QUEER HERO: 7 WAYS TO HEAL FROM SEXUAL TRAUMA

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 

Portrait of Danny 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 … 

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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

*Statistics are for the United States only, from the U.S. Trans Survey in 2015RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), and the National Intimate Partner & Sexual Violence Survey). 

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.

Portrait of Danny by Tal Shpantzer

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 …

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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.

*Recommended:  The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

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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.

*Recommended: Vagina by Naomi Wolf

Portrait of Danny by Tal Shpantzer

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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.

It wasn’t.

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?)

*Recommended: Repressed Memories by Renee FredricksonQueering Sexual Violence by Jennifer Patterson; Stacyann Chin’s powerful speech: Not my fault; Diana Oh’s incredible feminist art/activist installation My Lingerie Play (Especially Installation 3/10: “Even If You Found Me Like This”).

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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.

*Recommended: She Let Go by Rev. Safire Rose (adjust pronouns accordingly, brave ones!)

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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!

*Recommended: Why Mother Nature is the Ultimate Goddess of Love by Tirzah Shiya

Photo of Danny by Tal Shpantzer

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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.

*Recommended:  My one-on-one healing workMoon Mysteries by Nao Sims & Nikiah Seeds & Boundaries by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

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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.

*Recommended:  If you’re located in NYC, sign up for my upcoming 6-week transformational community group HERE; also check out the Red Tent MovementMoon Club, and Meetup.com

SHAMAN DUREK SAYS SPIRITUALITY IS JUST COMMON SENSE

Shaman Durek is a visionary for the Now Age. In this excerpt from a talk he gave at the Obonjan wellness festival in summer 2018, he why spirituality is simply Common Sense—and how, with loving interrogation of our darkest places, it is within all our power to heal ourselves …

Photo: Nick Hopper

The spiritual path is not how many times you go to yoga class. It’s not how many workshops you’re doing, or how many healing sessions you got. It is found in the loving interrogation of the places you are vulnerable to the dark intelligence of “the system,” and how much Love you are willing to let into your being instead. Spirituality is actually a matter of Common Sense. Of tapping into the intelligence, the common knowing, of Spirit, of all that is.

This is what makes each and every one of you a powerful pastor, a teacher, a healer, an artist, a creator, an innovator, an edge maker. Someone who’s here to bring forth something that I need to learn, that we all need to learn.

I believe that we all have power. There is no hierarchy here. I don’t believe in gurus. And one of the things I’m here on the planet to do is to educate other spiritual leaders to stop playing their power games. To start delivering the truth and the teachings that have been made available to all by Spirit. To share the knowledge about how to access and use these tools.

I’m about, “Here it is. This is it. Take what you want from it. Go ahead. All the stuff in this box from the ancestors, all those tools over there. Just take it all, and use it because you’re powerful.” Because these are not the times to be playing small. You gotta be a rebel if you’re going to survive what’s happening at this time on the planet Earth.

Durek will lead a special Shamanic Tongues healing session at our NYC event on 11/10. Click for info

 

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We Shamans call the Earth a “type two” planet. Meaning it’s a slave planet. That the species has been conditioned to work against itself in its own process of evolution. Has been enslaved by the idea that it needs to be validated, loved, appreciated, and seen, as its reason for functioning. Instead of knowing that it is already loved, and that the embodiment of this Love is what will drive the species forward. If we truly knew this, we would not create bombs. There would be no war. Because Common Sense tells us that this would only hurt the species.

And yet we accept this paradigm because we have been abused.

When I say this, people often reply, “but I had a perfect life, nothing ever happened to me.” Well bullshit. It did happen to you. It happened to all of us. We have all been treated like dogs and trained in the idea that if we’re not acting a certain way, passing a test, getting good grades, doing something useful, we’ll be punished. That we will not be loved. This creates the belief that there’s always something to prove. That we must become something else and that we must accumulate certain things in order to be valuable as a human being. This in itself is abuse.

And the “dark intelligence” that created this system, is smart. It knows that if it can suppress the feminine, feeling part of you, you will become disconnected, from yourself and from each other. You will become disconnected from your intuition. Disconnect from your ability to recognize yourself as a Creator. Meaning you will keep looking for validation from the outside to acknowledge your power. Keep producing, keep consuming, versus knowing that all you need is in you, always.

We’ve been programmed to believe that our safety is based on how much we collect. How much we have. How much we hold on to. But these things only tie us down you down. Because you start to believe that your personality is tied to all these things, when in fact the only thing that matters is in the way you give someone a hug. The way that you sit and look someone in the eyes and you’re there for them.

We are living in a system that did not provide us the emotional intelligence to feel safe to simply be ourselves. But we must rebel against this conditioning. Meaning we have to rebel against every single thing that we sit in judgment about.

 

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When I asked Spirit: “Why is there so much suffering and pain on our Earth?” she told me that all suffering is the result of a malfunction in thinking. I asked, “What about war?” A malfunction in thinking. “Sickness?” A malfunction in thinking.

And our whole system is built to keep our thinking, our creative energy, and our powers of manifestation, focused on the suffering of the world. So that we will keep getting more of it. And it will never stop.

For example, if you see someone who’s sick and you focus on their pain, you’re accepting this reality and you’re locking it in. It will make it harder for that person to get better. You will recognize your power when someone tells you, “my God, I’m going through such a hard time.” And you don’t go into that story with them. You choose instead to see them where they need to be. Within this simple shift, you’re pulling the negative energy out of their life. You’re doing powerful energy work on them.

You see, you think these negative thoughts are yours. They are not, but you don’t question them. Because that’s what the system wants. That’s why they tell you if you talk to yourself you’re crazy.

But when you hear a voice that tells you, “You are an idiot,” it’s your turn to ask, “Why am I an idiot?” The voice may reply: “Well, because you did this when you were at school.” And again, you can ask: “But that was a long time ago, and why does it mean I’m an idiot?” The voice will continue to try and convince you … “Well, you know, because blah blah.” But if you keep questioning it, after a while you’ll show the voice that you’re not going to accept it. Soon, the same negative voice will appear in your head, and you’ll be like, “nice try, thanks for calling. Click.”

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So start questioning. I call it loving interrogation. You lovingly interrogate yourself when confronted with that nonsense. You lovingly interrogate the voice about the lies you have been told that are limiting you from realizing your ultimate power as a Creator.

Because every time a negative thought comes into your head and you let it ride its course, you’re drinking poison. Every time a doubt enters your being and you accept it and let it affect you, you’re drinking poison. Every time you get into a negative conversation with someone and you sit there and just continue listening, you’re putting poison in. I don’t care how much green juice you drink. I don’t care if you’re meditating twice a day. As long as you’re letting negative thoughts come into your mind, it’s all cancelled out.

It’s not enough to say, “I am spiritual because I do this or that.” The very things that we don’t like, the very things that make us the most uncomfortable about ourselves, the very things we are most afraid of in the world, are the very things we must learn to interrogate with Love.

We each embody four elements—the spiritual, the mental, the emotional, and the physical. But there is a fifth element, which is Love. When all four elements are working in alignment, all your visions, your dreams, are within reach, and all that’s required to make them manifest is love. And when Love happens, oh my God, then let’s talk about power. This is what we have come here to move into. Then there will be no more playing small in your life. This is it. This is the end of it. It’s done.

Numinous founder Ruby Warrington will be in conversation with Shaman Durek and Maestro Manuel Rufino for Emergence: Building Shamanic Communities in the Now Age on November 10 2018 in NYC. Click HERE for more details + to sign up.

HOLY F*CK: HEALING THE CORPORATE WORLD WITH MICHAEL VENTURA

Think you have to drop out of the mainstream to tap into soul-deep healing? “Real world” mystic Michael Ventura chats with Alexandra Roxo about infusing the corporate landscape with cosmic creativity …

“Yes, I’d have a hard time smudging the conference rooms of some of our clients without getting some serious side-eyes, but we can ‘smudge’ in different ways … ” – Michael Ventura  

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During the height of my Saturn Return at age 29, I felt like the world was caving in on me and I sought a LOT of healing assistance. Peyote. Ayuasca. Reiki. These were dark days for me, and served as my own initiation into the underworld, into becoming a healer myself, and as a woman.

When I stumbled upon Michael Ventura during this time, I had no idea what to expect. I went into this dark ad agency late at night, empty except for a treatment table and a tall bearded man.

In the years I worked with Michael, he helped heal my own relationship to masculine energy, and my grudge against the patriarchy and my own dad, in addition to giving me courage to see myself as a healer and step into that path.

Michael models something I preach about in Moon Club and aspire to myself- by day, he runs a creative agency in the “regular” world, and by night he does magical healing work on the top floor.

Through these double worlds, he’s helping to create a new world where instead of us all quitting our jobs to become healers and yoga teachers, we bring conscious healing work to all the industries that need it.

I sat down with Michael to chat empathy, healer archetypes, and changing the corporate world from the inside out …

Alexandra Roxo: You are the CEO of a creative agency that works with mega brands and you are also a healer! What are your thoughts on the different types of healer archetypes that are awakening within so many people as they bring those practices to a diversity of industries?

Michael Ventura: One of my teachers once told me, “We don’t need more monks in monasteries, we need monks in our cities.” I’ve always loved this notion and have hung onto it.

I wholeheartedly believe that as our own intuition and gifts are awakened, we have a great opportunity to help bring our full self to the communities we serve. For me, bringing myself to a board room is no different than a treatment room. I am the same person. I have the same tools in my toolbox.

Yes, I’d have a hard time smudging the conference rooms of some of our clients without getting some serious side-eyes, but we can “smudge” in different ways. With different tools. As we learn and increase our capacity to work with energy, to work with people, and to work with the elements, all of this becomes part of our daily expression of our self.

As the saying goes, “not all heroes wear capes,” and to the same effect, not all healers need candles and sandals to work their magic.

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AR: I always describe your work as energy work that combines Reiki, shamanism, and Chinese medicine. What kind of traditions and modalities did you study?  

MV: I often refer to my work as “indigenous medicine.” My practice has roots in both traditional Chinese medicine as well as the Mesoamerican shamanic traditions of the Nahuatl indians.

But what’s also true is that part of my work is derived from that which is most indigenous to my own spirit. As I have refined my work over the past decade, I have come to trust my oldest, innermost voice, and to use that trust to help expand the work I offer.

Whether we are in the mountains of Peru, the river lands of China, or simply in the depths of our own spirit, there is powerful medicine waiting to teach us. We don’t always need to travel around the globe to find ourselves. Sometimes, our true self is right here beside us, waiting to open up and teach us something new.

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AR: I used to be very private about my spiritual work while working in the commercial directing space, but now I’m more open. How do you bring your energy work into the advertising world?

MV: Interestingly, what’s happened a lot over the years is that a mutual friend of mine and the client’s will come and see me for a session and then share their experience with the client in casual conversation. I often then get an email or text that says something like “I’m with so and so and they told me you do energy work. I want some!”

To me, those are great moments where worlds collide. And that’s how it should be. We are all living in a real world and have real lives and are trying to not just get by, but to thrive. If I can be of service to someone in that way, I can sleep well at night knowing I did something right with this existence.

More practically, I also find that some of the work we do for clients allows us to bring a sense of integrity, wellness, mindfulness, or simply kindness into their brand. And while some organizations just aren’t ready, I encourage our team to use those projects to help put more fuel in our collective gas tank to do more with the communities we serve. In some long karmic loop kinda way, I have to believe that it’s all worth it in the end.

Michael’s Applied Empathy Card Deck

AR: Do you think everyone has an inner “healer” archetype that wants to come out? Or just some of us?

MV: Everyone is a healer. 1000%. I have no doubt. It is just that many of us lose touch with – or never explore that side of – ourselves.

The capacity to heal comes from YOU. I’m just a pair of old jumper cables helping you to get your car running smoothly again. I recently read a quote from a Chinese medicine practitioner who said that he calls everyone he treats his “student.” He said that every session is an opportunity for them to learn more about themselves, for them to learn how to heal themselves. I loved this idea and think it’s absolutely true.

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AR: You’ve created a beautiful deck that displays what you call the “archetypes of empathy.” How did you create these archetypes and how do we embody them?

MV: Over the span of about 6 months, myself and a group of colleagues here at Sub Rosa (my design firm) explored behaviors that allow us to understand each other. We looked at our own habits as well as those we worked with and admired.

We started to see a variety of themes emerge. Once we felt like we had found a strong group of seven behaviors, we utilized a spectrum of questioning called the “whole self” that’s based on the chakras, among other things. These archetypes explore the physical self, the emotional self, the aspirational self, and others.

Each archetype helps us see the world from a different vantage : 

The Sage: Be Present. Inhabit the here and now.
The Inquirer: Question. Interrogate assumed truths.
The Convener: Host. Anticipate the needs of others.
The Alchemist: Experiment. Test and learn at all costs.
The Confidant: Listen. Summon the ability to observe and absorb.
The Seeker: Dare. Be confident and fearless.
The Cultivator: Commit. Nurture and intentionally grow.

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AR: I’m feeling a personal move from the “alchemist” archetype (major curious human who will try anything) to something new. Do you think we move through different archetypes as we grow? 

MV: Actually, I believe that all of us embody all seven of these archetypes – just not in equal measure. Some we feel very comfortable with, but others are daunting. That’s the point. The cards and the questions within them are meant to help you “limber up” a bit and stretch your perspective in order to make you a more well-rounded empath. Your desire to shift to another archetype is totally normal. You are all of them. Keep trying different ones on and you’ll see how all of the perspectives start to emerge from within yourself over time.

AR: What’s the role of self-work in your healing practice? What does being devoted to your path mean to you? 

MV: In the past decade, I’ve observed that more and more people are realizing that the best service they can provide to others is to start with healing themselves. Years ago, many people would be mortified if others knew they were seeing a therapist or a Chinese doctor. People’s reactions would immediately go to “what’s wrong with them that they need someone like that.” That era is long gone and self-work is no longer taboo.

But the pendulum can also swing in the other direction. It’s not uncommon for me to hear about someone doing an ayahuasca ceremony, followed by a week of intensive Rolfing, then doing a 10-day cleanse of some kind, then this, then that. It’s important to walk the spiritual buffet line from time to time, see what’s on offer and what you’re called to, but it’s also important to commit and focus on the things that work. To go deep and not be tempted to just try the next thing that comes through the door.

For me, the balance of freedom and discipline in all of this self-work is where the real medicine resides.

Listen to Michael and I chat more on his podcast Applied Empathy, buy the cards for your next date or dinner party, and book a session with him in NYC here!

START WORKING WITH YOUR SPIRIT ANIMALS TODAY

Whether it’s a beloved pet, a fluffy social media meme, or even a lowly housefly, animals are reaching out to you constantly to offer their assistance. Aria Mae shares how to work with your spirit animals and start receiving their medicine. Main Image: Mathilde Aubier

 

It’s the third raven you’ve seen this week. Or, your friend mentions otters just moments before you notice a billboard featuring their fuzzy faces …

Are these coincidences, or something more? Serendipitous events are actually the language of animal medicine. Animal totems can come to us in many ways—you simply need to open wide to receive the magic! It’s easy to forget that we, too, are part of the animal kingdom, and that out furry, scaly, and feathered friends are asking to communicate with us all the time!

If you have a specific animal that you feel wants to work with you, read more about how to work with your spirit animal here.

If you’re new to working with spirit animals, here are five ways to start working with their medicine right now  …

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1/Pay attention
You could have an animal dream, vision, shamanic journey, or an encounter in nature … but there are also reminders for us in magazine ads and funny videos posted on Facebook. Yes—spirit animals are responding to technology by being present in virtual spaces!

Notice what element(s) the species is associated with, what the archetypal characteristics of this animal are, both in our culture and in other societies, and what kinds of messages you receive when you tune in to this species. 

When you track your spirit animals moments, you will see the patterns and signs of species reaching out to you.

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2/Ask for Visions
Remember that you can ask your animal animals specific questions too. Seeking guidance for a big decision? Request their assistance!

While riding a bus on one of the most dangerous mountain passes in northern India, I asked my spirit animals for help. Immediately I had a funny vision—in my mind’s eye, I saw a tiger hopping around inside the bus, totally enjoying the harrowing adventure. It reminded me to let go in that moment and to enjoy the ride!

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3/Build Uncommon Altars
There are so many species we don’t think of as “power” animals, and yet they contain huge medicine for our lives—think insects, worms, or other creepy-crawlies, predators we don’t romanticize, like hyenas, and birds we love to hate like starlings and vultures.

Pick something that really bothers you about these creatures, and ask: what are these spirit animals messages for me? Create an altar with images of them, a love poem, and something to represent their favorite foods as an offering.

As you pass your altar daily, feel gratitude for the role this animal plays in their ecosystem, and remember your own importance in nature, too. 

 

Image: Sean Gadoury

4/Cast Spells, in Love
Writing poems is a beautiful way to draw boundaries with spirit animals while also honoring them. I use this often for so-called “pests” like mosquitoes and ticks when I’m out in the woods. If you live near the ocean, you could do this for sharks or jellyfish …

For example: Ticks I love you/But I don’t need you/Find your food another way/Leave me in peace on this glorious day!

The trick is to hold the poem spell in love, not fear. Be grateful for your ability to enter the spirit animals’ homes, as you practice holding boundaries.

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5/Own YOUR Animal Medicine
A beautiful thing about our relationship with other species is realizing we can give our own animal medicine back … We are spirit animals, too! 

What does your unique medicine look like? Do you want to donate your time to a farm sanctuary? Can you organize a fundraiser or give cash to a well-researched wildlife fund? Is it time to adopt a rabbit, rat, or donkey from a shelter?

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And most importantly, have fun with it! Let yourself be in awe of the inchworm that somehow landed on your sandwich. Smile and wink at the ducks in the pond at the park. Surrender to the beauty of the housefly before you open the window to let it outside.

Keep this attitude of joy at the forefront of your journey with animal guides, and you will receive more than you imagined possible … 

Aria Mae is an Ancestral Healer, Priestess, and Spiritual Heart Surgeon. She creates heart-awakening medicinal experiences through her Magical Monday private retreats, three-month AWAKEN program, and group gatherings. Using a medley of family constellation therapy, shadow work, sociology, animal communication, tantra, mindfulness and love, Aria helps others mend what may have been deemed “broken” by life’s trials – forever activating the vibrancy of their heart’s intuitive abilities. 

SHAMANIC BEAUTY SESSIONS FROM CEREMONIE MIX SKINCARE WITH SPIRITUALITY

With her Shamanic Beauty Sessions, Ceremonie founder Mimi Young is taking holistic skincare to a whole new level. Ruby Warrington journeys with her into the spirit realm…

The arrival of the Spring Equinox is a time of rebirth, for making soul promises to be delivered through the subsequent seasons. For Vancouver-based shamanic practitioner and spiritual beauty queen, Mimi Young, it felt like the perfect time to re-introduce her shamanic skincare line, Ceremonie.

As she announces the addition of remote Shamanic consultations, a.k.a. what she calls The Shamanic Beauty Sessions, to her offerings, we sat down to chat skincare as ritual…and quickly got into plant spirit allies, power animals, and how joy is the best beauty ingredient out there. You know, all the good stuff! (Oh, and before we get started, you may want to check out Mimi’s amazing Instagram feed!)

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Ruby Warrington: Mimi! The last time we chatted, we focused more on your product offerings of skin and aura care. Can you remind us of the ethos of Ceremonie?
Mimi Young: Indeed! Last time I was featured on The Numinous, Ceremonie (then called Trimaran Botanicals) was more product-centric in her offerings. (Yes, the company is female). I felt it was important to honor both body and spirit in our daily beauty regimen, and created a line to bridge what is so often compartmentalized. In many ancient healing modalities, including traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, wellness is linked to the understanding that we are spirit beings residing in physical bodies. Our skin, being the largest organ of the body, reveals much about our emotions, psychology, and beliefs.

RW: So it’s kind of like our skin and external beauty is a hologram of our innermost world…
MY: Exactly. Ceremonie seeks to honor the internal self with products that care for both the inner and outer bodies, resulting in a more supported and holistic way to approach beauty.

RW: How is this reflected in the products you offer?
MY: I formulate with herbs, flowers, barks, and other plant matter known in Earth-based spirituality and shamanic circles as supportive of chakra balancing, clearing and shielding energy, creating sacred space, divination, and other forms of ritual work. The selection of various plant ingredients is rooted in Earth spirituality and modern science. I love how my work is both historically informed and futuristic, and merges the spiritual with that which is conventionally seen as not—physical beauty.

RW: How does your work as a shamanic practitioner inform the process?
MY: All Ceremonie products are hand made (without machines) and in shamanic ritual! I follow several shamanic and Earth-based spiritual practices of clearing energy, inviting spirit allies, noting special cycles/dates, and being open to their messages.

Whatever messages are being imprinted is private (between the spirit allies and the customer), and is special because it is so customized, meaning ALL products are made to order. I merely facilitate this very beautiful, uplifting, and healing process. The power animals / plant spirit allies of my customers sometimes share with me brief messages so I can add that piece of information when I send off the orders with an accompanying handwritten note.

RW: What do you mean when you say these messages are “imprinted” on the products?
MY: It means blessing and creating a vibrational frequency (quantum physics recognizes that everything holds a specific vibration— from matter, to sound, to even emotions) that is then passed onto the products themselves. Careful attention is paid to every aspect: from the mood I’m in when I am fulfilling orders (I don’t work when I frustrated, drained, etc), to the music selected when working (solfeggio music is my favorite), and even how I ship (all parcels are anointed with sage oil and I send protective plant and animal spirits to accompany them).

This is essentially applying the discoveries made by Dr Emoto, who made breakthroughs in understanding how consciousness and intention can shape matter, to both my process and the products themselves.

RW: I find it so special that even the shipping process is honored this way. Can you speak a little to the concept of “intention” and how it relates to spirituality and even magic?
MY: Intention is everything in healing, magic, joy, and love. Consider this: we all know how to make soup. You take some onions, leeks, spices, and add some bones for flavor. Then you add beans, vegetables, and maybe even some olive oil for drizzle. These are standard ingredients. A restaurant can make it. You can buy it pre-made at the market. Or…you could have the soup that is lovingly made by your grandmother.

She makes it with the same ingredients as the restaurant or market, but why does hers taste better? This is what I mean by imprinting and intention. It may be invisible, but it is what makes Ceremonie products so loved by our customers. It’s why many say they experience a heightened sense of self-acceptance, self-love, liberation, and an appreciation for their place in the world. Experiencing yourself this way will naturally bring a glow to your face that no amount of “scientifically proven” skincare ingredients can, because you now have the greatest beauty ingredient of all—joy.

RW: Goosebumps! And it sounds like this goes even deeper with the new Shamanic Beauty Sessions. How is this offered? Why would someone be drawn to this?
MY: I began offering Shamanic journeying to local clients. The word spread, and the demand grew organically to nearby communities and beyond. Shamanic journeying is a sacred ritual using a rattle and drum to enter an altered state of consciousness and travel between the unseen worlds. In a shamanic and hedgewitch hybrid tradition, I travel to those realms on the client’s behalf, embarking on a sacred journey to meet plant spirit allies, power animals, mineral spirits and other benevolent spirits, ancestors, and even the elements.

I also provide a detailed written summary of my findings via email. At the time of booking the reading (before the journey), the client is welcome to present a question or concern, or I can simply intuitively explore and discover. The readings work best when the client is open to receive practical and sacred insights related to their skin or other areas of their life. An individual may feel called to receive a Shamanic reading if simply curious, or when experiencing an imbalance in physical, emotional, or etheric body. It’s designed to help anybody seeking clarity, encouragement, wisdom, and self-compassion.

 

RW: Soul medicine that can also give you amazing skin; so Numinous! You mentioned that you “work in the shamanic and hedgewitch traditions.” Can you elaborate?
MY: Let’s back up a bit. I also use the term “Earth-based spirituality”. When I use this term, it includes (but is not limited to): shamanism, paganism, Wicca, I Ching, Tarot, tea leaf divination, and many other practices from around the world. Practices that were originally designed to forecast weather, invite hunting and gathering, honor the seasons and cycles, and bring discovery, insight, and healing to individuals, tribes, and the Earth.

I work in the shamanic and hedgewitch traditions, which means I incorporate plants and spirit beings (plants, animals, mineral spirits) in my creative and work process. As a modern woman, I also stay current in quantum physics, which lends an updated language to what has been known in metaphysics and spirituality for centuries. I am also aromatherapy trained. Above all, I really enjoy this personalized process. Getting to know my clients and their needs, emotional and physical, better, has brought a new layer of meaning to my work.

Personalized Shamanic Beauty Sessions with Mimi Young and Ceremonie can cover a wide variety of services, including:

– Making contact with Guides and Spirits (power animals and other animal totems, plant spirit allies, and mineral allies (crystals and metals)
– Divination
– Soul development and life purpose work
– Past life healing
– Healing the ancestral line

Discover more online, and book directly via [email protected], including SHAMANIC READING in the subject line. Mimi offers a limited number of readings per month—so book ahead!

HOLY F*CK: IN CONVERSATION WITH DANIEL PINCHBECK

Alexandra Roxo meets radical thought leader Daniel Pinchbeck, to talk spiritual materialism, future planetary solutions, and the rise of the extreme right…

Photo: Alexandra Herstik

Daniel Pinchbeck is a writer, thought leader, speaker, and one of few modern radical voices that come from a grounded, realistic, and holistic perspective. Today we are in dire need of leaders and thinkers who can articulate and envision a path towards union and healing that includes our political, environmental, cultural, AND our spiritual state. Daniel speaks of the whole picture, with a balance of right/left, masculine/feminine, science/art.

His new book How Soon is Now REALLY resonated with feelings I’ve been having for years about the nature of the world we live in, which I have explored in my own writing here on The Numinous and in some of my films. This includes the need to make a shift from focusing on the personal, to focusing on the global. To overcoming spiritual materialism. To escaping hyper-individualism and coming together.

Also, how plants may be aiding in our evolution on multiple levels. How our approach to love and sex is so heavily politically guided and conditioned. The need for rites of passage and the need for ecstatic connections to the cosmos and to each other, through experiences like Burning Man, with psychedelic experiences, and a reconnection to the Earth.

Beyond all this, Daniel’s book reveals to us how we can engage with the planetary shift and initiation that we all know at soul level is in progress, and in doing so be a part of the healing of our planet.

Even better, Daniel is going to be LIVE with us for Moon Club this Sunday Feb 5, which means you can join and ask him questions too! Click here to sign up.

I sat down with him for a little prelude to Sunday’s talk…

ALEXANDRA ROXO: So you’re an author, a TED speaker, a radical thinker, a writer. You wear a lot of hats in terms of your work. What’s the common thread?
DANIEL PINCHBECK: I think that the core of my work is a philosophical quest for the nature of reality.

AR: Word. Was there was a clear point at which this search began?
DP: I had a major spiritual crisis in my mid to late 20’s. I’d been writing for magazines, and it just began to feel very nihilistic. I felt this kind of total emptiness. I also realized ultimately that when people believe conscientiousness is only based in the physical hardware of the brain, then life has no particular meaning. I was like, ‘okay, how can I actually inquire into this?’ I remembered my psychedelic experiences in college as having suggested that there were these other layers of psychic reality that I didn’t really understand.

So I went back to them and went to West Africa, to do Iboga and I went to the Amazon to work with a tribe in Ecuador with ayuasca and so on. These travels informed my first book Breaking Open the Head, and then new questions kept opening up—because these experiences had completely transformed my world view.

AR: The subtitle of How Soon Is Now? is: “From personal initiation to global transformation.” To me it feels like that is what we’re all being called to now, on a micro and a macro level.
DP: I came from a leftist background, and I always had this uneasy feeling about our culture and the direction our society was headed. And then when I looked more into the ecological disaster that we’ve constructed and the amount of poverty and inequality that the system creates, I also saw this whole “new age” spirituality thing, with the meditation and the yoga, as kind of like a trap—because I felt that people were using it as just another distraction, getting so obsessed with their own little healing journeys.

AR: There is definitely the idea of: “I’m entitled to my healing and my enlightenment and I gotta just focus on that.” Healing individually is very necessary too—but how do you see us then finding a way to integrate this into healing the Earth?
DP: It would require for those of us who’ve been on this evolutionary initiation path to reach another level of our capacity to…hold a new frequency, to express it to people who are out of the loop. One thing that really began to upset me overtime was Burning Man. When I first went I was like ‘oh of course, this is the model for this new society. The point is to now bring this out into the world.’ But overtime I saw it become more like another entertainment complex. I saw the people who run Burning Man being really kind of pleased with themselves because all these rich people wanted to hang out with them.

But I think a shift is actually happening, because of this geopolitical emergency that we’ve unleashed. For example, I saw a really good thing on Facebook—this guy wrote that he used to have three different groups of friends that didn’t really integrate very well. One was artists, one was meditators, and the other was activists, and he was, like, thanking Donald Trump because now they’re all in the same group. We’re basically confronting a very, very severe existential emergency with this situation, that I think people are beginning to comprehend in kind of waves.

AR: In the book you use Burning Man as an example to show how if society praises you for good behavior, like cleaning up your own trash for example, and if we praise each other for good behavior, we can start to rewire the conditioning that says it’s somebody else’s responsibility to ‘do the right thing.’
DP: I feel that what Burning Man reveals and why it was such an ‘aha’ moment for me is that our social nature is extremely malleable and changeable, and humans will conform like putty to whatever reward system presents itself. So, say you get laid by becoming a Neo-Nazi and hating on the Jews, a bunch of people will do that. If you have lots of lovers or one lover or whatever you need, as a result of being generous, altruistic, and sharing your gifts open heartedly, you’ll do more of that that.

AR: So how did things tilt so far to the extreme right?
DP: Unfortunately, the extreme right has managed to marshal a lot of collective intelligence by expert use the media system, whereas the progressive community has been much more slow and much less strategic and tactical.

There’s actually been a phenomenon of people on the coasts in LA and New York having greater freedoms, better lives, more opportunities, but we haven’t really taken care to transmit these benefits to the rest of society. And, rightfully in a sense, the rest of society realized they were just being shafted and got extremely angry. I think that theoretically, the more conscious we are of this, we have to bear the blame when things go this wrong.

AR: That’s a tough wake up call for people. If you’re living in light and love all the time, you don’t want to hear “hey, this is your fault, take responsibility, step up to the plate.”
DP: But this awareness is spreading rapidly right now. In a sense, what I am trying to show with the book is that the progressive mystical counter culture hasn’t done a good job of articulating the world that we want to bring into manifestation, beyond our individual process.

For example, let’s take The Beatles at their word: “All you need is love.” But how do you actually create a society centered around altruism and sharing and empathy, what does that look like? In the book I am pretty rigorous looking at this in terms of love and relationships, in terms of monetary systems, even questioning whether private property is good for us. I’m sure many people will disagree with some or many of my conclusions but that’s good. At least we have something to disagree about, which can lead to debate and innovation.

AR: I write about sexual healing quite a bit and you share an anecdote about the community, Tamera, in Portugal, that’s so moving—how a young man’s first lovemaking happens with all the group gathered around the house, celebrating and holding space for him. I cried. There is so much internalized sexual shame in our society. I grew up in Georgia in a very, very Christian space and I was totally shamed from a very young age. When I heard that story, I was able to envision people not “losing” their virginity, but embracing this as a rite of passage—leading to us totally flipping the way that we approach love and sex.
DP: One of the founders of Tamera in Portugal said that sexuality is a superpower that radiates throughout all different facets of society, and we can totally see that with this last election. We saw it with Trump and the grabbing of the pussy, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Roger Ailes who was the Fox News head who was taken down in a big sex scandal, and all of their connection to Jeffrey Epstein, the pedophile…

In a system where sexuality is oppressed, alpha male types seek power and wealth (versus creating a system that spreads wealth evenly) so they can have sexual access, you know? Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, society is more open about sexuality, but it’s actually been reintegrated into a system of domination and control. So it becomes MTV Spring Break or Sex in The City, that type of vibe.

AR: Yes, those pop culture markers reveal that on one level we can “have sex” and “be sexy” but on another level it’s absolutely not okay as a culture to accept our sexual nature. 
DP: Rupert Sheldrake writes about the idea of “morphogenic fields” or “morphic resonance”—that actually, when a small number of a species is able to fully discover or integrate something new it can become generally available to the collective sort of non-locally. So if there’s a small number of communities that have shifted into this different frequency of collective care and responsibility and kind of a truly liberated Eros,  or attitude to love and sexuality, then that could really propagate quite quickly. I mean Neo-Nazism didn’t seem to exist two years ago…and now it’s all over the place. Or look at something like Facebook, and how quickly everybody began using it. Ultimately, I think it’s fully possible that positive shifts towards empathic and responsible social system could also happen rapidly.

Discover more about Daniel and his work at Pinchbeck.io. His new book, How Soon is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation, is out February 20 2017.

SPARK JOY: A STYLIST-TURNED-SHAMAN GETS KONDO’D

Is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up really a book about energy healing? As Marie Kondo publishes her follow-up, Spark Joy, stylist-turned-shaman Colleen McCann gets kosmic with her possessions purge…

Colleen in her fashion stylist days

As the founder of Style Rituals, a biz that celebrates our closets as gateways to the cosmos, I was well attuned to the connections between the mystical and material world. And a recent move from Brooklyn to Venice Beach and back, means I am also very familiar with the process of packing and unpacking.

For my latest move back to NYC, I had gotten a personal ping from the Universe that I needed to ‘go light’ this time. Accordingly, I picked up a copy of Marie Kondo’s now infamous The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and got to work. Overnight, this went from a cross-country move to a total life enema! But I figured if anyone could lead me through the jungle of my beloved belongings to minimalistic bliss, it was Kondo.

I had barely made it to page four when I realized that this wasn’t just a guidebook for spatial cleanliness, but was also an under-the-radar handbook in energy healing. Marie’s discussions about holding items close and thanking them for their existence was directly connected to the Shamanistic belief that every object carries an energy or vibration. Perhaps, I thought, Ms. Kondo is a secret Shaman. 

Inspired by this discovery, I combined Kondo’s teachings with my energy healing know-how to bring you this guide to navigating the spiritual wilds of your own material treasures …

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NUMBER 1 // There Is a Universal Method to the Madness, aka Memento Meltdown 

The Closet Cleanse: According to Ms. Kondo, one must sort possessions in the following order—clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and, lastly, mementos.

The Secret Shamanism: Shamans believe that working with fire allows release. When I do closet cleanses with clients, sometimes, we literally build a bonfire of emotionally-charged items and let it burn. While Kondo-ing my own closet, I discovered that Marie’s method was perfectly constructed to inspire a similar emotional release. With a background in fashion, I assumed clothing would be the most challenging step for me and wondered why she’d put it first. But I soon understood why mementos went last. I started reading old love letters from boyfriends, thumbing through my high school yearbook, and doodling with coloring pencils from my college fashion illustration class. I eventually found myself on the floor cry-laughing in ‘someone’s’ sweatshirt that I had un-accidentally kept after a weekend rendezvous. I couldn’t believe how many memories had been holding space in my abode that just weren’t part of my life anymore. Time to go!

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NUMBER 2 // Sartorial Reiki, aka Thank Your Lucky Clothes 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests that you hold each item in your hands and thank it for how it has served you in life.

The Secret Shamanism: Is Kondo also a secret Reiki Practitioner and Psychometrist? Psychometry, aka Token-Object Reading, is a form of extrasensory perception that allows us to “read” the energetic blueprint of objects, even if we know nothing about their origins. Similarly, Reiki infuses universal energy into people and items. Kondo’s approach fully acknowledges the spirit present in objects, and the necessity of honoring this energy. As I blended her recommendations with my intuitive skills, it became quite emotional. I remembered sights, sounds, and smells associated with each piece and channeled this energy to facilitate release.

‘Shaman Kondo’ giving reiki to a sweater?

NUMBER 3 // The Art of War with Yourself, aka Plunge into the Pile 

The Closet Cleanse: When purging your closet, Kondo commands you to throw everything in a giant heap in the middle of the room.

The Secret Shamanism: Sun Tzu’s teachings in the The Art of War state that “in the midst of chaos, there is also an opportunity.” For this neat and tidy (perhaps OCD spectrum) Virgo, creating a messy clothing monument was a Xanax-worthy endeavor (Céline and Chloe definitely didn’t want to be wrinkled, snagged, dirty, or stepped on). Yet my chaotic heap allowed me to push my personal limits. As I split my clothing commune into two smaller tribes of “keep” and “discard,” I excommunicated parts of my past life that no longer fit my current lifestyle. And, surprisingly, throwing things about and jumping into the pile of clothes made me feel like a kid again.

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NUMBER 4 // Everything Changes (Even Joy), aka Swapping Fashion School for Fortune Telling 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests that you ask yourself if an item truly brings you joy BEFORE deciding to keep or discard it. Do not try it on or even think about how often you use it. Just hold it in your hands and ask this simple question.

The Secret Shamanism: Guess what I realized? Joy evolves. And the things I wanted to keep were energetic fortunetellers of the life I wanted to lead right now. My transition from the fashion world to the healing world was anything but seamless and I was still in the throes of figuring it all out (going from styling, designing, and brand consulting to seeing ghosts and hearing voices was never gonna be comfortable). While sorting, I realized I was casting aside old items from the fashion world in favor of mystical mementos that fit my current and future vision of myself even better.

 

NUMBER 5 // Come Back to the Present Moment, aka Boyfriend Jeans are Real! 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo states that people are unable to let go of certain items because they are either attached to the past, fearful of the future, or unwilling to live in the present.

The Secret Shamanism: This is for all the girls out there who are still holding onto college sweatshirts, worn-in t-shirts, or anything else that belonged to “the X.” Wonder why a former lover still lingers in your head? Because you’re still sleeping, lounging, and working out while wearing those memories on your sleeve, literally. During my Kondo-ing, I was going through a major breakup and the practice of purging catapulted me from the past to the present. I realized that it wasn’t about “him,” it was about me. I needed to be proactive about doing everything I could to move forward, and holding onto his belongings was definitely not helping.

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NUMBER 6 // Say Yes to Your Life Right Now, aka Magic Rocks Are Heavy but Old Memories Are Heavier 

The Closet Cleanse: When you look at an object and say “I might use this one day,” remember Kondo’s warning that “someday” means “never.” You don’t have room in the house-of-me for “perhaps one day.”

The Secret Shamanism: I carry around lots of heavy crystals in my bag of tricks, but the energy of old memories that no longer served me was WAY heavier. Why was I keeping mementos of people and things that weren’t aligned with my happy-place? As I bid adieu to objects associated with energy vampires from my former life, I severed the cord so that both parties could move forward.

Shaman McCann at work

NUMBER 7 // Repurpose with Your Love Language, aka Mermaids for my Roomie 

 The Closet Cleanse: While Kondo warns against unloading your purged belongings onto unwilling participants, finding new homes for past treasures can be an act of love.

The Secret Shamanism: In Shamanism, when we receive a physical or emotional gift we refer to it as “receiving medicine.” You are getting the “medicine” that you need at exactly that moment, no matter what form it comes in or where it comes from. Mid-purge, I started leafing through Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, and remembered that my love language was gifting. The result? A friend got all my old-life high-heels. One of my favorite adventure buddies is now enhancing her metaphysical talents using the giant crystal I moved from my alter to hers. And my former roommate discovered her passion for sea spirits through my houseplant decorated with a collection of plastic mermaids. Show love and pay it forward.

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NUMBER 8 // Spiritual Smoke, aka Burn, Baby, Burn! 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests removing discarded possessions from your apartment as soon as humanly possible.

The Secret Shamanism: After following Kondo’s practices on how to sort, I decided to insert some of my own Shamanic practices to release any dense energy that can quickly adhere to people, places, and things. Sage what you decide to keep—with the windows open or in an open area outside. As I burn my bundle of herbs, I like to say out loud: “Any energy that is not mine or of my highest and greatest good, get the f*** out … with love, but seriously, it’s time to go.” Even though the purge scared the hell out of me, as I moved the energy I felt like the shackles had been taken off my ankles—I was light and free!

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NUMBER 9 // That Elusive Equilibrium, aka Stilettos & Sage 

The Closet Cleanse: Après cleanse, I was NYC bound with two suitcases of clothing, and one small suitcase filled with the contents of my Shamanic practice (crystals, feathers, tarot cards, sweet notes from clients, sage, sound bowl, etc.).

The Secret Shamanism: Marie Kondo always asks what brings us joy. I’d recently experienced a full moment of joy when I was hired by a former fashion client to speak about the power of rituals and manifestation. As I waved a sage stick around a room full of execs while wearing fake eyelashes and stilettos, I was so joyful I could have cried. Fittingly, while purging, I realized I had to make a conscious choice to let my worlds collide. I wasn’t willing to give up all my high heels or my signature pink nail polish, but I did need to make space to bring back a bit of California in the form of a stack of yoga pants and a massive collection of crystals. To be in my “joy,” I needed to marry the sparkle, fun, and creativity of the fashion world to my personal promise to recharge in nature often, keep a devout meditation practice, and embrace a newfound love for juice.

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NUMBER 1O // The Transformation Cycle, aka Meeting Kali in the Closet 

Did I mention that this was also one of the most traumatic weeks of my life? Within five days, I had ended a relationship with someone I truly love, my beloved aunt died and, oh yeah, the cross-country move was in full swing. In Shamanism we speak about embodying the energy of an archetype. Post-purge, I felt like the Goddess Kali had hung me by my ankles and shook all of the change loose from my skinny-jean pockets.

In other words, f***ing great and completely naked at the same time. With three suitcases to my name, I was a full-on gypsy. I was light, free, mobile, and personified. And while I know that I’ll need to shape shift again and again, as of today I’m bouncily nimbly between New York and L.A. with only my most joyful possessions. All I’d needed to do was step through that closet door. 

Colleen McCann is a fashion stylist turned Shamanic Practitioner with practices in NYC & LA. She realigns the energetic with the visual through Intuitive Crystal Readings, Shamanic Hands-On-Healing, and Feng Shui Space Balancing. Make sure to follow her on Instagram, and pick up one of her new Energy Healing Kits  and Medicine Bags on Goop to jumpstart your cleanse!

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MY MYSTICAL LIFE: HOW TO USE THE RETROGRADES FOR HEALING

With Pluto, Saturn and Mars all retrograde, there’s rich opportunity now to transcend deep-seated patterns and re-vamp your sense of purpose. This week showed me how to use the retrogrades for healing…

Sub Rosa’s Michael Ventura

:: MONDAY (-WEDNESDAY) ::
A healing session with Michael Ventura, who also happens to be CEO of design and branding agency Sub Rosa, which also happens to be the venue for some of NYC’s most high-vibe happenings (including our Club SÖDA NYC event in April with Biet Simkin). This is what I love about New York—everybody has a side project that’s at least as interesting as their day job. In Michael’s case, 10 years spent studying everything from Traditional Chinese Medicine to Native American shamanic healing (with Yogi Bhajan’s personal healer, no less).

“These retrogrades have stirred up all kinds of funky stuff,” I told him. “You know, like ‘who am I?’ and ‘how can my voice have real impact in the world?'” (um, anybody else feeling the existential crunch right now?) My treatment was a combination of hands-on healing and pressure-point release, with some crystals and some burning herbs, after which I practically levitated off the table, leaving with the instructions to send an update by email after two sleeps. By which time I was actually experiencing a disquieting sense of wanting to completely re-evaluate my message and my mission, in line with my personal needs.

And since I know I’m not alone in this right now, I share with you here Michael’s beautiful response:

“We all too often think of our lives across two spectrums—positive and negative. However, there is a third and powerful force—neutrality—which can serve you well in these times of reflection and integration. You don’t need to have the plan. At the same time, you don’t need to get down on yourself for not having a plan. Simply un-attaching and not identifying with an outcome will let things happen at their own pace. A flower doesn’t bloom by trying to bloom. It simply allows.”

:: WEDNESDAY NIGHT ::
So I allowed the unease (WTF am I doing with my life? How is what I’m doing actually of service in the world?) to just be there. And now enter my third sleep of the week, during which I experienced the most incredible healing dream—facilitated (in my dream) by wonderful Alexandra Derby, who appeared in my mind’s eye and told me it was time to perform a ritual.

This involved an astral visitation with my ex—a man to whom I utterly subjugated my sense of self during my late teens and early twenties. Confronted with his same old, patronizing ways, I felt his words and gross, overbearing sexual energy bounce off me, like I’d developed a cosmic force-field. “You are an insect on the sole of my shoe, and I am more powerful than you will even know,” was basically the over-riding vibe. At which point I came semi-conscious to the sound of a series of “clicks” in my brain—as if a piece of code in my internal operating system had been re-written. By morning, I awoke feeling newly and fully empowered on my path. Existential crisis averted!

So…I’ve gone into way more detail here than I usually would in this column, but my this week has been an amazing opportunity to work with the current retrogrades for healing. Pluto and Saturn, in particular, are opening up deep karmic wounds, and since everywhere I look it seems people are experiencing a similar sense of having outgrown their own skin, or are having conflicting thoughts and feelings about where they’re “at” and what they really want, it felt appropriate to share.

And so, I believe this is a perfect time to:

– Seek assistance bringing any funky energy that’s being stirred up to the surface—ideally a session with a trusted energy worker (think reiki, acupuncture, sound healing—whatever works for you).
– Allow all the weird shit you might be thinking and feeling to just be there. Don’t over-analyse it—just allow it move through you. Trust that it will find its own way out—in a dream like mine, perhaps.
– Feel it to heal it. Which means resisting the temptation to numb out from it with drink, drugs, drama, shopping (*insert your preferred method of numbing here*).
– Journal. I actually wrote a poem the morning after my healing dream, my favorite new way to purge the numinous un-namables that are screeching to be let out. Try it—I bet you like it!

:: THURSDAY ::
Mainly processing the above. While also finally finishing my book manuscript (TF!)

:: FRIDAY ::
A beautiful astanga class with Makeesha Hill of the Urban Yogis—a grass roots initiative bringing the tools of yoga and meditation to NYCs inner city communities, that we’re supporting with sales of our Designer Yogis sweatshirt collection. A fitting end to this week of self-enquiry, as one of the things that’s coming through loud and clear for me right now is that if my work (like, this platform) isn’t actively in service of helping people be happier humans, in a healthier, more harmonious society…then really, what’s the point? As the Yogis themselves would say: #peaceisalifestyle!

The Urban Yogis: a.k.a. (l-r) Raheem Lewis, Tyrell Carter, Jaytaun McMillan, Makeesha Hill, and Juquille Johnston

BEAUTIFUL, MYSTICAL, MOVING: PLAIN INDIANS EXHIBIT AT THE MET

When Gabriela Herstik happened upon the Plain Indians exhibit at the MET, it was a fashionable reminder of her own awakening to  MYSTICAL spirituality. Main image: Karolina Daria Flora

I’m all about synchronicity and the wonderful way our life stories seem to loop together over time. My most recent “moment” came together last week, when for the first time in 10 years I found myself back in the Big Apple. A mandatory trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art was made, and as I was walking up the beautifully grand stairs to the entrance I saw it – the sign that read; “The Plain Indians; Artists of Earth and Sky.”

I first learned about the Navajo and Iroquois tribes in elementary school a decade ago, after my family had moved to Buffalo, NY, from San Diego. Looking back, I can pinpoint learning about the different Indian nations as the entry point to my interest in shamanism and mysticism – a journey that has connected to me to an understanding of whatever it is that truly lies beyond. By learning how the different tribes incorporated a belief in something bigger than them in nearly every facet of their lives, I was inspired to do the same – a way of being that’s seeped into my own life day-to-day.

The exhibition turned out to be an incredibly curated collection of Plain Indian art, displaying both the wonderful spirit of the tribes and the incredible talent of artisans across the nations. There were pipes carved with animal spirit guides and helpers; there were painted animal hides recounting tales of battles; there were exquisite war bonnets and, a favorite, an incredible shield embellished with a Buffalo spirit guide.

A large part of the exhibition, however, was dedicated to the absolutely exquisite and divine (in the truest sense of the word) clothing. There were hand-beaded jackets in dusty blues and vibrant reds; leggings with horsehair fringe and rich, dark blue beadwork; there was an absolutely breathtaking pair of completely beaded brogues with a matching bag from 1901…there was EVERYTHING a girl for whom fashion – self-adornment – and spirituality will be forever entwined. And all very Etro SS2015…

Etro SS15

There were also paintings and photographs of the Plains, with the exhibition designed to chronicle the art of the tribes from the 19th century to the present day – a visual account of the experiences of these tribal nations, ending with different artists’ personal interpretations of what the future of the tribes may look like. A touching spiritual and artistic experience, the Plain Indians exhibit at the MET was beautiful and mystic and moving.

The Plain Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC until May 10 2015

BYE BYE NEGATIVE ENERGY: SMUDGING 101

Chances are you’ve heard about smudging, the act of burning sacred herbs to transmute negative energy. Here, modern shamanic practitioner Marika Messager explains the process in detail and provides a step-by-step basic smudging ritual.

WHAT EXACTLY IS SMUDGING?
Smudging is the common name given to the Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing, a powerful cleansing technique from the Native American tradition – but essentially it refers to the art of cleansing your self and your environment using simple ritual and ceremony. Our homes, objects and bodies do not consist of purely physical matter; they also vibrate with subtle, invisible energy. Cleansing a space or our bodies with techniques such as smudging clears away all the emotional and psychic “garbage” that may have gathered, perhaps over hundreds of years. It’s like spiritual spring-cleaning.

SO HOW DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK?
Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies and put you back into a state of balance, peace and harmony. It is the psychic equivalent of washing your hands before eating – and used as an essential preliminary to almost all Native American ceremonies. And the apparent benefits are steeped in science – when burned, sage and other herbs release negative ions, which research has linked to a more positive mood.

OH! HOW SO?
The aroma of sage, for example, increases the oxygen supply to the brain, producing a relaxation of muscle tension. In addition, the smoke from some herbs actually changes the molecular structure of air and energy, producing a cleansing effect. As the sense of smell is connected very powerfully to instinct and memory, the burning of smudge sticks has been found to be a very effective aromatherapy agent, especially when combating feelings of depression, anger, fear, frustration, resentment, and grief.

YOU MENTIONED NATIVE AMERICAN TRADITION – WHERE DID THE TRADITION ORIGINATE?
Smudging is a North American ritual, but is not exclusive to this area and has been practiced all over the world. In some cases, smudging is linked to the use of incense – as incense, like a smudge stick, is a natural object that is burned for a specific purpose. The history of incense itself goes back thousands of years to Egypt.

Most traditional cultures, from the Zulus to the Maoris, from the Chinese to the Balinese, have age-old forms of cleansing and blessing ritual. Even the West retains relics of it – the incense wafting through a church is cleansing the atmosphere just as surely as the medicine man’s bowl of sacred smoke, or smudge. The church bells that ring out on Sunday morning were also originally intended to purify the whole parish through sound and lead the community from everyday space into worship – just as the Shaman’s drum can lead us on sacred journeys into the world of the spirits.

IN WHAT SITUATIONS SHOULD YOU CONSIDER SMUDGING YOURSELF OR YOUR SPACE?
Smudging is both a ceremonial and an every day practice, so some smudging rituals are performed on a daily basis. Others are reserved for special or ceremonial occasions. As well as a way to clear one’s energetic field, smudging is often used to cleanse apartments and houses before they’re sold, before you move in, or whenever you feel the need to clean your environment. It’s also good to clean any objects you interact with regularly, like your computer or phone, while smudging can also be used to cleanse or protect crystals.

SO WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT THINGS YOU CAN USE TO SMUDGE WITH?
A smudge kit usually consists of four of five pieces, each representing one of the four or five elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and sometimes Spirit or life energy):
A shell (abalone shell is most often used) to represent Water
Unlit herbs to represent Earth
Lit herbs to represent Fire
Smoke to represent Air

Sage is one of the most popular plants used for smudging, as the smoke carries an amazing fragrance that lifts the spirits. Even though sage grows abundantly in many locations, the most commonly used sage for burning and ceremonies is desert sage, or white sage.

The smudge sticks you find in witchy stores are most commonly made of sage and sweet grass, both of which play an important role in the smudging process. Sage is used to evacuate the negative energies, spirits and influences, while the sweet grass will gather new and positive energies. Other herbs used for smudging are cedar, juniper and lavender, and plain tobacco is also sometimes used by Plain Indian tribes.

Palo Santo wood from the rainforests in Ecuador was also considered by many to be a Holy Wood, and burning Palo Santo has been used by the Incas since ancient times as a spiritual remedy, for purifying, and cleansing.

AND WHAT ARE THEIR DIFFERENT PROPERTIES?
Sagebrush (confusingly, the “sage” used in most smudge sticks, is not culinary sage but sagebrush): transforms energy and brings change.
Sage (the culinary herb): brings wisdom and is calming and healing.
Sweetgrass: attracts positive energy.
Lavender: restores balance and creates a peaceful atmosphere. Lavender also attracts loving energy and spirits.
Cedar: deeply purifying, especially for clearing negative emotions and for healing and as a way to attract positive energy. Also used to bless a home before taking residence there, a tradition dating back to the Northwest and Western Canadian Native Americans, and believed to aid clairvoyance, revive the tired mind, body, and spirit, and stimulate contact with other worlds.
Mugwort: stimulates psychic awareness and prophetic dreams. It also banishes evil spirits.
Juniper: used to purify and create a safe and sacred space.
Yerba Santa: used to purify and to set and protect boundaries.
Rosemary: a powerful healer that brings clarity to problems.

WHAT CAN YOU USE IN EMERGENCIES (WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO THE ABOVE FOR EXAMPLE)?
Visualisation is a very efficient technique that can be used anytime. For example, simply visualise that you are filling the room with clear white light that is removing all negative energies as the light is flushed out of the room. You can also use essential oil of sage or Paolo Santo on yourself or to spray in the room.

AND WHAT ABOUT SMUDGING A SPACE WHERE YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO BURN THINGS?
You can steep appropriate herbs or essential oils in water, creating a tincture to sprinkle or spray the area with. Placing Himalayan salt near a windows and then throwing the salt away will also disperse negative energies (ideally put the salt into the earth). Sound cleansing, using a gong or crystal sound bowl, is also very effective.

:: SMUDGING RITUAL: THE BASICS ::

  • Before you begin your smudging ritual, center yourself, holding the intention to drive away all negativity from your energy and purify your soul.
  • Put the herbs in a receptacle (ideally an abalone shell), light them and gently blow out the flame so that the herbs continue to smoulder.
  • You can also hold the herbs in one hand. Bear in mind that you will only need a few leaves to create enough smoke.
  • If you are smudging with Paolo Santo, all you need to do is light one side of the wood and hold the other side.
  • Now, take some smoke in your hand and bring it over your heart, keeping the intention to clear your energy. Then bring some smoke over your eyes, your third eye and your head.
  • You may wish to repeat the same process with your throat, solar plexus, sacral and root chakras, and finally your legs and feet (including the soles of your feet).
  • As you smudge, visualise yourself being surrounded by gentle, loving energy. Breathe in positivity, courage and love. Connecting with each smudged area and the feelings you wish to release or attract will empower your ritual (i.e: letting go of self abuse and bringing empowerment while smudging your solar plexus, or releasing grief and calling for unconditional love while smudging your heart).
  • If smudging a space, use a fan (ideally made of bird’s feathers) to drive the smoke into all corners of the room, again, holding the intention to purge the place of negative energy and invite in purity and light.

Find out more about Marika Messager and her work at Marikamessager.com

@MarikaMessager

TURNED ON: SHAPESHIFTING TO MEET MY MANIMAL

In this month’s column, Ellie Burrows investigates how the ancient Shamanic art of shapeshifting has infiltrated her relationships – and what she’s learned about herself in the process. Portrait: Katie Fischer.

Ask any of my friends – when it comes to my lovers, I’m known to be a shapeshifter. As in, I change form depending on my bedfellow. I admit it.

In 1998 I met my high school sweetheart. We wore Air Max 96’s, Jordans, Nike snap pants, and listened rap music in his black two-door Ford Explorer Sport. I had cornrows and rhinestone sunglasses. He was captain of the basketball team and regularly had one pant leg scrunched up to the knee. Young love at its finest, we were a match made in 1990s high school heaven. We were each other’s dawgs.

In the summer of 2006, I met an Israeli businessman twenty years my senior. It was always DJ Tiesto and the mispar echat (number one) everything: the number one restaurant, the number one hotel, the number one vodka, the number one yacht. Lots of excess, free love and bacchanalian behavior. Everything was a teachable moment and I learned all sorts of sexual lessons. He was a bird of prey and I was his helpless kill.

In my twenties, it was my seriously cool East Village architect. All raw denim all the time. No shampoo. He taught me how to dial down the fancy, wear my curly hair like a mane and eat meat off a bone. I was a lioness and he was my lion, the king and queen of a concrete jungle. We had a lot of pride. And frankly, that’s what killed us.

Shapeshifting litters the landscape of divine folklore and shamanic traditions. Magically speaking, it’s all about changing form in order to take on and assume the nature and qualities of a specific creature. A shapeshifter morphs in order to alter or enhance particular thoughts and perceptions or acquire new abilities. One changes shape to see and access the world from a different perspective.

As the dawg, the kill and the lion, I fully embraced and emulated the quality of each manimal I was with. I immersed myself in our love and thoroughly explored their natural habitats. I invoked their energy within myself, adopted their characteristics and saw the world from their vantage points.

This was a practice of sorts, the method by which I connected to the symbol of my desire. And it was most definitely a symptom of my immaturity. When I loved what they loved, enjoyed what they enjoyed and preferred what they preferred, I felt a deeper sense of closeness and communion. I think it goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, not love. And in fact I royally fucked up because I lost myself completely in each beast.

As of late, my ability to shapeshift is non-existent. Turns out, I prefer not being anything but myself. Venturing into someone else’s habitat and taking on their views, behaviors and tastes to enhance our connection no longer serves me – especially when that person drinks like a fish, doesn’t work out, lacks a connection to the divine or fucks without reverence for the act of fucking itself. I tried to get down with that species and it just didn’t work.

Changing form to align myself with my partner stifles my own needs in relationship. I became unrecognizable in the mirror and then there was no perspective at all. And if I can’t see my self in the mirror, then it defeats the whole point of partnership in the first place.

The mirror is one of my favorite metaphors for a lover, spouse, significant other, partner, friend or soul mate. It can feel vulnerable to step in front of a mirror and take a good look. You will see all your beauty, your ugly, your gains, your losses, your shortcomings and strengths. It can be exhilarating, humbling, ecstatic and painful. The human mirror is an extraordinary thing because we have the capacity to really understand our very existence in the presence of another being.

What ultimately serves me in my relationships now is to be in my true form, my authentic self, and see how I occur in the context of another human being. I’ve learned that it’s my responsibility to grow as a result of that reflection. And if I’m really honoring myself, then I can honor the other too, and hopefully be the ultimate mirror for them.

Ellie Burrows is a storyteller, seeker, mystic and guide living in New York City. Discover more at Ellieburrows.com
@ellieburrows (Instagram)
@_ellieburrows_ (Twitter)

NEED-TO-KNOW: YOUR SPIRIT POWER ANIMAL

Dealing with a situation that had left her feeling vulnerable and alone, when Ruby Warrington met her spirit power animal last year…it got emotional. Here’s how to connect with your own beast of the wild unknown.

Somewhere in the garden of my subconscious, a powerful black stallion is biding his time, waiting for me to call on him. The horse exudes the kind of strength that needs no armor. He’s as high as a house, and his sheer presence makes my body quake. But he’s also calm and loving, and will always, forever and a day, be loyal to me. How do I know? Because the stallion is my spirit power animal, and when I met him it was one of the most moving encounters of my life.

The story begins at a dinner in New York City, thrown by the publicist Kelly Cutrone for her client, fashion designer Raif Adelberg. Kelly’s been a long time supporter of The Numinous, so I knew something mystical was up when she told me I had to meet him. And sure enough, before long we were discussing the fact that Raif’s power animal is the orca, or killer whale.

Of course I was instantly intrigued. How did he know? Did we all have a power animal? How did the whale show up in his life? In response; he was given his animal reading by a friend, a Native American chief, after discussing with his wife (also Native) her butterfly power animal. Yes, we all have access to backup from the animal world. And in his case, Raif feels connected to his animal in many ways.

In a literal sense, “I live on an island (off the coast of Vancouver), where orca actually play in my backyard,” he told me. But the killer whale is also known in the animal kingdom for its steadfast family values. They mate for life and travel in packs, and in Raif’s case; “I feel most secure with the comfort of my family around me.” How cool that he even got a tattoo of a butterfly years before he met his wife.

My subsequent mission to meet my own power animal led me to modern shamanic practitioner Marika Messager, and a deep guided meditation – over Skype – that transported me from a still, Tuesday afternoon in my apartment in NYC to the dank depths of the forest that exists somewhere in the middle of my being where my stallion lives.

I met other animals – a hedgehog, butterflies, even a Unicorn – en route, but only when I found my horse did my skin prickle all over with goose bumps and the tears wet my face. They were tears of relief. I had recently experienced something that had left me feeling quite vulnerable and alone in the world, and the transference of strength, sheer power, from the horse to me, felt like being rebuilt from the inside out.

Before you embark on a journey to meet your own power animal, here’s what you Need To Know:

• To meet your power animal you need be relaxed enough to access your subconscious. This means shifting your brainwaves into a theta state (similar to a meditative state). Shamans use drumming to do this, but hypnosis can invoke this same sense of deep of relaxation.

• In shamanic tradition, it is thought that we have three power animals, from the air, land and sea. Although you may meet many more, depending what’s going on in your life at the time and the kind of healing they can offer you.

• Our animals are there to lend us their wisdom. To fully appreciate the message your power animal has for you, research how the animal lives, mates, socializes, hunts. What lesson is there for you in the animal’s habits? For example, an eagle might appear to remind you to view a difficult situation “from above.”

• Mythical animals – dragons, unicorns – may appear to you too. But all animals are equal; no animal is “better” than any other.

• The first time you meet your animal, first thank him for his presence. After that, you can ask him questions, to which he may reply with a vision, a sensation or a voice in your head. Be aware that his support may appear in any of the ways you usually connect with your intuition.

• Once you have met your animal, or animals, call on them in times of need. For example, the horse symbolizes freedom, so call on him whenever you are feeling restricted by beliefs about your supposed limitations.

• Finally, your animal may continue to appear to you in “waking” life – in iconography, conversations or popular culture – to remind you of his continued presence in your life. Acknowledge him with a wink when he does.

Marika Messager assists, advises and counsels people in all areas of their lives, through a blend of executive, life, career and transition coaching, mentoring and healing. She has developed an interest in indigenous healing practices and particularly the influence of consciousness and the mind on the healing process. In her work, she bridges and blends these techniques to encourage and empower her clients to find the answers they seek within.

www.marikamessager.com

Sound therapy: Babe, can you run me a gong bath?

Spiritual scene queen Victoria Keen on the ancient healing modality that suddenly feels so modern.

Being a seeker and practitioner of Sound myself, I’m excited to check out Petroglyph this November 8th at Sage Center for the Healing Arts in groovy Woodstock, NY. Petroglyph brings together indigenous instruments like Gongs, Didgeridoos, Native and Shamanic sound tools and unfolds them to create frequency domains that are excellent for journeying and transformative dreamtime experience.

The Sage Center for Healing Arts is dedicated to increasing awareness around Sound therapy, and the founder Phillipe Pascal Garnier, former magazine art director turned Sound Healer, was kind enough to answer a few of my burning questions. Garnier found Sound after seeking alternative therapy from a recommended surgery for the vertigo he was experiencing brought on by Meniere’s disease. He travelled to the Upper Amazon in Peru to work with indigenous spiritual healers, profoundly altering the course of his health and his life.

So what is Sound with a capital S?
Everything around us vibrates, thus makes sound to which we are all interconnected. Heard and unheard sound are actually the make up of our reality. Once we accept this truth, we can see reality as a myriad of tunes we have to harmonize with. Some will resonate with us more than others. Resonance is “the magic word” when it comes to opening up and connecting with the awareness of the vibrational world we live in, and it can teach us how to live it better.

How is Sound Healing so ancient and so modern at the same time?
In modern times we have come to understand that Sound Encoded Intention was the first medicine used by our indigenous ancestors and, in fact, continues to be used to this day. All cultural traditions of the world used sound as vibrational medicine or as gateways to travel energetically in what is called a shamanic trance, to gain a better awareness of who we are in relation to the universe and to bring healing to individual members of their communities.

So, to some people that could mean loosing your s*** to a sound system at Burning Man?
Let’s make an important distinction between sound healing and modern music. Music is organized sound that the brain can make sense of. It can easily follow where the notes are going, and expect the next one to be, where as working with unorganized sound brings the mind to the present moment, to the now. The cascading effect of an untamed scale brings the mind of a patient to “still point,” open to receive the energy flowing with the frequencies to manifest a sound massage.

But you still use instruments, right?
Sticks, stones and whistling hallow bones were the first tools used by our ancestors, then the sacred conch shell and didgeridoo came to be used as more elaborate healing instruments. Most of the instruments used today by Sound Practitioners come from the past, ie. Himalayan Singing Bowls, Gongs, Chimes and Bells, etc.

I’ve heard Sound Therapy described as the medicine of the future, and it certainly seems like all the cool cats are into it…
Sound has always been used to expand our consciousness, and it’s an important key to the awakening taking place around our planet. It just brings you to the present moment. That’s why it is also sometimes called Sound Meditation. It can be seen as a type of meditation, and enough research has been done on the benefits of meditation for creating wellbeing in modern life.

What would the world look like if we all took a regular Sound bath?
The more people who come to the realization that we live in a world of frequencies, the more awareness there will be about the connectivity of all things. The root of the word “healing” is “wholeness,” and Sacred Sound shows us the road to the Unified Field Of Consciousness, a future of Oneness and Equanimity.

A last word on Sound Healing?
My advice to all: BE THE SOUND YOU WOULD LIKE TO HEAR.

Petroglyph perform live at the Sage Academy of Sound Energy on Friday Nov 8 2013. For information and tickets click here.

www.v-keen.com
@V_Keen

SHAMANIC BDSM: RITUAL HUMILIATION OR KINKY SOUL CONNECTION?

‘Bondage Warriors.’ Photography Steven Klein, styling Nicola Formichetti for Vogue Hommes.

Spiritual BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) doesn’t even appear in Fifty Shades of Grey, but according to dominatrix Claire Black, customers are increasingly requesting it. Black, who “likes to explore dark and dirty sexuality and bring it into the light,” was giving a talk last Tuesday at South London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern (a gay cabaret pub where Princess Diana once sneaked in dressed as a boy in the 1990s).
Continue reading “SHAMANIC BDSM: RITUAL HUMILIATION OR KINKY SOUL CONNECTION?”