Want to take self-love to the next level? Find out how to marry yourself with poet and activist Lisa Luxx’s guide to pledging your solo spiritual commitment …
In 2016, I married myself. Legally taking the name of my higher self, I became Lisa Luxx, had the initial of selfhood tattooed on to my ring finger, ‘I’, and vowed to always come home to me.
It’s been two years since then, a period of time that has burgeoned with political chaos, which continually leads us back to ourselves to question our position within the greater whole. So in 2018, I decided it was time to re-meet my commitment in ceremony, an act that I intend to re-visit every couple of years to steer the course of my affections for both myself and the wider world.
Here are my top tips on how you can hold your own marriage to your self, because 2019 just might be the year for that …
1// Pick a date that’s meaningful When I initially planned to renew my vows it was due to be on the 7th of December. But I hadn’t had my eyebrows done in time and I figured if I’m not going to start turning up for myself now, what chance does this marriage stand? It wound up being on the 21st, which has been my favourite number since I was a young child. An auspicious one, at that. Actually 7 is a number I always associate with my ex; now I’m sure my lazy beauty routine was actually divinity intervening.
2// Choose your witness/es The idea to renew my vows in a ceremony came up during a therapy session. My therapist/life-facilitator is one of the few people who really speaks my language, so I asked her to be my sole human witness. However, I also had the four elements present to witness. I filled a very small corked jar with soil from my parents garden, placed two green candles on my Tata’s old gold candlestick holders, took a homemade smudge stick to bring forth the air and lashing of local Yorkshire water. I sat the elements on a mirror in front of me as I read my vows.
3// Get yourself sexy On the morning of my ceremony, I soaked myself in a rose water, almond oil, lavender, and sandalwood bath. Rubbed coconut oil into my warm skin. Danced with myself naked in front of the mirror before spritzing my fave Diptique perfume and slipping into my Dalmatian suit. Serve the best of yourself to you. Your beauty is for your pleasure first and foremost.
4// Write your vows in the mirror My vows were a mix of everyday bona fide daily lifestyle choices, such as always putting my actual body before my mind’s desires; ‘I will not finish catching up with Whatsapp’s or reading to the end of my page when the rumble comes, when the thirst coarsely reminds me of my physical needs.’ And commitments for how I’ll manage to make myself a better person in community; ‘I’ll actively practice unpicking and dissipating insecurities, as my duty to our world. So that I can see the world as it is, not as it could hurt me. So I don’t hurt myself through my fear of being hurt. So I don’t hurt others through fear of pain.’
While rehearsing my vows, I caught my reflection, laughed and said “hey, you’re not supposed to be hearing these yet” – getting so used to spending time with my reflection until I reached a point of comfort where I could have fun with it was a melting point.
5// Say the vows in the mirror until it sinks in Loving yourself in front of a witness won’t always come easy. It will feel awkward at times and you’ll be in head mode rather than heart mode. That is to say if you’re like me you’ll be feeling so self-conscious at times, you’ll notice you’re not embodying your words. To counter this I repeated a vow numerous times, looking directly into my own eyes in a mirror, until I felt what I was saying sink in. Take your time, speaking your promises to you until they become a physical sensation. The unexpected outcome of this is that now, whenever I’m feeling low or anxious, if I can find my reflection I can bring myself back to a place of loving comfort.
6// Find a charitable cause to support I requested wedding gifts from friends and family in the form of donations to The Syria Campaign, an organisation that means a lot to me. Marrying yourself is not an insular act, it’s about mobilizing yourself to be a better link in the chain of ‘we.’ A very overt way of setting that in motion from the get go is to encourage your friends and family to support your love for you and your simultaneous commitment to them all by making a donation to an NGO, delivering bags of shopping to a food bank, or volunteering at a local grassroots initiative for a day.
7// Prepare for pain I’d love to say that since the ceremony I’ve been doing exactly as I promised in my vows and ‘never forgetting how much I love to dance with you [me].’ But no, it has been uncomfortable. I cast my mind back to that day and sometimes feel an urge to delete it all from my therapist’s memory and mine; I feel shame, I feel pain. No good rebirth comes without a death. Let yourself feel that, let it exist within that day as much as the joy will.
In becoming the best of you, you are becoming a human complete; this is about owning your responsibility to the world through commitment to self-observation. See yourself without interfering. Don’t cling on to the parts that are breaking off.
8// Consummate the ting I have a practice that I like to call ‘astro-masturbation,’ whereby I make love to apparitions of myself. It can be me as I am, me with a better haircut, me in my trans dreams, but it’s always me. Sometimes there’s two of me, sometimes there’s three, four, five of me, but they’re all visions of me making love to me. I get to switch between giving and receiving endlessly and equally, and they’re the best orgasms I’ve ever had.
Lay down your favorite blankets, light that incense, and make sweet love to yourself while listening to Banks sing ‘I fuck with myself more than anybody else.’ My vows promised, ‘I will make love to you not because I want to use you as a tool of pleasure but because I love you, because you turn me on, because your body, my body, is my favorite body of all the bodies on earth.’
If you feel moved, Lisa asks for wedding gift donations to The White Helmets, unarmed volunteer rescue workers operating in Syria’s most dangerous zones, risking their lives daily to save the lives of others.
11// What Is The Future of Masculinity?: As we grappled with how to dismantle patriarchal oppression, trans man and diversity and inclusion activist, Aaron Rose, shared his vision for the future of masculinity …
Annie Sprinkle christened San Francisco’s Bernal Park hill “the clitoris of America.” Researching my new book, Sex Drive, I knew I had to visit for myself, and so Sprinkle and I met in a local diner for breakfast. After demonstrating her ability to have an “energy orgasm” on the spot (think Meg Ryan’s infamous turn in When Harry Met Sally, but for real), she promised to take me on a Bernal Park “ecosexual” nature walk, where she would show me how to do it too …
An X-rated nature walk By this time, I’m quite keen to get up onto the Clitoris of America and try it all out myself. So off we set on a climb up the hill to Bernal Park and an X-rated nature walk begins. It’s not X-rated because Annie’s going to take her clothes off. The plants are going to be doing much filthier things. “Look at that,” she says, stopping in front of a cherry tree in full bloom. “Flowers are tree genitals. Basically, you’re looking at porn.”
We walk on until the siren call of another tree brings Annie to a halt. “Look at this trunk, it’s like a big penis. Isn’t it beautiful?
Hockey pitch nature walks with Miss Corbett at the convent were never like this. Annie says that I need to find my “E-Spot,” her ecosexy take on G-Spot. (She’s great at coming up with new words). I’m drawn to an exuberant hibiscus flower. “Oh yeah!” she says approvingly in her raunchy porn voice. “Hibiscus stamens!”
I wonder if David Attenborough shows ever give her that Deep Throat feeling. We approach the hibiscus and she says, “You can smell it casually. Or you can imagine this plant is a lover and it wants to give you a gift.”
She smells her new lover, pulls off one of its genitals and sticks it on her third eye. She sticks one on me too. None of this strikes me as stupid or odd. Cornwall isn’t a million miles away from California in terms of country weirdness. My eco or “E-Spot” as she calls it, kicks into action as I notice that a tree we’re passing looks a bit droopy.
“Don’t you think this tree looks a bit sad?” I say.
“It is a little heavy, isn’t it?” she nods.
She knows immediately what to do. “You just need a hug,” she tells the tree enfolding it in a bosomy embrace. “Oh, love you.” I participate in the love-in, realizing only afterwards that I have just hugged a tree in California. This is the sort of thing that people make fun of back at home, but American Stephanie doesn’t care. Annie looks wistfully at the tree then mumbles something about, “I may be projecting…” She slaps the tree’s butt. “You’ll be OK,” she cracks. “Hang on in there.”
It’s fun going on a nature walk with an ex-porn star. She’s not great on the names of flora and fauna, but she does things like saying hi to her favorite Eucalyptus tree. She plucks a leaf, thrusts it under my nose and chuckles, “Sniff that pantie!”
The sap must be rising from the ecosexy nature walk because I soon have a sort of sexual panic attack. I start gabbling about how I want to check out some seedy places in San Francisco and how I really want to get laid and, “you know that feeling when you want to have sex and you’re not having sex and…”
“Stay in the moment,” she puffs as we carry on up the steep road. They’re magic words and I immediately calm down. I think back to my interview with Barbara Carrellas back in New York a month ago. I arrived too early for the interview and the prospect of writing a book about masturbation suddenly overwhelmed me. What the hell was I thinking of?! I wasn’t even sure what I meant! So I just experimented with letting go: dropping into my body, unsticking from the world so that for a few moments I was just snow and boots and crunch. When I came ‘back’ a few seconds later, it felt like a shot of a week of the best sleep ever.
And then suddenly Annie announces that we’ve reached “the urethral sponge” i.e. we’re in Bernal Park but not quite on the clit. My main feeling is that the Clitoris of America has had a bit of a bikini wax. Its green pubic hair is a bit patchy. There’s a lot of uncovered soil. Maybe the dog walkers nobbled it. There are a lot of them. Annie says it’s the drought. It’s been a serious problem in San Francisco. Annie has actually married the main culprit along with a group of ecosexy friends.
“If you think about it, right now the sun is penetrating your pores,” she says in her incantatory broad-from-the-1950s voice. “They’re fucking your whole body.”
When I ask her how she knew the sun wanted to get married, she says, “We can only assume that things respond well to love and appreciation. Like, if you cruise a bunch of girls or guys, you’ll get the message who’s available.”
She and Beth have also married the mountains, the snow, coal and the ocean. I try and impress her by saying, “My favourite drugs are sugar and the sun.” She enthuses, “Oh, I love sugar too,” but adds that she has to lose weight for the filming of her and Beth’s upcoming ecosexy tour. “Saying it’s OK to be fat, it’s the one thing about feminism I don’t agree with.”
By now we’re sitting on the very top of the park, a bumpy grassy area that slopes down with massive views over the city on every side. Looking at the view, it suddenly strikes her that, “Maybe the earth is the clitoris of the universe.” She laughs. “Betty would say, ‘Oh that’s bullshit!’” She tells me that we’ll do the energy orgasm right here.
Meditation + masturbation She describes the technique as similar to something she used to call “medabation,” meaning a combination of masturbation and meditation. But mainly, she says, it’s like learning tennis because, “It’s a technique and at first it’s confusing and you’re like, ‘Woah! How do I hit it and how hard?’” She confides that it took her three years to learn how to do it properly.
I realize that this “energy orgasm” is her take on the heart wank that Barbara Carrellas told me about back in New York. Annie explains that the idea came about when she and Carrellas were investigating more spiritual ideas about orgasm during the AIDS years. “All of us had lovers who got HIV, so we had to figure out how to have safe sex.” They adapted the breath technique from a method taught by a Native American called Harley Swiftdeer. He calls it “Firebreath Orgasm,” but Annie doesn’t “because I didn’t take the very expensive training that initiates you.”
And so my tennis lesson begins. She starts by telling me to, “Say, ‘Yes’ to erotic energy. You have to allow it because it’s there just for the asking.” She points to the tree in the near distance and says that the ideal would be to, “Start feeling sexy and then direct your energy to the tree and see what happens.” She tells me to do some kegels (clenching of the vagina as if you want to stop a stream of pee) and undulating movements of the pelvis. “That’ll stoke the furnace.” After that comes the most important thing of all: the breath.
“You’re really sucking the inhale and relaxing the exhale.” She advises to make noises because that helps shift energy in the body. “The idea is to bring in energy through the feet and end up shooting it out of the top of the head. Fake it til you make it,” she quips in what she tells me is jargon from the porn world.
It’s a great lesson. It reminds me of the Transformational Breathing technique I tried out in my hippie journalism phase with the British teacher Alan Dolan. Basically you breathe quickly in and out, taking in more than usual amounts of oxygen until a wave of euphoria hits you.
And then there I am, lying on a hillside in San Francisco as the woman once dubbed “The Golden Girl of Porn” makes sounds ranging from deep Witches’ Sabbath to mid-range horny-bitch-on-heat to high-pitched damsel-in-distress to glass-shattering Kate Bush on the moors. “Wooo! Woo!”
Listening to the tape afterwards, I do sound a bit stuck in Witches’ Sabbath mode. Clearly I need to work on moving my energy up to more damsel-in-distress mode. Meanwhile, I am in the ludicrous position of lying with my feet towards the top of the hill and my head towards the bottom because I want to face the sun. But something is definitely happening. I get to the state where I forget to worry about what the dog walkers must be thinking of us.
I have a flash of some of the boring-looking dog walkers I’ve seen in Presidio Heights. I want to unzip them and show them some love. Tell them it’s OK. Occasionally I get distracted by the fact that I’m not feeling anything remotely like an orgasm although Annie is now sobbing. Wailing almost. We get in breathing synch. I try and keep up with her her “Ah! Ah!”s until finally she makes a prolonged, “Oh yeeeeeeah!” presumably when the energy passes out of the top of her head.
I open my eyes and the sky is indeed bluer. There is also dog shit on the bottom of my right boot. I think I won’t say this to Annie. She’s clearly having a moment.
“When I masturbate like this, I feel the pain of the world, I really do. The Boko Haram, The Charlie Hebdo shootings. The animals, everything. I become a channel sometimes. I just need to release the pain. It’s like truly connecting. It sounds really strange.”
“No, it doesn’t sound strange …” She’s right that the concept of words becomes shaky after this kind of tennis. I struggle to speak.
“We can’t really experience pleasure on a really grand scale unless we can feel the suffering and the blocks and the disconnect somehow.”
Watching Annie with tears streaming down her face, it strikes me that this is what a modern-day nun looks like. Sending an orgasm to promote peace in Nigeria and Paris isn’t that weird. Christians and Buddhists send off distilled thoughts known as “prayers” to try and alleviate world suffering every day. Yet the kind of energy generated during orgasm is jet fuel compared to the economy petrol that comes from a morning at mass.
The “divine feminine” is often invoked as a Now Age ideal for our gender evolution. But how to really dismantle systems of patriarchal oppression? Trans man and diversity and inclusion activist, Aaron Rose, shares his vision for the future of masculinity …
From Parasitic Patriarchy to Abundant Symbiosis When Now Age mystics speak of “divine masculinity,” what they are describing is simply: masculinity. Exalted qualities of heart-centered action, fierce loyalty, innovative logic, and earthly strength are what masculinity truly is. Everything else is an aberration, a mistaken idea, and a misuse of energy.
The divine masculine is complemented by the divine feminine archetype: the universal energy of intuition, receptivity, nurturance, creation, and collaboration. These energies are not inherently gendered. They flow within all of us.
So how do we reclaim healthy or conscious masculinity? How do we end our crisis of sexual violence? How do we build a world with true gender equality?
In the #metoo era, it can sometimes feel like the goal is total eradication of an inherently “toxic masculinity,” an embrace of androgyny, or an exclusive exaltation of the feminine. But the destination of our evolution is not about erasing our differences or course correcting from toxicity to divinity; it’s about reclaiming gendered archetypes while embracing an even wider spectrum of expression.
Patriarchy is the collectively held (and externally manifested) idea that men are superior to people of other genders, that there are right and wrong ways to be men and women, and that there are rewards for reinforcing these ideas, and penalties for violating them.
And if patriarchy is a result and a manifestation of parasitic scarcity consciousness, then we’re more than ready for abundant symbiosis.
A Different Way to Be Human When I first began my transition from female to male, I was terrified of becoming a man. It was who I was – a person who had been female-assigned at birth and who felt called to a male identity and masculine embodiment – and yet, I could not have been more scared.
As a woman, I had lived a life defined and constrained by male violence – from the abuse of family members, to the harassment of strangers on the subway, and the subtle discrimination at work. The manhood I saw around me did not represent the kind of person I wanted to be. And the people I loved were quick to reinforce this idea: You’ll become a tool of the patriarchy, they said. The world doesn’t need another MAN.
On a physiological level, I knew that taking testosterone (in the form of hormone replacement therapy) was right for me. My body needed it, hungered for it like a too-late dinner after a long day. But on an emotional level, I was paralyzed, wracked by immobilizing guilt.
I was afraid of losing the part of myself that cries at Pixar movies and gathers my friends into huge hugs and composes love letters to my beloveds. The part who really, really listens to my people when they’re hurting. I was afraid of embodying toxic masculinity. I was afraid of becoming (even more of) a stranger to myself.
This deterministic model of gender is one we’re all used to. We’ve all heard “that’s just how men are” and any number of absolutist statements that divide the population squarely down the middle, into two prescribed boxes: man and woman. I was just as trapped as anyone.
But equally, in making the choice to transition I knew I was signing up for a lifetime commitment to proving the idea that there was another way to be a man than what I had been shown. That ultimately, there was a different way to be a human altogether.
Dismantling the Deal with the Devil This commitment, this faith in the future of masculinity, has fueled my decade’s plus of evolving work in diversity and inclusion—a key part of which is leading conscious masculinity workshops in which men and masculine people of all genders have an opportunity to take themselves off of cultural autopilot and reclaim healthy masculinity.
Patriarchy invites men to make a deal with the devil: trade your eternal wholeness and humanity, in exchange for earthly and temporal power.
Time and again, I witness men become emotional in my workshops when we talk about gender equality and allyship. When I ask why, they say things like: “I feel like I don’t have anything else to offer,” or “What more do you want from me?,” or “Not everyone gets to be treated so nicely, you know.”
As the conversations unfold, we identify, again and again, that they are fundamentally bewildered about why or how they should be giving something to someone else that they do not feel they have themselves: gentleness, a reason to truly accept themselves, a full range of self-expression, emotional presence.
In my workshops, we inventory our masculinity stories, going all the way back to our first memories. And themes emerge, like the first moment of shame, often attached to a memory of playing with feminine clothing, hugging other boys, or crying when we were sad. We bring loving witness to these wounds, and then we choose again.
If the story was: “when I am emotional, the people I love reject me”—we elect to write a new story: “my vulnerability brings me closer to the people I care about.”
What is your role in this process? Here are 4 ways we can all help bring about the future of masculinity …
1// Separate masculinity + femininity from gender identity and sex assigned at birth. “Sex assigned at birth” is the label you were assigned at birth based on the external anatomy your doctor observed. Gender identity is your innate, internal, sense of your gender.
Within our current western gender model, which has its origins in European colonization and white supremacist social control, sex assigned at birth, gender, and gendered energy are all conflated. If you are male assigned at birth, it is assumed you will be a man, and that you will behave in a masculine way. This deterministic model belies the truth of our experience — the truth that indigenous people of many cultures have always embraced — that there are as many possible genders and gendered experiences as there are people.
For example, I currently have a pretty masculine embodiment – short hair, muscles, a deep voice, a flat chest, traditionally male clothing. However, my energy is a blend of masculine and feminine – I am a go-getter who is often charging forward on the next big idea AND I create space for the people I love to be vulnerable, where I too surrender into vulnerability with them.
We all contain both masculinity and femininity. The unique mix and balance of this energy within us is as essential as the flow of oxygen into our lungs and bloodstream.
2// Conduct a patriarchal thought detox. What are the stories you’re telling yourself about men and masculinity, and about gender overall? Do an inventory of your beliefs about masculinity and men, and choose some different stories.
Some of our big collective stories that you may have running on cruise control include: men should not be emotional, women are more emotional and nurturing than men, there are only two genders, men are just like that, what your body looks like determines your gender, and more.
Set a timer for 10 minutes, write these old stories out, and then decide what you want to replace them with. Write down your new narratives and reread them out loud every day for 21 days.
One my biggest autopilot scripts was that conscious men are few and far between, and that if I was really myself and spoke about gender the way I do, then I would have few connections with men, personally and professionally. I’m choosing to tell a different story now, to affirm that conscious stewards of masculine energy are all around me. And you know what? Bit by bit that community is emerging.
3// Understand that this work is not just for “bad guys.” When I discuss my conscious masculinity work, I often witness men immediately deciding that it’s not for them. Or women deciding that it’s not for their husband or their brother or their friend. Because they’re already “good.” They haven’t assaulted anyone recently. They don’t make gross jokes.
We have this mainstream idea that there are “those guys,” those really bad guys, who have really messed up, who really need to get their act together. They’re the problem. They’re the patriarchy. They’re the ones who need an intensive on conscious masculinity. But the truth is that this work is for ALL of us. We all have an opportunity and a responsibility to become stewards of a new era of masculinity, of gender, of humanity.
4// Embrace and reclaim the masculinity within yourself. No matter your gender, you contain an alchemical blend of both masculinity and femininity within yourself. How does your masculinity manifest? In the clothes you wear? In the role you play in your relationships? In the way you tackle a project or negotiate a deal? In the fictional characters you identify with and seek to emulate? How conscious is your masculinity? How much have you chosen it, rather than operating it on autopilot? What do you love about your masculinity? How does it symbiotically complement and amplify your femininity? What do you wish others could see about it?
Write a love letter to your masculinity. Honor what you learn about yourself in the process.
5// Practice inviting others into this conversation. Where do you see others running on autopilot about masculinity and femininity? Maybe you’re a mom and you see how other parents assume so much about their children based on their sex assigned at birth. Assuming how their child’s body looks determines what their gender will be. Assuming boys will be tough and girls will like pink. Assuming girls will be nurturing and boys will be adventurous.
Just the other day I spoke with a mother who was grappling to understand why her 8-year-old son had been described by a teacher as “sensitive” and “safe” for the other kids to play with, because of how gentle and unaggressive he was. “I would have no problem seeing my daughter this way,” she said. “But it’s hard to compute how a boy could be described like that. It’s not how I see him.”
Maybe you’re a man and you are aware of how conditioned you are to not call out other men when they say something sexist, or to shame each other for expressing emotion. Maybe you’re a woman who feels super supported by your community of women, but feels like your male partner, family member, or friend, isn’t conscious of his masculinity and how it impacts you.
It’s okay to call the people into your life into greater accountability and connection. To do this, get honest about what your unique role is, however uncomfortable or scary it might feel. Whoever you are, your voice matters, and others will resonate with it.
A Manifesto for Conscious Masculinity The work of remaking our relationship to masculinity and femininity is, like all other fundamentally spiritual work, ultimately about restoring our capacity to self-determine our identity, to trust our intuition, and to unconditionally love ourselves.
We are the generational clean-up crew, taking ourselves off of the autopilot our ancestors ran for centuries, mending the wounds they did not know how to tend. As we emerge from the shadow, it is our birthright to embody unprecedented levels of self expression, connection, and ease. It is the work of a lifetime, but it’s why we’re here. And we don’t have to do it alone.
The future of masculinity is not an erasure of the traditional masculine archetype (ie strong, rugged, powerful, action-oriented), but a conscious release of the shadow sides of these traits (domination, control, emotional suppression, violence) and a conscious choosing of what our masculinity means to us.
The future of masculinity is the reclamation of this true divine masculine archetype, by whoever resonates most deeply with that energy.
The future of masculinity is amends and repair for generations of harm done, the honest reckoning of personal and collective shame and grief for violence committed, or violence not stopped.
The future of masculinity is an embrace of action without aggression, of leadership without dominance, of impetus and initiation without steamrolling, of grace without repression.
The future of masculinity is creation without collateral damage, strength without silencing, devotion without obsession, responsibility without control, power with rather then power over.
The future of masculinity is the intentional embrace of intuition, rather than the unconscious whim of instinct.
In short, it is a human life, fully and bravely lived, with self-love and connection with a Universal intelligence at its core, with nothing to prove and everything to share.
Ready for more support reclaiming a positive masculine archetype, for yourself, or someone else in your life? Registration is open for my online Conscious Masculinity Intensive. Use code NUMINOUS for 20% off all ticket levels through next Tuesday, November 20th. It’s open to men, masculine people of all genders, and allies; we even have a few parents of male-assigned-at-birth kids joining too! Join us in co-creating the future of gender, together.
Want to have Divine on speed dial? In her latest Holy F*ck column, Alexandra Roxo reveals that experiencing ecstasy is the key to strengthening our channel …
People have been seeking ecstasy for a long time. Whether it’s through herbs and psychoactive and psychedelic substances, or through ritual, prayer, meditation, fasting, sleep deprivation, pain, sex, and extreme temperature baths, most cultures have rituals and celebrations that invoke deeply ecstatic states.
From Greek rituals involving mind-altering substances, to the Sufis’ dance into ecstatic bliss, and the tantrikas’ journey into oceans of “samadhi” (ecstatic union with God/Goddess), religious texts usually speak of this search. In Norse mythology, the berserkers would enter into an altered state to be able to fight. And even animals have sought out herbs and fermentation that brought about some sort of consciousness shift.
These exercises can allll produce states of BLISS that allow the participant to commune with “God” or the Divine. And, well, who wouldn’t want that?
I’ll tell you who! A culture that DOES NOT want its people to be empowered to know the Divine on our own terms. That would prefer us to have to pay into the Divine via tithing (offerings), and bow to the leaders of a church. This being one of the epic reasons WHY ecstatic states became stigmatized in the U.S., specifically, and in the Western world in general.
Personally, I blame the Puritans for labelling seeking ecstatic states as scary, transgressive, or somehow shameful. If people, and women especially, had the Goddess on speed dial, than what would they need the church for?!! SO, they got the ax. Or rather, in the case of the Witch trials, when women would dance themselves into states of ecstasy, the noose.
What exactly is an “ecstatic” experience? In my terms, it is an experience that overrides the default mindset, the internal and external conditioning, and allows for a mind/body/spirit connection that transcends the normal, the typical, and the everyday.
This can result in waves of bliss, with senses ablaze and alive, heart open to a massive flow of love. Where the normal perception and experience of reality is transcended and expanded into a massively blissful, joyful, and loving one that shakes you at the core.
I’ve been exploring this for many years. At age 12, I was attempting to speak in tongues and faint on the floor at Baptist Church camp. And I experienced my first waves of sexual ecstasy around the same time. Since then, I’ve experimented with meditation, prayer, fasting, ritual, dance, song, pain, sex, and psychedelics. Each produces a different type of ecstasy.
Now, I take other people on journeys in my work through ecstatic states that can reframe and contextualize trauma, release stored emotions, and promote a deeper connection to self. Within a safe space, this process of finding ecstatic states can be very, very healing.
A dating app for ecstasy? I am drawn like a fly on honey to people who know and experience ecstatic states withoutdrugs.
A few years ago, I met two men who had participated in the Sundance ceremony, which involved piercings on the chest, and days of dancing and fasting. To me, these were the HOTTEST men alive! “Um, you spent multiple days with flesh wounds on your chest while fasting and dancing and singing, in the name of uniting with Divine energy and helping save the Earth?! Sign me up!!!”
There is nothing sexier to me than someone who sees and understands the value of finding ecstatic states on the regular without having to pop a pill. Someone so adept at meditation that turning their body to light is NBD. If there was a dating app for this category of human, it would make my life a lot easier!
It’s not Burner vibes. It’s not adventures with psychedelics. I’m talking about people with a thirst for ecstasy that comes from wanting to know the Divine. Wanting to know love. From a remembrance of a state that your soul knows, and longs for.
Anybody else with me on this one?
5 paths towards ecstasy for the Modern Spiritual Human **A disclaimer: When you enter into ecstasy, you are opening yourself up massively, so you want to allow for this shift in your reality, perception, and internal state to happen in a safe setting. If you enter into an ecstatic state in a train station for instance, you could get taken away to a mental institution. So set and setting are key! You want be in a safe space. Surrounded by people you trust. Or alone. Remember you are opening ALL the channels and you want to do this with care. Especially if you are new to it.
1// Start simply. If you want to start safely, you can explore ecstatic states through something simple like chanting or ecstatic dance. Many cities have “Ecstatic Dance” communities and classes. Places with DJs and it’s sober and you just shake it out.
If you’re a yogi, chanting mantras in Kirtan could produce these states. You can seek a Bhakti yoga practice. Many cultures and religions have their own styles of song, and some may take you into ecstasy. Some not. When I used to go to the Agape Church in LA, their gospel choir had me in tears and I sang and danced til I lost myself.
2// Explore your blocks. Because it can take years to release your default programming and open to the ecstasy available through song and dance, many people reach for a psychedelic or drug—because it offers a quick way in! But that also means it may have the most emotional, spiritual, and physical hangover, since you are literally stretching into an expanded state very quickly, flooding your body, and then snapping out fast.
You can micro dose different plant medicines if you want to go slowly. But beware; before you are granted ecstasy, you will likely first be shown any blocks you have to ecstasy! If you take MDMA, for instance, you may be opened quickly, but will likely be asked to deal with some spiritual and mystical pain the day after from that flood of chemicals and expansion, and the ensuing lack thereof.
3// Ease in with meditation. It may take years before you get to ecstasy this way, but it will happen. Trust me! I’ve been meditating for 15 years and it happens often now. I feel like I am being made love to by an invisible force (consensual of course!) and it is amazing.
If you want to reach ecstatic states in meditation and not wait 10 years, you can try White Tantra or a Vipassana retreat. Both are in-depth practices and you’re likely to access ecstasy faster. But no guarantees of course!
4// Get it on (consciously). If you establish trust, a deep connection, and emotional and physical safety, you can achieve insane ecstatic states with sex. Again though, if you open too fast, without a safe container and the spiritual and emotional components, you will suffer the repercussions. Chances are, you will feel depressed, anxious and shitty for days after. Perhaps you will feel guilt and shame as well.
Conscious BDSM is an amazing way into ecstasy in a safe space. Set the intention to open to the Divine before you begin. Japanese rope bondage and suspension work in particular has taken me to great heights of ecstasy, and I led two retreats last year that took women into that space for transcendence, ecstasy, and healing.
Pain can be a tried and true portal to ecstasy. Again, within a safe container, an intense consensual pain session with spanking or flogging or whipping or caning can produce deep and ecstatic bliss. Some religious sects also used pain as a portal to divine and ecstatic bliss. Light spankings are a safe place to start!
You can also start a self-pleasure practice that opens you to ecstasy. It will take time. Practice. A safe space so you can let go and scream and cry and release. At dinner the other night with my two besties, I was talking about my magical rose quartz wand and the orgasmic bliss I have with it, and their jaws dropped. It’s profound!
5// Remember that integration is KEY. Integration means the time you take in between practices to process, rest, release, and allow your system to recalibrate. If you mix drugs and sex and pain and all of it you may go into wild ecstasy, but have a “WTF did I just do?!” the next day, feeling like you got hit by a train.
Unless you have stretched yourself internally to hold some levels of ecstasy over time, you will fuck with yourself psychologically, spiritually, emotionally and physically if you rush things. Seriously. I’ve learned this the hard way.
If you don’t have the skills or tools to integrate ecstatic experience into your life, you can blow a fuse, go back to exactly where you were before, or contract even smaller. But if you integrate your experience fully, you can allow the ecstatic experience to expand you. And you can STAY expanded, therefore experiencing levels of ecstasy OFTEN.
Begin by simply noticing when you feel ECSTATIC and take note. Breathe it in. Don’t zip by. As you notice, your capacity will grow. As you practice, you will stretch into holding more.
Rest. Be gentle on you. You’re re-teaching your system that’s its safe to feel this good. After centuries of being told that IT IS NOT. Write. Journal. Take salt baths.
Start slowly, but be diligent and don’t give up on finding this KEY and GIFT to your human system!!
Stay tuned for more Holy F*ck from Alexandra. Over the next few months, she will be interviewing women who learned how to access deep healing and ecstatic states during her yearlong program. Learn more about Alexandra and her work HERE.
Spiritual and queer? It’s on us to create places to practice that reflect every shade of spiritual pride, says Alexandra Roxo … PLUS 3 ways to create more inclusive healing spaces.
Some of my favorite summer memories were in my first Pride month in New York City in 2009. I was falling in love and my girlfriend was ecstatic to be bringing me into her community. It almost felt cliche to fall in love during Pride! Finally coming out as bisexual/queer, after years of closeted same sex encounters not deemed appropriate in Marietta, GA where I grew up, I finally was able to be the whole me.
During this time though I veered away from some of my spiritual growth. Not because I actively thought I couldn’t be in a lesbian relationship and also be spiritual, but on a subconscious level I had internalized this belief. Why? Because none of the spiritual traditions I’d studied said anything positive about same sex partnerships or sexuality. When I asked some of my yogic teachers about this, they frowned and avoided the question.
There also weren’t any spiritual leaders I looked towards who were openly queer. So in a sense, during those years I shunned my own spiritual devotion in order to express my true sexuality.
It is difficult to stay committed to a spiritual practice when your leaders and teachers don’t reflect your experience. Deepak wasn’t queer. Yogananda wasn’t. Marianne wasn’t. The tantra books I was reading all featured hetero couples so I stopped reading them. In spiritual circles or in yoga communities and retreats I felt out of place. So I nixed them for a while and made plant medicines and gay nightclubs my church.
As I matured however, I realized that just because Krishna and Radha aren’t gay, or Jesus and Mary Magdalene, that being queer doesn’t make me less devoted. I turned my attention inwards and began to focus again on my practice. Even though the retreats and spiritual communities I was in remained mainly straight and white, I stopped giving a fuck and showed up anyway without looking for a validation of my experience there.
When teachers assumed hetero preference as we discussed sacred spiritual sex practices, I would get hot and nervous and want to speak up. It always took me a moment to raise my hand and say I was bisexual/queer identified, but it was always worth it. And not only for me, but also so the teacher could consider including diverse experiences in the class.
On my path, I’ve also been deeply inspired by every other person who shows up to retreats, yoga classes, and ceremonies despite not seeing their experience reflected in the people there. Who raises their hand and stands up for their experience, too. Not to prove a point. But to feel seen. To begin to shift an outdated paradigm and create change. It takes a brave soul to willingly highlight your difference, but it is worth it—for each of us personally, and also as a collective.
The below queer leaders and teachers are going one step further by shifting the face of wellness to open the gates for way more inclusion and love in the spiritual scene. Here they are offering some words of wisdom, spiritual teachings and personal experiences for you this Pride month …
BUNNY MICHAEL. @bunnymichael. They / them. “When I think about it now, coming out queer at age 15 in Texas was probably one of my first spiritual experiences. It was the first time I had to trust what my heart was telling me, not what I was conditioned to believe in. It was the first time I had defined for myself what Love was. It was the first time I was truly afraid. Afraid to lose the people who were most close to me. It was the first time I questioned my worth. Being queer gave me an early insight that the spiritual path isn’t always easy … and it’s not supposed to be. It shows you your limits and how to break free of them. It challenges your foundations and builds a bridge to step into a peace within yourself. It shows you that in every space you walk into it is your responsibility to stand up for Love.” Bunny is a healer, writer, musician, activist and artist.
SAH D’SIMONE. @sahdsimone. He/ his. “A little residue of the collective prejudice [on being queer] still creeps up in my mind once in a while, and in the past it would leave me with a knot in my throat, followed by thoughts of guilt and shame around being myself. Now after 6 years of spiritual work I can see that unconscious reaction taking place and I can pause the downward spiral — breathe it out, and wish myself and everyone that could be getting hooked in this collective trauma to heal and be okay with being themselves so fully! Truth I stand by is that when we are truly ourselves without the baggage of shame that was passed on to us, we are actually inviting other people to be themselves fully too. And wow that’s a powerful spiritual gift you’re sharing with everyone around you.” Sah is a gay identified meditation teacher and transformational coach.
DANNY BRAVE. @hellodannybrave. He/his. “Spiritual practice allows me to get into alignment with my soul, and sexuality is my favored way of embodying that soul with the fullest pleasure and power. Being queer, as it turns out, means just being me. It means I don’t follow the ‘rules’ with gender, with relationships, with clothing, or with essentially anything. It means I am just me.” Danny is a trans identified healer, writer and activist.
LISA LUXX. @luxxy_luxx. She/her. “My sexuality IS my spiritual position: I’m daughter of our elemental earth, all my relationships are seasonal, and I desire women who view all levels of intimacy as a conscious practice where we can exercise our subconscious and unconscious paradigms, ultimately making every connection a space to grow in …” Lisa is a queer writer and activist and poet living in the UK.
AARON ROSE. @aaronxrose. He/him. “My gender & sexuality have been evolving my whole life. The more I heal, the more I develop my spirituality, the more me I become. These days I identify as a gay trans man. When I was 7 years old I was obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio and I always wondered: do I want to be him or date him? Turns out the answer is both!I feel deeply that there is a very specific reason that I am a man who experienced socialization & abuse as a child who the world saw as a girl. Those experiences have allowed me to grow up into a healed and whole man, with a deep capacity for nurturance and emotional presence. I am called to celebrate both the divine feminine and masculine within myself and lead from that place of integration.” Aaron is a gay trans identified coach and leader who works on diversity and inclusion strategies for businesses and individuals.
Ultimately, it’s up to us to revolutionize the modern spirituality scene to become more inclusive, diverse, and celebratory of healthy sexual and creative expression, dialogue, and freedom. Regardless of your own sexual, political, or romantic preferences, here are a few things we can all do to make spiritual spaces more inclusive:
– No assumptions! You can’t assume someone is male or female or gay or straight. Ask! If they wanna answer then great, if not all good. Respect the boundaries.
– Take out gender referential language. You can still honor masculine and feminine of course. But saying directly “hi ladies!!” Or “hey guys!” Or “hey goddess!” Can hurt hearts if this does not speak to the experience of someone in the group. Claim what works for you.
– Update for the Now Age. If you’re leading or teaching from ancient texts consider modifying language for 2018 to be more inclusive.
Thank you to everyone out there stepping up, stepping out, shining bright, risking, shouting, asking questions, listening, and shifting the old paradigm of spirituality and wellness into more inclusivity and diversity to reflect the world we live in.
Treat yourself to the full Gemini season rainbow with Eunice Lucero‘s non-binary beauty picks …
Thankfully, we’ve begun to embrace that gender is anything but a binary concept—it’s not black and white, or worse, pink versus blue—and Gemini season is prime time to embrace the full spectrum of the rainbow. No shade to feminine frills, but this month we’re feeling sleek, minimalistic buys that are as sassy as they are inclusive.
We’ve listed our selections for each Gemini placement, but these products truly are for everyone. Curious about what Gemini rules in your chart? You can do you birth chart HERE for free. Oh and bonus, we also put the spotlight on product pairs and groups—as Geminis know, twinning is twice the fun …
1// Sun in Gemini: Panacea The Aegis Daily Facial Moisturizer, $46 for 50ml, and The Aegis Daily Facial SPF, $38. Named after the Greek word for “all-healing,” you love witty products that talk the talk, but that have integrity too. This line is made of premium ingredients all in a straightforward, easy-to-use formulation—appealing to your smart, ingredient-based approach to skincare. The moisturizer’s potent yet streamlined cocktail (hyaluronic acid, Japanese seaweed, fig extract) delivers lightweight nourishment and syncs up with your penchant for thoughtful content; the SPF is scentless and non-greasy, allowing you some hassle-free fun in the sun, as you can’t let UV rays cramp your networking steez. Best yet? They’re both TSA-friendly, because, of course, you’re all about leaning into that natural wanderlust.
2// Moon in Gemini: Meant The Absolute Balm, $45 and The Wonder Polish, $43. Multitasking is the name of the game for this delightfully chic line, which totally simplifies your shower routine—and gives mood-groomers like you a break from overthinking! Your decisions, particularly with beauty indulgences, are as mercurial as your mile-a-minute convo skills, so dual-purpose winners take the anxiety out of choosing between style and substance. Prep with the polish, which is an organic body scrub and an in-shower moisturizer (it has coffee, sugar and avocado—basically brekkie for your bod), then indulge in the anti-oxidant-filled balm, whose soft formula doubles as a sexy, cozy salve that treats and soothes.
3// Ascendant in Gemini:Schwarzkopf Professionals BlondMe® Instant Blush Blonde Beautifier in Steel Blue and Strawberry, $22 each. Your youthful looks and charming open-mindedness give you the moxie for the latest trends; you’re not afraid to try new things, which is why you were probably first on the candy-hair bandwagon when it hit the scene years ago. Prolong those rainbow-unicorn vibes while giving your look a current spin with a pair of non-committal pastel sprays specifically formulated for lightened or blonde locks. Spray and comb through for a fest-best ’do, or even use the light blue shade to help tone that on-trend dusky platinum when it turns brassy. The colors last up to five washes—enough time to stay breezily on-point for your next soirée.
4// Mercury in Gemini: Cydney Mar Wellness Energetic Body & Mind Adrenal Support, $38, and Jecca Correct & Conceal Palette in Medium, $21.80. A ball of restless energy, you’re undoubtedly at home in an intellectually stimulating environment. Eclectic, versatile and super quick on the uptake, life candefinitely burn you out if you’re not careful! A supplement that gives a gentle energy boost via rhodiola, a.k.a. nature’s secret weapon against fatigue and mental burnout, is great for nervous types. Fun fact: Rhodiola also helps improve allergy resistance, which is clutch for you Mercs in Gemini who are so plugged into their social surroundings. Once you’re set on the inside, fine-tune any remaining imperfections with a concealer palette that impeccably neutralizes, because as you’ll learn time and again, life is nothing but a play on balance.
5// Venus in Gemini: Pinrose Pillowtalk Poet Eau de Parfum, $65 for 50ml, and Bite Beauty Limited Edition Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Gemini, $26. Words are the way to your heart; lively, sparkling conversation is what you consider the biggest turn-on. Communication is also the main vehicle for your charms, making you an expert in the art of smooth-talking and flirty conversation, not to mention that perfectly placed double entendre. Maintain this seductive signature with a perfume that’s made for morning-after banter—a powdery, fresh-laundry scent evokes a light, gender-neutral vibe—and seal the deal with a two-in-one (!) lippie, in shades that mirror both sides of that quirky Gem personality.
6// Mars in Gemini: Context Nude Balm in Heartbreaker, $20, and dōTERRA Basil Oil, $26.67. Gentle reminder to all you Mars in Gemini firecrackers: The pen is mightier than the sword, particularly where you’re concerned. An impassioned orator and writer, you are SO not one to shy away from a healthy debate to get your point across—so perhaps a muted, non-threatening lip balm can help soften those blows (also try and keep your convo nasty-free, just like the balm’s formula). For that changeable energy though, go for an oil blend that heightens focus and keeps your social ADHD from going haywire. Tip: Rub on your pulse points and inhale with three deep breaths, especially when you start feeling fidgety.
7// Jupiter in Gemini: Non Gender Specific Everything Serum, $65, The Art of Shaving Engraved 3 Blade Razor, $175. You’re genuinely curious and outgoing, leaving you with no shortage of friends, and perhaps even a handful of admirers who enjoy your “the more, the merrier” approach in social situations. Your magnanimous vibe is echoed in your choice of self-care too: You love starting with a positive, clean slate, and a clean shave, with a quality razor, is as tabula rasa as it gets! Follow up with an equally high-minded serum that’s not afraid to go big: As the name suggests, this optimistic formula targets nearly all major skin issues, from lines to pores to hyperpigmentation, with a lovely, all-folks-welcome smile on its face.
8// Saturn in Gemini: KNIGHT CO. Exfoliating Face Scrub, $30, and Complete Moisturizer, $30. Crisp and simple, yet with an exacting attention to detail, it’s no surprise that you resonate with expertly curated products that don’t waste time on frivolities. Not only is this no-nasty exfoliant too chic not to flaunt on your shelf (you’re all about understated, almost curt-like quality), it’s also made with natural and organic ingredients. Same with the moisturizer, which wears so light on skin and imparts a soft matte glow, which people know is a hallmark of your cool confident look.
9// Uranus in Gemini: Herbivore Botanicals Travel Set for Combination/Oily Skin Types, $48. A bit dry one day, crazy-oily the next? Sometimes travel can wreak havoc on a complexion, as changes in temps and hormonal levels can be zany AF. Thankfully you’re no stranger to unpredictability (and frequent flyer miles!), and even welcome both with a gregarious, offbeat spirit. Thank your innate good-naturedness, or, you know, having a handy, backpack-friendly, beat-anything set of natural face and body boosters in tow. Just saying.
10// Neptune in Gemini: Fluide Blue Trio (liquid lipstick, glitter and nail polish), on sale for $35. This wonderfully inclusive brand’s lip, nail and glitter set is made for nebulous Neptune Gems, who practically embody sparkle in thought and deed. For this wildly imaginative lot, communication is more intuitive and facts are more like suggestions anyway, right? And besides, anyone who doesn’t get your big-picture mentality can immediately be waved off, stat, with a perfectly pigmented, 7-free vegan mani and matching pout.
11/ Pluto in Gemini: Context White Charcoal Detox Mask, $45, and Absorb Skin Care The Face Oil, $110. Detoxing, whether physically, mentally or energetically, is a requisite in this day and age, and Pluto Geminis embrace this purge like a fish to water. Keeping things fresh and cutting edge highlights your love of renewal and change, and a luxe charcoal mask, followed by a refreshing serum made of all of nature’s best stuff (organic pomegranate and other omegas and antioxidants) is all the doctor ordered to kick-start your skin—and psyche—into gear.
12// Chiron in Gemini: MMXV Infinitude Universal Facial Treatment, $225, and The Better Skin Co. Zit No More Acne Treatment, $18. Maybe you never got over that niggling middle-school bout of insecurity keeping you from speaking your truth; maybe it’s just a paralyzing self-doubt of not being articulate or well-versed enough, or being the subject of other people’s toxic gossip. Squash all these irrational bad news bears and start building your confidence from the outside in, with a skin saver that gives you one less thing to feel anxious about. Follow it up with a game-changing miracle cream that also tackles seven main concerns, literally making your glam as foolproof as can be.
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.
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.
Want to ignite your Aries season with sustainable fire? Eunice Lucero reveals the best red lips to power up for a consciously gorgeous month ahead …
We’re in the full flow of Aries season, Numiverse! A.k.a. the only time when red means anything but “stop,” urging us to get in gear to fulfill our goals for the astrological new year ahead.
We’re paying homage to the month of the ram with a roundup of pure, sustainable, and purposeful lipsticks and balms guaranteed to fire you up and get your point across—all in the sign’s signature power color, of course.
**Bonus: We’ve paired each look up with a natal Aries planet! But regardless of your personal planets, read on to get your red on …
1// Sun in Aries: RMS Beauty Wild With Desire Lipstick in Firestarter (fiery red orange), $28. Feeling hot, hot, hot? Naturally, and with good reason: This certified organic feisty red orange has a luxe satiny finish, perfect for getting your word out in style. Its wildcrafted ingredients also speak to the unbridled passion and ambition you have coursing through your veins.
2//Moon in Aries: Burt’s Bees Satin Lipstick in Ruby Ripple (jewel toned ruby red), $9. Your feelings have an unmatched emotional pull, so why not gift them with the powerful vessel they deserve? Voice it out and gild those lips in a deep, moody, gem-inspired red fit for a goddess, in a formula that’s 100% percent natural and provides 8-hour moisture. #NoCompromises
3//Aries Rising: Axiology Natural Organic Lipstick in True (classic vermillion red), $30. Your Aries Rising definitely loves making a loud-and-proud statement. A classic true red lippie is the most straightforward accessory for your passionate, goal-oriented personality—and one that’s 100% vegan and natural, and cruelty-, palm oil- and gluten-free is a rare bullet we can get behind.
4//Mercury in Aries: Beautycounter Red Color Intense Lipstick (creamy medium orange red), $34. There’s no risk of misunderstanding what you say, as your message is potent and your communication style direct AF! This already-ethical, safety-first brand takes it one step further with a lipstick that’s a call to arms for Congress: the anniversary edition bullet supports Beautycounter’s cry for better health laws for the personal care industry.
5//Venus in Aries: Lune+Aster PowerLips Quickstick in Date Night (deep neutral red), $24. A romantic who never shies away from your passions, you also know that the sexiest aesthetic touches always include a bit of spice. A dark neutral red in a vegan, paraben-free infusion, inspired by modern go-getters (“Date Night”’s muse is Cameron Hardesty, head of merchandising at Urbanstems) expresses your business-always-meets-pleasure credo—in a handy stick formula, no less.
6//Mars in Aries: Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Aries, $26. You’re feelin’ yourself this month, and those enthusiastic sparks of creativity are no coincidence. Blessed with intense physical energy and a headstrong drive to go with it, pity the toxic soul that dares to stand in your dreams’ way. No holds barred here: this all-natural, bespoke fiery red orange stick is totally on-brand for winners like you.
7//Jupiter in Aries: Aveda Feed My Lips ™ Pure Nourish-Mint ™ Lipstick in Goji (vibrant red), $24. Born leaders like you need no introduction, but a bright, inspiring red can’t hurt the case, right? Whether it’s life-coaching or putting up a new business, give that positive, entrepreneurial spirit a boost with cosmetics that echo your innate optimism and transparency, like a 95% naturally derived lipstick chock-full of organic botanicals.
8//Uranus in Aries: French Girl Organics Le Lip Tint in Terre Rouge (terracotta red with a copper sheen), $16. That crazy-electric burst of inspo in the middle of the night? Yeah, you’re ready to put that into action very soon, and nothing can stand in your way … most especially a fussy routine. You’re resourceful and energetic, so a sheer, wear-anywhere tint (made of pure organic essential oils, shea butter and natural oxides, natch) is just the low-maintenance glam you need to fit your frenetic, boho-chic vibe.
9//Saturn in Aries: Ecco Bella Flowercolor Lipstick in Claret Rose (shimmery red-brown), $21.95. No lip service for you! Capable and confident, you demand clear-cut results and not just blind action—which is why a clean, no-nasty formula in a work/play hue of reddish brown is just the thing. We love the smooth, creamy payoff we get from this vegan, naturally-preserved and gluten-, petroleum- and fragrance-free lippie.
10//Neptune in Aries: 100 Percent Pure Fruit Pigmented ® Lip Glaze in Pomegranate (deep pinky red), $26. Not everyone can get away with inspired conviction without getting the dreaded roll-eye, but you do with ease and a trademark shimmery charisma. Not only is this semi-sheer, romantic berry red shade vegan and fruit-pigmented, it’s a unique red that’s as nuanced as your visionary beliefs too.
11//Pluto in Aries: MAC Viva Glam Sia (warm, matte vivid red), $17.50. You’re all about the power of change and transformation, whether brought on by an unapologetically sexual red lip, devoting yourself to a higher calling, or supporting a cause to kill off a stigma. Either way, this is the iconic pick that checks all those Plutonian boxes.
12//Chiron in Aries: Ilia Lipstick in Perfect Day (soft, warm coral red), $26. Although going easy on yourself is oftentimes easier said than done, it pays to remember that you are not only enough—you’re downright awesome, perceived flaws be damned! A flattering, gentle coral red helps put you in the best light whenever you need a quick ego lift; its clean, organic ingredients also offer up a guilt-free swipe.
How can embracing your deepest sexy unleash your creative force? In her latest column, Alexandra Roxo shows us that diving into our full sexual power is the key to world domination …
Owning my sexual and creative power, and letting it inform my life and creativity and work, has been revolutionary and radical … despite how much society had told me I’m too loud or too sexual or too freaky or kinky or messy or whatever.
Here are a few of my tried and true techniques for owning your sexual power, your guts, your voice, and your gifts to the world …
FIRST: A little visualization for your viewing pleasure …
Imagine you are a house. Perhaps 5 stories high. Castlelike. Grand. Tall. Well crafted. And each floor and each room is decorated beautifully. Lamps and lights and candles. Beautiful art. Cultivated space. But the first floor, the foundation, is dark, full of cobwebs. Closets locked. Perhaps a corner here and there with a little light that is only turned on “sometimes”—on a special occasion …
Now imagine this floor is your sexual energy. Your life force. Your creative power that is waiting to be stirred deep inside you.
Does it only get stirred in a bed in the dark? Between sheets? With your partner? Or a vibrator? What if you ran through that first floor, saged it out, turned on all the lights, decorated it—made it come to life?
We live in a world of compartmentalization. We shit in another room with a locked door. We carry our money in locked safes and little wallets held close to our bodies. We have sex in a bed in the dark.
When I was younger, my menstrual cycle was WAY off. After some soul searching, I realized that it was most off during the times that I was suppressing my power. Now, if my cycle is late, I look at how I’ve been holding back and “keeping it together?” How can I EMBODY my power, my vision, and my voice more boldly?
Sexual power IS creative power! And it does not work when controlled or locked away. In fact, this is hurting many of us. Disrupting our menstrual flows. Our skin. Causing diseases. Depression … the list goes on.
How might your life change if your sexual energy was present in every moment, every business deal, every Pilates class? Here’s how to awaken your deep sexy and use it to power your mission …
STEP 1// DEFINE YOUR “DEEP SEXY” Sexual energy does NOT have to be defined or encapsulated in the “sexy” of black lingerie. Or being coy, Or performing “sexy.” Or having skinny thighs. Or whispering fantasies at dinner. I LOVE all that but that is JUST one layer.
Deep Sexy to ME is sexual energy as POWER. Holding the key to all creation between your legs. The womb being an infinite pool of ideas and visions of growth. Orgasms healing the world.
A portal to the Divine that you are I are both gifted with.
We begin breaking the compartmentalization of sex as penetration, locked doors, and quiet moments in the dark, by practicing turning it on. No need to stroke a clit. No need to stick it in. Just breathe into that flow. give it space, connect to its depths.
This can be literally visualizing sexual energy as a certain color running through your body. Or connecting it to a scent. Or a song. Find a VISCERAL and SENSORIAL “IN,” and go with it.
That is what lights up the house. Increases financial flow. Health. Radiance. Love. Business growth. The whole house is illuminated.
OKAY NOW YOU GO! Write your own list. What is sexy to YOU?
STEP 2// BELLY BREATH VS. CHEST BREATH This is how you start to see and FEEL your sexuality. Meditate into your pelvis, your guts. Give your whole lower body as much importance as you do your mind, remembering every day about the portal to source energy that lives in there.
This can be practiced through dancing in your undies. Doing deep belly breathing at home in the mirror or with a book on your stomach while watching TV. Or picking points in your day by putting an alert in your cal that says “Am I breathing into my GUTS? My deep BELLY?”
And notice if you’re sucking it in. Let your belly hang out as much as possible, even though it may feel kinda weird! Breathe it open with deep belly breaths instead of shallow chest ones.
STEP 3// WHAT IF YOUR BRILLIANT IDEAS CAME ALL THE WAY FROM DOWN BELOW? Ask yourself “Did I just make this business decision from my mind? My heart? My womb? My balls?”
Regardless of your genitalia or gender identification, let your ideas brew from your depths, the roots, the intimate parts of you. Not the surface layers of your mind.
One way to check if you are truly dropping into your sexual power and living from THERE instead of the mind is to see how much you can FEEL in the moment you are making that decision. Can you feel your clit? Your cervix? Your kundalini vibes? Your balls? Your anus? (Not by literal touching, just the vibes and energy!)
And if you’re not feeling it, THAT’S OK! Try using a Chakrub, doing some PC muscle clenching, or literally start talking to your body and trying to put into words what that part of you is feeling today.
It may sound LOL, but unless you can really identify what your root is feeling, you definitely can’t find your gut intuition or make decisions from there.
STEP 4// GET MESSY AND WILD Look to the most genius creator for wisdom—MOTHER NATURE! She is wild! Messy! Disgusting! Ravenous! Beautiful! Sensual! Vicious!
Messy for me can mean taking a day to hike, laying in a field, walking barefoot, wearing no makeup, peeing outside.
But what does it mean to you? This may mean vision boarding on the floor of bedroom and making a mad genius mess of old magazines. It may mean a week you play with letting your hair be wild and free. Or only wearing long flowy dresses.
Write down 5 things that feel “messy,” aka “outside the box,” to you. One day a week take a “IMA B MESSY AND NOT GIVE A FUCK” practice. So. Fun.
STEP 5// MAKE CONTAINERS FOR YOUR FLOW TO FLOW IN! As you unlock your flow, don’t be afraid to have structures. A set time to meditate. Time to stare into space. Time to journal. To masturbate. Time to roll around on the floor sobbing.
Because when you start to open that flow of energy stored in your pelvis you will feel A LOT. The power can be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid. Stay close to friends. Nurture yourself. And most of all … HAVE FUN!
We are deep in the collective process of healing through hundreds of years of collective trauma towards women, towards sexuality, towards, well, A LOT. We will not stay quiet, hating ourselves, being ashamed of being sexual, powerful beings. Let’s do this. TOGETHER.
In Moon Club, our online mentoring program and growth accelerator for your Spirit and Business, you can get help finding your power and voice, and sharing it with the world. Join our “New Moon Ritual Intentions Setting Journey” on April 15th with something to let go of! Last month people were loving it so much that we heard it was “orgasmic” and “completely life changing.” Attend your first New Moon Ritual for FREE by emailing [email protected]. We would love to have you!
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.
Amidst all the external noise, how can you tell what’s coming from the “real” you? Samantha Moyo reveals how to hear the voice of your soul and open a direct channel to the messages that count …
“You are gold, GOLD! Always believe in your Soul. You’ve got the power to know…” – Wise words from a 1970s Pop Guru.
Want more soulgasms? Connecting with our soul means more confidence, clarity, intimacy, sensuality, creativity, sexual empowerment, passion, heartgasms, tribegasms, naturegasms and if you’re lucky, multiple-orgasm orgasms! Want more of that? Of course you do.
I’ve included a ritual below to help you call the voice of your Soul back in, plus all the ways I know when it’s my Soul speaking to me—and my hope is that you reach the end of this article with the realization that you don’t actually need me to tell you jack shit, since your Soul has all the answers you could ever need …
But first, I am because we are My last name, Moyo, means Heart/Soul in a few different African languages. I grew up in Zimbabwe where life was a combination of breath-taking adventures, community celebrations and sunsets … and moments of what felt like hell. Poverty, Mugabe’s dictatorship, inflation, family drama, fuel shortages and AIDS spreading through families like wildfire.
In a climate like this, you learn very quickly about the importance of human spirit; rituals, tradition and ceremony that connect you to spirit are introduced to a child from day one. And with this comes an understanding of the word Soul, as well as the Ubuntu philosophy, which says: “I am because we are.”
Concepts of love, oneness, tribe, and generosity of spirit are infused in the blueprint of my people, to the point these are not even topics of conversation. When things simply are, they go unspoken. Like the sacred love you have for a beloved after 30 years of marriage.
The unspoken, hidden truth Some of my favorite childhood experiences were the times I’d spend with Grandpa in the garden. Hanging out with him meant sitting still, in silence, and staring at the plants and flowers. He’d sit there for hours and I’d challenge myself to sit with him for as long as possible. Little did I realize that Grandpa was teaching me to appreciate silence, nature, and the art of listening within. When we weren’t silent, he taught me African Proverbs.
In hindsight, all this time with Grandpa was teaching me to tune into my inner wisdom and read between the lines.
I remember from a young age understanding that we can see more than what others may see and we can see more than we share. That there seem to be unspoken truths to life that we all kept hidden away. Like the way my Soul could tell when an adult was lying about something to appease me, or knew that trying dangerous tricks on my bike and playing in the rain could get me ill (but still couldn’t stop me trying!)
The voice of my Soul in childhood was waaaaay less conservative than now. If my childish Soul could have her way, I’d escape the office daily to climb London’s scaffolding sites just for the fun for it!
A ritual to reclaim your soul Before learning how to know when our Soul is speaking to us, there’s some prep we’ve all gotta do, which is to reclaim our connection with Soul and learn how to tune in easily!
(*And by the way, I still lose touch with my Soul daily—like when I find myself practicing mindlessness in the form of social media scrolling, grabbing a sandwich with ingredients I “shouldn’t” be eating, or daydreaming about having a sacred sexual awakening with Cara Delevingne and Danai Gurira).
Here’s how to start:
1// Place thy ass on the floor / a chair
2// Smile and feel into the heart. If this feels weird, just think of a heart-warming experience you’ve had
3// Use “boyband-reaching-up hand gestures” to bring your soul into your heart (repeat x 8)
4// Close your eyes and sit in silence for ***as long as it takes*** with your attention on your heart space. (“You can’t hurry love, no you just have to wait!” said another pop guru).
5// Only open your eyes when you have felt your essence, your soul, your spirit, your passion, your glow, your fire, any hint of aliveness that feels greater than the incessant chatter of the mind. This feeling might resemble a moment of excitement, intrigue, elation, or joyful curiosity.
6// Take MORE time if it’s required. Kindness, compassion, and gentleness, are the way to this connection
**Bonus step: Book an appointment with your “Soul Doctor” Another way of reclaiming your soul connection is to prescribe yourself some Soul Medicine—meaning anything you can keep in your metaphorical tool kit for getting into your Soul space. Examples might be music, smelling essential oils, crystal bathing, nature walks, yoga, meditation, dancing, stroking your face. Anything that triggers the soft, raw, authentic You within you. Yes, you’ve got this! No health insurance required.
But how do you know if it’s your Soul speaking to you? We are all receiving internal messages and ideas all of the time, and it’s super important to distinguish what is Soul, what is ego, what is influence from the external world, and what is just plain old crap.
For example, feeling horny one night I texted my ex because I thought my Soul was telling me we needed to have break-up sex! Errr, yeah, this was not the Soul, it was pure horniness / ego.
The reason I could tell is because my ex laughed at me and had not had the same message from her Soul! What I was experiencing was loneliness and some vulnerability, and framing this as my Soul speaking to me gave me a romantic way out. #soulnotsoul
Here’s how to know it really IS the voice of your Soul …
1// There are no maybes.Ask yourself three times if it is your Soul. Close your eyes, place your hand on your heart and ask, “is this my Soul?” Then pause for an answer and repeat three times. The “yes” has to be clear and be a full body “yes.” A hint of doubt is “no.” “Maybe” is also “no.”
2// Messages from the Soul are loud and clear. When they are ignored they keep coming back to you. So that thing that won’t go away—yep, it’s your Soul calling.
In August I was meant to go to Burning Man to host a gig with Carl Cox and then spend a weekend at a gathering at Harvard Divinity School. Two very important things for my work life. Then a message came through to cancel both trips. I tried to ignore the message but it kept coming back to me. My body was experiencing the message in every cell and it was clear I had to cancel the US trip. Cancelling was the best thing I did in 2017, as I ended up going on an unforgettable trip through Africa. My Soul fucking knew!
3// Your Soul is in it for the long-haul. Your Soul is non-biased and gives messages for your long-term wellbeing, not necessarily short-term. The messages can be obscured and may not seem urgent, but listening will help you make choices in the present that will benefit you further along in your Soul journey. Your Soul is a Compass that is Connected with the frequency of everything else in existence. It therefore has the coordination/timing of when you are meant to do certain things—exactly in alignment with the rest of world, for everyone’s greatest good.
4// It’s not all “me, me, me!” Your Soul is pure love so sometimes a message has other people or the planet’s requirements to share with you. Hence soul-synched people are always sharing, spreading and uplifting others. You’ll know you’re listening when you find yourself acting this way too! When we’re working from a Soul space we tend to be driven by purpose, and pleasure comes from the joy of contributing positively to our world. Yes, you become a bit of an urban-hippy and no matter how much you hide it, you may find yourself being super compassionate, giving, loving, in flow, while coming up with ways to help the homeless.
5// You’re in an “unfuckwithable” space.When your Soul is speaking you are in an empowered, clear, confident, “unfuckwithable” space. This means your Soul may be telling you to say “no” more often, cut out the haters, and protect yourself. Your Soul is wild and strong and has no filter. Your Soul is loyal, direct, and loving, but doesn’t take your shit.
The relationship with your Soul will be the one that brings all your dreams to life. Listen even when it’s hard. Listen even when it’s not what your want to hear. Listen even when it’s takes you out of your comfort zone. Then pass the learned wisdom onto the next person.
Nothing I have said is rocket science, and you will develop your own ways of knowing when your Soul is speaking to you. This is the only true knowing or knowledge there is to attain in life. And you can’t google that shit!
**Want to jumpstart your Soul connection? Dive into Samantha’s digital course for Community Building and Entrepreneurship HERE.
Samantha Moyo is a wellness inventor, speaker, and mentor best known for founding Morning Gloryville, the sober dance experience that changed the face of clubbing in the UK. With the ability to help anyone connect with their purpose, Sam works as a wellness consultant for those looking for playfulness, wisdom, strategy, or new networks. Follow her on Instagram and connect with her at [email protected]