Porn just got dirty…

50 Shades of Felt: Inside London's Pop-Up Material Sex Toy Shop

Digital Economy Bill set to go through?

In 2014, a long list of acts the UK government intended to ban was published. I wrote about this at the time it first emerged, and although some aspects have been amended, the principle remains that many of these consensual acts are being criminalised with implications likest to ripple way beyond our understanding. In other words if you think ‘oh but it’s only applicable to porn’ then think again…this kind of pernicious legislating tends to seep into other aspects of our sexual expression as we have learned in the past (think Spanner case)

This list has absolutely NO bearing whatsoever on anything that could be considered even remotely helpful, healthy or healing. In fact, the opposite would appear to be true in that upon closer scrutiny, it seems to serve to further marginalise people and groups already feeling the sting of this kind of irrational legislation or their place in the existing social pecking order, in particular women, the LGBT community and the fetish world.

Now, I’m an open minded sort of a woman – I’ve explored my sexuality in as many aspects as I can think of throughout my life, with some exceptions of course, I mean not everything is my ‘tasse du thé‘ after all. It would be fair to say however, that I felt that one of the safest places for exploration I’ve ever experienced was in fetish clubs where my boundaries were always well and truly navigated and respected, and the non consensual breaking of those boundaries is in fact seriously frowned upon within this community.  Diversity of sexual expression is also most welcome – leave your shame at the door please. Not every place or person respects this of course but nothing in life is really like that is it, and as far as it goes, these places always felt an extremely safe place to explore my personal pleasure, boundaries and erotic maps .

From my explorations of fetish and BDSM, I can also say that 1) I throughly enjoyed them, and 2) No children or animals were hurt in the process and 3) I was kinda proud of my flogger marks and pleasantly stinging buttocks! So what gives here? Surely this is quite an innocent sentiment below…

Haven’t us Brits always found the delicate ‘thwack’ of leather on willow a pleasure (cricket), or the whistle of air as crop hits thigh (equestrian pursuits) an unparalleled delight? Hasn’t the scrum down in rugby always resulted in more than ‘light’ bruising? But that’s ok because it’s sport? And what about boxing? Cage fighting? Wrestling? Judo? I could go on – all consenting sports that often require a willing acceptance of the risk of injury. Well aren’t we equally entitled to be the arbiters of that ‘calculated risk’ in our own sexual expression? It would seem not, for when we add sex into the equation, suddenly there’s a flurry of outrage and censorial judgment. If it’s about valour and the honour of your team or your country that’s ok, but if it’s about pleasure it’s not? This double standard has to stop and I don’t mean just in relation to sport but in relation to gender. The new law makes face sitting an illegal activity on the grounds that is “potentially life-endagering”! And female ejaculation? Please educate me as to how this can be deemed worthy of a total ban? How is this dangerous? Abusive? Oh hang on it’s not…it’s all about the continued repression of female sexual expression perhaps, so I think I must be doing something wrong here because I am genuinely perplexed!

Actually though, I don’t think it’s because we are getting anything wrong; I think what is at play has some strange undercurrent of a regressive and perhaps ulterior motive. Is this part of a strategy of some sort? These politicians aren’t stupid, so how can anyone with any intelligence whatsoever deem that it’s not okay to face sit, but it is ok to aggressively face f**k (where a man thrusts his wonderful pride with some degree of brute force into the open mouth of a woman). It’s okay for a man/group of men to ejaculate all over a woman but not okay for a woman to ejaculate over a man? It’s not okay for me to consent to you spanking me and leaving a mark or two but it is okay for a boxer to knock an opponent into unconsciousness? The way I see it is this, if I consent to you spanking me, well I’m an intelligent woman and if I want it I will have it, if I want to watch it, I want to watch it. The key words are here: ‘consenting‘, and ‘adult‘. I don’t need a nanny and I certainly don’t remember employing one. Funnily enough there’s a whole genre of porn based around adult babies, where one adult plays a nannying role over another, in that instance it’s clearly defined role play but with these state governed censorship laws it’s simply offensive, likely to encourage unhealthy desires from adults to children (how?) and is liable for a ban.

No, what’s at play here is far more sinister. When I was a student we saw the evolution of the “Off The Shelf” campaign to remove porn from all top shelf placement in shops. Now in our technological age it’s the ‘ban online porn’ movement, only there is no consistency, no equality, no logic or reason and plenty of hypocrisy. I don’t actually like a great deal of porn. I find it seriously lacking in imagination, tenderness, and eroticism and way too loaded in control, aggression and false representations of gender and intimacy. I prefer my sex connected, present and full of integrity. Whether a one off moment or a relationship, whether vanilla or wild and dirty, as long as it’s full of that connection, presence and honesty, and not riddled with guilt, deceit and shame, then I’m ok with the variations on the theme.

If you care about freedom of speech, and if you think that to educate your children, rather than conceal, ban or imagine rather foolishly that human beings aren’t naturally curious about sex, and from an early age too then please keep this dialogue open and let’s keep talking about sex on the menu.

My crop is simply buzzing for a bottom to whoop over this one and I bet I’d find that bottom in the corridors of Westminster in full enjoyment of a bit of illicit sexual frisson. As usual our sex has become a class, gender, and choice loaded gun being pointed in all the wrong directions. So I have only this to say….

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Digesting the indigestible

Auca Yachai

sacred visionary art by Pablo Amaringo

Ayahuasca – the good, the bad and the ugly.

August 2013 – the first time I met with the master plant teacher Ayahuasca. After two terrifying experiences on acid as a young woman in my twenties, I never imagined in a million years that working consciously with psychedelic (or visionary) plant medicines would be something I could countenance. I had so much fear, so much I felt I needed to keep a lid on and control, that the thought of being plunged into other realms from which I couldn’t escape held the same feeling of terror I’d met on those early experiences, and yet four years ago my life started getting ‘weird’ as seems to happen when these medicines begin to call you.

It wasn’t weird in its external presentation, more that I just began to find ayahuasca (in particular) was penetrating my awareness and given it was not something I’d ever thought of or knew about, this was kind of odd. The first moment was the discovery of a book, left on a table at a festival after my boyfriend of the time had just finished interviewing David Icke. The book was Rebekah Shaman‘s ‘The Shaman’s Last Apprentice’, so I ran after David to tell him he had left his book, but he had literally vanished! I took it home, read it cover to cover in 48 hours and wept in some deep inner knowing on completing it. I saw myself in Rebekah’s story.

A series of synchronistic events then unfolded that left me in no doubt I would meet this ‘teacher’ soon. A random flier for a gathering appeared in the healing centre I ran at the time and no-one knew how it got there. Someone I knew but hadn’t seen for a while ‘randomly’ approached me asking if they could offer a talk in the shop I had at the time on Amazonian plant medicines. I discovered my brother in law and his girlfriend had just done it too, so I went to speak with them ‘what’s it like’, ‘is it scary’, ‘is it like tripping’, and ‘did you vomit a lot’, and ‘was it worth it’?

Segway to four years later and I have now experienced this master teacher plant 14 times, San Pedro 4 times, Iboga twice, and kambo (Amazonian frog medicine) about 6 times and I am transformed by all of it. I know in my body, mind and soul that these ‘teachers’ have brought me a deep inner knowing that may otherwise have taken me years to discover. They have helped me peel off the layers of forgetfulness, remember the truth of life, that we really are all one and all connected.

I recently surveyed a number of friends about their experiences with plant teacher medicines too (thank you to those who responded) and here are some of the ‘good’ aspects shared. I’m not defining things generally as good or bad, but in terms of the title of this piece, here you go:

“I feel so much more grounded and centred. I feel like I am able to look at things objectively and get close to people and open up without feeling like I have to shield myself or that they have power over me. I have a strengthened sense of perspective instead of being overwhelmed by emotion. To be unafraid of emotion itself is hugely liberating.”

“I am calmer and more loving, I have more patience and a greater ability to preserve my energy and steer myself through situations that would have spiralled me out before. I think I am able to see my relationships in a clearer and more balanced way”

“I feel like my heart has been opened up and my confidence has been restored”

I feel that they have helped me confound a level of presence that I was only reaching on occasion beforehand. Feeling a very deep and true experience of Love that was coming from a deep connection not only with the Earth and all other beings but also with myself

“Ayahuasca helped me to be more insightful and see things more clearly, and also helped me to heal many childhood memories which my older self hadn’t forgiven or understood”

“On a day to day basis my existential experience has changed, I am happier than I could have ever imagined, I wake up each day with a feeling of deep gratitude for everything and everybody in my life for everything that has happened and everything that will happen. I feel as though I am flowing with and through life no longer fighting and judging each experience but allowing and accepting, don’t get me wrong I have my moments of doubt, worry, anxiety, fear but they are more and more fleeting and I know that not only will they pass but that they are as an important part of my experience as the the joy, bliss and love is”

“The most significant change is the love that I now feel for myself which has transformed literally everything, how I view myself, the world around me, the people in my life, the stranger walking down the street”

“Ayahuasca has shown me areas in my own life, and in my relationships with friends and family that needed attention from me to heal. Ayahuasca has shown me what is possible, and encouraged me to live more fully”

“Ayahuasca taught me many things. The most important are that: I like myself; everything is connected; my organism is the earth (not me as an individual); life has a rhythm; consciousness permeates all space and time. And although these things can be expressed as intellectual concepts, the plant medicines (and ayahuasca in particular), allow me to feel that these concepts are in fact the case. The concepts become embodied in me, as the practical, physical manifestation of them”

Most respondents (and myself) seemed to come to plant medicines from a place of deep knowing that there was a great need for inner healing, surrendering into allowing these master plants to share their wisdom despite our fears. We began, using their invaluable teachings to digest the indigestible.

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art by Juan Carlos Taminchi

Now then, this isn’t the the whole picture of course – it may well be that I would have cleared many things through my (non plant teacher based) shamanic teachings, my meditation practice or other routes to wholeness, but I’m certain it would have added many years to that clearing process. So now we come to the less spoken of side of journeying with these plant medicines; the lack of integration and the habit of making yet another ‘habit’, another addiction to a ‘fix me please’ mentality which we seem to know so well in the west. The place where we absolve ourselves of personal accountability and responsibility, not just in our healing process but in our awareness of the roots of these plants and medicines, the ethics, the cultures we borrow from and the integrations that need to happen. Ayahuasca (and these other medicines) isn’t a party, it’s a wisdom guide, and if we don’t allow space and time to absorb her teachings, we are likely to end up just as lost as when we started.

I began to notice how people I spoke with were still struggling after experiencing ceremonies, how many felt ungrounded, how many rushed back to the next experience to find that place of ‘comfort’ once again, like a mother’s breast full of promise and hope, nourishment and a soothing presence. Ayahuasca isn’t like that; she is a teacher of the tough love school, a teacher to be respected and revered, and we should approach her not from the place of ‘getting something’ from her, but of giving something to her and of communicating with her. Any communication at its best requires deep listening, space to hear what’s being said, it requires processing time, and without this we are likely to remain as unmoved as we may in a one sided conversation, our greedy take-me, teach-me, fix-me mentalities overtaking our true potential for healing which is a real exchange of presence.

Working with Ayahuasca alone without the other medicines, yoga, meditation and breath work would not have brought me to the place that I am now”

“The first time I was utterly terrified and I spent a lot of energy trying to understand what was happening”

“I find that typically I’ll come away thinking I’ve left a lot of things behind me and then they’ll manifest in my daily life and I have to deal with them. Initially this led to a lot of arguments as I was still reluctant to face things head on”

“I know people who have taken “medicine” over a hundred times, and none of them seem any more aware than a lot of people I know who have never touched plant medicine”

“Yes, of course, they have their perspective shifted, but does that shift actually enable them to change their lives in a positive way?  That, I’m not sure of…and certainly, with regards to myself and my experiences, I remember getting rather swept away on a bunch of visions that several people collectively had, which were seriously grandiose in nature, and not a thing came of it, neither with me, nor with my fellow voyagers.  The only thing I noted was that my fellow voyagers still maintained their faith, whereas I was quite disenchanted”

The worst one of all was when I took it just before going into a ten day silent retreat.  I had to sit with my disintegrated self for ten days.  It was hellish. I just remember it was a tough fucking time.  I felt like I had been eviscerated.  It took me a long time to recover”

magic-serpents

sacred visionary art by Anderson Debernardi

Of course there is also the matter of the taking of these plants from their native habitats, the depleting of the environments and cultures in which they grow and the ignorance around cultural appropriation which if left unchecked, looks pretty unattractive.

“The name tells us that [it] is the vine of dead, so you don’t play with it,” Jaquehua told me. “We don’t offer those kind of trips because we do respect our people, the costumes, traditions, and believe there are rituals that are practiced all over the world that need to be understood and respected.” Vidal Jaquehua, Quechua native.

Are we asking the right questions before we enter into this area of healing? Do we ask where does this come from? Are there any environmental issues I should be aware of? Who made it? Do they honour the traditions themselves and do we in consuming it? Is my taking of this medicine creating an effect somewhere in the world I’m not aware of? When traveling and visiting these cultures, do I learn more about the day-to-day lives of the people, and whether my presence helps or harms that life? What can I give back?

“It is making some people very rich, yet the indigenous communities where these practices originated continue to live in poverty.”

These are the uncomfortable questions we should be asking ourselves as we encounter such medicines, whilst remaining aware that just because we take a plant medicine in it’s natural habitat doesn’t guarantee us a good experience. There is as much shady stuff going on in the jungles of Peru as there is on the streets of a western city – life is life is life after all and human beings are far from perfect no matter where we are located. The problem is that we tend to approach these people, places and things as if by their very nature they should be admired, rather than seeking to understand them. This feels like a colonial approach mired in the admiration of the ‘quaint’ and the fear of the ‘different’ rooted in an inability to simply observe, discern and respect where respect is due.

Overall, my personal experience has been immensely healing and a positive one, and hands held up, I did not ask most of the questions above when I first encountered these medicines. There are those who say these ancient medicines are emerging in the west because they have a wisdom in themselves and know that their healing is badly needed here, that we must learn from them. That’s quite something to contemplate, so let’s do it in full awareness, let’s learn the lessons they bring by living them, and neither relinquishing our power by expecting them to perform miracles without our ongoing attention to their lessons, nor lord our power by seeing these master teachers as just another thing we can spiritually rape.

Terence McKenna says in relation to ayahuasca in particular:

“[Ayahuasca is] the conduit to a body of profoundly ancient genetic and evolutionary wisdom that has long abided in the cosmologies of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon who have guarded and protected this knowledge for millennia, who learned long ago that the human role is not to be the master of nature, but its stewards. Our destiny, if we are to survive, is to nurture nature and to learn from it how to nurture ourselves and our fellow beings. This is the lesson that we can learn from ayahuasca, if only we pay attention.

This could be applied to any of these medicines. We must learn, we must give back, and we must become better human beings from it otherwise it has surely all been a worthless pillaging of culture.

One respondents’ reply summed up my feeling about all of these routes to healing:

The integration of the sacred and the everyday could be a definition of enlightenment”

It’s all about the integration and awareness.

*Please do not see this article as an invitation to approach me and ask where you can do these ceremonies – there is plenty of information out there. Be aware of the legal status in every country or place you are in, and let’s not become just another ignorant plant medicine tourist*


Totally Kate Moss-ed

CS77073062When Reggie Kray teaches you the meaning of life.

Some of you know this story, most of you probably don’t, but as I’m now motivated to write my life stories out, to begin telling my tales and to start reflecting on it all, I bring it here first with a hope it inspires, provokes, or stirs something in you on reading.

I picked the photo above as it’s one of the infamous Kray twins with their mum Violet. Reggie and Ronnie Kray were renowned fearless gangsters in London in the 1950s and 1960s. Arrested and convicted in 1969, they reigned the London Underworld with an iron fist for a good twenty years, ruthlessly killing and taking out whatever and whoever stood in their way of dominating the city, whilst remaining their mother’s blue eyed boys until her death in 1982. Paradox one.

I met Reggie Kray in Parkhurst Prison in the mid eighties. It feels like another lifetime to me now; who I was then, what my life was governed by and how I lived it, but it was me. It was the me that was forming the woman I am now. It was as much of my vulnerable, tough, determined self as I am today only in a different form, the chrysalis if you like, the chrysalis that became the butterfly with gloriously painted wings.

Reggie had been in prison almost 20 years by then and he was to die aged 66, freed from prison on the grounds he was terminally ill and having served 31 years of a life sentence. When I met him, he was in the middle of writing a book on Cockney Rhyming slang (hence the title of this post) which is actually available to this day – check Reg Kray’s book of slang on Amazon!

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Human beings are strange paradoxes most of the time, but why so? How and why do our moral values change? What influences our perception of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’? Is there a generally accepted ‘code’ of life?

There was a gangster code of honour when I grew up in and amongst the Manchester Gangland scene, which I later discovered in London too. Certain things that were seen as not acceptable to do amongst your gangland peers and so there was this weird contrast of shocking things people would do outside their circles, to a kind of piracy code of honour about what must never happen within those circles. Are moral values selective? Can we justify not killing the women and children whilst abusing our own (Reggie Kray’s story around is wife until her death is loaded with allegations)? Paradox two.

Back to Parkhurst visiting room – so Reggie Kray is sitting there animatedly talking about this book he’s writing and I’m sitting there right beside him animatedly listening. Suddenly I catch myself on – am I listening because I have forgotten who he is and what he did in this moment of relatively ordinary exchange, or am I afraid and smiling all the wider because of it? No, not that. I have forgotten his record sheet whilst this man chats amiably about writing. I have forgotten where I am, and why I’m there. Paradox three.

I am all Kate Moss-ed; I am lost.

I’m 24 years old, I’m naive as hell yet streetwise as anything (paradox four). I’m visiting my boyfriend who is also in Parkhurst prison serving a five year sentence for aggravated burglary. I am coping; on the outside of those heavy key-laden locked iron doors I am coping by filling myself with class A’s, ignoring my heart, and locking away my own worth as securely as those doors in the jail are locked once visiting time is over.

I looked like this (on the right)

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I write all this not to just tell you about my life, although I am documenting it for my children in doing so, but more to pose the question – who were you in the journey to becoming who you are, and if that is an endless changing rhythm (which it is as it’s impossible that this can stay fixed – law of nature etc) then surely we are all just in eternal flow? If we are all in eternal flow, can we let go of attachment, recognise that our lives, the people in them, the moments we share are all just that…life! Just one big, juicy, terrible, wonderful carnival.

I learnt about myself that my resilience is strong, my ancestors embedded that into my DNA, that we are survivors of hard lives, lives which were ruled by struggles with poverty in the Lancashire cotton mills, forged in monumental effort and lifted out of that through education and self made opportunity. I’m entrepreneurial – it’s in my blood, but many of you may not have known why that is. It’s down to my ancestors, but it’s also down to me, to my constant knowing that even when times were shit, they could be different, better, and more true. That this was not all there was and damn but I intended to find the ‘what is’ rather than accepting this half life and half truth. So I left that life, I finally admitted myself to hospital to clear the class As from my body (one of the toughest things I’ve ever done) and then began the long, slow haul of clearing them from my emotions, feelings and my spirit. I could just as easily have chosen to stay there and watch myself slowly die; others did and I watched them die instead, sobered into a tougher resolve that this would not be my life, that I would not end here in a crummy London Basement absent from my pain and absent from all of life’s riches.

There is an old saying “necessity is the mother of invention,” one of the most true sayings I know! Whether that necessity breeding inventiveness is born of poverty, hardship, desperation and despair, or simply a knowing that anything is possible if we believe it is so, then it has worked regardless of its origin. If you have moved even one step from where you were to where you are now, then you are learning, growing and changing. Give yourself a break, let life serenade you, congratulate yourself for every battle you’ve overcome, but don’t take a seat on that armchair of pain and suffering whatever you do, for you may just find you take root in that chair and forget how to be alive, and that would be a most tragic waste.

So meeting Reggie Kray and realising this man I was looking in the eye had committed these terrible crimes; had driven his wife to suicide, had killed people in cold blood so de-sensitised that he could just keep doing it until he was stopped, and yet was vulnerable, childlike and in some way charming by then (paradox five), I realised that life has whatever meaning we ascribe to it. I recognised that I was only responsible for the living of my own life, and for the the ripples I create in the living of it in the lives of those I love who surround me – in other words there are consequences to our choices. Now I live with that knowing and it has become my teacher and my guide, as it probably always was.

Totally Kate Moss-ed? Not any more…no.


Walking with grief and mystery

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“Wherever there is love, there is grief – a life without it is unthinkable.” Stephen Jenkinson, Orphan Wisdom School

Last night I was in the presence of greatness. Not the kind of greatness that relies upon fame or status, pushing or preaching, but the kind of greatness that comes from inner knowing, deep listening, and the ability to understand the mystery of life.

Stephen Jenkinson, founder of the Orphan Wisdom School is currently touring the UK. I found Stephen’s work ‘by accident’ when scrolling through Facebook recently, and was so touched and inspired by what I saw in his short film ‘The Making Of Humans‘, that I began to look further into his work. His life journey has taken him into the realms of palliative care, and the deep exploration of death and the process of dying. If this were me, that would inevitably mean an investigation into life and the process of living, and I’m sure, having heard him speak last night, that this is what he’s done too. In knowing death, he has come to know life. In knowing life, he can meet his death. If I was dying, I would want someone like Stephen to be there; no patronising, sickly, sugar coated pandering, but a brutal, truthful, irreverent and wise assessment of life.

I wrote five sides of notes in his ‘event’ (it was neither a gig nor a talk, but went beyond both somehow) and as a result I’m now compelled to tell my own stories, to bring to light all I’ve lived with and through, not just for myself but as a duty to my children and my friends, to those who would miss me when I leave this mortal coil. In dying first, we are not there to assist those we love with their own deaths, so in telling them frankly about our lives, and about our dying, we are loving them that little bit harder and in time, they will come to know and understand this.

Death and endings are the only eternal cosmic certainty, and yet we avoid them, hide from them and suffer in their wake, choosing to hang onto the idea that everything must stay, that we must turn away from endings of any kind, and from death for fear of becoming maudlin or pessimistic, and yet this denial of what is primarily life, creates so much pain.

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I believe that one of our primary greatest fears as human beings is of being insignificant, of disappearing, of life having meant nothing, of people carrying on without us. Life does exactly that you see, it carries on without us and that can be a bitter pill to swallow.

The razor sharp edges of communication are honed by dying” – Stephen said this last night whilst he was storytelling. It struck me like an arrow to my heart as did so much of what he said. Since being a child I have always felt such an innate fascination and connection with both language and words, and dying and the dead. Through my shamanic work I’ve been called to the aspect of work assisting souls to pass well in psychopomp practice, and through my other energy healing practices, I maintain a kind of knowing and connecting to other realms. I won’t go into that here, that’s not what this post is about, save to say it’s a connection I recognise somewhere deep in my soul, and Stephen’s work resonates and intrigues me; he intrigued me.

Combining exquisitely moving music from one solo musician with his own writings, Stephen captivates his audience. We were spellbound from start to finish; it was truly one of the most profound things I’ve ever witnessed. I’m glad I got to see him before the  progressive heart disease he spoke of takes him to meet his own end. He spoke of love, of truth, of the relegation of what we perceive as ‘darkness’ and the misinformed split between angels and daemons – he said “the heart of the night is just another form of light” and it is.

He counselled not to look too hard and let life become scrutiny, to let it remain a mystery. Let death inform your life, let not the fear of it rule it. Be candid about death – when did we lose our ability to marry candour and compassion in these things? When did the ignoring of death become something we applaud as life affirming. Stephen likened ignoring death to a pregnant woman saying that her pregnancy is not such a big part of her life; would we applaud that or understand that, or might we feel shocked and concerned to hear that? Did we lose our connection to our bodies and souls so much that all can be explained away, ignored as we push on and drive hard through life, and has the ‘light’ of positivity become segregated in the playground of life from the ‘darkness’ of a falsely perceived negativity? Death and dying aren’t something to ignore, they’re fucking omnipresent from the moment we are born! So how do we embrace what Stephen referred to as “the wretched loveliness of our crooked lives”? We embrace it all! We practice gratitude with conscious presence. We allow all and we refuse to separate light from dark, good from bad, as religion has done so successfully through time with grave consequences.

Dying well is a new way of living life, in the awareness of obeying its’ way of ending” – it’s inevitable, it’s profound and it is a mystery.

I will begin writing my rich and incredible life stories today; this wonderful man has shown me how important that is.

I will return to my love, to my curiosity around death, to my psychopomp work, and to assisting those who may be more fearful of living life because of attachment to it and our fear of dying.

I will explore once more what I started exploring two years ago, the practice of soul midwifery. There are some things your soul just knows. In the awareness of dying you “bring your life” to the table.

Becoming an elder is born of initiation, not age. It’s in the moment you realise none of this lasts, nothing is permanent, when you can accept that and allow it to pass through you painlessly and effortlessly just like a movie style ghost may pass through your physical body.  Live your life well and die well. Make your life count not because you fear disappearing (you will), and live it well not in spite of death, but because of it.

Stephen signed my book, looking me in the eye and telling me “the ancestors are here” (I wasn’t sure if he meant in general or in my case as he only said it to me). I’ve always felt them, in fact even my marriage cloak has the runic words ‘may the bones of my ancestors make me strong as I walk in their footsteps’ embroidered into the hood.

Stephen wrote:

“To Stephanie, would that the old worthies come down to the table, break the crystal and spill the best wine” (the old worthies are those ancestors). This simple note made sense of everything for me – life is not about ‘getting it right’, or ‘being perfect’, it’s about becoming comfortable with our imperfections, celebrating mess, not holding onto only the easy sides of life, but instead embracing the rich experiences of all of life, allowing it’s juicy, painful, bittersweet and wonderful stories to touch your soul. It’s about laughing joyfully and weeping sorrowfully sometimes in the face of life and nodding knowingly at death. It’s about consciousness and all that is.

“Somewhere in between right and wrong there is a garden, I will meet you there.” Jalaluddin Rumi

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Bliss Balls (not that kind…!)

18556132_10154402081381481_8446408233370599132_n(Almost) Raw Vegan Treats

So those who know me know I spend much of my life thinking about juicing, dreaming up recipes, exploring new flavours, developing recipes and more. Last night I actually woke at 3:00am with a whole new cleanse in my awareness and had to get up and write it down before the dream time evaporated taking the inspiration with it! Watch this space and check my website as it will be on there soon www.stephmagenta.com

Meantime, I also love to create raw treats, clean food recipes and generally enjoy pooling in my kitchen. I make this to go with customer juice cleanses for those who want a little sustenance with their cleansing, and they always go down well. They were a top seller in my juice bar Love Juice back in the day with very good reason…they taste amazing! These absolutely gorgeous beasts were posted on my instagram yesterday and I promised to share the recipe so here you go – enjoy xox

Makes approximately 21 balls:

500g organic dates

2 heaped tablespoons no palm oil organic peanut butter

3 tbsp organic tahini

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 heaped tbsp de-hulledvorganic hemp seeds

1 large tbsp organic maca powder

3 tbsp organic cacao powder

1 tbsp organic lucuma powder

2 tbsp organic chia seeds

1 tbsp alkaline water

pinch of Himalayan pink salt.

Place all ingredients into a kitchen food processor with a strong blade and mix until you have a sticky but firm ‘dough’ consistency. Roll into 38 gram balls and coat with extra de-hulled hemp, chia , or cacao powder. I prefer the hemp seed coating personally.

Beware – these are addictive!!!


Fight, Flight or Freeze…

neural_pathwaysWhat’s your relationship model?

I was recently in a conversation in an online group I’m involved with. It’s a truly nourishing support circle; I’m in 2 or 3 now and they always offer me food for thought and a chance to reflect on my habits, belief systems and core values. I get to be really heard in expressing who I am and what I feel, and to hear the different perspectives of others which is how we grow right? In one of those circles, we were discussing relationship patterns last week, it was our chosen topic – what have we learnt about ourselves in relationship? What patterns do we observe we may have and how can we learn from them so we don’t keep repeating them ad infinitum. Human beings love repetition it seems but some habits are habits we’ve built up over a lifetime, emerging from trauma or passed on through generation to generation in our families, and they’re habits that don’t actually serve us, more they limit us.

The image above shows a scan of the neural pathways in the brain (how beautiful it is!) and in there, we find the routes through which messages travel into our autonomic nervous system, and in particular our sympathetic nervous system, the one which governs our fight, flight or freeze responses.

Through this conversation in our group, one person expressed how they feel when uncomfortable or when they get triggered in their primary relationship; they go into ‘combat mode’, fight in other words. In that moment it struck me that my response has almost always been flight, so this began to intrigue me – what if we are all still really animalistic in our behaviour patterns in relationship? What if these responses apply to how we relate in all aspects of our lives, and not just in relation to where we are or what we’re doing? In other words, if we’re being chased by a sabre toothed tiger, flight would be a normal and healthy response, but if we’re emotionally vulnerable rather than physically, why does the same pattern kick in? My growing theory is that we all have one of these 3 patterns as a major driver, and that we’re actually not much different to our ancestors; we’re still fighting, fleeing or freezing in the wake of the perceived ‘danger’.

Saber-tooth-tiger

On reflecting more, I recognised that many people I speak with have adopted one of these coping strategies in their intimate relationships – we either go into combat, we flee, or we freeze. What this last one may look like in relationship is that we literally lose ourselves, we become frozen, no longer recognising ourselves in the middle of our relationship dramas or habits. We’re stuck and we have no idea how to unfreeze ourselves. I was always pretty good at maintaining my sense of self in relationship, so I don’t relate to this one so much, but I hear many people expressing that they do.

My enquiry has begun to intrigue me – what if we are actually way more animalistic and instinctive than we realise? What if those primal survival patterns are so deeply embedded in our DNA that they continue to drive us, making us blind to alternative options for coping in relationship. Is it a survival issue? Has relationship become the hunting ground of our time, and if so, how do we change that?

We communicate! We become willing to listen, to hear the other, to know our own triggers so well we can risk becoming vulnerable without freezing, fighting or fleeing the relationship zone, and instead opt to take responsibility. We develop a response ability! We adopt Marshall Rosenberg’s method (or other) of non violent communication and realise we don’t have to take everything personally, to continually react, and instead, we may choose to listen, reflect and respond.  We adopt the willingness to listen to the perspective of our partners, friends, colleagues and more, and we change the habits.

Active-listening

When we do this, and I mean really do it, we know that our responses come not from a defensive place, but a place where we can find solutions, resolution and peace. We develop self awareness and become able to see another possibility open to us beyond the terrible trio of ‘fight, flight, freeze’ – we can now add in ‘free’. We are free to change the habits, we are free to listen and really hear, we are free to clear ancestral baggage, neolithic patterns and limiting relationship destroying behaviours, and surely that can only be a great thing? What are your thoughts?

29770a6


Radical Self Love

cropped-img_4352-e1491742248332.jpgHow to find it, keep it, and reflect it.

I’ve learned a great deal over the last 2 years. I’ve learned what it is to truly love myself, how to reflect that out into the world without even trying, and why I wasn’t doing that before!

Self love is a term we often hear, and although on the surface I thought I had it, my relationships were reflecting back to me that this couldn’t have been so. I’d been locked in 8 years of verbally abusive and emotionally gas lighting relationships and I didn’t even recognise how that was affecting me, or how that situation had come to be – I know now though and it’s simple; I didn’t love myself enough and so I called in relationships on a level that reflected back to me exactly what my own self worth was, and it wasn’t good.

Prior to this 8 year stint which I will call my self love schoolroom, I had been in a long term relationship (15 years) which was a pretty decent one in the grand scheme of things, and remains that way to date, so I’m not sure what happened and why I had to go back to ‘school’ to study more after that one ended! I guess it was part of my maturing process though because although the longer relationship had been a good one, and our separation was mutually agreed, I guess underneath the surface there was definitely some ‘stuff’ to look at, so I called in the teachers I needed, and I learnt the lessons the hard way.

So why do we stay in emotionally, verbally or physically abusive relationships? Why do we build co-dependency into our relationships rather than independently created mutual respect? In part it’s because firstly, mainstream media teaches us that it’s normal (look at the subtle and not so subtle violence in TV, news and the media). This creates a situation where we build a paradigm for relating that is deeply flawed, that creates a ‘normal’ that is unhealthy, that teaches us to tolerate crap rather than face the (unfounded) fear we will be left alone, and we learn to operate from fight, flight or freeze mode within our primary relationships. This modus operandi can be in love, in family dynamics, in work relationships and partnerships, or in friendships – when it comes to taking bulls**t we’re not just talking lovers, we’re talking across the board, and if you are putting up with this anywhere in your life, you’ll know it.

I often felt a deep inner sense of shame knowing my children could see and hear what I was accepting from these two ‘teachers’ (I call them that as they were showing me the path to radical self love even though I didn’t know it at the time). Dirt gets in through the cracks. Repeat something often enough and it becomes a belief, tell someone they’re worthless enough and despite their best denials, if there’s an unhealed wound there, somewhere inside them they will be hearing that message and believing it. So how do you stop this if you’re in it? You work damn hard on loving yourself first and foremost; you put your own oxygen mask on first! Oxygen mask

Without knowing how to recognise ‘danger’, without understanding how to help yourself, you cant possibly call in healthy relationship; you will either accept the scraps or you will co-create the problem, neither of which will see you thrive and grow.

So what can you do? You can listen to that inner voice, the one my mother (God rest her soul) told me you can never hide from. You can pay attention when that voice tells you this isn’t right, and you can ask for help if you don’t feel strong enough to change things by yourself. Shame keeps so many of us locked in shitty places. The thought others will judge us (we’re usually doing a great job of that ourselves), the thought we must be at fault, or unloveable so this will do, the thought that this is what life is actually about, and isn’t that just compromise? These are the kind of things keep us small, keep us stuck.

There’s a huge difference between compromise and being compromised. Know yourself well, love yourself hard, and if you don’t, then start working on it today – fake it till you make it but just do it! Nothing changes without your awareness, commitment and presence. Show up for yourself. Demand decent adult communication. Don’t let verbally abusive people keep saying ‘sorry’ after they’ve spent a ton of time telling you how worthless you are, name calling, shaming you in anger, or temper or hurting you over and over. We all get angry but abusing someone else in that anger is not okay, it really isn’t, and if you’re consistently doing that to someone else then don’t be surprised if that behaviour gives you a mighty snap back some time! Speak lovingly to yourself and then you can learn how to speak lovingly to others even when challenged, disagreeing or triggered. Speak lovingly to yourself until you recognise your own deep self worth.

Life has a habit of mirroring back to us our own self talk – what’s yours saying?