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
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NEW YEAR, NU YOU: A WORKOUT WITH WINGS

On a mission to shape up? Forget blood type diets and fitness for your body type – work out what otherworldly realm you’ve incarnated from, and find a sweat session that truly feeds your soul says Madeline Giles.

A few years ago, a psychic told me I am an incarnated mermaid. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I obviously wanted to learn more. Were there more incarnated mermaids – or was I the only one on earth? How come I decided to leave merworld? Was it possible to develop a relationship with the mermaids in current space and time?

I somewhat obsessively Googled these thoughts for weeks, but at the time there wasn’t much information on the Internet about this. A few months later, however, I discovered Doreen Virtue’s book Realms of the Earth Angels, which pretty much changed my life. I learned that the realm we come from shapes our personality traits, physical characteristics, likes and dislikes, career, the people we hang out with and beyond.

To my surprise, I also found out there are multiple realms people come from, including incarnated angels, incarnated elementals, incarnated starpeople, the wise one’s (reincarnated witches, wizards, etc.) and various hybrids of the aforementioned. Needless to say, it seemed I had accidentally discovered my passion – and thus have been studying, writing and teaching about realms ever since.

In the spirit of our collective New Year leaning towards personal transformation, I got to thinking what workout with wings would be most motivating based on the unique magical flavor of each specific realm.

But first, find out what realm you’re from by taking the free quiz here.

INCARNATED ANGELS
Pure-hearted incarnated angels tend to be total givers, and thus need a workout that encourages both self-care and, let’s say it together now, RECEIVING! Cue Qoya, which integrates yoga, dance and sensual movement in one magical session. Thanks to free online classes, over-giving incarnated angels can clear stuck energy by hip swaying through all their troubles, their friends’ troubles, their family’s troubles, their neighbor’s troubles, and yes – even the world’s troubles in the comfort of their own home. Incarnated angels who make Qoya a regular priority will find it much easier to give those in need proof of heaven on earth.

 

Image: Anja Verdugo

INCARNATED ELEMENTALS (includes incarnated fairies, pixies, brownies, elves, tree spirits, crystals, etc.)
Earth-loving elementals are happiest while outdoors. Since getting you to follow the rules is near impossible, you’ll have the most fun making your own plans, which will invariably include lots of fresh air and play. You’d enjoy outdoor sports and regular hikes in the woods – just make sure to bring a recyclable bag so you can pick up trash along the way! Your elemental family will be seriously stoked and might even reward you with a gift or wish. If, however, the weather really isn’t conducive to play outdoors, plan to attend a high-vibe freeform dance class (such as 5 Rhythms or Journey Dance). You’ll definitely meet fellow fairy friends who will be so down to go hug some trees with you after class.

 

INCARNATED STARPEOPLE
Earth life can be awkward for you, sweet starperson, but you’ll feel right at home at a Kundalini yoga class– where otherworldy experiences are not only encouraged, they’re expected. Chanting, chakra cleansing, and meditations that sync you with the planets may sound woo woo to some, but to you it feels peculiarly familiar. After you get the hang of Kundalini kriyas, don’t be surprised if you spontaneously start receiving cosmic messages from your galactic family.

 

Image: Daniele & Iango

THE WISE ONES (incarnated sorcerers, high priests/priestesses, witches, wizards, etc.)
Been there, done that is your mantra, oh wise one. You’ve lived on earth so many times, it seems nothing can surprise you. Though some may mistake your wisdom for cynicism, you are the true wayshowers of our world and thus really don’t want (or need) anyone telling you how to best work your muscles, or live your life for that matter. But in case you’re open to suggestions (hold the eye rolls please), a combination of high-intensity classes like kickboxing balanced with routine walking meditations will keep you connected to your powerful healing energy.

 

MERMAIDS
Darling…isn’t it better down where it’s wetter? Mermaids LOVE water and feel most connected to their true essence while swimming (with wild dolphins), surfing, – or my personal favorite – mermaiding! Many mermaids are quite sensitive to the chemicals in chlorine, so whenever possible, choose natural water sources over swimming in pools. Since you tend to get cold easily, be sure to heat up a sea salt bath post-swim to relax and recharge with the magic of your element.

 

 

ATLANTEANS
As an Atlantean, you thrive in like-minded communities where conversations about crystals, pyramids and sacred geometry are the norm. You love your tribe and want to work and play together as often as possible, so starting a belly dancing troop or taking a class with synchronized routines will leave you feeling fulfilled. While tightening your tummy and strengthening your spine, you’ll also get connected to the primal healing energy of Atlantis, which is so what the earth needs right now. Get to it!

 

ALADDINS / GENIES
Nomadic Aladdin, you love all things fire. The desert is your playground, sunsets make you melt and super spicy sauce is a must at every meal. In other words, Bikram yoga was pretty much made for you. You might even consider becoming a teacher, so you can squeeze in serendipitous storytelling (one of your realm gifts) during the 20-second savasanas.

 

SHAPESHIFTERS
We know, dear shapeshifter, you’ll have one of everything! Since the thought of doing the same exercise everyday (or every week, for that matter) makes you cringe, you’d fare best by joining a gym that offers a variety of classes. That way you can aerobicize in the pool, lift weights, flow into Vinyasa, chant affirmations at intenSati, and sweat through spin class all in one day if you really wanted to!

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