Energetic Self-Care for Empathic Hairstylists

Every hairstylist knows what it is like to come home feeling drained, anxious, un-grounded, wired, exhausted, buzzed, zapped, empty, overfilled. Sometimes we experience all of these feelings at the same time, and it can take a long time to wind down, it can make sleeping hard, and we can be very irritable with our families and friends.

After a day behind the chair, we have effectively soaked up the energy of everyone who has been in our chair, and every hair that we cut. This is an invisible side effect of working with the emotional and energetic weight of other peoples hair. It is very real, and it is something that we need to be careful and mindful about, just like we care for our physical bodies.

Today, while this baby naps in the other room, I am attempting to pull it together enough to share a few important tools for Energetic Self-Care to help hairstylists, and anyone else who works closely with other peoples identities and physical bodies.

Grounding

Before you start your day, take 5 minutes to ground yourself. Do this before you have had your coffee. Find a quiet place without distractions. If you can sit on the ground outside somewhere that is best……Pavement is okay but grass or dirt or anything natural is ideal. Put your phone away.

Take some big breaths through your nose, deep into your belly. Release any tension that your body is holding onto. Clear your mind by visualizing a big, old tree whose leaves are gently moving in the wind. The sun glints through its branches and it is strong and solid. Visualizations are like watching a movie in your mind, but with the alchemy of imagination.

Imagine that you are this tree. Picture it in your mind. If it is too much of a stretch to imagine yourself a tree, just imagine the tree as itself. Don’t get frustrated if it seems hard to keep your mind quiet enough to focus on being a tree. This is a practice, it gets easier, and every day will be different. The intention of grounding is enough to help ground you so don’t get hard on yourself. Imagine that your roots are growing  into the ground. Imagine them busting through soil, making their way deep down into the earth.

Feel the feeling of being held to the earth firmly, strongly in your body, rooted to the source of energy and strength that the earth provides. Breath here, and be here for a few minutes.

Throughout the day, when you start to feel like you are losing yourself, remember this tree and its roots. Come back to your body.

 

Uh Oh! baby crying. Be back soon!

 

Breath

Start to be aware of your breath. Understand that when you breath in, you are clearing new space and nourishing your entire body with oxygen and when breath out you are breathing out what you no longer need, physically and energetically. When we take on negativity or unwanted feelings from other people without knowing it, our breath becomes our ally for letting that energy go. But this takes some awareness. Often we hold tension in one part of our body throughout the day, without even knowing it. This restricts our breath, our vital life source.

Check in with yourself every so often, and scan your body for where you are holding tension. My belly is where I hold the most tension, also my jaw. Breath into these places, long and steady. Soften them. Breath out all the energy you hold that you have taken on from others. We don’t need to carry it. We need to help them channel it, and then breath it out ourselves.

Sheilding

When you find yourself feeling bombarded or unprotected, or like you are soaking up too much and it is starting to weigh on you, perhaps you are working with a particularly intense person, or being a listening ear for a client who is going through some heavy shit, It is time to put on your shield. This is self-protection and self-preservation and is showing respect to both yourself and your client. They don’t want to bring you down! But many folks also don’t know how much we take on as stylists……Again, energetic self-care is so crucial.

This is a tool you can use at the beginning of the day, during a service when things get energetically intense, or before a particular client shows up who you know you need some energetic boundaries with.

Take a few deep breathes. Close your eyes for a few seconds and call in your color of the day. You might see a color clearly in your minds eye. You might here a voice that says “yellow!” in your mind, or perhaps you will see your color spelled out P-I-N-K. Don’t second guess it.

This is the color of your shield today. And the color is important. You may choose to use the same color for every sheild but I like calling in my color on a daily basis because I can’t ever decide on one to stick with.

Imagine that a halo of colored light is spreading over your entire body, covering you with a soft glow, an aura, if you will. This is your shield, and it is an energetic boundary that keeps  dark energy from entering your forcefield. When you start feeling bombarded, or like you are taking on too much from someone else, imagine this shield protecting you, as their energy bounces off of you and dissipates into the air.

Clearing

A common way to clear energy throughout the day is smoking, and lots of us do it without realizing why we feel we need it so much. It is obviously not a healthy option and I think that we crave a way to clear off energy that hangs on us in between clients and this is why we so often reach for tobacco. We physically need to clear ourselves of what we carry for others. A nice alternative to smoking is smuge and incense. I smudge after every day behind the chair, myself and my work space. Check out this DIY.

My favorite way to clear energy in between clients is sweeping the floor. It brings me great pleasure as a meditative whisking away of stagnant energy that is held in the hair that has been cut away. Imagine as you sweep, that you are clearing unwanted weight and energy from your workspace and making a safe and peaceful space for you and your next client to drop in together.

Restoring

This is my favorite part. Water is life. Water is the most healing and restorative medicine for empathic people. Remember this…….Any time you are losing your shit and need to calm your nerves, or heal a broken heart or a broken ankle, go to the water and let her work her magic.

I take a bath after a work day. Simple as that. I often add epsom salts for my soar muscles and herbs and flowers depending on what I have around me but water alone is the medicine. Be near it. Be in it. Listen to it, watch it, drink it (Spring water if possible.)

My recipe for honoring and healing and restoring my hands after a long day (we all know that our hands are our hardest working and most important/ under appreciated tools, not to mention the physical entry point for energetic transfer between our clients and ourselves )is simply this……….

Rest your hands on the surface of water. A bowl of water, a sink full, a bath tub, a lake, whatever you can. Gently let your hands float ever so lightly on the top of the water. There is an unmeasured and profound restorative energy source that lives on the surface of water and has the capacity to recharge your whole body through your hands.

This shit might sound so woo to you. And it is. And it works wonders. Please try it, and take good care!

I invite you to share this post with friends who may find it useful, these tools have really helped me and I wish I would have learned them long ago!

 

A Conversation on Ancestral Haircare with Becca Piastrelli

Hello my dears.

Today, my heart is heavy because I am not on my way to the Spirit Weavers Gathering which takes place on it’s own beautiful homeland in Southern Oregon, where many of my dearest sisters are communing together and preparing and blessing the land for 600 women who will meet this weekend and next for a sharing of ancestral earth skills, sacred activism, healing, empowerment, adornment, and on and on and on.

I have been to this gathering the past 2 years, and it has filled an empty longing in my heart that I had carried with me my entire life. I didn’t know why exactly I wanted to go in the first place, I just felt drawn to it and now I know why……Because it has facilitated in me a necessary awakening that holds me to my path in a beautiful space with many other seeking souls.

I could really go on and on here but I don’t want to go too deep right now, I just have to get off my chest how sad I feel to miss it this year. No regrets on my choice not to go, I’m simply too pregnant. I’m just having spiritual FOMO and missing my sisters and the forest. Thanks for bearing with me.

Today, I want to take a minute to share with you a beautiful conversation that I had a few weeks back with Becca Piastrelli, Bay area writer and Blogger whom I met at last  year’s Spirit Weavers Gathering. 

She hosted me in her beautiful Mill Valley home for a Braid/ Haircare Workshop a few months back, and then got back in touch about doing an interview on the topic of Hair as Adornment, Self-care, Brushing Ritual, Braids and Ancestry. We dropped in together over video-chat and she asked me some great questions that I really enjoyed answering and am glad to share with you today.

Here is her beautiful intro for the blog post she put together with the video footage.

Words from Becca Piastrelli…..

As I journey deeper into the ancestral traditions of the women of my lineage, I feel all the more connected to my own body.

I often look at my hands with such awe and reverence for what they are capable of and how all the women that came before me are helping to guide them in my daily acts of making (from breakfast to writing emails to dip dyeing fiber in indigo).

Having grown up in this beauty-obsessed culture, feeling comparison with the hair (and bodies) of the women plastered on billboards and in the pages of magazines has come up for me often. There have been times where I’ve hated that I wasn’t blonde, didn’t have curly enough hair, didn’t have straight enough hair, or sucked at making it look good.

But a lot of that has shifted over the past year as I’ve begun a deeper exploration of my hair as an expression of who I am and my connection to the earth and the people who came before me.

Here is the post/ video Interview. Give it a look, and let us know your thoughts!

Also, follow Becca here on IG for more life musings for the creative heart.

 

Thank you for being here, lots of love.

RJH

Peace Braid

Good morning my dears.

It has been a while since I have spoken from the heart here and I want to take a minute today to drop in.

I have been thinking a lot about what is working in the world around us, today. What are the things that we live for, the things that keep us connected and hopeful. Where are the places that don’t require resistance to make great change, and in fact maybe require us to do the opposite of resist: Lean in, move toward, flow.

Finding moments of peace, appreciating the beauty around us in the small things and cultivating the feelings of standing for, and living for something instead of in opposition. There is something very powerful there.

Here is what I have been up to: Preparing food and eating. Growing a baby. Braiding hair. Growing a baby. Traveling and sharing hair wisdom. Growing a baby. Connecting with communities. Growing a baby. Crying and laughing. Taking walks, loving flowers, bringing in the Spring. Loving my family and being driven mad by them, reading. Growing a baby.

The activism of Fall and Winter has softened into a deep search for the answers to “where is my energy best spent for the common good, and for the good of this small microcosm which is my body, myself, my family, my immediate community, etc.

Reading has felt revolutionary. The People’s History is almost finished, I’m just working my way slowly through the Reagan years. The teachings of Malcom X is really shifting some things for me, having been raised on the peaceful/ non-violent teachings of Dr. MLK. Braiding Sweetgrass blew my heart open. The Power of Habit empowered me with new insight into behavior. Walking the Medicine Wheel really made me think about healing in a different way. There are more: But let’s start with these.

I had the pleasure of spending some time in Portland last weekend, with my dear friend and fellow hair healer Stefani Padilla of La Tierra Sagrada Hair.

We taught a workshop together on Hair Ritual, and we facilitated a Peace Braid Meditation with a circle of women and men, joined in a continuous braid, while invoking and sharing visions of peace and what that means to each of them.

The circle was hosted by Alea Joy of Solabee Flowers, a beautiful bloom shop in PDX. She helped us adorn the Peace Braid with cherry blossoms, roses, cymbidium orchids, daffodils and beautiful botanical greenery. 

The next day, we celebrated the 1 year anniversary party of Solabee in their current location in NE Portland. I braided flowers into people’s hair, and Stef did trims and shared her Hair Medicine while party-goers gazed at beautiful blooms and drank violet champagne cocktails. 

Was just lovely, and so nice to spend some time with a new community. Thanks PDX, for taking good care of me.

I am sending love and peace to all of you who are reading this, and I’m curious: What brings you the most peace right now?

 

xo, HTHG

Free Your Hairoscope: Aquarius!

coverFriends old and new, thanks for visiting us today for the 2nd edition of the Free Your Hair HAIROSCOPE.

I offer this series to all as an ever-changing and morphing guide for Hair-Centered Radical Self Care, Ritual and Beauty in honor and tribute to each sign as they enter into their place in the Sun Rotation.

With this Hairoscope, we hope to inspire each sign of the zodiac to take some extra time on their birthday month to really love on and care for themselves. Every month, we will pull a card to share from The Moon Deck to inspire your monthly self-care ritual. With the sage advice of The Moon Deck, we will adapt our monthly mantras to bless and honor our own hair. We invite you to share these monthly Hairoscopes with your friends who are of that month’s astrological sign and help them take some time for self love!


img_6721-1For this series, I worked with artist Madison McClain to create our women of the horoscope, and with intuitive writer and healer Aarona Ganesan, co-creator of The Moon Deck, which is the Tarot Deck I use daily to inspire my own personal self-care rituals.

This month, we honor the Aquarians 

Moon Deck Ritual:

(Words and Rituals adapted from the Moon Deck Guidebook, changed slightly to speak specifically to our hair.)

Hair Brush Mantra:

Forgiveness is potent medicine and one of our most important spiritual practices we can cultivate. When we forgive, we allow our lives to move forwards with more ease. 

Deep challenges and past hurts may hold your greatest gifts and be the doorways to incredible insight, growth, and compassion. When you forgive yourself or others, you say YES to life and open up to something more aligned.

Although we may want the other to apologize first, we can’t control  one another. By saying ‘no’ to the harboring of negativity and suffering, we take full responsibility for how we feel, clean up disharmony within ourselves, and allow love and acceptance to prevail.

Surrender control, let go of blame, and receive the underlying teaching. You are ready to take the first step. Bring love into your own being this very moment.

Here is Your Hair Mantra for this month….

‘I Forgive and Let Go with Loving Ease ‘


Take 5 minutes today to brush this mantra into your hair, repeating it to yourself with every stroke. Be in a comfortable, calm place without distraction. Close your eyes and breath, centering your body as you brush. If you are not a regular hair brusher, here is why we think you should try it, and here is where to get yourself a beautiful hair brush to work into your hair care ritual. If you are more of the combing type, consider a wooden wide toothed comb or your own fingers for a relaxing scalp massage.

Lavender/Amethyst Bath:

Amethyst is a crystal which is associated with inner peace and healing grief, while tiny delicate Lavender flowers are used to bring calmness and comfort to the body and soul. This month, to aid in our time of bringing the intention of Forgiveness, prepare a bath to soak your hair and body steeped in the subtle magic of your purple allies. 

The effect of your healing bath will be both subtly powerful, especially following up a hair brush session, complete with this month’s mantra. 

-Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of fresh or dried lavender flowers into a hot bath. I recommend the flowers over essential oil because they are the true and unadulterated expression of the plant and more suitable to provide their healing abilities to our true and unadulterated selves. 

-Light a few candles and turn the lights down in the bathroom.

-Hold a small amethyst in each hand as you soak, submerging yourself as much as you feel comfortable. Recite your mantra a few more times, feeling the weight of the stones in each hand, and inhaling the intoxicating scent of lavender. Feel the grief of years of holding grudges against ourselves and humanity soften and slough away. 

-Close your eyes and imagine the color purple. Soft, balanced, and deep, free. 

My Dream Hair, FYI.

 

Hair Advice:

It is all too easy to compare our hair to other people’s hair, and wish we had something different than what we were born with. Many of us have spent plenty of time and energy trying to beat our own hair into submission, frustrated by our flaws held against a standard of ‘beauty.’

Many of us have hair FOMO, which is the Fear Of Missing Out of the experience of having thick hair when our hair is naturally thin. And this can cause us to get stuck in wishing we had something we don’t have, and miss out on an opportunity to really take advantage of what we DO have and make it work for us.

This month, my advice to you Water Bearers is to forgive yourself for all the times that you took your own unique hair for granted, and stop holding yourself back from doing something totally new and unique with your ‘do.

Aquarius Challenge:

This new year is the perfect time to do something you have always wanted to do with your hair, having freed yourself of hair guilt and forgiven yourself of hair hang ups.

Go ahead. Get that bob. Cut some curly bangs. Shit, shave your head.Try a new color or wear your hair totally natural to work one day. Rock it proudly, and move into your next year with your hair held high, having shed the heavy energetic burden of hair FOMO. Love what you’ve got.

Moon Phases in Aquarius:

The New Moon and Full Moon are the most potent times for setting new intentions for healthy habits and relationships and creating rituals that are potent in their action. I highly recommend this months ritual bath be done around both the 27th of January to observe the New Moon, setting an intention of what you are ready to let go of in your life/in your hair/in your relationship to yourself in physical and spiritual form, and around February 10th to observe the Full Moon, setting intention for what you are ready to bring in to your life. What do you want to manifest? Now is the time.

And how do you set an intention? for those who haven’t practiced it……Speak a little prayer to yourself. Honor it with the ritual of preparing a bath steeped in herbs and infused with the magic of yourself and body. Hold the prayer in your heart as you practice self love. Make it so!

Please check out The Moon Deck for more musings. Aquarius babes, may we suggest you get your own deck as a birthday gift to yourself and make a vow to love yourself and your hair more in this coming year.

What would you like to see woven into our monthly Hairoscope? I would love to hear your feedback! We are excited to watch this series grow and change with your input.

xo, HTHG and The Moon Deck

 

 

Season of the Witch with Erin Merriman

moon

( Photo by Filth and Beauty)

Defining a Witch is to me like trying to explain the personalities of my children. As their mother who grew them, birthed them, I see them as everything all at once. They are good and bad, they are big and small, old and new, and all the things in between. One may be shy at times and bold at other times, one is fearless yet scared at the same time. And then they change. They are slippery. How to define them? Little witches, I guess.

I have kicked around definitions of many things, but squirmed and wiggled when called to define myself. ‘Mother’ is one of my definitions and I’m okay with that because I chose it and there is no escaping it so here I am, I accept my motherness. ‘Artist’ I will claim because I can’t seem to contain the creative flow. Woman’, hmmmm okay. But I like to think of gender as being much more fluid than Woman/Man so I will hold off on defining myself by my gender for the sake of further shifting gender consciousness.

Feminist?’ I’ve been put to the test of defining myself as a feminist and felt like it was a word that separated and limited me in a way that felt uncomfortable. I require something much more inclusive and expansive. Something with lot’s of space and room to create and heal and bend. Something that allows me to throw down for womankind and the entire web of life, known and unknown, past and present.

I need a better word. We need a better word. A word without hard and fast rules, something that leads us both inward and outward, connecting instead of separating. Something that allows time and space for us to flatten out the well-worn grooves of collective consciousness, smoothing them back to divine, limitless, undefinable possibility.

Witch is the word.

I have spent many years mulling over what it means to be a witch, and how to talk about it.  It has felt to me in the past like the possession of a divine secret, a quiet power, alive in a knowing glance to another witch where you both understand something undefinable in a moments time. And that thing you understood together is always there with you. But for years I have felt like it is something I am not supposed to talk about.

This past Summer, a dear friend of mine Sophia Rose sang me a song about being a witch and it opened up the flood gates. I realized I had to talk about it. Sing about it, even.

PLEASE, before you read on, click over and listen to this song as you read this post.


Witches I Love

 

This is the first of a series I have been afraid to share until now, affectionately called Witches I Love which aims to distill the essence of the modern witch by asking my favorite modern witches to chime in their wisdom and experience.

The purpose of producing this series is to help us open the aperture or our minds a bit wider to understand the power of living within infinite spectrums of brilliant color and depth, in a world which largely sees things in black and white.

A big thank you to all for being here and bearing witness, I hope these women’s words are both helpful and empowering to you, and we would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the subject. Are you a witch? Please tell us about it in the comment section!

This first interview is with Erin Rivera Merriman, San Diego based Witch, healer of many modalities and conscious community creatress at Active Culture Family.

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(Opening Ceremony and Space Blessing for Bell Jar, Los Angeles, CA)


Season of the Witch: An Interview with Erin Merriman

 

What does the word Witch mean to you?

I’m so glad you asked. As a student of communication i’m increasingly floored by how often we think we are communicating, because we have this common vocabulary, when in fact each person is using the same words to mean different things. Words are very holographic, slippery, and alive. I think it’s really awesome that as this word “Witch” is being reclaimed, you are taking the time to attempt to establish some shared meaning around it!

I think of a witch as a female identified or female bodied person who believes that we dwell within sentient universe, and consciously engages the art of ritual and spell craft to symbolically communicate their intentions and desires for what they would like to experience in life, so that the plants, animals, and other cosmic energies around them who are a yes to her desires, who share a similar agenda or intention,  can participate in bringing them about in an expedited way.

moona

(Photo by Filth and Beauty)

A witch understands that her menstrual cycle connects her to the cycle of life and that by aligning her outer activities with her inner rhythm and adding in awareness of other influences, such as seasons and astrological circumstance, they can further amplify the effectiveness of their movements in the world. The term Witch is neutral. The question I always ask when relating with other magical beings is what energies are you aligning yourself with to empower your intentions, who do you serve, and to what end?

That said, there are all these different flavors of mystical feminine being, and it can be fun to find the label that most resonates…Witch, Yogini, Priestess, Dakini, Nun, Abess,…the list goes on, and furthermore we are always free to make up our own! As in the dialogue around any identity, like gender identity, its important to allow people the freedom to self identify, because they are the one having the complete inner experience, the only one who can say what concepts resonate with their way of life.  A label we choose for ourselves can be expansive and help us explore the world through a different lens. A label someone else puts on us is always limiting.karmaclearing

( Full Moon Ceremony, San Diego, CA, photo by Dori Varga)

How would one know that one was a witch? 🙂

So often people think “She’s a witch!” when something that can’t be explained through any rational process happens, but in reality, the universe is full of unexplained phenomenon, women just happen to be socialized to be more embracing of the validity of these unexplainable occurrences. I personally reserve the term Witch for women who both consider themselves witches and actively practices witchcraft. Magic is another word for the wild nature in us. You can also call this hormones, sexual energy, or Shakti. Its the uncontrollable aspect of the feminine, so all women are a little bit witchy. Often a natural intuitive ability, like having premonitions or seeing spirits, or unexplained phenomenon would lead someone to pursue witchcraft as a means of feeling empowered as opposed to burdened by their gifts.

It’s important to me the acknowledge the craft aspect of witchcraft. It is an art form. Being an intuitive, a clairaudient or clairvoyant is something that you just are. But being a medium means that you use that ability in a particular way. Being a witch to me means that you work with ritual or spell craft to interact directly with the natural world in attempt to empower your intentions, whatever they may be. Intentions that seek to influence the actions of others in any way without their express permission for you to do so is black magic. Intentions like “ I want to heal my relationship to my father” that have to do with yourself is white magic. And then there is the path of the Tantrika, which has a completely different vocabulary around engaging magic. We honor and worship and serve Goddess by becoming her. We don’t so much as ask her for help doing our will but surrender to the will of the divine, recognizing that the even greater pleasure than getting our own way is to surrender to the divinity and perfection of what is already unfolding.

Talk about intention and manifestation…..How do they work together?

When we are in very high vibrational environments, we often experience this idea of instant manifestation- that reality is reconfiguring everything at lightning speed to match our thoughts, words, and desires. I think this is happening all the time but at a level too subtle to notice. The magic is “there” but we are not “there.” I have felt this energy. Some cultures would call it Lakshmi. We often call upon it as “abundance” but it reveals itself to me as a column of beings, a kind of roving energetic wishing well, where all these beings are just waiting for a chance to get in the game, but the rule is, they have to be asked. So there really are these beings who just love us and are dying to help us out, but they need our permission, so when you say “I want”  or “I intend” or “I pray”  it gives them that permission to act on our behalf.

7u6a6826

(Photo Filth and Beauty)

For example, if you think you are having bad sex, and you think “this person is bad at sex”, and then you get a new lover and they are like “Tell me what you want?” and you realize you don’t know, you have no idea what you like, so your partners have a very small chance of pleasing you, because you are asking someone with very limited access to our ecosystem to show you something you don’t already know…it’s like that with manifestation. The people who are really good at it are seasoned at self inquiry, and then gifted at distilling and articulating their desire very very clearly. When the sentient universe/ Goddess knows what we want, it makes it much much easier for her to give it to us.

How do you think that a collection of witches is magnified in power to an individual witch?

Covens have always naturally formed. In Shakta Tantra we have these Goddess collectives called the Asta Matrikas and the Mahavidyas, that are made up of these really powerful feminine energies. In my experience, when they come together around a common intention, huge outcomes are possible. I feel this way about being part of the Spirit Weavers Gathering.  It is so many deeply devoted women in one spot, pulling for all of womankind to heal and cooperate and serve one another so that all may have the opportunity to bloom into their fullness, and the result is exponentially more that the sum of the parts. It really is a transformational vortex.img_4943

(Photo/ Spiritweavers Gathering by Filth and Beauty)

I have been shown that these covens/ Goddess collectives are initiation grids. It is alchemy when we gather. The container becomes this fully stocked pharmacy of vibrational medicine, where you are free to choose who in the group to spend more time with than others, and if you mix this particular blend of people’s individual medicines together, you get a prescription that is perfectly calibrated for your individual awakening needs.

Where would you direct a woman who is interested in exploring her inner witch for the first time? (books? Plants? etc)

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-10-01-53-am(Kava Temple: Sacred Sexuality Ceremony at The BE Hive, Hollywood, CA)

In terms of books, Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss is kind of THE  primer for the spiritual journy if you are a true beginner to these explorations.  New Moon Magic is growing in popularity, and it is increasingly possible to find a women’s circle to sit with on the new or full moon to explore simple ideas around lunar magic. Robin Rose Benett’s Healing Magic is another great primer on the path of the Green Witch, through which I received my first formal initiations. If you are drawn to or already versed in Hinduism, Yoga, or Tantra, Laura Amazonne has a great online course called Mysteries of the Yoginis that gets really detailed about the Yogini Cults of ancient india, which were basically coven’s or groups of witches who banded together to practice magic in the name of Goddess and support one another in living life outside the matrix. 

Planting some Mugwort and taking time to meditate with her and cultivate a relationship slowly over time is another intuitive, organic way to begin to wade into these waters. As a sacred medicinal plant in many cultures, she is beloved among witches and herbalists around the world and well known for opening the veils between the worlds and strengthening intuitive and visionary abilities. You can smoke mugwort, chew her leaves, or sew her into dream pillows to enhance natural dream abilities.

A really fun beginner practice is to choose a divination tool to work with such as dreamwork, tarot, or a pendulum, and begin checking in with it for guidance at the beginning or end of each day. Don’t be discouraged if at first it seems like nothing happened. Sometimes it takes years of cultivation before psychic gifts really begin to blossom. And the truly powerful gifts tend to be bestowed upon those who demonstrate dedication and intention to use those abilities in service of the greater good.

How do the facets of our souls (shadow side, sun-lit side, good, evil) effect the process of owning our power?

As we become more empowered, we need to also grow our capacity for accountability of our words and actions. The shadow is all the parts of ourselves that we refuse to own or acknowledge, that we refuse to give love to. A great way to know the content of your shadow is to make a list of all that you are judging in another person. We cannot accept traits in others that we are unable to love in ourselves.

When working with big energies, our own emotional processing time is absolutely essential. I find that practitioners in particular need to really look at what feelings came up and what they were trying to communicate to us on a daily basis. If not stalked relentlessly, when we speak or act from that unconscious place as all humans do, the effects are more destructive. We see that we need to become more intentional with everything we do, when we understand we are holding strong medicine, and that if not consciously directed towards higher outcomes, can unconsciously do harm.

I think its exceedingly rare for someone to be truly evil in the sense of intending to do harm as primary motivation. I think it is more often when we cannot tolerate the vulnerability of a situation, when we act from fear, act to protect a wound, or under the influence of addiction, that we do the most harm.

Why do you think it is so hard for some of us to own our power? Speak to the woman who knows she has it but is afraid to use it.

I learned at a young age that power corrupts. I think we have seen people come to power and use it to dominate and we don’t want to do that. We all have huge egos and I know I have avoided the spiritual maturation processes out of fear that any power that came my way might be hijacked by my ego, might allow me loose touch with the struggles of humanity, might make me slowly loose my compassion for those who weren’t able to “manifest their visions.”

I have feared the increase in criticism that comes with increased visibility for your work. I have feared loosing friends as a result of my journey to embody unpopular philosophies which I have found to be part of the deeper truth of me. And to me empowerment is just about the ability to embody your truth despite the social consequences. I was bullied in a very relentless and creative way for all of high school. I received long letters filled with criticism about me signed by every boy in school. I now see that this was a necessary part of my training.

Sometimes it happens in life that every single person in your immediate environment tells you that the way you are is wrong. But sometimes, eventually, that very process makes you aware that the thing inside you that you can’t change no matter how hard you wish you could, that that is the YOU in there! That very thing is in fact your medicine, and it can go underground or be hidden behind a mask, or some become so convinced that it can never be shared that they leave early (as in teen suicide) but even that choice to leave is choosing the self, knowing that we do have the right to be what we are, even if some feel that there is no place for them here, on this planet, in these times.

To those who know it’s there but are afraid to embody what they are carrying, I say you have no other choice. If you are seeking health, weight loss, family or marriage healing, career success- none of that is possible while hiding your light. It is the only way to be happy, even if it involves a short or long period where it feels the world is burning all around you in order to begin living more authentically.

To those who are afraid to use it I beg you to stop effing around and move on to mastering your ability to share your gift with confidence and ease because these are challenging times and WE NEED YOU!

Tell us a little bit about your personal witch journey. 

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(Kava Temple at The Gaia School of Earth Healing, Los Angeles, CA)

I’ve always been drawn to the unorthodox, to people making uncommon choices. In my very small, sheltered town, it took me a while to be exposed to anything that really interested me. My mom really paid attention to what made me light up, and always nurtured me as an artist, driving me to yoga, and art classes, and accepting my increasingly weird outfit choices. She let me wear a pentagram necklace and combat boots to church.

Her unconditional love was probably the first condition for me to begin to open more psychically. In the beginning, when I started to really shake up my reality, it was always a result of a desire to creatively explore my identity through hair, make up, and clothes. It was shocking to me how opinionated and triggered people became by my desire to experiment with my appearance. I was dying my hair and giving myself piercings regularly. There was nothing else to do in our tiny rural town, and I wasn’t hurting anybody, so I didn’t get what the big deal was.

The most life changing thing was my mothers weekly ritual of taking me to the bookstore and letting me pick any book I wanted, no questions asked. I quickly discovered the small shelf at the back of the store market “occult” and that was it. Every week, I devoured different books on runes, tarot, moon magic, mythology…this coincided with my first heartbreak and the beginning of bullying, emotional trauma that triggered a genetic pre-disposition toward fibromyalgia, so my hobby like interest in magic, combined with a strong cocktail of hormones and heartbreak  marked the beginning of both daily migraines and the quest to heal them, a quest that would last for 17 years.

Thankfully, I met an woman 3 years older than me who was interested in the same things and we were able to just dive fully into exploring. It started with these play/ pretend rituals where we would just bring whatever seemed magical to the beach and build mandalas in the sand and make up mantras and chants. We thought we were just being a couple of bored, theatrical weirdos, but those early spells had long lasting impact, and at some point we had to have some distance from each other to go through our own trials and initiations, a lot of suffering and deep healing in order to really mature on the path and realize that its about awakening from the trance of mainstream and even alternative culture and realizing the true nature of the journey- that it’s a path towards doing healing work.img_9247

My own path has asked me to change just about everything from the way I was raised through divination, diet, yoga, acupuncture, shamanism, plant medicine (as herbalism and as teacher plants like Ayahuasca and Psilocybin.) The layering of all of these wellness modalities  has allowed me to learn to live from that ceremonial place more of the time. I pray for strength to continue to dwell in the half step, in the margins, not grasp for here or there, because to me this is where magic lives, in the spaces in between. Everyone has their own magic, their own medicine, AND, there is such sincerity and passion and unmistakable depth among those who are really living for this path, who have persevered through times of deep doubt, to continue living for something that most people agree isn’t even real!

I have been required to subsist on faith alone for long periods of time, and had to say, “Well, if I’m wrong at the end of my life, I’m wrong, but I am all in, come what may”, and that really changes the game, when you are no longer loosing energy to the question of weather or not you are going to turn back, take some anti-depressants and try to fit in.

I am currently most focused on studying my points of access to educational vibrational fields of consciousness through the dreamtime, and studying Shakta Tantra ( a more shamanic,  earth based, matriarchal means of liberation as compared to other lineages of Tantra) . The vocabulary and experiences spoken of in that tradition most closely match my inner reality so am choosing to be an apprentice in that house of magic right now.

My quadruple Aries fiery devotion can be a bit much for some people, and I find the best place for the full unmoderated  expression of my Shakti to be to pour that into a daily Sadhana practice, practice moon magic and sex magic…As I get older, there seem to be more and more opportunities for weaving ceremony into my day and in my everyday life, and more people walking alongside me. It’s a good time to be a witch.

Erin Rivera Merriman is a priestess, artist, and teacher of the metaphysical arts. Raised on a 100 acre tree farm in rural Connecticut, she was taught from a young age the importance of community stewardship and living in harmony with the natural world. Erin’s study as an Herbalist in the Wise Woman Tradition, combined with her training as a Zen hospice and prison chaplain, and recent studies in classical Shakta Tantra have shaped her unique, multidimensional approach to women’s health and empowerment.  Through ceremonies, workshops, coaching sessions and intuitive readings, she is honored to be with you as midwife at the edge of your comfort zone, as you conceive, incubate, and give birth to your own highest vision for your life. To learn more about working with Erin, visit www.activeculturefamily.com

 

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