Stuck under layers of conditioning and aching to break free? Alexandra Roxo shares 5 ways to liberate your spiritual essence …
I’ve been doing stripteases since I was 12. In 1996, in Marietta, Georgia, my friends and I dressed in Victoria’s Secret matching leopard-print bra and panties sets, and knew all the moves to Elizabeth Berkley’s routines from Showgirls.
But the striptease I wanna share with you here is FAR sexier. FAR juicier. FAR edgier. It’s one that will have your heart racing. Your panties wet. Your knees trembling.
Because it’s time for us to bring it back to basics and get spiritually NAKED. We live in “apart”ments. We stare at screens most of the day. The way we eat, shit, talk, walk, dress are all programmed for us by the dominant schema that we are born into. A return to our spiritual essence is a deep call for each of us. One that could possibly change the course of history. Of Mother Nature’s well-being. Our grandchildren’s lives. The health of the ocean. The future of fashion magazines. Of culture. Of REALITY as we perceive it.
This means peeling away, layer by layer, of all the baggage we have inherited. The stories. The conditioning. The things that weigh on us everyday. Stripping this away and getting down to our spiritual essence is part of our individual and collective awakening.
You began taking on your family’s shit in utero. Your mom’s anxiety. Depression. Her busyness. The way her heart sank when your dad didn’t come home til late or just flipped the TV on after work. The pain at seeing her old body slip away. The abuse she endured perhaps. Or her mom’s or her grandma’s. From the moment you were the size of a pea in the womb you began to be clothed in layers. Your spiritual essence began to be shrouded.
When popped out you inherited a specific culture. The pressure to look a certain way, talk a certain way, dress a certain way. Coats and veils of other people’s ideas and customs and ways of being.
As a teen, this led you to feel confused about your body. Why did it not look the way it was supposed to? People were mean at school. Boys touched you. You weren’t allowed to be gay or queer. So you put on some more layers. You hid yourself. You were too weird. Too much. Too sexy. Too fat. If people didn’t notice you they couldn’t hurt you.
Perhaps there were traumas. Date rape. An eating disorder. Abandonment. Neglect. Health issues. Things that forced you deeper into hiding. Further masked your wild, loving, utterly unique spiritual essence.
And now here you are today—wearing enough layers to survive an antarctic freeze of the soul! True healing? The ultimate liberation? Learning how to peel them back, one by one, until you are bare. Naked. Vulnerable and WHOLE.
Below are my tried and true tips for freeing yourself from those layers and living in alignment with your spiritual essence …
1// Learn to feel your feelings. You may think “Well of course I know how to do that!” But we all have days where we think we’re feeling but are actually THINKING, which prevents us knowing our soul’s truth. To learn to FEEL more, breathe into your belly all day. Stay soft. Pull your car over to cry when you need to. Start sentences with “I feel …” instead of “I think …” and before you make a decision FEEL into it with all your being. Soon you will start to feel more of YOU.
2// Begin to hunt for your true essence. Look for it in books, works of art, libraries, operas, films, museums, national parks, oceans, fields, and albums. As you do these things, BREATHE into your heart and FEEL. Did that book make me wanna jump for joy? Scream? Did it feel like a wildfire broke out in your veins? Then THIS my dear that is a KEY to your TRUTH and your ESSENCE! Keep it close.
3// Speak up when something hurts or doesn’t feel right. This may seem obvious, but it’s the microhurts that betray our soul’s essence. If someone cuts you off in line for the bathroom than say “Excuse me. I’m in line.” If you’re in a class and the teacher says something inappropriate, stand up and say, “Excuse me. That didn’t feel appropriate to me.” This demand for integrity will tell your soul you are SERIOUS about your devotion to yourself. You’ll notice how often these little things happen. You think “Oh whatever. No biggie.” This puts you into complacency and is literally like an ice pack for your JUICY fire. Once you stop you doing it, you’ll begin to feel a POWER beyond words emerge from you.
4// Dare to pave a new way. Notice how many times a day you do and say things because that’s what others do. Now try something new. If all the other wellness people on Instagram are taking photos with white backgrounds and green plants but it feels more “you” to do it in a vintage car on a deserted highway, then why not? Notice where you follow the status quo out of habit. When you feel afraid to shake it up, look to people who have not followed; Frida. Anais. Albert Einstein. There is a huge payoff for taking a risk that’s aligned with your truth.
5// Surround yourself with Souls who are unafraid to bare their love and truth to the world. You are who surrounds you. Your community should feel like Butter Love, Fire Love, Honey Love, warm tea, firecrackers in your Soul. When you leave hangouts notice: Do you feel more YOU? More alive? More loved? If not, find the community that does make you feel this way.
**Bonus: Take this a step further with an actual striptease class or simply strip in the mirror with your sexy self. As you remove layers of clothes, imagine that you are removing “Mom’s catholic shame,” “my fear of being too big” or “society’s gender impositions” so that you’re stripping on all levels at once—multitasking your way into your Soul’s Grand Reveal to humanity.
Alexandra offers one-on-one transformational coaching programs globally online, and in NYC and LA. She also is the co-founder of Moon Club where she guides group coaching, leadership training, and mystical moon school. Find her @alexandraroxo and alexandraroxo.com.
As we move towards Spring’s peak, it’s time to delight in the playfully creative energies of the Goddess Maia, says Rebecca Farrar …
From the flowers blooming (aka plant sex organs!) to the weather warming, May is a month for delight and desire …
Named after the Earth Goddess Maia, or Maja, who represents passion, wishes, and playfulness, the month of May brings a slow burn after Ostara’s April spark. With the same root as the word “majesty,” Goddess Maia represents the peak of spring’s fertility and blooming.
Throughout history, May has been a month of celebrations, and in Roman, Greek, and Celtic traditions, Goddess Maia has represented sexuality, creativity, and growth. In ancient Greece and Rome, the first and fifteenth days of the month were particularly sacred for honoring her. And in Celtic traditions, Beltane or May Day rituals focused on feeding the senses. During the holiday, unmarried men and women jumped over bonfires wishing for partners and fertility, and the Maypole was originally a tree tied with flowers and ribbons, which represented the wrapping of female energies around the phallus.
Goddess Maia also has an asteroid named after her. Astrologically, Maja is currently hanging out in tight conjunction with Neptune in Pisces. Making for a dreamy and romantic month ahead in May 2018 …
Tap into your own playful and sensuous Spring nature by finding Maia in your own chart. Wherever she’s placed, you’re invited to offer your wishes for more blossoming this month.
Below are questions to consider for reigniting creative sparks and growth with Maia’s help …
**To find Maia/Maja in your chart, go to astro.com, enter your birth information, choose “Extended Chart Selection,” scroll down to “Additional Asteroids,” and type in 66.
1st house// Where do I lack purpose or intention in my life? How can I become re-inspired?
2nd house// What makes my heart beat faster? Is it specific people, activities, being outside?
3rd house// Which books, media, or resources provoke or scintillate me? Conversely, which ones dull my senses or excitement?
4th house// How do my emotions put me into contact with my artistic process? How can I use them as fuel for my own fire?
5th house// Where and how do I experience my creative spark? What makes me shine and light up?
6th house// What habits or routines help me stimulate my imagination? How can I add them into my day-to-day rituals?
7th house// Have I been putting aside my own creativity because I’ve been focusing too much on others? Instead, can this relationship put me in touch with my own muse?
8th house// What kindling is missing from my inspiration fire? Do I need more nurturing, community, or time alone?
9th house// How can I re-create my own life vision and come more into alignment? Are there places I need to expand into or explore physically or emotionally?
10th house// Where have my passions been left behind in place of responsibility? How can I commit more to my own passion projects?
11th house// When and where do I come into contact with my creativity in the world? Is it through others or alone?
12th house// How can I move out of wishful thinking and fantasy around something I care about? What concrete actions can I take?
And no matter where the asteroid is in your chart, here are ways to connect to the seductive Spring goddess this May …
// Style // Show some skin, or your favorite body part- whatever makes you feel sexy
// Food //Sensual and decadent foods such as figs, truffles, or dark chocolate
// Workout // Think playful and sexy … pole dancing or Zumba
// Home // Add a romantic touch with flowers, soft colors, candles, or fairy lights
// Healing // Sacred sex practices alone or with a partner
In the wake of Jupiter’s transit through Scorpio, sexual trauma has been brought to light over and over again. In his latest “Queer Hero” column, survivor and healer Danny Brave shares 7 ways to process the deep pain and move from #Metoo to I AM … Photos by Tal Shpantzer
The #MeToo movement exploded onto social media on October 15th 2017, only four days after Scorpio’s transit into Jupiter (the sign of intimacy, sex, secrets, and power). The hashtag was created by Tarana Burke, the black woman whose brilliant activism started the movement all the way back in 2006. Her decade of advocacy reached mainstream awareness when Alyssa Milano tweeted #metoo in response to accusations of sexual assault & misconduct in Hollywood.
Whether or not we wanted to deal with it, molestation, rape, and sexual trauma was being brought to light over and over and over again. Some of us felt ready for this darkness to reveal itself so dramatically and intensely, while others of us felt ill-prepared for all of the undigested emotions and traumas that these women were bringing to the forefront of our consciousness.
With Jupiter still retrograding through Scorpio, and April marking Sexual Assault Awareness Month (S.A.A.M.), I have been reflecting on all that has transpired since the initiation of this powerful planetary movement …
Widening the sexual trauma narrative
The stories of who is sexually assaulting who are as varied as the number of people on earth. I know white cis gender men who have been assaulted by cis white women, and I have met men who were molested by their mothers as boys. Sexual violation has been perpetrated by gay men to other gay men, by queer POC to other queer POC, by fathers to girls who come out later in life as non-binary or trans men, by white people to black people and vice versa.
The list of race, gender, sexuality, body type, and age variable narratives continues, as is reflected by the statistics:
– 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime – Of trans people of color: American Indian (65%), multiracial (59%), Middle Eastern (58%), and Black (53%) have experienced sexual assault – American Indians are twice as likely to experience rape/sexual assault compared to all races – 1 in 3 women experience sexual assault – 1 in 10 men experience sexual assault – 44% of lesbians experience rape – 61% bisexual women experience rape – 26% of gay men experience rape – 37% of bisexual men experience rape
And the effects are staggering. From persistent and debilitating anxiety and/or depression, to the shutdown of one’s sexuality, and a sense of complete worthlessness and suicidal thinking, the wake of this abuse’s devastation goes on and on.
For the sake of everyone’s healing, we must not confine this widespread epidemic to old stereotypes and the rigidity of the gender binary.
7 ways to heal your sexual trauma … To provide some solutions, below is a love letter—a list of tools, rituals and advice that have helped me and my clients reclaim our lives, sexuality, and bodies in the aftermath of sexual trauma …
1//Make art. Whatever your creative medium, express it! You don’t have to show what you create to anyone at all (unless you want to!), you don’t have to be good at it, and you don’t have to spend much money (writing, for example, costs about $3 for a cheap notebook and pen). The purpose is just to get the energy moving.
Creativity is governed by the sacral chakra, located in the pelvis, genitals, and lower back, and connected to sexual energy. When you are being creative, you are helping to unearth, clear, uplift, and release some of the stagnant or painful energy that got planted there during moments of abuse.
If you are struggling with depression in particular, making art makes you active again. It puts the ball back in your court and helps you remember that life can be beautiful, and that it is okay to feel. Become the transmuter of your own pain through your creativity and I promise you catharsis will be there, and that this will eventually (if not immediately) lead to feeling better.
2//Tell someone who makes you feel safe and who you know will believe you. One of my mentors taught me that the lips of the labia and the lips of the mouth have the same nerve endings—they are connected. What this means is that sexual trauma silences us; it makes us somehow incapable of voicing our truth, standing up for ourselves, and asking for our needs (emotional or otherwise) to be met.
Telling our deep dark truths to someone we can trust can be one of the most healing experiences. Here’s a loose structure to get you started:
1 – Contact the person you are going to meet and ask them, in your own words, if they will meet with you in person so that you can vent and get something really difficult off your chest.
2 – Tell them exactly what you need from them afterwards. Is it a quick hug? To be held for a while? To say “I’m sorry that happened to you,” to say “thank you for telling me your story”? It can feel weird to make such a clear and specific requests, but people aren’t mind-readers, and our abuse stories are so intense that we often require a very specific type of support to feel just that: supported.
3 – Tell them your story and provide as many details as possible. I am talking about the date and time, who did it, the location of the abuse on your body, how you felt—the whole thing. If it makes it easier, you can write this out all out in advance. Notice the resistance to doing this and try to push through and speak your truth anyway.
4 – Set up something really lovely to do for yourself afterwards—something that makes you feel comforted, brings you back to the present moment, or brings you joy. Do you love to go see movies? To plant a garden? To paint? To go for a joy drive and blast music? After unleashing your powerful truth, make sure you engage with this activity for as long as it takes to get you back to the present moment.
3//Realize that what happened to you is NOT your fault. Something that tends to get built into the experience of sexual abuse is that we, on some level, caused or created it.
The mind of a child is more straightforward than the mind of an adult, and it does not understand that bad things that happen are not caused by them. If the abuse is being perpetrated by an adult to a child, the child knows that the parent is the one feeding and clothing them and therefore will do any and all mental gymnastics to repress, imagine, or self-blame the abuse away by taking on and in all of the pain and blame.
If you were an adult when the abuse happened to you, it’s still easy to think: “If I hadn’t been drunk, if I had been wearing something different …” If we are spiritually-inclined, we might even torture ourselves with spirituality and the law of attraction, asking ourselves ridiculous things such as: “Why did I create this experience? Maybe I wasn’t thinking positively enough … I wonder why I attracted this abuse?”
Why do we try to make something as awful as this our fault? The truth is simple: it is easier to blame ourselves and engage in self-hatred then it is to deal with the fact that what happened was not in our control and not our fault whatsoever. Doing this also prevents us from having to deal with the emotional reality of holding someone else accountable for their actions.
Hating ourselves or trying to make ourselves responsible for something we clearly didn’t cause or do is an incredibly effective defense mechanism to either defend the memory of our parents because we want to maintain a relationship with them, and/or to avoid holding the perpetrator fully accountable for the painful emotions associated.
It is because of this that I cannot stress enough: what happened to you was not your fault. What happened to you was not your fault. What happened to you was not your fault. What happened to you was not your fault.
And coming to terms with this is an all-too-necessary step that needs to happen before forgiveness and letting go (after all, if we don’t hold someone accountable to begin with, then what is there even to forgive?)
4//Perform a releasing ritual. Ritual is a powerful way that we can find closure and healing for experiences and situations that seem impossible to ever gain closure from. By doing something physical, ritual provides a concrete moment that serves as a bridge for us to walk over and into the next phase of our lives.
Here are a couple of suggestions for releasing rituals that I have found to be incredibly powerful in healing my own sexual trauma:
1 – Write a letterto the person who did it (and don’t send it). I know, it’s intense. The thing is … if you have not done something like this already, it is likely that the thoughts and feelings you would communicate directly to this person are rolling around in your head and your body, anyway, and without an outlet.
What we are looking for here is catharsis and closure. It is not meant to be sent to the person, and that being said, it does not have to be respectful or kind in any way. Get it aaaaalllll out. And then, safely destroy it! Rip it up, or light it on fire. Afterwards, make sure you set yourself up with some really lovely after-care: a relaxing walk alone or with a friend, a gentle movie that makes you feel comforted, etc.
2 – Go somewhere in nature. Preferably a body of water (and especially the ocean). Take a stroll to find either a seashell or rock, and place it in your hand. With the object in your hand, charge it up with all of the feelings and experiences of the abuse, and all of the things that have happened as a result of it.
Take a moment to really feel all of that energy and pain moving through and out of your body and into the shell or rock. Then, THROW IT IN THE OCEAN! Boom: it’s done, it’s over. Give yourself some time to sit and have a leisurely walk or maybe even journal after you release this- again, with everything involving your recovery, taking the time for gentle after-care is important.
5//Adjust your sexual expression accordingly. While it may not be the case for everyone, it has been my own, and many of my clients’ experiences that sexual abuse tends to create a polarity of subsequent sexual expression: either way too much, or way too little (basically non-existent).
This is not an invitation to judge yourself, rather to become self aware of your sexuality and sexual patterns from a place of unconditional love. Remember, the extremity is not your fault (re-visit bullet point #3 if you’re beating yourself up).
*For my way too much-ers: Take a vow of celibacy for 3 months (it’s ok: you can still masturbate). During this time, when you do masturbate, take a few breaths and ask to connect to God/Spirit/the Universe (whichever term you prefer) through your sexual energy (and prepare to be blown away!!)
Make a list of 10 other ways to feel loved, outside of engaging in sexual activity with another person, and commit to exploring one of them each week during your temporary celibacy.
*For my non-existent/way too little-ers: Make it a non-negotiable commitment to exploring your sexual nature and opening up to sexual experiences on a bi-weekly basis, working up to sharing yourself with a consenting partner, if it feels right.
Also, dance. Yes, DANCE. Take dance classes that bring the energy down into the lower chakras: African dance, hip hop, pole dancing, etc. Get out of your comfort zone!
6//Invest in healing that is holistic and takes your body into account. We know that the conscious mind governs only 10-20% of the totality of our consciousness. Traditional psychotherapy is typically working with the 10-20% of the conscious mind to try to get to the 80-90% that’s less conscious. Unsurprisingly, I prefer methods that go straight to the 80-90%: reiki, shamanic healing, and meditation. You might also try sound healing, hypnotherapy, tapping, somatic experience, or any other mind-body practice you feel drawn to.
The site that is typically inflicted with a sexual trauma wound for women, trans men, and those assigned-female-at-birth is the vagina, or “yoni.” Mystics and shamans know this place to be the gateway to the universe, and the key to creation of life itself—not only human life as in childbirth, but also the creation of all things, such as personal dreams and manifestations.
In my personal shamanic healing practice, I use a tool called a shamanic extraction, which uses the intelligence of crystals to safely extract pain, fear, and any other energy intrusions that were inflicted on the individual’s yoni during the time of abuse out, followed by the channeling of reiki healing energy into the area. This allows the individual to have agency over their yoni, one of the deepest and most powerful tools for us to create our lives from this place- a place of health, clarity, and integrity.
Another incredibly effective tool I use is shamanic cord cutting, which is a powerful ritual in which we take the cord of energy that is usually still subconsciously or unconsciously connecting the client to their abuser via a vibration of pain, and we release it, and follow up by channeling reiki or healing energy into the area for deep healing.
7//Connect with community. The patriarchy thrives off of separation. Pain and darkness prevail when we are in isolation. This is not normal or natural, and we need matriarchy now—a matriarchy that is for all genders, races, body types, and ages.
It is imperative that in your healing journey, you find some sort of community to join where you feel safe enough to be seen. It can be a shamanic community, a monthly women’s circle, AA, a hiking club—there are tons of things to do and join in this world, both in-person and online.
Don’t do this alone. You can’t do it alone. Other people need you and you need them, and that’s okay. My hope is that we start to live in a world where our emotional needs are no longer judged as being “needy.” We all need each other, and we all heal each other. So let’s do that.
In the first official installment of his monthly column, Queer Hero, Danny Brave shares his journey to discover the name that reflected his true identity. PLUS how you can cast your own name spell …
Over the course of my journey as not only a transgender man, but also as a shamanic healer, I’ve discovered the power of our own names (both given and chosen).
I lived most of my life being called Katie Greene, moving through several different iterations and identity crises, only to discover, or rather re-member, that I am Danny Brave. Now when I say “re-member,” what I actually mean is the opposite of dis-member: to put myself back together, to become more whole.
Read on to discover my name changing story, and discover how you can cast a name spell on your own life …
Releasing my ancestral line
In the Fall of 2015, “Katie,” first started to feel like it was not really me any more. After remembering the sexual assault I experienced as a child (read more about my sexual reclamation after incest HERE), the name was feeling more and more like a fake smile—something that I did often when I was living that identity. If you say “Katie” out loud, you’ll notice your mouth even takes the shape of a smile at the “ie” part.
After remembering what had actually happened to me as a kid, there was, not surprisingly, no more fake smiles left in me, and my full birth name “Kaitlin” began to feel more appropriate. This name felt darker, more serious, and more powerful—a reflection of my energy at the time. This was the name I was called when the abuse happened to me, and it facilitated me in re-membering and reclaiming some of the darkest moments of my life.
With “Kaitlin” in place, I started to search for a replacement for “Greene,” a name that belonged to my father and his father—a name that to me denoted false Irish family pride, toxic Catholicism, and all of the lies and abuse that had been passed down my ancestral line. This line would decidedly end with me, and it would end via the ritual of literally releasing this last name and claiming a new one for myself. This change-of-name spell happened gradually over a long period of time …
Was I “Brave” enough?
“Brave,” first came to me in December 2015 at the Barnes and Noble in the town where I grew up, where one fateful night I noticed a little green book with the gold shiny words titled “Brave Enough” by Cheryl Strayed winking at me from the shelves.
Strayed’s memoir “Wild” had come to me a few months prior, shortly after the volcanic repressed memory eruption and was like a little twinkling ray of hope from God, a love letter to my soul. It was a story that had a lot of trauma, death, and addiction—that was totally true, and often brutally honest. In her memoir, Cheryl literally gives herself the last name “Strayed” and changes it legally to reflect more honestly whom she knew she really was. Someone who had, in more ways than one, strayed.
I opened “Brave Enough” and read: “Hello, fear. Thank you for being here. You’re my indication that I’m doing what I need to do.” I wasn’t leaving without the store without it.
Dancing in my own words …
“Brave Enough” came with me in my bag to India a month later, where I was attending a women’s dance-healing retreat, and a self-imposed writer’s retreat.
Every morning I would dance for 2-3 hours with a beautiful group of women, and every afternoon I would write alone, mostly poetry, and sometimes for hours and hours. It seemed like the energy of “Brave” had already started working on me, giving me the courage to re-claim my authentic voice, and I wrote and wrote about everything as honestly as I could handle at that time. I transmuted abuse memories that spontaneously arrived in the morning dance class, channeling those feelings and vibrations into words, vomiting the poison out of my system.
During my time in India, without thinking much about it, I switched my email address to reflect the last name “Brave.” My old last name just kind of slipped off—like the wind blowing a piece of fabric off of a rock. It was just so ridiculously obvious that “Brave” was my name, and that it now belonged to me.
As I prepared for the journey back to the States, I realized I could never go back to my parents’ home. No longer sharing a last name with any family member, “Brave” carried me onward, forcing me to individuate myself from my family and preparing me to stand on my own two feet.
Becoming Danny Brave
When I started to realize that I was a guy (which is really a whole other story), I was initially so uncomfortable with myself and scared that I wanted to die. At the same time, there was an immediate ease with which my first name arrived—it was Danny. I just kind of knew, it was a lightning bolt that zapped the crown of my head in meditation.
But the name and my body and life at that time felt too at odds, and I was living too far away from where I knew I could feel supported enough to transition. Desperate for some sort of change, but not yet able to feel safe enough to fully step into Danny, I switched my first name again, this time to “Kate.”
I took a part-time gig as an assistant to a jewelry designer. “Ooo, I love your last name … I think that ‘brave’ means a female warrior” the woman I worked for told me. I Googled it and discovered that it in fact meant MALE warrior. “Oh dear god,” I thought with terror. I was being called out, pushed out of the closet, by my own last name! As I started to prepare myself to face the fact that I was not, and never have been, a woman, I knew that “Kate,” a female name and the one my dad would use whenever he yelled at me, would have to go.
When I showed up to my first trans-masculine support group, late and shaking, I simply said “I’m Brave.” As I would to the random barista, just to practice having a different name with no clear gender. Just to have to say it out loud to remember I was courageous, to cling to the one true part of me over which I had ownership.
The affirmation of my last name would eventually lead me to admitting to the real first one, Danny, a month or so later in my support group.
The vibration of Danny has lead me home to my ultimate truth: that of a flamboyant little gay boy who loved to play dress up, loved watching figure skating, loved to paint, draw, and dance. The real me, only now a man. Sometimes the most loveable parts of ourselves are the most hard-won.
I was recently joking with a new friend, saying to her that I gave myself the last name of “Brave” so that I would constantly have to strive to live up to it. “I don’t think that’s true,” she said. “Names are spells. You don’t even have to try, it’s just you now, and it’s how your life will unfold.” Looking back on this story, I can see that she was right.
How to cast your own name spell
Your name(s) (past and present) carry a meaning and vibration that is worth exploring! Being curious about what is underneath your name may lead you to a deeper understanding of your family dynamic, about what remains to be healed within you, and about your life path and purpose.
The following exercises are for you to explore your true feelings about your name(s) so that you can either reclaim it with your own meaning, intention, or vibration, or maybe even choose a new one for yourself!
1// Call your own name
Start with either your first or last name—whichever one you want to explore and play with first. Then, if you wish, you can follow up with your second name:
Close your eyes. Put your hand on your heart. Take a few deep breaths. Say your first name three times. What do you feel? Does this name feel like you? What do you feel in your body when you say it? What comes up for you? Honor whatever it is and trust your feelings. Know that if your name doesn’t feel like a match for the real you, there is one that is.
2// Free associate
You can do this with your current name, or play with a different one that you have in mind.
Take out a piece of paper and a pen. At the top, make two columns if you don’t have a middle name, and three if you do. Under each column, without thinking, write stream-of-consciousness based off of each of your names (if you are trans-identified, I recommend you do this with both your birth name and your chosen one). Then, take a moment to read your associations. Our names carry so much energy, don’t they?!
3// Take an inner child name inventory
You may want to use a pen and piece of paper for this one as well:
Consider or write down answers to the following: Was there a name that you really loved as a kid? Is there a name that you really love now? What did you name your pets, your dogs, your dolls when you were little? Is there a celebrity or friend whose name you admire? Is there a name you have always loved and wish that you had? What would happen if you tried it on for a minute, like trying on a new dress or shirt?
4// Play with your gender identity
Don’t take this one too seriously or freak yourself out—try to have fun and maintain an attitude of light playfulness! Now, let’s do some name-drag:
If you identify as a woman, imagine for a moment that you are a man. What would your name be? If you are a man, imagine for a moment that you are a woman. What would your name be? What does it feel like to call yourself by this pretend name? What spell would this name cast on your life?
5// Know that you are worthy of your real name
In the USA (in the larger cities in particular), we are so privileged to live at a time where we can exercise our free will to become more of the person that we really are. Know that if you are unhappy with your current name, or if you don’t feel like it is truly yours, you can, in fact, change it. The same goes for your life! If you don’t like it, you do, in fact, have the power to change it.
Beyond gender identity, I hope that you feel you are worthy of the real you. You deserve to love your name, which is to say, you deserve to love yourself. I know that if you follow your heart and trust your gut, you will find (or re-member) your real name.
**If you are a transgender individual living in the U.S., please visit my list of resources for trans individuals HERE
Danny Brave is a shamanic healer, writer, public speaker, and artist. In his private practice, he specializes in helping women and individuals assigned female at birth overcome the affects of sexual trauma. He conducts monthly LGBTQIA Shamanic Healing Circles at Brooklyn’s Maha Rose (sign up for the next one HERE) with the intention of creating safe, sober spaces for queer people to heal, and to amplify marginalized voices. He loves to paint, dance, and spend time in nature.
Looking to add some spice to your divination practice? Alessandra Calderin gives us a crash course in Sex Tarot 101, and uncovers how you can start casting cards between the sheets …
The Tarot is a mirror and a tool that reflects archetypal imagery that spans the spirals of the human experience. It allows us to connect to ourselves (and our Selves) because we intuitively understand these images. Sexuality is as primal and instinctual in us as the need to eat, sleep and breathe, and so the cards can reflect the ways in which our power, intuition, and connection manifest through our sexuality.
So WTF is a “sex tarot” reading?? There are so many ways to draw cards and create spreads to explore sex and desire! Here are 4 ways to get started …
1// Pull a “desire” spread. Pull cards asking what your subconscious desires are, what might be blocking them, and how to work through that block. The possibilities are endless!
Start with a simple 6 card spread:
Card 1: What is my heart’s desire? Card 2: What is blocking me from fulfilling it? Card 3: What is my deeper unconscious desire? Card 4: What is preventing me from seeing this? Card 5: How can I balance and integrate these desires? Card 6: What can I shed to make space for their fulfillment?
2// Do a sacral chakra reading. Explore the seat of your sexuality by diving into the 4 “sides” of this chakra. The more you look at the pelvis and your desire as linked to your creativity, the more you start feeling how they ebb and flow together, and the more tools you have to work through both.
Card 1: Front of the sacral chakra. How does your sexuality appear to others? What is your exhibition style? Card 2: Right side. How do you manifest sexuality and creativity in the world? Card 3: Back. What experience of your sexuality do you hold onto? Card 4: Left side. How do you receive creative inspiration, the desire of others, and pleasure?
3// Masturbate with the Majors. You can also use Tarot for masturbation and sex magic practices by meditating on the archetypes of the Major Arcana or court cards.
Choose whatever cards are ruled by planets or signs that show up strongly in your birth chart, where the Moon is hanging out, what astro season we’re in, or just pull a Major and start working with it at random. You might even choose one you have trouble with (like when I pulled Justice- I was bummed by how unsexy that card might be on the surface, but there was powerful medicine in that feeling and the resulting meditation!)
Most recently, for the Super Blue Blood Moon in Leo on 1/31 during Aquarius season, I meditated on Strength (because Leo rules it) and The Star (because Aquarius rules). I let those two figures guide me as I touched, explored, played with my hands and my favorite toy (Njoy Pure Wand). As I was getting ready to orgasm, these two images reassured me that my sexuality and desire were a gift, and sacred sources of feminine power.
4// And channel the deck’s sexiest cards to unlock pure magic! I could probably make an argument for the sexual energy of every card, but this is a good place to start. Explore how you feel about these cards and the kind of pleasure they channel, or isolate the pack and draw one as your teacher of the moment.
*She/He pronouns refer to the archetypal genders of masculine and feminine energy. These figures are figuratively gendered, but anatomically genderless.
:: Strength :: In the Thoth, Strength is actually called Lust. Some interpretations say it’s the taming of desire, but I would say it’s more like mastery over desire. Taming connotes that there is too much desire and you need to control it. In this context, I see her as the master of her desire in a world that denies her that power. Your desire becomes sacred fuel the moment you master it.
:: The Empress :: The Empress is receptive. She is how I learned to receive pleasure without having to think about reciprocating in that moment. She allows herself to be fully nourished, filled to the brim with love, pleasure, and affection, but she also rides and caresses like a goddess. She bestows the gift of her mouth upon you and it’s like drinking an unearthly elixir with her kisses and nibbles and expertly executed oral.
:: The Emperor :: The Emperor might be a surprise for this, but as the Empress’s counterpart, he allows her to unleash. He’s like a very good Dom, providing the container for every expression of kink you might wish to explore safely. You want to be tied up, spanked, penetrated in out of the ordinary ways? He reads your body language, pushes the edges, and knows your limits before you even need to utter a safe word. The master of boundaries, he’s here to teach you how to consent so enthusiastically you forget what ambiguity feels like.
:: The Moon :: The Moon represents the wild woman running naked in the woods and howling at the Moon- the deep waters of sexuality and mystery. She is a shapeshifter. A wolf. A mountain lion. She visits you in the dead of night and brings your to orgasm in the dream realm, and when you wake up the memory is hazy but you know something powerful has been touched inside you. She breathes underwater and is as mysterious as the bottom of the sea. You know her without words.
:: The Devil :: The Devil can sometimes deal with a repression of desire, and to me has always had a BDSM vibe to it. I think this one depends on your relationship to that kind of imagery and sexual practice, but as a Capricorn (The Devil is ruled by Capricorn), and a big fan of power play, The Devil can sometimes be a freeing card. Reclaiming the divinity and balance of the shadow, of words like slut, whore, bitch, freak, breaks the chains that bind us to our own fear and repression. It’s a balancing act. The Devil reminds us that there are more layers and sides to it.
:: The Lovers :: The Lovers feels like an obvious one because you have to love all the sides of yourself like a lover before you can love anyone else. Getting there is anything but obvious or easy, though. Use a mirror. Look at yourself. This is the real shit. The deep work. It takes a lot of unraveling and excavation to be able to love your body and yourself just as you are. Your best Lover will look back at you eventually.
:: Queen of Pentacles :: Queen of Pentacles is the master of the home and body. An independent woman, she knows what she likes and moves through the material world with the grace of an angelic ballerina. Queen of Wands is known to be the most sexual queen in the deck, but Queen of Pentacles knows pleasure like no one else. Part earth angel, part water nymph, she creates the primordial mud that those Dead Sea masks get their magic from.
:: Knight of Cups :: Knight of Cups will go down on you first without being asked. Inviting this kind of energy into your bedroom, the person who will massage and caress you slowly, who dreams of drinking you like you’re water in the desert, is clutch in truly sinking into pleasure. Find you a man (or woman or non-binary) who can give it to you good.
:: Page of Wands :: Page of Wands is bursting with potential energy, often creative and sexual. She’s ready and willing to try new toys and discover what she likes. She’s the teen who just discovered her clitoris and hasn’t been told there is something wrong with the amazing feeling that swims through her body when she touches it. She just got her period and is ready to finger paint with her blood. She will make out behind the bleachers and let herself love completely. She writes love songs and sings them without the slightest bit of embarrassment.
:: Ace of Cups :: Ace of Cups is a pure gift of water, love, communication, and intuition. I often see it as an invitation to masturbate with more loving intention. To swim in your waters and to practice accepting the water gifts from elsewhere.
:: 10 of Cups :: 10 of Cups is a literal orgasm. It could be something that feels as good as an orgasm, a self pleasure practice that’s out of this world, or a partner that takes you to the places of rainforest waterfalls and fireworks.
Alessandra is an intuitive healing facilitator, tarot practitioner, yoga teacher, writer, poet, comedienne and performer based in New York. She will be teaching her Tarot Immersive later this month and currently teaches yoga at Three Jewels, focusing her attention on energetic sensitivity and the pelvic floor. Explore her offerings at Boneseed, and follow her on Instagram.
As Pisces season brings on the deep emo vibes, George Lizos tells us how the Goddess Aphrodite can help us start calling in the flavor of love we need right now …
Meeting Aphrodite …
Growing up in Cyprus, the island where Aphrodite was reputedly born, my childhood was saturated with the art, stories, and myths surrounding the Goddess of Love. Everywhere you looked she was there, posing in her seductive nakedness in statues and paintings.
As an adult, dissatisfied with my love life and drained of feminine energy, I travelled back to my homeland with a single desire in mind: I wanted to know love more deeply, more fully.
I drove to Aphrodite’s Rock, the beach where, according to Hesiod’s myth, the Goddess was born of the sea foam and washed upon the shore. And as I walked into the calm, cool water of the Mediterranean Sea, I felt layers upon layers of sexual shame, limiting beliefs around love, past hurts and resentments, all washing off of my body.
Right then and there, I met Aphrodite. And love finally made sense, for the first time.
What can the Goddess Aphrodite teach you right now?
Embodying Aphrodite invites us to accept and honor romantic love in all its meanings and layers. The four ancient epithets she’s been given mix the sea (sensual love), land (erotic love), and sky (spiritual love) energies. Read on to discover which of the four qualities of Goddess Aphrodite is currently missing from your life …
1// Ourania (Sky element; Spiritual love): This is the spiritual, romantic essence of love, that’s best experienced when a couple is “in love” with each other. The experience of falling in love transcends the ego’s perception of love, helping us realize that in spiritual truth, that all is love. Call upon Ourania Aphrodite if you’re having trouble committing to, or falling in love with, a partner.
*How to Call Her In: Mentally place a pink rose within your heart. Visualize the rose blooming slowly and radiating pink light, allowing the energy of Ourania Aphrodite to replace any blocks you have around being vulnerable and opening your heart.
2// Chrusee (Sea element; Sensual love): This is the love towards oneself that’s fundamental for healthy romantic relationships. It also includes the act of adorning your body with beautiful clothes, jewelry, oils, and perfume. Call upon Chrusee Aphrodite if you’re struggling with low self-esteem, lack of self-love, and body confidence.
*How to Call Her In: An unorthodox yet powerful way to embody Chrusee Aphrodite is by taking away all external body adornment props (i.e. jewelry, clothes, perfume), and facing yourself naked in the mirror. Closing your eyes, visualize your body emanating a bright golden light that reflects its inner, perfect beauty. Open your eyes and accept this new perspective as your truth.
3// Peitho (Land element; Persuasive Love): Playfulness, flirting, teasing, and being able to seduce a partner into meaningful romantic and sexual experiences. Call upon Peitho Aphrodite to attract vitality if your love life is feeling dull and stagnant.
*How to Call Her In: Buy or create a blend of rose, frankincense and myrrh essential oils. Add three drops in your palms, rub them together, and then use your hands to clear and energize your aura. These three oils were traditionally used for seduction by Aphrodite’s priestesses; instilling your aura with them will give you the inspiration you need to spice up your love life.
4// Philommeides (Land element; Erotic love): The love of bodily pleasures and intimate sexual connection between lovers. Call upon Philommeides Aphrodite if you have a low sexual drive, have trouble enjoying sex, or lack sexual chemistry with your partner/s.
*How to Call Her In: Just as the name suggests, to embody Philommeides Aphrodite you need to learn to love and accept your genitalia. Spend time observing, exploring, and pleasuring yourself. Educate yourself in your own sexual rhythms, needs, and desires. Make peace with them, accept them without judgment, and let them guide the way in your sexual encounters.
Once you’ve channeled your personal Aphrodite, amp up the vibes with a beach ritual to honor romantic love in all its expressions. **And you can download the Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite HERE to infuse your ritual with even more magic!
-Sit or stand on the shoreline, at the point where the waves crash on the sand, and close your eyes. If you don’t have access to the sea, just visualize yourself there and you’ll still benefit from the meditation.
-Breathing in and out, ground yourself and allow your body to adjust to the fluid energy of this in-between place. Reflect on what it means to be at the meeting point of sea, land, and sky, which captures Aphrodite’s multi-layered essence.
-Either mentally or verbally say, “I am Aphrodite,” over and over again. The ‘I am’ statement invites the essence of Aphrodite into your present moment.
-When you establish a connection with the goddess, spend some time reflecting on your willingness to honor both earthly and heavenly love. Do you reject one or the other? Do you feel guilty about either? Are you willing to accept both in your life?
-With eyes closed, open your arms wide and receive the Aphrodite qualities you need in your life right now. As the hymn ends, hug the energy into your heart by gradually bringing your arms and hands to your chest.
-End the meditation by thanking Aphrodite for her continued presence in your life, and ask her to keep guiding you in embodying romantic love to its fullness.
George Lizos is a spiritual teacher, author of Be The Guru, and the creator of the Mermaid Bootcamp. He works with the angelic and elemental realms helping lightworkers find, follow, and fulfill their life purpose. To learn more about George visit georgelizos.com, and follow him on Instagram.
After a lifetime of swallowing the societal pills of so-called security, 2017 was the year Sushma Sagar officially “un-brainwashed” herself and began living straight from her radical core …
It was pretty much drilled into my generation that the path to success and happiness was getting a secure job, getting married, and having kids. For a long time, it didn’t even occur to me that there was an alternative way to live. But when I found myself coming out of the spiritual closet in my corporate career, it started a chain reaction that led to me starting a full-time healing business last year.
And beyond my working life, reassessing my professional priorities also found me re-thinking my personal goals. Did I need to be married with a family to be happy? Did the people “in charge” know what was best for me? Do I want to be motivated by fear, as at seems some of our leaders would prefer? What do I actually think, need, dream of, once familial, societal and social conditioning is removed?
Seeking to learn the answers made 2017 the year I officially un-brainwashed myself …
I began to think about the karmic consequences of our decisions …
I attended a private girl’s school in the 80s, whose mission was to prepare their students to be strong independent females who would make it in a man’s world. We were educated to be career motivated, and highly successful, be it in law, finance, medicine etc. As I was a daughter in a high achieving Indian family, it was an ethos that was also echoed at home.
It was a challenge for somebody creative like me, as I didn’t see where I “fit” into this model. And anyone who didn’t fit was very much on their own.
I found a way to smooth the edges of my artistic leanings, studying textiles instead of dance and fine art, for example. Then working in marketing instead of designing. My need for approval and acceptance was so strong, that I gradually convinced myself to become someone else entirely. Eventually, I forgot who I was underneath.
For years, I remained blissfully ignorant. But in 2016, with the country divide on Brexit, I was galvanised to think about politics and how it affected our everyday lives. I began to think about the karmic consequences of our decisions. I began questioning what I was being told in the media. I became aware of a world order at play, and found myself dismayed by the lies and corruption being unveiled.
This “awakening” spilled into my own life, as I began questioning if I was living my truth. Was I living with integrity for myself?
I felt the very fabric of my existence unravelling …
Our education system drills us to follow those in charge, and not question authority. But when it becomes clear that those who lead us often don’t have the answers themselves, it’s like realizing that your parents are only humans after all. A sign of maturity, that brings with it the freedom and the duty of taking responsibility for your own choices.
At times this transition felt good, my creative juices started flowing after so many years of being frozen. But at other times it was disorientating and extremely uncomfortable. The eggs had been broken, but the omelette wasn’t quite coming together yet—as I felt the very fabric of my existence unravelling.
The biggest belief to crumble, was do with identity and purpose, and my definition of “success.”
If I’m not a superwoman in a highflying career, married with four adorable children, then who am I? What am I? Why am I here? What will my legacy be? My self-worth was tied up with a traditional viewpoint, but I felt alienated from the values I’d grown up with. It was on me to rewrite a definition of success that felt congruent with my inner knowing.
There were two milestones along the way …
In 2012 I fell head over heels for someone who was everything I ever dreamed of. Handsome, intelligent, devastatingly charming. Finally marriage, children, and the life I hoped for seemed to be rolling out just like in the story books. Then after a close death in the family, the relationship deteriorated, and I fell into a grief spiral. The dream plan went awry.
A few years later, I found myself working as a resident healer at the Obonjan festival, doing intensive healing sessions in a pine forest. During one session, I had an incredible spiritual experience where, among other things, the trees began communicating with me. It broke me down and I found myself weeping tears of joy. Life suddenly felt very different, and I was aware of my soul evolving. I had tasted something profound that my current existence had not been giving me. I suddenly understood that success to me involved service and connection.
I have continued with this very deep, personal healing work. Shamanism, sound healing, meditations, acupuncture, family constellations, womb work, goddess work, inner child … you name it, I’ve done it! The need to connect with Spirit became all consuming, leading me to live a higher vibrational lifestyle.
I became very sensitive to the things that affected my connection, such as meat and alcohol, and naturally reduced them. Of course, my own reiki practice has supported me from the beginning, and I’ve used this to navigate life and heal.
I’m lucky in that my family and friends have always been supportive of my healing work, in spite of them never fully understanding what I do. However, the more work I do on myself, the more I am able to understand what makes us all tick, and the more my relationships with others have improved.
How to undertake your own “un-brainwashing” …
In order to unlearn deeply ingrained patters, I believe you have to:
1// Examine your beliefs.
Identify and becomes aware of your beliefs about key areas of life. For example: self, love, sex, family, religion, faith, society, culture, right and wrong, how life and the universe actually work etc.
Then go back and consider how you learned that belief, where it originated from. Was it from a teacher at school, or a family member for example?
Now ask yourself: if that origin were removed, and there was no judgement from anywhere, would you still feel the same way? Consider whether the belief makes you feel happy or obligated.
Physical sensations will often occur when an idea resonates with you: goosebumps, chills or even a prickly feeling. Your body knows what is true for you and what is not, so look for the signs. How do different concepts, and beliefs about how to live your life, make you feel?
For example, after the breakdown of my relationship, I realized that part of my grief was to do with the loss of a life path I thought I wanted. I had blindly trusted that I needed to be married with children to be happy. However, under deep scrutiny, I realized this idea originated from my culture and society in general, and I hadn’t really thought about my needs as an individual and a healer.
I concluded that being a parent might bring satisfaction, but may not actually make me “happier.” Besides, wallowing in mother-fomo was bringing me down. So I determined that it wasn’t going to be a deal-breaker and have felt a lot better since.
2// Find new teachers.
Trying to unlearn everything, pick it all apart and work out who I was under all the conditioning, has been incredibly challenging. Listening to teachers, in particular Shaman Durek, has helped and continues to help me navigate this process.
However, my biggest teachers have actually been my personal spirit guides, accessed through deep Shamanic work. I learn and continue to learn more from them more than anyone else, and they have helped me to discern what “I” think and want.
Finding your teachers is about using your intuition. Ask around for recommendations, Google subjects of interest, and see what authors you’re attracted to. Be guided by synchronicity. Whose face, voice and attitude resonates with you, or charges you up? Find people who challenge your status quo and make you think twice.
3// Honor your natural talents.
You were given your talents for a reason, and it’s your duty to nurture them—and, when you have mastered them, to share them with others. In the sentiment of Oprah Winfrey, speaking and living your truth is the most important thing you can do!
I launched my own healing brand, The Calmery, so that I could create something in my own vision, and not be answerable to anyone, but I’m still sometimes plagued with a “be nice, be liked, head down” corporate hangover.
There is certainly more work for me to do, to be living in my full wattage power. But my un-brainwashing is well underway, and I’ll get there soon enough.
Sushma Sagar is a former global fashion brand director turned Reiki Master Teacher, and is the founder of London based healing practice The Calmery. She offers private reiki sessions, tuition, and workshops by appointment. Join her for Reiki Level One Training on Sunday, February 18th in London.
In a special Valentine’s Day Edition of her monthly column, Holy F*ck, Alexandra Roxo tells us how reclaiming your “single” status can lead to the greatest love of all.
From “intimacy grad school to solo initiation
From age 21 to 32, I was in “Intimacy Grad School,” aka back-to-back relationships without breaks. Yet there were certain parts of myself I was not integrating. I always had trouble staying dedicated to my spiritual practice with someone traipsing around the bedroom while I was mid-meditation. I also hid some of my weirdness and wildness in certain moments. But more than anything, I hid my mystical.
But for the past two and a half years, I have been single and working on myself deeply, alone. I needed to be by myself to REALLY vow that I would never abandon my practice for anyone, ever again. And I also know that the subsequent career growth, shamanic initiation, and unfolding of myself, had to happen solo so I could define myself as ME and not as WE.
What are you really in love with?
In these years, I have gone deep into both the pains and joys of being “single.” And part of this process has been about realizing that the word “single” is problematic to begin with. The word implies a LACK of something. And it implies that if you aren’t in a partnership, you aren’t whole in some way. Cause let’s face it- knowing if someone is “single” or not ties into old school traditional ways of viewing relationships and love and sex.
What if instead of saying “I’m single,” we said “I’m currently in love with my book writing!” Or “I’m loving my besties so hard right now!” Or “I’m doing some major healing work.” Because chances are you are deeply loving and in partnership with MANY things in your life, with or without a romantic love.
When we define ourselves based on LACK we set ourselves up for suffering, pain, anxiety, depression. When we define ourselves based on what excites us, makes us feel alive, connected, sexy and real—then we reprogram ourselves for success!
Now, that doesnt mean it’s not okay to want Love, or partnership, or a family. Allow that yearning. Always! But there is a difference between wanting something from a strong grounded place versus wanting something from a desparate clingy place outside of ourselves. One feels REALLY good to claim. The other feels like anxiety in the body.
Read on for 5 ways to swap your “single” status for “in love with so many other things” …
1// Stay connected to your heart.There is no better time to get to know the deepest of your Heart’s desires than when you have time and space. Get to know your blocks. Your barriers to Love. Your yearning. Your longing. How can you ask another to enter your Heart if you don’t know your own Heart? DO your work. Now is the time
*Easy ways to begin: Journal and/or meditate daily. Make a Pinterest boards of “What Makes you feel Alive” or “What Turns you On” and most of all BREATHE. Learn to let your belly hang loose and let breath travel through your body for a hugely more connected experience of living.
2// Change your words, change your reality. Change your WHOLE vocab around dating, sex and love. No more “Honestly there are just no good men in X (swap X for your city).” Or, “Gosh dating in LA is so hard!” New Yorkers say the same. Small towners say the same. Your language CREATES your reality.
*Easy ways to begin: Try focusing on the good stuff—”Wow! I met two amazing, conscious men last week.” Sounds cheesy but it will reframe your experience! When someone does something kind for you, like opens a door or offers to help you at the store, take notice. And say it aloud: “Wow so sweet this guy carried my groceries!” It’s a SIMPLE practice but it can move mountains.
3// Reclaim your solo sex practice. This one can get super hard. But if you’re walking around horny all the time and unfulfilled, you will be like a starving animal on the prowl.
Take back your sexual power instead of waiting for someone to enter your life and get you off. Yes, it’s not the same. But you are going to feel so yummy and juicy if you start this process. Folks are gonna tooooootally look at you differently in Whole Foods. Trust me.
*Easy ways to begin: Take your masturbation practice up a notch. No more lazy vibrator in sweats to an old porn nights. Put on lingerie. Burn a candle. Buy some new toys. Explore something new on your own. Buy some erotica to read in the tub. Go to a ropes class.
4// Get clear about your REAL values. Many times we “think” we know and then someone comes and we’re all googoo gaga for them and wake up 6 months later like “whoops, our values are not aligned” because we didn’t define and clarify what we wanted. So take this time to dial in your business and get clear on your desires.
*Easy ways to begin: Get to know yourself—not the you from last year. What are you into right now, what do you want more of in your life, what are your hard Yeses and hard Nos in love and sex and relating?
5// See the whole world as your soul mate. This is *advanced* spiritual practice my Loves! But you can let love flow through you ALL the time. In every old man’s smile. Each caress of wind on your cheek. You see, there is no separation between the Beloved and You and your Whole Life. This is the shit the mystics talk about. Rumi. Hafiz. This is real deal work, and focusing on this will let your Heart be met ALL THE TIME.
Alexandra Roxo works with clients one-on-one, both in person and online, and focuses on sexual healing, sensual embodiment and empowerment! *Parts of this piece were edited from Alexandra’s “Sex Goddess” monthly column on Horoscope.com—check out her other work HERE.
As the 2018 Leo Lunar Eclipse asks us to stand up in our fire and be truly seen, childhood abuse survivor and joyous healer, Danny Brave, shares his journey and reveals how it feels for a trans soul to come home …
“I remember the moment when I came home to my body
what a lovely reception that was (though emotional)
. . . ”
While working with a sexual empowerment coach in 2015, this was the beginning of a poem I wrote entitled “coming home.” In the exercise that inspired it, I visualized that pieces of my soul were perched over my head.
My coach then instructed me to reach up with my hands and pull these pieces of my soul back into my body with my hands. After a few minutes, the coach then instructed me to call my soul back into my body by placing my hands on my heart and saying my name out loud, three times: Katie. Katie. Katie.
And I burst into tears, because I felt in that moment a tiny piece of me came home, along with a deep knowing that I had never actually, up until this moment felt at home within my body. Not once in 28 years.
:: MEETING DANNY BRAVE ::
This session took place just a month after recalling memories of my father sexually assaulting me as a child, an event which completely altered the course of my life. The memory shattered the fabricated reality of the cheerful, healthy relationships I thought I had shared with my immediate family members up until this point.
As a result, my journey home into my body has also felt, and still sometimes feels, extremely challenging. In fact, at times, this would be an extreme understatement.
Between July of 2015 and now I have, almost relentlessly, uncovered countless repressed memories of being sexually assaulted and abused in a multitude of ways. Not only by my father, but also my mother and grandfather, along with some deeply questionable evidence that I was not in fact a woman.
I remember being in the thick of my repressed memory recall and looking in the mirror and talking to myself, and hearing a voice in my head say to myself, “I want to be a boy.” I thought I must be insane, and shut that voice down for an entire year before I would allow it to re-emerge and accept it as truth.
Fast forward to today. I now know that my true name is Danny Brave, and I am a gay trans man. I discovered the trans part in June of 2016, but was too terrified to come out until that November. And the gay part I wasn’t even too sure about until about a week ago.
:: I WANT TO BE A BOY; I AM A BOY ::
The reality of my gender identity came crashing down that June, when I decided to, once again, look my inner child in the mirror and have a conversation with them and really listen this time. This is a practice I had adopted from the amazing work of Louise Hay as I found it to be deeply healing (and for those who are brave, I cannot recommend it enough!)
I asked my inner child what was wrong, as I had been feeling deeply depressed, and I had long hair at the time that felt droopy and heavy. I asked what I could do to help them feel better. In response, I heard the voice of my inner child scream: “I want to be a BOY!! I AM A BOY!! I want to cut off all of my hair!”
It was that same voice I had heard a year ago, a voice that I could no longer ignore or discredit as crazy: this was the real me, the one who as a kid tried to pee standing up, who felt confused about why he did not have a penis, the one who loved dancing, singing, and fabulous shoes, and had dreams of being a visual artist.
This moment in the mirror was the moment I finally decided to listen to myself. Two days later, I cut off all of my hair and immediately felt so much better, so much more like me. I began to realize that I could not visualize myself in the future as a woman without wanting to die.
:: FROM TERROR TO TRANSITION ::
At this time, I had dug myself into a hole by moving to a small town an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, where I was making little to no money, had no car, and no health insurance, let alone access to trans health care or support groups.
I was terrified, and had created this situation out of that same terror. I knew I had to get back to a city to gain access to support for figuring out my transition. I thought my choice would be Los Angeles as that would be the most convenient, but shortly after moving to LA and not being able to land a job with decent pay, I took the little money I had left and moved back to NYC in August of 2016.
It was in NYC that I was able to take my old job back, and gain access to the support I needed to come to terms with myself and transition: trans masculine support groups and free therapy via the Center on 13th Street (for which I am forever grateful). I came out in October 2016, and lost a majority of the “close” friends I had at the time.
In the winter of 2016, I met up with a friend from one of my support groups and told them I was having suicidal thoughts and that I couldn’t get out of bed. They gently pointed out to me over a cup of coffee that not being on testosterone was “not working for me,” (to put it mildly) and I started hormone therapy shortly thereafter, in January of 2017.
Every week since then (with the exception of one month during which I completely panicked) I have been injecting myself with a needle filled with testosterone (also simply referred to as “t” within the trans community).
This simple act is slowly but surely transforming me externally into the person I have always been internally, which feels a bit like becoming sane and going crazy at the same time. I am going through a literal and a figurative process of transformation in order to become the person who I have also always been. Quite a trip!
:: WHOLE, LOVING, JUICY ::
Last week I had a more triumphant and joyful moment of homecoming, when I attended a dance class with my loving partner (who is also a trans man) shortly after having anal sex for the first time (for hours on end, I might add).
Something so essential about who I was clicked into place while with him: I felt like my soul actually landed it my body. It felt really good, and really whole and loving.
Running late for the class, I looked into his big, beautiful eyes on the train on the way to class and felt he was really seeing me for the first time, and I him. Beneath the boobs, we were, and are, two gay men, despite all of the “ma’ams” and “misses” and the lifetime of being perceived differently by everyone, including ourselves. Our truth felt so simple in that moment, and I felt truly beautiful in his eyes. Really real, and really me.
Looking in the mirror in the dance class, I could see how recently my arms, wrists, and fingers had gotten so much more masculine looking, and how flat my chest looked with my binder and the grey t-shirt I was wearing. This made me smile, as did acknowledging how much I love to dance—always have, always will.
I glanced over at my partner in the mirror, and saw a beautiful person who was somewhat scared to be themselves out in the world, but who was doing it anyway, just like me. I saw someone who was willing to go outside of their comfort zone to try something new, something they always wanted to do, like take a dance class, or write this article, and the simultaneous nervousness and courage behind his eyes made my heart swell.
Then I looked at his juicy butt doing the warm up and felt my genitals wake up once again in my stretchy pants. This also made me smile. I realized and accepted in this moment that I was gay—that I REALLY was a man who liked men (cis and trans). Always have been, always will be. And that despite all of the incest, I always have been and always will be a deeply sexual person (after all, my Venus is in Scorpio).
:: IT TAKES COURAGE TO ENJOY IT ::
It has taken years, a village of trans allies, sensitive artist friends, therapists, Reiki attunements, shamanic healers, dance/movement therapy teachers, sexual alchemy teachers, yoga trainings, sexual empowerment coaches, random acts of kindness from strangers like the lady in the Starbucks who told me that who I was was really beautiful and that the world would love the real me, and thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt to get here. But damn, I did it. I’ve done it. I’m here.
And I love sex. Yes, I love sex! says the man who had his first orgasm from masturbation when he was 27 years old, because he thought sexual energy meant being hit, yelled at, and penetrated without consent. Says the man with a female body who didn’t want to look down or touch himself there because it would mean realizing that my mind and body did not match. Says the man who was, as a child, anally raped by his father and grandfather and molested in a bath by his mother, and taught by the Catholic religion that sex was a sin and that my body was something to be ashamed of. Says the man who was not allowed to share a bed with his boyfriend when he visited his parents’ house at the age of 26, being not-so-subtly shamed that they lived together before marriage.
Yes, I love sex. And I have reclaimed sex to the extent that it now makes me feel alive, loved, present, powerful, and best of all, real. What once made me feel terrified now allows me to feel safe. It takes me from that idea of myself in my head perched above my body to actually being an embodiment of self. It is teaching me to trust life again.
In the words of Bjork in her song “Big Time Sensuality”: It takes courage to enjoy it. I hope that everyone who has been through what I have gets to experience this particular kind of courage.
I hope that everyone gets to experience the pleasure of coming home into their own sexuality, their own body.
Danny Brave is a Writer/Public Speaker/Educator on the subjects of Gender/Transgender, Overcoming Trauma, and Ascension/Spiritual Living. He is a Master Shamanic Reiki Practitioner/Psychic Healer specializing in helping people of all genders, ages, body types, and races overcome the effects of child abuse/sexual assault via various healing modalities which he has come to term “Brave Healing Arts.” He conducts monthly LGBTQIA & Allies Community Healing Circles at Maha Rose in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (1st or 2nd Wednesday of each month). He is 100% sober, vegan, and loves to paint, take photos, dance, and pet dogs.
Tired of disembodied meditation and higher chakra holiness? Alexandra Roxo tells us it’s time to get down and dirty with our healing, and realign sexuality and spirituality …
How many times have you walked into a yoga class and had the teacher speak to your womb or your balls or your anus?
While you can find cute articles about sacred sexuality, breathing with your partner, and yoni eggs, the nitty gritty WHOLE body is largely left out of the modern spirituality and wellness conversation. And of our healing journeys as a result …
:: Sacral Shutdown :: Right now, many of us are caught in a cycle of closing our “lower” chakras (a.k.a. our connection to Mama Earth and the body), as we focus on higher ones. This cycle often looks like:
PHASE 1: Make unconscious choices around sex, the body, and pleasure for a certain period of our lives (i.e. eating unconsciously, using sex for self worth). This phase is often impacted by everything from sexual trauma to eating disorders, which affect our ability to receive joy and pleasure.
PHASE 2: We find comfort as we begin our spiritual paths, manifesting in attempts to “transcend” the body with meditation, mantras, and other external spiritual tools (astrology, tarot etc.)
PHASE 3: Once “woke,” we wonder, why do I still not feel whole? Why am still not able to experience pleasure, and feel JOY on a regular basis?
:: Returning to the Raw :: With millions of women coming forward as sexual abuse survivors through #metoo, many of us are more painfully aware than ever that trauma and shame live in the BODY, not just the mind. This means that more than ever, we have to figure out how to include sexual healing and a return to bodily pleasure in our modern spiritual journeys.
But this integration can’t come in a neat and fragrant package; we need to welcome the body and sexuality to the door in all its messiness—raw and bloodied, awkward, weird, and slightly unsettling. Because the conversation around sexual healing IS unsettling. IS raw. IS painful.
How do we start bridging this gap? I’m not suggesting you start masturbating on the meditation cushion (through you can if you want … I have!) But we do need to get more fearless and more courageous in our conversations about the body, sex, pleasure, and pain, and in the way we heal.
Here are 4 ways to start integrating your sexual story with your spiritual one, right now …
1// Woo your body back from numbness. If you spend 90% of your time on the computer and the rest in a seated meditation practice, most of your life is disembodied. I prescribe the Sofia Loren/ Italian housewife style of medicine, where you eat and dance and dress and fuck with such joy, that your pleasure begins to heal the Earth—because she’s so happy you’re enjoying her gifts!!
Practice: Make a Pinterest Board with your fave women who embody RAW pleasure. I love Penelope Cruz in Almodovar’s films, Brigitte Bardot, and Sofia Loren. Eat food as if it’s your LAST meal! Feel how amazing it can taste when you slow down and savor every bite.
2// Explore. Last month I lead a retreat in Los Angeles that combined Japanese rope bondage and sexual healing (more on that here). And if you follow my work you know I dance with snakes too which awakened my sexy like WHOA.
While ropes and snakes may not be your thing (my Mars is in Scorpio, what can I say), find ways ways that feel safe and good for YOU to reclaim and LOVE your sexy side. Does taking a floor dance class sound fun and healing? Or learning how to make your body an offering to a lover with a sexy lap dance? Get curious!
Practice: There are conscious kink classes in major cities (Babeland in NYC has rad classes!) I also highly rec reading erotic books, and exploring practices and women integral to this movement like Vanessa Cuccia of Chakrubs, Cycles and Sex, and Kimberly Johnson, aka The Vaginapratcor.
3// Talk. Hold an intentional sharing circle for sexual stories, embarrassing stories, and erotic tales. Implement a timed sharing policy with no cross talking so people can share their stories without needing validation, approval, or advice. Or hold a dinner party themed around fun and sexy talk, and draw anonymous questions from a hat.
4// Bring your shame and pain to the table. One barrier to embodied healing is compartmentalization. Often, we don’t think it’s possible to feel JOY while also experiencing PAIN. Or you may start an excited conversation about your new crystal dildo but also feel ashamed. Remember, your body knows that it’s possible for multiple feelings to exist at the same time—hold space for all of them, express them, and don’t shoo them away.
Practice: When navigating shame, I choose my 3 go-to shamanic tools—BREATHE, SOUND, MOVEMENT. Lay on the floor, breathe into your belly like you’re pregnant with air, and make sounds while moving your spine. Breathe the shame, sound it out with a HA, a growl, a moan. Cry in your car. In the tub. And then put on a song and dance!
Bottom line is, the sexual and body healing that is necessary on this planet in our times is not going to happen from the MIND.
It will only happen when we begin to integrate and come home to the body. Seek pleasure. Make space for joy. Sensation. Rage. Crying. Screaming. Cumming. As we come back to the body, and release old programming about it being shameful and dirty, we will come home to Mama Earth and her environment, which has been abused for far too long.
*I am taking on 5 clients from February 2018 to July 2018 for a 6 Month Transformational Healing Experience around sexual healing, expression, and embodiment. It’s going to be a radical return to the body, pleasure, love, sexuality, and healing. For more info, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
While our solo work is oh so vital, Alexandra Roxo tells us that colliding with another can take us even further. Date night can even become your soul’s mirror …
Whether you’re in partnership or single, when you’re able to clean the dirt of old stories and receive your truth, you can let your relationships be a clear mirror for your soul.
And a date is a perfect way to see where you are on your journey on any given day, in any given moment …
It can be with your husband. A stranger. A boyfriend or girlfriend. If you walk in with intention and clarity, you can see how much you are accepting all of yourself: where you are tight and holding, where you are closed, where you have grown. Treat it like a ritual. A ceremony.
Whatever stories cloud your mirror, here’s how to start to scrubbing and seeing yourself without the scar tissue, warning labels, and caution signs …
3 DATES + A HOMECOMING After some soul searching and radical up-leveling at Burning Man, I returned to L.A. and decided to hop back into the dating scene to see what I attracted …
Date 1: Sacred Sluts & Shadow Work
My first mirror was a director, Reiki healer, and angel speaker, who told me stories of BDSM clubs in Europe, had erotic poetry on the walls, was kinda Goth, had been to Burning Man, and fed me banana pudding.
I was staring at a mirror of an old version of self, the hipster meets healer meets artist who likes to party but talks to Angels. But the difference was that this man was accepting ALL these parts of himself, especially his kinky side. Though I am happy the “hipster me” was put to rest, colliding with him made me realize that I was still struggling to mix my BDSM side with my Mother Mary side, my Goth side with my sacred side.
I left the date, cried for two days, and never heard from him again.
But what I’d learned was that it was time to accept and love my Sacred Slut, Radical Queer, Kinky Freak … who is also creative, deeply spiritual, pious, artistic, and a Spiritual Teacher.
I felt like a part of me had come home out of the shadows …
Date 2: Wood Chopping & Clear Channel Intensity I arrived at a beautiful house, and a man began to chop wood and made a fire for us in a ceramic fire pit.
As he then lead us through breathwork and we journeyed through the elements, I wondered if he’d Googled me. Did he know I loved to practice ritual?! It didn’t matter. It felt good nonetheless.
As we laid on an oriental rug by the fire, turned on our sides and gazed into each other’s eyes, my body shivered and shook. And then we danced. We prayed. We sang. We painted.
WOW. This is how I LIVE. Ceremony, ritual, intensity, intention. And because my mirror had been foggy and not reflecting out my whole self, I had rarely been met by the people I dated in that fullness.
Seeing the beauty of my life reflected in this person was moment was a gift and a miracle for myself. My fave books on his shelf, my anthem “Higher Love” playing, an arrow tattoo on both of our left ribs.
I understood that I wasn’t seeing my wounds anymore because I was accepting myself. With all my flaws and stories. And so he was able to be a clear mirror for me.
Date 3:A Man Named “God”
I didn’t think my new picture of myself could get any sharper. But as we change, our mirror changes too. After doing a 3-day intimacy intensive, something shifted in me, and my capacity and definition of intimacy and love expanded even further.
During the following week I met three men whose names meant “Who is Like God,” and decided to go on a date with one of them.
This person was consciously devoted to spiritual practice, and our date became a moving meditation of connection, not even a date at all. Few words were needed. Clothes stayed on. But we went into ecstatic states.
He saw where I was holding back and invited me to share my Fullness. I saw where he wasn’t trusting himself and I helped him to trust.
We spent our time in a fluid dance together, a type of date I never thought was possible! Putting it into words seems silly. Like describing the shape of raindrops. Or trying to gift someone a jar of laughter.
And this is where my soul is now.
4 STEPS TO TURN YOUR OWN DATE NIGHT INTO SOUL WORK
STEP 1. Work on radical self-acceptance. This means stop trying to change and fix yourself. Be willing to see yourself fully so you can be met in your Wholeness. With all the mess. All the trauma. Cellulite. Credit card debt.
Write the Mess a Letter: What do you HATE about yourself? What is hiding in the shadows that you think isn’t socially acceptable? Bring it all up to the surface and then LOVE it so so so hard. Write it love letters. Affirmations. Make it an altar. Buy it an outfit. Treat that part of you like a Queen.
STEP 2. Resource yourself. If you’re single, get clear about what is of value to you and bring it to yourself until you are completely “resourced.”
Fill Your Own Cup: You want safety? Make a list of what makes you feel safe and do those things. You want someone who texts back? Start being more consistent with your own communication skills. You want more sexy fun? Bring it to your SELF. Fill your own cup.
STEP 3. Be clear about what you want. Own it. Claim it. And be ready to attract a few “Mirror Cleaners” —a.k.a. free teachers! Just be safe and take care.
Say it Out loud: Clear shame about what you want by telling yourself aloud. You want your hubby to role play doctor with you? Or your date to meditate with you? GREAT. Get comfortable with it by writing it down, saying it aloud to yourself, and lastly, sharing with friends—but only when it feels solid for you.
STEP 4. Be ready to step into practice. When you are on “the path” EVERYTHING is practice. This doesn’t just happen in yoga or kundalini class or meditation time. LIFE becomes your daily yoga.
Gauge Your Presence Level: Start giving yourself a 1 to 10 in terms of Presence Level on every coffee date, work meeting etc. Then at the end of the day ask yourself “How could I have gotten more present?” Did I need to scream, nap, dance, cry? Bring more rage? More warrior vibes? Start practicing.
And most of all, remember that “the work” of being fully met doesn’t have to be laborious (and it doesn’t have to conform in the least bit to society’s ideas about partnerships or an outcome driven process—years of birthdays and cuddling and make outs and camping trips are all extra).
The GIFT is being met in a moment. And then being able to see the reflection of how far you have come.
With her new book It’s Messy, photographer and media-preneur Amanda De Cadenet is inviting women everywhere to abandon the quest for perfection—and get real about the flaws that make us fearless. She sat down with Ruby Warrington to talk self-love, creativity, and why fame is the biggest head f*ck of all …
RUBY WARRINGTON: I love the title of your book—and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I feel like we’re really seeing that the world is damn messy! Like, no matter how things look on the surface, there’s a ton of crap going on underneath. Was there an epiphany when you were just like, “I’m not gonna fight this anymore. I’m just gonna embrace the mess, and see its beauty”? AMANDA DE CADENET: There’s no way you can do any serious self-reflection if you aren’t willing to be honest with yourself about your own messiness. The biggest danger is the lies we tell ourselves, and to recover from the trauma I’ve experienced in my life, I’d be dead if I wasn’t willing to get honest about who I was a long, long time ago. For people who really haven’t done that kind of self-reflection, it can be like, “Oh, my God. How can you accept this stuff about yourself or say that about yourself?” But there’s just no way you can progress and evolve otherwise. We would’ve found a way around it if there was.
RW: People try to avoid going there do through substances, shopping. All the stuff … ADC: Right? Which is fine until all that stops working, and then you’re like, “Right. Fine. I guess I’m going to have to deal. Okay.” To get really brutally honest about who I am was not my first choice. I did try everything else. Clearly!
RW: It also takes so much energy to pretend everything’s “fine” when it’s really not. And there just isn’t time, especially when you get on any kind of a mission in the world! ADC: I keep showing up to interviews looking kind of … messy. And I’m like, “Well, this is who I am!” I haven’t got time for hair and makeup. I’m running a company. I’ve got three children. I’ve got another book out with #girlgaze in two weeks. So, I look a bit messy and I’m okay with that. That’s the whole point. I don’t have a problem with it. If someone else has does, that’s their problem.
RW: How about in your work life? How do you let yourself off the hook when you “mess up” publicly, or something doesn’t work in a professional sense? ADC: Hosting live TV in the UK as a teenager, I learned fast that there was no safety net. You just got on and did it. And that’s how I made (Amanda’s chat show) The Conversation. I knew enough about cameras and sound equipment to be like, “Right. We’re just going to do it.” And the sound on the first ones was so bad because I didn’t know how to do it properly and I couldn’t afford anyone else to do it. But the important thing is, I made the thing.
And by the way, every successful woman or person I’ve ever interviewed has talked about the difference between having a good idea, and actually acting on it. They’re not like, “Oh, I’m going to wait until it’s all perfect.” No. I’m launching. I’m putting it out in the world, and then we’ll clean up whatever we need to clean up.
RW: I really like when you talk in the book about how the biggest head fuck of all was becoming famous at age 18, and learning at a really young age that you were loved and adored for being that person. You go on to describe how: “real and lasting self-worth comes from consciously creating a life that you’ve earned and that is authentic.” It gives me chills, because I think it’s so where a lot of people are at right now. ADC: The thing is, unfortunately, the way we look and our level of fame are the biggest commodities in the world. Never more than now do we live in that culture. And it’s extremely dangerous, because it means people have zero investment in the internal self. How do you raise kids or encourage people to develop anything else, when they can point at so many people who are basically famous for being famous, and say, “Why do I have to develop myself as a person? This one didn’t and that one didn’t.” It’s like, what’s the upside to developing yourself?
RW: So, what is the upside of developing yourself? ADC: Well the downside to NOT, is that you’re constantly relying on external sources to validate you, whether it’s how many social media followers you have. Whether it’s how many pictures of you are published in magazines. Whether it’s how many paparazzi are outside your door. Whether it’s how much free stuff you get. Whether it’s what you get paid to do an ad. It’s all about other people validating your self-worth, and that is a very, very dangerous place to live, because you’re constantly relying on outside sources to feel okay about yourself.
RW: And when that all goes away, where are you? Literally, what’s left? ADC: Exactly, you don’t exist because there is no mirror. There’s no one to reflect back at you that you exist.
RW: You mention many years of therapy, but in terms of, like, “Who is Amanda, and what am I here to bring into the world?”—what are your practices for staying connected to that place of authentic self-worth? ADC: It’s been different things over the years. For a period of time, it was yoga, and kundalini yoga specifically. At another, it was Buddhism. Then 12-step. Another time, it was simple prayer and meditation. I’ve taken bits and pieces from everywhere and now I’ve kind of got my own thing going on. My own tool kit. I also practice TM, and nature is a fail-safe for making me feel grounded and connected to myself.
RW: I think sometimes when you’ve been using a practice for a while, you may have realizations that can create a permanent perception shift. Like you learn to recognize, “Oh, I’m in this kind of behavior pattern. I know where that leads me.” And so you no longer need the practice, because you’ve learned how to bring yourself back. ADC: You’ve got the years of experience, and that’s what growth is, right? The most painful place to be in for me, has been to know that I needed to stop a behavior, to observe myself doing it and know the pain on the other side of it, but not be able to stop myself. I just had this upstairs just now, where I was like, “Gosh, why do I keep going to this person for proof that I’m not good enough?”
There’s a certain person in my life who’s the least responsive, the least enthusiastic, the least excited to have anything to do with me, and yet I keep going there. Out of the 10 times I might have gone to them in the past, I probably do it two times now. The eight times I don’t, I’m really proud of myself because I’m like, “Well done. You didn’t ask for more proof that you’re not good enough.”
RW: I obviously looked at your birth chart, and your Moon is in Leo, which suggests a real emotional need to be seen and celebrated. Out of balance, this can manifest as things like the love addiction you talk about in the book, for example. Have you come to a place where you can recognize the sorts of situations that will flip you into your pain body? ADC: I do know those people and those situations, and impulse control has been something I’ve had to work on a lot, to not tell people what I think of them.
RW: Interesting … Addiction to drama is another trait of Leo Moon out of balance. Like, “Let’s stir things up so you can pay me more attention” kind of thing! ADC: So interesting. I come from a lot of neglect, so it makes sense that I would do that. However, I also know now that it’s just a way of creating a distraction from what I actually need to deal with in myself. I recently abstained for a year from telling someone what I thought of them. Someone I’m really close to, one of my best girlfriends. I did it as an experiment, and wrote all these emails and letters and just never sent them. Over time I learned that I just don’t need to go there, and I probably would have taken the situation to a completely different place if I had.
RW: Lastly, I want to talk to you about self-love, and specifically self-pleasure. Both our books mention the taboo around female masturbation, and you talk about how, as girls, we’re not taught that sex is meant to be pleasurable. It’s basically something to be feared, because it’s what gets you pregnant or in trouble. I draw the connection between our sexual pleasure and our creativity. How does the fact that we’re not taught to pleasure ourselves impact women’s view of ourselves as creators, as leaders, and our confidence about putting ourselves out in the world? ADC: It’s all connected. If you’re oppressing or suppressing any aspect of yourself you’re prevented from having a full life experience. Whether it’s your sexuality, your intellect, your creativity, your spirituality, if any aspect of you is closed down, you’re not living authentically and you’re not living to your full capacity. It means you’re limiting your experience of life. Creativity does come from the same place as sexuality, and I’d actually be very curious to know about the sex lives of the women who are considered to be successful in that area.
RW: It would be a very interesting study to do actually. And a really good interview series … AC: Yeah, right? There you go. One of us will have to do it!
In the face of enormous political and social challenges to our bodies and souls, the time for period pride is right now, says Cora founder Molly Hayward. Here’s why your period is a feminist issue and how to harness the power of this change-making cycle … Main Image: Zoe Buckman
Now, more than ever, the claim to our bodies in all their messy, beautiful, real complexity is imperative.
From debates over period product ads in the subway system, to parts of the world where girls are exiled from school due to lack of sanitary supplies, our monthly life-giving cycles are in the news. Which means the time for period pride is now.
And as we reclaim the Numinous parts of the menstrual experience (consider the sky-high rise of Moon circles and Moon magic), our generation is reigniting the conversation about what our periods mean, how they can bring us together, and why we must harness their full power.
To understand the potency and potential of this change-making cycle, we sat down with founder of organic tampon subscription service Cora, Molly Hayward. Her mission? To charge the experience of womanhood with respect and reverence for our periods. “We see a world where women can live fully-embodied,” says Molly. “Your period is an essential part of human life.”
Want to reclaim your period as a feminist issue? Read on for 8 reasons why bleeding is beautifully badass …
It’s in our blood.
1// Because moon power burns as brightly as solar power. In a relentlessly solar-powered world with an emphasis on egocentric, “yang” action and force, the yin cycles of the Moon provide a subtle counterpoint that teaches us to value our internal processes, and our alignment with the natural world that surround us. “Our cycles are a practice in the wisdom of life/death/life,” says Hayward. “Women experience this truth every month in their bodies.”
This kind of wisdom allows us to understand how endings fuel unexpected beginnings, and how we are powerful participants in something much greater than ourselves. “[Through my cycle], I began to see myself, and all women, as the bearers of the wisdom that everything in life has a cycle,” notes Hayward. “Ideas, institutions, plants, animals, and humans, all have to die to allow for the birth of new ones. This is powerful wisdom for our society today.”
2// Because badass boss ladies bleed. As we tune in to these rhythms that often fly in the face of the ceaseless cult of cutthroat corporatism, we can change the way work gets done from the inside out.
When we repress our cycles and “skip” periods (using birth control pills, for example) because we believe must “keep up” with the pace of masculine career achievement or avoid discomfort in some situation (during sex, on vacation), we are voting yes to a work environment and world which thrives on gender inequality and denies our internally-facing wisdom. Periods of retreat from “go” mode can actually inform and fuel our creative process in the world.
When we bring our full bodies to the boardroom table, we can change the way that work gets done.
3// Because period exile is an education issue. The statistics are startling. 300 million girls and women worldwide use rags, plastic, sand, and ash to manage their menstrual cycles. 1 in 4 girls in India drops out of school once she reaches puberty. “While I was traveling in Africa,” says Hayward, “I met girls who would stay home from school during their periods because they couldn’t afford period products and then learned that millions of girls around the world stay home from school during their periods because they don’t have a way to manage them.”
With a 90% decrease in dropout rates worldwide when girls have access to sanitary products, it’s imperative that we support girls and women worldwide to bleed with dignity, safety, and adequate supplies.
4// Because healthy bodies bleed. Whether it’s deliberately augmenting or suppressing our cycles so we don’t have to deal with the “mess,” or obliterating our cycles entirely as the result of compromised eating habits or over-exercise, our bleeding bodies are barometers for our overall health.
“In addition to the way periods of have been negatively perceived, there are so many other aspects of women’s bodies that are shamed and stigmatized,” says Hayward. “Our mission is to bring women and society to a place of understanding, acceptance, and respect for the awesome power of our bodies.”
And as we commit to celebrating our healthy bodies, we also begin to question the harmful synthetics and chemicals that enter them through conventional sanitary products. “I hated the idea that so many women were unknowingly exposing themselves to these potentially harmful substances for several days every single month for decades of their lives,” Hayward comments.
5// Because period sex should not be taboo. As we move through our monthly rhythm, we have the delicious chance to connect with all aspects of our desire and nature. Each of us responds to the distinctive phases of our cycles with different moods, cravings, and sexual needs.
We deserve to feel sexual pleasure when, where, and with whom (consensually of course) we damn well please. Each month, our periods are gateways to a shifting, sensual landscape. Get curious about exactly when you’re most turned on and claim this pleasure, no matter the time of the month. Partners who love you, should love your body in its entirety.
6// Because periods are a rite of passage. Periods connect us to a magical, matrilineal line. They are part of both our ancestral histories, and the history of our own lives. Remember when you had your first period? Maybe you felt shame or confusion. Maybe no one was around to help you make sense of this powerful rite of passage.
Puberty, maturity, aging, the mystery and magic of both fertility and menopause … as we pass through the seasons of our lives as women, we have every right to bow down at the altar of our beautiful bodies during their complex cycles of change.
7// Because there’s no shame in getting messy. Ever been told that you’re “too much?” That your emotions take up too much space. That you’re unruly. That you’ve gone overboard. Our periods are part of our carnal bigness, and shame around their messiness keeps us from inhabiting our fullest range of emotions and potential.
“Periods are a natural biological fact of womanhood,” affirms Hayward. “Access to safe and healthy menstrual products is a matter of human dignity, in addition to being critical to girls’ and women’s ability to stay well, attend school, and participate in the formal economy. These things are in turn tied to our equal standing in society- not to mention being basic human rights.”
Quite simply, periods connect us to our humanness. And we deserve to be fully human.
8// Because there’s strength in synchronicity. More than just a college co-ed curiosity, there’s scientific proof that when we assemble in close community, we often sync up our cycles. And while each one of us can tap into the particularities of our own rhythm and our wisdom, there is powerful medicine in communal cycling. As we share the experience of being in our bodies, we share the stories of how these bodies move through the world– our overlapping wants, needs, fears, and aspirations.
Women who bleed together can change the world together.
We produced this post in partnership with Cora, a monthly subscription service for premium organic cotton tampons with BPA-free applicators that honor our bodies, while providing performance and convenience. For every subscription purchased, Cora also provides a month’s supply of sustainable pads to a girl in need in a developing country so she can stay in school during her period.
Leo season means the romance AND the party vibes are in full force. How to navigate the love landscape sans booze? Caitlin Cecil shares 10 things you need to know about sober dating …
Once upon a time, my favorite part of dating was getting ready for the date: mixing myself a rum and Coke to take the edge off, jamming to some Blink 182, choosing my outfit and make up, and sipping on my beverage to alleviate the first date jitters. Even if the date turned out to be a bust, I really enjoyed having a drink with myself in anticipation of a night out …
Two years ago, alcohol having wrecked havoc on my health through migraines, anxiety, and the occasional total melt down, I chose to go booze free. But I’m certainly still dating. And as a 29-year-old single woman in Texas, the constant go to when I’m asked out is, “Do you want to grab a drink?”
How to navigate this new terrain? Whether you’re sober or just sober curious, here are 10 things you need to know when it comes to sober dating …
1// Know what you want. Whether you want to date a fellow non-drinker or don’t mind dating someone who drinks, make a clear decision. This takes some research. Go on some dates and see where you fall on the spectrum. I’ve done both and discovered that while I don’t need to date someone who’s also sober and can handle a partner who enjoys a drink, dates who get blasted over and over again are certainly not for me.
2// Reveal only as much as you want. Decide ahead of time how much you want to give away. When I first quit drinking, I was still a little embarrassed to tell people I didn’t drink. In a dimly lit bar with an attractive man, I’d feel silly saying, “Oh this? It’s a Shirley Temple.” It’s your call if you want to obscure the truth while you get to know somebody. Or if you’re totally vibing with the person and want to reveal your alcohol free lifestyle, go for it … any judgement is on their part.
3// Know your secret drinks. The magic concoction that got me through the early stages of my new life was a little drink called bitters and Coke. Bitters has an orange flavor to it, most people do not know what it is, a lot of my dates just assumed it was a type of alcohol, and bartenders would never charge me much for it. The truth is, it has a teeeeny bit of alcohol in, it but not enough to cause any sort of difference in your BAC. And the more comfortable I got, the more I was able to move away from dependence on sugary sodas.
4//Take the lead suggesting date ideas. If you have a date coming up and he or she asks you if you have any ideas about what to do, suggest something that doesn’t involve alcohol. Coffee, bowling, hiking, dog walking … one time I even visited a wolf sanctuary! Once you open your mind to what a date “should” look like, the possibilities are endless. Check your local listings and start exploring.
5// Find your time zone. I used to say yes to dates at 8 or 830pm. Now? Heck no! Too close to my sober life bed time. If someone wants to take me out, they’re going to get my best self earlier in the day. Let your date know your best time zone, give them some options, and don’t be afraid to suggest earlier times if your alcohol free lifestyle has your schedule shifting.
6// Do NOT feel pressured. A big part of dating alcohol free is remembering that you are a ROCK STAR for choosing to live the way you want to live in the face of social pressures. You are making a choice that goes against the grain and yes, many people will be confused. I recently went on a bowling date and ordered a beer for my date, but he felt really uncomfortable because I wasn’t drinking too. I assured him that I wanted him to enjoy himself and that my not drinking was a choice I made for me—nothing to do me with judging him.
7// Craft your answers. When people have serious addiction problems and enter into AA or other treatment programs, others seldom ask why. But choosing to be alcohol free for other reasons often leaves others confused and asking a lot of questions. Never feel pressured to respond in a certain way. Sometimes, I reveal medical information and talk about my migraines. But other times, I choose to keep it short and simple. You can simply say “I’m doing a cleanse,” or “I’m alcohol free to support others who cannot drink.” Say what you want to and what feels right, and remember that if somebody’s weirded out, they’re probably not for you.
8// Feel for real connections. Dating is a two way street and sober or not, you have to actually get along. When you’re sober and really connecting with someone, you’ll have even MORE amazing conversations about the universe, TV shows, animals, political drama … and guess what? You’ll actually remember them the next day!!
9// Irish goodbye if you need to. The Irish goodbye stems from the idea of an Irish person being so drunk they just leave a social event without saying goodbye, but in this case it’s a reverse Irish goodbye. While this may seem like regular dating ed 101, for the newly alcohol free it may be harder to do. If your date is drunk or you are uncomfortable for any reason, Irish goodbye on out of there.
10// HAVE FUN! Do not let the disappearance of alcohol hold you back from meeting people, discovering fun activities in your city, and trying new things. Remember, being booze free and feeling healthy will actually liven you up—not the opposite!
Caitlin Cecil is a Houston-based wellness coach who focuses on helping people with stress, burn out, anxiety, and finding balance. She has a degree in Rtvf, a NESTA wellness coaching certification, teaches barre, and loves coaching women to their highest potential. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram, sign up for her newsletter HERE, and check out her “Cruise from Booze” wellness program.
She’s queer AF … so what are her dreams about having sex with straight men trying to tell Wolf Medicine Magic? Portraits: Sandra Hong
It was around 2015 that the “man dreams” started. I don’t remember the details or the exact date, but basically for the past two years, and at this point on a weekly basis, I have had dreams about being attracted to, having sex with, seducing, pursuing and being good friends with straight men.
Probably not a big deal—except for the fact that I’m queer AF and haven’t slept with a straight man in years. More importantly, I’m not just a queer feminist. Calling myself a feminist seems like choosing Diet Coke. It’s kiddie stuff. Feminism light. It’s cute but it’s a label that cannot describe my deep, deep yearning to eradicate all traces of the patriarchy and toxic masculinity from this planet. If womyn’s separatist lands were more inclusive I’d sign-up in a minute.
For realz, my feminism is intersectional, queer, gender fluid, anti-racist, anti-apartheid, pro-trans, and realizes that all lives won’t matter until we are all free. This means that the patriarchy and our currently fucked up notions of who “owns” masculinity (hint: what if we are all free to be masculine/men at any time and on any given day?) needs to end.
I have also spent the past several years carefully carving out a life for myself that doesn’t involve *men. I absolutely love female energy, and being around those who are tapped into both female and male energy in a harmonious balance. To me, being in environments dominated by straight men feels like being wrapped in a wet blanket in sub zero temperatures. I become exhausted from having to deflect misogyny, sexual objectification, and struggling to be heard and seen.
The walk to the subway can be a battle against misogyny for most women, trans, and queer folks. So I’ve taken great care to at least make my work and social life free from gender oppression, and it feels amazing. None of my employers or co-workers are men. I don’t have any men as friends.
Occasionally I’ll have a man in one of my yoga classes but for the most part my world is queer and female. To me, my trans/gender fluid friends exude a harmonious energy that is devoid of toxic masculine energy. Meaning I’m never interrupted, talked over, or forced to take up less space.
In fact, the gender scales of my adult life have tipped so far towards the feminine, I really don’t know what it’s like to be masculine or have exchange with masculine energy anymore. And I used to be totally fine with this—but I’m beginning to see the negative impact of this imbalance on my life.
This is most evident when it comes to asking for what I want from people (and mostly when it comes to my career and work related situations). I’m so used to tapping into a soft and gentle way of being, I am terrified of seeming too aggressive, too entitled to take up a lot of space, or of being too demanding—since I’ve learned to see these as negative traits.
But I’ve realized that what I want so badly for this world is for ALL PEOPLE TO BE SOFT AND GENTLE AND AGGRESSIVE AND DEMANDING WHENEVER THEY WANT. For these qualities not to be deemed “male” or “female.” I mean, right now I can hear a voice in my head saying: “stay in your lane. You must ask gently and with kindness and not too loudly. If you demand things from people and don’t consider how this demand affects them then you are a mean, privileged, entitled MAN. And you don’t want to be like that.” The struggle. Is. Real.
And did I mention that my own philosophy around gender is that it’s fluid AF, and something to be played and experimented with? To clarify, I love masculinity—just not when it’s being projected at me in the name of protecting some dude’s fragile ego.
I don’t hate men. I repeat, I don’t hate men. What I hate is that our society has told us that men have more privileges than women, and that masculinity needs to be protected at all costs (because it is fragile, and women/feminine power will destroy it). And I know not all men are exercising their privilege and exerting a toxic masculinity onto the world. Many men are great people, who want better for the world—but it is a FACT that all men benefit from and can use their privilege at any time. Sometimes it’s handed to them, whether they ask for it or not. Thus, the phrase “male privilege.”
At a young age, men are also taught all the masculine tools they need in order to be men—i.e. be powerful, aggressive, strong, commanding. Take what you want, take up a lot of space, talk as much as you’d like, make people listen to you. Your opinion matters most, you’re smart and clever (even if you aren’t), and women don’t matter as much.
This is changing, thank Goddess, because I see the up and coming generations fucking shit up and challenging all notions of sex and gender. So there is hope, but things are slow to change. Down here in 2017, we’re still in the thick of it.
My own gender representation is that of masculine sissy fag. I don’t wear dresses or skirts or shave my legs or underarms or any other body hair below my neck. I haven’t worn a pair of heels in who knows how long. On the surface one might think “oh there goes that soft butch.” But five minutes into knowing me you’ll clearly see a swishy, prissy teenage boy. Who wants to be a fabulous girl. Who wants to be a gay teenage boy.
I couldn’t be any farther from “butch.” I can’t even put together IKEA furniture, let alone chop wood, fix a leaky faucet, or start a fire. Or whatever else our society has deemed as “masculine.” I hate contact sports and could care less about watching them.
And yet my subconscious is evidently desperate for me to connect with my masculine side. Or as I like to think of it, my more aggressive, entitled, demanding, space-taking side. Why else am I dreaming about having sex with a dude? At the time of writing this, the dreams are happening at least three times a week.
So I have begun exploring ways to start integrating more masculine energy into my way of being. The first being to notice when I’m avoiding aggressive, demanding behavior—easiest to notice and correct when emailing and texting. Instead of “I’m just emailing to ask about my workshop proposal…” I correct myself and write: “When will my workshop proposal be processed?” To get right to the point. I’ve had a few opportunities to put this into practice in real time, too—and I find it to be so difficult. It just isn’t my natural way of being. But it IS helping me get what I want—and faster!
I’ve also tried to have more compassion and empathy towards straight, overtly masculine men. So, so difficult. I really do feel though, that evolving spiritually and getting where I want to be in life as I ease to the other side of 35, that this is a process I need to go through. I am receiving a very clear message from spirit to start being everything that I don’t like: meaning more aggressive, taking up more space, being demanding. But with compassion. These qualities aren’t always bad. In fact, less labels please; balance is the key.
I believe this is why the feminine IS rising. We. Are. Tired. Of. This. Shit. I’m ready for a gender fluid, queer, anything goes kind of world. It’s not girls to the front, or down with me. It’s folks to the front—and wave your gender representation freak flag high.
*For sake of space and to avoid repetition the use of the term man or men refers to cis-gendered, straight identified men. When referring to women I’m referring to cis-gendered and trans women unless otherwise noted.