The Dark Side of the Light Keepers

Living with depression is not easy. I mean, no chronic illness is easy to live with; but depression doesn’t always show “physical” symptoms. So when you tell someone you have an illness, they are looking for obvious symptoms. It’s not always easy for me to tell people when I am feeling depressed. I have been masking it most of my life, its what I have become used to. I mean, sure, I will tell someone “hey if I seem quite or off its because I am going through a bad bout of depression,” and they either get or they don’t. I have gotten so good at crying in the bathroom at work, or pretending my contacts are bothering me when people ask me if I am ok because my eyes are puffy and red from secretly crying. I have become so good at telling people I am not feeling good when I get asked to hang out because telling people that my brain has decided to crap out on me is easier.

I have been fortunate enough that my last two employers understood what was going on and allowed me time off when I just…well…when I just couldn’t. When I felt that getting out of bed wasn’t worth it. When all I wanted to do was sit in my pj’s on the couch and cry my eyes out for no goddamned reason.

But it still doesn’t make having depression easier. I have become really good at hiding the darkness within my light on a daily basis. I have depression all the time, but some days…or weeks…its worse than others. But I try, damned hard, to push the light through. Its hard for people to understand….that there is a dark side to the light keepers.

I have one of the most bubbly, cheerful, happiest personalities. I LOVE my life. I LOVE myself. I worked hard to get to where I am…and now that I am finally here…I could not be happier. A great partner, awesome family, great job, beautiful home, a great wellness practice, my dancing, my coven…everything I have dreamed of is now a reality. But that reality includes the fact that I live with a mental illness. An illness that sometimes, despite KNOWING I am happy, makes me feel like some dark storm is enveloping me and will not  GO AWAY.

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I AM A LIGHT KEEPER. I hold the love and bliss that the Universe has given me deep within my soul and heart. But sometimes its hard to keep the darkness at bay. People have a hard time understanding—depression makes you sad FOR NO REASON. Despite being a light keeper…..my brain likes to let the darkness in. Its like fighting a battle of good and evil on a daily basis…and sometimes the good will come and last for weeks. Other times, the darkness wins and eats the light until the light can finally get enough courage to battle again.

And its EXHAUSTING. I am constantly exhausted. In addition to the depression–the anxiety that goes along with it!? Imagine being in a grocery store and having to leave a full cart of food in the middle of the aisle because you are having a panic attack so bad you feel like your heart is going to come out of your throat! I have!!!

But through it all…I still manage to hold onto the light and push forward. This was the deck of cards I was handed and its the deck of cards I am going to play with for the rest of my life. And if I have learned anything, its that Light Keepers have a pretty good poker face when it comes to playing with depression.

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Cominando: The Walker

I believe, truly, in cosmic intervention–even when said intervention comes in the form of disruption, chaos, deceit and selfishness. Sometimes cosmic intervention–is not kind and circumstances arise that literally force you onto the path The Universe wants you to take. But when The Universe decrees something–it is to be so. The Universe works on its own terms and has its own methods. And even though you know you are going to make a change, The Universe will make the change happen when it is supposed to happen–not when you want it  to happen. So yes, its good to make plans, but not concrete ones, because they are always apt to change.

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One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the past few weeks is that, when you have nothing to lose–it’s often the BEST time for changes. You do not need to hit “rock bottom” or be irresponsible to have nothing to lose. But when you realize that you have exhausted yourself — spiritually, physically and mentally— that’s when you realize that you have nothing to lose.

I realized that I had nothing to lose a few months ago. I was in a job that was going nowhere, not happy  with my living situation, and was feeling spiritually fatigued. My loves and hobbies did not give me the joy that they once had. We were planning on moving in August, but then, The Universe decreed it was time for us to go now. It wasn’t a pleasant, and it left me feeling a lot of anger and hatred toward several people (something I have finally gotten over after realizing you can not change a person–or people–and that sometimes cosmic intervention comes in unpleasant forms). We decided, it was time to go.

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I decided to literally up root myself. After living in the same place for most of my life, I decided that in order for me to reconnect with everything important to me, I needed to move forward–take a leap of faith– close my eyes–and free fall. We packed our stuff in 2 weeks, found an apartment and decided to move cross-country to Flagstaff, Arizona. As most of you know, I had a profoundly deep experience when I went to Sedona, AZ in 2014. It was the first time in my life that I was somewhere where I felt that I belonged. And so here we are….

I am starting a whole new life. Like a flower that has been uprooted, I am being replanted in a bigger space with love, life and the ability to blossom like I have never done before. I am walking a new path, in a new place, filled with new bright adventures. Reinventing myself. Cracking out of the egg. Flying out of the cocoon. I feel–free.

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And of course it doesn’t come without fears. Fear is normal. I am starting from scratch, a whole new life. And it scares me. But of course, I know if it was not meant to be The Universe would not have delivered it right now. But it did.

Taking leaps of faith are scary. But with a leap of faith–only new beginnings can occur.

So if you have nothing to lose–I highly recommend….closing your eyes, free-falling and taking that leap. There is no backward..you can never go back. Only forward.

Why Weaving Serpent???

I started using “WEAVING SERPENT” when I first started teaching out of my home studio in 2007. It was my “dance studio” name. I picked it because I like the idea of “weaving.” Snakes, of course, are also my totem animal–and they themselves represent change, rebirth and renewal.

At the time, I was a Fusion Belly Dancer. It meant that I took bits and pieces of dance styles (African, hip hop, flamenco, etc.) and “fused” them together into a belly dance performance. Ultimately, it’s what I taught my students and my troupe.

The name just stuck.

Since I was 13, I have studied most major ancient societal cultures, religions and beliefs, Hinduism, Shamanism, Buddhism, Wicca, Christianity, Vodou, Gnosticism, Metaphysics, etc. You name it and I have had at one point in my life spent months reading about the subject. Over the past 20 years, while I always considered myself “neo-pagan” ~ I began to find that my spirituality started to evolve by taking bits and pieces of what I studied over the past 20 years and creating something of my own. We literally have altars in our home to nearly EVERY spiritual belief system in our home. I always joke with people who if they ever need a prayer answered but are not sure who to go or what to believe, to come to our house–someone will listen!

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With that said, I began to call myself “pan-spiritual” ~ I believe in everything and nothing.

Which brings me to why I kept Weaving Serpent–and why I have used it for my wellness business “Weaving Serpent Wellness.”

I weave together different aspects of my spiritual studies from various spiritual groups to create a healing methodology. Its like having a very large basket with a bunch of stuff to pull out whenever you need it. I am a weaver. I like to weave. And I believe every religion and every form of spirituality has something to offer. And that, it does not mean that you can only believe in ONE thing–or that there is only ONE truth. All spirituality has the same concepts: love, harmony peace, well-being and kindness to others. I pick and choose what works for me and weave it into my spiritual practice.

It’s a nice way to go about evolving, because just when you think you have learned everything—-something new comes along that demands your attention! And its nice to not feel restricted to “one idea” ~ when you can become a giant melting pot-then you can understand the importance weavers have in the way the world works…after all….we are all weaving the same web!

Instantaneous Spiritual Awakenings…..

~*Out of respect for those who have positive experiences or believe in the power of ayahuasca, I am omitting names of both people, groups and shamans from this post. Everyone has their opinion and this is solely mine. I know many people who have had life changing experiences and I respect and honor that.*~

Last year, while I was deep in depression and anxiety issues, I started hearing more and more about the magical plant “ayahuasca.” For those unfamiliar with it, I will sum it up this way: It’s a plant from the nightshade family and contains DMT. Done in small doses by a genuine Shaman, ayahuasca is meant to bring a profound and cathartic spiritual awakening. To quote someone who had taken the trip to Peru to try magical plant “its like psychotherapy on steroids.”

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I really needed something to shake me out of the funk that I was in. Drowning in depression, I began to learn more and more about this magical herb, which, if taken correctly is non-addictive (though illegal in the US). I am a deeply spiritual person, and felt that part of my depression was caused by a lack of spiritual communion. I went from daily routine to nothing. At the time, it felt though someone had taken my soul and left a void. I began to meet more and more people who had taken the ayahuasca journey with great success. I thought about it, sought out retreats (most of which are in the middle of Peru) and started making plans to go on a journey and take this magical plant.

After a few months, I began to notice more and more stories and retreats popping up. I know the idea that when you are aware of something you see it more, so initially I thought that was it. But the more people I met in the spirituality community the more I learned that ayahuasca was and is, becoming a new fad for the Westerners. Primarily because most Westerners think by traveling into the jungles of Peru and drinking a concoction of magical herbs and plants, they will receive instantaneous spiritual awakenings.

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When things become a “fad” its more than likely going to start turning into something that is not what its original intentions were. And that is what I began to see happening. More and more people taking ayahuasca…more and more “shamans” available. When I initially looked into retreats, there were maybe 2 or 3–now there are a dozen. Who is to say that the people you are working with are “genuine” ~ Additionally, there are very small groups who perform ayahuasca rituals in the U.S. – and to become part of the group you need to know someone who knows someone. A completely underground world.

The other thing I had begun to notice were those who were painting or drawing the ayahuasca visions–were all drawing nearly the same exact imagery. If there is supposed to be a personal spiritual experience during the hallucinations-why were all these people creating the same imagery. Additionally, some of the people were already using recreational drugs, so ayahuasca was just another “spirit journey” for them. And some of these people still had pent-up residual psycho-social issues. So their contrary words of the power of ayahuasca had really not changed them, aside from taking them on a trip.

Now, I am not saying that this occurs all the time. I know many people who are in a good state of mind and have had magical and transformative experiences with the drug. And I am also not saying that specific drugs, like peyote, under the guidance of a genuine shaman (one who has spent years studying plants) can not bring about a spiritual experience. I do believe in the proper hands, specific hallucinogens and ritual can create a deeply moving experience.

However, my thoughts are this. I believe most Westerners are looking for instantaneous spiritual awakenings. We live in a world where it is a get in now mentality. You can download music rather than go to store, order items on-line and have them the next day. There is no waiting or working. So rather than spend the years that are involved in spiritual atunement, they turn to a “quick” method of spiritual awakening. I have been working on my spiritual path for 20 years. And I am still learning. Spending thousands of dollars to spend time in a jungle to drink something – or finding an underground group who participates in ayahuasca circles, is not going to bring a lasting spiritual experience.

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A spiritual awakening is something you continually have to work on and maintain. And it doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen by smoking or drinking a hallucinogenic. Sure these may “open your mind,” but you get the same effect from deep meditation and relaxation techniques. Or via ecstatic dance and drumming. I believe the people who do have the instant spiritual awakenings are those who have had near death experiences. Only because they have been to the other side and back. They have a new perspective on life.

If you want to become more spiritual you have to spend years working on it. You have to find your ebb and flow. You have to awaken your souls journey and take the long and arduous steps to get there.

There is no such thing as an instantaneous spiritual awakening,

Turn The Light On

Living with depression is hard. And well, people don’t get it. I cant tell you how many times I have heard people say, “why are you depressed? you have a job, a good man, money?” Trying to explain to them that the depression is not due to “outside” things but more inside things is nearly impossible. So I don’t talk about it much to friends and family, unless I know they really truly understand.

My depression seemed to be under control. Now it feels like I am crawling up the rabbit hole once again. Its obvious my medication is no longer working. Which makes me feel more depressed-if only because my primary care provider has recommended I see a psychiatric nurse since she can no longer help me. So, cry, sleep (when my anxiety is not feeding my insomnia), eat little are pretty much my days now until I get put on something new and start all over. Of course, in public, at work, I have my happy face on. But as soon as I get in the car—I start crying. I smile through a thousand tears. I smile through unexplained sadness and pain. Its hard, knowing you have everything you could need in life, but your brain decides to make you feel sad and miserable just because. While I am a non-traditionalist wild woman, sometimes…I wish my brain would be normal. I wish I could wake up and not feel like doom and gloom. 

 

So why am I writing this post—when most of my other posts are about happiness, joy, spirituality and self love? Because the light cant always be on.

I am an intuitive empath. I have helped so many people with my gift. And I am also a healer via movement and dance. But, sometimes even my light switch gets turned off and I am left standing in the dark. And that’s not always an easy thing to accept. I know I am not a failure. And I know this illness is not my fault—–but when I feel this low, its hard to believe that I am anything else. In my heart I know this is not true–in my head its a fact. 

I think being a spiritual person with depression and anxiety is very difficult. We are truly wounded healers. We have to experience both sides–oddly enough–so we can help others. Even when I feel crappy, I like helping others. I struggle with feeling that connection to The Universe–but find when I am down its nearly impossible to see anything but the darkness.  And that hurts. 

Healers cant always have the light switch on. Sometimes our dimmers get turned down and then we switch into darkness. Temporary of course. But we cant always be “on,” despite our deepest desire to be so.

Can Shamans Hate? **SENSITIVE TOPIC**

Well, yes we canShould we? No.

I wrote a similar post to this after the Boston Marathon Bombings. I am writing this because today a beautiful woman who was murdered got justice. Her family (who I am friends with) have some peace of mind knowing her killer is behind bars for the rest of his life.

I write this because, well, it needs to be said. I had a friend die young 9 years ago from “unknown causes” but was in a heavily abusive relationship prior to her passing. When she died–I felt so many emotions. She was young. Had her whole life ahead of her..and then she was gone. I went through the stages of grief, but I remember feeling so angry. It didn’t need to happen. Why would The Universe do that?

Hate is an emotion. Anger is an emotion. They are not necessarily attached to one another. You can be angry-and not hate. When you hate something it means you have an emotional attachment to it—and if you have an emotional attachment to it-it means you care about it. It matters to you. And it could be a person, place or thing. The spiritual question then is,”if you are on a spiritual path to love all–how can you prevent anger and hatred?” You cant. You are human. It’s natural to be angry with things-so angry you hate them. But….

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It’s not healthy. Sending out negative energy and emotions will fall on you.You are only keeping that emotional poison within-in yourself. And when you do that, whomever, or whatever it is, that you are having those negative emotions towards–they have power over you. Whether you like it or not, when you hate, you surrender your power to another. The more negative energy you send out–the more it will come back to you. Even justified anger. Even “justified hate.” The Universe doesn’t want you to feel those emotions. And it sure doesn’t want you to lose your spiritual and personal power to someone who hurt you or your loved ones. To make something/someone matter so much that they own your emotions–its only damaging yourself.

Now…..onto something else.

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The Universe is all about balance. Good and bad. Light and dark. It’s all about making sure everything is held in harmony. Everything–every person–we are linked. We are all destined to meet certain people, go certain places and do certain things.

**Please note that what I am about to say does not mean that I think murderers, rapists, etc. are “justified.” They will have to live with their consequences of their actions, the karma that follows and The Universe will ensure that balance is restored.**

When we are born, we are born with a specific karma–and specific bits of webs that we spend our entire life sending out to attach–even if temporarily–to another person. People have asked me, “why do bad things happen to good people,” ~ and my answer is “you can’t control someone else’s destiny.” When someone is murdered–it obviously doesn’t make sense to those left behind. But, the destiny of those two people were already entwined before they came to this Earth. Why?

Perhaps that person had to leave this planet that specific way, to ensure that the person who did the crime doesn’t hurt anyone else. Or that they had to break a cycle of karma. Or someone-friend or family left behind from the tragedy–will create something so powerful to give to others.

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Yes, I know, it doesn’t make sense. But I don’t believe The Universe takes without giving.

I know a lot of people will disagree with me, and that is fine. Through my experiences with death–planned or unplanned–young and old.

I truly believe that everyone who passes suddenly–violently or not– crosses into the Other World with known reason that they have created some higher purpose for those they left behind. The persons spirit was here to assist and teach others a lesson–whether about the power of love, and healing–the power of community–the power of resiliency. When they pass, the leave this Earth, and those who touched them, with a deeper purpose. Those left behind are now set back onto their journey with a reason to continue–for they know now truly–that life is short and has meaning. Those spirits they left us, have finished their task–and now they guide us from the other side.

And with that–I light a candle-say a prayer and send out love, healing and positive energy to all those who have lost someone suddenly. Know that the person is guiding your journey–holding your hand–and giving you wisdom from the after life.

 

 

Community Turf

My partner and I were sitting outside drinking coffee one morning, watching people in the neighborhood walking by. Mindless and in their own space. When we go for a walk and see neighbors, we realize that no one says “hi” to each other anymore. Then we both realized that we live in a cultural society where no one talks to each other. The days of asking a neighbor for cup of milk or knowing how their family are doing is well over. No one bothers to get to know the people who live right next door.

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We recently had an incident where we were outside drumming in the middle of the day. Something we do often. When suddenly a neighbor who we hardly see or speak to, stormed up our steps and very rudely told us to “cut the shit” because he was tired of listening to us. And….if he had to come over to our property again to tell us to stop then there wold be trouble. We are drummers and musicians. I am a performer. Drumming and dancing outside is what we do. We were not loud. We were not playing drums in the middle of the night. We were doing what we do every weekend. Enjoying the weather and the earth beneath our feet. The fact that this man felt it necessary to become so hostile to us when we don’t even know each-other just frankly pissed me off. Mind you, he has no issue with landscapers mowing his lawn at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Had he actually opened a dialogue with us (for instance, your drumming maybe to loud, rather than threatening us) he would have learned who were are and what we do. It would have opened up a bridge for communication. Naturally, my partner decided later to kill with kindness and go over and talk to the guy, who ended up, eventually, apologizing and opening up a conversation. We had to have a forced dialogue because of hostility and lack of knowing one another and respecting one another. In other words, my turf is my turf – and even if you live on your own turf – you are affecting my turf and well—fuck you.

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We are all individual cells. We all do our own thing. Introverts, extroverts–we go about our business on a daily basis doing what we as individuals need to do. The thing we all forget is that despite the fact that we are individual cells, we are also part of a larger organism. The organism of humanity.

There no longer exists in modern society–a sense of community. The individual cells stay separate-only connecting when its necessary-and for no other reason. Not to celebrate. Not to communicate. Not to reach out. Unlike tribal societies that celebrate the ups and downs of their communities; who function as a whole unite while maintaining individuality; and who have assigned roles that contribute to the whole–we would rather just turn our face away and ignore each other.

There is no community. The word community in modern society should be termed “community turf.”

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The “communities” that do exist in modern society are often broken and covered in a falsifying fog. There is always “leader” in the community, and that leader, whether consciously or not, generates the energy that will flow into the specific populace they have created. The issue then becomes one of control and isolation. If you don’t fit in to their idea of “community” then you are not a part of it.Often times the “head” of the community is someone who thinks they are doing something great, but in essence, they are trying to work out their own issues, dragging others into their mire.  The sheep will follow. Like attracts like. Even in the “best” communities there are those who think they can do it better.

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The problem then becomes, what about these individual cells? The ones who don’t fit into a community because they see the whole organism rather than separate pieces?  We gravitate to those individuals cells but never root ourselves into a community. We are the floaters. We wander but never ground ourselves in. Is it a bad thing? Maybe. But sometimes being a floater means realizing that there are things wrong in society. And lack of communication, friendship, reaching out and knowing one another only separates the cells further and further away.

But until we are able to be like tribal communities in other parts of the world, the sense the human organism becoming whole will never happen.