Thursday 8 October 2015

My Work; My Soul Purpose

A few people have recently asked me "what exactly do you do in your healing sessions?"So here for your clarification is a little more about my work and my overarching vision for what I do. What I do is not the same as who I am, but it comes pretty close!

We are electro magnetic beings functioning in an electro magnetic world! What we often refer to as ‘vibes’ can sometimes be a direct reflection of an intuitive bodily identification with that very energy surrounding us. Matter is simply energy vibrating and a denser rate than say feelings and emotions for example, but in our case (humans) matter contains all of the blueprints of our experiences so far so these thoughts, feelings and emotions are filed in our metaphorical filing system and often referred to at a later date.  

Every human being has a several energy bodies (e.g., physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, astral, etheric). My work focusses on the primary vessel for our human experience, the physical form, as the container for every level of being-ness that we can experience in our lives. 

As we grow up, we become conditioned by the experiences, thoughts and feelings of others who are influential in our lives, starting with the most primary relationship of parent/child. When our influencers have not managed to process their own experiences, what usually happens is that those experiences are passed on to us in the form of distortions of the original experience, thus creating a second layer of the first trauma. We can also do the same to others. 

The main areas of interest in my work are in sexuality and health. Health is extremely broad as a term of reference though so let me further clarify; I love facilitating people in discovering what being healthy means to them. I have no interest in doing this as a dietitian, or a personal trainer (for example), and whilst both are excellent careers paths, they are not my calling. Rather, my interest in 'health' stems from a deep desire to support people in living self-determined balanced, harmonious and fulfilled lives, and comes from a commitment to authentic self expression. In order to reach that we must first clear the pathways - a path free of trip hazards is after all much easier to traverse than one beset by potentially hazardous pitfalls! 

Ancient systems of medicine recognized the presence of seven major energy centres, or chakras in the body, each corresponding to a different physical gland, emotion, element and energetic frequency. These centres are connected via some 72,000 psychic energy pathways known as the nadis, a little like rivers connecting to the estuary, connecting to the ocean (of our being). We are basically information super highways, and pretty miraculous ones at that! 

In shamanic and tantric practice, it’s also recognized that the source of much dis-ease in the body, whether that be physical, emotional, mental or of the spirit, originates in the process by which we come to be out of alignment with the harmonious flow of energy throughout the body. This mis-alignment can arise through poor nutrition, environmental toxins, emotional discordance or trauma, and as mentioned earlier, the cumulative conditioning arising throughout our childhood and formative years. It can also arise in sensitive individuals who haven’t learned how to discharge the energy they pick up.

I offer two main types of healing in my one-to-one work at present. The first is Tantric Shamanic Bodywork and functions like this:
You arrive for an initial consultation session in which we have already acknowledged you are working with healing any issues around intimacy, sexuality and primary relationship. Sessions typically involve breath work, soul gazing, massage and sacred touch, conscious sexuality coaching, shamanic theta scanning and soul recovery, energetic cord cutting and trauma release from the body. We will be mapping out your personal blueprint for pleasure and intimate communication. Phew! That's a lot right? But don't worry, we go at a pace which is appropriate and comfortable for you. This work can be challenging work but the rewards are manyfold. 

The second is Energy Field Healing, which I also combine with shamanic practices to clear and re-set the mind-body-spirit function. Here I work directly with the energy field using an electro magnetic mat, and a set of etheric weavers (a bit like dowsing tools) to identify where there are any blockages or stuck energy in your system. This is a clothed session not involving massage, instead we focus on deep relaxation and meditation for re-programming, using the mat as the vehicle for that energy field balancing. I also use shamanic diagnostics in these sessions to get really clear about what we're working with, thus taking a strong intent into the sessions. Here is a testimonial from a client I worked with on the mat very recently: 

"The electro magnetic mat is very effective and specific in re-aligning any disturbances or blockages in the body. I experienced a short session with the mat yesterday and it was a very powerful healing session for me. My heart was blocked, afraid to open up and let go, and the mat instantly led me into relaxation and slowly ran energetic currents through my energy, allowing me to open up and let myself begin to transmute the blockage. I had a profound experience in my session, S tuned into me on deep levels and was correct on every issue that was going on with me. I'm so grateful to experience this small and powerful breakthrough with her, and I plan to work more with her as I felt comfortable with her holding space for me. She offered reassurance to the point where I knew I could have gone deeper into healing my heart in a more in-depth session. I was able to experience that space and my heart received healing. I'm feeling more at peace and free within now and hope to carry on." 

Here's an image of my lovely mat to give you an idea of what we're working with! 

In my work, I seek to find and dissolve any of the barriers that limit you from being the radiant being you were always meant to be. I hope this helps clarify what I do and I very much look forward to working with you. 

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin (For All Our Relations) - for in healing ourselves we must inevitably heal the generations to come. 

*All of my work is highly confidential and adheres to strict codes of practice. 

Friday 26 June 2015

In Search Of The One Hand Clapping

Or, The Question With No Answer.

In March of this year, as many of you reading this may know, I went on a dream trip to Bali. I went to this remarkable place following a repeated 'soul calling' to be there; you may call it one of those inexplicable yet powerful knowings we sometimes have in life that we are so certainly meant to be somewhere other than where we are right now.

In the past, I've had this sort of feeling but it has manifested as a kind of restlessness or dissatisfaction with what I have, what I'm doing or who I am, only this time it wasn't the same somehow. Content with where I was, I just knew that some part of my soul had a deep longing to go there, to find this mystical place that had been a part of my 'dreams' since childhood.

As a young child growing up, I'd often found myself immersed in the world of my mother's dreams. She read us Greek and Roman mythology as bedtime stories, and she watched endless Hollywood musicals, mainly of the old Rogers and Hammerstein variety; one of her favourites was the film South Pacific. I would watch, listen and absorb the visual feast that was Indonesia and Bali on the screen, fascinated by the flowers, the landscapes and the juxtaposition of the war and the beauty of the place. Enrique and Nellie entranced me; I wanted that love!

But as I grew older, visiting Bali was no longer about the love…or so I thought. 

No, I was looking for a teacher, a mentor, a spiritual guru if you like, so in spontaneously deciding one spring morning whilst our for my run, to 'just do it', I booked my flights that same day. I thought I was moving closer to discovering my 'teacher' but the reality was that I had no idea at all what Bali had in store for me. 

Arriving on this stunning island I was immediately struck by the beauty of the place; the landscape, the colour, the smells (the air is permanently full of incense from all the daily offerings); the cultural presence. I had found a place that made sense to me on every level of my being. A lover of ritual, I understood the daily practices, which seemed to come from a sacred place rather than a superstitious one. I understood the importance of honouring the roots and origins of things, the inherent spirit in things, and I respected that too. One of my current spiritual teachers places great importance on treating everything we touch, do and come into contact with as if it has feelings, to find the 'quality' of everything, the unique essential nature of it. He teaches one to learn to walk in the true spirit of beauty, awake in every moment, delicate in your footstep.

So I arrived in Bali, quickly to find myself immersed in the spirit of this incredible place, and I was 'at home' here, yet I was also here searching for something outside of myself, my 'teacher' for life. Because of this, I awoke each day with a sense of anticipation…would it be today I met him or her? Would Great Spirit orchestrate this person showing up for me and spark a lifelong pilgrimage or tutelage on this divine island? Or would their teachings begin there and then take me elsewhere? I had no answers but many questions! I saw every person as a possible teacher because I did not want to miss 'the one' by being too presumptuous about what a 'guru' should look like.

One day, whilst attending an amazing cleansing and purifying ritual at a place called Tirta Empul, I met a guide there. We struck up conversation and for a while, I thought maybe this lovely man was my teacher. He shared lots of incredible insights with me and we made a loose plan to go up a mountain one night after midnight to meet his teachers at a sacred spot there. Oddly enough perhaps, I had no fear about ascending a mountain after dark with a relative stranger. He said he could see in me a seriousness about my quest. We didn't make it up that mountain, but we remain in contact still.

So then I had two meetings with other possible teachers, one an almost 90 year old Balinese shaman by the name of Tjokordo Rai, and one with a wonderful Balinese Priestess named Ibu Ratu. Both told me amazing things about my spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health. I looked at both as potential teachers, especially when Ibu Ratu told me I had 'strong gifts from spirit' and she got quite excited about that! Her excitement naturally excited me, but I had my sessions, I left, and there was no indicator I would be going back for more teachings of any kind. And so, as my time progressed, I began to wonder if this person whom I was totally convinced I would meet there would show up at all, and I admit that I began to feel a little despondent about that.

I carried on with my visit, I sat and daydreamed and wrote in raw vegan cafes, I meditated in sacred sites and power places in nature. I talked to people; locals and visitors, business owners and motorbike drivers, and I met up with old friends and I made new ones, until the day came to leave.

What I noticed in this moment prior to departure was that just about every encounter I'd had there had left its mark on me. Every person had somehow intrigued me and left me thoughtful, every place had piqued my curiosity to know more. I could recall it all with more insight than any place I'd ever been to before, and then in that place of illumination I realised something absolutely crucial, I was the teacher I was looking for! It was like some big cosmic joke! It was me who was the only person ever going to be able to allow me to transform the teachings of life - teachings that are ever present, ever accessible but only ever possible to be processed via my own experience of them, for how someone else looks at things will never be the same as how I look at them. So then I realised that what I do with that understanding is the key, and I was the key holder, and in this realisation I found deep peace and an end to my relentless searching for something outside of myself.

And so of course, as my life re-settles into its routines and to my ordinary day-to-day reality (which is often far from ordinary actually), I learn one thing; that whilst I respect teachers who pass on their own hard earned knowledge and wisdom teachings, and that whilst I accept I may learn from others and indeed be mentored by those I admire, I am the teacher I was looking for and the greatest student ever, for I am a student of life, of my life, and of my soul's journey, and for my life, I am deeply grateful.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti - peace be everyones and may love permeate all!

Tuesday 12 May 2015

From Heroin to Heroine

Hello readers, what a beautiful day! Well in fact every day is a beautiful day right? Some may be tricky, or challenging, or just the kind of day you're relieved is over, but having the chance to even have another day to enjoy is a real blessing to me.

I've recently been working on updating my website, getting my house in order, organising my time better and generally slowing down a little. My life at 'slower' is someone else's at full tilt, I know that, but I love it that way! Basically, I fill my life with people, things and opportunities I love and value, and why wouldn't I? I've learned the hard way.

I often see on social media that people write things like 'school of hard knocks' or 'university of tough life' in their 'about me - education' sections. It seems we all know these places, some of us more than others, but whether we choose to take up permanent residence in them is another matter altogether. I gave up my residency many years ago now, and here's part of my story so that others may understand the power of intention and a steely determination to change what doesn't work.

It's easy to make assumptions about others - "oh she's all airy fairy" or "he has no idea what it's like to struggle", or "they could never understand me, they don't know what it's like to be (fill in gap) ------", and yet many of us do know and whilst it may not be the same story it is often the same drama, the drama of 'poor me'. Sometimes it's the actual fact of having lived these experiences that makes those who see life differently hold onto that positivity so tightly; because they've seen what it's like and felt what it's like not to have, or be that. I know that may trigger some people, those who aren't ready to give up their 'story' yet, and that's ok, it's a big world with a lot of people in it and not everyone is going to 'get' you or like you. Getting to being okay with that is one of the most liberating things you can do for yourself actually, and I highly recommend starting now. Get on it with loving yourself; that's your main work in this life, and then the old adage about what others think of you being none of your business really starts to mean something.

When I was just a wee girl of eighteen years old, I was a sweet, honest and rather naive soul. I fell in love easily, mainly with the bad boys, and I trusted openly, despite my intuition telling me otherwise - I had never learnt to pay too much attention to it. This was a pretty lethal cocktail! Bad boys + open trusting nature + ignoring instinct = recipe for disaster, and 'disaster' was exactly what I got. By nineteen I was living in London with a psychopathic man and an increasing addiction to heroin. Self medicating from a bruised heart and a confused soul, I sought and found solace in the unexpected comforts of opium in its street based form, and by the age of twenty I was nursing and feeding a £120 a day 'habit' however I could. I have so many stories from this time, so many harsh memories of seeing friends OD, seeing myself spewing up outside a London Tube station in severe withdrawal, seeing myself desperately grasping for any kind of respite but not having the courage, or the knowledge to change things. I remember myself shivering in bone shaking agony in dingy basement flats, begging for any kind of let up to my pain. I remember offering all kinds of favours to corrupt doctors for off prescription medications (which often came) and I remember being willing to fill my body with toxic crap if it would just block out the agonies of withdrawal for one tiny moment of my day. I could have stayed in that place and taken up residence there. I could have chosen a different life, a different ending, probably an ending closer in years to Amy Winehouse or Janis Joplin than I am now, but I didn't, I chose to transform my story and to find a way out. 

I met Amy several years back courtesy of my gorgeous friend Sandy Green, amazing tattooist and woman of great wonder! Amy was in her downward spiral at the time but a lovely soul. She gave my young daughters free tickets to her gig, gave them a note about their mum (me) being lovely (I still have that precious note), and smiled sweetly at me as I thanked her. We went to her gig that night, and several months later she was dead. Life can be that fickle. Obviously we all struggle with our inner demons and our personal pains to greater or lesser degrees, but I want you all to know that in relation to mine, it is a CHOICE to focus on the positive and what's more it's a choice based in knowledge not in ignorance. I will not be the next Amy or the next sorry soul stuck in addictions or fear or shame or constant anxiety. I will not be the next person to reach my golden years thinking "holy shit, that was it?!!" about my life. Rather, I will be the woman I seek to see in others, hopefully a source of inspiration, kindness and support; a source of love, leadership and light. Then, if you tell yourself that others can't possibly understand, know that often we do understand only too well, we are just choosing a different 'story' to tell ourselves and to reflect back into the world. Often that takes great discipline, we all have bad days after all.

So in moving from heroin to being the heroine of my own tale, I'm damn grateful for all the lessons that led me there. My story makes me who I am now but it is also paradoxically not me, for what I am is what we all are in essence, pure, strong and essentially as mother*!@king holy as it gets! 

Now go out and spread love! What else is there to do? 

Steph offers life coaching, energetic bodywork and shamanic tantric healing sessions for those who are looking to change their life, or just desiring to create lasting health and wellbeing for themselves. Please click here for more information. 

Sunday 22 February 2015

I've Cut My Teeth On Lesser Men...

A challenging statement with which to start today's blog post? Well yes, however it's not meant to be gender specific, more relating to humans than opposite-sex-to-me men!

This evening, Ms Magenta ponders what it means to be a WARRIOR. Earlier today, my lovely friend Earl (see Karmic Coaching for some of his great work) sent me an article to read. It was an article he felt spoke to him, in part about me. I am honoured that this great man sees me as a Warrior Sister, and you know what, it's true! Too often we hide our light under a bushel, afraid it will seem arrogant or self serving if we name our talents and skills. But what is this dis-ease with knowing who we are and being able to speak of that with confidence? I, Steph Magenta, am a Warrior!

The article which you can read here is an interesting read, highlighting a combination of old values of warrior hood against new ones. What does it mean to be a warrior in today's society, especially if you don't live in a typically war faring culture? To me it means to be strong in your convictions, to be bold in your aspirations and to know exactly when to advance and when to retreat. It means to know when you are in danger, to be prudent enough to recognise an adversary, wise enough to know when you have met an ally and to be clever enough to how to move between those states and people with the grace of a deer, the force of the great bear or the buffalo, and the cunning of the fox.

I chose the image from Kill Bill above very deliberately. The Bride: classic symbol of a woman dressed in virginal white, pure of heart and body, agreeing to honour and obey her soon-to-be husband. Maybe it's less obvious these days with new possibilities for wording your ceremony, but the tradition nevertheless holds some kind of collective conscious expectation, for both behaviour and compliance. I like that the bride wields the sword of the warrior in her wedding gown. It's a juxtaposition that pleases me as it jars slightly, which is a good thing. It's good because it makes us think.


One of my favourite scenes from Game of Thrones, from my favourite female character, is the one where Daenerys Targaryen is trading for her army. Courageously entering enemy territory, she stands, silently listening to a heap of abusive words being directed at her in another language presumed she doesn't understand. She maintains her poise and her dignity until the moment when the man who would cheat her, realises that not only are her legions loyal, and her dragons her protectors, but that her intellect is mighty. Revealing only in the precise moment of uprising that she understands everything, the battle is already won, and her strategy wins her her army.

Being a warrior is indeed strategic. We must learn from life or be condemned to repeat our mistakes or die (not necessarily literally). Repetition can dull the senses or it can sharpen the practice depending on context and intent.

"To walk the full length of a path that one truly loves, Don Juan said, one needs passion, courage, imagination, vigilance, discipline, self awareness, grace, strength, resourcefulness, efficiency, patience, adaptability and the humbleness of a navigator."

That's quite a list. It formed part of what was taught to Carlos Castaneda by his teacher Don Juan in his shamanic apprenticeship, and it became part of what he called his Magical Passes, a series of movements designed to bring all of those qualities into the heart of the Seeker, the Visionary and the Warrior.

In my shamanic training we are taught various movement and other daily practices to help us maintain exactly that kind of focus. A warrior cannot be lazy! A warrior cannot be complacent, or make assumptions. A warrior must be vigilant indeed. For me, given that I don't have to worry about a neighbouring tribe attacking me at any moment, or a buffalo stampede in my garden,  my vigilance is generally of the mental, emotional and spiritual kind. It's a way of dedicating my life to growth and to health. When I say health I simply mean to have a strong mind and a clear heart and to honour my body enough that it can be a forceful channel for both.

I've done my time in the lair of those who would have me down. I've done my time in my own self imposed prisons of misery and suffering. I've walked the path of addiction, abuse and anger, and it's passed and is in the past. I'm no longer pointing my weapons outward from the door of my cave, expecting trouble, because I trust in my ability to be a Warrior at all times.

Witches were burnt at the stake if they floated and did not drown as this was seen as evidence of their demonic possessions; a lose-lose situation if ever there was one! As a warrior, one has to have known defeat, known suffering, known hardship and known devotion, and rising from these things is where our swords are truly forged.

How will you turn your defeat into determination? Your suffering into strength? Your hardship into heart and your devotion into love?

How do you stake your claim in life? And do you even recognise it yet? If not, find someone, find people with whom you can get yourself in metaphorical training. Your sword awaits you. Aho!

Saturday 21 February 2015

Following The Trail - Stalking Your Bliss

What does it mean to 'Follow Your Bliss'? What does it cost to follow it? And where do you even get started?

Joseph Campbell, originator of the phrase, when asked if he ever felt a sense of being helped by invisible hands replied:

"All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time - namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."

So why do we hesitate? why do we allow ourselves to become distracted, confused, fear-full? Largely because we can always find enough reasons not to do something rather than looking, or rather feeling, all the reasons there are to do something. So often when I'm holding space, I am coaching people into their hearts, into finding their true voices and their authentic selves. Lost, buried, forgotten, our true desires can become something we associate with naiveté, youth or ignorance when in fact the opposite is true but we have simply forgotten that innocent place wherein lies the beauty of imagination and the power of the Dream.

Bliss: In Sanskrit the word for this contains three syllables - SAT-CHIT-ANANDA. Sat = Being. Chit = Consciousness. ANANDA = Bliss or Rapture. So, we combine the purity of being, with the state of high consciousness (or awareness) and enter into a state of Bliss. Meditators speak of it, Tantrikas speak of it, Monks and Holy people and Shamans speak of it. But what is it?

Campbell states very openly that he doesn't know where his consciousness is, or whether his thoughts on that are even proper or not, but that he does know where his rapture is, so that's what he will hang on to. Seems like a good and simple strategy to me. On a recent money coaching webinar I signed in to, one thing that arose in relation to the notion of making a really good living doing what we love, was a challenge to journal what you are doing and where you are when you are really in your bliss, in your pleasure, and in your passion. Notice it, write it down, and get clear! What makes you truly happy? All of these things give us clues into the calling of our souls, into our deepest longings and our greatest potential talents. They are signposts if you like, and often the seemingly synchronistic events that illuminate this and offer up these clues are ignored. Instead, what most of us do though, is visit those things for brief holidays, or brief encounters. Why? Because we are trained into a 'can't do' rather than a 'can do' attitude. So how do we transform that?

We start by becoming courageous. We start by paying attention to, and following our dreams and trusting where that takes us. Here's where it gets risky; we may hear the call of the wild and get scared of what we could lose, never realising what we may have to gain.

I started stalking my dreams and visions several years ago and began writing each year, just after the Gregorian New Year, a kind of Dream Quest in which I would call in all I wished for myself in the coming twelve months. I write this as if it's already happened, and I tell you, intention is a very powerful thing. Each year it has worked so powerfully and having seen what was possible, I wanted to share this with people. It has now become one my annual Soul Session Workshops.

In this year's Dream Quest I visioned visiting Bali. It's been calling me in my dreams, both waking and sleeping for over two years now and it's been in my memory since childhood, although I have never been in this lifetime. I once called it 'home' whilst in an altered state on a Medicine Journey in which I described the place in great detail. I was on a beach on the Balinese Coastline and I loved it with a passion I could not describe in words and I wanted to get there - I wanted to go 'home'. This revelation took me totally by surprise. I'm willing to follow my dream because life is precious, it's a gift, a blessing, it's a brief moment in time. I'm a soul adventurer so I cannot imagine not going to be honest.

I saw this Temple in my searches; to me it sums up almost perfectly the divine meeting of Heaven and Earth, Root and Crown, the Corporeal and the Celestial. I will visit this place in ten days time! I'm following my bliss. How will you listen to your soul calling?

Listen hard for the voice of God is very quiet.

Sunday 1 February 2015

Imbolc - Divine Spark of Inspiration

Imbolc is here! Celebration of the Divine Spark of Inspiration, festival of the return of the light, reawakening earth and potent portal for manifestation. Christian traditions overlaid many old Celtic celebrations with their own version. Here we see candlemas; in the literal sense a festival of light in the pagan year, but perhaps more interesting is that the root of this old anglo saxon word 'Candali', or Kundali, (or Kundalini) offers perhaps a true glimpse of what this festival is all about.

Understanding what it's about gives us more insight into why the festival may have been co-opted by other traditions, for there has long since been a fear of, and subsequent repression of, the powerful arising of sexual energy, as is inherent in the mirror of nature as the earth starts to move into growth, energy of new life pushes through, and we start to feel the stirrings of new possibility.

Nature is a wonderful teacher. She holds within her all of the Universal Laws from which we can truly learn. These are the Laws of Wholeness, Flow, Balance, Limits, Cause & Effect, Planes, and Evolution. Without going into great detail here, I recommend you read Mystery Teachings From The Living Earth by Michael Greer, as recommended to me by my wonderful friend Gavin.

It's fair to say that the laws reflected in nature are wonderful teachers from which, if we pay close attention, we can truly come to understand ourselves. What, we may wonder, is the purpose of this self actualisation? Well, I'd say it's to return to love, to a state of grace and to our naturalness. The innocence of childhood, the purity of a heart seeing and feeling through eyes unencumbered by conditioning that really know the truth; that LOVE is the greatest force there is and that everything is energy in motion if we can learn to remain unattached and trusting of the flow.

So here at Imbolc, the days are beginning to lengthen and new life is starting to push through the soil. Plant your ideas and leave them to germinate in the remaining darkness, ready to burst forth with spring. This celebration is all about looking at what has been take into winter's darkness and letting it go. It's all about starting to take your visions and plant them with a strong intention ready for growth. In order to do this, now is a good time to create a small fire ceremony to burn away any lingering things that may be holding you back. Get clear! Shed the next skin so that you can move with clean energy and crystal clear clarity into your dreams for this coming year.

Last night I found myself pulled to do a shamanic drum journey for myself. In a week in which I've completed a powerful shamanic ritual, leading to a physical, mental and emotional clearing, my drum was calling to me. I rarely drum for myself and it's fair to say this was almost a compulsion! I sat on my bed and began to drum. Straight away I was journeying to the Upper World where I was given very clear images and messages. I've learnt to trust these visions and impressions now, and so sitting with it, the beat of the drum consistent and clear, I began to 'see' exactly what I needed to see, understand and release in order to move into strong Imbolc imaginings (the name of one of my workshops).

There is a wealth of resourcefulness, intuition and knowing inside us. We have all the information we need in order to give ourselves all we need in order to live in wholeness, compassion and love. Imbolc is a time for reclaiming what has been forgotten. What do you need to reclaim? What spark of fire will help you birth a new dream of yourself?

1. Build an altar to the returning light, to new growth and to divine inspiration. Ginger, coltsfoot, rowan, willow, snake, dragon, greenery from outside, seeds etc are all good items for your altar.

2. Clear out any old crap lingering in your homes, workspaces and lives (if that last one is not too tall an order! If it is, focus on your home and workspace and keep it simple)

3. Create a small fire ceremony. Write down and then burn away what no longer serves you.

4. Go sit in nature for a while. Listen and just BE.

Happy Imbolc to all!

*Steph Magenta & Sarah Rose Bright are currently working on developing a programme of sacred gatherings working with the cycle of the year - please let us know if you would like to know more by clicking here.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Drugs or Medicines?

Hello lovely people out there in cyberland. This evening's post focusses upon a theme I've found myself pondering many times throughout my life, and for many reasons. Tonight I want to explore the subject of drugs versus medicines. Going beyond semantics, how do we decide what is 'good' and what is 'bad' in this respect, and how does this duality thinking serve us? Who gets to say when a drug is truly a medicine and when a medicine becomes a drug? To look at this we must also explore the things that create addiction, explore value judgements around this, and be bold enough to recognise that when something is used in principle for 'spiritual' reasons, it may not be any more worthy than something used when out of consciousness if the root of the 'addiction' remains in place and a person remains unable to integrate the teachings or lessons learned upon their journey, to create for themselves a better life, a life lived with improved and sustainable wellbeing.

I disagree with some of the statement above - often we bypass the pleasure phase and head straight for avoidance of the pain, only not in relation to the substance, more in relation to the issue at hand that we may not be wanting to feel in the first place. However many substances or actions can indeed be pleasurable in their repetition, at least until (or if) they begin to create chaos, hurt or pain for us, and others around us. That doesn't have to be just drugs, it can be work, sex, alcohol, or specific behaviours we can't break free from that create legacies of pain and suffering in our lives.

CONFESSION TIME! As a former heroin addict I spent many years locked in extremely destructive and painful cycles of addiction, withdrawal, and re-addiction. I spent money, time, and heartfelt reservoirs of faith and hope trying one way or another to cure myself of my opiate dependency, always unsuccessfully, until one day I hit rock bottom and found the dregs of some tattered life belt beckoning me to an untrusted shore, that of sobriety. I didn't at this point want to be clean on some levels though, because in the stark reality of 'clean and serene' lived the demons I had been avoiding, and they were clearly not going to want to be scrutinised too hard, otherwise I would have done so long before hitting desperation. And so for a while, the following was true….

I saw friends die from overdoses on shit drugs or because they had tried to get clean, failed and then given themselves too much of what they could cope with when in the full flow of their dependency. It was tragic; good souls striving to get well, more often striving to get drugs, dying in trying. I lost money, family, friends, homes, belongings and self respect. I gained remarkable resilience, resourcefulness and wisdom, but only once clean was I able to access most of those gifts. Anyhow, this is just the story, it was a long time ago now and it does not define me, but it certainly makes me think! And why does it make me think? Well, because eighteen months ago I began another quest of exploration using psychotropic plants to enter the deeper levels of my psyche that still remained locked in old pains and patterns. Although no longer being anaesthetised by opiates, these patterns still somehow limited me, and I was ready to break free. Enter the frame Ayahuasca, San Pedro and Iboga. (*inclusion of these sites is not necessarily an endorsement of their content - please trust your own information finding resources)

These teacher plants as I refer to them, hold truly remarkable abilities to transform consciousness and open gateways to new ways of seeing what are in principle old ways of being. Working with them intensively over the last phase of my life has unlocked so many gifts, blessings and teachings. I can never express how much gratitude I have for the fact they called loud enough and long enough for me to pay attention.

By some freakishly synchronistic series of events, starting with a random book written by the wonderful Rebekah Shaman, which was left on a table beside me at a festival (nobody knew how it got there), a flier for an 'Eagle Condor' ceremony left in my healing centre (nobody knew how it got there), and a chance meeting, I found myself suddenly tuned into a very different matrix. They say when she calls, she calls, and when the time is right, you just know. Fearful (actually make that a little bit terrified!) and curious at the same time, I certainly knew on some deep embodied level that I was about to embark on some serious soul searching, and that Mama Ayahuasca was the doorway through which I would access these lessons. I'm not going to lie, I was afraid that my demons would consume me, that they were far bigger than I and that they would simply annihilate me and undo all of the good work I'd put into place in getting well and staying well, but I also knew on a deeper level that this couldn't be true for those demons could only ever be a part of me and never the totality of me.

I can honestly say that this journey has been the most liberating of my life in terms of my soul evolution, life lessons and life-purpose focus. That said, I see as many opportunities for 'addiction' within the sacred and spiritual plant based explorations as I do with those used less mindfully; it's not something to take lightly or be cavalier about. Ayahuasca, a South American vine, has taken me to some truly painful, dark places. It's torn down my ego and left me in tatters, and it's slapped me hard around the head when I've been a little less respectful of her potency. Through all of this she has also brought me deep healing. San Pedro, a South American cactus, has been a cruel teacher; hard and unforgiving at times, he has also shone light on that which is lurking in the dark, and for me, going to meet what is often referred to as the 'Grandfather' is never something I will take lightly or make assumptions about beforehand. Iboga, an African root, has changed me deeply. That's all I can say about that for now.

But what of these distinctions? What of those who maintain those addictions we would normally refer to as 'drug addictions' without them causing too much chaos over the years? I know people who do so to some level, although I admit they are rare, at least in my experience that is. And what of those who are addicted to these beautiful plant teacher spirits and who approach them in the same manner of questing for an altered state that just further avoids their own ability to just be with themselves? Does this medicine then become a drug? And what of those people using some drugs as medicines and creating stability and real health for themselves with them. Is that even possible? Personally I'm not a fan of synthesised 'drugs' and medications, whether prescribed by the doctor or sold by the dealer, I just don't trust them!

These days I'm as clean as I've ever been and I'm not talking about clean from medicines, drugs or anything else here, I'm talking about food, nutrition, attitude, lifestyle, mindfulness, love, self love and more. At the risk of sounding self righteous, I haven't drunk alcohol for almost a year, not because I'm trying to, but because I don't want to and because my body can't process it any more! I gave up sugar and wheat at the same time, and I'm currently on Raw till 4 (a raw vegan foodie concept of eating only fresh, uncooked and unprocessed foods until 4pm every day to give the body and digestive system a rest).  To some this will sound like I'm whipping myself with the denial of pleasure but to me, the pleasure is now well and truly rooted in the sense of health, energy and vitality I feel increasing in me with every single day.

I very recently discovered on my shamanic training, that it is equally possible to enter cathartic and transformative states without the use of any psychotropics at all! This powerful understanding further deepens my commitment to the power of intention and the conscious development of the human spirit and soul. And what is this all for? Not to create further separation but to remember the oneness of life, the absolute truth that everything is connected and everything grows through love and self actualisation and never through fear, ignorance and denial. To discover where true freedom lies and to take root there, to stake my flag on the summit of joy that I know is there, ever accessible, ever present. All I have to do is open my eyes and remember.

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin! (For All Our Relations)