If you've been following my work for a long time, you've probably noticed that my public posts have shifted in tone over time from being solely about Tarot, astrology and mysticism, to being more focused on self-healing, cultural awareness and societal issues. It's something I get asked about a lot, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about a more personal experience here - this is great if you're new to my work and you're like 'who is this perennially grumpy bruja and why doesn't she post more Astrology memes' (PS tag me if you love this, I save the filthiest for a select few)
To recap - I have been practising spiritually my whole life, since early childhood. Some of my earliest memories include the time I learned the word 'potions' (thank you Cousin Thomas!), trying to shapeshift into a cat (unfortunately there's photo evidence of this) and trying to 'heal' my dog with various handmade herbal remedies. Add in a hefty dose of native culture and studying all things witchy, historical and mystical from Feng Shui to Numerology while still in primary school and it's pretty natural I'd end up a fully-fledged bruja, right?
However, about five years ago I experienced what's called an 'ego death', brought about by a combination of debilitating fatigue, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder hitting its zenith and (cliche alert) being immersed in plant medicine in the wilds of South America.
An ego death is officially defined as 'the complete loss of one's self identity', and yes, it feels 100% like you're physically and emotionally dying. (A lot of people get permanently fucked up by this, which is why I recommend being SO CAREFUL and beginning with loads of therapy and self-healing before even LOOKING at plant medicine or shamanic work. Don't get me started on people with digestion and anxiety issues out here drinking cacao by the gallon..) The actual 'ego death' process itself lasted for around eighteen months.
If we consider the ego to be the part of us that interacts with the outside world - our beliefs and formed identity made up of things like our opinions, memories, judgements, ideas about ourselves and others and our body, our sense of self - it is the part of us that creates our version of reality. Ego itself isn't bad - I defy anyone who says it is - but TOO MUCH results in cruel, narcissistic and egotistical people whose reality is 'the whole world exists for ME only, I thrive on others suffering for my gain'. The ego, being almost like our spiritual epidermis (skin), is also the thing that desires money, fame, acclaim, validation, success, affection, attractiveness, and so on. Our ego stops us from energetically melting into the rest of the Universe, it's the thing that defines US (to ourselves) from everything else.
So! Having this 'die' sounds gruesome, right? I won't go into the gory details but what I found, over this period, was that my ego was dissolving away to the point where I saw myself only as a representative of the rest of humanity, not separate. My spirituality became less about something that defined ME and more about the experience of being human. And so naturally, in this process, a lot of old beliefs or spiritual/societal teachings turned into questions.
Things like... -What if your 'true soulmate' is a Somalian refugee and you'll never meet them because you keep voting against allowing asylum seekers into your country? -What's the point of identifying as a witch/bruja now, if you aren't actively standing against persecuted minority peoples/women? If that would mean that hundreds of thousands of 'witches' died in vain? -Are certain crystals high-vibrational if they've been mined by slaves who have died in the process? -Why do we benefit from 'mediumship' (i.e. being able to see/communicate with the dead/ those in Spirit) if we aren't utilising that wisdom to prevent suicide, war and poverty that killed so many before their time? -Why would a Native American chief be your Spirit Guide (not that this isn't possible, bear with me) when Native American girls in many areas are being kidnapped or becoming pregnant on average by age 11, because nobody is looking out for their safety or providing guidance in real time? -Why are we talking about cannabis as a wonder drug, but not campaigning to release/reintegrate the people previously incarcerated for use/distribution of it? -Why would any purchased 'hygge' product or Feng Shui placement give you 'good vibes' if you're going about your daily life in judgement and hate? - How is yoga the most popular and profitable type of 'fitness' in the Western world, when so much of India and East Asia is in poverty? -What if 'love' has nothing to do with displays of loyalty or affection, and everything to do with preventing a legacy of pain? Is it more loving to tolerate/ignore/allow abusive behaviour/beliefs, or to become a spanner in their works? -Why is the spiritual notion of 'abundance' to join the 1% of wealthy people, not only a statistically-impossible task but also ensuring that 99% of the world suffer; instead of redistributing wealth? -How are Tarot cards so freakishly accurate, unless they represent core experiences across the centuries that EVERY person has, to ensure their growth, using old knowledge to build new wisdom? -What if it's not about that single person's experience but about their version of a bigger lesson for humanity, giving them wisdom to add to that universal experience? - Why would all of the wisdom of the universe, all of the angels and beings and Gods and ancestors and Mother Nature, want one person to experience abuse to learn 'forgiveness' while another person gets to learn it from a nice book? - How can we shame anger, fear or negativity, when the Earth herself erupts when she is unbalanced?
It goes on and on. And actually, it didn't damage my spirituality - it strengthened it, because I had to take apart EVERYTHING that formed reality as I knew it, examine it, and put it back together. It became so clear that 'spirituality' had NOTHING, ultimately, to do with how many crystals you owned or how aligned your chakras were and everything to do with how you experienced your Spirit as part of the Spirit of humanity itself. Does that make sense? Because the second that you start thinking that you exist in a vaccuum - that you are fully separate from everyone and everything else, and that you can cleanse and elevate ONLY your spirit like you tidy just your apartment and sweep the debris to outside your neighbour's door (*neighbours, I don't do this FYI!)... you're exhibiting ignorant ego rooted in unhealed wounding, and not spiritual growth.
Which is ok! We all, still, have ego moments - it stops us from becoming, you know, Pisceans... (kidding). And the ego exists because we ARE physical humans here to enjoy human sensations - it IS nice sometimes to feel special or appreciated, attractive or liked or financial stable or important. For sure. But so much I see people in the spiritual, wellness, yoga or fitness industries who are so desperate for power and to feel special or different or better, because they believe this will 'elevate' them somehow from fear, loss, ugliness. (Perpetuating a modern version of old, hateful, often religious themes of 'the abusive elite vs the suffering peasants who worship them'.)The truth? It doesn't.
We ARE all, individually, special. We are unique. But we aren't separate - we are made of the same atoms and fibres as each other and trees and oceans. So spiritual or wellness teachings that involve someone becoming MORE separate and exclusive, are actually just... toxic ego teachings. And this is where people, year in and year out, find themselves in a cycle of pain, self-judgement and self-dislike. 'I'm trying to do all the right things and getting nowhere'. 'What's wrong with my manifesting?' 'Why do I not feel happy/satisfied/attractive?'. The answer isn't that YOU are doing something wrong, or that YOU can't desire and aim towards personal goals and growth. The answer is that it's not possible to be 'spiritual' and ignore the pool that you're in. You're not personally responsible for solving the world's problems on a global scale, no. But pretending that you a) don't exist in the world and b) that your contribution and presence in it, has no impact, is disempowering and misguided.
An ego death is a really bizarre time. Coming out of it was like crawling out of the ocean after millions of years - I still feel the water in my ears. What it did, though, was INFORM my spiritual practice. And it makes me laugh because new people are often surprised that I'm deeply 'spiritual' and so invested in mysticism, because I'm not out here bowing namaste to the server at Boost Juice or telling people about their aura or eating acai bowls. What they expect is for me to be signalling my 'spiritual specialness' in some way. When in truth my practice is so deep that those things aren't necessary beyond just, you know, existing. It's not about the 'fun' sparkly spiritual stuff. That's fun! And sparkly! And believe me, I looooove the sensory aspect of going into a patchouli-scented hippie shop for a palm reading or dancing under a full moon or just lighting some incense and sitting down with my Tarot cards. So you don't need to put those things away and I'm definitely not saying that your spiritual or wellness path is one of purely self-sacrifice and no fun or magic.
What is IS, though, is continuing your practice long beyond the tarot card or the yoga mat or the Red Tent. Understanding that YOUR path to love, success, romance, healing, growth, income, creativity, a healthy body etc... is one and the same with the rest of humanity. You aren't separate from humanity, you're one facet of a many-sided diamond. The rest of the humanity is reflected through you. And it's important to recognise your spiritual or wellness practice as such: rooted in your HUMANITY, not in your ego-desire to be MORE SPECIAL THAN EVERYBODY ELSE.
Your spiritual practice, psychic and healing abilities will only increase exponentially when you really ground down into the root of things (this is different from feeling guilty or like 'you're not allowed to do XYZ', think of it as ritual, honour, research). For example, what will be a more powerful energy cleanser - sage that's been imported from a over-harvested country, picked by an underpaid worker; or herbs you've grown yourself or bought from a local ethical market? What's going to make you a better yoga teacher, getting thinner and wearing the right labels, or exploring how to assist differently-abled people in your class? What's going to make you a better medium, drinking cacao in a red robe OR actually honouring your ancestral grandma's life lessons by addressing your addictions/unhealthy relationships that defined so much of her life? (This last one is a biggie. As I mentioned in my previous post, Spirit turns up when you a) LISTEN b) honour/invite them in and c) put the information into practice! It's such a pleasure to hone and ground your spiritual experience into something authentic and comforting, not just one cluttered by aesthetic/witchy/hippie signal items.
To conclude, the ego death was my path to understanding why it was so important to integrate 'the work' of humanity (combating racism, sexism, colonialism, hatred, ignorance and fear in all ways from body image to media consumption to relationships to career choice) into my spiritual message. For me it's not about getting more followers, or whether or not it's a full time business, or a book deal, or being seen as an expert or being lauded as a 'proper' Instagram-famous witch/healer from constant social media Tarot or astrology readings. More than once I've walked away from a 'big opportunity' for publicity or to be an 'influencer', because I'm not here for that. All of this stuff is fine of course, but like I said, it can't exist in a vaccuum.
It's not about me feeling/being seen as 'special' or 'aspirational', and I encourage you to step away from 'experts' in spirituality, wellness and fitness that purport themselves to be 'exclusive' or 'special' in a way that other mere humans are not. So often, 'special' equates to 'privileged' and no matter how knowledgeable or attractive that expert is, their true message is that they see THEMSELVES as the entitled taker, and YOURSELF as the giver. They see your lived experiences (whether that's feeling overweight, lost, grieving, poor, weak, lonely et al) that draw you to 'special' spiritual/wellness experts such as themselves, as simply fuel to make themselves more aspirational, for profit and validation. The more someone is 'missing the point' of their spiritual/wellness work, the more external, ego stuff they'll cling to - the perfect body or the curated feed or the 'relatable' admissions of feeling fat or being human too (without any effort to be self-aware), the labels, the piles of crystals, the insistence on certain diets or rules, the matching boho hippie decor, the expensive accoutrements, the sixteen different certificates, being 'qualified' in EVERY modality, self-titling, the spiritually-aesthetic partner, an obsession with 'the energies' or 'other people's drama' (never their own accountability in anything), the cultural or spiritual appropriation of clothing and items. They may mean well! They may be talented or gifted! This simply means they have work to do that they're bypassing. But dig deep into your intuition when you work with another person to see where their message is coming from. Remember: Healer, heal thyself.
At the start of every day and session I align myself: "May the messages that I receive or pass on today be truthful, accurate, compassionate, wise and helpful, may they be received with love, clarity and relief, may they be used always for the highest good".
Long may we continue doing the work. Long may we continue learning from people who came before us, both what to do and what to leave behind. Long may we continue adding wisdom, healing and effort to the pool of humanity in order for all of us to draw what we want and need from it.
Have you ever had an ego death or a kundalini awakening? I want to hear!