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Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Tag: embody your soul

Home for the Holy Days

Katie Gordon

The Holy Days are fast approaching. 

As it's a time of year that has traditionally been hard, I've been preparing myself and doing some deep work to unwind the patterns of WHY I had such a hard time during the holidays. When I say that, it sounds like I've just begun, but really it's been years of preparation. Years of deep digging and diving, uncovering, understanding, asking questions, and softening. Always softening. 

You see, for my whole adult life I've been learning about the emotional body. Whether it was through herbalism, massage + bodywork, craniosacral work, yoga + movement, or shamanism, for me it's always been about why we feel the things we feel and what we do about it.

The way I dealt with challenging emotions from a young age was to leave my body. My close family and friends always commend my good memory, but there are very poignant events that happened in my life that I don't remember. Vacations I've forgotten, memories I've blocked out, experiences I've erased.

The thing is, we don't actually erase any of it. It's still there, buried in our bones, vibrating within our cells.  But one of the best ways our psyches have of dealing with experiences and emotions that we don't have the tools to deal with is to leave. That isn't a bad thing! It's a truly wonderful defense mechanism we have that only means we're functioning optimally. 

As a kid, I felt EVERYTHING because I could feel everyone. From a young age, it was apparent to me that many people couldn't handle their own emotions, so unconsciously I decided I'd take them on instead. In the midst of divorce, death, fights, upheavals, I took on their anger, grief, anxiety, and sadness. It was an enormous weight and once I took it on, I didn't know how to give it back.

Photo by  Matt Howard  on  Unsplash

Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

To hold back this enormous wave of emotion from overtaking me, I built a tall, strong wall around myself and left my body. 

Slowly, gradually, I noticed that the things I used to love doing felt flat, unalive, distant. Or rather, I felt distant while I was doing them. I was on the periphery of whatever was happening. It felt as if I always just needed to make it to the next thing. Then the next. And the next. I only had to make it through. Like I was crossing them off a to-do list.

I didn't actually enjoy doing the thing I was doing, even if it was something I would have normally loved. It felt as if I had to keep going, otherwise whatever it was I had been avoiding for YEARS (that wave) would catch up with me and I'd have to look it in the eye and feel the things I had so brilliantly blocked out for so long. Which was okay. I could live like that for awhile, right? It wasn't so bad... 

Except it got to a point when there wasn't anything I absolutely LOVED doing anymore. I never felt overjoyed. Ecstatic. I never got so wrapped up in anything that I completely lost track of time. Everything was so contained inside me, safe, untouchable, that the whole world was going on without me.

And it sucked.

Because I WANTED to feel overjoyed. I so badly wanted to feel ecstatic. I desired to know delight again. But I was so afraid of the grief I knew I was being held back by that wall around myself. That wall that had kept me safe and not overcome by the wave of feeling.

I realized awhile back I had been preparing for this moment. In all my trainings, in all that time I thought I was learning new things to help other people, I had actually been collecting tools to heal + bring myself back to wholeness. And at the core of every single one of those practices, philosophies, and modalities?


I had to invite my awareness back into my body. I had to invite myself back home.

And yes, it really is an invitation. You can't force it if it's not time. That's another thing I've learned. Timing is a real thing. And if you haven't allowed yourself the time, it ain't happenin'.

So, I began to invite my awareness to rest in my body. To notice simple things like how my bones move when I breathe. To notice if I'm even breathing. To notice how certain herbs interact with my body. How foods make me feel. How emotions feel in my physical body and where I feel them.

What happens when I don't get enough sleep, and what if I allowed myself to take a nap? 

You see, our bodies are always there, always advocating for us, always talking to us. Always. It's the thing we have that ties us to this beautifully alive Earth. Our bodies inform us about our experiences. And that's what I was so desperately craving: to have an experience. To live. To feel. Because I had cut myself off from feeling for so long. 

As I began to invite it all in, I did feel it all. I cried (and still do) about the smallest things. I cry out of joy and grief. In moments of ecstasy and despair. A lot of the things I was afraid of feeling and the memories I was afraid of remembering have come back, and I'm still alive. So, I've got that going for me. 

Sometimes it does feel like too much. Sometimes the memories I've blocked come back and I remember the pain of that moment in life. Sometimes I still find myself taking on the things that feel like too much for others. (Yep, I'm still working on my own boundaries.) 

Its a practice. 

Sometimes it's easy to navigate our emotions and those of others around us, sometimes it's not. But the more I allow people to have their experience, the more I allow myself to mine, the more I build trust in myself. 

And I've found moments of joy. Lots of them. I've felt more alive, connected, vibrant, and part of the world again.

Photo by  Jordan Whitt  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

The other day we went to pick out a Christmas tree. In the midst of the festivities of the tree lot, families, kids running around, people having a good time, I realized it was a moment in which I would have checked out. But it felt different. 

I felt HERE. I could feel the cold air around me. I could feel my feet firmly planted on the ground. I could feel the rain drops on my forehead. And I could feel the simultaneous wave of joy and grief at the same time. Joy at the simple tradition of picking out a tree with my love. Grief that I had missed out on moments out of the fear of feeling anything at all. 

Slowly, gradually, I've invited myself back home. I've invited my awareness back into my body to notice the simple things, and then the not-so-simple things. And yea, I still feel A LOT, but I'm beginning to see what a gift that is too.

discernment + divine feminine

Katie Gordon

Last night I had a dream that I was helping a female mentor (who doesn't exist in "real life"...only in dreamland) pack her magical workshop. At first, as I was going through her things, I was asking her what I should throw away and what I should keep, picking up random objects, some of which I recognized, some I didn't. But as time went on, I intuitively knew what I could toss and what was important for her to keep and take with her into her new space (wherever that was). Of course I woke up and thought, "uhh...WTF??"

Who's this lady? Why's she throwing away all this great stuff? Why does she have purple hair? And why does she look vaguely familiar? Like an older version!!

As a side note, my dreams are typically VERY reflective of what's going on in my conscious reality, whether or not I want to acknowledge the situation or not. And this one felt important, deep in my bones. The feeling of building trust in myself, rather than looking outside of myself to an external source of wisdom to discern what to keep and what to toss, was what stuck with me the most.

The last couple years have been full of powerful lessons for me, but the most profound has been that of DISCERNMENT.

Who and what do I allow into my space? And why? With what intention am I acting? How can I give myself more room for conscious connection with the people, places, things in my life?

Now, as I make pretty huge decisions in the realm of creating and nourishing conscious relationships, where I'm going to live, who I'm going to spend my life with, what I'm going to do to support myself, how I align my actions with my soul (you know, little things like that), I see why this woman showed up last night.

What do I need to take with me into this next stage of my journey? What needs to be seen, acknowledged, and released? With which old stories identities, patterns, even words do I feel complete?

What has been healed enough to be able to know in my soul that I know I can thank those teachers and move on having absorbed and integrated that wisdom, knowing that I'm authentically EMBODYING my soul?

Apparently a lot...

...or at least enough.

Recently, I've been working around the energy of the Divine Feminine, how to embody my own femininity, what that means amidst the trend of New-Agey, awaken-your-inner-goddess spirituality that tends to label one thing as the right way to be "feminine." I often felt like there was something wrong with ME because so many aspects of the "return of the Goddess" movement and feminism in general that didn't resonate with me. It felt forced, inauthentic, even, energetically, masculine.

I've felt the need to create my own idea of the Her, of what it means to be divinely feminine. And realized, there are as many expressions of Her as there are women (and men) in the world! Our souls express themselves in countless ways, and to categorize ONE thing as feminine seems to me to come from a wounded place within the human psyche. It separates us from our actual feminine soul and creates rigidity, a false construct in which we think we need to fit ourselves.

To me, this dream meant my own feminine soul, my innate ability to intuit, discern, separate the gold from the raw material, absorb what I need and discard (or even destroy) the rest, make decisions that feel in alignment with my soul's purpose, is not only feeling quite confident to be seen and heard, but beginning to integrate with my physical, dreaming body.


Obviously the work is never done (which is one thing I love about being human) but to receive the message that I'm on the right track, I've done enough work to still have the physical feeling of holding something in my hand and knowing "I definitely don't need this where I'm going" deserves a self-high-five.

Realizing that spirituality is NOT the same thing as living from my soul and can often rob us of our capacity to express our femininity, which is innately divine, has given me the room to ask, "What feels spiritual or feminine for me to do today?" Every. Day. So many different answers, so many reflections in just my own life of the feminine. I can't even imagine how many expressions there are if we'd all give ourselves the space to be with that question.