So many things define a year.
This year March-August, I was possibly the most miserable I have ever been.
This is because of a gallbladder surgery, severe depression, and most surprisingly, being misdiagnosed for over 20 years with unipolar depression rather than bipolar type 2 depression.
I’m so grateful to be on the other side.
On the date of the total eclipse, I watched from my pool in Nashville the beauty of paradox in action, of nature’s reminder for us to be quiet, still and in awe of her magic. I went back into my house and sat at my altar and did three and a half hours of spontaneous tantric ritual and meditation.
The next morning, was a whole new world. The veil was lifted and I was myself again. I effortlessly resumed my morning practice. I began a Vishnu practice, which I had never done before. Vishnu represents the sacred energy of sustainability and maintenance. Whereas Shiva and Kali control creation and destruction, Vishnu helps us with steady progress and growth.
This has been miraculous for me. I write to you today, from a beautiful beach house in Mexico with 13 of my closest friends and tribe in true celebration of the new year.
Here are 10 lessons I learned since the Eclipse:
Hypomania (the lesser manic behavior that people with bipolar type 2 experience) is very interesting. It isn’t that far off from my normal (meaning not depressed) state of being. I’m happy, productive, ambitious and excited about life. The challenges are a) feeling excess energy build in my body and needing to have constructive ways to release it b) taking on too many business projects or relationships and c) spending too much money. It is much easier to manage now that I’m aware of this pattern and have learned to ride the waves calmly with discernment, as I dip in and out of hypomania.
Before I would take on so much when I was happy that I would eventually become overwhelmed and then crash into depression again. I’m so grateful that I already have so many grounding practices and understanding friends to help me be more myself, even as I evolve and grow. And lastly, a dear mentor of mine told me, “If you can learn how to sustain hypomania and not crash, it is the ideal state to live life in.” I couldn’t agree more, and this statement has given me a lot of comfort as I learn how to balance ecstatic energy with practicality.
Tantra & Creativity
Tantra is a beautiful path that keeps unfolding in precisely perfect timing for me. Although when I’m depressed, I can sometimes go into a whirlwind of doubt and resentment toward Tantra. I feel so distant from it and can’t muster enough strength to do many practices, so I feel like they aren’t working. I wonder if I’ve dedicated my life to bullshit that doesn’t work. LOL. It does work. Grateful that those were just delusional depressive thoughts.
Creative energy is at the core of tantric philosophy. I am an artist. To be authentically engaged in life, I must be creating something. Sometimes it is a business I am building, sometimes a necklace, a drawing, a meme, a website, a blog, a song, a healing session…When my creativity stops, life gets messy and confusing. It’s important to cultivate and make appropriate time and space to be in my art.
Plant medicine. Plants truly are our medicine. Whether it is eating an organic salad, putting aloe vera on a sunburn, smoking marijuana, or consuming ayahuasca or LSD. There are a lot of judgments and laws against some plant medicines in our society. There is fear around what they do to the brain and their legal status. I have deep respect for people that choose total sobriety for the many reasons they choose it. However, I am done processing other people’s fear and judgments around my or others’ usage of these sacred plants. I go through phases with medicine. Sometimes I don’t use it at all, sometimes I am a frequent user. I am at total peace and acceptance with my relationship to plant medicine.
I recently have had an interesting connection with a family member on this issue. This man had been a lover of plant medicine his whole life, especially marijuana. He was a responsible user and listed many physical and psychological benefits from his usage. However, about 10 years ago he became born-again Christian. Since then, he has struggled with feeling guilty about his usage—wondering if Jesus would approve of his “drunkenness.”
After several discussions, where I shared my views on the beauty of nature and the reciprocal relationship humans have with all plants, he started to soften. Did you know there are even quotes in the bible that celebrate the use of marijuana and other sacred herbs? So anyhow, I helped him get his medical marijuana card and I think he’s finding peace within himself about his relationship to plant medicine and God.
In the spiritual and personal-development communities, there are many mixed views on plant medicine. Some still call it “drugs” or “substances.” Some have histories with addiction or bad memories of parents as addicts. Some simply don’t like the way plant medicine makes them feel or like being around other people that are under its influence. There are also major considerations when it comes to medicine usage, sexuality, and consent. All of that is important. I do feel it is time, however, for us to let go of judgment of people that do find deep healing, health benefits and enjoyment from responsible use of plant medicine. It’s time to live and let live.
The shift is happening slowly in our society, but it is long overdue and still dragging its heels. It makes no sense that alcohol is legal and marijuana is just barely being legalized in some states. It also makes no sense that medicines such as LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, Ketamine, and Ayahuasca that have proven medical and psychological benefits are still so stigmatized and that the federal government won’t loosen its restrictions in step with the states that are. I find it both laughable and horrific that Republicans are so into state’s rights, except for this one thing. Hypocrisy, anyone?
Let’s keep fighting for our freedom to relate with Mama Earth on our own terms. Let’s enjoy God’s gifts to the fullest and ensure pathways for responsible usage. And let’s congratulate California (and other states) for legalizing recreational marijuana as of January 1, 2018. Also, a huge congratulations to my dear friend James who has been a medical marijuana activist for many years. He just opened the first recreational store in San Diego County, The Mankind Co-op.
Twin Flames, Soul Mates & Lovers… Oh My!
Sometimes people arrive in our life for a purpose. And if you happen to be like most people I know, you are always hoping that purpose is to fall in love, establish a serious relationship or even a life partnership. So, we start to override the mystery and authentic discovery process of this purpose with our own goals and desires. This usually doesn’t end well.
The most repeated line of advice I’ve given this year to my friends, students, and clients is: The depth of your love does not define your relationship status or structure. In other words, just because you are falling madly in love doesn’t mean that this person should be your boyfriend or girlfriend. However, just because they aren’t an appropriate boyfriend or girlfriend for you, that doesn’t mean that you should love them any less or keep that love a secret.
Love isn’t a safety net. It isn’t a rom-com or Disney movie. Above and beyond sexual or energetic chemistry, there are many factors that help define relationships, such as timing, location, career goals, children, values alignment, etc. So, let’s NOT stop falling in love and let’s let go of our agendas to navigate every great love into life partnership. Be sure to talk with your lovers about your values, desires, and deal-breakers early on. Be patient. Listen. Go slow. Let “right relationship” unfold between you slowly as you get to know each other. And whatever you do, don’t stop loving big. It’s the best part of being human.
A highlight for me this year has been experiencing a “twin flame” relationship. Now, if you are a personal development workshop junkie like myself, you’ve heard this term before because you know there are endless books and workshops that help you find your soul mate and twin flame and everything in between. I always thought this was cheesy. But I found myself reading an article called 18 signs you are in a twin flame relationship and I was left with my jaw hanging open.
My twin flame has arrived to remind me of who I am and provide the deep comfort of being met by someone who is similar to me in the most important of ways. Because of this, he provides a degree of emotional and physical safety I’ve never experienced before. Our creativity inspires one another, and our spiritual practices are in sync. We aren’t likely meant for life partnership, but we are here to help one another grow in profound ways. It isn’t always easy, but it’s potent and delicious.
This particular twin flame also happens to be one of my apprentices. He is so attuned to his spirit and nature and quite ready to be of healing service. This year, I have taken on more apprentices than ever before. It is immensely rewarding and absolutely the hardest thing that I do. It’s somewhat similar to having children, which isn’t always fun, but I really believe in this model and it’s immensely rewarding. I’m so sick of certificate programs for healers. It isn’t natural. Becoming a healer or spiritual teacher is a very intense calling and it requires many different types of support that can’t possibly be covered in a one-size-fits-all curriculum for a week or even a month.
Ma Sings Through Melody
Silvia Nakkach is my hero. A couple of years ago, at Esalen on the cliffs of Big Sur, California, she introduced me to something magical: my voice. I’ve never thought I could sing. I even wondered if I was tone deaf. Silvia led us through many melodic mantras and medicine songs. She believes in opening the voice. She says it isn’t necessary to “find your voice” because you’ve had one all the time. You just have to learn to use it. Sound is such an under-utilized element in our human-being-toolbox. When I teach breath work and ask people to sound on the exhale, they are sometimes too shy to do so at first. We are programmed not to make noises other than speech. And even then, only speech that is palatable to other people. What about truth? What about the joy of singing? It’s time to break the mold and let vibrational energy run through your throat and into the world.
I’ve focused on sound the past two years and it has made a profound difference in my life. I’ve learned that I can sing and others even enjoy my voice. It’s hard for me to believe, but it is true. It’s opened my spirituality up in ways I never would have imagined.
Everyone is Bisexual
Man moons ago, a lovely cosmic mermaid and I dreamed up this self-development curriculum that would help everyone discover the degree of their bisexuality. This might make you giggle, but it’s a very profound thing for me. Sexuality is a spectrum. It is a million shades of gray. There are not three little boxes called: gay, straight and bi. Just as there are not two defined gender boxes. Our sexuality and gender identities are probably the most complex thing about us. And honestly, when it comes to sexual orientation, I believe it is impossible to know where you fall on that spectrum without a little trial and error. But experimenting on the bi or pansexual spectrum can be extremely terrifying and taboo, not to mention logistically challenging.
Where does a man go to practice looking at men as sexual beings and discuss what they find attractive, interesting, scary, repulsive? How does a woman approach another woman sensually if she’s not sure of the woman’s orientation? What if a man was curious what it would be like to hug or kiss another man, or maybe just hold his hand? Does that mean he is gay? Would that one act define his sexual orientation forever? OF COURSE FUCKING NOT. But that is what our society and media would have you believe.
For many that identify as bi, pansexual or queer, it has taken years of experimentation to figure out exactly where they fall on that spectrum. Some women I know love having sex or being sensual with other women, but they would never want to be in a deep relationship with, while others are the exact opposite. Additionally, there is the problem of bisexual invisibility. If you happen to be straight looking or straight passing, it may be harder to attract those with same-sex inclinations.
I have had many discussions around pansexuality this year, including a pretty epic video that Roxanne DePalma and I shot on how challenging it can be to be bisexual. I’ve also personally guided several men through the process of opening up to their bi-curious natures. It’s beyond time for this biggest population in the LGTBQIA alphabet stew to be seen and heard. I’m attracted to men, women, transgender and non-binary people. Deal with it.
Where Should I Live?
This year has been quite the inner dialog of where do I belong? Sometimes the voice inside me says, go be in San Diego where the majority of your chosen family lives. Another voice says be in Nashville where your skills are more needed. Through this process and also listening to so many of my witchy sisters and brothers struggle with where to be in the world, I realized something interesting. The more one is in touch with nature and spirituality, the more important it is that they listen to and trust their intuition in regard to where in the world it is most appropriate and beneficial for them to be at any given moment.
Where are your gifts needed most? What type of environment helps you thrive? Do you need a shift in community? A change of pace? What comes to mind when you ask yourself these questions?
There are so many reasons to live where one lives, but I find the most compatible and fruitful situations are led by one’s intuition. When we prioritize listening and self-trust, really amazing things can happen, like living in Bali for example. I want people to realize that no matter how established they are in one area, that sometimes movement and change are precisely the things required for growth.
When did I first realize I was a bruja? July 19, 2014, with my three bruja sisters, and it’s a long story for another day how exactly that came to be. What is a bruja? Well, the short translation from Spanish is “witch,” but it means a lot more to me than that. A bruja (or brujo, if you identify as a man) is a person who embraces the magic of nature, the sex-positive flow of life, the unity of tribe, the liberation of a modern feminist perspective, and the joy of gratitude and authenticity. Sound like you? This year, myself and my sisters will be launching a magical online portal for witchy women and their admirers called BruaLife.com. Be sure to check us out and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We are beyond excited to share this with you!