COVEN. CALL. NINE.
FEATURING JESSE HEID & ERIN TELFORD
ABOUT JESSE: As a healer, teacher, and artist, Jesse spends her days working with both women and men, exploring the concept of fierce self-love for our bodies as an integral aspect to our path to wholeness. By working together with movement, breath, myth and ritual, we seek to become embodied and heal ourselves. www.alignedspiritpilates.com
Jesse's beautiful offering to the Coven, Trippy Notes Ebook: download here.
About ERIN: Erin Telford believes your light is just as informative and valuable as your shadow and holds space for both. Her mission is to help people heal their relationships with themselves. She pulls from a toolbox of therapeutic conversation, lifestyle and spiritual counseling, essential oils, crystals, mantra and other healing tools. She is a healer, acupuncturist, herbalist and Reiki practitioner and leads individual and group Breathwork sessions. She was recently featured in Refinery 29 as one of “6 Women Who Are Redefining Wellness in New York City.” She is also a regular contributor to The Numinous and Live the Process online magazines. Telford’s private practice, Radiant Heart Acupuncture, is located in Chelsea in New York City. www.radiantheartacupuncture.com
SDW: Ok, six o’clock, call nine. Woo, we’ve been through alot together [laughs], and tonight we have two really wonderful healers on the call. Two witches; two women who work with shadow and love it as much as they love the light. And they are just really excited for the intimacy of tonight. And the ease, I welcome the ease of tonight.
With that, let’s open our beautiful coven by closing our eyes and settling into our beautiful bones that have carried us this far; settling into the flesh, the fascia, as Jessie will talk about —the beautiful matrixes system of our body; and just taking a deep breath through the nose up along that beautiful spine of yours that supports you, and exhaling through the mouth. Imagine you are watching the waves of life, the oceans rise as you’re inhaling along the spine, through the nose, and letting it go. That’s the most important part. How well can you let go? Inhale, last time, that sacred number three, and let it go. Beautiful.
Let’s just ask of the powers and the energy of the North and the earth that, they be with us tonight, hold us ground us stabilize us. Flesh of mother earth, flesh or our bodies, we welcome you. And moving to the East, the air, or breath and the winds of change, we welcome you and your inspiration and may you flow freely tonight. Thank you air. and moving to the south, the fire our passion for this work, the desire. Our passion for our lives and the lives of each other. Saving ourselves to save the world. The passion of the feminine, we welcome you, our desire and our fire. And moving to the west, the great moon of the world, the ocean, our tears, the blood, being reborn, continually reborn and washed anew in this work and in our lives and in our days. And releasing like water, letting go like water, that flow of water. We welcome that into this conversation tonight. And then, obviously we want to thank Great Spirit within and without. May we rise into our higher selves for this conversation and may Goddess support us. We honor her within and without tonight and it is in her name we do this work. And the circle is open, and I just want to say: “Hi Erin.”
Erin Telford: Hi. Your voice is so mesmerizing, I just kind of got carried off there for a second, listening to you. It’s really beautiful. Thank you.
SDW: Oh, thanks. Well you made me do it.
Erin: I did make you do it [laughs].
SDW: I was like “maybe Erin should do this,” cause Erin’s [inaudible] circles. And she, as we’ve been practicing with nine calls now, just said no. One sentence, one word. I got it, and I appreciated it. And it’s funny, um, I needed to do it tonight. It’s very calming for me. I have my Lady Guadalupe rose incense burning tonight and it’s my second to last week in Taos New Mexico and I am greatly honored to have two wonderful healers and friends on the call tonight.
Let’s start with Erin. She goes by the name Radiant Heart Healing, as far as—we’re talking about both the human and the healer tonight—and the healer, her business name is Radiant Heart Healing. She does acupuncture, breathwork, energy work. She helps you rediscover what you’re missing. She helps you find beneath the paper life, the soul that needs to speak and that needs the healing. What’s underneath, what lies beneath. The shadow work, the underworld, and loving the feminine, the darkness. Loving both the wholeness of the light and the dark, and helping women come into balance with that.
Erin’s in New York City and a lot of women in New York are very out of balance with their feminine, just having to keep up in that sort of concrete patriarchal jungle that they’re in. And Erin will talk about that she’s found pockets that don’t feel so patriarchal. I think the work of David Dieda really helped me understand that every city has an energy. Every place, every location, not just city, has an energy. I’m in a deeply feminine energy right now. Wild, chaotic, Wild West feminine. It’s ruled by storms and the earth is red like the root chakra, and the coyotes howl at night. And then you look at a city like New York, the concrete, the sidewalks the literal phallic shaped buildings, the go-go-go competitive nature of things. It's not paced to nature the way perhaps I am out in the country. So, anyways, we’ll talk about that, but, hi Erin.
E: Hi! I’m so happy to be here, I feel like I’m at a party. My body feels like I'm at a party.
SDW: I wish we were at a party, that would be so cool.
E: We should have had a big party for everyone, on like call 13 we should have all flown in together somewhere and met everyone [Laughter]
SDW: I would love that! Oh, my God that would be incredible.
E: Well, we’ll do this live someday and we’ll all get to meet and it will just be like, mega fiesta. It will just be so fun.
SDW: I can see it so clearly, so I’m just waiting patiently for it to happen. So where do we find you tonight?
E: Where do you find me like physically?
SDW: Yes, however you want to answer that.
E: I am in Brooklyn on my couch. I am surrounded by some special stones to help me be able to bring the words that are going to serve and inspire everybody who’s listening tonight, and to just help me get out of my own way and be able to speak really clearly, easily and freely about what’s going on for me.
SDW: What stones are those?
E: Oh, I’ve got a bunch. I have this selenite wand Jessie? gave me, and then a couple selenite slabs, and I’ve got citrine so I’ve been working with that, I’ve go amethyst, I have a big smokey quartz and one other blend of something that’s really hard to pronounce. All three of these stones are all blended together and i have no idea. And the I have my stones I use during breath work. Those are stones one of my teachers picked up from the beach and they’re ultra grounding. You can feel, you can start to feel the waves of the mother energy in your body when you hold them and they quietly you down because they hold a lot of excitement in my body when i’m doing something like this it feels like Christmas. You know, I’m like a 5-year-old girl at christmas and so it’s like, I have to chill. I’m just thrilled, so— Emotionally, I’m feeling a lot of joy. I’m feeling a lot of possibility and quietly and patiently observing the future and what’s showing up and also I’m very stable, which is a nice quality to feel. and Yeah, excited, just in general. I feel really good.
SDW: You’ve been talking about the ocean to me, as someone who lives in the city, and I’m watching a lot of women, including one sister go through the call of the mother where they really feel almost like they can no longer not live in nature. They can no longer, as awakened women, not be part of the cycles and be able to walk outside and just be in her. What’s going on with you with that? Where are you with that?
E: I’m right there. I’m totally there. I mean, I was I work with Sheri, I think she was call four or something like that. I was telling her to bring sticks in for me from outside, like branches against the walls, probably about 12 plants in here. And it just hit me, a couple weeks ago, that it’s just not working anymore. My full pace, my nervous system, my whole body and my psyche is just crying out for slowness and just rhythm and being able to feel the dirt under my feet and being able to walk outside, you know? I want it to be warm all the time, I want to wear no clothes, I want to swim in the ocean everyday, I want to feel the sunlight. And, It’s years. It sears. It just kind of hit me like a brick. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling different places, I have a lot of travel coming up, and it’s just I think it might be age, it might be hitting a wall in New York with my eleventh year, and I’ve crafted this, like, cell here that’s very supportive of myself. So I don’t get battered about too much by the urbanness of this place. There’s definitely some really exciting people and exciting pockets that are around. I’ve gotten to do work in teepees and domes in backyards and incredible healing spaces that are, you feel like they would be in Sedona or Joshua Tree or somewhere beautiful and lush. So I kind of transfer myself around to all these special spaces in New York so it doesn't feel like that hard angled urban jungle that a lot of people exist in here. But it’s still not enough. It’s definitely, it’s big. And I’m hearing it with my clients too. People are like, Gotta quit my job and I’m moving to Hawaii, I’ll sub at the yoga ashram, I just, I need to get out of here. “This is bullshit,” is what I’m hearing from a lot of women. It’s a big wakeup call and I think it’s a big wave.
SDW: There’s nothing that heals like nature. I remember first hearing [inaudible] spiritual hurting, and a man said to me at Kapalo when I ended up there, which people were calling the mothership at the time for people going through awakenings in 2010. And he said, “Oh, you know, you got herded to the mother ship but this won't be your last stop. you’ll be herded your whole life. you go where you’re called and you go where not just your soul needs to go but where you're needed, you know.
SDW: The more you align with the Earth, the more you become a healer and tonight I can just tell already a theme is when we align with Mother Earth, we take on those natural healing powers of hers and then we begin to heal what we touch in the ground beneath our feet, and the people we come into contact with and the more we’re aligned with her.
E: Absolutely. Yeah, I think that I definitely. You know, I was needed here. And I had a good friend in the circle a few months ago say that he had asked teacher,“Does everybody have a spiritual home” and his teacher said “Yes, it’s where they feel like they most belong.” And that stuck such a huge chord for me because when I moved here i felt the most at home I have ever felt. It felt like the place where I could thrive, it felt like a space where I could bloom, learn, be shaped. A place where I could learn to be savvy, to be aggressive, to be assertive, to be able to be loud and weird and as I’m hitting my 11th, 12th year here, I’ve learned. I’ve got all the lessons down. I know how to fight off an attacker, I know how to negotiate with contractors, you know? I know how to deflect someone trying to do something gross to me on the Subway. So the lessons are locked in and now it’s time to go somewhere else and do something else.
SDW: And it sounds like some softer lessons would be appreciated... [Laughter]
E: Yeah! I mean, I’ve had a some tough lessons. But, you know, phoenix rising is always about, sometimes I get sick of rising from the ashes, but I am still standing— and so are all of us. We’re still feeling, we’re still standing. And we’re still thriving, even if it doesn't feel like it every day, every minute. We’re still here. And nobody that’s on this call, nobody that is doing this work has not been banged up by life. That’s just the real truth. And we’re still here, and that is just magnificent. I treasure and honor all of my big, unpleasant, painful experiences because they’ve gotten me to be here, and be able to be a bigger, more compassionate witness for people that I work with.
SDW: Someone just said to me if not for my darkness I would never have grown, and it’s so simple but we need to be reminded everyday. We say it a thousand ways.
So, how do we know each other?
E: Oh, I started, um, worshiping you from afar about a year ago.
SDW: I was not fishing for that.
E: I know you weren’t but, you know, let me shower you with compliments because you are oh, so deserving. But, yeah, I happened upon you either through Facebook or Instagram and I was like “Wow, she is—you stumble across an author, poet, writer who is able to articulate your heart, how can say the words you can’t find. You were that person. I was like, “God, this woman is just nailing it time after time after time, and you were so on social media, which is meme after meme and photo, and great poem. It was so beautiful, and I was like “she’s like the coolest smartest sexiest witch ever. I just, wow, was so bowled over by you! And I started buying the full moon circles and everything, and it’s just, it’s real incredible to me. This heart manifestation. Just like attracts like, and similar vibration attracts similar vibration and here we are talking. It makes sense. But yeah, I’ve been admiring you for a long time.
SDW: So that’s the story of us, but what—can you tell us your story? You haven’t always been a healer, but you say you’ve always been healing. What was the catalyst to become a full fledged healer, and who were you before you were radiant heart acupuncture?
E: My roots were, I started out with parents who had a guru, and my mother meditated for an hour everyday when I was in the womb. You know, I had a picture of the guru above my crib, we were taking in crystal healing when we were little, there was very limited, 30 minutes of TV max a day, all organic food, no junk food, no sugar—so that was kind of my foundation growing up. That was in Washington state in a place called Kirkland the suburbs of Seattle. And, very—it’s a stretch to call it rural but Washington is just so earthy and forest-y that there’s wild blackberry bushes everywhere and huge pine trees everywhere and it’s really, it’s a wild kind of terrain where I was growing up. It wasn’t very developed. But still definitely a suburb.
So that’s kind of where I came from and I really was on that path through probably my early twenties and then I think it was sort of money and scarcity was calling to me, and I really wanted to make money. That became a huge thing in my mind. And because I had always felt so deprived and scarce of resources and freedom. So I ended up working in the fashion industry for luxury fashion houses, specifically Louis Vuitton and Prada when I moved to New York. And the catalyst for getting me to begin to do healing work again, and you know like a lot of us on this call, you know, I was always, I had the witchcraft books and I was doing the spells when I was a little girl and carefully selecting my crew, my best friends because in all the fairytale books or whatever I was reading, the best friend is like the Holy Grail. The feminine group. But back to New York and Prada, I just hit a wall completely. I was slaving away, they work you to the bone here. And I was looking at the ladder I was potentially climbing, and it looked bad. It looked really bad at the top. I moved out here after a major breakup and I was, just, wall. Depressed, but then again excited to be in this new city, this place I'd always wanted to be. That felt so welcoming to me, and I eventually had a panic attack. I had never had one before. Haven't had one since. I felt like I was dying and tripping on acid at the same time, and Hurricane Katrina had happened around that time too. I just was like, this is bullshit. This is not living. This is not how people are supposed to live. Chained to a cubicle, chained in front of a computer, everybody just talks about reality TV and clubbing at lunch time and I'm gonna work for 10, 12 hour days, I'm exhausted, I can't sleep, I'm losing weight, I look terrible and ashen and I'm like a ghost person. I'd just, I had it. That was like drawing the line in sand. And, of course you want the next amazing thing to zoom in right away and be presented to you. It took about six months, but that was really around the time I started working with my spirit guide, developing a relationship with them, and the universe.
SDW: How do you develop a relationship with your spirit guide?
E: I just started asking. I was looking and going “God, I need help, what's my next step? What do I do? Give me a sign, show me the way. Please help me. Please help me. And it was a prayer and it was a desperate cry for help, and it was all those things. I did it for like six months daily just looking to the sky, looking to trees, looking up. Looking up and just asking questions. Finally I got delivered this pieces of, it's kind of a long story, but I got delivered my answer in the form of a magazine article. I very begrudgingly grabbed an Elle Magazine with Jessica Simpson on the cover to take home with me to read on the Subway. I was like, dammit this is the only one left, I don't want to read this one. I took it home and I was reading this article called Death by Stress about the typical New York girl who's just falling apart at the seams. And I was like, “That's me. This is where I'm going. It's not good.” It referenced the school I ended up going to, the acupuncture school. I just, at that point in time, I sent away for a catalog in the mail. When I got the catalog I was so bowled over. I just poured over page after page reading these course descriptions and just going “Wow, yeah! Yeah! I want to learn that. I want to know that.”
It was just immediate. I quit my job, got all my transcripts together and boom. I was outta there. I never looked back. Never had a doubt. Since then... I've got a lot of things I'm working on healing, so whenever I find something that blows my mind and really helps me I learn it and then I share it with other people. So that's how the layers have kind of gotten added on as to what I bring into my practice.
SDW: Why acupuncture? Why was that so compelling? That's a specific trade.
E: Yeah, it's interesting. There's a little bit of a tie in with—I don't want to make the fashion part of it sound too good but what appealed to me about luxury fashion was that there was this lineage of people who were making lace for generations. People who were doing beadwork for generations. The lineage of the acupuncture, there was something that had the ancientness about it but also had the technology with it. I love that. Anything with a history, anything with an oral tradition, anything that's ancient, thats been around forever is very appealing to work with as a technology. And I wasn't really ready to put my hands on people because that felt a little bit too intimate to me at the time, so the idea of having a tool that was very precise but that could open and move things was just like “yeah, that's it.” It was a beautiful starting point.
SDW: If I were to write the 13 signs you're a witch piece over again, which I think I need to because it's so old, what I forgot to say was the attraction to the ancient and the old. We even love the word ancient. The ancient remembrance is coming back of our healing. We're natural born healers, of ourselves and others. And I think what you and Jessie both teach is people come to you for healing and you say, “ You have it all in, let me just remind you. Let me Guide you on how to do this, right?”
Yeah, I'm a shepherd, you know? I'm just like scoot back over here, you got it. Oh good, look at you now.
And the tools, too. I think the ancientness and the tools, We all love our rocks and our oils and our sage and all that stuff. The ritual, the ceremony of it is gorgeous. It's very primal to have things you can hold in your hand that connect to other people's bodies and can open and move things,and move energy. It's just fascinating.
With my work I feel like I'm just reminding people. People come in and they tell me what's going on with them, and we just open the closet and we just shine a big flashlight on the skeletons and we ask them to come out. And we play with them, we see what's going on. We see what's underneath the underneath. And with the origination, with the root of the belief that you're crazy or you'll always be this way, I help people identify what things feel like in their bodies, their emotions.
Also a big piece of, you mentioned shadow. The breath work specifically deals with the shadow, but de-stigmatizing pain and de-stigmatizing emotions and allowing people to understand that whatever they're feeling—anger, depression, pain, grief, anxiety, fear all these things, they're just signposts. They're just directional. They have a reason. A lot of women feel like they feel things for no reason because they've been taught to not trust their intuition and to not value and own their feelings as valid and informative. So, I like to reconnect people with, you know “What is depression saying?” And you turned me onto Matt Kahn, you know, depression being an awakening.
Getting people to connect with big feelings, big scary icky feelings so that they can understand where they're coming from, why they're coming to them and then they can understand what they can do with them. I love helping people not feel crazy. I love that more than anything.
SDW: Is that one of the reasons you do what you do?
E: Absolutely it is. It is because I felt chaotic and crazy and nuts for a long time and I was—I don't want to say I was treated that way but I think my highly sensitive persona person, I was definitely the channel. I was the emotional release valve for my whole family so I was the channel for all of the pain, and I expressed all the pain. And os, I was always the one who appeared to be losing it and too sensitive, crying all the time and all these things. And it just wasn't true. I was absorbing a lot of people's energy with no tools to know how to not do that. I was channeling a lot of pain without knowing that was going on and it is just, it's so sad, you know. It really is heartbreaking that so many of us have that experience of feeling invalidated for feeling, and for feeling largely. I don't think anyone's crazy, I think we're all just , we have huge hearts and we're enormous containers and we just have to know how to work with everything that's so big that's moving through us and be able to honor and validate and self soothe and name and transforms and know how to work with all the stuff that comes through us.
SDW: So, you're someone that's also open about some bouts of depression, or unhappiness which, it's crazy to think that we're supposed to be like the sun all the time. And the feminine, we don't judge her for going dark. It just is that she’s not always going to be bright. We judge ourselves sometimes. Would you say you had a dark night of the soul, or a night that changed your life?
E: So many. Countless dark nights. And for the first time in my adult life, I'm 40 now, and I've been working with depression probably since I was like 10, something like that. For the first time in my Adult life, ever, just a few months ago I was going through a period and it was about a week where I was feeling a lot of grief and a lot of pain. And I was in a group coaching experience at the time where we had a private Facebook group much like we do for the coven. And there were a couple people that were trying to cheerlead me out of it with positive thinking. And I was like, “No, don't take me out of this. There something here I need to know. Let me be,” you know? And I stayed in and it sucked, but I stayed in.
Not a good time. But I went for it and came out on the other side and I had my gold nugget. And that's what it was. If' I'd tried to backpedal, or numb it out—like, oh I think I need to watch another episode of that, or let me get back on Instagram or any number of things we do to backpedal away from our reality, I wouldn't have gotten that. So now, whenever I go in, or down or whatever you want to call it, it's briefer. It's very brief because I'm like, this is purposeful, I'm going to find something, it's like deep sea diving. I'm going in, I'm going to say there until I get the treasure, and then I'm going to come out. But let me be because I'm searching here. There's a golden ticket at the bottom of this, so I really allow myself to go there and it's been a great practice. It's so much more enjoyable than just waiting for it to be over. Because that's what I used to always do, and then just drink more and smoke more weed.
SDW: Which can be very appealing when you're faced with something very hard. I would like to, I'm gonna mention my sister if I may because that was a really defining point for me in depression and anxiety. So, I'm feeling the tears kind of coming up a little bit but she, she passed. She was raped and murdered actually in 2008 and this month is her death anniversary so, the feelings, the echos of the grief start to come back into my body, September first, here we are, boom. I can feel it. So that was, up until that point in time, that was seven years ago, in my early thirties. And I had been self medicating to different degrees. That was right about the time a year or two years before I started acupuncture school. I was still kind of fighting it off. I'm like a reformed party girl and I definitely did a ton of self medicating in my teens and twenties. So I was just starting to adjust against the idea of needing to be really responsible and be in high integrity and be walking my talk around who I was, and the souls I was being responsible for. And when she basically, her death was the defining line that cured me of depression and anxiety because it was this very clear delineation. It was a clear marker between what is sad and what is not sad.
SDW: That was a big. My awakenings have come in different moments in time, but that was a reset button absolutely. That was big awake and it reframed my entire life. And I didn't—I don't think this is the correct word necessarily, and it might sound judgmental, but I'm just gonna say it with that caveat because I can't think of a different word right now, but I stopped indulging the melancholy as much. It really was just like, OK: this is a big deal, and this actually isn't. This is a big giant fear worry anxiety grief, loss. This is not. That really gave me massive clarity around what is large, what can be let go. What needs attendance, and what can just be breathed out.
E: Did that make you terrified of life for a bit or, I mean...
SDW: No, exact opposite. It was really, it was the worst experience in my whole life but it redefined everything in such a gorgeous way. She was a wild child. Just, like, belly dancer, train hopper, punk rock band singer, dominatrix. She was a nut, in the best way, not in a crazy way. She lived. She was just dripping blood from the fangs. She was just biting in, biting in, biting in, screaming her head off, being reckless, being—she just did whatever she wanted, all the time. And she took care of a lot of people. She did Food Not Bombs, and lots of protesting work with the Zapatistas in Mexico and she was just fierce. Her spirit for me, her like—I took as much as her lust for life on as I could, and you know, you really have a choice in those moments.
You know, I know, most people on this call know, you let your heart break, or you let it break open more. And I was just like I like in a good world. It made me actually feel more like li lived in a beautiful universe, and that was by choice. Because there is so much good that came out of her death, like unbelievable amounts of love that came out of it. And you do have to choose your own reality, you do have to choose the world you live in, and I choose to live in a good one.
E: I just think it's so amazing you came to that, because most people could shut down and blame the world for the rest of their lives and stop living.
SDW: I Couldn't. That's not where I went. I don't think I even went maybe a minute, but no. I just. It was, uh, it was a conscious choice, but it didn't feel hard. That almost felt like it would have been insulting to her to put blame and shame on the world. She was a karmic sacrifice for our family. Not to diminish her, I don't know if that sounds terrible to say, but I mean. I couldn't. My mind made a choice, I don't feel like it's delusion, I feel like it's true. I feel like it's heart centered. It feels real.
E: Do you work with women in grief healing now?
SDW: I do, yeah. I do. After she died it was like every single person that came to me, I just saw so many, because I knew how to speak the language. And now it's less frequent, but I just did a circle on Sunday and this women I've worked with once one on one, her sister just died two weeks ago and she came to me and let me know that her sister had, well, I was doing Reiki on her while she was in a restorative yoga pose and she said, “ I felt your, that's where I put my hands on my sister's back when she was sick. And I felt your hands on me for the longest time, and I thought you'd moved away and I turned around and you had moved away but it felt like you were still there, and I was like, no, that's her.”
It's all around, it's kind of overwhelming the amount of loss that people have endured. There is always a wave of people that come through whether it's parents of miscarriages or siblings. Some people do found me for that, and that feels really good. It's such an honor.
E: Right, and that's the whole, “Why did I go through this?” And it finally ends up making some sense. You can offer something to others. Every time I'm going through something terrible, that hurts so bad, the times I can remember, when I come out I have even more to offer. And this simply didn't happen for no reason. There's always a reason.
There've been so many connections out here in New Mexico about these beautiful lines that were drawn out here, and Elizabeth Kubler Ross, she was a great grief healer who wrote about it. Because grief's a language. And one of the girls who's staying with me right now, her boyfriend just died and people don't speak the language so they literally are mute around her. They're so terrified of saying the wrong thing so they say nothing. And this idea that death is contagious, that if they acknowledge their leaving it might happen to me. It's just the most terrifying thing for people.
SDW: It's so scary. And people that don't acknowledge their own pain have a hard time acknowledging other people's pain too. There's no space for your own pain you don't have any for anyone else's. So for you and I going through our own terrible and painful things, whether it's a breakup or a business thing that doesn't work out or a giant death, it just keeps you so close to your humanity and you don't ever forget, you know?
E: Yeah, You will live. If you keep death very close to you, you will live.
SDW: Yeah, as someone who was marked by it young, the problem is you can become so obsessed with it you actually forget to live. But if you use it as a way of, there's always a ticking clock, you know, and somehow we walk around as if we're guaranteed anything past this moment.
E: I know, it's crazy.
SDW: Right, so every time we're reminded it's a gift. You seem like someone who, even though you are a spiritual woman, you really see the humanity of healing, reveling in the humanity of that. We spend so much time trying to be normal that we actually cannot see what makes us so amazing and special and that is our gift, so how does your constant awakening show up in your healing work? How does it show up in the work you do, and what sort of things do people come to you with?
E: I love that question so much, that's a big question. Let me feel into this one a little bit. I think that the way my awakening shows up in my healing work is, it lets me show up with more tools. It lets me show up. For me, there's been a shift recently to me using my personal energy for things. Because I'm a good pep talker, I can deliver a real strong pep talk to people that makes them feel like “I've got this,” but that doesn't necessarily to go the distance, and it doesn't connect down to their truth or their spirit. So I've been trusting a lot more and just working, you know, here's me with my humanity, but also calling on spirit, calling on something larger than me to sit with me and guide me. You have to be really comfortable with being uncomfortable when someone comes to you with pain. So the more comfortable I am with my own discomfort the greater service I am to people. I know that there was definitely a time I would bring humor into a situation and I thought that that was really helpful, kind of laughing at the ridiculousness of the blows that life deals you. And I sometimes still do that, because I like to make jokes and I like to laugh and I think healing is definitely moving towards joy and fun and, not necessarily, lightness, but what makes you happy. Can healing be a little bit less serious, kind of be a little bit less somber. So I enjoy interjecting humor. But at some point I realize, you're not going into the snakes mouth here. You're tiptoeing a little bit. So for me allowing myself to trust more and be a little bit bolder, get outside of my comfort zone. I'm a fairly shy introverted person who has consistently put themselves in situations where they're wildly uncomfortable. I sang for the first time in public with my teacher out on the rocks in Joshua Tree. He asked me if I had a song and I do, and I sang, and it was so scary, but even that out of body, out of mind, out of time experience I can bring that back into the room and sit with myself a little bit more, sit with another human being a little bit more, be able to sink into the murk, the dark, and hang out there a little bit more easily.
That's kind of how it plays out that I just, I'm constantly working on my own evolution and constantly digging in. Self examining and seeing what's up with me. I'm self investigating and working with my edge and that's what I bring to the table. And all the tools I learn how to use. So that's usually how it comes into the healing.
I'm a crazy avid researcher and book reader, so I'm getting out into esoteric acupuncture, and bumping into some shamanic practices and stuff. So it's a fun process. Whatever I'm interested in I can bring into the room with me. Whatever i'm reeling that might be what's something up, those might be the next wave of people that come to me.
Primarily the people I'm working with, it's usually all emotional stuff. Anxiety, depression, stress as we say, break ups, loss, grief, body pain, emotional pain. Usually people have been working with the same patterns for years and years. Maybe they were self medicated teenage girls and they still feel like they are unable to survive or transform any other feelings, they're afraid of their feelings. They're afraid of who they'll be off of medication. Just a lot of entrenched emotional patterning that we start to strip away. That's what I do most of my days.
SDW: That brought up a lot. Something about your own voice when you're singing. My friend who's in kundalini training, they ask their students to sing all the time because actually nothing heals the nervous system more than the sound of our own voice singing. It's as if we're singing a lullaby to our inner child.
E: Yes, very calming. Yes.
SDW: And the thing about being at your edge. I find when I'm comfortable, I feel flawed as a, I don't use the word healer, but whatever people come to me for, as a sharer of the wisdom, because we're asking people to go to their edge all the time. Like “Oh, it's so easy to leave your corporate job,” because I did it in 2010 or whatever, and I forget the terror of leaving a corporate job for the unknown. IT's a dream that only lives inside of you and everybody else is like stop, turn around, you're insane. So we can remember and hold space for that terror they're leaping off of or moving through.
And the other thing about the pills, I've told you this but when my mother died, I was at her funeral when I was sixteen and I began to cry, which seemed a natural emotion, and was immediately passed a Xanax by an aunt in the front row. As in you don't have to feel this, your emotions are not something you have to deal with. And I took it and I remember the instant. It was such an addict moment. I was like “I want to feel this way, aka nothing, for the rest of my life. There's a way out?” And I found it. And it destroyed my life 16 years later. … But I wonder if you've ever been—this is a really open conversation but I've been speaking with a lot of women lately who are like “maybe I should just get back on that medication.: I've been depressed now for 8 months and I'm like “Oh at 9 months I'm gonna be reborn, this is my astrology. But my dad is like “Why do you suffer? Why don't you just get back on Prozac?
E: Well, I think with family involvement, again if they don't have space for their own pain they can't have space for your pain. So, a lot of times with teenage girls their families can't deal with them, they don't know what to do so they sort of like put her in a corner, send her to therapy and give her some pills and call it a day. And there's no discussion because maybe pain's not allowed on the table.
I support medication for people when they are being crippled. If they're like, I can't get out of bed, I am in such a dark place, I need a jumpstart to pull me out of this, I would never be so black and white about it because there are some people that definitely need that to be something that allows them to take a step into the light and then begin to find themselves again and start sleeping again, eating again, getting out of the house again. If something is really taking you out completely I think that can be something to reignite your spark a little bit, help you feel like you can actually take care of yourself. But, it's a slippery topic because everybody is different. But when you are able to hold your hand to the flame and know from moment to moment you're actually strong enough to endure and find the friends, find the support, find the healers, find the team, find the books, find the videos, find the songs, find the space, find the environment that works for you.
When you're in a painful place it's a call. We don't' have these guides that swoop in and say, “Oh, I see what's going on for you, this environment doesn't work for you. Nobody has ever, ever, ever one time witnessed your emotions in a way that felt supportive and loving for you, so you just keep on feeling the same thing over and over and over. And the pain just keeps coming in waves, and there's no hope, and there's no support and nothing's coming to save you and it feels terrible.” But I really think we can hold it. I really do feel like we can hold it, and I think you just need to raise your voice to the heavens and call in the big people, call in the ones who are gonna be able to help you because we can endure. We can endure childbirth, we can endure so much, we are enduring so much on an everyday basis. I believe in the power of women. I believe they can hold and transform and alchemize their pain. And if something's going on that's big and ugly and hard, it's a big call. It's like a life leveling situation. Everything that's happening isn't working anymore, so it's time to take a look, take an inventory. Look at your life, look at your spirit, and think about what's gonna meet your needs at that really high level. What's gonna bring you joy again? What are yo not doing?
That whole thing about: When was the last time you danced, when was the last time you laughed—I can't remember the other two but, you know, there's a lot that we don't do on a daily basis that would be healing us and transforming emotions and bringing us back to love and joy and ecstasy that, you know, there’s a lot of people that, especially in New York, they're just machines. They turn into machines and feel like that's what's life is supposed to be like, and obviously it's not. I would support any woman in using her intuition and doing what's right for her, but I think that for most people antidepressants are a short term solution. They really stop working after three months and end up being placebos anyway, then you have to add a second and a third, and you don't ever learn the skills of being able to sit with yourself and feel that grace and that queendom and that golden straight line. That confidence, that fire that's like this is going to be okay. It's like a loss of faith. I think every woman can do it. And they may need a battalion of people to swoop in and love the shit out of them when they're going through that, you know, at every turn.
SDW: We only have a couple minutes here, but the machine thing. People do become machines in New York, and they build a very impressive resume, of who they know, where they worked, but what happens—I keep using my sister as an example—incredible resume. I had an incredible resume. But if they're no longer impressed and their soul is dying, do you help them transition into the unknown that way? It's very hard to leave the ego of the resume and the life on paper. When you've spent your whole life building it, how do you help them with that?
SDW: I think very few people are prepared to take the leap. I think the women I see who are holding onto that life with claws, are the most highly sensitive empathic people and they're like rotting, you know? I saw this woman the other day, her hair is falling out, she doesn't sleep, she's clutching her Blackberry on the table, and I was like I'm sorry you can't have that on the table. And she was like “But I need to check my email,” and I was like “This is your time, I don't allow phones on the healing table.” And, you know, she hasn't come back. She might, we'll see, but...
E: Yeah. I think it's a matter of readiness. I have worked with women who, it's like a massaging process. It's not really like a boom, done and out of here. It's a massaging process of coming back to myself. What are my needs? What are my feelings? What makes me happy? What's working, what's not working. And they come to it on their own.
I don't see a ton of people that are actually ready to take the leap and are like “Please help me with this,” but I do definitely encourage. I use myself as an example over and over. We talk about risk and safety. I would love to see a ton of women leave their jobs. Because they want to, they really want to, they know it's not working, they know there's something else but there's that edge, and just like you said before. You left a corporate job, I left a corporate job, and because I'm way, many many years into something that is working for me, i'm like “oh yeah, just quit your job, no big deal. But then you have to remember that absolute terror and like the “who knows, money oh my god, rent in New York oh my god.” But if any women in New York are listening to this call and want help with that, that would be a fun adventure to take with somebody.
SDW: We're out of time, and Jessie is waiting. There is so much I didn't get to ask you about, your breath-work circles, working with women in the edges, it did come up that we have to stay open and keep working through. But I did really want to ask you about the days as a healer when you're like “Shit, my life is a mess, I don't feel like I'm healing myself very well, but I have to go show up and tell somebody else who to heal themselves. How do you balance that?
E: Those are good days. Those are great days, because what always happens is that I get the exact right people in my day where whatever I need to hear, is what I'm telling them. So it goes from my mouth back to my ears, so the mirrors show up. Boom, boom, boom, one after another. And then, it's being of service. I mean, I can barely call what I do work. There's been over the last five or so years there's probably been five days or less where I'm like “I don't feel like doing this today, I'm not in the mood. But there's a handful.” But I show up. They hear me, and they allow me to give exact talk they needed to hear. So those are good days for me. It shows me how strong the community is, and how strong the universe is to keep bringing me exactly what I need.
SDW: Beautiful. So how can the awakened woman or the Feminine heal the world, or how is she healing the world?
E: Ok, I've been preparing for this question because you've been asking everyone. You know it's funny because when you were talking to Jackie, and I was like “Oh, what's Jackie gonna say?” And then you read like a Joseph Campbell quote and I was like “That was my answer!” So...there is a lot of conversation about the feminine and a lot of trepidation about truly embodying it and what that looks like in the world with all the sharp edges, and going up against the masculine and being the soft with the firm. It just, it begins with us.
I think if we were to allow ourselves the safety and sanctity of being able to actually embody the feminine in ourselves and feel like that was acceptable and welcome and valuable, we would start automatically balancing everything else. But we have to feel comfortable with it. We have to feel comfortable with ourselves and being in that space and being able to be with someone who has the moods and has the rhythms and has the tides and be able to hold space for ourselves to be in that ocean of emotion and that light and dark where we don't sharpen up and soldier up and pull up or bootstraps when we are confronted with masculine and that sounds like a better choice. It always starts with us.
SDW: Thank you so much. Wonderful call, and thank you. How can women work with you, Erin?
E: Your'e welcome! Thank you so much. They can find me at radientheartacupuncture.com. They can sign up for my newsletter. I do Skype sessions with breath-work and in-person sessions in my office in Manhattan and I'm starting to travel a little bit so I'll be coming out to LA to do some one-on-one sessions and group breath-work in November. So you can always email me if you're curious about something. I look forward to connecting with anyone what feels called to say “hi” or ask a question. Oh and Radiant Heart Healing on Instagram, that too.
SDW: Hi Jesse.
E:Hi! Oh, I love you so much!
Jesse Heid: I love you so much!
E: do you ahve full eye makeup on? Yes, I do, I look so amazing, and I have to tell you guys this is the best party I’ve been to all year.
E: Ok, bye, I love you guys, have an amazing time, thank you!
SDW: Hi, my love, how are you?
J: I’m good, I had teh best day in the city today, just drumming up a little spell. It was a spell I was weaving, just invoking the virtuosity of psychedelic rock and roll as I went about my day in the city and just really feeling it, so [laughs].
SDW: We’re jumping the gun a little bit. So, this is my friend, and healer, and master pilates teacher, master body worker and deep student of the mother, and healing and bodywork and the embodied healer—to move into your body and hear her wisdom and become your own healer, which—and I have to say, just class A, gold star friend. I’ve never really had one like her in my life. So, this is Jesse Heid. She goes under the name Aligned Spirit Pilates but she’s changing that to Aligned Spirit Healing. And, you’ve probably seen you have a lot in common with a lot of women in the coven—Jesse’s a pretty prolific subject in there and you’ve probably heard me talk about her a lot. So, Jesse’s calling from New York tonight, so hi Jesse.
J: Hello, I love you.
SDW: I had to give you a little intro before we got on the bus there.
J: Yeah, I”m on the bus. I’m really on the bus. Yeah. My Mama Sutraness is raging, so...
SDW: So what’s a Mama Sutra, because if you’re not on the Facebook you don’t know the Mama Sutra.
J: Right, Mama Sutra is the name that my psychedelic tribe gave to me in 2001. It’s a name that I resisted for a long time, but no one would stop calling me Mama, or Mama Sutra. So that became my circus name and alter ego. It was who I was in my 20s.
SDW: Right, right. And circus name—you were a hoop dancer, and were you a burlesque dancer as well?
J: I was a hoop dancer though the rock and roll dance team, and I founded with my friends the first rock and roll, glam rock hula hoop circus. And we lived in a loft that was basically a commune for our circus, and it was me and four boys, and many of the members of that crew, which was called GroupHoop are still in the hoop world and are beloved to me. We were kind of doing it when no one else was except beautiful Anna Rickenbach in LA. She’s the only person we’d ever heard of that had been doing what we were doing.
SDW: She’s wild, in the best way possible.
J: Yeah, she spent a lot of time with GroupHoop back in the day and it was lovely.
SDW: It is a small world indeed.
SDW: So, tonight we, it’s gonna fly by because there’s a lot to talk about and, we’re even jumping the gun a little bit with saying, you know, when we’re talking about the tribe,that they gifted you your name with psychedelics. So what are we talking about when you say psychedelics.
J: Well, I guess I’ll backtrack a bit. One of the things I love when I’m talking to you is that you just let me be a total dork, so, I really appreciate that.
SDW: Well, I’m really bad at being cool, so.
J: Yeah, I love it. Ok, so here’s a dork out moment: This material is solely intended for cultural education, research and entertainment. The Cover Conversations, Do It Girl and Jesse Heid do not advocate, promote or condone illegal drug use. There we go. Our booties are covered and we can really party.
SDW: Okay. Disclaimer has been thrown down.
J: Thrown down! So, let’s backtrack. I have not used any psychedelics or drugs or chemicals like that for about nine years. So, it’s a new thing for me to come out of the psychedelic closet. But, as a popular young healer in the East Village through my twenties I was very well known for being a psychedelics user while I was healing people, daily. And so, for many years, I dosed on various psychedelics while working on people on alignment and healing as they were my pilates clients. Oftentimes we didn’t do anything that had anything to do with pilates. We were doing fascia work, unwinding and basically me exploring their pain and injury through my trips. And they kept coming—
SDW: So, what kind of drugs are psychedelics? What are the names of those?
J: Ok, so, the substances which, in my mind, I’m of the mind that they were these sacraments in the way I was using them, because they were tools I was specifically imbibing to get me to a heightened state where I could really explore healing and facilitate healing. But I didn’t have any reference for this other than my own experience. And, I’ll give you the list of what they were. My absolute favorite, Lysergic Acid (LSD), MDA and its cousin MDMA, psilocybin mushrooms, 2CI, 2CB, molecule 1, mescaline, various amphetamines. And that’s what I would—any one of those could be on the menu on any certain day where I would be seeing up to eight clients in one day, six days a week.
SDW: And you owned a studio, a pilates studio as well, and it was a popular studio in the East Village, right?
J: I was a partner in Sixth Street Pilates, and before that I had a private studio ... called Studio 2A on Second Street and Avenue A, and before that I was at [inaudible] which was this amazing cultural revolution and healing work which was in Gramercy Park, and that has amazing talents that have come out of there. But I’d do psychedelics while working there six days a week, for three years. And God bless them, they’re all still friends with me. I’m totally amazed, but, it’s really fantastic.
SDW: Another weird—we have a milion ways we could have met or know of each other but my roommate in New York, in my final years in New York, she worked for you.
J: I had the feeling that Nancy taught text to me she would talk incessantly about the wild adventures of her rock and roll roommate, and it got to the point where it was so intense and all consuming, and i’m trying to do this real like healing work—and also, I’m probably tripping so I’m like “woah.” So eventually I had to throw down and be like Nancy, you can’t talk about some other girl's’ life day in and day out, you need to have your own adventures. Have your own adventures but don’t tell this girl’s adventures. And it’s so amazing to find out that was you.
SDW: Her jaw was just like always on the floor. I had a revolving door of rock musicians coming in and out all the time and I would just—and you could tell the judgement was just like so thick in the air. So, you said tonight you would go, you had a bit of, a witch hunt memory about speaking about psychedelic substance use, and even other parts of your past. Do you want to speak on that a little bit?
J: Yeah, just, I think a lot of people in the psychedelic community that I’m a part of still, even though I’m sober from psychedelic substances,... and most entheogens— these are various types of shamanistic drug medicines and psychedelics—even though I’m sober I’m still really committed to the psychedelic community and I owe, I think I owe them my life. And my stability and my health in so many ways. So they’re really important to me but at the same time, for years I had a deep, deep fear of going to jail. Because the drug laws against psychedelics are so harsh, and I knew that at any minute I could get 25 years mandatory minimum for what I had in my pocket. You know? And I was on psychedelics in downtown New York on the morning of 9/11. The war literally came home and I’m coming off acid. And it was just like, shit, ok we’re downtown, the war is here, you know? And so, it’s an interesting time to say the least. There’s a lot of fear in the community because a lot of us didn't have elders. I was already a very advanced psychedelic user by the time I found some good elders. There was a lot of natural fear of going to jail forever. At one point even though I was a business owner in the East Village of New York City through my partnership, I actually was so afraid of the government that I didn’t have any rights in my business partnership. I didn’t have my phone in my own name, I didn’t have a bank account because I just dropped off the grid. And I lived like that for like two years. It took a lot just to get a driver’s license and pay my taxes and become a citizen again. And then, to know just years later I’m actually just talking to the public about all these different tries like this. So, it’s taken a lot of healing to get there.
SDW: So, while they healed you a lot and took you, as you’ve said, once you go behind the curtain and see what’s behind the curtain you can’t unsee it, but, there’s also a time when they sort of unraveled you. I man, you experienced, um...I don’t know. So, we’re going to talk about your chronic illness tonight, and healing that. So, would you say, when your life had its big, calling moment, which we’ve talked about in the coven, when Goddess Kali comes in and destroys our life so that it must be recreated, would you say that was because of too much psychedelics, or would you say that was because you got really fucking sick? Or both?
J: Well, I would say that that specific Kali moment rode in on my Saturn return. My Saturn’s in Leo and it went all from like ego, like super clean as a sink, to like humble, humble earthworm eating dirt and learning to love it as the Earth. Learning to be like, I love being an earthworm and eating dirt because it’s the mother and I get to go back to the Earth now. I feel in that humbleness, which was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. But it did require that I stop using drugs completely to participate in that humbling.
But to backtrack I would say that i was always an artist and always a healer, and even as a little girl I would say that. And I loved being with Jesus, who was my ultra, ultra, super best friend boyfriend. And I had daily communion—and you know Calvin and Hobbes? He was my Hobbes, just the raddest guy ever, and he loved me more than anything. And first of all, I think that childhood relationship to a divine figure, Jesus is a fantastic divine masculine for little children—just, you know, if you can think of Jesus holding lambs and stuff, that’s what he was to me. So, having that connection to that divine I think helped me get through being a sick kid. Because I didn’t get diagnosed with Celiac’s [Disease] until three years ago, and I’m a Class C Celiac.
I also, just a few weeks ago just got diagnosed with another autoimmune disease, which I’m actually not ready to talk about because it’s so fresh, but, it’s become apparent, I’ve been very, very sick my whole life. Despite being a pilates teacher, graduating art school, being a dancer my whole life on the professional track—meaning like really tough ballet training and I want straight to university for dance—the whole time I knew I was sick. Very, very sick. And there was just basically, the message was I was traumatic, I was sensitive. I had an unbelievably low pain threshold. Princess and the Pea was something my family loved to call me. I was super fussy, and meanwhile I was actually enduring more pain. But I got conditioned into believing I was just super tender and kind of weak, and a little cowardly. But I had this relationship to JEsus that just made my heart sing, completely sing. And when I got introduced to psychedelics, which, I never got inebriated until I was 21. I was a goody-good ballerina, valedictorian of my high school. I was straight laced and I never tried any drugs until I graduated college. Then, one night I tried my first drug, which was a very clean, pure form of MDMA, which is ecstasy. Not straight ecstasy, but pure pharmaceutical MDMA. ANd I kind of feel like what happened was I got introduced to the goddess, then went on Phish tour, and came home 3 months later with dreadlocks and whole, new, beautiful outlook on life that I really wanted to participate in.
That happened while I was in pilates school. I got a really good foundation of psychedelic safety and psychedelic savvy, to keep myself safe, by the time I got to New York City when I was 23 in the year 2000. So, I find myself in New York City coming from a pilates school, an advanced school where my pilates education, I’ve been working with masters since I was 14 because I was a ballerina in high school. So I’ve studies all of these esoteric body work forms. I had been working with masters in LA since I was 14 until I was 21. So, coming to New York City, that made me immediately cache to the New York businesses. Because, the industry of bodywork and healing and pilates in NYC, because I was bringing this West Coast knowledge of masters with me in a very unique way at a very young age. I made a lot of money the minute I got to New York, and it was my first pilates job. And, I was supposed to be going to ballet class and auditioning for dance companies, but instead I decided it was a much better use of my path—it was my path, it was a calling, there was nothing that could be done about it—to go to rock and roll and dance while having communion with the divine usually through some sort of sacrament, which is a drug of some sort. I did that until I became a real part of the rock and roll community. And one night I remember I was on LSD, I looked around and I saw these boys in the front row with me dancing the most beautiful dancing I’d ever seen. And so I told them all they were my new best friends and we were going to be hula hoopers and start a dance company, and all live together in a loft and make magic happen. We would be able to tour with our favorite bands having this circus. They were just like, who are you, you’re crazy! And these were boys I only knew from going to other shows, I didn’t really know who they were. You know? And I think it was 5 weeks later we were living together, there was a name for the dance company, we were in rehearsals, we were in the house, and we did everything I said we were gonna do in that one trippy trip.
SDW: Because you saw it all.
J: I saw it all. Complete download. I was like, Oh, we're doing this. Who knew that these four boys, who were not trained dancers—these were like, one guys a video editor, one guys’ a drummer, one guy’s a metal smith. Yeah, these are not trained dancers. And I’m like: You’re perfect. They had such soul. They do, still. These boys, bless them, they have such soul.
SDW: But let’s get back to your—you’ve had a few lives in your short life. And you knew you were sick. And how did that come to a head, and then what did you do? Back to becoming an earthworm. Take us back there.
J:Yeah, the journey there, the arc there is that I’m self-medicating. Nothing’s taking away this pain except these psychedelics. And then a couple days after these psychedelics, I’m pain free. Because they have high tolerances, if you don’t dose everyday you stop losing the effects. So you have to change it up and you have to give yourself a couple days off at least. And you need to change up what’s on the menu. I was doing this and on my days of rest, I was feeling I had no pain.
Pain being like—the pain from my autoimmune issues are, I think, very similar to people with fibromyalgia. But it’s not that. But I have normal autoimmune symptoms. So, I’m working on predominantly people in chronic pain all day long. People aren’t coming to me for a cute butt and strong abs and cut arms. They’re coming to me because they have pain all the time. Half of these people are women that are empaths with autoimmune diseases. They come to me to learn how to treat them. I learned all this work I do on them on their fascia systems, through work that I developed while carrying on with my crazy circus, not getting any sleep, performing, doing crazy rock and roll, and then dosing again in the morning to have enough energy to go to work and to see with my hands into these people’s bodies. What would basically transpire is i found the best way to describe it is that I feel like a weaver. Erin says she’s the Shepherd, I guess I’m the weaver. So I feel like I’m sitting at a giant loom with a tapestry on it, and the tapestry is someone’s fascia. Which is, a three-dimensional matrix, like if I had a corrosive material that I could pour on your head that made all your matter disappear except your fascia, I would see a 3D spiderweb filament structure that is still exactly you. You’d be recognizable. Inside of this filament is spinal cerebral fluid. So the cosmology I sort of tuned into with the human body is that through this fascia matrix, which has spinal cerebral fluid and basically is the carrier of our life essence (I believe it’s where the seed of consciousness is). This fascia matrix runs through every cell of your body. Every cell of your body has this network running through it.
And what I could see when I dosed was how it goes through you and then beyond you into the ether of all that is. And I could see it, everywhere. I could see where my fingertips end and then I become a part of the ether and the cloud and the divine matrix. I’m sure everyone on the call understands what I mean by that. And, it was intense. And I knew when I was dosing, there was a lot of my party life—my party life, I want it to be understood, was sacred. It was a church party. It was a temple party. I had grown out of Jesus. Jesus was my old standby—Christ consciousness will always be my first love, but, you know, becoming a woman, try8ing to become a woman, I saw that Goddess came. Another thing that She did was, I was having a lot of auditory hallucinations, which were very dear to me, which was Goddess talking to me and then teaching me, verbally running commentary though my whole day. Speaking to me about every person I was coming into contact with. Especially those that I was healing. One thing that was kind of funny about these auditory hallucinations She gave me is that I could hear everyone’s vulnerability. I could hear that, in fact, everyone is a vulnerable 5-year-old. And I could always hear that voice in everyone, and It was like everyone was showing their hand right there. ANd it was very beautiful for me.
My life became unraveled when I started to have trips repeat themselves, which is something that Ken Kesey—who was the founder of the Merry Pranksters after he wrote the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—Ken Kesey made everyone in the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test eventually graduate. And that’s what happened to me. I had forced graduation. That’s when trips start to repeat themselves, and the message they give is very clear. My relationship to the divine feminine is super literal, I’m a Virgo, she knows how to communicate, I’m super literal. And she told me: “If you can’t learn that you have enough to digest, you have to digest what you’ve already learned, and if you don’t, it’s gonna hurt.” And I was like “No, that’s cool.” And she was like, “Ok now it’s gonna really hurt.” That was just—I couldn’t leach anymore wisdom from these tools, and my body was in so much pain. So much pain, as you can imagine, someone with autoimmune diseases doing too much drugs. I will say that the drug that brought me down, the last three months of my drug experience, I did acid and cocaine every single day. It was a relatively small—it’s not like traumatic like in the movies, it was nothing crazy. It was bumps of coke, and a little drop of a micro dose of acid. But for 90 days, I went vision questing hard. This was while working in Manhattan, in the East Village, running a business. It was just unsustainable, clearly.
SDW: So, when we talked, you said that you had a dark night of the soul, and your call out of everybody’s, you know, what I saw that as was you lost this popular studio and you lost all control of your body, as far as the pain. Your life and your body sort of fell apart. And what was that like for your ego.
J: Yeah. This is perfect. So, it became clear I couldn’t do drugs anymore. So, I quit, cold-turkey. Just quit, cold turkey. That was actually kind of easy to do because I was in so much pain, and I knew it was being caused from the drug use, so it was really easy. I just tapped out. And in addict terms, like in 12-step programs, they would say I had a high bottom, which means my rock bottom was rather, you know. It was socially acceptable, let’s say that. For me, I got cancer. I had a birthmark on my face that turned into five basal-cell carcinoma tumors overnight. I went from basically 100 pounds to 179 pounds in 9 months. So, I almost doubled my weight in 9 months. And I’m 5’2”, I’m a very small person.
SDW: You are a little—a diminutive person. Adorable.
J: [Laughing] Yeah, petite or something. Yeah. So, I almost doubled my weight. . I did get cancer, I needed plastic surgery for it. They removed 3 clear inches of my right cheek, which created a weird, phantom wind blowing through my face for over a year. And then, I had a terrible breakup. I became sober, which means I lost all my friends, immediately.
SDW: Right, that’s what happens.
J: Friends gone.
J: I lost my dance company. I lost my commune. I was the mother of a commune. Lost my commune. Lost my company. My business partner looked at me and was like “Jesse’s not doing drugs anymore, I wonder if she’s gonna start asking about her rights, and start stepping up about money issues.” So instead of kind of working that out, she took my studio from me, and gave me a very small settlement. And I was too traumatized to basically do anything about it. I was really in turmoil, I just wanted to stay sober and deal with the fact that I had no friends. Guess what, a lot of people don’t want a pilates teacher who’s almost 200 pounds at 5’2”. The few clients that I kept during that time are still with me today by the way. I got sober in 2006, so from 2006 to 2015, these people are still with me. But I lost a huge clientele. It was traumatizing. I also was feeling like, it was the opposite of Wizard of Oz where you go from black and white world to technicolor world. I was going from Oz where everything was awesome and beautiful and like hot air balloon rides. I went straight to like, Kansas, all torn up after a tornado, black and white. I was like “No fucking way, music’s never gonna sound good, dancing’s never gonna feel good. I still didn’t know I had these two autoimmune diseases that are known for bringing on extraordinary pain. I still didn’t know that. I just knew that suddenly I went from being known as a very honored woman in my community and very celebrated, to understanding that I had lived my life as a privileged, pretty girl before and suddenly realising, oh, I’m having privileges taken away from me because I’m 180 pounds now. And, I lost all my money, you know. And it was beautiful. Beautiflu.
One thing that I learned from this humbling was I still had work. And I’m sober, laying my hands on people, and guess what? I can still see their fascia. And their fascia, if we return to this tapestry, and I’m sitting at this giant room, with my hands it feels like reading brain with my fingertips. I’m using my hands to run across the texture of this tapestry. And I can feel, if I give a little tug on this thread, its gonna affect this thread over there. Which is basically the effect of a term called tensegrity, which, Buckminster Fuller coined this term, and it’s about sacred geometry. Tensegrity is the conjunction of tension and integrity, and that’s what the fascia in us is, it runs through every cell. And so, I’m at this tapestry, and I can feel where the texture of the weave needs to be smoothed out, but imagine that the tapestry is actually conscious and communicating to me, the weaver, what it craves and needs to right itself.
And it really was a miracle to have this work be absolutely clear to me without any drugs at all, in complete sobriety. I never altered my consciousness, not even with caffeine.
SDW: So how does your healing practice look today, and how has it transformed over the years? Because, today I think of you as—just tell us what “embodied” means to you. Because you use that word a lot, your Pinterest has a huge following, and you hashtag #everythingembodied, every time we’re on the phone you say embody. And it’s one of the biggest gifts you try to offer to your clients, is to become embodied. So can you tell us more about that, what that means to you?
J: Yes. I had such a deeply traumatizing childhood, physically, mentally, emotionally. Not that they can really be separated, actually, but... I was so deeply traumatized. And now realizing I was a very sick child, I was always leaving my body. Always. Always leaving my body. And one thing that saved me, I think truly saved me, aside from my relationship to the divine through Christ was dancing all the time. Dancing would bring me back for class. So, basically, the embodiment experience I gained through psychedelics—the thing that I want to express now, I think it’s really important—and I know the callers that have some experiences with plant medicines understand that: it was the first time in my life that I didn’t have to be pretty, and I didn’t have to be smart, and I didn’t have to be anything. I didn’t have to qualify for being on this planet. And everything about me was not only okay, but beautiful and celebrated. I was connected to all that is, and not only blessed by the divine, but actually am the divine incarnate. And that has never left me, ever. That’s something that everyone who comes to see me—I’m trippy. People who come to see me, they like to be trippy. I like being really freaky. In many ways, I’ve learned that I’m really old fashioned, but I like things freaky. So, people who come to see me don’t really know what’s gonna happen now. They might do actual classical pilates for an hour and a half. Or, we might be doing fascial unwinding where their fascia is guiding my hand and i don’t know what’s gonna happen. But they're going to leave being way more aligned in their musculoskeletal system. Really beautifully aligned. But I don’t know, because their body's’ gonna tell me what it needs. Sometimes we do almost no movement and it’s story medicine and clients need to talk. Sometimes we’re hula hooping because someone’s so blocked in their root chakra that we actually need to just hula hoop for an hour. So, it’s really about embodiment. I’m incorporating a lot of more ritual and ceremony. But with this focus of my client creating it, not learning it from me. And, learning how to unwind their own fascia, because many of my clients—Erin said it so beautifully, you have to have a relationship to your own pain.
I see people in pain all the time, it’s so amazing because I’ve always understood my clients in chronic pain, meanwhile I was having phenomenal chronic pain but I thought mine was somehow invalidated because doctors were telling me I was fine, I had nothing wrong with me. And, it’s so beautiful for me to see that i’ve become this healer, and I can heal myself. And because I’ve had to do so much with autoimmune just to heal myself, I can feel myself going more and more into that direction professionally.
SDW: Tell me about your ritual.
J: I do ritual every single day, oftentimes with my husband. What I do is I do bodywork on myself every single day. SO, for instance it’s now mundane, which I love, but my husband and I have two yoga mats that we throw down a blanket with Alex Grey flowers on it, and it’s got all my props: My roller, my yoga blocks, my pilates props and things that I roll out and do myofascial massage on. Usually I do that half a day, journaling and I dance every single day. Today I danced everywhere I went in the city. That’s something I call city storming. I dance everywhere I go. The city’s too much of a bummer for me now. I’m super bummed out on this city, I live on Long Island.
SDW: Why? Why are you bummed on the city?
J: This city’s a bummer because I’m an empath and I can feel how sad everyone is. Sad, angry, stressed. Despair, loss, worry, neuroses everywhere. And, I like magic. I like to bring the magic. And I’m a tripper. No matter how sober I am, I’m gonna be a tripper.
SDW: Right. So, not only do you get a gold star for being such a true friend to me, but as far as the Coven Conversations, you sent me this—we’ll get into this in a second, but—you sent an amazing handbook for every member of the coven to have a framework, reference points of and the masters of the psychedelic movement. The fathers of it. And you also sent me talking points, which is amazing. This shows how you’re always showing up for me. And you really do always show up for me. And It’s call 9 and it’s hard when I can’t feel the audience so I don’t quite know. I can’t wait to do these in person where we can have audience interaction, you can show how you heal the fascia on somebody, Erin could show breathwork, every call would be so openly interactive, it would be amazing. And, so you know, I’m starting to feel a little bit unsupported. And here, you, just because you are so embodied, you are so into your intuition, there’s gonna be some support for my call. And one of the things you said in your beautiful talking points was, once you saw behind the veil you couldn’t unsee it. And, only about 15 minutes left, and I want to get to a few more things but can you wrap up for us, for people who haven’t taken psychedelics, what’s behind the veil?
J: Yes, I mean. As soon as I start talking about the subject of altered consciousness, my consciousness alters. That must be said. I enter the ether, is what I like to call it. I struggle to stay embodied as I talk about psychedelics. But I will say this. For me with psychedelics it became immediately evident, every single time I used them, tangibly evident, reality as you are now in your house, wherever you are, in your home, in your body: to be with this divine, you are the divine. And, fantastic realms. I’ve had adventures where I walk on the grey matter of my own brain while looking up into the Milky Way and seeing that every single celestial body is truly just marcaba of sacred geometry. That was before I knew the word sacred geometry, before I studied all this stuff. I fell in love with myself so much one time that I was caught in a bathroom making love to myself, literally kissing the mirror. Literally diddling myself, I was so in love. You know? Some beautiful little hippy mamas were like, “Hey, sister, woah.” And they politely helped me get myself together and the looked me square in the eye and they said “Do you have anymore?” Not that there is anything wrong with hedonistic, sexual experiences or anything like that, but that’s not what was happening. I genuinely found my soulmate. I genuinely realized that I loved her so much that we just had to have communion, immediately. And it was a real trip to figure out that was an actual mirror afterwards.
And that’s an extreme experience. I’ve had experiences where, Malcolm Stuart, maybe some of you know him, he collaborates on Shakti workshops. I met Malcolm Stuart at a dance party and I believe what i was on at the time was something called candy flipping, which is a mixture of MDMA and LSD, and I saw him dancing and throwing down beats so hard, I felt lit in my gut. I could see him throwing down beats, such a fantastic dancer. I walked up to him, and I said, you're coming home you’re joining our circus commune. You're going to put on makeup and glitter and sequins and you’re gonna be a big hula hoop star. And that wasn’t me, I can’t think of those things, Jesse doesn’t do that. I don’t have that kind of vision. On psychedelics I’m like Oh, boom! See it. I just saw the future.
SDW: So you’re talking about deep connections.
J: Deep connections, visually as well.
SDW: So, with the rise of popularity of, with those girls who came out to visit me were like “Can we do ceremony because we’re in New Mexico,” and they mean ayahuasca or peyote, and it’s really—people are going to Peru in droves. What do you think of this sudden resurgence of plant medicine and the popularity of it?
J: What I think about it is, it’s amazing. I’m super, super stoked. It makes my heart sing and I get really excited about all of the people coming out of the psychedelic closet, and I can see a lot of people who can’t. It’s also interesting to see the people who don’t come out of the psychedelic closet and realizing a lot of times that kind of means they’re still able to imbibe in sacrament. I do not imbibe in sacrament anymore, so I feel more free to talk about them. It is a good thing, but I have such concerns. Deep, deep, deep concerns. Psychedelic addiction, classically, is actually quite rare, but it does exist. Absolutely does exist. Ane even if that means it’s more an addiction to luminous experiences. People that are really addicted to having experiences with the divine—life is really depressing and they’re living from mystical experience to mystical experience. It’s never quite enough. This is real. But, I love that kind of thing so much, and I believe in listening to people’s callings. One should see if they can safely imbibe, if they’re called. And I mean a deep, body calling. Like, that’s for me. That is for me.
I have seen deep consequences from psychedelic use. Even the first time. People really need to know themselves, and research is key. Which is why, in the little mini, trippy notebooks, I put all the resources that anyone who might want to participate in sacrament, resources to educate themselves on safety and their health and the laws. Which is really important, because you can lose your life, your freedom, your liberty. I put that in the packet because I want people to be safe. And I believe in cognitive liberty. That’s a huge thing for me. I can’t get with a government body trying to tell me what I’m allowed to do with my consciousness. So I like to really stay in touch with MAPS and the Women’s Visionary Congress, it deeply concerns me. Those are in the notebooks.
But also, I don’t want people to go into their first experience scared. That’s not a good recipe. So, just be smart.
SDW: A couple of girls in the coven have asked me individually about ceremony, and even going to Peru. I’ll tell you I’m going in a few months, but I felt a deep calling by the mother to go. I’m going for deep, sacred reasons. And the time keeps getting pushed back so I can do more and more research, and really ground myself in the research: the holiness of it, the sacredness of it. ANd i’m working with the most renowned shamans, in the most well-recommended place in Peru. I’m not taking risks. I’ve saved up, I’ve researched, and I’m going because I hear the mother of the plant. They call Ayahuasca divine of the mother, and she has wisdom she needs to impart to the women, if you are called, to the women who are aligned to save the Earth. I don't’ recommend it to anyone, I’m doing my best with what I’m getting into. So, it’s something to deeply take very seriously, do a ton of research to make sure it’s totally safe.
J: And yeah, no one does ayahuasca at a party. Let’s be real. You’re gonna puke your brains out. That’s something that’s really important about education is that, the toxicity index—because these are all poisons. Anything that alters your consciousness is a toxin and there’s a scale of toxicity wher something is relatively, easily metabolised by the body and gives you a lot of euphoria compared to the toxicity, right? So, yeah. You can get really high off nutmeg and you can get really high off morning glory seeds, but you’ll also have really violent physical reactions. Meanwhile Lysergic Acid (LSD) is very easily metabolized by the liver and gives heightened euphoria. Meanwhile ayahuasca, the DMT experience you’re having with ayahuasca is a brutal teacher to some people, people with western diets. I know you’re a vegetarian, it’s probably gonna be very different for you. But it’s not the same thing as popping some ecstasy in Amsterdam. It’s not the same thing. Even though I will say that popping ecstasy in Amsterdam, I do not see that as any less of a divine, sacred experience. I have had the most intimate beautiful—just no words. No words to tell you how beautiful these exchanges with Goddess have been for me at Phish shows surrounded by 300 pound, smelly, bearded hippy boys, you know? I don’t judge, you know. But they all carry risks.
SDW: What’s the main thing you want your clients to leave your practice with?
J: I want my clients to leave my practice knowing they are their own healer. They all go: Jesse, what am I gonna do without you tomorrow when I wake up? They want me in house living with them, because they are, predominantly, chronic pain sufferers. So I’ve shifted focus to teaching people to be their own healers, to bringing their own healing techniques home with them, that they incorporate into ritual to keep them embodied. And when you’re embodied you actually feel what’s going on inside of you. When you’re embodied you can identify which emotions that you’re having. When you’re embodied you can have incredible gratitude and incredible jealousy at the same time, because we are actually that big of a container, to have conflicting emotions happening at the same time. Also, you can actually feel how shitty your body feels from that corn syrup you just drank, right? Right, your Coca Cola with corn syrup. Well you know what if you’re really embodied and you can feel that, you stop buying that product, and now you’re not giving money to GMO corn crops.
For me that’s a really mundane black and white sort of practical breakdown of what i mean by we’re individuals tied into a matrix. And on psychedelics I can literally see and hear and feel. But I carry that information with just kind of like ... bringing the magic into the mundane from these altered states, whether they are drug induced or not. These altered mystical states, they come down to practical everyday mundane things we can actually do to change the world. Learning that I was sick with autoimmune and being embodied and actually feeling it, and like, working with my husband to heal myself from it has radically changed our lives. We keep an absolutely green household. This house is cleaned with distilled vinegar and lemon juice, and it is clean. And we’re cooking with cast iron and we don’t store our food in plastic. And if I’m buying clothes, I’m buying clothes from my friends, and making more friends who are designers, and they get my money. I’m not giving my money to slave traders who are gonna make clothes anymore. I’m not gonna do it because I can feel that it breaks my heart. I can feel that because I’m embodied. And that’s what I’m trying to do. And I feel like, like what Erin was talking about: This city did so much for me when I was young. I had to explore everything and to taste everything and be a part of everything and learn it all. And I was there to be for the people. Those New Yorkers, they need healing more than I’ve ever seen in anyone, ever. But the more embodied I got, the more I was like this makes me sick. So now I live kind of by the trees and sort of by the beach. And, that’s what’s really important for me is embodying that. And I’m still sort of sick. It’s stage four endometriosis with celiac’s disease. And it’s manageable but painful. I still want to escape my body all the time. And I just can’t keep doing that. It’s just exhausting to leave your body, bring it back in, leave your body, bring it back in.
SDW: Abandoning your body.
J: Abandoning, yeah. Right. And losing your magic. Because you know what? It’s super hard to be magical when you don’t have your vehicle, your earthness. That’s your Earth element. If you’re not in your body you’ve lost your Earth element. It’s perfect to be talking about this in the month of Virgo, being a Virgo, it’s so important. As I talk more about psychedelics I’m realizing I don’t get to talk about the very much because it feels like sacred information.
SDW: There’s still a closet
J: Yeah, there’s still a closet, it’s super new. It also feels like I’m talking about my sex life, like I’m talking about intimate, intimate. But also, I could get busted. It’s such an interesting thing. But I will say if you’re called, or if someone—I feel like the ladies in this call know themselves really well, and there’s probably some really experienced users of these sacraments on the call. So, like “Hey!” if you’re out there. But also the people in our lives. There’s millions of people trying psychedelics every year for the first time. Many of them are having really uncomfortable experiences because they're’ having really high doses for the first time. And these are people that like have never been in their bodies before. People that never grew up with religion or spirituality suddenly meeting God for the first time, and maybe realizing they don’t know who they are, and they’re 30.
SDW: Or they’re 60.
J: Yeah. That’s my dream, is that they get legalized when I’m old and I can do mushrooms with my husband.
SDW: That sounds amazing. When I was lying in bed with my recent bout of Lyme, I was simply watching documentaries on Bill Hicks and Jim Morrison, both avid shamanic mushroom takers. And and Terrence McKenna who’s in your notebook that you’ve gifted to the coven talks about: these mushrooms are illegal because if we took them we would see we are all one, and there would be no need for war and capitalism and, you know, the currency would return to love.
J: And you can’t unsee it. You can’t unsee that. You can’t unsee it.
SDW: You can’t unsee it, yeah. So if you’re new to Bill Hicks please look him up, he’s amazing. But we do have to do our wrap up questions, Jess, so I want to ask you you’ve kind of been touching on this but: How can the awakened feminine heal the world?
J: Yeah, I think the awakened woman heals the world because when you awaken, and I’ve seen this a lot, you don't necessarily—you're not necessarily embodied when you awaken. And when you awaken, at some point, if you’re not already embodied, you figure it out. You figure out pretty fast you’re not embodied. And you search and work for it, and achieve it. And you feel. Because being disembodied is connected to numbness. When you become embodied, the feelings come. You can feel the heartbreak come in waves all over your chest, through your fascia; you can feel when you’re turned on. You can actually feel yourself getting wet. And that feeling is how we’re not gonna take the bullshit anymore. We’re not gonna fucking take the bullshit anymore. That’s how we’re not gonna allow abuse anymore and we see how we’re directly connected to that.
What’s in your kitchen? How are you supporting farmers. How are you supporting the people you like? Just people you like. Decide who your community is and give them the money. And really do your research into what you’re buying. And if that’s inconvenient for you, that might be okay. I don't need things to be convenient. It’s not convenient to have Celiac’s disease, let me tell you. We shop in six different places for food a week sometimes. It is not convenient. I did not drive, I did public transportation in New York City for 11 years and then I moved to Long Island and it became immediately evident I am going to resist driving whenever possible because I just can’t get with the cars and oil. It bums me out. I avoid it. I walk around this little town and I carpool with my husband, but I don’t like to drive on my own, and whenever possible I won’t do it. And making decisions to take vacation local, and not— I mean, seriously, I vote with my money every day, Sarah. I’m like this is my money, who am I giving it to? Are they doing good or bad? Because they’re getting my money and I'm really strict about it. And it’s actually shaped my life. And it’s funny because I didn't know this when I was a psychedelic user. I was like “I’m wild, I’m in the circus, I’m out there, I’m a priestess, I’m a goddess, I have dreadlocks. I was feral. I was downright feral. I did not know at the time but I was actually quite conservative in the traditional sense of the world. And as I became embodied I realized I am actually conservative in this way: I care about conserving this planet, and I care about preserving the ecosystems I’m living in.
SDW: Your body.
J: I care about my body, and I care about who’s getting my money. And now I care about who's actually in office. And it’s like, I’m embodied, I can feel these things actually affecting everybody. So that’s how I think we are actually going to practically save the world. To hurt them with our money, they lose their power. That’s it for me.
SDW: Thank you,. I love all of the different answers to this question because they create a village of answers, from the deeply spiritual to the deeply rational to the in-between to the, “I don’t know man I just gotta save myself and that’s good enough for me.” [Laughter]
So how can people work with you?
J: Well, right now I’m actually transitioning because I’m finally getting validated that I actually, indeed, have not felt good for a long time. So, and getting older, I’m almost 40 and my joints are like, please stop. Please stop. So I’ve decided—also, my business model is so expensive it’s not sustainable. I’m mostly serving the one percent and charging them high prices and not charging any money to the people that can’t afford me. And it’s worked for many years but now my body’s getting tired, so I’m actually transitioning my private practice and focusing more on trying to have an online model for people to work with me through videos and Skype. But people do come to work with me in my private studio in Long Island. And sometimes they’re here for an hour. Sometimes they’re here for eight hours for full day private workshops with me. And I also have a small private practice in the city where I do concierge service. But I’m realizing I don’t want that to expand, and I really never thought I would say that.
SDW: Good for you. Thank you.
J: Thank you.
SDW: Yeah, no, thank you. It’s all—this week’s theme for me has been even though it’s working on the surface, if down below it isn’t, everything has to change. And that’s where I am and have bene. And my wonderful audience sees me go through these depths again, and again, and again. And they’re important to talk about.
J: Yeah, growing medicine.
SDW: The pain of growth. Thank you so much Jess.
J: Yeah, I love you. Such a great party.
SDW: Such a great party. Yeah, I’m wiped. So I just wanted to thank you and Erin, and thank you for the, all the fire you’ve walked through to offer this wisdom and I honor you and love you, and thank you.
J: I love you babe, thank you.
SDW: Ok, sleep tight.