Reboot your body + recharge your life

The soft animal of our body knows what it loves. It feels our pleasure and our pain.

The body contains truths unique to our being. We are similar, but not the same and neither are our bodies. As you embrace this, you can settle into a beautiful relationship with the unique body, the exquisite system of flesh and senses, that is you.

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Your biography becomes your biology. Caroline Myss

In the Vedanta – the ancient Indian wisdom writings – it says that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Our body is what allows us to have this experience.

The yogis have always known this, that the stresses of the body must be smoothed out and soothed with yoga poses before the mind can be still and spirit can be heard. The yoga tradition is all about purifying the vehicle to achieve union of body and spirit.

The first chakra, located at the base of our spine, is called Muladhara in Sanskrit, meaning root support. Like the root system of a tree, our root or base chakra energetically grounds us in the physical world. This chakra balances our physicality, sense of security and stability in our body and in the world.

Linking the chakras are a series of energy channels that, in their purest and unimpeded form, constantly flow and spiral up and down the spinal column, keeping our energetic system in connectivity to both the earth and ethereal energy above, with the chakras like little hubs in between.

Anodea Judith calls the chakras the ‘architecture of the soul.’ She says a chakra is a centre of organisation for the reception, the assimilation and the expression of life force energy. The chakras are the portals, the mediators, between the inner world and the outer world.

Chakras can be described as processing centres of energy and information, as well as gateways for this energy and information to flow into, out of, and through. Note that when I refer to ‘energy’ I use the term to describe the concept used in many esoteric traditions of the vital life force energy, or spiritual energy, also known as prana or qi.

Many of us have sustained emotional and physical traumas in life which may have affected the formation and flow of our chakras. This biography of experience is energetically recorded in our chakra system (as well as the cells in our bodies.) This can cause our chakras to compensate by either restricting energy flow, becoming deficient or under active, or by becoming over active and excessive. Or even a combination of both.

‘So what?’ You ask, ‘it’s only energy,’ read on, and I’ll tell you why this kind of imbalance can have deep and far reaching effects on your life.

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The land is my backbone. Galarrwuy Yunipingu

Linked to physical realities of life – security, shelter, sustenance, family, tribe – Deedre Diemer writes that the first chakra is associated with primordial trust. It is the chakra associated with our basic instincts for food, shelter, sex and survival.

If we have ever experienced a lack in these needs being met, we may have an overreactive first chakra, that is out of balance and causes us to compensate in a variety of ways.

Natalie Southgate writes that when your base chakra is balanced, you feel connectedness with the world and those around you, in a state of safety and stability. The balanced base chakra gives you a focused sense of your place in the world. As it is your root chakra, it is vital to allow your other chakras to be in balance.

Like the foundations of a house, or the roots of the tree, the base is essential to the stability of the whole structure.

If we are imbalanced in this chakra it can manifest as a lack of physicality, being underweight, spacey and anxious. Or it may manifest as an excessive physicality in being overweight and overly attached to the physical by hoarding, over eating and indulgence in pleasure, or over-accumulation of stuff.

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To lose our connection with the body is to become spiritually homeless. Without an anchor we float aimlessly, battered by the winds and waves of life. Anodea Judith

I often wondered how I could be both spaced out and have a tendency to over-indulge. Anodea Judith points out that as these extremes are both compensatory behaviours to address an issue in this chakra we may experience symptoms of both.

If you imagine the root chakra like a plant in a pot, it needs a degree of support to keep the soil and moisture in, but too tight a restraint will not allow it to grow.

In the same way a deficient base chakra contracts too tightly into its core, not allowing enough room for energy to come in, to have, to hold, to manifest. In this scenario we are literally strangling our energy flow, the earth energy that needs to flow up and through our base chakra is restricted and bottlenecked, creating blockages that may literally prevent us from manifesting or maintaining physical things, including our own healthy robust body, as there is no room to receive. This kind of person can be literally disembodied, spacey, anxious, ungrounded.

The person who compensates for an unbalanced base chakra though physical over-indulgence, allows excessive earth energy into their system. They may feel heavy, lethargic, they may be overweight, overeat, hoard and covet possessions, money and power. It is as if they use physical things, including their own body weight to compensate for deficiencies in this chakra, perhaps to literally compensate for a lack of maternal holding in their formative years.

Again this results in a blockage. Too much energy, when it is held and hoarded in this way impedes the flow just as much as constricted energy. It’s akin to the Buddhist concept of attachment, it is the attachment to our desires that causes suffering. It causes us to get stuck in a unmanageable mess of our own making.

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Looking back you realize that a very special person passed briefly through your life and that person was you. It is not too late to become that person again. Robert Brault

The base chakra is very much about grounding, stability, and security, and I have learned the only lasting stability and security available is that which I provide to myself, through being present in the body, in the now. My intention now is for balance and health. I no longer want to shield myself in weight, nor do I want to starve, or define myself by some ideal so manipulated that not even today’s models actually achieve it. My intention is to love myself, to protect myself without needing layers of flesh to do so. To be whatever size and shape my true being is, healthy, comfortable, happy. My intention is to rediscover joy in my body, my life.

The lesson of Muladhara chakra is grounding, a full inhabiting of our physical bodies as the embodiment of our connection to the element of earth. To cease existing primarily in our heads and inhabit our bodies. To cease grasping onto people, places and things as the source of our security.

Here we can experience pleasure and pain, connect with our feelings, and release these accumulated emotional energies through our connection with the physical.

Movement through our bodies allows energy to flow, it can trigger blockages to shift and cause accumulated energies to be released or redistributed and balanced.

Movement brings us into our physicality, brings our energy down from our heads into our roots, allowing a real connection with not only our physical selves, but the physicality of the world around us.

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Here in this body are the sacred rivers, here are the sun and the moon, as well as all the pilgrimage places. I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body. Saraha Doha

To encourage our vital energy to flow freely we must let go of our attachments and defences. The chakras can be blocked by our learned defences, either something we want to keep out or something we don’t want to let out. What kinds of things would cause these defences? Toxic energy, fear and violence are all things we may shut down to avoid. Similarly we may repress our own ‘negative’ emotions – anger, sorrow, exuberance – having learned it was unsafe to express these.

Sometimes the residue from trauma gets stored in our body and our energy system. While traditional psychotherapy may assist at a mental and behavioural level, we also need to release these wounds energetically, in order to release the attachments and defences they cause us to act out – often unconsciously – in our lives.

As in all things balance is the key. An over-amped base chakra may cause us to be frozen in fear or rushing about in a heightened state of anxiety. What we ideally want is movement that is grounded and purposeful. We need to reconnect with the nurturing aspects of Mother Earth.

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I thought the earth remembered me, she took me back so tenderly, arranging her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichens and seeds. Mary Oliver

To ground we invite this energy back down through our body and reconnect ourselves energetically with the earth.

Traditionally humans spent most of their lives in direct contact with the earth, walking, living and sleeping on the ground. In the modern world we are so disconnected from the earth in layers of buildings, shoes, vehicles.

Anodea Judith says that the best way to restore balance to the base chakra, is to open the leg channels. The legs connect us to the earth and the energy flows up through our feet and legs and into the base chakra. Our legs are like two prongs of an electric plug – we need to plug in to the earth energy to ground.

In Chakradance we reconnect our base chakra to the earth by dancing to earthy tribal beats, moving powerfully through our legs and feet. We may visualise ourself as a seed planted in the earth, provided with all the sustenance, support, and security it needs to grow. We see ourselves setting down strong roots as we grow into the world, like a giant majestic tree firmly rooted in the soil, so our branches can safely reach up and out into the sunshine.

Plenty of earthing, feet in the earth, sitting crouched on the earth, visualising mother earth’s energy cleansing, grounding, and balancing me. All very tribal, this earth-based, primal dance of the base chakra, and so liberating for a cerebral girl like me.

Join me on my next retreat (see below) if you feel inspired to reboot your base chakra.

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Upcoming events at Raw Mojo Chakradance

Base Chakra Journeying

Reboot Your Base Chakra Retreat

Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul

All Artwork by Melina Del Mar – all rights reserved

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Dancing in the shadow

The self of my dreams came the day I found out that there was gold hidden in my darkness, that there was light shining in my bad behaviour, and that there was power hidden in the traumas of my past. Debbie Ford

One of the less obvious influences on Chakradance, often overshadowed by the more apparent influences of the Hindu-Tantric chakra system and shamanic trance-dances practices, is Jungian psychology.

While the Chakradance facilitator is all too aware that his or her role is to ‘hold space’ for the experiences of the dancers, a very Jungian concept, as is the use of mandala art to ‘contain’ the numinous experiences and energy of the dance. These Jungian aspects are often not obvious to the dancer.

I often refer to Jungian archteypes that people may encounter in their dance journeys, these will often manifest as visions of scenes that play out as interactions between archetypes like mother and victim, warrior and servant.

I have written about archetypes in these other posts. 

The experience of Chakradance is described like a ‘waking dream’ where the dancer lets go of their conscious, thinking mind and allows the unconscious mind to communicate through images, feelings, colours and insights.

This week another Chakradance facilitator posted about Chakradance as a way to interact with our shadow, a Jungian concept for the aspects of self that we are either unaware of or actively suppress because we are ashamed of that aspect of ourselves.

At a time when my shadow, in the words of Led Zeppelin, looms taller than my soul, and having just read a truly awe-inspiring post by a Jungian writer – see here – I felt one of those lightning bolt moments.  (Like a lightbulb moment but way more dramatic.)

Something’s coming up. Let’s see if it can articulate itself here…

Chakradance is a journey within. Using the chakra system as a map to consciousness, we dance beyond the everyday, five sensory awareness into a deeper experience of ourselves. With our eyes closed and our imagination as a guide, during Chakradance we experience our inner world as a waking dream. Many people see visions in their mind’s eye, encounter beings, ancestors, animals, different landscapes which all tell a story about the disposition of our inner self.

In the new Chakradance cycle, called Freedom, we have a different guide for each chakra who takes us on this journey. But I have found many people intuitively find their own guides in the dance as well, be they humans, ethereal beings or animals.

After participating in a Chakradance cycle, many people are surprised at the visions and experiences, not to mention the insights and transformations in their real lives, that they encounter.

It is so astonishing to uncover this unconscious aspect of ourselves, and to realise our conscious, day to day self is like the tip of the iceberg in terms of the multitudes we all contain.

So when we immerse ourselves into the sound and movement of chakradance, what will often arise is aspects of ourselves that we have not been aware of. This can be visions, emotions or insights that are experienced in a loving and beautiful way. Sometimes we are ready to shift and release less attractive aspects of ourselves. These might be long buried memories, strong emotions, or even aspects portrayed as menancing creatures who come out of our subconscious dark zones. 

Like a deep-water diver, encountering sharks or other prehistoric and primal creatures that we may be afraid of, our first reaction to these is often fear or repulsion. But just as sharks have a vital role in the ecological wellbeing of the ocean, so our own shadow has a purpose. 

This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed. D.H. Lawrence

For me, when I began my Chakradance facilitator training, and I was dancing and studying the modality intensely on a daily basis, I had a number of powerful experiences. The most profound for me was an experience in the Solar Plexus Chakra, which not only happened in the dance but also in my dream life. This showed me something was shifting at a deep level in my psyche.

I was awoken from a dream, quite literally, with a bang. In my dream, a large metal pot or cauldron blew its lid with a loud explosion. As a result of reading Jung and experiencing Chakradance, I was becoming more curious about the messages my subconscious communicates to me in my dreams.

After waking from this dream, I felt quite agitated and unable to go back to sleep. There was the strongest feeling that this dream was an important message from my subconscious and I intuitively felt it was somehow related to my solar plexus chakra. So after discussing this with my Chakradance teacher, I moved on to this chakra. During the dance, I had a very powerful experience.

The dance of Manipura (the solar plexus chakra) begins with a flame, and as the music intensifies, the fire increases, and I danced like wildfire. I became one with the fire, I was fire, flickering and wild. It felt incredibly liberating and powerful, and then all of a sudden my perception shifted dramatically.

The experience transformed from being elemental fire, to being ON fire – being burned, encased in flames – and all the powerful emotions that came with it. Horror, fear, panic. Even knowing it was just in the dance, the emotional reaction was profound. 

I had flashbacks to memories of being hurt as a child, and a great rage rose within me. Ending up like an animal in all fours, I growled and raged, releasing suppressed emotions held within me since I was a powerfless five year old unable to fight back against her abuser. 

It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster. Carl Jung

Recovering in child’s pose, I found myself saying to myself, “that was then this is now, it is safe to be powerful now.”

As I incanted this affirmation, came a vision of a fiery cauldron burning away the hurts of the past, all those experiences where I was persecuted, shamed, or abused for expressing my power.

I would love to report that since then I have never been less than powerful in my life, but it doesn’t work like that. In my life aspects of my shadow, like that scared and angry child, the one who was unable to be powerful and speak up, are still there.

The difference is that I know she is there, and I can see when that energy emerges, when I get petulant or sulky, when I over react to perceived criticism or rejection. These days, I am more mindful, more aware.

And I have made a sacred place for her, where she can be safe to express whatever she needs to. It’s my way of integrating her, without annihilating her. Because she’s part of me. If she hadn’t taken on all that rage and shame for all those years I may not be here today. Today instead of wishing her away I try to honour her. She’s a feisty five year old who screws up her face when she’s not happy and I love her!

I have also tapped into an inner wellspring of power that I never knew I possessed. Now when I dance the Solar Plexus I embody the energy of a fiery God – Shiva Nataraj – or a powerful warrior and feel these numinous qualities flow on into my life.

We need more people who are not ashamed of, or embarrassed by their pain, but who can instead respond to their own and others’ suffering – as an unavoidable facet of the human condition – with love, patience, sympathy, nurturing and respect. True happiness, after all, does not exclude sadness, but rather embraces it within the living paradox which personal wholeness demands. Maureen B Roberts

So what is this shadow? And why do we have it. And yes, you do.

Renowned psychologist Carl Jung believed that on the journey to discover your inner secrets and mysteries, you will encounter the dark, hidden crevices within your psyche. He called this place the “shadow self.” It is also called the lower self, animal nature, the alter ego, or the inner demon – the place where the unowned side of your personality lives.

The shadow is the parts of ourselves that we may try to hide or deny. According to Carl Jung, it can be said to consist of energy patterns, known as selves or sub-personalities that were disowned — pushed down into our unconscious in childhood, as part of our coping strategies.

Jung created the Archetypes model, a concept to describe how our unconscious minds are fragmented or structured into different “selves” in an attempt to organize how we experience different things in life.

Your shadow self is the part of you that stays unknown, unexamined, and out of the light of your conscious awareness. It is the part that is denied or suppressed because it makes you uncomfortable or afraid. Whatever doesn’t fit your image of your ideal self becomes your shadow.

Jung asked, “Would you rather be good or whole?” Many people choose goodness, or more accurately ‘correctness’ as a means to belong in society, and as a result, are internally fractured. There is your persona, the part you want the world to see, and your shadow, the part that you don’t.

What we call civilized consciousness has steadily separated itself from the basic instincts. But these instincts have not disappeared. They have merely lost their contact with our consciousness and are thus forced to assert themselves in an indirect fashion. This may be by means of physical symptoms in the case of a neurosis, or by means of incidents of various kinds, or by unaccountable moods, unexpected forgetfulness, or mistakes in speech… modern man protects himself against seeing his own split state by a system of compartments. Certain areas of outer life and of his own behavior are kept, as it were, in separate drawers and are never confronted with one another. Carl Jung

Jung believed that what you resist in life tends to persist and even become stronger. If you resist your dark side, it becomes more solid. Hence by trying to be good and suppress our shadow side we actually make it more powerful.

As Jung often said what we refuse to face in ourselves, we project into others and onto life creating an external world that seems to reflect our own worst nightmares. We create self-fulfilled prophecies of the stuff we least want.

I think I first became aware of my shadow 18 years ago. Having hit, in 12-Step parlance, my rock-bottom through alcohol and drug abuse, I found myself sober in a 12 Step program. Suddenly I had no Dutch courage, no medicine, no anaesthetic, and no buffer between myself and reality. I had started using alcohol to numb my feelings at age 15 so at age 25 I had acquired zero emotional maturity or coping mechanisms that didn’t involve a drink, a fix or a pill.

I found myself sitting in cold and dank church halls and community centres – where many AA meetings seemed to be held – with hideously bright fluorescent lighting – “ve have vays of making you talk.” Even though I had spend much of my ‘drinking years’ in dank bars, the veneer of alcohol always made everything sparkle, it gave me a warm inner glow, and the dim lighting covered a multitude of sins.

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. Joseph Campbell

Now I felt exposed, transitioning from a creature of the night to an attempt at daytime normalcy, I found myself squinting and blinking at the brightness of the world, like a mole forced out of her hole. Supermarkets were particularly painful. The combination of the bad Muzak, over-lit endless aisles of stuff and people was pergatory for me.

Especially the people. Early detox from alcohol is defined by it’s combination of the physical shakes and extreme paranoia. I was sure every person in the place was watching me trying to wrestle control of my hand to pick up a packet of cereal or extricate money from my wallet. If someone actually spoke to me, it all became too much, the walls would start closing in and I had to abandon all my shopping and leave.

It was a shock to see what a ‘shadow’ person I had become, more comfortable in the dark, shadowy side of life, invisible, afraid of the most ordinary things.

In the AA program I was forced to confront my ‘defects of character,’ another ways of describing the shadow aspects of my behaviour. For someone who had meticulously avoided any emotions, or difficult aspects of myself, this was a hideously confronting process. On a daily basis I was faced with the choice of facing my shadow or facing complete annihilation. It was not a happy time.

We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations. It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle. Sigmund Freud

But, through this process I learned to be increasingly more comfortable with myself, all of myself, and embarked on a path of self-awareness and self-acceptance as I had never known before.

It was to be my first of many experiences, where I discovered that facing my shadow, no matter how painful or undesirable, brought untold gifts.

Eventually though I found myself again at a rock bottom. Having crashed and burned emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually not long after my fortieth birthday, again I was searching for answers.

As appealing as it was when I was happy, from this depressed state I found much of the New Age stuff very shallow. Wishful thinking, affirmations, faking it until we make it, are sometimes helpful to get out of the rut, but they cannot be long term life plans. True authenticity comes from facing the shadow. That stuff that lurks just beneath the surface that we push down with a myriad of avoidance strategies from sedation to excess busyness.

I am highly suspicious of any practice which focuses only on the light or positive aspects of our being. We are all made up of dark and light. A really simple way to uncover your shadow self is to see what really irritates you in others, what drives you bonkers. Is it disrespect? Arrogance? Greed? Inconsideration? Guaranteed the stuff you most resent in others is stuff you deny or repress in yourself. This is called projection, we literally use others as a screen to project our shadow traits onto.

Our journey of Self-Exploration is a bit like Dante’s Inferno. Before making our way out of “hell” we must walk through the depths of our inner darkness. Many religions symbolize these experiences well. Two famous examples include the case of Jesus who had to face Satan in the desert, and Buddha’s encounter with Mara (the Buddhist Satan) before his “awakening”.  Mateo Sol

We all do this, so there’s a couple of options, suppress it and keep frantically chanting OMs hoping that no one realises our murderous rage within, or acknowledge it. Take a look at it. Next time you judge someone else, either for the positive or negative – even jealousy often is us projecting our unowned good qualities on another person – witness that.

Be curious. Dive into it. Ask yourself, can I be disrespectful, arrogant, inconsiderate? Maybe sometimes these qualities are actually useful. Especially when used consciously.

When I stumbled upon Chakradance, something lit up inside of me. Here was the best of the New Age. A practice that combined ancient wisdom with modern psychology. It drew upon the Chakra system, shamanic dance and Jungian psychology. All practices which resonated with me. And best of all, it was music and dance! I had always found great freedom and liberation from my difficulties by pumping up the stereo and dancing myself silly. Chakradance gave me a framework to use this for my healing.

Any practice which takes us out of the conscious mind and engages with the unconscious, be it dance, creating art or music, meditation, immersing ourselves in nature, will help this more primal side of ourselves to emerge.

In Chakradance we dance into our unconscious, and then we create a mandala drawing so we can express all this beautiful untapped energy, and all the powerful images we encounter which help us to recognise these hidden parts of ourselves.

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age. Walt Whitman

Because the shadow is often made up of primal instincts and urges we have repressed, as well as tribal and ancestral traits we have rebelled against, I feel that the base chakra is particularly relevant to this work.

When I was in India last year I took the opportunity to see an Ayurvedic doctor. In Ayurveda all aspects of self, mind, body and spirit are addresssed. So as part of the consultation, he discussed the state of my chakras. He felt that my physical and emotional symptoms indicated my base Chakra was weak – almost non-existant! – and needed activating. I have been practising the mantras he gave me and the chanting practice. When the Chakradance Reboot Your Base Chakra eCourse came up I immediately signed up.

I am a great believer in divine timing. As my shadow self seems to be bursting out causing me to act, think and feel in ways I find very overwhelming and challenging, I have this beautiful practice of Chakradance to ease me back into my body, to help me integrate all these aspects of self. Chakradance is gentle like that, it doesn’t force things to come up in the psyche, Jung believed that could be counter-productive. But when stuff is ready, it rises, and it feels so good to be able to dance through and integrate my shadow work.

In the base Chakradance we connect with our power animal. Dancing our power animal is one of the most powerful shamanic practices to revitalise and strengthen our spirit. Each animal brings its own strength, wisdom or medicine, and a connection to our primal, instinctual nature.

Mine is an animal who hibernates seasonally, and as such as we head into Winter here, I am reminded of the restorative power of cave-time, time to withdraw from the world, rest, nourish and replenish the body.

The work of the soul is not always sparkly and full of surrender-gasms. As Caroline Myss said the truly powerful and great spiritual moments are usually accompanied by great humility or suffering, as the metaphor of the birth of the messiah in a stable illustrates.

In my eyes, indisposed. In disguises no one knows. Hides the face, lies the snake. And the sun in my disgrace. Chris Cornell

During this time of increased shadow rising, I became increasingly depressed. Perhaps instead of something rising up, it was a place I descended into.

Weirdly my darkest nights of the soul coincided with the tragic suicide of my musical hero Chris Cornell. I felt that right there was my shadow, I so empathised with the darkness that took him on that lonely night in Detroit.

I drew on my love for my son to get me through, like a candle illuminating the dark I knew I had to survive the darkness for his sake. It sounds melodramatic I know, but when you are hanging on by a thread, you use whatever power you can.

Depression can be seen as a descent into shadow. It certainly feels dark, and as though every negative and undesirable aspect of self takes front and centre stage. However there is also a palpable shift in awareness as if a doorway into a previously hidden part of life is opened.

Depression is a wilderness where nothing makes sense or has meaning. As long as it doesn’t take me out completely, this mental blackout can be helpful. It often forces me to challenge what truly has meaning in my life, what has substance, what brings vitality and joy. And similarly to recognise that which does not.

Leading up to this bout of depression I had done some work with a spiritual healer that included soul retrieval. In fact I could pretty much pin the beginning of my descent to that time. I became curious about this link between soul loss, soul retrieval, shadow and depression so I began to read more about it.

Soul loss is the idea that parts of our soul or spirit break away during traumatic life experiences, leaving us less vital. In psychology this idea is known as dissociation, where a person may have no memory of the trauma or seem disassociated or overly detached from their current life.

In psychology they are not concerned with where these lost parts go, but in many shamanic traditions, there is an understanding that these parts have gone to places in non-ordinary reality or the ‘spirit world.’ Shamans are experts in tracking down and coaxing back these lost soul parts to be reunited the body of the person they were splintered from. This is soul retrieval.

Many years ago when I was studying shamanism in Bali, I had a conversation with a friend about this. As a psychotherapist he pointed out that the mind is always trying to find balance or equilibrium, and as such rejects anything that threatens this. Bringing back soul parts after many years, especially soul parts that were splintered off on account of trauma, must throw this balance of the psyche into turmoil.

I wish that soul retrieval were safe, simple, and filled with the white light of love and light that people think it is. But something cannot be powerful and safe at the same time. Mary Shutan

Interesting alongside this deep suicidal depression, I also had other old dysfunctional behaviours crop up. And I craved cigarettes so badly I actually asked a drunk guy for one, fortunately he said no. I haven’t been a smoker for over sixteen years.

What I began to intuit is that some of the soul parts that had come back were pretty dysfunctional when they left.

Whether you see these parts as repressed aspects of self or lost soul parts, the effect of bringing them back into consciousness is the same, they are strangers to the psyche who has been getting along just fine – or so it thinks – without them. Sometimes it is not a happy reunion.

And seemingly they had brought some of their old dynamics back into my psyche, throwing me into turmoil. In a way my shadow selves were ignited and fueled by this process, and I was left in a frightening shadow world where all I could see was darkness and hopelessness. Much like the teenage addicted and suicidal me.

You will have to stand someplace you’ve never been willing to stand before. Go to places you have deemed off limits. This is the time to take off the shell of your past and step into the rich possibilities of your future. Debbie Ford

Fortunately, weeks ago I had signed up for a Spontaneous Transformation workshop on stress and overwhelm. Spontaneous Transformation is a beautiful technique that addresses this very issue by dialoguing with these soul parts and helping them address the trauma in order to find a resolution, recognition and integration.

Through this daily practice and through Chakradance, I have found peace with myself again. And beyond that, these angry and hurt parts of myself actually taught me a lesson or two about how I could be kinder and support myself better in my life.

In India, the Hindus practise Aarti, which literally means an illuminating light in the darkness. I believe by bringing the light of awareness onto our shadow we can find gold there. Don’t throw away the treasure in your cave because  you’re scared of the dark – light a candle and see the gold in there.

Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) Walt Whitman

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul



Melting into divine desire

But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin. Aldous Huxley

Somewhere along the line, I learned the idea that desire was a bad thing. As a child I was told I was being selfish and greedy to express my desire for things. “You’ll get what you’re given. Like it or lump it” was the general philosophy.

Like Oliver Twist asking for some extra gruel, some authorative voice boomed at my requests “More? Who dares to ask for more?”

I do. I dare. Having played the cards of meekness, detachment and acceptance for many years – and although all these qualities have their place – I realise that this desire is what fuels me. Desire, passion, yearning have been instrumental in my evolution. They stretch me beyond my safe zone.

The fear that was instilled in me is that desire and passion makes us reckless, makes us take risks. Yes, it does. And that’s exactly its power.

I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become. Carl Jung

When I began my experiential journey into the chakra system through Chakradance, there were three chakras that were obviously underactive. My base or root chakra, which reflected a belief the world was an unsafe place. My solar plexus chakra, which reflected a suppression of my own power, and my throat chakra, which reflected an inability to speak out, and to express myself.

This last year I have held the position of the knight on the druid ceremonial wheel. In the tarot the knight is the somewhat “young, dumb and full of cum” archetypal youthful male energy. He has much passion but sometimes lacks the forethought and planning that comes of experience.

So why would this archetypal energy be something I needed to embody this year? I think because I have generally played it too safe. After a somewhat disastrous rebellous streak that left me burnt out and washed up at 25, since then I have been too afraid of self-destruction to really live passionately. 

Often the wisdom of the body clarifies the despair of the spirit. Marion Woodman

It was time for that to change. Now in my forties I have plenty of insight and experience but I often lacked the conviction in my passion and the ability for wild abandon. There are some aspects of life that just aren’t meant to be played safe.

You’d think I wasn’t someone who played it safe. I spent years walking the razor’s edge of drug and alcohol addiction, last year despite being warned off continuously, even by total strangers, I made a solo trip to India. I do try to live by my heart’s passions, but that doesn’t mean I find it easy. 

Taking even a small risk often involves a great leap over a mountain of anxiety. Like most addicts, and contrary to popular belief, I am not a naturally hedonistic thrill-seeker, but rather someone who found ways to compensate for my fears and insecurity. Now stone cold sober I have to find other means to fuel my courage.

An addiction to anything we do to avoid hearing the message the body and soul are trying to send us. Marion Woodman

In love I see this polarity most obviously. I want to dive into love with an open heart and mind. But as soon as all my emotional baggage, from past hurts and rejection, starts to be triggered, I find myself in a somewhat schizoid state. One day easy-going and open-hearted, the next anxious, needy and suspicious. It’s no fun for my love interest, I’m sure. Even less for me as it’s completely beyond my control.

The trick seems to be allowing this emotional pendulum to swing with a degree of compassionate detachment, and without acting out on the extremes. And I am so not there yet…

I have written much about my first week in India, when I travelled solo to Rishikesh. The time was marked by a sense of being welcomed and supported by the divine, particularly in the form of my beloved Ganesha and the river goddess Ganga Ma.

I can tell you that it takes great strength to surrender. You have to know that you are not going to collapse. Instead, you are going to open to a power that you don’t even know, and it is going to come to meet you. In the process of healing, this is one of the huge things that I have discovered. People recognized the energy coming to meet them. When they opened to another energy, a love, a divine love, came through to meet them. That is what is known as grace. Marion Woodman

Surprisingly writing about the second half of my trip – travelling to Varanasi to connect with a large group of women led by Alana Fairchild in the Grace of the Golden Goddess retreat – has taken longer to percolate into a post.

I had been so excited about this week of moving meditations and rituals devoted to various Hindu deities, so I was surprised when on the first day I felt subsumed by a sense of unworthiness and shame. 

Alana had requested we bring something for the altar and I had brought my wedding ring. I wanted to hand over to the divine my lack of success in love. I also wanted to make some kind of atonement. I had made a solemn vow to God and another person in front of all my family and friends, twice, and twice had been unable to keep that promise. 

Living by principles is not living your own life. It is easier to try to be better than you are than to be who you are. Marion Woodman

It had seemed like such a grand idea to seek this ritual of completion in Varanasi, the sacred Hindu cremation ground. As such I had worn the ring in India as a kind of deterrent to men – which admittedly didn’t work! But it did stir something in me, a desire to experience a committed loving relationship again. 

As I sat in this room preparing to place the symbol of my failure in love on the altar, I felt wretched. I could have happily got on the next train back to Rishikesh. 

Instead I took a big breath and during a short break I faced Alana and told her how I was feeling. I didn’t know her then, I didn’t know what a deeply caring and compassionate woman she is. I just saw a glamazon in a fabulous silk kaftan. It felt like a risk to admit my vulnerabilities to such a powerhouse.

But she was calm and smiled and told me that of course, as I was preparing to open myself to divine grace and blessings of abundance, that all my doubts and insecurities would bubble up. She said “That’s good. The work has begun.” It was all part of the process.

At the very point of vulnerability is where the surrender takes place – that is where the god enters. The God comes through the wound. Marion Woodman

As she said this I knew she was right, although the the feelings were still overwhelming, I was able to stay and participate in the ritual. Later something dropped for me, one of those head-to-heart moments, something I had known but not really understood the profound implications of. That whatever I open myself up to in life, love, success, joy, the very blocks inside of me to all those things will instantly rise up. That booming voice “who are you to ask for more!”

Dance is a powerful way to move and shift our energy, allowing blocks to surface and be healed. Moving meditations combines the power of the shamanic dance journey with guided meditation to create a space for our subtle energy to move, for blocks to release, for spontaneous soul healing to occur. Like with Chakradance, in a sacred space with intention and resonant sound, the soul will find its healing, it’s equilibrium.

The drop excavates the stone, not by force but by falling often. Ovid

In the moving meditation that followed, I made my offering to the altar and was ritually blessed by Shiva’s trident. The ritual involved offering and opening ourselves upon Shiva’s sacred ground, in readiness to be purified to receive the grace of the golden goddess, Lakshmi.

There were many tears, so much grief, as I released my flawed attempts at love. In the dance I saw all my failures in love, my first boyfriend, my marriages, my last – still deeply held – love, at first with sadness, shame, grief, but then as I moved, it shifted to compassion for them and for myself. 

I began to see that in the face of many obstacles, youth, immaturity, inexperience, addictions, dysfunctional and abusive childhoods, the valiant attempts we had all made to love each other as best we could in spite of our respective wounds. I saw the lessons we had learned, the healing that had happened in amongst the pain. 

The right way to wholeness is made up of fateful detours and wrong turnings. Carl Jung

When I reached the review of my last love, the tears were pouring down my face. I saw the immensity of our love, the sheer capacity of my heart for love and passion. It was exquisitely beautiful.

The feeling of shame and failure left me, replaced by a sense that everything had happened as it needed to, for me and for them. It was time to let go and create space for the beautiful energies Alana was calling in for us.

This emptying out was necessary to receive the divine gifts that Lakshmi, and the other deities would offer across our week of dancing rituals. Lakshmi brought the golden light of choice, receptivity and grace. Letting go of what has completed knowing there is new energy waiting to come in.

For many of us being dragged towards wholeness happens precisely through the mysterious process of wishing: through the gaps it exposes, the new edges it drives us towards, the deeper layers of longing it reveals. Marion Woodman 

After many years of profound religious experiences in Chakradance, in nature, and in sacred ritual, I know better than to try to capture the experience in words. During the week working with Alana, I felt direct and powerful connections with the deities we invoked. I had profound realisations, releases, and shifts. And yet like many other experiences I have had, I know there is a long period of integration. A time where these shifts that happen at the spiritual and energetic level slowly manifest into my physical reality. This work of the soul is not magic. Although it certainly feels like magic at the time. 

The journey I had with Lakshmi and Vishnu where I offered myself for a marriage, a true partnership with the divine, was as elaborate, joyful and decadent as a Bollywood grand finale. But the grand vision is not the point. The point is that in this sacred space I made a vow to live in divine partnership, to make my life out of a constant prayer to the divine of “show me.”

What I have come to understand, or think I understand, is that these shifts, these experiences are real and profound but subtle. That is, they occur at the level of our subtle energy. In order for real change, over the weeks and months that followed, I was repeatedly tested. Would I fall back into old ways, or deepen these new subtle energies into lasting change.

What this often means is that when faced with a choice, I have one foot in either crossroad, and I have to ask myself which is my true, courageous choice, my true heart’s desire. Not always easy when old neural pathways of fear and unworthiness run so deep. But oh how I long to embody this fearlessness of heart.

There’s a point at which one must start caring where one fixes one’s vision on high. Don a mantle of vision and daring. Tis where the water meets the sky. David Whalen

Longing, ah, that’s what drives me. A desire, a yearning for some deeper and more satisfying experience of life. 

I used to think this tendency for yearning was, at best, a quirk of my Irish DNA, and at worst, a serious design flaw, that never allowed for true contentment or satisfaction.

“You’re never happy.” My mother would say to me as a child, and now I realise she recognised that because it mirrored her own stifled yearnings, she felt it too.

In one of Alana’s sessions, we went around the room and gave a word to describe how we were feeling, I said “longing, yearning.” It was true, the work thus far had shifted much grief and sadness, but left me with a great hunger for something to fill the gap. It was a deep desire from my heart. We were about to embark on a ritual to call in the divine masculine, and as much as I quake at times in the presence of the masculine, I longed for it.

Alana validated this yearning of mine for the first time. She said the divine is drawn to our longing for it. Like a person who greets you with open arms and great excitement, the divine is drawn to those who truly desire it. 

In the dance I tapped into this great yearning, this desire to be truly seen in all my passion with the multitude of love I have inside me, that I have held back because it always seemed like too much for people. I was never happy because I was never truly seen, valued, held. How could I be loved when I was invisible? Or just a blank screen for others to project their shadow or desires onto?

When I show my desire to the divine, it matches it with love, grace and power. 

In your body is the garden of flowers. Take your seat on the thousand petals of the lotus, and there gaze on the infinite beauty. Kabir

During this somewhat magical week in Varanasi, where we alternated between deeply profound rituals and raucous bus trips to explore the city, I really connected with shakti, the power or energy that is the attribute of the goddess. Shakti is the strong life force that animates all action, or as Diane Eck describes it the “can-do capacity for any activity.” 

Primarily through Lakshmi, but also the myriad of other expressions of divine shakti – Radha, Kali, Saraswati, Parvati, Durga, Ganga – I finally tapped into the full expression of my power. 

Shakti is what we harness in Chakradance, and even prior to going to India, I had increasingly had visions of Hindu goddesses, especially around the energy of my throat chakra, Vissudha, or purification. 

Now I am not talking here of boundless passion so unchecked that it bypasses all reason and respect for real limitations. Instead this is the desire that produces creativity. This is the spark and the subsequent electricity that propels thought into movement and action. 

Even the gods are powerless without the kinetic energy of shakti. Diane Eck

Shakti begins as the kundalini energy coiled up at the base chakra, once she is activated she moves up the energetic column along the spine, connecting with the shiva energy at the crown chakra. Shiva represents consciousness and shakti the activating force that brings consciousness into action. Once activated these energies continue to flow up and down the spine, activating and enlivening our chakras and our subtle energy body.

Fear is the great block of the base chakra, feeling unsafe, insecure in the world. For me, this fear had very much stifled my shakti. By continuing to work with my base chakra, through yoga, chanting, grounding practices and moving meditations like Chakradance, gradually this energy has begun to move and become vital once more.

A life truly lived constantly burns away veils of illusion, burns away what is no longer relevant, gradually reveals our essence, until, at last, we are strong enough to stand in our naked truth. Marion Woodman

When I danced in the energies of my past loves in Varanasi last year, I felt a deep sorrow when I reconnected with the depth and intensity of the love I felt for the man I have loved for the last seven years. Having gone our separate ways for a year I truly believed our time together had gone, and I mourned it deeply. 

But spirit had other ideas. As the power of the rituals and my time in India percolated within me, as my intense longing grew, so within him a great healing began. And in the New Year, tentatively, we reunited.

I would like to say it has a fairytale ending, but we all know fairy tales never ended that way until Disney got a hold on them. And like a traditional folk tale, our union is one that challenges us both. For me, this has been a true test of my ability to let desire guide me, to melt into it. Becoming vulnerable to this love has raised all my demons, my insecurity, my fear of betrayal and abandonment. And yet we stumble on, blinded by the light of this great electric pull of our desire.

Given our story, and the ways in which we have reconnected after our many times apart. I cannot help but believe this is a divine desire. 

So I let myself melt.

This is the point where love becomes possible. We see the other with the eye of the heart, an eye not clouded by fear manifesting as need, jealousy, possessiveness, or manipulation. With the unclouded eye of the heart, we can see the other as other. We can rejoice in the other, challenge the other, and embrace the other without losing our own center or taking anything away from the other. We are always other to each other — soul meeting soul, the body awakened with joy. To love unconditionally requires no contracts, bargains, or agreements. Love exists in the moment-to-moment flux of life. Marion Woodman

Hari om tat sat. Namaste. Blessings.

Try Chakradance – Rhythm for your soul

If your interest is piqued in attending one of Alana Fairchild’s transformative sessions, you can find her here alanafairchild.com/

(You must have been) kissing a fool

You’ll never find peace of mind til you listen to your heart. George Michael 

Happy New Year.

For most of us it is a happy time. Or at least a time of hope for happier times. Yesterday the dog – in her crazed food dance ritual – knocked a candle off my balcony. It was hope. I mean it was a candle with the word ‘hope’ printed on it. It smashed. ‘Hmmmm.’ I wondered. What is the significance of that?

Someone I once knew told me that hope was not the great sentiment so many of us think it is. Hope really is saying that our happiness is in the future, that the now is lacking in some way.

I see his point and I think there is danger is always being in hope, always waiting for the magical future in lieu of the not-so-satisfactory present. Yet when a dark night of the soul hits us, hope is the light that prevents us from giving up entirely.

Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears. Rudyard Kipling

And so I ponder that this time last year I was devastated. I spent New Years Day weeping, bawling, blubbering, wailing… And many more variations on that theme. Honestly I don’t know I could have cried so hard for so long, without my eyeballs popping out. I lay on the grass by my neighbours’ pool (it’s okay, they were away at the time) and just let these waves of grief, sadness, disappointment, rage and heartbreak roll through me.

Even in the depths of my despair there was hope, and a resolution to not repeat the experiment that always led me to this sad and broken place. Heartache and loss are great teachers, but at some point you have to learn the lesson and move the fuck on.

I really don’t want to keep harping on about that moment, but it was rather pivotal for me. After years, a lifetime really, of co-dependent behaviour and love addiction, something snapped in me. And yes, perhaps I swung a little too far the other way in 2016, when my favourite word was ‘no.’ I really pulled away from people, I rarely socialised outside of work and facilitating my classes, and hanging with my son. 

Reality denied comes back to haunt. Philip K. Dick

Not a particularly materially successful or happy year, with the notable exception of my trip to India which just made me want to explode several times daily with the sheer pleasure of being a living, sensory being. It was a year of letting go.

It was mine though. I didn’t squander my time or energy for anyone else, and that was new. I was steadfast.

2016 felt like a hard slog, like I was shedding skin to make way for something new. I’m so glad this new year and its new energies are here.

This blog started as a New Year thing. Three years ago. Wow. Time just rolls on by, doesn’t it?

I had just reread Noelle Oxenhandler’s book The Wishing Year and I was ready to try to approach my life as something I had at least a little say in. 

I liked the idea of setting intentions. I mean they are just ideals to aim towards, not demands or expectations, but it was better than wallowing in depression and disappointment over the past and letting that energy dictate my future.

My seven intentions were deliciously vague, because I think I knew if I got really specific I would kind of miss the beauty of the whole project. Which in retrospect was to enter into a kind of divine partnership. I stated my aims, and let myself be guided as to if, how, what and when they manifested.

I know if I had been specific I would have asked for a man, a house and a spiritual identity (be that a religion, a guru or a sangha). 

Then I may have thought I had failed, because I’m still single, I don’t have my own home, and I’m still searching for my spiritual identity… But I couldn’t say the project has been a bust. 

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. Carl Sagan

Firstly it is a beautiful record of my consistent ability to move though fear, pain and disappointment, to follow my crazy passions, to attempt to live fully, to be vulnerable and powerful all at the same time.

I mean, I can admit it, sometimes I read my old posts and I feel inspired by myself. ‘Who is this brave, honest and slightly kooky woman?’ I think. Only to realise she is me. 

Reading back, I remember how scared I was starting my own business, recovering from depression, traveling alone, studying shamanism, letting myself fall in love again. I know how those things turned out, but I didn’t when I wrote about it. I didn’t know when I wrote about my fears of traveling to India alone just how monumentally empowering and love-filled that experience would be. I had an inkling though, an inkling gained through years of setting intentions, listing my copious fears and then just going for it anyway.

I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me. S.E. Hinton

Just before Christmas my friend gifted me a Business Soul Coaching session. I had reconnected with her when I was in Bali and she had obviously been brought back into my life at a time when I sorely needed some direction.

After coming down from my India high, I realised that my current lifestyle was not sustainable. Fear of financial insecurity was exacerbated by receiving payment due statements for my son’s school fees and books. Followed by me going into shock after seeing my pre-Christmas payslip which was significantly lower than usual because I missed my Saturday shift to facilitate Chakradance at a Reiki weekend retreat. I did what any grown woman in my position would do, I cried. 

In that moment I had a thought that I have had periodically since starting down this path of living by my intentions, “I am being irresponsible, I need to close down Raw Mojo, give up on all this spiritual stuff, and go full time at work.”

That thought made me feel really sad and unsupported. There was a lot of crying to spirit “I thought this is what you wanted me to do?” 

And for a few weeks I suffered depression, anxiety and self-doubt. Then I made the appointment with Monique, because I knew there must be a better way through this.

This descent into self-doubt was probably a well needed slap in the face. I needed to get real. As the word my friend Monique channelled during the Soul Coaching session suggested, I was “deluded.” 

“What?”

“Deluded,” 

“That’s the word I’m receiving. Does that mean anything to you?” Yeah. Not anything good though.

I was thinking she would channel beams of universal love and support. But instead there seemed to be a whole lot of divine head-scratching. “They seem confused about what Raw Mojo means and what it offers.”

Ouch.

It was a lot to take in. Not surprisingly the lack of definition around my “brand” – the fact I still need to put that in air quotes says a lot – and my lack of clarity around what the hell I do and why I do it was restricting the potential of my business.

The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe. Voltaire

I needed clarity, focus and to clearly define what my intentions were. No more delightfully vague vision statements…

Raw Mojo was confused and suffering an identity crisis. Like its founder, it seems. I’m no psychic but even I get that for vital life force energy to flow there must be two things, a clear channel and clear intentions.

Monique tested the various offerings of Raw Mojo to see if they were an energetic match. Chakradance – yes (phew!) Shamanism – no! (still digesting that one) Reiki – no (hmmm…) Spontaneous Transformation Technique – yes, and druidry – yes (again, phew!)

After I recovered from the shock and promised to follow up with some writing – and serious soul searching – around my business and what I offer, we ended the call.

Following a pretty serious sulking session, I asked myself ‘why did I call my business Raw Mojo?’ Well for a start, the domain name for my first choice, Mojo Rising was already taken…

It all started with my attachment to the word Mojo, courtesy of Jim Morrison. You know, Mr Mojo Risin’ 

Mojo to me always represented the vital life force, before I even knew what that was. The Doors took the teenage me on deep musical journeys through sound, dance, visions and words. Their music got my spirit moving and made me feel so fully alive. 

After 40, I totally lost my mojo – my vitality and lust for life – and discovering Chakradance helped me get my groove, my mojo back. I have increasingly felt that this is my soul purpose, to guide others to rediscover their lost vitality and passion for life, to reconnect with their divine direction and essential energy. 

A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. And I knew if I had my chance, that I could make those people dance and maybe they’d be happy for a while. Don McLean

I know there is an energetic shift that happens for women around 40 and beyond. There’s a need for a new sense of self, as they are entering the Empress energy – that’s a tarot image which represents the archteypal empowered feminine. But how do we manage this transition? There are no rituals for these rites of passage in our culture. Except for binge drinking and online dating, neither of which are particularly helpful.

I believe when we suppress this shift – from caregivers and lovers into fully empowered selves – we get sick. The shift from caregivers into abundant beings in our own right is a challenging but essential rite of passage. The world needs its wise, strong women. And wise, strong men, but for some reason it’s women who are drawn to me.

So that’s the mojo part…

And the Raw part was that sense of natural, unprocessed mojo, like the real essence of my vital power. Sounds good yeah? Raw Mojo. Except no one really gets it and it sounds like an energy drink…

But this word “deluded” has really rocked me. It kind of hurts, I mean really spirit? Really? I try to listen to your guidance, I know I’m not super-psychic, but I try to follow the signs as I see them. Yes, I have had the sneaking suspicion that for a while now I wasn’t really getting a clear connection. Well, in fairness I wasn’t disciplined in my practice so I wasn’t really connecting at all. But telling me through a third party that “I’m deluded?” Wow. That’s cold man.

So I did what any librarian would do. I Googled the dictionary definition of ‘deluded.’

Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself. Ludwig Wittgenstein 

Delude as a verb comes from late Middle English via Latin where it literally means ‘to play false.’ Other definitions include: to mislead the mind or deceive. To mock or frustrate the hopes or aims of. To elude; to evade.

Oh.

Then I saw. It was that moment where a word can cut through all the bullshit and just leave you bare, nerve-ending raw.

You see, I need to come down off my spiritual high horse and admit a few things. I’m in financial trouble. I mean I can get myself out of it, if I am disciplined and smart, but the last few years I have invested a lot into my business and my esoteric studies and travels and quite frankly not seen a huge return. I get very little help from my kid’s dad so I have mounting bills for his schooling and I need to save for his school trip to the US next year.

I may have a little credit card debt, okay a lot. And my business is floundering. So yeah, deluded. I am probably that. 

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. Saul Bellow

Not because there’s anything wrong with what I offer, but in the wishy-washy way I have been offering it. Like a kid in a candy store, I kept studying different esoteric teachings and trying to be something I’m not. I keep taking courses and travelling when I can’t actually afford it.

Instead of focused intent and mastery over my practice, I have been spreading my energies too thin. Jack of all trades is a master of none.

When I think back it was after my shamanic training in Bali that my energy became diffuse, from being channelled in too many directions, without real clarity or focus.

My Chakradance classes went from being consistently filled to being cancelled as I shifted my attention to running a shamanic circle.

Now there is nothing wrong with shamanism or reiki, or any other practice I have studied. Nothing is wasted. Shamanism and reiki have only enhanced my other practices.

This is about not spreading myself too thin. Picking those modalities which work well for me, which I love, and which together are an energetic match for me.

It’s always been about what works with my energy signature, that’s what I am meant to channel and deliver here.

The visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others. Friedrich Nietszche 

I went to a guided shamanic sound journey on New Years Eve with Tim Zyphin. It was interesting in many ways but mostly it just confirmed this message that I am not a shaman. 

That’s just not how spirit works through me. And that’s okay. Truth be told I never really wanted to be one. I love journeying, especially the shamanic dance journeys but I can do that in Chakradance. 

In truth I realise my guides have been standing back on the whole shamanic thing. They never really say no to me, I mean I guess from their perspective it’s all wisdom and experience, and like reiki it has fine-tuned my ability to manage and use my subtle energy force, but anyone can do that, that does not a shaman make.

Reflecting back I see the difference between what I am meant to be doing and what I’m not. Either the vital life force is there in what I do, or it isn’t. The results speak for themselves.

We fool ourselves so much we could do it for a living. Stephen King 

With Chakradance I did the training and immediately started facilitating. Yes, I was scared. Yes, I had doubts, but the passion was there. The shamamic techniques I found really beneficial to evolve my Chakradance and journeying practices, but aside from running the journeying circle, there was no passion to practise it.

I have been searching for a spiritual identity, for my own little niche. I love hinduism, the deities and the stories, the mysticism and the faith, but in India I realised as much as I love it (and Ganesha seems to love me) it’s not my religion. I don’t think any religion is.

At the Summer Solstice ceremony of my druid grove I set intentions for the year. And what came through really strongly was that this was it. I have my spiritual community, I have a practice that is nature-based and gives me the freedom to worship whatever I want. It is a perfect ethical and spiritual match for me. It gives me freedom and autonomy along with community, ritual and practice. So I committed to it. In sacred space I commited to serve the grove and resume my druidic studies.

And today on New Years Day I began my druid studies again and redid my initiation.

So my intentions are the same, but as time goes on I see how what I want more than anything is to be real and authentic. I don’t want to play mind games. I don’t want to delude myself or others. I don’t need to impress anyone with my powers. I just do what I love because that’s how I know I’m on the right track.

That’s what came through in the shamanic journey. Loud and clear.

My shamanic spirit guide came in as soon as the shaman invited in our shamanic brothers and sisters. As if he was just waiting for the invitation. I started to cry “I thought I’d failed you.” But he never asked me to be a shaman. He asked me to demonstrate the power of our vital energy force. To carry his wisdom into the world so it wouldn’t be lost. Again he placed quartz crystals on my navel, heart and third eye. As he did the first time we met.

The message from spirit was so clear and in truth, is getting a little repetitive. I think the whole ‘deluded’ thing has made them think I’m a little dense so they have been repeating themselves everywhere I look for the last few days.

Do what you love.
Be what you love.
Be who you love.
Surround yourself with people, places, things that you love and who love you and everything you do.
If there’s no love in something, there’s no vital life force. If you don’t love it, change it. If you can’t change it, let it go, it’s not for you.

Love is the real power. It’s the energy that cherishes. The more you work with that energy, the more you will see how people respond naturally to it, and the more you will want to use it. It brings out your creativity, and helps everyone around you flower. Your children, the people you work with–everyone blooms. Marion Woodman

Love is power. Love is how the power of the universe communicates to us and through us. Love is how we open up our hearts, releasing fear and creating space for this power to flow through.

It’s not meant to be hard. We are not meant to struggle. I do and I will as long as I am incarnate. It is the nature of this density, the density of this human container we are in.

This is the divine partnership, this is divine choice. The only two vibrations are love and fear. The divine communicates to you through love.

Find your truth through love, do what brings you joy, vitality, love, happiness. That’s where the power comes in.

From an oracle reading came this:

Take risks like you’ve never been hurt. Believe wholeheartedly in something. Your divine vibrancy will bring your vision to life. Your courage and passion will see it to fruition.

And just like that. I got clear and the enquiries for Raw Mojo started to come in. The channel cleared and I felt my guides so strongly. The guidance was clear and as specific as “pay for Zak’s books and the Chakradance retreat and the phone bill first, then do Alana Fairchild’s Coaching and pay the deposit for the NASA trip.” Well. Okay then.

All the lights turned green on my way to work. I let a car merge in front of me and the plates were 777 – that’s my numerological equivalent of two thumbs up from spirit.

I know it won’t always be this clear. But thank you spirit. Thank you for making it so obvious. I needed to feel clear and not deluded. Even just for a moment.

Hari Om Tat Sat

Blessings

If you’re interested in Soul Coaching with Monique from Intuitive Freedom click here. It will really rock your world – in a good way.

Art by Kareva Margarita

The places that scare you

When we protect ourselves so we won’t feel pain, that protection becomes like armour, like armour that imprisons the softness of the heart. Pema Chodron

I wake early and sit on the verandah of my little Balinese bungalow. The ocean roars below. Dawn is breaking. A pair of small bats flap around and through the rafters of the row of huts. They pelt past me, ducking and weaving through wooden pillars and trees. I watch in awe.

Blind as a bat, that’s how the saying goes and yet they navigate with apparent ease. I’m pulled between feelings of admiration and a mild fear that one will come crashing into my head.

This torque between awe and fear captures my experience in Bali. Quite possibly it epitomises my reaction to life in general.

There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. Alan Watts

This place is beautiful but a little unsafe. No, not really unsafe. Unfamiliar. There are imagined disasters at every turn. Can I leave my son in the bungalow for an hour to go to yoga? What if something happens to him? What if I get hit by a scooter? What if we get sick? What if I lose all our money? What if there’s a tsunami? A volcanic ash cloud? What if we get stuck here and I run out of money? What if I chose the wrong place to stay? What if we are too isolated here? What if…?

These thoughts have plagued the early hours of the morning. Waking me from a blissful tropical sleep into heart-pounding anxiety. It is said that the body doesn’t differentiate between a real or an imagined experience. And here I lie in paradise traumatising myself with imagined disaster scenarios.

The human ego prefers anything, just about anything, to falling, or changing, or dying. The ego is that part of you that loves the status quo – even when it’s not working. It attaches to past and present and fears the future. Richard Rohr

This same torque exists within me, a strong need for security coupled with an adventurous and inquisitive spirit. There is absolutely no way to quell these needs simultaneously, there are always choices that serve one but not the other. And I feel ever pulled in different directions. 

Anxiety is a strange beast. It’s been with me forever and yet I am only just starting to see its pervasiveness. I think in the past I had a host of coping mechanisms – not good ones it has to be said, but temporarily effective. 

These strategies seemed to mask and divert my anxiety into manageable, material things. I felt anxious but I had a solution, I just needed a drink, a drug, a man, a family sized tub of Haagen Dazs…

The desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet. Alan Watts

Then there is the strategy of control and micromanaging. It goes like this, if I keep my life small, contained and manageable, if I stick to the list of things I can’t do because they scare me, then I keep anxiety at bay. Well, that’s the theory.

Except I discovered none of these things actually works in the long term. Like a hyper-resistant virus, anxiety soon finds a way through all my defences. “Ha ha it says. You can’t beat me!” It’s like the ever confident poker player always willing to raise me one more until I fold.

So what to do then?

Nothing goes away until it teaches you what you need to know. Pema Chodron

So what does my anxiety have to teach me? Paradoxically I think it teaches me to be brave. I know that sounds crazy but bear with me here.

When every day, all day, every little decision, every action scares you, it means you are constantly overcoming fear. Unlike someone who lives in the illusion of security, an anxious person is only too aware of the unstable nature of life, inherent is suffering, misfortune and ultimately death. 

The trick is to be at peace with this awareness. It is how we react to the anxiety that makes the difference, not trying to get rid of the anxiety itself.

What lies beneath this anxiety about seemingly trivial things is the fear of no control, and ultimately the fear of suffering and death. Anxiety is borne of a lie that if things were a certain way, then I’d be okay. But in reality things are in constant flux and mostly out of my control.

The places that really scare us are within and not outside of ourselves. That’s the ruse. Anxiety makes us feel that the threat is out there, that there is safety and security to be found if only we manage well. 

Coming to Bali, leaving my son to go to yoga, all involves acting in face of these fears. The fear turns out to be an illusion. This acting in spite of my fear strengthens me for the next bout of fear. It teaches me to be present in the fear and act with integrity and courage anyway. It teaches me that although I have no control, I do have choice. 

The more we witness our emotional reactions and understand how they work, the easier it is to refrain. Pema Chodron 

Here I have none of my defences. I wear little clothes, no make-up. I have no job, no profession, no role. There is no schedule, no timelines. I am without my armoury. Without my anchors of familiarity and routine. In this free flowing unfolding of life my anxiety runs around like a headless chicken. “What if… What if… What if…”

After centering myself, reminding myself gently that I came to Bali to revisit my spirit of adventure, I say “Wouldn’t it be lovely to walk to yoga in my favourite studio in the whole world, knowing my son is completely safe and so am I.”

And that’s exactly how it goes.

Now I’m not saying bad things don’t happen. That’s not the point. The point is worrying and anxiety are not going to stop bad things from happening. And mostly those things are the ones we never see coming anyway. Like the coconut that fell from a tree missing my head by inches as my son and I walked to the pool. Didn’t see that coming! I didn’t wake at 5am worrying about having my skull caved in by a falling coconut…

The point is not to let fear poison and dominate my life’s experiences and choices. To as Pema Chodron says go to the places that scare you. Be present there, and live heart-fully in spite of fear. To accept my vulnerability in a world where quite possibly anything could happen. To be invigorated rather than petrified by this.

When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation, and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment. Pema Chodron 

All this has emerged as I feel the shift into my heart chakra. This year I have been allowing myself to flow through my chakras very slowly and intuitively. Last month I was enjoying the fiery energy of Manipura. And even as I finished writing my last post I could feel the shift into the heart centre.

The alchemy of surrender is a term used by astrologer Sarah Varcas. She uses it to describe the power that comes from embracing the state of unknowing. She talks about the shift that happens when we stop trying to think our way through uncertainty and begin to feel into it.

Over the past ten days I have remained present through my varying states from mild panic to complete calm and peace. Having just been attuned to reiki, I practiced this on myself and tuned into where the nervous energy was stuck in my body.

Anxiety is awareness without presence, just as fear is excitement without breathing. Russ Hudson

Anxiety is just energy. When you think about it, there’s very little difference between anxiety and excitement except the story the mind tells itself.

In yoga class, the teacher led us through pranayama breathing exercises. He reminded us that without proper breathing the energy cannot flow. Yoga asanas, or any energy raising practice for that matter, without breathing will raise energy but not move it, creating blocks and imbalances.

Anxiety is an energetic charge created by our mental perception. Breathing into the anxiety. Focusing on where it is being trapped in the body – both subtle and physical – allowing a compassionate observation of our thoughts and sensations, creating space for them, is a powerful way to transform anxiety into a mindfulness practice.

This is not something we do once or twice. Interrupting our destructive habits and awakening the heart is the work of a lifetime. Pema Chodron

Anxiety and fear is a call to arms. Without it would I have pursued a spiritual solution? I doubt it. If not driven by my discomfort, what motivation would there have been for me to investigate meditation, yoga, Chakradance? That’s not to say that anxiety is all that motivates me, I have a connection to the spirit world that is precious and wonderful to me, but it was desperation that got me started.

For those of you who haven’t experienced anxiety it begins with a feeling of something running on a mouse-wheel in your chest. There’s a feeling of panic even if there’s no real sense of what the panic is about. It’s like feeling scared. 

People – the ones who don’t experience anxiety – will say it’s all in your head. Yes. Like real fear. That’s in your head too. And your body doesn’t distinguish between the two. For someone in the midst of an anxiety attack, they may as well be tied to the train tracks with the 4:32 fast approaching.

Anxiety certainly gets your attention. It’s hard to ignore that freight train rocking through your chest, the dry mouth, the pounding head, the urge to run. Maybe that’s the point. Anxiety wants me to pay attention. Like a parent who has asked politely twenty times for their child to come to dinner, anxiety ramps it up a notch just to get their attention.

We’re all very familiar with the experience of fear escalating, or the experience of running away from fear. But have we even taken the time to truly touch our fear, to be present with it and experience it fully? Do we know what it might mean to smile at fear? Pema Chodron

Meditation helps. It helps because it is a practice which disciplines us to let thoughts go, to not attach or overly identify with them. It helps because it brings awareness on to the breath, and breathing can become shallow when anxious, and breath moves energy through our subtle body. 

And it helps because it teaches us to just observe whatever state we may be in with loving compassion and a little detachment. In meditation I am present, aware, but not a slave to my thinking.

Someone once told me that the problem it not how we feel, it’s how we feel about how we feel. So when I’m anxious I have the choice to feel anxious about my anxiety – can you see the snowball effect of that line of thinking? 

Or I can choose to accept that I’m anxious, without reacting to it. This was a strategy I first encountered in Russ Harris’ book The Happiness Trap, but essentially it is the basis of many religious and contemplative practices. Begin in the now, with what is, accept it, breathe, refrain from judgement or reaction. Be an impassive observer of your own inner workings. Create a space between the feeling and the observing of the feeling.

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. Pema Chodron

I know it sounds so simple, but it’s also really hard to unlearn years of habitual thinking. So I have found I need to be very gentle and compassionate with myself. Sometimes I react to my anxiety, that snowball starts rolling and I’m out of control.  And that’s okay. It always comes to a head and then I regroup. I meditate, I dance, I run, I do yoga. I sit on a stationary bike and pedal until all the nervous energy has burned out of me. I begin again.

I am sure much of my anxiety comes from a defensive self-protection. I want to be open to life, to explore, to love, to experience. 

Yet part of me feels that in the past when I have opened to life, to love, it has been a Trojan horse, which seemed at first, like a wondrous gift, but once within my walls, once it had me vulnerable, it attacked. After charming itself into my world it let me down in the most spectacular way. My heart hurts from this disappointment and betrayal. 

As much as I wish to be rendered new, these scars linger. But what if that’s the point? What could be more brave than keeping my heart open knowing that pain is inevitable?

A dark night of the soul is some of the most transformative times that we go through in our lives. They are sacred initiations. Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson talks of the modern tendency of pathologising of normal human suffering. Pain and suffering are part of life, we are built for it. As well as a physical immune system we have a psychic immune system. After a physical injury or illness we allow time for the bruises and scars to heal. The same goes for our psychic scars, after loss or sadness or disappointment there is a time when we feel bruised, and are healing. Time and self-compassion and acceptance is the way through this process. 

The thymus gland relates to the immune system in the body and is the gland that is located in the area of the heart chakra. Is it possible that this psychic immune system is also located in the heart centre? 

Just as our physical immunity strengthens from exposure to allergens and bacteria, perhaps our psychical immune system strengthens through these times of fear, pain and grief that so test our hearts.

Marianne Williamson maintains that much of what is diagnosed and medicated as anxiety and depressive disorders is actually the very sane reactions we have to the world we live in. Bombarded daily with images of violence, poverty, disease, only the hardest of hearts could not feel pain. 

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

Spiritual malady is often called the ‘dark night of the soul.’ As Buddha and Christ demonstrated suffering is at the core of the spiritual experience. Indeed the need to be happy – that we are so bombarded with – is a set-up for disappointment and despair.

When what we really need is to develop acceptance and resilience to pain, compassion for ourself and others, by understanding and accepting its intrinsic role in our human experience.

The energy of the heart is simple. It is love. It wants to love. To radiate its light. To bring warmth and healing to others. To open to the radiance of life. 

In Sanskrit, Anahata means unhurt or unstruck. 

The heart is always unhurt and unstruck. That sacred centre cannot be scarred. The scars are energetic memories of past suffering. They are not bad, just products of the mistaken belief that closing, hiding and shielding the heart will prevent pain when of course the opposite is true.

Jung described the heart chakra as the beginning of individuation. The place where we begin to experience something beyond our ego-self, something we might call spirit.

When we begin to heal the heart chakra, we create a softening of the heart. This softening stirs the energy of love and compassion and through awareness we can begin to dissolve the hurt we so often bury in our hearts. As our heart awakens to its own loving potential we begin to experience genuine connection with others, and our relationships grow healthy and radiate love. Natalie Southgate 

The heart Chakradance is a dance of integration, of uniting the masculine and feminine energies, the energies of the more dense chakras below, with the more etheric above. As we dance we honour Father Sky and Mother Earth, day and night, light and dark, yang and yin. We experience that beautiful space where all is united and integrated, where all apparent opposites move together in harmonious dance of love.

I remember the last time I led the Heart Chakradance, it was close in time to an experience that had hurt my heart. I was more than a little afraid to be going there, especially leading a class. ‘What if I break down?’ I worried, knowing the pain was just beneath the surface.

Yet in the dance I didn’t experience my pain, I held the space for the dancers, and what I found was the essence of the heart energy, endless, unfathomable, bottomless waves of love and compassion. The room was bathed in emerald green light, as I shifted the energies that people released, yes, there was sadness and grief and disappointment, but it paled in the face of this infinite supply of love. 

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. Pema Chodron 

The recent years have marked a shift for me into setting my sights high and acting with self-belief. And while the fear and anxiety are often there, they no longer dictate my actions. Often I see anxiety as an indicator that have stepped outside of my comfort zone, into new territory and I remind myself this is a good thing.

After returning from Bali I met with the leader of my Druid grove and she guided my through walking the wheel. The Druid wheel is both a calendar for the eight seasonal ceremonies of the year and like the Native American medicine wheel, a sacred symbolic and archetypal map for the stages of development and the energies we are working through at a given time in our life. 

As part of a grove or Druid community, it also suggests the ceremonial role that we should hold for that year. While we work through the energies of an aspect of the wheel, we can also hold and represent those energies for the group during ceremony. For me the wheel guided me to stop just North of West, at the position of the knight. 

Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move. Osho

It a curious position, archetypally the Knight is a young male, still adolescent, who embarks on a spiritual quest, the search for the Holy Grail, if you will. He represents the spiritual warrior. While it seemed strange for a woman at my stage of life, somewhere in the mother/queen realm to be guided to this energy, it also makes perfect sense.

This year I have been guided to make my spiritual journey a physical one, with my pilgrimages to Bali and India, and next year to Ireland. I have very much been called to get on my horse and physically seek. I have also been guided to do so alone. For the first time in my life I am not looking for a partner, if anything I feel I have no space for one right now. I’m the knight on his holy mission and it’s a path I must travel alone.

And how interesting that at a time when anxiety over my life choices has reared up, this warrior energy has emerged for me. It feels like a beautiful integration of the solar plexus warrior energy into the heart. Where my will and passion is channeled through my heart centre. 

It’s exciting for me to see spirit guide me in this way, it’s validating. As I march into the unknown, I have unseen guides alongside me. 

And like the turning of the wheel, my time as the knight won’t be forever, only until I have worked with these energies, gained their wisdom and I am ready to integrate this and move on.

The most courageous thing we will ever do is bear humbly the mystery of our own reality. Richard Rohr


Bless!

Light my fire

Energetically, physically, emotionally and mentally, we are all powerful, radiant beings. However, we may not always be living from a place where we accept and radiate our own power. Sometimes we may feel like it would be easier not to have to interact and bargain and state our worth to people at all. Sometimes we may give in and accept less than we’re worth. These are all symptoms of an under-active solar plexus chakra. Natalie Southgate

When I left my marriage seven years ago, I was a shivering mess of a woman. In fact, I should say shivering mess of a girl rather than a woman, even though I was well into my thirties.

All my life I had given my power to others, thinking everyone else knew better for me than I did, mostly because they told me that, but also I had never outgrown that childish irresponsibility of happily letting others take control.

Avoiding conflict seemed the peaceful path, and so I would give in to the needs and demands of others. It was just easier.

I had never stepped into my own power, never fully embraced my own authenticity or sense of integrity. Although I had some degree of a spiritual life, it could never fully come to fruition while I continued to place human powers ahead of my own connection with the divine.

Life is the sum of all your choices. Albert Camus

For years I was fuelled by fear and anxiety, as I forged through those hideous early months and years of separation and divorce. Trying not to take on my ex’s bitter rage, trying to sort out parenting arrangements, trying to mend bridges with my step-sons who rightly felt abandoned by me leaving them behind.

Then just as the sun seemed to finally peek back through the clouds, and life seemed to settle into a more mellow pace, my body completely crashed. It sounds dramatic I know, but that’s really what happened. The official diagnoses included depression, anaemia, low blood pressure, adrenal fatigue, leaky gut… Not to mention a whole lot of head-scratching by doctors who really couldn’t understand what was going on in my body, never mind why.

In retrospect I can see all those symptoms had one root cause, power loss. After years of giving my power away, I was bankrupt, and was running dangerously low on life force.

One of the greatest struggles of the healing process is to forgive both yourself and others and to stop expending valuable energy on the past hurts. Caroline Myss


It was during this time, researching my first blog, that I discovered Chakradance. Although I knew of the chakras and had always felt drawn to Indian mysticism, I can’t recall exactly how I found myself at the website.

Something drew me there and something about the name, the Sanskrit-inspired lettering, the colours and description of the practice set off bells and whistles in my gut. Before I even knew what I was responding to, my spirit was shouting “Yes! For Gods sake, YES!”

Thus began my Chakradance journey, which started with me dancing along to a DVD in my lounge room and has grown into a beautiful practice, a way of life and a spiritual business.

While I would never want to single out one chakra as being more fundamental than another, I think all newcomers to Chakradance identify pretty quickly where they are blocked or deficient. For me it was primarily the solar plexus.

When facilitating a class, I always explain to participants that they may encounter a chakra where the music doesn’t resonate, or where their dance feels stilted, or they just disconnect and their mind wanders off. For me the solar plexus was the triple whammy.

The tribal, warrior dance-inspired music – that I have since grown to love – was initially abrasive. My dancing, so smooth and graceful in the sacral chakra became jerky and off-beat. I often joke to people who have a similar experience with this chakra – it’s very common – that I danced like Peter Garrett, from Midnight Oil.

The Chakradance facilitator training involves a deep-dive into each chakra through dance, Jungian archetypes, energetic practices and journal writing. When I reached the solar plexus, I had little expectations because of my previous experiences.

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. Pema Chodron 

The dance of Manipura (the solar plexus chakra) begins with a flame, and as the music intensifies, the fire increases, I danced like wildfire. I became one with the fire, I was fire, flickering and wild. It felt incredibly liberating and powerful, and then all of a sudden my perception shifted dramatically.

The experience transformed from being elemental fire, to being ON fire – being burned, encased in flames – and all the powerful emotions that came with it. Horror, fear, panic.

During the dance I became angry, outraged, I found myself growling and shouting, I was defending myself against people who had abused me, punished me, shamed me, or taken my power away. It was a stream of vitriol that started as a very young child and worked its way through to the more recent relationships in my life. Doctors, teachers, partners, family, friends, one after another I got very angry about all the times I had disempowered myself or been disempowered in these relationships.

Even knowing it was just in the dance, the emotional reaction was profound. Recovering in child’s pose, I found myself saying to myself, “that was then, this is now, it is safe to be powerful now.”

As I incanted this affirmation, there came a vision of a fiery cauldron burning away the hurts of the past, all those experiences where I was persecuted, shamed, or abused for expressing my power. An image came to me of a golden cauldron on a large fire, and I poured all this emotion into the pot, to be transformed by the fire.

That night I dreamt that a golden pot exploded – flipping its lid – with such a force it woke me up. Manipura had been activated!

Meditate there on the region of Fire, triangular in form and shining like the rising sun. Purnananda

The image of the cauldron is meaningful. In both Taoist and Celtic traditions, the three cauldrons are the energy centres which are roughly equivalent to the seven chakras in the yoga tradition. The first cauldron in the Celtic system is the cauldron of heat, or Coire Goiraith, and in the Taoist tradition, is known as “the golden stove” representing the refining and vitality of the life force into the Ching energy, which is basically a highly refined, super potent form of chi, or life force energy.

Since then I continue to connect deeply in this chakra. After my last few months of immersion in the waters of Svadisthana, I knew I needed to wake this fire up again. I needed energy, motivation, will to power. All the aspects of Manipura.

Manipura is the seat of personal power and will. It is the fire that fuels our metabolism, and if it’s activated it increases our energy, drive, and sense of purpose. Who couldn’t use some of that?

According to tantric texts, it is in manipura that the spiritual activation of the kundalini takes place, as it is the junction of two vital forces, prana and apana. As we breathe prana rises from the navel to the throat and apana rises from Muladhara – the root chakra – to the navel. Manipura is considered the activation point for these subtle energies. In the sacred alchemy described in Taoist texts, this corresponding dantien is the furnace.

From Manipura chakra emanate ten nadis appearing like the petals of a lotus. The lotus is yellow and the petals depict the ten pranas, vital forces, which control and nourish all the functions of the body. On each petal is inscribed a letter in blue, giving the sound vibrations produced by the ten nadis. Inside the yellow lotus is an inverted red triangle-shaped yantra, representing the fire element, the spreading of energy. The inverted triangle also suggests the movement of energy downward. On its three sides the triangle has svastika signs shaped like a ‘T’, representing the formative force of fire (tejas tattva). At the lower end of the inverted triangle is a symbolic animal, a ram, representing dynamism and endurance. The ram is the vehicle of Agni (the fire God) and on it is inscribed the bija mantra ‘ram’, which lies latent. This is the symbol of the Divine Intelligence presiding over fire. Arthur Avalon, The Serpent Power

So let’s start with the Sanskrit meaning of Manipura – which is city of jewels, mani means city and pura jewels.What are these jewels? The jewels of Manipura are self-confidence, self-assurance, clarity, wisdom and knowledge. Unlike the higher centres where this knowledge may be more subtle, in Manipura the gift of knowledge is translated into will and action. It is the knowledge that enables us to make authentic and empowered decisions for ourselves. The solar plexus chakra is where our mental intentions become manifest. Here our will is fired by passion, purpose and energy.

This centres awakens our sense of individuality. Where as the first and second centres activates our awareness of our physical and sensory natures respectively, it is in Manipura that we begin to individuate, we experience our sense of self as a distinct identity.

This chakra is our autonomy, our sovereignty, our authenticity. As Shakespeare said “to thine own self be true,” Manipura is where we can find this truth. Manipura is thought of as the centre of willpower, vitality, achievement. It is the force that makes us act in the world.

It has a corresponding centre in the physical body, the solar plexus, which governs our digestive fires and heat regulation in the body. Manipura regulates our pranic – or life force – energy throughout our body, controlling our energy balance, vitality and strength.

This chakra helps develop the ego, creating our self-identity. Concerned with assertiveness and personal power, it is easy to see where this chakra can be out of balance. Either in excess feeling a desire for material power and control over people, or deficient in allowing ourselves to be dominated by others.

The archetype of the warrior epitomises the energy of this chakra.

The archetypes that we live out reflect the psychological patterning of self-care and worthiness, demonstrating the degree to which we love and cherish ourselves. The archetypes are also a metaphor for the strength of our vital energy, and the degree of creativity and pleasure we enjoy. Ambika Wauters

I wrote in my last post of becoming immersed in the watery, emotional world of the unconscious. My mandala drawings were full of water serpents chasing their tails, and I see how easy it might be to sink into those waters. What I needed was the sun rise to call me up and out, to again experience the heat and fiery passion of the dawn.

While we can dive into our unconscious and dance in our sensory waters, we cannot live there, there is no momentum.The unconscious is rendered conscious in the light of Manipura. Rising from sacral depths our emotions are digested and processed in the solar plexus chakra.

Here in Manipura, we have to contend with both the fire of desire and the power of the emotions. Without the fire in our bellies we could be stuck in the mud, or stay in the dark oceanic depths. Here in this energy centre we rise like the sun and the will to action is engaged.

You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand. Irene C. Kassorla

As much as our shadow side is unconscious and hidden, it does want to be seen. Those parts of ourselves that are underdeveloped, or we turn a blind eye to, will project themselves onto other people and life circumstances to force us to see the things we try to avoid in ourselves. All this owning of our truth, our authenticity and our power comes to light in the solar plexus.

Here we experience the light bulb moment, as the light illuminates the dark and we see what we have been wrestling with in the murky depths of the sacral waters. Unconscious becomes conscious awareness.

Dancing the solar plexus chakra was the catalyst for this process, allowing me to release all the ways I had been disempowered.

Our fiery natures gets dampened through our way of life in the west, through societal conformity and a focus on relating to others, which is all very base and sacral chakra stuff. The epidemic of depression and anxiety in modern westernised cultures could reflect a generalised loss of connection to the vital core of spiritual power, based in the solar plexus.

Above the inverted triangle is the storm-God Rudra (Shiva), portrayed as an old Shiva, daubed with white ashes, who represents the power of destruction. Presiding over the subtle body, seated beside Rudra, is his consort, the three-headed, four-armed goddess of fire, Lakini. Arthur Avalon, The Serpent Power

The solar plexus Chakradance is a journey with the Warrior archetype, with our relationship to masculinity. What does ‘warrior’ mean in our world? Integrity, perhaps? Not being silenced by ideals of correctness?

Servitude, the opposite archetypal energy means following the party line, subsuming ones own needs and desires beneath the needs and desires of others.

In an age of rampant political correctness, it is a fine line between respect for difference and being silenced from speaking our thoughts because they might offend someone.

There’s certainly plenty of anti-masculine rhetoric that goes around, as if the feminine alone could save the world. What will save humanity, if indeed it even needs saving, is balance. I’m not talking homogenisation here, I mean true balance, where all aspects of our selves can be healthily expressed. Where masculine traits are not derided.

We give away our power all the time, in our choice of lifestyle, where we spend our money, what we choose to do with our time. If the power of Manipura is considered masculine, if the warrior archetype is considered masculine, if authenticity, autonomy, the will to power is masculine, I say we all need plenty of that.

Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness. Shakti Gawain

For women, it may help to think of this archetype as sovereignty, as the warrior queens who stood their ground under all kinds of difficult circumstances, who prized integrity and autonomy as the highest goals.

As we move into the heart chakra, we begin to balance and integrate these masculine and feminine energies, but before integration comes activation, and I feel that this chakra is so out of whack in our culture. Most of us are just living in the box we were provided with, enjoying our small illusions of freedom and autonomy. While a few are overactive in the chakra wielding tyrannical control and destruction over the world.

Until we activate, acknowledge and integrate our inner warriors, the shadow warrior will continue to rage in the collective unconscious of humankind.

Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war, for a lead role in a cage? Pink Floyd

Like all archetypes, the warrior is a stage we must develop through, taking the lessons and integrating them as we move into the next phase of development. Archetypes are two dimensional aspects, as such we try them on, act them out, but they are rites of passage, stages we move through to differentiate and ultimately integrate the various aspects of self.

As teenagers when the energy of Manipura really fires up, we may find ourselves butting heads with the world, but at some point we have to turn all that passion and will power within to foster our own integrity and personal authenticity. This inner warrior needs discipline equal to its fiery passion.

Many people misunderstand Tantra as being about sex. What Tantra really does is provide a system for engaging with, managing and ultimately uniting our inner masculine and feminine energies. The tantric practitioner seeks union of the shakti and shiva within their subtle body, by encouraging the upward movement of the feminine kundalini energy to unite in Sahasrara – the crown chakra – with the masculine shiva energy. As in Jungian psychological terms, the goal is an inner union, an integration of forces, that he called individuation.

By meditating on the navel centre one attains knowledge of the whole body. Patanjali

5 top tips for balancing your solar plexus chakra by Chakradance founder Natalie Southgate:

  1. Take responsibility for your life; avoid blaming others, circumstances, or fate.
  2. Develop a strong sense of self and keep sight of your own unique direction, ambitions and goals. Take the right action to achieve these goals.
  3. Find appropriate self-discipline in your life.
  4. Create good boundaries.
  5. Call to mind and celebrate your achievements and successes.

Expressing power need not be an act of overpowering. It is an act of being in touch with who you truly are and having your actions follow that belief. It is being able to commit, have integrity, keep your word and deal honourably. A balanced and healthy solar plexus chakra allows us to live lives of dignity and self-respect. Natalie Southgate

Blessings!

Things that makes you go Om

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Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought. Basho

People often ask me, “what are the chakras?” And rightly so, I do teach Chakradance.

In truth, probably like all ancient systems, the chakras just ain’t what they used to be. And for good reason, the world ain’t what it used to be. Any system worth its salt must be adaptable to change. Nothing stays still for thousands of years, particularly not whirling vortices of energy.

The more I read and learn about ancient systems, be it the Hindu chakra system, druidry or shamanism, the more I begin to understand that there is no one ‘standard system.’ These systems were highly localised and steeped in the culture and traditions of the people who developed them.

So where does that leave a woman of Irish descent, living in Australia, with an innate fascination for Indian mysticism?

Good question. Can you let me know when you figure it out?

The ancients created a profound system. We can now marry this wisdom with modern information about the natural world, the body, and the psyche, to create an even more effective system. Anodea Judith

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Seriously though, it leaves me where most of us seekers are these days… Trying to find meaning in a world where culture has been stripped away, appropriated, and misrepresented. Most of us have not been raised in a lineage of a cultural spiritual tradition, some of our cultural traditions barely even exist anymore. Due to mass migration, many of us have been raised in lands far removed and alien to those of our ancestors.

Even though I have lived in this beautiful land all my life, I am not one of the First People and as such I am not privy to much of their sacred law. Nor should I be, I respect that. In addition to that, our education system has largely ignored indigenous history and wisdom, so what I could have been taught, I haven’t. I intend to remedy that now.

So, I find myself walking a fine line between research and direct experience. I keep an open mind, I read, I look out for interesting people with like-minds, I journey with spirit. And somehow, as I continue to follow the next obvious step on this path, I am guided to the things that illuminate my way.

Every breath is a sacrament, an affirmation of our connection with all other living things, a renewal of our link with our ancestors and a contribution to generations yet to come. Our breath is a part of life’s breath, the ocean of air that envelopes the earth. David Suzuki

It’s a patchwork journey. A zigzag path. A bit of this, a bit of that. Sometimes I get lost in all the competing avenues of interest. This week in particular I have had moments of indecision paralysis because I have “homework” from my druidry course, my nature magic course, and my shamanic journeying course. What do I do first?

Then I remind myself, they’re just different pathways, the destination is the same. And I try to find pathways that are meaningful to me, that make sense together, for me, as a Western woman.

I just keep connecting, and trust that spirit will guide me.

And I see connections everywhere. The similarities between the druidic path and the shamanic path, and many ancient belief systems continue to astound me. The representation of spirit as something that can be mapped and worked with, appears across belief systems.

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At the heart of most eastern philosophies lies an understanding of the mystical channels of energy that flow through our bodies. The word ‘chakra’ is an ancient Sanskrit word, which literally translated means ‘wheel’.

Just a quick note here on the use of the word ‘energy’. I refer to the subtle energy as described so well by physicist F David Peat:

Many of the biochemical processes within the body involve exchanges of physical energy, but these grosser forms of energy are not what I take the terms healing energy and subtle energy to mean. Rather, the latter are like the activity of a conductor of an orchestra or the choreographer of a ballet, that integrates and coordinates into one cohesive movement all the bio-chemical and energy processes of the body. F David Peat

The chakra system is a system of energy and information. The chakras are part of the subtle energy body, which means they can’t be seen with the naked eye. Some highly sensitive people can perceive the chakras, which is why the original information recorded by the earliest Indian mystics is still proving to be pretty accurate today. All people can learn to attune themselves to these subtle energy channels.

Here in this body are the sacred rivers, here are the sun and moon, as well as the pilgrimage places. I have not encountered another temple as blissful as the body. Saraha Doha

The chakras are part of the yoga tradition. Yoga meaning ‘yoke’ or union is the practice designed to yoke the mortal, physical self, to the divine nature of pure consciousness. Yoga and the early concepts of energy centres first appear in the Vedic texts of India from about 4,000 years ago. Following the Vedas were the texts of the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

The idea of the subtle vital force (prana) and the channels along which it flows (nadis) appear in the earliest Upanishads. The heart was said to be the centre of the 72,000 nadis or subtle channels.

Within these Hindu scriptures, the chakra concept became a part of a complex set of ideas related to esoteric anatomy, or as Caroline Myss refers to it, the ‘anatomy of the spirit.’ What we may be learning to manage here then, is our soul.

Subtle energy is like the underlying meaning and coherence which remains implicate in the phenomenal world. Jason Kirkey

These texts mention varying numbers of chakras. Over time, one system of six or seven chakras along the body’s axis became the dominant model, adopted by most schools of yoga. This particular system originated in about the tenth century, and rapidly became widely popular. It is in this model where Kundalini – divine feminine shakti energy – is said to “rise” upward, piercing the various centres until reaching the crown of the head, resulting in union with the Divine Shiva energy.

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It was the tantra tradition that moved from the dualistic worldview of the ancient Hindu texts, of matter and spirit as distinct things, that earthly desires should be renounced in the pursuit of enlightenment, to a non-dual idea of integration of body and spirit, to be in the world, not apart from it, a weaving together of the previous traditions, that included the chakras, and saw the body as a sacred temple for spirit.

The practice of tantra is about inner-transformation. The energy involved in the process of tantric transformation is the energy of our own bliss. Prana Gogia

In the tantric texts, the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana, and the Padaka-Pancaka, the chakras are described as emanations of consciousness from Brahman, a spiritual energy which flows through the crown and gradually becomes denser, creating these distinct levels of chakras, and eventually finds its rest in the Muladhara, or base, chakra. Another text, the Gorakshashatakam gives specific instructions for meditating on the chakras.

The word tantra, which has a dubious reputation in the West as predominantly sexual practices, actually means ‘loom’ and denotes this weaving together of the principles of yoga, the kundalini energy, and deity worship, including practices for mastering our spiritual energy.

The soul… is the primary organizing, sustaining, and guiding principle of a living being. Thomas Berry

The chakra system was popularised in the West by Sir John Woodroffe (writing as Arthur Avalon), in his book, The Serpent Power, which was an English translation of these tantric texts.

Theosphists Charles Leadbeater and Alice Bailey investigated the connections they saw between the chakras and the biology of the human body – associating each chakra with particular endocrine glands and nerve ganglions or plexii in the sympathetic nervous system. According to their clairvoyant perception, the chakras were seen as energy vortexes in the each of the subtle bodies – or layers of the aura. This is quite different to the Indian traditions, where the chakras are subtle centres of consciousness, but have no independent energy status.

Carl Jung and Rudolph Steiner further integrated Eastern spiritual concepts with the evolving theories of Western psychological development. They believed the chakras develop from conception as we age physically, emotionally, and spiritually, starting with the base chakra and moving up into our individual energy expressions and finally up to our connection with the source energy. Jung saw the chakras as an analogy for the progression towards individuation.

To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else. Bernadette Devlin

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Many New Age writers, such as Anodea Judith in her book Wheels of Life, and Caroline Myss in her book, Energy Anatomy, have written about their experiences with the chakras in great detail, including the reasons for their functions and associations.

Anodea Judith points out that the associations of the spectrum colours to chakras is a Western addition, attributed to Christopher Hills who published a book entitled Nuclear Evolution in the early 1970’s. The addition of the rainbow colours has hugely influenced Western thinking about the chakras.

According to the Eastern texts, the chakras are formed at the junctions of three connected energy channels, or nadis, that ascend the spine, one on each side, and spiralling around, the central channel, the Shushumna. The two lesser channels of energy – the Pingala on the right and Ida on the left – run parallel to the spinal cord. Chakras both take up and collect prana (life force energy) and transform and pass on energy. This system can be seen as a road map for energy transmission and organisation throughout the subtle energy body.

Chakras are organizing centres within the body for the receiving, processing, and distributing of life energies. Anodea Judith

In the Western approach, which is less esoteric, and more holistic, than the traditional Hindu concept of the chakra system, each chakra is associated with a certain part of the body, and a certain organs and endocrine glands. The endocrine system is a collection of hormone-producing glands, which act as the body’s chemical messengers, and instruct the body in the bodily functions attributed to each chakra.

In the West the chakras are often seen as analogous to ‘computer software’ programmes which relate to our safety, sexuality, power, love, communication, intuition and self-realisation. They have the power to affect our health, emotions, thoughts and behaviours in a positive or negative way.

This is seen as the energy exchange of the mind-body-spirit interaction, and as every organ in the human body has its equivalent on the mental and spiritual level, so too every chakra corresponds to a specific aspect of human behaviour and development.

The lower chakras are associated with fundamental emotions and needs, for the energy here vibrates at a lower frequency and is therefore denser in nature. The finer energies of the upper chakras corresponds to our higher mental and spiritual aspirations and faculties.

Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. Chief Seattle

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Chakradance incorporates the concepts of the chakras as interpreted by Western thinkers, particularly influenced by Carl Jung, Arthur Avalon, and Anodea Judith. These writers extensively studied the Hindu texts, and then incorporated them into a conceptual framework that was meaningful to the Western mind.

The chakras regulate a field of energy called the aura – a dynamic, energetic matrix, which includes the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of our being.

Whereas the original Indian texts associated sounds – mantras – and deities with each chakra, a practice followed by Anodea Judith and Chakradance, Jung presented the chakras as a system of psycho-spiritual awakening, and used developmental stages of the psyche and archetypes to convey this system. 

As long as we’re in a state of confusion, overwhelmed by the three conflicting emotions, trapped in cyclic existence, we’re not happy and we can’t benefit sentient beings. Even though we think we might be benefitting them, ultimately we’re not. Ngagpa Yeshe Dorje

The chakras are often described in the West as energetic ‘gateways’, which connect the various layers of the aura. They move like wheels and open like petals of a flower, allowing the subtle energies to flow freely. Each chakra was believed to vibrate to a certain sound frequency, as well as, in the modern Western concept, a certain colour frequency.

The founder of Chakradance, Natalie Southgate, came upon the practice intuitively when she was studying Jungian psychology and ancient and shamanic dance practice.

She describes her experience. As she allowed herself to dance freely in the dark of her living room, music filled the darkness and her intuitive movements started to guide her into the inner power ignited within her chakras. She began to notice certain music carried a unique resonance with different chakra centres. Free flowing movements born in spontaneity brought her home into her inner dance of her true self.

Chakradance awakens each chakra, starting with the base chakra and flowing effortlessly from one to the other, up to the crown chakra, with unique musical vibrations. The combination of music, movement, and guided imagery allows the dancer to journey through the chakras, focusing attention on a particular chakra, allowing the centre to open, and releasing any blockages.

Emotional, spiritual and physical energies are released. Natalie Southgate describes dancing the seven chakras as like dancing through seven different worlds, each with its own lessons, meaning, and stories.

Chakradance draws on many ancient systems from around the world to find the common elements of those culture’s dances with the chakra system or its equivalent. Dance has long been used in shamanic cultures to connect to our spiritual source, to commune with our gods, to find healing and answers about life.

Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of society. I was just curious. Jim Morrison

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In Hinduism, many of the great epics are taught through dance, whilst in Sufism, the whirling dervishes surrender their individuality and dance into spiritual “oneness”. One of the oldest recorded references made to religious dancing comes to us from the Old Testament -“Let them praise His name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre” (Psalms 149:3).

Chakradance combines the elements of this spiritual journeying process through dance and rhythm, with the rich exploration of the chakra system.

To Carl Jung the study of chakras was a study of symbols encountered as we develop our individuality and awareness of the unconscious. Jung likened this individuation process to a spiritual quest or journey, with the aim being to achieve ‘wholeness’.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. Edgar Allan Poe

Natalie Southgate describes the process of individuation as a series of phases and manifestations, which include: encountering the unconscious (inner unknown life), insight into our shadow (reclaiming parts of ourselves we reject), encountering anima and animus (inner feminine and masculine), experiences of the Self (glimpses of our total being). During this process, we begin to integrate the opposites within us (flesh and spirit, reason and emotion, extravert and introvert, saint and sinner). What is not integrated is projected out, so we perceive the unconscious parts of ourselves in others rather then recognising them in ourselves.

In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature… there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. Carl Jung

From a Jungian perspective, when we enter the chakras through dance we enter not only our individual selves but also a collective experience passed through the ages, culture to culture.

Another Jungian technique used in Chakradance is what he called ‘active imagination’, which feels a bit like a waking dream. In active imagining, we use self-expression – be it drawing, writing, or dancing – with the aim of assimilating and integrating our unconscious.

In Chakradance, we use the chakras to journey into our different aspects of consciousness, using specific music and creative visualisations relevant to each of the chakras such as physical elements, colours, or archetypes. This triggers a chain of associated images, ideas, sensations, feelings, or insights to rise from deep within us to the surface of our consciousness. The process of ‘active imagination’ sets up a line of communication between consciousness and the unconscious.

Chakradance is a beautiful example of a sacred dance practice, which uses ancient and modern wisdom to connect our spirit with the divine, both within ourselves and with the universe. The intention of Chakradance is to bring all seven chakras into harmony and balance.

Each of us is born with a treasure, an essence, a seed of quiescent potential, secreted for safekeeping in the center of our being. This treasure, this personal quality, power, talent, or gift (or set of such qualities), is ours to develop, embody, and offer to our communities in acts of service—our contributions to a more diverse, vital, and evolved world. Our personal destiny is to become that treasure through our actions. Bill Plotkin

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This week I got to thinking about sacred knowledge and cultural appropriation.

I went to a rally to protest the closures of the aboriginal communtities in Western Australia. Thousands of people sat in the city centre, outside the main train station at Flinders St, in the middle of Friday night peak hour. There was a fire and the sacred leaves were burnt, creating a smoke that smudged the entire gathering. My friend and I, both pale redheads, are never going to pass as indigenous to this land, and yet we are passionate about standing beside our indigenous brothers and sisters as they fight to stay on their lands.

I didn’t bring a flag or even my click sticks, it just didn’t feel appropriate. I was standing in solidarity, not trying to be a token aboriginal. I haven’t had their experience, I don’t have their songlines and dreamings in my psyche and DNA, and it would be shallow of me to pretend I do.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. Henry David Thoreau

What I do have is a deepening connection to this land, and a greater respect and understanding for the continuous cultural traditions that have been maintained here over the last 50,000 years.

As I do with shamanism and druidry and the Hindu chakra system. I respect this wisdom.

I didn’t have the privilege of growing up in a cultural tradition like that. As many people these days, even our indigenous peoples, do not. This is, in part, my passion for this protest. Believing as I do in the interconnectedness of land and people, I cannot abide the idea that in this day and age we would still force our First peoples from their land. Enough damage has been done, I cannot stand by and watch more.

I absolutely believe to the core of my being that these land-based traditions hold the key for our sustainability as a human race. Not that we need to revert to the past, but we do need to acknowledge wisdom that has stood the test of time, that works.

There is no reason why ancient tradition and science and technology cannot support each other, cannot be mutually enhanced by interacting with each other.

Jason Kirkey writes in his wonderful book on the ecology of Celtic spirituality, The Salmon in the Spring, of the need for integration. We know our technological life is inherently lacking in spirit, and yet who of us wants to live without electricity and running water – only a small few.

The goal then is to integrate our technological advances with a renewed spiritual connection with the wilderness. Intrinsic to our soul is a deep need for this connection and only by honouring this can we bring the vision of a truly modern world – one that respects science, technology, nature and spirit – into being. Kirkey argues that evolution is the key, we cannot go backwards to a more primitive life, nor should we.

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Our evolution and continued viability as a life-enhancing species on this planet requires our ecological integration into the cosmos. The human being is at its most creative wholeness when it freely and effortlessly mediates its own realized wildness into the world. Jason Kirkey

The mantle bestowed on humans in collective evolution is our ability for self-reflective awareness. This is not ‘our’ intelligence per se, but rather the evolutionary process has blessed us with this capacity to be a “particular expression of an intelligence and subjectivity” present in the cosmos from the beginning. In the scheme of things, of nature, humans got the job of self-reflection.

Our purpose now is to integrate this reflective consciousness into a mode of living that is in harmony with the evolutionary functions of all life – and not contrary to it.

So, I am wondering, I am thinking aloud. How do we honour and respect traditional cultures, allow them to operate according to the sacred traditions, accept that some knowledge will never be ours because of tribal law, and yet be thankful for the knowledge that can be shared to further our development? Can we defer to the experience and wisdom of our First peoples, without the typical modern Western arrogant demand for proof and evidence first? (As if 50,000 years of practical experience isn’t enough evidence.)

Sure, let’s invite science in to learn more about why these practices work, but let’s not wait for science, but rather accept that there is a demonstrated body of evidence already to the veracity and power of indigenous wisdom.

Western civilisation needs a complete overhaul or it will fall apart one day or another. It has realised the most complete perversion of any rational order of things. Reign of matter, of gold, of machine, of number, it no longer possesses breath, or liberty, or light… As long as we only talk about economic classes, profit, salaries, and production, and as long as we believe that real human progress is determined by a particular system of distribution of wealth and goods, then we are not even close to what is essential. Julius Evola

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And for those of us who long for a framework within which to practice, can we incorporate the core principles of ancient wisdom, the ones that is is appropriate to share outside of strict tribal restrictions,  into a synthesised practice, one that acknowledges both the traditions and the reality of the modern world?

I too must be an estuary of confluent tides—
this earth-body of antlered thoughts,
the decay of leaves: my branching mind.
Tumbling with stones and salmon toward the sea,
the rivers of the Earth move through me. Jason Kirkey

Yes. I think we can. It’s already happening. It’s time to change the channel. To recognise that the money economy is only one possible construct of a limitless number under which we could live. And if it doesn’t work, we get to choose another.

Affirmations for the chakras:

I am grounded and connected with Mother Earth

I am in the flow of sensory experiences

I am taking up my rightful space in the world

I am open to love

I am expressing myself authentically

I am clear sighted and intuitive

I am experiencing my divinity and the divinity of all life

 

Bless!

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Images by RebelBam on deviantart

Sources:

Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith

Chakradance.com

Arvan Harvat’s Introduction to the Chakras

Starry, starry dreamtime

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Modern physics is describing what the ancient wisdom keepers of the Americas have long known. These shamans, known as the ‘Earthkeepers’ say that we are dreaming the world into being through the very act of witnessing it. Scientists believe that we are only able to do this in the very small subatomic world. Shamans understand that we also dream the larger world that we experience with our senses. Alberto Villoldo

Space. The final frontier… to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before. Captain James T. Kirk

I’ve made no secret of the fact that when I started exploring the third eye chakra, this Star Trek sound byte was my in. I think it was Patrick Stewart’s dulcet tones, and the the vision of infinite space, of an starry indigo sky, and that sense of endless possibilities. Space has always captivated and fascinated me. The possibility that there was a space that vast within me, well…

And although the third eye is by no means a place that no one has gone before, it certainly feels like that when you begin to explore it.

I know this isn’t Patrick Stewart, but you gotta love the kitsch!

Our society has such a fear of the dark. Whether the dark depths of the ocean, or deep space. And yet the dark is where everything is born. From chaos, from the void, in it all creation stories begin, before the first sound and the first light, when there was only darkness, pregnant with possibilities.

Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world. Oscar Wilde

Many moons ago, I did a shamanic journey with my old flame, I went to a dark space, to the void. At the time, used to more elaborate, visual journeys, I mistakenly thought nothing had happened. Perhaps the proximity of my beloved had prevented me from letting go of the physical world and making the transition to the otherworld? I thought. It was like that with us, that buzzy energy when our bodies were close, it was rather distracting.

And yet, it wasn’t nothingness. The place I journeyed to had a substance and a heat to it. It had a pressure, it was pitch black, with only the tiniest pin-pricks of light, but it had so much presence. I remember being a little baffled and even disappointed at the time. My beloved had such a vivid journey to tell and I had, well, a whole lot of indescribable nothingness.

Close your eyes,
then you will find the way. Puyallup Indian myth

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Months later when I started studying Shamanic Journeying with Sandra Ingerman, I read an account by another student of such a journey. Sandra explained that this place is known as the ‘void’ and it is where we can go to ‘dream’ reality into being. It is a place of potential energy, before it takes form.

To me this concept of ‘dreaming’ creation from the void of pure potential, is the essence of the third eye chakra, it is vast, and yet it contains everything, and more specifically the possibilities of everything.

The shaman is a self-reliant explorer of the endless mansions of a magnificent hidden universe. Michael Harner

In Sanskit, Ajna translates as both “perceive” and “command”, and is considered the centre of intuition and intellect. It is the centre of inner vision and dreaming. This chakra is known as the ‘third eye,’ an energy centre situated between the brows, that has major significance in the energy anatomy of several religions and belief systems.

In the Taoist Qigong, the highest Dantian (energy centre) is located at this position. This is one of three ‘furnaces’ that converts the different sorts of energy in the body. In this Dantian, the spiritual shen energy is converted into wuji, the infinite space of void.

If you have insight, you use your inner eye, your inner ear, to pierce to the heart of things. Chuang Tzu 

Within the Sufi system of Lataif-e-sitta (the six subtleties) there exists a Lataif known as Khafi, or arcane subtlety, in this same position, and is related to mystical intuition.

According to the Kabbalah, there are two sephirot (emanating spheres) located at this level, associated with the left and right parts of the face. They are called Chokmah (wisdom), and Binah (understanding). [Wikipedia]

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This is your database of where you create your reality. This is your mission control. Caroline Myss

In Theosophy the third eye is related to the pineal gland. Philosopher René Descartes believed the pineal gland to be the “principal seat of the soul” and also viewed it as the third eye.

In the Celtic Chakras as described by Elen Sentier, “The brow is the meeting place that holds all the energies of the chakras.” In shamanic traditions, the word for ‘shaman’ was often ‘one who has the eye’ or ‘one who sees’ suggesting the use of this inner vision. 

The Iroquois have, properly speaking only a single divinity – the dream. To it they render their submission, and follow all its orders with the utmost exactness. Jacques Fremin

In the Indigenous Australian cultures, it is referred to as the “strong eye” and is both a tool for seeing the spirit world, as well as a form of deep-looking at the landscape, that caused a shift in consciousness into a meditative or trance-like state. Quartz crystals placed on the third eye to awaken visionary skills was common in some tribes.

When geographically distinct cultures from the world over express such similar associations with this energy centre, it implies a commonality in their direct experience. Which suggests to me that there is a distinctive character to this energy centre that can be tapped into regardless of cultural or religious bias.

Our imagination flies – we are its shadow on the earth. Vladimir Nabokov

The third eye Chakradance is a dance of ecstatic and altered states of consciousness reached through trance-dance. The dance of the third eye is the dance of the intuitive mind. In this dance we let go of the physical world and take the journey into the psychic world of our imagination.

Sandra Ingerman says that shamans dance to shake off their everyday lives and to free themselves from the anchor of their ego-mind which keeps us rooted in ordinary reality.

We journey in order to see, to understand, or to touch our intuition at its essence. And we can bring that clear sight back into reality with us.

In our visions, and our dreams, in the archetypal images that resonate with us, our unconscious speaks to us of a deeper truth than our physical senses perceive.

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning. Gloria Steinem

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The nature of the third eye chakra is spacious and vast. It feels like anything is possible, the energy is so light and free-flowing.

This chakra governs mental functions of sight and visual recall, including the memory. It is located in the centre of the forehead – inside the head, radiating inwards, it’s focus is self-reflection and inner sight. When something is seen in the mind’s eye, or in a dream, it is being ‘seen’ by Ajna.

The third eye chakra is said to be the centre of perception, that intuitive sixth sense of just knowing, without knowing how we know. It is also the centre of our dreams and memory recall, the chakra where we can tap into archetypal energies. Through active use of our imagination, we can gain command over our vision of the world.

Though her soul requires seeing, the culture around her requires sightlessness. Though her soul wishes to speak its truth, she is pressured to be silent. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

It is in Ajna that we tap into the ‘collective unconscious’ and the world of archetypes. During the Chakradance we work with an archetypal energy in order to allow that energy to enter the physical body and move through it. By embodying archetypal energies in the meditative dance space, we can gain insight into how these energies are manifesting in our lives.

Accessing the full power of the imagination is a gift inherent in all of us. The ‘command’ function of Ajna relates to the powers of visual imagination. This allows us to shift from left-brain rational cognition to right-brain creative thinking. This is the shift into our inner visionary. Yes, you DO have one!

Whilst to the modern Western mindset, the concepts of archetypes and a collective unconscious sit more comfortably, in shamanic cultures these encounters are seen as a communion with spirits, power animals, and totems.

Since the so-called Age of Enlightenment, our shaky anthropocentric, rationalist egos have been brainwashed to forget what ‘primitive’ cultures once understood: Animals can be manifestations of celestial beings in disguise; they possess supernatural abilities, and they can be our spiritual guides and healers. Zeena Schreck

In Australian indigenous cultures this interconnection of people, land, and spirit is part of the what westerners call the Dreamtime, The Dreaming. In truth there is no one ‘Dreaming’, as each tribe and nation had its own Dreamings, specific to the land they dwell on.

Across the many indigenous Australians languages, there is no word for time. So although the ‘Dreamings’ contain creation stories, they are possess power and currency beyond time, and these stories and the spirits they convey have depth and relevance to all aspects of life.

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The ‘Dreaming’ contains the creation stories in which the Ancestor Spirits came to the earth in human form and as they moved through the land, they created the animals, plants, rocks and other forms of the land that we know today.

In the beginning all was dark. The earth was flat and bare. There was no life, no death. The sun, the moon, and the stars, all of life, the ancestors, slept beneath the earth.

When the eternal ancestors awoke, in the ‘Dreamtime’, they wandered the earth, sometimes in animal form – as kangaroos, or emus, or lizards — sometimes in human shape, sometimes part animal and human, sometimes as part human and plant.

The spirits that make up ‘The Dreaming’ are eternal, existing in the past, the present, and the future equally. Christine Nicholls writes that ‘The Dreaming’ is conceptualised as “an eternal and continuing process involving the maintenance of life forces, embodied or symbolised as people, spirits, other natural species, or natural phenomena such as rocks, waterholes or constellations.”

The Dreaming’ or ‘the Dreamtime’ indicates a psychic state in which or during which contact is made with the ancestral spirits, or the Law, or that special period of the beginning. Mudrooroo

‘The Dreaming’ exists always and is deeply connected to the land, the land, animals, trees, rocks and plant life, all having their own spirit, the spirit that lives in all things. Humans and animals, plants, landscape features, and elements such as wind and fire, are all temporary incarnations of spirits which have always existed and will continue to exist after the material form is gone.

Once the Ancestor spirits had created the world, they became the trees, the stars, rocks, watering holes or living things. These are the sacred places of Aboriginal culture, the ‘Dreaming’ is never-ending, linking the past and the present, the people and the land. These beliefs form the foundation of all Aboriginal religions.  

Even humans have an associated primordial form, or totem. A person’s totem is more than just a symbol; it is an essential aspect of their being. Similar to the shamanistic concept of power animals. These totem animals are representative of the animal – meaning a kangaroo totem represents all kangaroos, the archetypal essence of kangaroo, not just an individual animal – and provide power and protection to their human connections.

Even though the ‘Dreamings’ vary, the Aboriginal people were also hugely interconnected.

For example, the Tingari are a group of Ancestral elders of the ‘Dreaming’ who travelled over vast stretches of the country, performing rituals and creating and shaping particular sites. Tingari is a Pintupi word in which the ‘Tingari’ is a creation myth, which refers to this group of Ancestral elders who embarked upon numerous journeys through the vast lands of the Gibson and Western Deserts.

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Imagination is the voice of daring. If there is anything godlike about God, it is that. He dared to imagine everything. Henry Miller

The Tingari stories embody a vast network of ‘Dreaming’ songlines that traverse the Western Desert region of Australia. A songline is one of the paths across the land (or sometimes the sky), which mark the route followed by Ancestral elders during the ‘Dreaming’. These formed both the knowledge and geographical maps of the people.

Songlines enable navigation across the land by repeating the words of the song, which describe the location of landmarks, waterholes, and other natural phenomena. In some cases, the paths of these ancestral creator-beings are said to be evident from their marks on the land, such as large depressions, which are said to be their footprints.

By singing these songs, Indigenous people could navigate vast distances, often travelling through the deserts of Australia’s interior. Australia contains an extensive system of songlines, some of which traverse hundreds of kilometres through lands of many different Indigenous peoples, who may speak different languages and have different cultural traditions.

…the labyrinth of invisible pathways which meander all over Australia and are known to Europeans as ‘Dreaming-tracks’ or ‘Songlines’; to the Aboriginals as the ‘Footprints of the Ancestors’ or the ‘Way of the Lore’. Aboriginal Creation myths tell of the legendary totemic being who wandered over the continent in the Dreamtime, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path – birds, animals, plants, rocks, waterholes – and so singing the world into existence. Bruce Chatwin

Since a songline can span the lands of several different language groups, different parts of the song are said to be in those different languages. Languages are not a barrier because the rhythm and melody of the song describes the nature of the land over which the song passes.

Listening to the song of the land is the same as walking on this songline and observing the land. They express the living presence of the place. In this way songlines, much like the Celtic bardic tradition of place-name stories, are used to journey with the living spirits of the land, the deities, and the Ancestors. Traditional Aboriginal people regard all land as sacred, and the songs must be continually sung to keep the land “alive”.

The paths of the songlines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance, and painting. 

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The Jukurrpa [The Dreaming] is an all-embracing concept that provides rules for living, a moral code, as well as rules for interacting with the natural environment. The philosophy behind it is holistic – the Jukurrpa provides for a total, integrated way of life. It is important to understand that, for Warlpiri and other Aboriginal people living in remote Aboriginal settlements, The Dreaming isn’t something that has been consigned to the past but is a lived daily reality. We, the Warlpiri people, believe in the Jukurrpa to this day. Jeannie Herbert Nungarrayi

The narrative of these ‘dreamings’ – or stories or myths as we from Western cultures tend to think of them – are grounded in the land itself and draw upon the topographical features of the land and the sky to form creation and other land-based narratives that inform the peoples’ lives in every way, from practical matters of hunting and migrating, to their ethics and morality, to their spiritual lives.

Furthermore, as scientists from all over the world, including NASA are realising, these cultures have been recording valuable astronomy data in their ‘Dreaming’ stories for over 50,000. Check out this TedX talk by astronomer Duane Hamacher:

Speaking of cultural astronomy, the Pleiades is the brightest constellation of stars in the sky, and has been recorded in cultures as diverse as the Egyptian, Greek, Hopi, Mayan, Lakota, Japanese, Maori and Australian Aboriginal, since the beginning of human history.

The Mayans, Cherokee, and Hopi believe that their ancestors come from the Pleiades. The ancient Mayans and Egyptians built pyramids aligned with the stars of the Pleiades. They are known in Egypt as the Seven Midwives.  In China and Greece they are known as the Seven Sisters. 

According to Philip A. Clarke, there have been over fifty versions of the indigenous Pleiades dreaming stories recorded in Australia, most of them mirror the trend of associations with seven sisters who were chased into the sky through a variety of causes. The element most versions share is that a group of young women/girls are fleeing from either a single man or a group of men. In parts of the Kimberley Aboriginal people consider that an “old man,” the planet Venus, chases the youngest of the Plieades sisters across the night sky. 

We have five senses in which we glory and which we recognize and celebrate, senses that constitute the sensible world for us. But there are other senses – secret senses, sixth senses, if you will – equally vital, but unrecognized, and unlauded. Oliver Sacks

It is fascinating to me that such geographically disparate cultures share such common stories for this constellation. In many of these cultures, certainly the Australian and Native American, they believed that the ‘sky-world’ was in direct communication with us, teaching us these ‘dreamings.’

So what does all this have to do with me? I’m glad you asked. You see, despite appearances to the contrary, I am keenly sensitive of cultural (mis)appropriation. It worried at first me about Chakradance, drawing upon an Indian tradition, well I’m not Indian nor was I raised in that culture, so to alleviate this feeling of assuming another culture, I have been investigating what links I might find for the chakras in my ancestral Celtic heritage.

Yet somehow, as I practise Chakradance in my studio, what I seem to be connecting with more and more, is not just my ancestral traditions, but the spirit of the land.

I am a little reticent to write in too much detail about what I’m experiencing, it’s nascent and sacred, but it is sufficient to say it’s a very Australian connection, to this land and it’s people.

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And of course, it makes sense. Shamanism is very much about connecting with nature spirits, and if researching the ‘dreamings’ of the First Australians has taught me anything, it is that this land that I have been raised on is full of spirit, every rock, every river, every land mass, every tree has a story. As I lead ceremonies, as I ask for the spirits of the land to bless my space and bless my rites, of course the inevitable has happened, I have entered into a relationship with them.

The more I journey and tap into these unseen realms, the more I tend to agree that all living things are imbued in spirit, are in possession of consciousness, and are capable of communicating, if only we can remember how to see with our strong eye. Perhaps at some time we will transcend cultural barriers and reclaim our connection to spirit through direct experience, with both our ancestors and the ancestral spirits of whatever land we find ourselves in.

Close both eyes. Look from the other eye. Rumi

 

Affirmations from Natalie Southgate

The answers to all my questions lie within me.

I trust my insight and intuition.

I see clearly both in the physical and subtle worlds.

I see and understand the “big picture”.

My intellect is a powerful tool for good.

I envision and create beauty and goodness.

I am open to experiencing non-ordinary reality.

I trust my inner self to guide and protect me.

My imagination is vivid and powerful.

I am open to the wisdom within me.

 

Bless!

 

Images:

Wild Bush Yam Dreaming by Colleen Wallace Nungari

Alma Nungarrayi Granites, Yanjirlpirri or Napaljarri-warnu Jukurrpa (Star or Seven Sisters Dreaming)

Dreamtime Sisters by Colleen Wallace Nungari

Tingari – Karrkurritinytja (Lake MacDonald)  by George Ward Tjungurrayi

Wayamba the Turtle by Peter Muraay Djeripi Mulcahy

Tingari – Karrkurritinytja by Anatjari Tjampitjinpa 

Mundagatta Kulliwari by Michael J Donelly

Seven Sisters by Maggi Yilpi

 

Sources:

Introduction to Aboriginal Religion

An Overview of Australian Aboriginal Ethnoastronomy

Dreamtime and The Dreaming – an introduction

What is the Dreamtime or The Dreaming?

 

Check out Melbourne’s own Stonehenge:

Aboriginal Astronomy: