherboard for our internal OS. As does the fact that our “design” is presented as being generated from within, versus written in our connection to nature and the cosmos. Paring the numinous elements right back is certainly more in fitting with the patriarchal consensus that Man—versus the Goddess—is the one in control.

All the better for sharing this system with the non-believers in your life—and certainly a way to introduce the idea of emotional intelligence to any work environment. After all, “working with your design results in feelings of flow, ease, and satisfaction,” says Erin, while being out of alignment results in “resistance and frustration.”

Curious about your Human Design? Click HERE to generate your chart for free and check out Erin’s overview of each Type below …

Learn more about Erin Claire and her work HERE.

Generator (with Manifesting Generators, 70% of the population)

Generators are the life force of the population. They are designed to work and to love the work they do to a point of exhaustion. The more they love what they’re doing, the longer their energy will sustain itself. Imagine you wake up each morning with a battery and your job is to use that energy in satisfying ways and then end your day exhausted after fully giving yourself to the work you love. The most important thing is that these people are deeply satisfied in the work they do. It is key to pay attention to what’s giving them energy and lighting them up and release the things that are no longer giving them energy.

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Manifesting Generator (with Generators, 70% of the population)

Manifesting Generators are similar to Generators in that they’re designed to work and to love the work they do. Their magic is in their ability to bring things to life quickly and efficiently. It’s best to surround themselves by people that are more methodical, so they can move as quickly and powerfully as they’d like. These people may have a ton of different interests at once and their career may not look so linear. It’s best for them to simply pay attention to the things that light them up and honor the natural response they have to things, to allow that aliveness guide them, letting go of things when they’re no longer energizing them.

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Projector (20% of the population)

Projectors are natural leaders. They are not designed to do all the doing, but instead designed to be a guide and support for others, especially when they feel recognized and invited in. They often make better managers than doers. These people often have the ability to see things in a totally new way, so their work is to cultivate their unique gift — often by finding a system to master — and then sharing that knowledge, when they are invited in to share. When they share before people are ready, they may experience resistance. Projectors tend to be very sensitive to energy, so it’s essential to surround themselves by healthy people and environments where they feel recognized. Their energy level is inconsistent, so they are designed to work in spurts and take plenty of time to rest rather than push themselves through a long day.

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Manifestor (9% of the population)

Manifestors are the ones here to initiate and get things started – to bring new ideas and concepts into the world. They’re designed to work and act independently and are most comfortable when left alone to do what they please. If they’re working within a team, it’s important that they have the freedom to design their schedule. They’re not here to be told what to do, but to initiate it themselves. Their work is to inform others about what they’re planning to do, so that they can manifest more freely and with less resistance.

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Reflector (1% of the population)

These people are extremely rare (1%) and mirror back the energy around them. They take in and magnify any environment they’re in. They make amazing facilitators and evaluators – offering a perspective that’s unique and different and are able to see things that often go unnoticed. It is best for these people to own their uniqueness, as their experience of life often looks a lot different than those around them. The most important thing for these people is that they are choosing to be in an environment that feels correct to them and that they take their time when making decisions.

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Erin Claire will be hosting Blueprint: A Transformational Day of Human Design on Jan 27 2019. Learn more about her work and book a personal reading or team session HERE

THE NUMEROLOGY OF 12/12

The numerology of 12/12 is a portal to cultivate awareness of how we show up in relationships, says Felicia BenderArtwork: Giulia Bersani

In Numerology, when we experience repeating number patterns it brings meaning and influence. It sets up a certain “vibe” or portal of energy from which to operate on a more evolved and optimal level.

The date 12/12 is no exception.

This combination is an intriguing mix because the energy of the 1 is focused on you—your independence and individuality. While the energy of the 2 brings in the need and desire for partnership, connection, and unity.

The numerology of 12/12 offers the energy to contemplate and make solid changes with how you show up for your relationships. And even if you’re resistant to making changes in this area, this number combination will force your hand. Often a transformation will be driven by forces you consider outside of your immediate control.

The numerology of 12/12 also offers a new start in some sort of relationship—or relationships—in your life. Business, intimate, family, or friends. 12/12 is bringing a frequency of change that focuses on relationships.

The number 1 is all about understanding your sense of yourself as an independent entity and the number 2 focuses on your relationship both with yourself and with others—so the numerology of 12/12 also has walks the path between yin and yang, masculine and feminine. And the harmonizing of the two within yourself and within your world.

So while this day offers a portal of energy encouraging dynamic transformation within one or more of your key relationships, it also reminds us to define healthy boundaries while also asking for and accepting the loving support of others. It’s a delicate balance to be sure, and yet a vital and expansive opportunity for us if we’re open to starting something new and different in the relationship realm.

:: 3 Ways to Optimize the Vibe of 12/12 ::

Get Real. As Dr. Phil might say: “And how’s that workin’ for ya’?” Ask yourself this question about your key relationships and lay yourself bare in your openness to the answer.

Take Action. The number 1 is not about contemplation, it thrives with action. Don’t think about it for too long. Forgo analysis paralysis and do what needs to be done.

Expose Your Heart. The number 2 is all about love, diplomacy, and emotional acuity. The danger is in folding yourself into others’ expectations and losing yourself in the process. So do evaluate your next move with love and compassion. Both toward yourself and toward others.

COMFORTABLY NUMB: JUST SAY NO TO PEOPLE-PLEASING

Used to numbing out her own needs by being hyper-helpful, Kate Atkinson has been learning how to just say “NO” to people-pleasing…

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” – Charles Bukowski

People have asked a couple of things of me this month. You know, the usual friend favors. It happens daily right? Do you think you could walk my dog? Can I borrow some cash until the end of the month? Hey, would you mind checking over my resume? I’ve done it myself plenty of times, and given these small acts of good will in return. Natural right? Favors and back-scratching are a part of life…except that recently, I haven’t felt so accommodating.

In fact, there have been a few requests in lately where I’ve felt like saying: “do you know what actually—no.” Except that I won’t. Instead, I will let the emails fester in my inbox until they’ve burned a hole in my psyche, turning them over and over in my head until I think I am going to explode.

That’s right, I’m a “yes” wo(man). As in, I really don’t know how to say “no.” Like a narcotic, I get high on my own hyper-helpfulness—every email a ping of serotonin: “I got this.” Except that running on a treadmill of responsiveness has become exhausting, and these days I don’t know who I’m running the race for.

My “yes” complex has also proven to be a useful numbing strategy, when I’ve got sucked so far down the vortex of helping and fixing I fail to see things as they really are—acting so quickly to keep others happy that my own, likely un-met, needs become irrelevant. There’s an old adage that resentment is like letting someone live rent free in your head. And if that’s the case, I’ve been letting out an entire Brooklyn apartment block to a bunch of freaks.

In my research about how to get better at saying “no,” here’s my number one discovery—the modern way of affirming negative goes something like this: say nothing at all. Repeat.

In this always-connected age, the pretend-I-just-didn’t-get-the-memo is what comes out trumps. Ignore it, and hopefully it will disappear. But what’s it doing to us, this radio silence? And like, why can’t we just be fucking honest with each other? What I want to know is, when was the last time you said “no” to someone, guilt free?

Try it:

“No, I am not coming to that dinner because I think the people are extremely shallow and self absorbed.”

“No, I won’t head over when your boyfriend’s out of town because you didn’t answer my call when I needed you.”

“No, I won’t work for you for free because actually—what the blimmin’ heck have you done for me lately?”

Feels great right?

This is because, as Melodie Beattie writes in The Language of Letting Go: “When we learn to say no, we stop lying. People can trust us, and we can trust ourselves. All sorts of good things happen when we start saying what we mean…(and) we don’t have to offer long explanations for our decisions.”

Rewind to a me watching a talk by the inimitable Marina Abramovic. The outspoken Russian and her pal Laurie Anderson both had a fair bit to say about living vs dying, and both were riffing on codes to live by…how we are to get the most out of our lives in the limited time that we have on earth.

The theme that came through loud and strong was the importance of marching to the beat of one’s own drum. To cut it with the people-pleasing, and find your own voice. Because, to put it simply: YOLO.

Words that have sunk in, this past month, to a backdrop of several people in my circle suddenly dropping like flies. No morbid details, rather to say that sometimes, suddenly, you are served a brutal reminder that our days in this life are limited.

So how can we stop people-pleasing, and spend our precious hours crafting a life we want?
By getting comfortable that you’re going to miss out. By getting down with the fact that it’s okay to not show up when people “need” you sometimes. By realizing that you only get one life, and that while friends and intimacy are important, not for one second are you here to live your life for someone else. By realizing that while some people might bitch you out, your real mates are going to stick around.

N-O. Say it. Say it louder! Time to stop pepping with the yes pills. And settle into the headspace that comes from realizing that less can most definitely be more.

SHE’S ELECTRIC: READING FOR THE ARIES NEW MOON

The Aries New Moon is here to spark the next current of your personal evolution. Hannah Ariel explains how to max out the electrifying cosmic energy…

If there is one astrological phenomenon we can count on to be even more invigorating to our consciousness than the monthly New Moon itself, it is the annual New Moon that takes place in a CARDINAL FIRE sign; a New Moon in ARIES; and, this coming April 7, a New Moon conjunct URANUS in Aries, at that.

Over the past five years, all moon cycles beginning in Aries have, to some extent, sparked our Uranian capacity to become agents of radical change in our own lives. Since 2011, not one person can say they haven’t experienced some type of an inner revolution. A fundamentally microcosmic life altering realization, that has led to the total reformation of a past ideal.

Along the way, each Aries New Moon has been a tipping points in our ability to creatively break out of seemingly impossible-to-change, consistently stuck-in-our-own-way patterns. And in exchange for freeing ourselves from the old, each Aries New Moon cycle has helped us find new and immediately effective ways to develop new parts of ourselves. Like, innovative, far-reaching, freaky-deaky-ridiculously magical parts of our beings. Everything from the way we think, to he way we make decisions and navigate our relationships has been somehow challenged over the past five years, as if begging for an upgrade.

On April 7 2016 we will experience once more the shockingly electric energy of Uranus conjunct the Moon in Aries – but this time even more powerfully so, as Uranus will be right by this Moon’s side. The impact it will have on us as individuals depends on our willingness to continue to confidently divert from the norm, from what has been before, and embrace what are revealed as exciting new ways of being.

Before you read any further – pause, and think back in time to one year ago. Who were you then? What understanding did you have of yourself? How has that person changed since then? Now go back to just six months ago. How had you begun integrating those changes? What or who were you in the process of becoming more of? Now, come back to this very moment. How have you completely TRANSFORMED since one year ago? What has fundamentally changed?

The question NOW, is what will the part of you that remains do next?

See, an Aries New Moon is all about YOU, the individual; YOU, as a traveler through space and time; YOU, as the hero/heroine of your own personal journey; and all that YOU have brought into existence. And as it is your tale that is dynamically unfolding, it is only you who knows what comes next.

There’s no doubt that there will be some degree of serendipity at work – IF, that is, you tune into your story and what it’s telling you. This is a time to come alive with excitement about where these changes in your personality are taking you. And you can trust that whatever you have built on is here to stay this time around. For the first time in since Uranus entered fiery Aries, SATURN, the planet of karma, the planet that structures our whole reality in real time, is in a visionary fire sign of SAGITTARIUS.

In aspect to one another, this Aries New Moon is positively ensuring that we will be creating more stability for ourselves with the eventful actions we are taking now as an expression of our individuality – the true source of all fantastic Uranian breakthroughs.

To work with this energy on an even deeper level, we can also look to decipher the intention that lies behind the very degree that this Aries New Moon takes place – the 18th degree of Aries. The Sabian Symbol (a deeply symbolic channeled image) for this degree as stated in Dane Rudhyar’s Astrological Mandala, is: “An empty hammock stretched between two trees. A constructive alternation of activity and rest, referring to the ability to balance outer vitalistic activity and withdrawal from such activity… which suggests a middle path between total involvement in instinctual or social drives and withdrawal in silence – thus living rhythmically.”

And so this Aries New Moon is an invitation to stretch your consciousness to hold both polarities: the part of yourself ready for immediate action, AND the part of yourself that knows how to hold back to develop your ideas in private.

As much as this is a time to act on all the electricity that is being stirred up externally in your life, it will also serve you to consider ways you can tap into the quietly imaginative recesses of your consciousness, where your most unique and the magical solutions can take shape. Uranus in Aries energetically brings the future to the present moment and embodies the very idea that when every individual takes action from a place that includes a vision of the far-flung future, the present moment becomes ECSTATIC and can “contain multitudes.”

The key to unlocking the gifts of this Aries New Moon will be to proactively seek an electrifying source of inspiration from within you, to be open the many possibilities you hold, and to align with the adventure of who you are becoming. And to remember all you have gone through to become who you are now. The answers to what kind of actions to take in light of your current circumstances will spring forth as soon as you allow yourself to embody the power of both creation and recreation.

As an empowering mantra for ALL sun signs at this time, I’m including the below poem – some carefully selected bits and pieces from sections of Walt Whitman’s brilliant Song of Myself:

(3.) There was never any more inception than there is now
(20.) I exist as I am, that is enough
And I know the amplitude of time
I am afoot with my vision
(51.) The past and present wilt – I have fill’d them, emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

To book a personal reading with Hannah contact: [email protected]

TIME FOR CHANGE: 10 SIGNS I WAS LIVING A LIE

As Mercury goes retrograde, the coming three weeks are the perfect time for some life laundry. For Victoria Cox, this meant asking: “am I living a lie?” Artwork: Aneta Ivanova via Behance.net

It’s an unsettling feeling to look back on the last decade of your life, only to discover that you’ve been living a lie. No, I haven’t recently been arrested for identity theft nor do I want to be the next Caitlyn Jenner. What I mean by living a lie is this: upon looking back at the arc of my burgeoning adulthood, I was astounded to discover that the career choices I had made, had never, in fact, been the choices I wanted to make.

There was no gun being held to my head. I made these decisions entirely voluntarily. Succumbing to my own burning desire to please others, I began to emulate a path that would impress my father. Abandoning my creative desires, I launched headfirst into a career in law.

Essentially, I took on what had been one of his ambitions and pursued his goal for myself. All, I can see now, in the hope that he would love me just a little bit more. Of course I didn’t realize what I was up to until much later in life, that’s the power of the subconscious mind. But there were signs along the way, tiny whispers asking if this was truly what I wanted.

Ultimately, it was finally paying attention to these signs that opened my eyes to the fact I’d been faking it all along.

SADNESS: The first sign was the persistent, heavy sadness that was my constant companion. I spent so long convincing myself that I was doing the right thing that I simply chose to ignore it. I knew it wasn’t normal to feel this way, but it took me years to confront my sadness and ask myself that terrible question. The one you don’t want to ask because you already know you don’t want to hear the answer. “Why are you really doing this?”

FEAR: Then there was the fear – fear of making any changes to my life. So, cushioned by my regular paycheck, I chose to play it safe. I convinced myself that it was the fear of losing my job that kept me awake at night, when actually I was afraid of something completely different. I was afraid I was missing out on living MY life.

RESISTANCE: I had always wanted to be a writer, yet I never wrote. Instead of putting pen to paper and creating a story, I created a litany of excuses. I was too busy, too stressed and this was killing off any creative inspiration. What I was really doing was a classic case of self-sabotage; I was refusing to get out of my own way.

DISTRACTION: I would do anything to avoid facing up to the truth of my situation. Cue night after night when, instead of turning on my laptop to write, I poured myself a glass of wine and checked in to see what The Real Housewives were up to. Anything to divert myself from… myself.

EMOTIONAL GUIDANCE: Sensing my malaise, a friend suggested I try a meditation class. Once my monkey mind finally settled I discovered a sense of peace I hadn’t felt in years. Meditation began to show me the true purpose of emotions and how they can actually provide valuable guidance. Quieting my mind had highlighted the fact that anxiety and fear were my sole companions while I was at work. In stark contrast, I discovered that the only time I felt any semblance of joy was in a creative environment.

BOREDOM: Another sign that showed me I was living an inauthentic life was a constant sense of boredom. I was bored by my work and bored with life. I would plan vacation after vacation in the hopes of brushing up against some kind of enjoyment, but nothing excited me anymore. The world seemed to have become one, long, monotonous…nothing.

ILLNESS: Being stressed and unhappy takes its toll on the mind, and on the body. My body decided to give me a sign of its own making, a physical wake-up call. My skin reverted to its teenage years and broke out constantly. I had severe insomnia and my adrenals were burnt out. My body was essentially screaming at me to get my attention the only way it knew how, through sickness.

IDENTITY LOSS: Despite the fact that I was desperate to change my career I hid behind my profession. I used my identity as a lawyer to impress people, because I was too afraid to show them who I really was. Ironically I spent so long holding up this mask as a “successful lawyer” that it was no longer a mask. I had morphed into somebody that I didn’t want to be.

SELF-LOATHING: I was disgusted by the realization that I had let fear hold me back from pursuing my creative dreams. In an attempt to remove these loathsome thoughts circling around my mind, I began journaling every evening. A torrent of hateful words poured forth providing another sign I desperately needed before I could move forward. I now needed to forgive myself.

PERSPECTIVE: The act of writing out my deepest fears in my journal showed me that I was stuck in a victim mentality. Instead of throwing a 24-hour pity party, what I needed was a change in perspective. Why was I choosing to hide this experience in the Life Mistakes folder, when I could file it under Life Lessons instead? Looking at my situation from a fresh perspective showed me that my experience had actually created a swath of writing material. What if I chose to write about my story so that it could help others who were in the same boat?

I’m still a long way off from the writing career of my dreams but that’s the not the point. The point is that each step of my journey has shown me I was living life out of duty rather than desire; acting always to please others rather than pleasing myself.

I hid behind my fears because I didn’t want to face up to the fact that in order to follow my writing dreams, I had to let go of those parts of my life that no longer served me. Yet the very act of finally facing these fears gave me the permission I had been desperately seeking; the permission to pull off the mask of inauthenticity and show my real self to the world.

STARCHILD TAROT INTERVIEW: PLUS 5 DECKS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tarot is having a moment. And with more artists than ever bringing forth new versions of the classic Tarot, it’s never been easier to unleash your inner reader and find a deck that sings to you! Whether you’re a witchy mama looking for something a little more macabre, or a Kundalini goddess in search of some high vibes, there is a deck out there with your name on it.

To aid your search, we’ve rounded up five hot off the press tarot obsessions, kicking things off with an interview with the goddess behind The Starchild Tarot, Danielle Noel, about her special edition Akashic Records deck. By Gabriela Herstik.

Starchild Tarot creator Danielle Noel

The Numinous: First off, we love that you’re including the Akashic Records as a card in the major arcana of your new deck. What will the card represent?
Starchild Tarot: Thank you! I have always thought of the Akashic records as a source of mystery and divine information. At first, it was a somewhat abstract concept to grasp. When I was younger and just beginning to understand its significance, I imagined ancient manuscripts containing hidden and sacred knowledge, and thought, “how can I access this?” Now I understand the ‘Akashic Records’ as an energetic source which contains various frameworks of spiritual truths, with information pertaining to yourself, your life paths, incarnations, and the Universe at large. When you work with the cards, you have access to this information too, and are essentially connecting with the endless possibilities available to you.

The Akashic Records card of this special edition comes after the traditional 21st card (The World/The Universe), as a bridge beyond this holistic key, which I think connects well with how we are evolving at this time on our planet. I truly believe that a shift is currently taking place – energies are being enhanced and polarized, insights and sacred knowledge are rising to the surface like never before, and we are being forced to really think about our own enlightenment, mortality, and collective consciousness. This card taps into the acknowledgement of yourself as more than a physical being. It encourages you to take note of your own karmic imprints, and to consider the sacred knowledge that is being offered to us all at this time.

TN: Your imagery is super feminine and dreamy. Do you think that sort of energy in a deck makes it easier for the reader to access the Akashic Records?
ST: Certain sacred spaces and forms of sacred geometry are very activating, which is why I incorporate particular sites, colours, and symbols throughout this deck. This one also has a lot of pastel hues (pink and corals in particular) which connect with the heart chakra. My intention with each image is to inspire your imagination and intuition, through the layering of various visual triggers and healing modalities.

TN: Do you have a favorite card in this new deck? Why? (We won’t tell the others!)
ST: I have to say I really love the “Akashic Records” card. The image seems like one of the strongest visual portals that come up, and I’m curious to see how people will respond to it. Each symbol, colour, and portion of that card plays significant role in its interpretation. I have a deep fascination and love for Thoth and the emerald tablets, as well as the history of Atlantis, so those keys are also embedded in the image.

TN: What else is different about the new deck?
ST: There are a lot of new cards, which came from the desire to keep making new “gateways,” and the style for this deck is also slightly different than its predecessor. I added a lot of hand painted layers and watercolour textures, and it is much less “collage” based and more illustrative. Some of the cards from the original Starchild Tarot have remained in the Akashic edition, however, they have each been modified with painted overlays and new details.

Throughout the Major Arcana I have also added “Spiritual Keys” to help each reader along their journey into the Akashic records. These categories (Chakras, Gemstones, Guides, Symbols, Astrological/Planetary) can be used to expand your knowledge when working with a specific card, or to apply meditative and/or magical practices throughout the use of the Starchild Tarot. I have also added two new spreads in the guidebook (The Akashic Spread & Metatron Spread).

TN: Is creating collages on the cards a meditative experience for you? How does it aid your own journey with the Tarot?
ST: Meditation and energy work has been a huge part of my life over these past few years, and creating the cards has gone hand in hand with these explorations. I always start with the backgrounds which are ALL familiar to me in some way or another. Many of them come from photographs from my own travels, or of sacred sites from around the globe.

Our planet has so many activation points, with many of the great monuments working as chakras within the energy grid of Gaia. To acknowledge and respect these points honors the interconnectedness of us all, as they illustrate our history and spiritual evolution. The Tarot is a simple yet complex visual representation of ancient stories and concepts, and I think about this when I am creating the images. Somehow, they act as smaller pieces to a much larger cosmic puzzle.

The Hoodwitch, a.k.a. Bri Luna, as The High Priestess

TN: How do you choose the incredible real-life women featured in your decks?
ST: I’ve been lucky to have crossed paths with some amazing women and light workers, and when I began creating the decks, I thought that by integrating these guides, the energy of the cards would be enhanced through the powerful intention and co-creation that was put into the imagery. They are mediums, tarot readers, energy healers and others, who all share a common love for the Tarot and Magick overall.

TN: Which deck did you learn on, and what other decks are in your practice today?
ST: The first deck I ever purchased was a second-hand copy of ‘The Aquarian Tarot’ – I found it at a local flea market, and strangely, it had two Ace of Swords! After that, I learned on the ‘Tarot of a Moongarden’ and the ‘Thoth’ Tarot, but there are so many decks that I now love and appreciate. I also love that more and more people are tapping into the Tarot as a tool for self-healing and learning, and it doesn’t surprise me that it’s become so popular.

I think this comes from the “waking up” process that’s happening – there is a need for more spiritual outlets, as people are recognizing the importance of introspection, and the existence of more than what we see “on the surface”. Currently, the decks I use the most are my own, The Aquarian Tarot, The Klimt Tarot, Spiritspeak Tarot, The Goddess Tarot, and the Thoth Tarot.

TN: What’s the one thing that you want people reading your cards to know?
ST: There are many hidden layers and symbols in this deck. These were added as activation tools, so I am curious to see how they will be received. I have put a lot of love into this project, and hope that each person who reads the cards will be able to build their own relationship with the images and interpretations. That is my intention: I hope you feel supported and cared for when using these cards.

I would also like to point out that this new deck is not a replacement of the first, rather a special edition that opens up new insights. I am going to be re-releasing the “first edition” in the new year, so both decks will be available for sale, along with my future Moonchild Tarot, which is the shadow companion to The Starchild decks. I’m also working with a writer, and together we are creating a very special Oracle deck that I can’t wait to share in the not so distant future!

Starseedtravels.com

:: 5 MORE DECKS YOU NEED TO KNOW ::

The Wild Unknown Second Edition 
The Wild Unknown has quickly become a cult classic and with good reason. The wilderness inspired deck speaks to our innermost existence with its beautiful imagery, so it comes as no surprise that the Universe seems to be vibin’ at a higher frequency (read major excitement) at the release of the Second Edition deck. Although most cards remain the same as in the first edition, the cards illustrator Kim Krans has chosen to revisit are absolutely stunning – and help infuse readings with a colorful new energy.

The Four of Swords is bathed in a radiant blue green aura, Temperance is complimented with a sweet rainbow background and The Lovers scream “relationship goals” now more than ever, with cotton candy colors woven behind the two geese. The icing on the cake? A new, more in depth, fold out guide to each card. Although the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” reads true most of the time, we’re happy The Wild Unknown chose to ignore it on this occasion.

Thewildunknown.com

The Fountain Tarot

The Fountain Tarot
Deeply cosmic, The Fountain Tarot speaks to our unyielding need to find a deeper connection to the Universe we inhabit, and the souls who walk alongside us. The journey to this fountain of bliss starts as soon as you open the silver holographic fantasy of a box the cards reside in. From here, a greeting stating “you are the breath and voice of Universes” on the inside cover, sets the tone.

Designed and written by Jason Gruhl, Jonathan Saiz and Andi Todaro, the surreal imagery of each card allows an exploration of the sacred point where inner purpose meets outer expression. Perhaps most notably in The Fountain card itself, number “infinity,” which invites us to “surrender to that which you are, whole and perfect.” An invitation to remember that at our core, our true self is so much greater than we recognize.

Fountaintarot.com

The Serpentfire Tarot sixth edition

Serpentfire Tarot Sixth Edition
The colorful, dreamlike landscape of the Serpentfire deck by Devany Wolfe is unparalleled – and so totally Numinous. This deck is a beautiful tribute to the Goddess in us all, with an exploration of Kundalini energy woven throughout. These cards are for the dreamers, the seekers, the weavers, and those who feel an affinity to the Universe around them, even (especially) when it seems almost too big for their grasp.

Collages appear in some capacity in almost every card, from The Lovers personified as two wolves howling at a cosmic pyramid exploding with jewel-toned bliss, to The World being held over a Goddesses head with the Moon phases interlaced on top. This is no mundane magick. From the exquisite sacred geometry collage on the back of each card, to the brightly colorful, vibrantly infused and completely otherworldly art created by Wolf, this deck is truly spectacular.

Serpentfire.ca

The Spirit Speak Tarot

Spirit Speak Tarot Deck
If you’re into the more macabre, DIY, gothic look, the Spirit Speak tarot by Mary Bean Evans is right up your ally. With an alluring, sketchy quality, the illustrations for this deck resonate at their own slightly darker frequency – inviting you with a wink and a dripping dagger to step into that which is unknown. But feminist imagery, a clear love for the occult, and a really beautiful take on the Universe and the Cosmos also appears throughout.

So whether you pulling a bone hanging precariously atop a dagger to form a scale for “Justice” or a long-haired queen cradling a rune and her wand as “The Empress,” the Spirit Speak will quite literally…speak to your spirit. Let’s just say if the friendly monsters under your bed were into divination, they would have this deck on lock.

Spiritspeaktarot.com

TARYN TOOMEY: MOVE YOUR BODY TO HEAL YOUR SOUL

Taryn Toomey has built a cult following for her Shamanic-inspired workout, the class. She explains how it’s all been part of her own healing journey. Video and portrait: Jennifer Medina

You have to have the courage to let it all go.

THE FEAR.

I have had a very long, sticky road these past few years. Hell, let’s call it like it is – the past 36 years. From the outside it could look all rosy but, like our lives on social media, there’s always something deeper, truer.

I grew up in a very complicated family (didn’t we all in some way?) but as a child, I absorbed a lot of those unsupportive patterns and continued to think: “it always has to be this way.” I called myself names, believed them, hated myself, was embarrassed to live in my body. I didn’t trust those around me; I questioned everything; it seemed like everyone was “out to get me.”

I didn’t want it to feel that way, but I was so fearful of letting it go, because it was what I knew.

These past few years have been about breaking that cycle. For my children, for the forward of my family, and, once and for all, for me. I decided that the history I lived doesn’t need to be part of the future I continue to create. It happened. Let’s move on. Right? I wish! It wasn’t that EASY.

Over the years I worked with psychologists, analysts, plant medicines, shamans, Eastern doctors, invested in good old fashioned friendships and more. But, in the end, I realized I didn’t need to talk about it anymore; I had TO MOVE IT. But I also had to keep it simple and do it BEAT BY BEAT.

And so came ‘the class.’ I knew I would need fire, heart and soul to get this story up and out of my DNA. I needed shaking, contraction, sound, release,intention, forgiveness and stillness. And music, to help me take it beat by beat, breath by breath.

In the world of fitness I have heard way too many things pushed into people’s psyches that are FEAR based, stemming from the “guru’s” own fears, ego, and the need to make others live in fear with them.

“Don’t do THIS it will bulk you, don’t do THAT you’ll ruin your body!”

But we aren’t all made the same, and these “theories” don’t apply to us as a whole.

How about…

Move how you NEED TO.
Move so you can FEEL GOOD.
Move to CREATE NEW SPACE for YOU TO LIVE IN.
Move to wake up, be alive, present, engaged, and to come UNSTUCK from the past.
Move to get out of the EGO – the one that makes you stare at yourself and size up every last centimeter of your body, gripping the mirror with your eyes, criticizing, loving and over dramatizing the things that don’t matter.

At the end of the day, if you don’t work on the parts of you that no one can see, you can change the shape of your body all you want, but living inside of it wont be pretty. It’s time to close your eyes and go INSIDE. The body you’re looking for is not out there. IT’S IN YOU.

Set’s move, people. Not in the “right” way, not in the “pretty” way, but in the way that you need to release the fear. Let’s gather the courage to let it all go. Moving this way is what’s saved my life, the future lives of my children, their children, and hopefully a whole lot of others.

When you move, summon the courage to let it all go. And take it beat, by beat, by beat…

ONWARD.

Follow the link to book and experience the class with Taryn Toomey for yourself.

Have you experienced healing working out? Connect with us and share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

GET TO KNOW YOUR VIRGO MOON SIGN

With the Sun in Virgo it’s also the perfect time to shine a light on your Virgo moon sign, says Ash Baker. Image: Prince Lauder via Behance.net

If your Sun sign describes your vitality and speaks to the way you operate day-to-day, your Moon sign is your reactionary pulse. Her phases push and pull at us like the ocean’s tides. Your Moon represents how you vibe the most authentically in the world, without time to apply logical thought or judgement. If the Sun thinks about himself, and the Moon feels herself.

You can find out your Moon sign when you do your chart for free here. And do one for your friends’ while you’re there!

So now let’s discuss what what form the Virgo moon sign takes in its fullest expression.

Being proactive is the gold standard for this spirit. People with the Sun in Virgo tend to be very organized, but with a Virgo Moon sign, being able to control (to a reasonable degree) the external chaos is key to your health and wellbeing. If your internal desire to control a particular area of your life (that area all depends on which house your Virgo Moon sign falls in) is thwarted, you will literally feel as if your whole world is out of balance.

The Virgo Moon sign is a humble creature. She wants to be seen as skilled and gifted and has a strong, deeply rooted desire to help others. Virgo is the sign of the craftsman, so to have your Moon here means you have an emotional pull towards the kind of perfectionism that is built on day-by-day effort. I always picture the worker bee when I think of the Virgo Moon sign. With each passing day she is crafting something amazing that can be of service to the world, no matter how small that contribution may actually be. Goal-oriented repetition resulting in measurable success makes your soul sign.

Virgo is ruled by logic and analytical thought. Yet the Moon is all about feeling, so bridging the gap between the heart and mind is something the Virgo Moon sign will always be working on. They will want help the ones they love tackle their problems in a practical way. Remember, this Moon nurtures by helping others heal through logic.

Hyper aware of their own flaws, they sometimes project that critical tone onto others through a simple desire to help. This may not be the best approach, so remember that constantly critiquing yourself and the people around you isn’t exactly healthy. There is a time for discernment, and there is a time for pure acceptance.

The Virgo Moon sign feels their best around authentic people who accept their flaws, because underneath they are hugely self-critical too. Their Moon cracks the whip to keep improving daily. Not only are they a worker bee for others, but that drive gets reflected a la luna back onto themselves – the feeling that they must always be working on the best version of themselves.

This can make a Virgo Moon sign your own worst enemy. Use your natural gift of hyper-awareness to improve, but don’t let it run your life to the point of feeling stifled. Your Moon has very specific gifts to offer the world when you allow intuition to get a look in!

Some ideas to put into action to assist your Virgo Moon sign tendencies.

WRITE. Making lists is an easy way to feel like you’re in control of your life. That creeping fear you may forget something and, heaven forbid, look like you made a mistake will be put to rest. Your Moon can relax while still feeling on top of her game. Also, when feeling cranky just write it all out. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the sign of communication, and is symbolized by our hands. So when emotions are overflowing, get out your pen and paper to purge what’s assailing your heart.

CREATE. Use your hands, and take a class in something that will require lots of skill. Your Moon will be put at ease by having a detailed task to perform. Your natural perfectionist tendencies will love to learn an instrument, or create photo-real pieces of art. Having a creative outlet that gives you the opportunity for others to praise you will also make your spirit sing. Cooking could be another option, because you get to work at it till it’s just right while also bringing happiness to others. Providing a delicious meal for the people you love is a win-win.

GET PHYSICAL. Virgo sign rules physical health and wellbeing, so your Moon needs to feel healthy to be happy. Whether it’s lifting weights, seeking zen through yoga or hiking out in nature, you will be more balanced once you some regular exercise to your routine. Speaking of routines, that need to control the chaos will also balanced by exercise. The Virgo Sun likes to think, the Virgo Moon wants to feel, and movement is super helpful to address this duality. Getting out of your head and into your body gives you the opportunity to just feel.

In summary, Virgo Moons make for great listeners, loyal friends and practical partners. Just keep the critical self-talk and need for control in check and all will be copacetic.

How have you learned to work with your Virgo Moon sign? Connect with us and share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

AM I AN EMPATH? THE STORY OF HER

Have you ever asked the question “Am I an empath?” Lisa Barner shares an insight into what it means to be that girl…Images: Via Animhut.com

This is the story of a girl-and the woman she’s embraced becoming.

In her earliest memories, with films to prove it, they shook their heads at her. They’d say “Where could she have possibly gotten that from?” She told stories of places she didn’t know and things beyond her scope of cognizance. It wasn’t just a child’s imagination nor a dose of adult television, she was an old soul they’d say. She spoke with conviction. Her eyes were bigger and more penetrating than most – they took you by surprise and held you there. They invited you in, made it so that you were fully seen and offered great love.

She was adamant about things that mattered to her-to which she held close. She was the one others confided in and looked to for advice and nurturing. Whether or not by her choosing she often became the rock – the steadfast, grounded, reliable one, on which others could visit for their own replenishment. They came because she witnessed them fully. She allowed them to be stripped of any masks or concerned with judgments – she provided space for them to be. She spoke to their souls, sometimes with words and other times simply by being present. She was their remedy.

Extremely sensitive in nature, often sporting her heart on her sleeve, she always gave without thinking twice. And only now, with the awareness of the strength it takes to do so-does she recognize how brave the gift of giving is. For now that she understands fully who she is, it is a choice she must carefully consider – for her own wellbeing.

 

She’s a lightworker, an empath, earth angel and healer. She’s hyper sensitive to her surroundings – colors, textures, scents, physical conditions, energies. She feels emotions on a deeper level and a wider spectrum than most can relate to, and has given up trying to explain why or how she experiences this. She just knows its okay – no matter how trying some of the patterns are. It’s how she knows she’s not only alive but awakened 

She may not vividly remember choosing this course of life but when presented with it in gentle nudges, intuitive callings, serendipity and synchronicity, somewhere along the way she recommitted. She agrees to the purpose of her life, the value and power to influence this world for good. She embraces her gifts without fully knowing how they “work”.

She needs time alone. As a magnet for people’s physical energy, she literally can feel the worries, anxieties and concerns of others. She doesn’t always elect to hold them – especially not at the market, the gym, or at the end of her day. Nonetheless they find her. She has rituals to center herself. She sees nature as a sacred place and connects to the elements as a life source. She considers her word the clearest contract and expects that others treat is with the same sanctity. It is here she has been let down.

She knows of her divinity. She finds way to practice and celebrate it within or without traditional religious sanctions. She is always aware of its presence around and through her. You’ve heard it too- that you were created in the image and likeness of God, or the Divine. But that kind of duality of being, the power of an omnipresent force and the eradication of fear and limitations, isn’t for everyone. She though knows, deeply within, that she is infinite. She is brave enough to hand over her struggles, to surrender her doubts and to trust blindly the truth to unfold before her.

She struggles with the human stuff. She has trouble connecting to money, to sitting under florescent lighting in a cubicle. She doesn’t date well either because she sees love so differently. Though like others she desires connectedness and intimacy, she knows rather that she IS LOVE. That only a partner who is willing to meet her on all these levels can be a true match. She is patient because she has much else to keep her days busy and her heart beating with joy.

She struggles to remain relatable to her peers and her family – conscious of how different she feels yet how deeply she yearns for their acceptance. There may be times she disconnects from her spiritual self in order to appear“normal” – but in those times she is lost to herself. She retreats and is sad, knowing her authenticity is being compromised. She isn’t of much use to anyone in that place. Only when she reawakens to her reality can she thrive. She bravely chooses her higher self.

When she is with her tribe she can rest.They know what she’s carrying and silently give her permission. Their eyes are the same safe place. There she dances and plays, creates and sings from the depths of her soul. She laughs wholeheartedly from her toes up. She is protected with them, she is wiser because of their influence and deepened in her own knowing. She can stand in her power unapologetically. It is with them she is home. She is them and they are she.

A wide eyed dreamer, brave believer.

I am her.

Do you recognise yourself in this story? Connect with the Numi tribe on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and share how you bring your light to the world

Find out more about Lisa Barner and her work at Souspeaklife.com

BRAINWASHED: IS LANDMARK A CULT?

When I did the Landmark Forum, I was following in the footsteps of the most badass people I know – and I learned some invaluable life lessons. So why did I find myself asking; ‘is Landmark a cult?’ By Ruby Warrington. Images: Alex Prager for Garage Magazine.

 

Half way into day three at the Landmark Forum, I was ready to run for the hills. Along with 150 or so other people, from every walk of life, I had been cooped-up in a windowless basement in midtown Manhattan for almost 13 hours a day straight, whilst being told that everything I knew about myself, about my beliefs, and about the world, was an illusion. An illusion created by my “always listening” mind (Landmark speak for the ego) to avoid taking full responsibility for my life.

The course leader was busy psyching the crowd up for the “big reveal” – the key teaching of the Forum that would come later that day, embracing which, we’d been promised, would lead to a life of “infinite possibilities”. So long as we “enrolled” everybody else we knew into the Landmark conversation too (at $600 a pop), and then committed to an on going ($900+) study of their “curriculum for life”.

All around me, people had already been having life-changing epiphanies as they’d worked the course – coming out from behind their “rackets” (“fixed ways of being that result in persistent complaints”) and calling friends and family members they had been “pretending” things were cool with to “cough up the fur-ball” of their most shaming truths (‘Mom, I never come visit because actually it felt like you never really loved me’).

Encouraged to publically share their breakthroughs, there had been tears, and there had been cheers. And here I was, feeling an almost physical repulsion to the teachings. Earlier, we’d been asked to identify our “strong suits” – coping mechanisms we’d adopted at key points of trauma in our lives, which had become “ways of acting and being you rely on to produce results and make it in life.” Which, obviously, had to go, along with all the other “stories” you told yourself about…yourself.

I’d identified one of my strong suits as what I always considered a healthy degree of scepticism, or discernment. It’s what made me a good editor. But now it felt like a straight jacket. I’d paid my money and I wanted a breakthrough too! But all I could think, as I took in the scenes around me, was; “OMG this is actual brainwashing in action. Why did nobody warn me Landmark is…a cult?!”

The “c-word” hit the headlines last week, in the aftermath of the HBO documentary Going Clear – an inside expose on the Church of Scientology. And watching the opening scenes, in which they described the Church’s central process of “auditing” members in order to process their limiting beliefs, I was taken right back to that basement room in the Landmark HQ.

Was Landmark Scientology lite?

The dictionary definition of “brainwashing” is; “to make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure”. True, nobody forced me to do the Landmark Forum – I actually decided to sign up because I knew so many amazing, go-getting, and seemingly highly-evolved individuals who’d done it, and I basically wanted a piece.

But the constant pressure throughout the course to “enrol” our friends, co-workers, and family members definitely crossed over into coercion territory in my book – echoing the way Scientologists are asked to “disconnect” from any people in their life who don’t adopt the teachings of the church. It’s also the kind of behaviour that gets organisations labelled “cult”, opposed to simply “community” or “club”.

The fact that during Landmark I was also confined to that one windowless room for three consecutive 13-hour days, with minimal breaks for food, and asked not to take notes or go to the toilet (this used to be enforced rigidly, but nobody actually stopped me when I did sneak out for a restroom break), also felt a lot like “systematic” pressure to adopt their teachings.

Then there was the bizarre lingo and double-talk they used to scramble my synapses and “re-program” my thinking. Overall, by the time I left, my scepticism very much intact, it felt simultaneously like a narrow escape…and like there must be something really, really wrong with me.

Watching Going Clear (named for the ultimate goal in Scientology – a mind that’s completely “clear”, or washed, of negative beliefs), the phrase that kept returning to me was; “the Emperor’s New Clothes.”

You know the story right? About the sneaky tailor who convinces the Emperor his “invisible” new suit is actually made of the finest cloth. In fear of questioning their leader’s beliefs, the Emperor’s subjects go along with it – complementing him on his beautiful new clothes, despite the fact they can see for themselves he’s naked.

And this desire to conform is something I felt they played on at Landmark, too. Deeply rooted in our most basic psychology, human beings are pack animals after all. Positioning yourself as the outsider is also something akin to suicide on a primal level. In ancient times, distancing yourself from the tribe was a sure-fire way to get killed by predators, or die from lack of food and warmth. Going along with what’s being indoctrinated therefore is not only preferable, it’s the only truly “safe” option.

Did that explain why everybody around me was whooping and cheering when the “big reveal” finally occurred…while it seemed to me like the biggest “racket” on the planet?

Coming out of Landmark, I immediately wanted to speak to the switched-on women I knew who’d done it too. I was desperate to know if they’d felt the same as me – or if I was, in fact, a hopelessly repressed freak-a-zoid, too scared of facing my own demons to even acknowledge their existence. The overarching response I got was that yes, it was a huge shame that there was so much cult-like emphasis on “enrolment”, and the accompanying financial hard sell. Because the teachings in and of themselves were awesome…right?

And here comes the really interesting part. Seven months on, I can see that they were absolutely right – and that the Landmark Forum was one of the most pivotal experiences on my inner journey to date.

We are all slaves to our monkey minds; we do self-sabotage with the stories we choose to believe about ourselves; and we do have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to “look bad”, and to see beyond the illusion of reality, in order to evolve into the highest expression of ourselves. It is in this place of ultimately authentic self-expression that a life of infinite possibility lies.

Behind all the crazy linguistics and mental manipulation, these are the central teachings of Landmark (and of Scientology, from what I’ve read, not to mention Buddhist philosophy!). With hindsight, I can see how having them strong-armed into my psyche over that one mind-bending weekend last September forced me, on some deep level, to accept and work with limiting parts of myself I used to believe were unassailable.

I’ve since had the kind of searingly honest conversations with my mother that have taken our relationship to a whole other level. I no longer blindly accept what my belief system tells me, and look instead to the cold, hard facts of life.

And if I railed against actually calling any people in my life to “get complete” during my Landmark weekend (I had a lengthy email exchange with my mom, and called a friend to confess a very innocuous white lie), I have since embraced the concept of not sugar-coating stuff for fear of upsetting people, or getting a bad reaction – and seen massive benefits. All common sense stuff, actually, “but delivered in an environment of startling intensity,” as another journalist wrote about Landmark.

As for the “big reveal”? You’ll have to do the Forum and find out what it is for yourself. And if that means I’m now “enrolling” you – well, there must be some chinks in my sceptical strong suit after all.

Have you done the Landmark Forum? What did you get out of it? Connect and share your stories on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

To find out more about the Landmark Forum and their courses visit Landmarkworldwide.com

HOLY C**P! How I achieved the perfect poop

Don’t get grossed out! The perfect poop (PP) is a sign that mind and body are working in perfect harmony. Ayurvedic practitioner Wolf Medicine says finding hers meant leaving New York City…

Image: Oh…by Edward Edwards via Behance.net

Forgive the crude title, but the Ayurvedic practitioner in me can’t help but get real about bowel movements. After all, a good gut is the key to good health and lately I’ve become obsessed with poop because I know it’s about more than just taking a dump. When shit ‘ain’t right down there, it’s a sign that shit ‘ain’t right in the mind – and in the name of addressing both, I find myself on a quest to figure some stuff out in my life.

Essentially, my ultimate goal in Ayurveda school was to experience the Perfect Poop (PP) – which is what all the doctors and practitioners who taught me actually referred to it as. The PP occurs first thing in the morning upon waking. A friend of mine says the urge to poop is what wakes her up in the morning. It should be shaped like a banana or a coiled up snake (yes this is truly possible), and yellowish brown in color.

If you aren’t gagging or disgusted by now, congrats! You are an emotionally mature person. If this is grossing you out then you’d better read on, because once you realize how important it is to have the PP daily, you will be looking in that toilet and jumping up and down with glee and admiration when it finally does occur.

For me, achieving the PP is epic, a sign that I am truly taking care of my body. The thing is, it only ever happens when I leave New York (my home) for vacation, or if I take a day or two off work. Seriously, I once went to visit my mom in Texas and was pooping perfect poops for days. And recently, after being constipated for three days, I had a morning off and experienced a moment of PP glory that brought such a sense of calm and happiness I almost took a picture to show to my friends.

I had been eating Ayurvedic meals of root veggies, ghee, Kitchari, and all that good stuff, and drinking warm water in the morning and Triphala tea at night for several days in addition to taking ‘moments of silence’ (my phrase for meditation) each morning. Then, it happened: not just a nice, long, snake-like poo in the toilet, but proof that my body was responding to my good intentions. A sign that mind and body were working in perfect harmony!

Getting all the waste out of the body, not only physical but mental waste as well, is how we stay healthy. Put good food and thoughts in, and the kidneys, liver and colon will get the ‘bad’ stuff out. What happens if it stays in? Well, cancer for one thing. And migraines. And skin rashes and acne and a host of other ailments and diseases. If the crap isn’t coming out via the rectum, then it’s coming out in the skin, or festering in the colon, liver or blood, or wherever else the body decides to store it. Then it gets rotten and toxic, and then you got problems.

Which brings me to 2009. Back then I was in my late twenties and drank one to two bottles of wine a day. After months of my skin breaking out in either acne or eczema, I decided to change my ways for good. I didn’t really pay attention to poop then. I knew constipation was bad because I’d read it somewhere and that was about it. I was pretty regular but relied heavily on coffee to help me ‘go,’ which, I later learned, was also contributing to all the skin issues.

Image: Headcase Designs

So I quit drinking coffee and alcohol (and ‘til this day I feel like if I can accomplish both those things, then I can do anything in this lifetime. ANYTHING). I cut out gluten, and later, much later, processed sugar (another REALLY difficult journey that’s a whole different conversation).

I also started reading about Ayurveda, and even went to an Ayurvedic doctor who put me on a diet of no onions, garlic, tomatoes, shell fish, cashews, peanuts, yogurt, fermented food, coffee or alcohol, along with having me take a bunch of Indian herbs and immune boosting vitamins. Meat was also off the menu, but I decided I needed at least one thing in my life that I could still enjoy. Was this hard for me to stick to? Hell no! I actually found I thrive off this kind of shit.

I love a challenge, and I’m so vain that if it keeps my skin clear, I will do it. For the next eight or so months I pretty much stayed away from partying and instead ate really well and read books at home. I actually don’t remember if I was having regular bowel movements at that time but I assume my digestion was better.

The bad news is, I was still getting eczema outbreaks every so often despite my saint-like diet. About two years into my new Ayurvedic life, a friend suggested I try meditation. I felt my body stiffen and my mind shut down (but not in the good, meditative way) as soon as she suggested it. Sit still? Not think? Quitting coffee is one thing…but for somebody whose made restlessness an art form, that shit is impossible.

You think checking your Facebook or Instagram non-stop in a problem? Well I laugh, ‘cause that is child’s play people. Try not committing to ANYTHING, ever, as your life’s work. Routine, consistency, commitment, stillness…all of it is like kryptonite to me. I’m amazed I’m still with my current girlfriend (it’s been nine months which is like nine years for me).

I have yet to join a club, organization or class, and stick with it for more than a month. I have also managed to avoid a permanent place of employment throughout my twenties and into my mid-thirties. The list of careers I have either attempted so far include, but are not limited to: joining the peace corps, working on a boat, becoming an ordained minister, being a massage therapist, homeopath, acupuncturist, psychiatrist, naturopath, bike mechanic, addiction counselor, hermit, herb farmer, stripper, dominatrix, queer porn actor, houseboy, dancer, choreographer, yoga teacher (that is still something I’m looking into) and many more.

I’ve also made several attempts at figuring out how to make a living hanging out in the desert or the beaches of Hawaii and Australia (I’m actually still looking into those). All of this is to say my passions and interests vary, and rarely stick. So if I can’t even choose a life path then how in the hell am I going to meditate even three minutes a day (my goal each morning when I wake up)?

People often blame New York, saying it breeds this sort of behavior in folks. I hear over and over that there is so much variety here – so many paths to choose – that people take on too much. I’ve come to believe it isn’t New York that makes people this way – rather, it’s a mecca for people who already have this monkey-mind-I-love-to-be-busy-and-do-as-much-as-possible quality in them. New York is where busy people come to get off on being busy.

How does this relate back to the PP? My digestion got really fucked up when I lost a long-term freelance job, around the same time my friend suggested mediation to me. And what I’ve learned about pooping, or lack thereof, is that if your mind isn’t settled, calm and in harmony with your body, then the rest of your body will not function properly.

This is an illustration of the direct link between mind and body. If your mind is scattered and frantic, then your digestion will be scattered and frantic and too – thus, constipation (and lots of other symptoms that come under the umbrella term IBS).
In Ayurveda this is called a ‘vata’ imbalance. Vata is ether and air. It is a quality within each of us that is light, cold, rough, dry and constantly moving. It is located in the mind and pelvis. You can’t always see ether and air but they are there.

So how to address this imbalance? I have learned to find a calm, grounded place for my mind through meditation and yoga. For me, sticking to routine as much as possible also helps. Any divergent from my morning or evening routine means no PP for me. I seriously need two hours each morning of quiet time – no talking, no rushing to get ready, no looking at lots of crap on the internet – in order to properly evacuate my bowels.

My girlfriend and I recently made an agreement to block Facebook from our lives and to have silence in the morning to either sip warm water or do pranayama, and that has helped a lot. When I still get eczema every now and then, I know the feedback my body is giving me is that a time of retreat will do me some good – in addition to upping my dosage of probiotics and blood cleansing herbs.

As for finally settling on a career as an Ayurvedic practitioner? Using the practice to heal myself and my poop has shown me that it’s my dharma to share Ayurveda with others. Oh wait. Or is my path simply to become a yogi, practicing svadhyaya in the mountains of northern India? For now I commit to listen to my body and follow its guidance.

Have you found a way to do the PP too? We’re all yogis here, so come share your stories on Twitter, Instagram (maybe not your photos tho) and Facebook

Find out more about Wolf Medicine here.

MY MYSTICAL WEEK: GET YOUR FREE NUMEROLOGY CHART

Move over astrology, I’ve got a favorite new tool / toy for personal development thanks to Numerologically.com – the site where you can get your free numerology chart today. Images: Traugott Collection by Fluttuo.

It’s a little known fact that before Agyness Deyn became “Agyness, Supermodel” (and now Agyness, Actress, with two indie flicks under her belt and two Hollywood blockbusters in post-production), she was l’il old Laura Hollins. But luckily for our Aggie her mom was well-versed in the wisdom of numerology, and when it was suggested that a more noticeable name might be a good idea, she helped her daughter come up with something that would have a cosmic impact on her catwalk career.

Becoming Agyness meant going from an intellectually focussed Seven Expression Number, to a smiling, adventurous Three – aligning her outward expression with her sociable Three Life Path Number. Just perfect for a girl with her sights on charming the entire fashion industry and becoming the fun-loving face of her generation!

I knew about the name change but since a dude called Victor Temprano reached out last week to tell me about the free numerology chart calculator he’s just launched, I know know the details. And yes, I’ve been having all sorts of fun plugging in my names (I was born Ruby Shepheard) and birth deets, as well as those of my family, friends, and quite a few celebrities I have met or interviewed over the years.

Because you can begin to see how numerology is an intriguing tool to play with. Unlike astrology, where your chart is decided the minute you’re born and written like a cosmic blueprint in the stars, your numerology chart, when it comes to the numbers in your name at least, can go through many twists and turns.

Why do some people choose to change their name by deed pole? Why are some women adamant about keeping their maiden name when they get married? And what would going double-barrelled do for your numbers?

What’s interesting in my case, is that adopting my husband’s surname has meant my Life Path Number (a bit like your Sun sign in astrology) stayed an Eight. But the Four Heart’s Desire Number I was born with, the Four that craved stability and reliability, became a Nine once I found this in my marriage, making me more generous with my own time when it comes to helping others.

Ugh, endless numerological ribbit holes and HOURS-OF-F-U-N. So yes, dear Numis, you might want to clear your diary and check Numerologically.com.

What did you find in your numbers? Connect with us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to share.

BE THE DARK: HOW TO EMBRACE YOUR SHADOW SIDE

We are bombarded with messages urging us to “be the light” – but what if true healing means embracing the darkest aspects of ourselves, asks Emily Tepper. Images: Andrew Robinson via Behance.net

Be the dark. Walk boldly through the unknown reaches of the soul.

This year, I am embracing my inner “dark worker,” because I’ve come to realize that actually our dark side is the most creative place to be. It is in the fertile void, in the dark, underground, where the seed germinates.

There are aspects of our creativity, our courage, and our power which, like a seed, can only incubate in total darkness. This is why my darkness has become my favorite place to be.

I have spent so much of my life trying to improve my dark moods, to lighten the dark humor that might provoke or offend the polite, and soften the sharp opinions that are often hard to hear and accept – even when getting right with them can be the most crucial step to getting out of denial. It’s meant denying the darkness in me that also translates as a low tolerance for bullshit, a quick temper, sudden rage, and profound grief.

It’s ironic though, that since I decided to accept my darkness, my moods have improved considerably. Like it was the constant pressure to “be the light,” the constant cultural shaming of the dark, that was half the issue. The dark is immensely powerful, and yet we are afraid of it.

But think about where the dark exists in our language: pure creativity “rises up,” from “the underground.” The answers to our most profound existential crises often lie buried in our “sub” conscious.

But the dark is where shame is lifted and new truths are actualized – as seen and witnessed only by those who are also willing to stray far enough from the safety of the will lit path to witness.

Every fairy tale Princess walks a dark night in the forest on her way to healing and reclaiming her majesty. To grow, she is made to face the utter fear of the wild and unknown. In the dark, and usually alone, it is through this journey that we find ourselves.

We’ve all heard stories of the Dark Night of The Soul, and how powerful it is to pass through it to the other side. We go on to heal others in our ascension to the light, but we become who we are in the dark.

So now consider this: maybe “black magic” isn’t evil at all, but actually where the alchemy happens. Perhaps there is a tremendous, almost disgusting, amount of power available to those who are willing to go there. Maybe that’s what makes the practitioners of the “dark arts” so frightening to the rest of us.

And before you villainize the villain, consider that in some countries it is dark for most of the day, most of the year even. What if your natural state of being is more Norway than Florida? My moods are like the weather of Siberia – cold and dark, with occasional bursts of incredible, irrepressible light. And I’ve decided I’m good with this version of myself. She doesn’t need improvement.

Our emotions are like a weather system. They are shifting constantly, and the seasons of the soul they represent are the very essence of change and manifestation.

If the spiritual “industry” is full of Light Workers – this year I am declaring myself a Dark Worker. And I urge you again to Be The Dark.

How will you honor your dark side in 2015? Connect with us and share your story on Twitter or Facebook.

 

DO “THE WORK,” HAVE YOUR BEST YEAR EVER

Real spiritual “work” = practise + action – and 2014 was the year I finally signed up, says Ruby Warrington.

Portrait: Thomas Giddings

“Doing the work”. It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in holistic / alternative wellness circles – but what does it actually mean? Is it like the time I went for acupuncture and was given “homework” to do – little sticky packs of Mugwort, called “Moxa”, to affix to my liver meridian and set light to like incense each night? Fair enough, I had been drinking quite a lot to avoid dealing with a stressful work situation, but wasn’t the state of my liver my practitioner’s to deal with?

Apparently not. If I’ve come to understand anything about how real healing, both physical and metaphysical, works in the past year, it’s this: ultimate wellbeing – just like ultimate abundance, ultimate freedom, and, ultimately I guess, ultimate bliss – is a collaborative effort between myself, whichever practise I happen to be working with at the time, and the all-loving, all-knowing Universe itself.

Looking back over the past twelve months, I can honestly say I’ve had one of the best years of my life. And not because everything just “worked out”, or opportunities fell from the sky like globules of golden bird poop. But in terms of my personal evolution, I feel like I’ve busted through blocks (to borrow just a little self-help speak) I wasn’t even aware were holding me back. Well maybe I was aware…but there’s NO WAY I was going to admit it and deal – not in this lifetime at least.

But deciding to face my demons, be my own knight in shining armour and slay the freakin’ dragon once and for all, looking ahead to 2015 I feel simultaneously like I’ve aged a decade and like I’m ten years younger. And it has not been easy. There have been tears, and there has been anguish. There has been much meditating, much journaling, and much reading of books with “Conversations” and “God” in the title.

But above all, there has been a very conscious decision on my part to actually “do the work”.

When I used to hear that phrase, I’d think it was referring to some kind of mystical alchemy that went on inside the body if you did enough yoga, took enough gong baths, or had enough therapy. As if the divine oneness was watching on, and would do some divine laying on of hands to absolve all your issues once you’d reached a certain quota of zen / worthiness.

2014, which shall forever more be referred to as “the year that changed EVERYTHING”, showed me that it’s actually way more prosaic than that. You want to change something? Move forward in your personal development? Bring about the internal “shift” that’s gonna raise your vibration to attract all the abundance you just know is out there waiting for you into you life? Then babe, the buzzword here is action.

For example, it’s one thing to accept that perhaps your cash flow issues are more to do with your attitude to money than the fact accounts clerks get off on withholding checks owed to you – and a whole other deal to weep buckets in a Family Constellations Therapy session as you see how it’s actually intrinsically linked to your Grandmother dying young, and your own mother not really knowing how to give you love as a result.

But the real work? That happens when you then do the Landmark Forum, and realize you actually have to call your mom and tell her it’s never really been okay that she loved your brother more than you, because she’d basically learned how by the time he came along. And then you actually do call her, and there are buckets more tears, but you end the conversation by telling each other how you feel like mother and daughter for the first time you can remember.

Phew! That’s what I call work. And it’s also where the “mystical alchemy” part comes in, because you know what? I’m facing down 2015 in a better financial position than ever. “Money” equates to “mother” in Jungian therapy after all.

And if dealing with my lack mentality was what I decided I wanted to work on in 2014, once the floodgates had opened it turns out it was time to tackle all the other niggling issues I began to realize were all a part of the jigsaw puzzle. Those feelings of lack…well weren’t they also contributing to my inability to share (the load, my visions, my real feelings)? This was another Landmark revelation – the full story / trauma of which I’ll share (now I’m getting better at it) in a later post.

One of my favorite things of all has been learning to work with my intuition this year – you know, actually act on my gut feelings about things, even if this often means taking the scarier, hairier route. If I started to meditate because I thought it would help me get more clarity and focus, little did I know the work my practise was prepping me for was the ability to first notice my truth, and then go stand in it, no matter how many people it might piss off.

And by meditation, I don’t just mean the ten minutes I manage on a good morning. By bringing the practise of being able to step back from my thoughts to everything I do – a hard core workout, a complicated writing assignment, my super intense / difficult / transformational experience at Burning Man, and, yes, my relationship with my mother, has been some of the most important work of all.

I actually predict that “work” and “money” are going to be big themes for us all in the coming months. In numerology, 2015 is a universal “8” year (you add 2+1+5), which is the number of challenges, personal power, and hard-earned reward for your efforts. In other words, do the work this year and the compensation could be bigger than ever. So here’s how…

First up, you need to define what you want to work on. And I say, go big. No shying away from that “thing”, it’s time to drag the monkey off your back, look it right in the eye and declare: GAME ON. (Oh but clue – the real monkey might not be what you think. Like my money issues turned out to be mother issues, the fact you have a hard time holding onto a relationship is, undoubtedly, all about your DAD).

Now just start looking around for the “way in”. Besides the Family Constellations work and the Landmark (which is pretty hard core, FYI), last year I also tried acupuncture, breathwork meditation, had regular visits with a shaman, hit the mat at The Class with Taryn Toomey, and worshiped at the church of IntenSati. Not to mention that transformational trip to Burning Man. Each and every one of which provided an insight, a tool, or a doorway for me to see into.

WALK. THROUGH. THE. DOOR. Don’t just stand there looking at the portal of opportunity any one of your practises has opened for you. Where the rubber meets the road, is where you choose to take action. It’s one thing to get an intense download about your relationship with your father after a particularly crazy Kundalini kriya, and a whole other ball game when you then send him an email laying out all the deets (yes, this also happened to me last year).

Don’t be shy. As in, don’t shy away from taking the necessary action. And if you’re having trouble working out what that is, it’s probably the thing you least want to do. But you know you have to. In fact, if it makes you cry just thinking about it, that’s probably it. Tears – of emotion, of compassion, of release – are often how you know the work is working.

Finally, you’d better embrace feeling a little bit weird, while all this is going on. Our brilliant Tarotscopestress Louise Androlia (aka Louniverse) is also a holistic life coach, and one of her favorite things is to remind her clients it’s actually normal to feel abnormal when your life is transforming, inside and out. So expect to doubt yourself, expect to feel vulnerable, expect to question your sanity sometimes – just don’t expect it to be a breeze, is what I think she means. After all, if it was meant to be easy, it wouldn’t get called The Work in the first place. But it’s worth it.