A conversation with PTSD, with a side of Grief, in the Desert

By: Angela McPherson

Warrior Goddess Weekend Sedona, September 2016 with HeatherAsh Amara and Sarah Marshank

Sarah Rose Marshank, HeatherAsh’s best friend is with us for the retreat.  I am instantly fascinated by her and can’t wait to learn some of her knowledge.  As we gather in the meeting room Saturday afternoon, I feel some anxiety enter my body and think to myself, this is going to be a powerful session, so excited!

She wisps around the room talking about energy being held within the body and I find myself nodding with each point she makes.  “Yep, she’s on the same page, speaking the same language, yet her techniques are foreign”.  “We are going to move, dance, shake, jump, whatever you feel you need to do, just go with it, and greet whatever comes up.” She announces.  There are 3 different roles you can take, observing, being with source, or moving.

“Okay…not really sure how this is going to work, I’m open, lets see what happens.”  The music starts and 53 women start moving, pacing, sitting, praying, all doing what they are intuitively drawn to do.  I choose to walk the perimeter of the room while observing, I chuckle to myself thinking, “yep, of course you start in warrior mode”.  I softly allow myself to open up and let the music in and explore what’s going on in my body.

My head hurts.  My hands instinctively come up and cup the back of my head as I walk.  Zoning into that area, sliding my fingers over the impact site, it takes me back to my fall in 2007, where I ended up with a minor traumatic brain injury.  Emotions start bubbling up and I start rubbing my head harder and harder, digging my knuckles into the injury site, urging it to release.

​The tears start to flow, and I panic. “I can’t to this…not here…I can’t do this.”  The shortness of breath takes over, fight or flight kicks in and I’m done.  Triggered, I turn and literally head out of the building into the blistering heat of the sun.  Pacing back and forth in the desert, attempting to regain control of my breath, the conversation in my head starts.

“It’s okay, It’s okay, It’s okay, you are safe.”
“No I am not, I am not opening that door, it’s life threatening.”
“You are safe, these women have you, you are safe.”
“NO…if you peel that layer I will die.  Literally die, for real, die. Too much pain.”
“Okay, breathe.  Lift your head to the sun, grow your roots and remember where you are and who you are with.”“You don’t understand, you are not listening, I will seriously die….like leave this planet, die”
Paralyzing fear rips through my body as tears stream down my face.
“Do you remember who you are here with?  You came here to have these powerhouse women hold you. You love HeatherAsh.  Remember HeatherAsh said Sarah is strong enough to hold her?  If she can hold HeatherAsh, she can hold you.”
“Sigh, I remember…….I can’t, it’s too painful.”
“Okay, then why don’t we just go back in and sit in the observer’s chair?  You don’t have to go there.”
“Okay fine, but I”m not opening up….I’m just watching.”
“Okay fine, let’s go.”

I dried my tears, prayed for protection, and slowly walked back into the building.  I found a chair along the wall and slowly started tapping back into the energy and healing of the session.  Committed to moving some of the energy out, I found myself slipping out of my chair and sitting in the middle of the floor, allowing the women to dance around me as I stretched.  I started relaxing into the music and allowing some deep breathing to come into my body.

The voices of angels entered my soul, a deep base tone ran through my body as the speakers vibrated the most powerful “ohms” over and over and over and with each one, more and more emotion erupted through my soul.

Waves upon waves of dizzying emotion, trauma, anger, abandonment crashed through me over and over.

The ugly snot cry commenced and with it a blinding flash of fear. I came out of my body and back into my head and realized I had Sarah Rose to my right and HeatherAsh to my left, whisping around, doing their thing and holding space.

Knowing my container was being held, feeling their energy tapped into mine, I let go and allowed my fear to aggressively turn into grief. So much grief;  sobs and sobs of volcanic meltdown, heart wrenching pain coming from deep within my soul.

Grieving loss; loss of a career, loss of relationships, loss of a child still living.

My heart ached like it was physically going to break, my right hand crossed over my chest to hold the ribs in place over my heart as I was sure they were going to snap as I sobbed.

I grieved for that child, those first couple of years after my head injury, her loss.  How profoundly it affected her and our relationship to this day.  More heart break, more sobbing, unpeeling deeper and deeper layers, praying for forgiveness and healing.  Raw, ravaging, aching pain, deep breathing in between the unbelievable amount of tears, whilst pushing my chest harder with my palms praying my ribs wouldn’t break.

“ooohhhmmmmm aaahhhhhh oommmmm”

The pure angelic voices took over and my shredded heart started to calm.  An immense sigh emerged from my soul and sheer exhaustion started slowly creeping in.  My entire body throbbed in pain as I melted into the floor, allowing the vibration of the music sooth me as beautiful souls danced around me.  Vibrations shifted as I drifted out of my body and allowed it to clear and heal.

“oooohhhmmmm aaaaahhhhh oooommmmmm”.

I slowly picked myself up off the floor, feeling drugged and hazy, and made my way outside into the sun. Lifting my face to the heat, completely open, I felt the energy of the Universe embrace my soul and permeate every inch with pure clarity…….

“You are enough”

“We did it…YAY…can you believe it!?  And we didn’t die!”
“Hmmppf…perhaps you were right….this time.”

 

Remembering Fire

The Elixir Of Meditation
The Path Maker Divine

Meditation allows me to go into the gaps in my thinking and escape into the wildness, the energy that is God love, our pure energy, and connection to source.

Source of all is available to us at any time.  It is what fuels us at all times.  It just takes uncovering to see this truth; to remember.

To get here I pay attention to my breath until I can recognize myself as the witness witnessing my thoughts.  Then, I see an entranceway into a gap.  I have to be in a state of unconditional love which starts the remembering; starting the remembering fire.

To do this, I consciously choose to love myself in the places where I see judgement.  This judgment zone is marked by a feelings of low-grade worry; unsettled.

I push through those pockets of unsettling unrest where I had been grasping from the unexplored things in myself.  When I find these pockets and find what my unrest is about, I choose to forgive myself.  I am not temporary.  I am forever.  So, I know to forgiving myself is essential.  I come into a softening inside myself and I let go.  I continue in my intention to keep softening, keep understanding, keep listening, to keep loving with my conscious attention.

By this point in my meditation I am able to feel myself as a precious being, who I’ve been since before this lifetime.  I feel compassion for myself for the road I’ve traveled.

From here I am able to decide to re-visit the issues later that are in my worry pockets.  I trust myself and relax in the power.  I submit.  I finally find surrendering desirable to be within.

My system sends a resounding agreement by giving me a let down elixir similar to a mother’s milk being sucked out by new life.  It feels good.  I land into a space where it’s easier to remain as the witness.

From here I can go into those gaps into places of wonderment.  It was here all along underneath our perception of “everything”.

We have the power and the choice to cut through all that we perceive ourselves to be.  We break through worries and concerns in this place.  This is where we came from.  And, is where we still are, and will always be.

Going here everyday, even for a few minutes, sets me in a place where I am more aligned with what is best for me.  It’s a daily refuge, and a resetting.

The intention, will, and action it takes to travel into my soul’s basis energy is the remembering fire.  The fire of the will to lead to fuller connection, fuller conscious memory, fuller knowledge of who I am is most precious.

The times when I’ve lost this connection were when I allowed the poisons of the earth (other’s negative energy, bad food, alcohol, fear) to rule over me.  We can practice either way- toward closing or toward opening.  Bad foods lead to layers of coverage over the truth.  Healthy eating for long term health opens the truth.

If we practice keeping clean with healthy foods and substances for our bodies, we will develop a bigger pathway for regular opening up to our inner divinity.  When we make this our habit, other routes will not make sense to our system because our system feels at home, feels whole, when we are consciously taking care of it. It’s as if there’s a sign that says “The Doctor Is In” on the doorway to our system.  It feels taken care of, and like it can let loose.  And, it does.  This is self trust in meditative action.

If we practice allowing trash to enter our system until we are drunken with odd energy regularly, a bigger pathway for this will be made in our system.  And, from here it’s hard to trust that the healthier path is best.  We are too covered over, and too buried in the distress of illusions, and false truths to see very clearly.  So we will most likely remain in distress.  Here is where the mind goes back and forth through revolving reactionary thoughts of things from the current outside world, outside the self.  Our focus here tends to remain here.  And, with great endurance and creativity we think about the things we are worried about.  Our brains main job is to problem solve.  It does it’s job well.  It does this job all the time if we let it.

When we are in distress, all we trust is the distress for the most part.  The only way to break into it is to take at least a sliver of consciousness and put it into action by intention to sit in love within ourselves.  This is very challenging when most of the system is in distressing progress.

But even just a sliver of love, of intention to love and forgive oneself is the remembering fire.  It starts.  Then, it burns through more layers than we can perceive.  Yes, it goes to work for us beyond our comprehension.

By the grace of the divine, of you, of your remembering fire, you save you!

You save yourself each time you try.

Try, try, try.  Oh…may we try!🙏

In the most distressing of distressful feelings, we do have the capacity to enter into ourselves a sliver of the fire.  Here an opening occurs.  And, you are free again in the gaps of truth.

I have seen this happen even when the human mind has become permanently irreparable.  I have seen the light of peace come over the eyes of dementia ridden human beings.  After lengthy ongoing distress from the inability to remember or organize thoughts, like a bad dream that wouldn’t end, a sense of peace looks to be found.  It appears as if they were set to a time when they were a child, or some time when everything was all right.  This is how I know that we have a built in divinity center inside us that takes control even in the midst of the heaviest chaos imaginable.  I believe there’s a crack in the system where the fire angels enter.  The sliver of remembering fire is there even when we are not in conscious intent of it.  It’s a naturalized prayer.  It’s the grace of God.  It’s our higher power.  It is us.  It is our connection, our pathway to the unending remembering fire that roars through all of life.

Yes.  I’ve been a witness to these things.  I’ve been a lucky passenger in the front seat of the eyes of God.  I have been invited and carried to my seat where the more I witness, the more I witness.  I have been mute, or else my memory scrambled back in to fit the speech of the people until what I’ve seen is wiped clean away from my conscious language.  I am merely a humble servant, a naturalized recorder of the human spirit, but a silent player in the world.

In honor of our facilitated connection to the divine, may we meditate daily.  May we come home to ourselves everyday.  May we practice opening our pathway, our gift of life.  May we regularly pay homage to our remembering fire.

-Leahanne
Bringer Of Fire
17 year veteran caregiver
Witness Of The Spirit
Warrior Goddess Facilitator

 

 

The Spirit of Spring

By Elle Forest

Oftentimes we are asked to take part in things and our heart is just not in it. Sometimes we have to attend a birthday party or a wedding or a baby shower where we put on a happy face and pretend we are overjoyed in the celebration that is taking place, but inside we do not feel it. Inside we may be in a place of desolation, pain, frustration or hopelessness—many people are these days. Speaking from personal experience I feel that hopelessness, that fear that things won’t get better, the panic that my life will not sort out, the desperation that I will not find work to support my family or a home for us to live in by this summer. There is a sense of urgency that the universe will in fact not meet my needs and it creates desperation and anxiety that shakes me to my core.

 

Where is hope when you feel hopeless? Where does hope come from? I don’t know. It is like the flicker of a tiny candle in the dark, it just is. How it gets there, and where it comes from are questions left for greater minds than mine. But, I do know this—it comes. Somewhere when darkness descends upon us, when all feels lost and out of reach, a little flicker comes like the light in the dark, and given room—it grows.

 

Spring is that spirit of hope; that time after the dark and gloomy months, after the bitter cold and biting winds and raging storms. Spring does not come all at once in a rush of warmth and light and a burst of color. Spring comes a little at a time. It comes before we even see it. It comes before we have taken the time to notice. Even when the darkness of winter is still looming—spring is underfoot. Spring is hidden inside the bark of the trees preparing to become a bud that will bear fruit. Spring is the plant pushing up through the slowly warming soil to eventually break the ground and become a flower. Spring is the lamb within the womb growing strong enough to be born. Before we ever see it—spring is there. The spirit of spring is hope.

 

Just as each day the sun rises and sets and the cycles of the moon continue, the seasons are constantly moving and changing whether we see it or not. We are a part of spring and it is a part of us. Life, the universe, whatever you want to call it, is a part of us. We are not separate. We are just as much a part of spring and hope as spring and hope are a part of us. How it all works, I do not pretend to understand, but somehow it does and it keeps working ceaselessly—an infinite movement of change that we are a part of. So as we honor spring we honor the shift from dark to light, from despair to belief and from hopelessness to hope. Knowing that the fruit will come, the flower will bloom and the hope will manifest as it always has.

New Moon Musings…From India with HeatherAsh

The world is such an amazing place.

I’m sitting in my room in Rishikesh, India looking out the window at the Ganges river, and writing to you on my little iPad.

On this day before the new moon I’m thinking about new beginnings, darkness, and devotion.

Most of us are familiar with the power of the full moon: We’ve felt the tug of the bright moon pulling us from our sleep, or heard stories of how emergency rooms are extra busy on full moon nights. There is more energy available when the moon is full, and just like the tides are pulled by the moon, our body responds to the moon with an extra jolt of creativity and craziness, for good or for worse. When we mindfully use this energy the full moon is about manifestation, fullness, and expansion.

The power of the new moon is more hidden, but no less important. During the full moon the sun and moon are opposite each other in the sky; during the new moon the sun and moon and conjunct, or together in the sky. Every 28 1/2 days at this time there is no moon visible in the sky for three days. Then we can see a tiny cresent of the moon rising in the east around sunrise or setting in the west around sunset.

The new moon is a time to plant new idea, seeds, and visions. The time between the new moon and the full moon is a time of growing energy, so if you set your intent for something you want to manifest or change in your life you’ll be supported as the moon waxes.

So what new beginning do you want to seed today?

Do you have something you’ve wanted to change in your life, or something you have wanted to start? Do you have a secret wish you are ready to share with the Universe? Are you finally ready to let an old habit go?

Name your desires out loud. During this potent time of planting seeds, get clear about what you want. Ask the Universe, God, Goddess, Creator for guidance and support. Share your dearest wishes from your heart, straight to the heart of the Divine. Share an offering in gratitude: pour a little water on the earth, put flowers under a tree, or put a few forkfuls of your meal on a plate and leave it out for the spirits. Any tiny gift will do. Prayer and asking for your wishes is best embraced by immense gratitude and honoring all that you already have.

During my time in India we are visiting many sites and temples. If you would like me to say an extra prayer for you in this sacred place go to my Facebook author page and look for the post with a picture of the Ganges river… and write your prayers and requests there. I’ll speak your name and ask for blessings for you and your loved ones… And this is an extra special time in India as well! It is Shivaratri, one of the biggest festivals in India celebrating Shiva, a manifestation of the Divine. And there are three other holidays at this time:  our familiar Valentines Day (this year be your own valentine, sweetheart…time for more self-love!) and Ash Wednesday, which begins Lent. And Friday is Chinese New Year; this year we are moving from Rooster to the Year of the Dog, which seems like a good thing to me. Let’s bring more puppy playful loyal dog energy to our days, and less ego and posturing.

Once you ask for what you want, it is important to sit in stillness and embrace darkness.

Darkness is your friend.

When we plant a seed it goes into the darkness of the earth. In our light-centered society we often try to avoid the darkness. But the dark is where the magic happens. In the still void of creation, in the womb of the Mother Earth, all life is birthed. Give yourself a gift: during this dark moon time spend more time in the silence of darkness. In my apartment in New York I have dark out curtains and I used electrical tape to cover every light source so I can sleep in pure darkness. I also turn off my computer and phone at night (I have a “Zen and Now” clock for an alarm). Darkness helps us to integrate and reset, to start again.

Turn your lights off at night and notice where there are still little pinpoints of brightness: the clock on your stove. The light on your heater or air conditioner. That glowing green or blue or red electronic button. Either unplug or use electrical or duct tape to cover any lightn. Your body will rest more deeply if there is no visible light source. And you will be able to get to sleep much more quickly if you do not turn on a light when you go to the bathroom. Learn to trust yourself in the dark, and know that darkness is one of your best friends in soothing, healing, and integrating the brightness of our days.

I love meditating in the early morning darkness, or when I wake up in the middle of the night. This is actually our natural rhythm: to sleep for a bit, wake up in what is called the God Time to read or meditate or pray, and then to sleep again. My friend Clark Strand goes for a walk in the dark in the wee hours of the morning. You can read more about the wisdom of the dark in his book, Waking up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age, which is one of my top ten favorite books.

Place your devotion carefully.

Each new moon is a beautiful time to learn to embrace the darkness, and also to get clear about where you are putting your devotion. Have you misplaced your devotion to confusion or worst case scenarios? Or have you given your devotion to a relationship or job or way of being that is no longer serving you?
Your devotion is sacred. It is your heart offering, your soul’s praise of what nourishes it. This new moon may you devote yourself to honoring one of the four elements: air, fire, water, or earth, and how that element sustains you.

The devotion here is India is so inspirational, and for me a homecoming. In the United States it is easy to get hooked to being devoted to shopping, television, and Facebook. Our society is geared around worshipping consumerism and status. But these things leave us unfulfilled, and often feeling like something is wrong with us for feeling empty or that we never have enough. Take a lesson from this ancient culture and turn your devotion to the trees or rivers or sacred places around you. You’ll find when your devotion is to the things that sustain you (what you eat, the sun, the water, the air…) you will feel abundant and grateful. You will remember that you are part of something vast that is working in your favor. You will remember that you are loved by the skies and the earth and the sun, and that you, like every other living creature, has a place in this world.

 

Maiden, Mother, Creatress 
I want to give a shout out to my dear friend Sarah Rose Marshank, founder of Selfistry and author of a great book, Being Selfish. Sarah and I are doing a workshop together (the only time this year) at the incredibly beautiful 1440 Multiversity in the Santa Cruz mountains. (Think redwoods, a spa, organic meals, peace.) Since Mother’s Day weekend (May 11th – 13th) was the weekend available we decided to teach something brand new for women. Maiden Mother Creatress: Embracing and Healing Our Female Lineage is an intensive to clear the weight of female wounding and open you to the potency of your ancestors’ magic. Mothers, daughters, friends, sisters; all women whether you have a relationship with your mother or not are welcome… All that is required is a willingness to heal the past and be part of a new future.

 

A conversation with PTSD, with a side of Grief, in the Desert

By Angela McPherson
Written during Warrior Goddess Weekend Sedona, September 2016 with HeatherAsh Amara and Sarah Marshank

Sarah Rose Marshank, HeatherAsh’s best friend is with us for the retreat.  I am instantly fascinated by her and can’t wait to learn some of her knowledge.  As we gather in the meeting room Saturday afternoon, I feel some anxiety enter my body and think to myself, this is going to be a powerful session, so excited!

She wisps around the room talking about energy being held within the body and I find myself nodding with each point she makes.  “Yep, she’s on the same page, speaking the same language, yet her techniques are foreign”.  “We are going to move, dance, shake, jump, whatever you feel you need to do, just go with it, and greet whatever comes up.” She announces.  There are 3 different roles you can take, observing, being with source, or moving. 

“Okay…not really sure how this is going to work, I’m open, lets see what happens.”  The music starts and 53 women start moving, pacing, sitting, praying, all doing what they are intuitively drawn to do.  I choose to walk the perimeter of the room while observing, I chuckle to myself thinking, “yep, of course you start in warrior mode”.  I softly allow myself to open up and let the music in and explore what’s going on in my body. 

My head hurts.  My hands instinctively come up and cup the back of my head as I walk.  Zoning into that area, sliding my fingers over the impact site, it takes me back to my fall in 2007, where I ended up with a minor traumatic brain injury.  Emotions start bubbling up and I start rubbing my head harder and harder, digging my knuckles into the injury site, urging it to release. 

​The tears start to flow, and I panic. “I can’t to this…not here…I can’t do this.”  The shortness of breath takes over, fight or flight kicks in and I’m done.  Triggered, I turn and literally head out of the building into the blistering heat of the sun.  Pacing back and forth in the desert, attempting to regain control of my breath, the conversation in my head starts.

“It’s okay, It’s okay, It’s okay, you are safe.”
“No I am not, I am not opening that door, it’s life threatening.” 
“You are safe, these women have you, you are safe.”
“NO…if you peel that layer I will die.  Literally die, for real, die. Too much pain.”
“Okay, breathe.  Lift your head to the sun, grow your roots and remember where you are and who you are with.”“You don’t understand, you are not listening, I will seriously die….like leave this planet, die”
Paralyzing fear rips through my body as tears stream down my face.  
“Do you remember who you are here with?  You came here to have these powerhouse women hold you. You love HeatherAsh.  Remember HeatherAsh said Sarah is strong enough to hold her?  If she can hold HeatherAsh, she can hold you.” 
“Sigh, I remember…….I can’t, it’s too painful.” 
“Okay, then why don’t we just go back in and sit in the observer’s chair?  You don’t have to go there.”  
“Okay fine, but I”m not opening up….I’m just watching.” 
“Okay fine, let’s go.”

I dried my tears, prayed for protection, and slowly walked back into the building.  I found a chair along the wall and slowly started tapping back into the energy and healing of the session.  Committed to moving some of the energy out, I found myself slipping out of my chair and sitting in the middle of the floor, allowing the women to dance around me as I stretched.  I started relaxing into the music and allowing some deep breathing to come into my body.

The voices of angels entered my soul, a deep base tone ran through my body as the speakers vibrated the most powerful “ohms” over and over and over and with each one, more and more emotion erupted through my soul. 

Waves upon waves of dizzying emotion, trauma, anger, abandonment crashed through me over and over.  

The ugly snot cry commenced and with it a blinding flash of fear. I came out of my body and back into my head and realized I had Sarah Rose to my right and HeatherAsh to my left, whisping around, doing their thing and holding space. 

Knowing my container was being held, feeling their energy tapped into mine, I let go and allowed my fear to aggressively turn into grief. So much grief;  sobs and sobs of volcanic meltdown, heart wrenching pain coming from deep within my soul. 

Grieving loss; loss of a career, loss of relationships, loss of a child still living.  

My heart ached like it was physically going to break, my right hand crossed over my chest to hold the ribs in place over my heart as I was sure they were going to snap as I sobbed.

I grieved for that child, those first couple of years after my head injury, her loss.  How profoundly it affected her and our relationship to this day.  More heart break, more sobbing, unpeeling deeper and deeper layers, praying for forgiveness and healing.  Raw, ravaging, aching pain, deep breathing in between the unbelievable amount of tears, whilst pushing my chest harder with my palms praying my ribs wouldn’t break. 

“ooohhhmmmmm aaahhhhhh oommmmm”

The pure angelic voices took over and my shredded heart started to calm.  An immense sigh emerged from my soul and sheer exhaustion started slowly creeping in.  My entire body throbbed in pain as I melted into the floor, allowing the vibration of the music sooth me as beautiful souls danced around me.  Vibrations shifted as I drifted out of my body and allowed it to clear and heal. 

“oooohhhmmmm aaaaahhhhh oooommmmmm”.

I slowly picked myself up off the floor, feeling drugged and hazy, and made my way outside into the sun. Lifting my face to the heat, completely open, I felt the energy of the Universe embrace my soul and permeate every inch with pure clarity…….

“You are enough”

“We did it…YAY…can you believe it!?  And we didn’t die!” 

“Hmmppf…perhaps you were right….this time.”

Opening the door to Ignite

By Elle Forest 

After finding a spot to park on the small road high up in the Oakland hills, I approached the front door with the address in my hand. I recall knocking and some unknown face opening the door. On the floor to my left was a large pile of shoes, so I took the cue and removed mine also. A group of women were already gathering around a computer screen and I felt utterly out of place. It was too late to leave, so I sat in a chair, as everyone but me seemed to know what to do. I glanced at the women around me and knew I did not belong here. My mind took its typical inventory: who was prettier, who was thinner, who was happier, who was strange, and who was smarter? These women all seemed different than me, and they seemed comfortable in this place. I was not.

Then the live broadcast began and I still didn’t feel any different. A woman came on the screen and talked about this group and what we were intending to do together as a circle of women. I did not know her, but I knew she was HeatherAsh Amara. She used terms like sisterhood, sacred space and intent, words I was familiar with, but only in the academic sense. As I listened to her speak and took a few notes, I realized that what she was saying resonated with me. Somehow, she seemed to already know that I had stepped into a place outside my comfort zone, that I had already compared myself to all the women in the room and that I didn’t feel I should be there.

That first day at the home on the hill in Oakland, I met women whose names I didn’t remember for a while. I met women who weren’t like me at all; I met women who were younger, prettier, freer, and women who frightened me by their differences. I was quiet most of the day as I cautiously observed and attempted to participate within my own comfort zone. I still felt out of place and knew everyone else knew that I didn’t belong there. I kept waiting for the moment when someone would realize I didn’t belong and they would ask me to leave—but that never happened.

So, the next time our group was scheduled to meet, I showed up again. It was still difficult, but not quite as difficult as the first time. In between classes, I would do the assignments and push myself. I began to gain steam and push myself more. I began to immerse myself in the work deeply and quickly. I still didn’t feel like I was one of these women, but I did feel like I belonged here. I was here for me, not for them—or at least that was what I thought.

Each new month brought a new topic, a new lesson, and a new way of stretching myself. Each month, I met the challenge head on. I wasn’t going to do this half way; I was all in. The months went by and before I knew it, I knew the interior lives of these women more than I knew the lives of my own friends. I knew their deepest struggles; their pains, their joys and I began to realize that these strange women were all struggling with the same things I myself struggled with.

I don’t really know who I was before I embarked on the journey of Ignite, I’ve changed too much to really recall with accuracy who I was then. I do know, that after Ignite, I never stopped. I continued to learn, study and grow. Those women that sat around that computer on that first day I walked in have been in my life for almost ten years now. Many of them flow in and out as people do, but something still always binds us together. Some of them have become trusted and deep friends who can be available to me at a moment’s notice. Since each of them is equipped with the same tools of sisterhood, each of them can step into the spot of confidant, loving support, witness, or simply friend as easily as the next. We are not separate, we are pieces of the same whole, and by learning how to truly be in sisterhood, even today we are still able to hold each other in any circumstance that one of us might encounter.

Is your Spirituality Intersectional?

 

by: Toshia Shaw
Originally posted here 

This past weekend I spent some lovely time in Sedona, Arizona…well Cornville, Arizona to be exact. I had the pleasure of leading a workshop during a spiritually infused, women’s retreat. I arrived early, and when the other women arrived I quickly realized I was the only woman of color (WOC) among them. Usually this would make a person feel uncomfortable; but I’m used to being the only WOC in my professional circles. However, when it comes to spirituality I have to ask is it intersectional?

I hear a lot about intersectionality these days; especially when it comes to feminism. Which is what I’m all about. Being a WOC on the front lines of fighting violence against women and girls I’ve learned what it’s like to not have your rights be intersectional. But I digress, that’s another post for another day.

I’m a Reiki Master, and Intuitive Energy Healer. The spirituality circle in Las Vegas, Nevada where I live isn’t that big and the people that are in it really don’t look like me. Let’s take for instance the Hay House writer’s convention that I attended a month ago in my hometown; the amount of people of color who attended could be counted on one hand. I prepped myself beforehand by scouring their website in hopes to find one face that resembled mine, but I came up short. I have always been different growing up. My first best friend was white in elementary school, so color didn’t really bother me. However, when my family moved to Memphis, Tennessee all of that changed. I learned pretty early about separatism and staying with my “own kind.” So I went with the flow all throughout middle and high school. Once I became a young adult and entered into the military I made friends with the girls that I had things in common with regardless of their color. The few times I returned home on military leave with these friends we damn near got ran out of town. We would go out at night and there was nonstop hate from both races, black and white. I learned to hide dating non black men in the South. When I moved briefly to Atlanta, Georgia and dated outside of my race I got accused of being a traitor to black men, and questioned by my peers. Even worst, when I moved back to Memphis, Tennessee and performed spoken word poetry on the circuit, my non black friends would show up and I caught the brunt of it. Again, I had to accept that there would be people who didn’t approve of my race-mixing so I did the one thing that made since, I stopped giving a f—.

Fast forward to adulthood and my decision to honor my spirit by embracing spirituality and letting go of religion. I am once again the “token” black girl amongst the scene. When I attend a reiki circle, or meditation class I still look for a face that resembles mine, and I usually come up short. Let’s go back to the Hay House writer’s convention, where are the POC authors who were published? When I ask people their thoughts on this they meet me with, “Well, There aren’t many POC who are into that sort of thing.” What? That couldn’t be further from the truth! My social media is filled with spiritual people who are into “that sort of thing.” But where is the representation? As a hopeful Hay House author do I even have a chance? Will my color stop me before my first paragraph is finished? At the writer’s convention many people had a standoffish disposition and downright outwardly racist behavior. Really? I thought it was a writers conference for spiritually minded people? Umm, that isn’t very spiritual now is it? New Age spirituality just like religion has a racist divide. It amazes me that the people who are writing books, manuals, and how-to’s about being at peace, do no harm, and unconditional love are not referring to my spirit, only that of someone who looks like theirs.

Now back to this spiritual retreat that I attended. We went to a sweat lodge being held by an indigenous man who is held in high regard in Sedona, AZ. He is warm and inviting, as it is being held at his home. The participants seem to be taken aback that I’m there. One man in particular wanted to know who I was and where I came from. Undoubtedly, feeling as if their sacred spiritual ritual had been encroached upon. I find it comical that these hippy people are fawning at the host, and another indigenous man’s feet who is an elder held in high regard. The white people are singing the words to this Indian song louder than the Indians themselves, saying the salutations and of course keeping a close eye on me. They were curious, “Will she be able to stick this out?” Well, I stayed for one round of sweating before caving to cooler air, and the chance to move my legs without other sticky sweaty bodies being on them. I watched them watching me. What is it with white people that when they become uncomfortable around POC the first thing they reach for is an off color (see what I did there?) joke? I always handle the jokes with ease since I try to live a life based from spirit and not ego. I don’t allow their being uncomfortable to become about me, because its not. So their joke is left flat with me staring into their cold eyes with a knowing. My knowingness meets their ego. Which has to do less about my skin color and more about their lack of spiritual discipline.

What makes white people feel comfortable following the Dali Lama around, or sign up for the next Deepak Chopra meditation event with Oprah? These are people of color. How is it okay for them to convert to Sikhism, a monotheistic religion founded in Punjab in the 15th century by Guru Nanak, but look up side the head of a black Sikh? Why is it okay for spirituality and non-traditional religion to be intersectional when it involves them but not black people? Non POC should be comfortable sharing a crystal, meditating on the same mat, and facing downward dog in the yoga studio.

Just where does this superiority come from in spirituality? Do I even care? Not really. To be blatantly honest, this past weekend was beautiful. The participants were amazing, and after my workshop on forgiving our past we all formed some new friendships. This is because while there is a such thing as white privilege, many women regardless of color suffer in some of the same ways. We all recognized this by day two.

So if you are “spiritual,” I suggest that you check your ego. Especially, since it has no place in spirituality. Not if you are truly about that life. Because, my spirit can’t wait around to see if white folks are going to accept it. I really don’t care about the color of Archangel Michael, and I darned sure don’t give a rat’s ass if they believe in the validity of my mediumship.

When it comes to spirituality I’m going in with no expectations, or ego. When I am met with others ego it will get checked. I am in my 40’s and I really don’t have time to waste with other people’s problems when it comes to race. If you are a black person and you are spiritual do not hold back, don’t allow other people’s closed mindedness to stop you from attending events that will enrich your spirit. If you are white, is your spirituality intersectional? Are you checking your ego when it comes to race? Are you loving unconditionally regardless of color? What’s your disposition like? Is your vibration the same with POC as it is with your own race? Just some questions to consider.

Love & Light,
Toshia Shaw

 

January 01st, 2018

There is a sacred bond between women; a sisterhood more powerful than we’d ever dream.
When we connect with each other in a real way, the divinity within us sparks to life, making magic—and just the right amount of trouble.

I dedicate this piece to every woman who has helped me on my journey. There are so many of you. Each one of you shines so brightly, so magnificently. As I cry salty tears of thankfulness onto this page, I hope these words can express all the pearls of gratitude that rest softly in my heart.
Friendship really can heal.

Dear soul sister,

I would not be standing here if it weren’t for you.

I did not always feel okay. I was anxious. I was sad. I hated myself. I was so lost. All my luscious dreams and hopes, my vibrant goals and wild wishes—they did not seem remotely possible, until recently.

But you always believed in me.
Always.
Thank you.

Thank you for seeing the beauty in my eyes when I felt invisible and under-appreciated, swallowed up by the world’s pain, unable to bear the thought of looking at myself.

Thank you for never telling me to shut up or dull myself down—but encouraging me to speak louder and shine brighter and love harder.

Thank you for showing me that all emotions are f*cking beautiful.

Thank you for sitting next to me and listening gently, when grief and fear and loneliness took their toll on my weary soul.

Thank you for seeing my power, when I did not know I had any.

Thank you for teaching me that tears aren’t little drops of weakness, but a courageous healing elixir.

Thank you for all those roaring belly laughs and yummy cups of blueberry green tea.

But most of all,
Thank you for believing in me.
I believe in you, too. With my whole heart.
Soul sister, I would not be standing here if it weren’t for you.

Saying thank you will never feel even close to enough, so I’m lighting a candle, right now, to honor you:
Your beauty, your strength, your wild heart, your power, your wisdom, your voice, your pain.
I see you.
I celebrate you.
I believe in you.
I can’t wait to see all the joy you spread into the world, with those colorful wings of yours.
I am so grateful to know you.

Soul sister, let’s go make some epic magic.
Let’s paint the world with our delicious dreams.
Let’s seek truth,
With joyous tears in our eyes.
Windswept smiles on our faces.
And tender bravery in our souls.

I will always be grateful, soul sister,
You helped me
Find the way
Back to myself.

Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Caroline Beaton 
Source: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/10/dear-soul-sister-thank-you-for-believing-in-me/

Daenery’s Targaryen – Unburnt

By Noel Nguyen (AKA LotusOmGoddess)

It is taking full responsibility and it starts with “each persons story” from the eyes of victim to change the view from the lessons we have learned in life and to look into the brutal honesty and truth and take the responsibility of our own roles we played.

I am feeling that deep within the story that I have allowed myself to live has so much more depth and ownership, responsibility, and truth that I have to write it out as a victim then rewrite it out as lessons learned and the roll I played. All of it. Not the story we tell ourselves or others, but the brutal truth of it all.

For example: we may hide the shame, the guilt, the euphoria even in the worst situation and then blame ourselves. I have found that consent is so much deeper and so much more than saying “yes” because of coercion or the “what I should do as a good girl” it is not consent if after we hold guilt and shame to the role we played. Was the choice really something we would choose if the choice was 100% our own, not guilt-ed, coerced or expected to be a certain outcome. Maybe we changed our mind, maybe we did not really want what we thought we wanted, in the end…we are at choice. What is your choice? What would you have chosen differently?

Recently, I have realized that there are times I play the role even when I don’t want to. Maybe because it is what seems to be the expected. Maybe because I am still trying to find my voice. One of the worst questions I disliked receiving was “what do you want”, “what do you need”, just “tell me what you want”. Those questions would cause a lump in my throat, the be quiet no one wants to hear you, or keep this a secret.

But the deeper knowledge and seeded pain came long ago. Now we are just continuing the cycles and calling it something different, like we are adults now and are at choice, and we are able to choose what we want and don’t want. Is it that easy? NO!!! These patterns, these thoughts are so ingrained deep at our core. These are in the depths of our shadow. Shadow work is HARD! It is not easy. You need to be willing to dive deep into the muck and own it. If you want help, please ask.

I love Daenery Targaryen – Unburnt, she walks into the fire, traps herself in, and knows that she will come out stronger, and birth something amazing! In this analogy, she birthed 3 Dragons. The animal totem and mythical creature that she creates in the death and rebirth through the fires is so significant and amazing!

The Dragon Animal Totem Symbolism is powerful and dynamic spiritual totem with a wide range of qualities, attributes, and lessons to be a taught. Dragons symbolize strength and courage and come to us when we require these abilities most. Like Daenery, this was her initiation and catalyst to become the Queen, Warrior, and Fierce Force that she became.

Dragon’s embody a powerful animal that utilizes and masters all the physical elements of fire, wind, water, and earth.

What will you rebirth this Winter? What is hiding in the shadows that needs to be revealed for you to live the life you are meant to live? The Dragon spirit guide symbolizes the primal power, mystery, ancient history, and the hidden mysteries of the world. The Dragon Symbol calls upon us to look inside ourselves and view the world from a more mystical and adventurous perspective. It encourages us to dive deep, burn what does not serve us any longer, communicate what we want and need. Dive into our unconscious and find out what is hidden and needs to be brought to the surface. To sit with the pain, hurt, choices, and learn the lessons from a place of gratitude and responsibility.

I honor you in your bravery, journey, choices, and your life. You are the magical powerful Sovereign Queen of your own Realms! How will you rule your domain? What good luck and fortune will you rebirth into the spring?

Happy Hibernation my loves XOXO!

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