Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Goldenrod - Summer's Last Sun

Green Witch's Herbal Wisdom

Goldenrod – Summer’s Last Sun

Goldenrod is the last burst of sun in the summer, as summer turns to fall and leaves fall from tress and nature begins her slow retreat inward.

Goldenrod – Botanical name Solidago – sol meaning sun - is quite appropriately named. We see her by the roadsides and often think of her as a common weed. Some who suffer from allergies mistake her as a culprit, but that’s her companion ragweed. She’s insect, not wind pollinated like ragweed who brings so much suffering to those with allergies and hayfever.

This summer I made a tincture of goldenrod’s flowering tops after listening to herbalist Rosemary Gladstar speak at the Northeastern Women’s Herbal Conference about goldenrod being a remedy for SAD (seasonal affective disorder). My original intention for the tincture was to support a friend’s daughter who was living in Scotland and was struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder during her the long dark rainy days in Edinburgh.

Today, I decanted the tincture I had made in vodka and sat with goldenrod while she spoke to me and told me about her healing properties. The tincture came out yellow and had a sunny sweet taste to it, true to her name.

I mused back on my journey in the hills of Vermont, harvesting this beautiful yellow weed. I was lucky enough to find an entire field of nothing but goldenrod. In this field, I noticed a surprisingly large percentage of the plants had a bulbous mass in the stem where it looked like the plant had swallowed something, sort of like a snake after eating a mouse or rabbit – bulging grotesquely at the sides of what would normally be a svelt and slender body. Goldenrod, I discovered, after dissecting this bulbous mass on her stem and doing my own research, was often host to many beneficial insects including wasps that lay eggs in her stem, giving them the bulbous, goiter-like appearance. The wasps then feed on some of the more harmful insects like mites that may be a nuisance to the plant. Smart plant ;) No wonder goldenrod makes space for them!

In speaking with goldenrod this afternoon as I decanted her, she was very chatty and was thrilled she was being put to use as most people don’t know about all her powerful healing properties. Goldenrod enjoys being used as an infusion or tincture. She’s a blood cleaner and circulatory enhancer. Goldenrod infusions and tinctures support the kidneys in flushing toxins from the body and tonify and support the natural balance and function of a healthy bladder. A bit obvious, but I remember this by her yellow flowers that are the color of urine when I haven’t been drinking enough water. She balances the bladder bringing on urination if there is trouble urinating and balancing excessive urination by holding the blueprint for a healthy bladder. She can also be taken when there is an infection in the bladder or kidneys to help clear and realign our natural flow and healthy inner watery balance.

Goldenrod’s flowers make a beautiful natural dye and you can use her dried flowers and foliage in sachets in your linen closets and dresser drawers to keep clothes smelling fresh. You can also smoke her dried herb to give a deep rushing opening to the heart and lungs – think flinging open shutters on a dank dusty attic and welcoming in warmth and sun light. In her fresh state she makes a wonderful bouquet to brighten any heart and home.

UPDATE one month later....

As an herbalist there's always that incredulous part of me that asks "Does this really work? Really??" Over the holidays, like many, I sank into a depression, the long dark days, the over extended holiday schedule, the absence of daylight and the mugginess in New York without the invigorating cold behind it. Goldenrod kept calling to me form the corner of my apartment and I kept waving my hands at her and saying I didn't need her I'd get to her later. Finally after a few days of moping lethargy I finally picked her up and took a dropper full. Is this really going to work, I thought unscrewing the cap to the tincture. I put a dropper full of tincture on my tongue and swallowed and it was literally like taking a mouth full of sunshine into my body. My entire demeanor head to toe changed. I thanked Goldenrod, mostly for her patience and not telling me I told you so after she had been calling to me for two weeks.

As we come up on the holidays and darker days, call on goldenrod as an ally. She's so excited to be here with you. Can't find goldenrod in your health food store? Drop me a line - sensualshaman@gmail.com I have a few extra tinctures available for $11 each.

Green Witch Blessings!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Path of the Green Witch

Smoking sweet grass filled the air as a line of women walked in procession adorned in flowing skirts and ribboned crowns. We processed in order of age, Susun Weed, the elder and High Priestess of our group led us in chant, as our bare feet meditated on each step through the forest, connecting us deeper into the Earth Mother’s embrace. I, at the back of the line of women, the youngest, Susun at the front, the eldest - we bookended between us generations of mothers and daughters holding a space for a whole healed planet and the wisdom of nature to unfold within each of us. This was the culmination of a seven month herbal apprenticeship, an experience that in its rewards, hardship and transformation are one of two of the most life-changing and soul-inspiring journeys of my life – (the other being my five year apprenticeship with a Celtic Priestess.) We walked deeper into the forest to Hecate’s crossroad’s, a trident road that forked into three directions. Susun asked us to choose wisely and decisively which path we would walk and in making that decision to not look back.

We chose the left path, the path of feminine initiation, which led us to the sacred mesa. We walked up the granite nature made stone steps, to the mossy bank where the altar of Artemis resided. Susun whispered into our ears as we passed the gateway onto the mesa “From woman you are born. Into this circle you are born again through this group of women.” She sealed each invocation with a kiss - each of us passing through the gateway. Susun called the sacred corners and elements and looked to me being the youngest to call the above and future generations as she called the ancestry and the ancient ones . We when connected to the sacred center and called in our individual wisdom and power to connect with the power and wisdom of the group, initiating a beautiful matrix of connection among, nature, ourselves, each other.

We then met in the direction of the Sun as Susun initiated us as Green Witches on the path of the Wise Woman. When our inner voice guided us, we each rose and stepped forward into the direction of the Sun, where we made our commitment to the path of the green witch.

The Green Witch is one who communicates directly with the plants, and one who knows and remembers how to speak directly to nature. She is one who slows down enough to hear the voices of the plants and to remember their songs and to entrain to their energetic imprints for healing of herself, her family, her community. The Green Witch is a Wise Woman who knows healing in her whole body because she is entrained to the healing energy of the Earth, elements and nature. She shares information freely and lives in the Earth’s natural state of abundance. The Green Witch is in a stand for the Earth, as the Earth stands for her.

As we spoke our commitment to the group, Susun painted our right big toenail green reminding us now every step we take is that of a Green Witch. We closed dancing Widdershins around the altar of Artemis and singing the song of women as we released the elements, the center, the above and below. As we came, so we returned, through the forest, processing, a line of witches, barefoot, ribbons in our hair, one green toenail, to reconnect the wisdom of the plants to the world once again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Angry Mama Grizzly

Last night, my Fall Sensual Shaman Immersion group completed the Animal Spirit Immersion where we met and entrained to our animal spirit energy and explored its place in nature. On being guided to the under world, my native American roots took over and I found myself in nature around a sacred grotto that I had visited several times in real life. I was wearing tan buckskin and wore a quiver and held a bow. I had long plaited hair in braids and a tan muscular woman’s body. I dove through the watery grotto until I came to a secret cave where I surfaced. Pulling myself out of the water, I rested on the ledge of the cave peering back and my reflection. I washed my hair and plaited braids in the water feeling eyes watching me from a dark recess within the cave. I stood and walked toward the eyes and asked my power animal to reveal itself to me. Ferocious jaws and a roaring mouth and fierce eyes came into focus as a female grizzly bear stepped out of the darkness three inches away from my face. That can’t be right, I thought. I journey with spiders, snakes, lions, horses. A grizzly???

“This will be interesting,” I thought. I asked again and the grizzly roared. I entrained myself to her and welcomed her into my body, my spine and her spine aligning. Our ancient brains merged and I awakened to a deep animal knowing within. Within the Immersion group our animal clan awakened and moved through space together which included an eel, wolf, leopard, two eagles, mama grizzly and homo habilis. In meditation, mama grizzly spoke to me – “Take ownership of your ferocious protective mother energy.” I moved through the animal kingdom pondering her medicine. Grizzly’s destroy anything that portents to threaten her cubs. I realized that with all my new age-y non-violent communication training and Earth mama compassion, I found myself at times apologizing for ferocious feelings of protection for those I loved. The New Age-y Rainbow clan 'love your brother and sister' way of being, can sometimes program even the useful inner fight out of even the compassionate warrior.

Seeing dear friends and loved ones in disastrous relationships, or self-inflicted pain cycles, I had trained myself to stand aside and support where they were, which often reinforced and enabled these pain cycles to continue, when a deeper inner roar was actually present that my soul desired to express. I found myself this past week listening and watching as a close friend of mine agonized over a former lover become emotionally available to her again and again. I also watched while another friend of mine newly exploring polyamory at her husband’s persistent demands, struggle with her husband’s tantrums when she found someone she wanted to connect with on an intimate level. I remember during both of these conversations, an inner savage protectiveness rose up in me. “Hurt my friend again and you’re lunch,” I thought silently. Then I would smooth out these inner brutal impulses with reprogrammed thinking of “honor where my friend and her relationships and lovers and that pain as necessary teaching experiences. Support and love are medicine.” Mama grizzly wants to destroy those that threatens her family but she also wants to slap her cubs upside the head and say “What are hell are you doing? Why are you tolerating a situation that supports less than your most magnificent, radiant self-expression?” To my tribe, you may get slapped upside the head this week. Know that it’s my deepest expression of love. Today, mama grizzly says “I love you and I have no apologies.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Deeply Inspiring Naturism Video

Below is a link to a deeply inspiring short film on Naturism. Please enjoy!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Naked Yoga Speaks

Below is the winning essay of the Naked Yoga - Share Your Story Contest. I was deeply moved and inspired by the poetry, openness and philosophy of Lloyd. Please enjoy.

Norse and Slovak DNA directed the construction of my body 60 years ago after the union of my father’s seed with my mother’s ready egg. That early body suffered involuntary circumcision, a diet of processed and preserved foods, and obligatory church on Sunday dressed in the most uncomfortable clothing available. To compensate I spent a lot of time outdoors, at least until TV became popular enough to replace fun.

With the Sixties came new and interesting ideas from the East, yoga among them. My puberty dawned with the Age of Aquarius and my budding sexuality neatly parallels my education in yoga. Both began with a book.

Neither sex nor yoga should be learned from a book, but that was all we had. In my world depictions of sex and nudity were harshly censored. Today a young person can find pictures of naked people and sex acts. In 1965, we couldn’t. Sex education used no realistic illustrations, let alone that most powerful of all learning tools: the hands-on demonstration.

The anxiety I felt during Mr. Boydston’s 7th grade health class description of the process is still vivid. “The male inserts the penis into the female vagina. He performs a rocking motion until ejaculation occurs.” Insert tab A into slot B? Rocking motion? My god! I’ve been doing it wrong! What if I can’t get it right when I have to do this for real with my wife? What if she laughs at me?

It wasn’t until I saw my first explicit sex film in 1970 that I realized that sex would be fun and easy. And wouldn’t it have saved us all a lot of angst and bother if Mr. Boydston could have just shown us a clip in the first place?

My first book on yoga was fascinating but had no illustrations. It emphasized breathing and meditation rather than asanas. When I chanced upon a magnificent book by B. K. S. Iyengar, richly illustrated with actual photos of the yogi himself, I finally had something tangible to imitate. The breathing and meditation would come later, but a picture of an asana is worth a thousand OMs.

In college – at a Catholic university no less – I took my first yoga class the same year I advanced from sexual observer to participant. The teacher wove breathing and meditation into the asanas and the parts became whole. The teacher explained that yoga should be done in a sacred, calm place (we met in the chapel). She recommended wearing comfortable, loose clothing but then said, “Of course, it is best to wear nothing at all.” To this day I regret withholding the obvious question: “Then why aren’t we wearing nothing at all?”

Indeed, why do we wear clothes? For protection and decoration, to be sure, but why modesty? Is the body evil? Is self-disgust virtuous? Why do we hide for shame and punish people for the heinous crime of being seen naked? Why is there even a word for naked as a special condition? Why should activities naturally done naked require a special moniker? There are “nudists” but no “clothists”. There is “skinny dipping” but no “swimsuit dipping.” Why do we say “naked yoga” but not “clothed yoga?” It should go without saying that yoga is done naked unless otherwise modified.

Naked yoga has helped me in some measure to repair the damage that society’s body shame inflicted. I now not only feel completely normal when naked, I feel that way in the company of others. I now regularly enjoy mixed nude recreation such as the sauna, hot tubbing, skinny dipping, clothing-optional beaches and nudist parks. When everybody has their clothes off, it’s like nobody does.

But naked yoga offers more than mere recreation. The inward focus of yoga opens awareness. The constant chatter of the external world, mostly through the eye and ear gates, crowds out input from the nose, the tongue, the skin and the internal organs. That smothering of the senses is made worse when we truss our bodies up, preventing normal contact with air, sun and water. The wash of sensory feedback is necessary for our grounding, our orientation in the physical world. Indeed, a sense of self could not be possible apart from the framework of the environment, the non-self.

So naked yoga is the optimal way to enhance sensory feedback. It strengthens self-awareness and enriches the experience of social nude recreation. With the practice of naked yoga I’ve resolved over recent years to spend a little time out of doors naked every day. Others have joined me, one by one.

On an evening nude swim in a beautiful but public lake where nudity is technically unlawful, one of my fellow spirits noted that even if we told our colleagues what we do, they still wouldn’t believe it. We are exceptional – healthier, brighter, stronger, more beautiful – because we make decisions and act where others won’t. Courage defines us.

We are of the new old religion, the religion of Olympus. We are demigods, human children of divine origin. Not disembodied spirits; we are flesh, blood and bone that give rise to a brain that supports the soul, fanned by the spirit – the prana – of life-giving oxygen. Our cosmology is inverted, bottom upwards. The spirit arises from the soul, produced by the brain as an inseparable part of the body. Naked yoga links all three in perfect harmony. Naked yoga is the spade with which we dig ourselves free from the mud, wash ourselves, stretch our limbs and revel in our beauty.

But it takes courage. Just because you’re a god, doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at it.

~ Lloyd

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Woman's Body ~ Nature's Body

Woman’s Body ~ Nature’s Body

Paradise. Absolute Paradise. Those were the only words when thinking back on my day at Rock Lodge that were adequate to describe my experience and all to brief visit to this magical sanctuary. “Packing light?” my husband joked with me as I put my sarong, towel and hat in my canvas beach bag. Conspicuously missing a swimsuit, I smiled. I had been wanting to visit Rock Lodge all summer – a naturist paradise. Beautiful lake, scenic hiking trails, wildlife and nature in abundance and the option to be absolutely clothing free. I had offered to teach a yoga class at 11:30am that day and after a few wrong turns on my adventure there, I arrived just in time for the class. I was joy-filled to see wonderful yogis in the class as old as 70 and as young as 7 each celebrating their body and the spirit of yoga sans clothes. In my yoga practice thus far, naked yoga had been about consciously removing clothes, the identities behind them, finding a new deeper layer of freedom that isn’t generally available in the rushed metropolis of New York life. Now I was faced with a group of people who already had that layer of freedom. There was no disrobing ceremony. These powerful group were already uncompartmentalized, in celebration of their body, loved yoga and wore whatever clothes at Rock Lodge that felt appropriate in the present moment. Sitting, meditating, Om-ing with this community, I thought – heaven is truly here on earth. This is what a world looks like without violence.

Talking over a potluck supper that evening with my host Sandy, he mentioned of one young woman – 18 years old, a budding opera singer and regular at Rock Lodge since she was 11. ‘She will never have an eating disorder’ Sandy said very frankly to me over our potluck. ‘When one grows up with body love and acceptance in all shapes and sizes and sees their parents embrace that, one never feels the need to alter who they are.’ I knew exactly what he spoke of. I envied this young woman who had been in paradise at 11 while I grew up struggling with body issues from pre-teen to adolescence. I stared at this young woman at all the women at Rock Lodge and was overwhelmed to tears with gratitude that a place like this existed on the planet. I recalled instantly, like moving through a memory box of pictures, the snapshots of shame I had felt in body from a young age – my rejection of wearing shorts in middle school because of my perceived ugly legs, walking out of a room backwards after making love with a college sweetheart so he couldn’t see my ass and thighs that I thought were unsightly, feeling the self-judgement and loathing of my body the first time I was naked in public as the young French boy I was dating stripped encouraged me to join he and his friends in the skyclad hottub as I tried to hide myself and my shame under the darkening night.

Now during my paradise day trip to Rock Lodge, after swimming across the lake twice, I pulled myself up onto a dock in the middle of the lake and sprawled flat on my stomach ass and thighs completely exposed to the sun, the elements, the community with not a twinge of shame in my body. No thought of hiding, concealing, judging what my body should and shouldn’t look like. Here was the quite ecstasy of one-nesss. I hiked. I swam. I talked with old and new friends. I bared myself to the world. I marveled at a young Israeli mother and her seven year old daughter who practiced side crow pose on the swim deck naked as a… crow ;) Accompanied with her mother, an accomplished yogi practicing next to her, I saw what my body would have been like if I had the muscle memory to both be in side crow and to be naked publicly free of shame at seven years old and wondered what my life would have looked like if that support had come from my mother and if I had grown up with a mother who loved her body instead of loathed it. I wondered for sometime what our world would look like if mothers taught and modeled for their daughters that their bodies were both sacred and shame free. It would be in blood. It wouldn’t be something we would have to search for, starve ourselves for, we would simply be in it, naked in nature, in side crow, in love of our bodies.

I recently re-read Eve Ensler’s The Good Body. Eve has created a world wide campaign to stop violence against women since 1998 with her play The Vagina Monologues. On her journeys interviewing women across the world for her later play, The Good Body, Eve conceded that when so many women were so dissatisfied with how they looked, they had very little time or energy left for the war in Iraq. Eve was one of these women, on a masochistic self loathing journey to banish the belly she acquired recently brought on by her aging body. Consumed with her own judgment and self-hate, Eve toured the world interviewing women about their relationship to their bodies. Among the women she interviewed across the planet 95% of women said if they could change one thing they would lose weight. For 13 years Eve has been bringing awareness with her V-Day campaign to stop violence against women, but what her most recent findings revealed after her revolutionary play The Vagina Monologues is that as much as women want sexual empowerment and self-love, what we really want even more is to be skinny, to shrink, to disappear. Her astonishing play focuses not on men being the abusers of women, but on women being our own abusers and targets of self inflicted violence creating our own self-hate and spreading that curse among our sisters and our children.

In moving through the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few years ago, I spent sometime among the exquisite statues of Greek and Roman Goddess that show beautiful full figured woman, round, curves, softness and deep, powerful, unabashed femininity. I remember exactly what I was wearing that day, a long blue skirt that flowed like water and a brown and white cowl neck sleeveless shirt and sandals. The skirt was very long and I had picked up end of it and tucked it in the waistband to allow me more freedom to walk through the museum. As I was staring at a particularly beautiful statue, two women approached me and tapped me on the shoulder. “Are you one of them?” they asked me pointing at the statue. I had no idea what the women were referring to and I stood looking at them befuddled. “You look like them. You look like the statue. Are you Greek or Roman?” It took a second to sink in – these two women thought my body looked like the body of a Greek Goddess. I smiled and looked back at the statue “Maybe I am,” I said, with a twinkle in m eye.

Goddess knows it’s taken me years to come to love my body and to understand that my soul chose this body or my Earth walk. Even with a regular practice of yoga, self-pleasuring and conscious nudity, having grown up with both a childhood and a world that holds such a small idea of what beauty is, I find myself from time to time pulled down the vicious cycle of self criticism, until a moment happens on my yoga mat, or at Rock Lodge or in the Met that reminds me –hey – I’m a fucking Goddess.

To my sisters – the curse stops here. We have the option to step into our beautiful bodies and our Goddess-hood and teach this to our daughters. We are this next generation.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

In love with our Holy Bodies and the Our Earth’s Body –

Isis Phoenix

WIN a FREE Session! Asana Exposed - The Book

ASANA EXPOSED - A Book illustrating the Transformative Practice of Naked Yoga.

Submit your story and WIN a FREE Session

After years of witnessing miracles in the practice of naked yoga, spirit has called me to create a medium that can reach more people. This medium is YOUR story. I am partnering with Mike Cinquino to create a photographic essay of the experience of naked yoga over the years coupled with stories of individuals whose lives have been trasformed through this practice. If this practice has touched, moved or inspired your life, we want to hear YOUR story. The most moving story will receive a free private yoga session with me and will be published in the September newsletter and on the Sensual Shaman blog. You are welcome to remain anonymous in your share :)

Below are some writing prompts if you feel inspired to share your story.

Tell me the story of your body.

Why did your soul choose this body?

What is yoga to you?

How has yoga transformed your life and your relationship to your body?

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your body over the years?

How has naked yoga transformed your life?

What has become available to you in the naked yoga practice that was not available to you before?

Please share your story by September 5th to be considered for the FREE private session :) Email your stories to sensualshaman@gmail.com

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ladybug Magick

“Honey come quick!” Mark called out from the bedroom. Jarred out of the email I was composing by the sound of my mate’s urgency, I took a deep breath and slid out of the club chair and moved m laptop to the side. My husband was prone to these kinds of bursts of excitement when something spectacular was outside our New York window that would be missed if a moment went by. I hastily made my way from where I was working to the window in the bedroom where he was prone to these exclamations

“Look!” Mark exclaimed in a hushed whisper as if something might be frightened away if he said it too loud. He pointed towards the upper part of the window. Thinking he was gesturing towards something outside I peered out, seeing only building fronts and the neighbor’s rooftop garden. “No, not out there. Look up. Up there,” Mark said pointing to the top of the window frame. I cast my gaze up and took in what had sparked this enthusiasm. It took my a few moments to calibrate what I was seeing, given they were so grossly misplaced in the reality of a midtown Manhattan apartment. Ladybugs. Two of them. Mr. and Mrs. the size of a plastic thumbtack tops, walking along the inside frame of our seventh story bedroom window. I stood for a few moments in utter disbelief – “How did they get here?” I wondered out loud. We live in the middle of New York City on the seventh floor of a thirteen-story building. The only bugs I’ve known in these parts were cockroaches and bedbugs. Amazed we sat for a few moments simply watching them, quiet, enthralled – a ladybug meditation. Something so small and beautiful and simple had stopped two Manhattanites in their tracks.

I grew up with Lady bugs in Oklahoma, in soft meadow fields, on the playground of my elementary school, atop shiny green leaves in my mother’s rose garden. I always associated them with good luck and beauty. I had never learned from any particular source that this small beetle held the energies of luck and beauty but on some level they simple were that – fortune, aesthetics. I was always impressed by the lady bugs’ bold color choice of a bright red shell with dark black polka dots – lady bugs were always in fashion - a birth mark of the Goddess, the bindis of Mother Earth.

After a standing for at least five minutes transfixed with this couple’s quizzical choice for a temporary home, Mark and I let them be, keeping the window cracked incase this was just a pit stop place for them. Shortly after, I went to my computer and goggled ladybug spirit. As a shaman, often when an animal appears in your life unexpectedly, it’s a calling card from nature, a teacher with a message, a communicator from Source. Machelle Small Wright, founder of Perelandra, a co-creative science and garden center calls insects ‘nature’s messengers.’ Humorously she goes on to say, “Well nature could send a flock of galloping trees but nature didn’t think the humans would respond very well, so nature sends insects.” Insects. Small. Unobtrusive. Messengers. Today nature sent ladybugs.

I follow threads through the Internet and learn that ladybugs sense their environment and vibrations through their feet – tiny little sensors that let them know the intimate nature of their surroundings. They feed on aphids and mites and pests and plant destroying insects keeping balance and order within an environment. I looked up lady bug spirit – Here’s what I found: “Lady bug = wish fulfilled. The appearance of a Ladybug heralds a time of luck and 
protection in which our wishes begin to be fulfilled.
 Fall and spring are the most abundance times for a person with a Ladybug totem. Higher goals and new heights are possible with a Ladybug totem. Worries begin to dissipate. New happiness comes about. Their presence signals a time of shielding from our own aggravations and pests. 
 Its coloring, red and black, is a warning to predators and we need to give that same clear warning to our enemies - Stay back! I'm dangerous if attacked! 
Ladybug is never the aggressor, but it will defend. Ladybug also cautions not to try to hard or go to fast to fulfill our dreams. 
 Let things flow at their natural pace. 
 in the due course of time, our wishes will all come true. Ladybugs with their bright red shells and black spots carry the magik of rebirth. Red and black are the colors of thoughts and manifestation. Often Ladybug will appear to us when we have an opportunity to succeed, grow, and start something new. All of the beetle family transforms from larvae to adult, showing us we too can transform our lives. Ladybugs can consume large quantities of aphids and other harmful bugs, which eat and destroy plants. So as summer begins to fade into fall watch for Ladybug to fly into your life. Let Ladybug consume your unwanted fears and encourage new adventures.

I liked the spirit medicine piece of pacing oneself. For two years now I’ve struggled with being in New York City as I longed for green mountains and small town life. Ladybug reminded me that all this is coming as my beloved and I search for our new home and shows us patience and everything in its right timing.

A few days later, having forgotten a visit from a pair of these lovely creatures, I was in the bedroom rummaging. The weather had become quite cloudy that day and the temperature had dropped. I went over to adjust the air conditioner. As I reached down to turn the knob to off I recoiled immediately. There was one of the ladybug pair right atop the vibrating AC radiator knob holding on for dear life… or really enjoying it depending on her mood. I scooped her up onto one finger. ‘So that’s what happened to you,’ I told her as I took her out to the plant on my front desk. I left her there to wander through the green. The next day as Mark went to do the laundry I heard him call from the back room “Isis, come quick!” I arrived to see the second ladybug working its way through the folds of the laundry bag. I scooped number two up and placed him on the plant by my desk hoping in that ecosystem he would find something to eat and his mate. Unclear on the proper care and feeding of ladybugs I hoped they would find something there that could satiate them or they would communicate to me what they needed.

Weeks later, having long forgotten about the ladybugs, I was sitting at my desk completing office work which included making copies from a printer that I keep on the floor. After copying what I had intended, I stood up and there was ladybug, right in front of the paper tray. She was slightly more orange today and was completely still. I bent down to encourage her to crawl on my finger but she did not move. I gave her a little nudge with the pad of my finger. No response. My heart suddenly felt heavy. I simply knelt for a moment feeling the passage of time. I slid her little orange and black spotted body delicately onto my index finger and held her there simply contemplating her bizarre existence in our New York City lives. After a few moments, I took her fragile dry body to the altar and placed her on the silk scarf that had an image of a garden on it resting her right next to the lotus altar candle. “You’ll be happy here,” I told her gingerly setting her on the silk cloth in what would now be her final resting place. A quiet silence moved through my body, a soft beat of reflection and gratitude. “Thank you,” I whispered, leaning my head over her body, my nose a few inches from her orange back. “Thank you for finding us and sharing your gifts.” I took in a deep inhale and moved slowly back into my New Yorker life, the body of a ladybug resting on my altar and her spirit resting in my heart.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Naked Yoga Makes News

Naked Yoga continues to make news. I took some time today to speak with Rachael Rettner of My Health News Daily about the benefits and the trend of naked yoga.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Conversations with the Goddess

by Dorothy Atalla

I had the wonderful gift recently of reading Conversations with the Goddess by Dorothy Atalla. This beautiful book is a ray from the beacon of new light that is coming onto the planet. As the patriarchy rebalances and we move into the world and paradigm of partnership, Dorothy Atalla’s book recovers the lost voice and wisdom of the Goddess that has long been silenced on our planet. From her initiations at Petra, into opening to receive the transmission of the Goddess, Dorothy’s experience and humble teaching helps to awaken the readers journey through universal, feminine and human consciousness to reconnect us to a divine wisdom that exists in every living thing. Dorothy’s book takes the mostly forgotten wisdom of the ancients and moves it forward into our present and future of human and planetary evolution made accessible to every person who is blessed with reading this wonderful book.

Free Round Table Tele-Discussion with Dorothy Atalla -

"How Does the Divine Feminie Manifest in your Life Today?"

Guests Isis Phoenix, Michele Geyer, Suzanna McCarthy, Rev Misa Hopkins.

For a Recording of the call click on the link below


For more information about Conversations with the Goddess

Click Here: http://www.conversationswiththegoddess.net/

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Scarlet Poppy

I began this post around Memorial Day. It is said that there was a time when the language of plants, animals, crystals and humans spoke together effortlessly. This is a tribute to the reemergence of that time. May we awake once again to our interconnectedness with all life and all that is.

Scarlet Poppy

Papaver rhoeas Papaveracae – the Scarlet Poppy, a variable flowering plant with large vivid red four petaled flowers and a black center. Annual. Germinates in disturbed soil. When broken it bleeds a white latex liquid. Flowers in late spring and if climate and warmth permit – in the beginning of autumn. The simple leaves are lobed, alternate or whorled. The flowers have petioles and are not sheathed.

Papaver rhoeas ~ Before our meals at the Wise Woman Center in Woodstock, NY where I am an apprenticing herbalist, we stand and sing. We sing of Scarlet Poppies. The scarlet poppy is a symbol of menstruation. In older times and sometimes still today, to ensure a good harvest, women were sent into the fields to bleed before the seeds were sewn. Rich fertile menstrual blood, one of the most nutrient rich resources available on the planet, was offered to our beloved mother. This nourishment from women nourished the community and the planet. Blood was life.

Today on Memorial Day weekend however, I discover a new meaning for the scarlet poppy. It is Sunday and right before Holy Body Service, I am inspired to look up the meaning of the day and remember those fallen, remember those from my own ancestry, remember the women who supported the families and the men who fought and fell on any sides, all sides. Today I remember. In my remembrance, I find the scarlet poppy.

In Flanders Fields and Other Poems a 1919 collection of poems by John McCrae, I find the scarlet poppy again.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below...

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields...

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands, we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields....

McCrae was a Canadian soldier, physician and surgeon who’s Flandes Fields poem brought international attention to the scarlet poppy as a symbol for all fallen soldiers, a symbol of blood on the fields, a symbol of loss and grief and stained Earth. Here the poppy was not a symbol of nourishment and agricultural fertility, but of one of remembrance and Death and the restlessness of the dead should the battle not continue in honor and faith of those fallen. After John McCrae published “In Flanders Fields,” the poppy continued to evolve into a symbol of remembrance of fallen soldiers. In 1918, Mona Michael’s inspired by McCrae’s poem wrote in her pledge to keep the faith of the fallen wrote

“Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,

Sleep sweet – to rise anew!

We caught the torch you threw

And holding high, we keep the Faith

With All who died.”

Mona Michaels went on to introduce the practice of wearing poppies as a symbol of remembrance of those who did not return to celebrate the end of war. Her dedication to this practice spread internationally and the scarlet poppy became recognized not just as a symbol of remembrance but of a time when the world would return to piece after the ‘war to end all wars.’ Ironic, the poppy grows in disturbed soil–the soil of battle.

Pinned to our heart centers, the scarlet poppy holds our fallen loved ones in hand and heart as we move through with faith and remembrance the loss of loved ones during gruesome battles. Mona later went on to use the scarlet poppy as a symbol to raise funds and benefit servicemen in need.

Today I take some time to speak with the plants – to offer my voice as their voice. The Scarlet Poppy Speaks ~

“I would like to welcome a time where the blood of man is replaced by the blood of women and when senseless deforesting is replaced by conscious agriculture and where we truly nourish our communities. I am a symbol of blood and the bleeding of humans and that symbol can cause remembrance and nourishment and my next phase is to be remembered as the flower in the hills where community holds the planet and each other and their blood streams run together in nourishment and wholeness. As a flower, I fold and blossom and grow and hold the beauty of sex in its whole-est form, open, visible and alive. Use me to enliven your sexuality and to remember that which can be used for nourishment and benefit for the entire world.”

Scarlet Poppy on YouTube by Isis Phoenix


May we together hold the vision to return to a time where we are in communication with the plants, the animals, the crystals, the planet, each other. May we listen, really listen and hear what Pacha Mama – beloved mother is saying to us. May we open the doors and gateways of communication and listen once again to the voices of all that is. Open your ears, open the gateways – awake, awake.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Holy Body Worship ~ Why 'Clothing Optional'

Holy Body Worship is a clothing optional worship service led by Rev. Goddess Charmaine and Isis Phoenix each month. Having recently abbreviated our name to 'Naked Church' we are taking this time to redefine that this continues to be a 'clothing optional' event.

Holy Body Worship is an Interfaith spiritual service that celebrates the intimacy and uniqueness of the body and soul relationship through honoring and acknowledging the body as a temple and recognizing it as the vessel our soul chose for incarnation. The option of being naked or skyclad during Service is used to further the expression of reverence and celebration of our body soul relationship to Source. Our bodies are miracles, beauty, complex ecosystems, walking art - each unique, holy and a piece of God/Goddess/Source. The ‘clothing optional’ is simply that – optional. You are never required to be nude during service. It is a matter of choice and truth in the present moment based on how your body feels and wishes to express itself. In service, we view nudity as a form of transparency and intimacy. We bare our soul’s and the places that have been hiding or living inauthentically and bring ourselves back to authenticity, transparency and one-ness. If we feel guarded when we remove our clothes it’s not a form of celebration and we’ve actually moved our relationship to body/soul/source out union or one-ness and into fragmentation and inauthenticity. However, if you have felt guarded your entire life, perhaps this is the moment to experience your union and one-ness through exploring nudity, through moving through fear and embracing yourself ‘holy’ and completely in this moment. In Holy Body Worship, we choose to be nude or to celebrate with others who are nude to explore a deeper level of intimacy with our bodies, our souls, each other, the divine. To remove that which keeps us separate – and to bring us back into right relationship with body, soul, Source. Whole-y Body Worship celebrates and takes a stand for the right to choose to worship your body naked or clothed or in any state of disrobe that feels appropriate to you in the present moment and also acknowledges that that decision may change from moment to moment. We invite you to ask yourself what makes you feel powerful, holy, wild, sensual, free, and totally you and to celebrate your body soul union from that place.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Among Ducks, Geese and Crane

Among Ducks, Geese and Crane

The mallards were sleeping when I arrived armed with half a bag of wheat bread for them and an oatstraw infusion for myself to help combat the heat as temperatures rose towards the upper nineties mingling with New York City pollution creating both a sweltering and suffocating day. I squatted in a shady spot below a tree and simply watched. A green headed mallard opened one eye in my direction and floated about a foot away from me towards his mate. Four adult Canadain geese and another group of Mallards roosted on the other side of the pond about thirty feet away. The babies were missing this morning. After sitting in silence for about ten minutes, I pulled out my oatstraw infusion took a large swallow to rehydrate and then pulled out my bag of bread. A mallard twitched its tail as if suddenly sensing the food human relationship. I removed a piece and inconspicuously began to crumble it and slid it down the rocks towards the mallard couple closest to me. The male mallard stood watch as if to say ‘Honey you go first,’ while the female had her share. Seeing her eat well and recognizing there was abundance available, the male finally joined in. Two other male mallards caught on that there was a free food frenzy going down on the west bank and began paddling their way over, only to have the male of the mallard couple chase them off with some angry quacks and bill jabs into their sides. The mallard couple feasted happily for a few minutes until their ecstasy of being fed overtook them and their sounds of rapturous eating rose into cacophonous quacks alerting the other ducks and then the geese to the free buffet. After a moment two other adult Canadian geese appeared followed by four preteen grayish goslings. All the winged life made a hasty run/swim across the muddy pond in my direction. Inspired by the family unit of the geese and their quadruplets, I doted most of the bread on the young goslings and some on the parents – hey being parents is hard work – especially goose parents in Central Park in New York City. The preteens crawled up the rocks enthusiastic enough to walk on my legs and eat out of my hand and then snatch the bread all together. I laughed and snapped some candid photos of the youngster, astonished at their boldness. The parents of these young awkward preteens were fierce and did not take their parenting lightly. They wanted only the best for their children and worked very much in scarcity consciousness – ‘come too close to my children or their food and you’ll leave minus a few feathers’ sort of consciousness. Mama goose was a fierce force. During my previous visits, after I fed my feathered friends all of my offerings, mother goose would walk right up to me, hiss at me in a warning as if to say “Bring more next time and off with you now!” It was awe-inspiring to witness this power couple in the park. During some choice duck and geese feedings, if mallards swam too close to the young geese, a goose parent would chase them not just to run them off but actually to latch onto the offending mallard’s tail and pull out their hind feathers. I saw on several occasions this remarkable event where a daring mallard began taking more then his fair share of the bread and a goose parent lunged for him, it’s beak clamping onto the mallard’s tail and pulled back a full bill full of plumage. Later I would see little tufted balls of duck feathers floating away with the current and puddling up on the banks of the pond.

Today as the heat bore down, both geese and ducks were overly enthusiastic to not have to work very hard for the lunch. The sun bore down hard and I put aside the bread and leaned against the tree to sip oatsraw infusion I’d brought with me. As the ducks and geese pecked at a few crumbs left, a sudden stillness seemed to settle on the pond. A hush came over the wildlife and everything seemed to pause, a white kite cut the air and descended slowly, black pencil legs with large and delicate branch like feet unfolded effortlessly and descended on the mud patch in the middle of the pond. The white kite-like bird landed without a ripple in the water and stood perfectly still with a soft statuesque presence. The crane had arrived. Her long neck lengthened for a moment as she surveyed her surroundings and the other inhabitants of the pond. After taking in her new landscape, her neck slowly returned to a large S curve as she gently lowered her long sharp orange beak to lightly fluff her plumage. A duck gave an uncomfortable low quack and shuffled aside, as if among a peasants gathering royalty had just entered the room and made itself known. Hopeful for engagement, I tossed some of the wheat crust with a pitchers throw towards the crane who was standing in the very middle of the pond on a mud bank. The crust landed a few feet away. The crane stood statuesque with a sense of regalness permeating her being. Deigning not to even flick her head in the arching movement of the crust nor where it landed, a few low squatting ducks waddled over to take up the scraps. I tried again and the crane merely turned its head as if to magnify the beauty of its profile and to let me know that something so beautiful would never stoop for mere crumbs. She was majestic. Passerbys stopped in their tracks to pause at her beauty. Slowly, the impulse for movement rippling down her neck and spine and finally towards her feet, she began to stride across the mud island picking up her branch like feet and placing them down with such lightness that the water beneath them showed not a ripple. The hierarchy was clear. Ducks, Geese, … Crane. I watcher her coronation walk until she disappeared through the tunnel of a stone bridge, off to impress the other wild-life and urban life near-by. After a few breathless moments where time and my body simply stood still from witnessing such beauty, I came back to a baby goose nibbling on my sandal. I snapped back, laughed and gave the ganders the rest of my offerings and stood to brush myself off.

Witnessing the inner intelligence and workings in nature brought a silent wisdom into my body. The chivalry of a mallard fending for it’s mate, the geese raising their family with ferociously aggressive survival instincts, and the crane, a glimpse of wildlife royalty. A deep satisfying quiet settled over my being understanding in this moment that at times I was all of these birds in all of these relationships, a chivalrous partner, a ferocious and protective mother, a Queen. Deep and present I gather my belongings and left the park, a little more wise and a tad more integrated than when I entered it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shepherd's Purse

Yesterday, New York yoga teacher and doula Lisa Kazmer and I met in Central Park on a mission - to harvest and make our own medicine. After beginning my studies at the Wise Woman Center, I am becoming increasingly aware of everyday healing herbs and foods that are in my home environment right here in New York City. I operated for years under the assumption that I I had to leave New York City to exist closer and more authentically with nature, but more and more I find that I have quite astonishingly overlooked what exists right in front of me surrounded by this city of stone. How appropriate that the herb we are harvesting just happens to grow in sidewalk cracks and in rocky terrain as if shouting -"Hey, look at me, I'm like you - an urban survivor and thriver!" As I took my oatmeal in Central park yesterday morning, there Shepherd's Purse was peeking up through large rocks and as I walked through the meadows she popped her head up in clusters and at various moments her white flowering tops and heart shaped seed pouches standing tall and proud on their slender stems.

I called Lisa, who is co-creator of our earlier herbal product for women's reproductive health 'yoni steams' with me and told her to meet me in the park that afternoon as we were on a mission. I gathered all the info I could on Shepard's Purse, printed it off and took two canvas bags, two harvesting scissors and a snack for us. We meet at 59th and 6th Ave in front of the horse carriages with the grassy musky manure aroma of NY carriages greeting us as we entered the park. We walked to the gazebo and sat on the rocks and read aloud to each other the printed information I had gathered on Shepherd's Purse. One piece off the internet had a photo of Shepherd's purse. I asked Lisa based on the photo to find the plant. She pointed to a few similar looking things from the photo. This was actually a trick exercise. The photo was actually wrong - meaning 1. you can't trust everything on the internet and 2. sight is on of the worst ways to identify herbs and leads to often harvesting the wrong and potentially plant. We then moved to the correct variation of Shepherd's Purse, greeted her and talked about sustainable harvesting, asking the plants permission and only taking what we need. Shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris - Brassicaceae family) is an anti-hemorrhaging herb that regulates blood flow in the body. About to be on the heaviest day of my moon flow, it was an appropriate time to harvest ;) Shepherd's Purse stops excessive bleeding in the body by constricting the blood vessels with its atstringent quality. It's a wonderful herb to lighten excessively heavy menstrual flows and post-partum hemorrhaging as well as bleeding from all parts of the body including stomach, lungs, uterus and kidneys. Shepherd's purse has also been taken internally to treat cases of blood in urine and bleeding ulcers. Shepherd's purse was most likely brought over from Europe as it's actually not indigenous to our continent. It is an herb that was used during the Great War when amputations took place right on the battlefield and they needed to stop a new amputee form bleeding out.

Lisa and I harvested Shepherd's Purse from three different places in the park only taking what we need. Shepherd's purse is obviously not an herb we will take regularly and would only be used under very specific conditions. The jar we made into a tincture will last us the rest of our lives. Lisa commented to me after our harvesting trip she felt incredibly grounded. That is the power of The Mother - sharing with us indefinitely her energy and wisdom and deep powerful presence. As we deepen opening to Her knowing we are able to share with others her power. Urban medicine making is teaching me patience.

In New York one thing is for sure - we want everything right away - our food, our entertainment, our business. Herbal medicine takes time. Shepherd's Purse will steep in Vodka for 6 weeks before she is ready to be medicine. While six weeks doesn't seem long for a life-time worth of medicine, in our electronic tweet-ing, facebook-ing world - it's an eternity which is why alopathic medicine was birthed in the west. Natural healing took too long. But even in New York there are times where a deep penetrating sense of grounding can take us over and pull us into The Mother's embrace. Thank you Pacha Mama for your gifts, your healing, your wisdom." Lisa shared this Paulo Coehlo quote with me yesterday and it feels good to share it with you here - "God placed 'Her' pharmacy in the woods and fields so that everyone could enjoy good health."

Please stay tuned as we continue to grow our Urban Herbals Business.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nude New York Interview with WFUV's Cityscape

I had a great time doing this interview with George Bodarky on what has inspired my own naked yoga practice and the naked yoga movement in New York City.

You can download or listen to a free podcast of our interview below :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Traumatized Wings

After teaching a beautiful yoga session this winter, my student inquired about the rather large collection of feathers I kept on my altar that ranged from peacock to hawk to seagull. Each feather had been gifted to me or found while in nature and over the years had become integrated into my Shamanic healing ceremonies. He asked quietly how I would feel about receiving some more. Knowing my yoga student was also a hunter, I questioned where and how he would get them and what would be come of the bird whose feathers would end up on my altar? He said warmly he ate everything he hunted and that the birds’ life would not be for sport. Satisfied, I accepted, feeling the circle of life move through the room and right relationship resonate throughout our conversation. I would be grateful to give the feathers and wings of these birds another life beyond their own.

A few weeks later my yoga student brought a large bag of newspaper wrapped wings to me. Giddy and excited to experience the power of a new healing tool, I rummaged through the bag and pulled out the first newspaper wrapped bundle. Much to my surprise, upon opening the bundle with joyful eagerness, I closed it just as quickly with wide-eyed horror. The energy emanating from the wings was so intense I had to look away directly after opening it because they nothing short of knocked my energetic socks off. I was almost blinded by the power of what I was holding. It became too much for my nervous system to process and after the first look I put the wrapped wings up in the top of my closet promising myself I would set aside special time later to properly attend to them.

Weeks passed. Each time I got dressed the bag holding the wings loomed over me. I had asked for this and now that I had them I wasn’t sure what to do with them. Finally, on a cold Saturday ready to finally move into spring-cleaning and avoid this ridiculous energetic procrastination, I took them down and set them on my bed. I opened the first wrapped newspaper bundle that held partridge wings. There was a loud moan and flapping that swept over my heart. I realized that the bird’s spirit had not fully left the wing. When its life was taken, the quickness of its death confused the bird’s spirit and had somehow become trapped in the wing. What I had experienced before when I looked at the wings briefly a few weeks ago was a bird’s soul in severe distress. The bird that had become food had not transitioned back to source. Instead a piece of its soul had become trapped in the part of its body it uses for escape. I energetically merged with the wing and let if move through and out of me until the flapping moan subsided and there was simply peace and presence left. I realized that trauma had actually locked the bird into its wing making it unable to move forward fully into its next life.

All afternoon, I sat with this experience and pondered the bird’s wing as a metaphor for our own lives. Places where as humans we have become stuck, traumatized and are holding incompletion in any area of our life is a place where our wings have become detached and our soul’s evolution has stopped. Any place where we have experienced loss of power, rejection of another or ourselves or compartmentalization is a place where we have become stuck and our soul has stopped its process of growth.

Much like the experience with the wings, I invite you to explore areas of your life where loss of power, resentment, grudges and incompletion is present for you and to visit that experience fully. What do you need to complete? What would support you fully in moving forward? What opportunities of forgiveness would support you in opening your wings to their fullest extent? How can your wings grow and stretch even further across the planet and support our communities and our world to its return to balance and right relationship?

Teachings come every day in new ways. Thank you to my yoga student who brought me the wings that helped open my eyes and my wings to new horizons.

Much Love!

Isis Phoenix

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Yoni Steams

Yoni Steam Ritual

Yoni is a traditional Sanskrit term for a woman's vulva. The term itself acknowledges and honors that yonis were a symbol of the Great Goddess and that in their presence rests the force of Shakti, the pure essence of the divine feminine. Yoni Steams are an ancient wise woman traditional treatment using a unique blend of organic and consciously harvested herbs that are steeped in hot water creating an herbal infusion. After brewing, the steaming herbs are transferred to a bowl and placed in a toilet where the woman receiving the steam sits as the medicinal herb steam rises and opens and lubricates the yoni. The herb steam has gentle healing, cleansing and stimulating properties supporting a healthy pelvic floor and reproductive system. The steam increases blood flow to the yoni and helps discharge clots and energy blocks by relaxing the muscular and deep tissue layers of the pelvis and naturally balancing yeast and bacteria. Yoni steams help lubricate the pelvic floor and encourage a natural healthy wetness that cleans, clears and rebalances.

The Ritual ~ Add half the jar of your yoni steam herbs to the muslin bag that was wrapped around the jar. Place the bag in a pot of water that has cooled just below boiling. Steep the herbs in the muslin bag for 15 minutes, covered, on the lowest flame setting. Pour the herb infusion that has been created into a large bowl that can rest in the toilet. Test the steam for heat sensitivity before sitting directly on the toilet. Disrobe from the waist down and drape your lower body with a large towel or blanket to keep in the steam and your body warm. Steam for 15-20 minutes. The sensation should feel pleasant, opening and relaxing as the pelvic floor is nourished by the healing steam bath. After the steam cools, as an additional part of the ritual, you are welcome to pour the herb infusion in a warm bath and bathe to continue nourishing the body or add hot water to the bowl of herbs and steam longer. Be sure to keep the body warm afterwards and allow time for quiet meditative reflection or rest. Give used herbs back to the earth in your compost, garden, or any green patch that calls to you.

Benefits, side effects and Contraindications

A Yoni Steam treatment serves as an internal cleansing of the uterus assisting in the release of incompletely flushed debris and fluids. It introduces warmth and softens and nourishes internal membranes. Yoni steams are ideal if you have endometriosis, dark blood at beginning or end of the menstrual cycle, ovarian cysts, irregular periods, painful periods, uterine fibroids, prolapsed uterus, pelvic trauma, vaginal dryness or decreased libido.

It is not advised to steam during your menstrual flow, if you are pregnant, have a uterine infection, vaginal sores or blisters.

Yoni Steams are lovingly crafted by hand for you J