An actress and natural beauty expert shares her rituals and recipes for self-care
As women, we are inherently tribal. We are meant to gather with other women, to care for one another, participate in ceremony and be in circles. Unfortunately, we often lack this connection in our modern lives, where we work in cubicles, frequently care for our families alone, and have mothers and sisters who live far away. Our days pass without a sense of reverence and community, and we’re left with a powerful yearning for connection.
For me, rituals provide that connection. When I perform them alone, I am able to connect with the source of all being (our own, personal version of a higher power) and my deepest levels of self. When I gather for ceremony with other women, I connect with the divine feminine and form strong bonds with my teachers and friends, new sisters and mothers. Ritual and ceremony provide us with an opportunity to refuel, re-energize, and even reinvent ourselves. Just a simple beauty ritual can trigger a profound shift into a more self-healing modality.
I experienced my first ritual almost two decades ago, and it really enlightened me and opened me up to a whole new realm of healing. I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with my family, and it was the middle of winter. In the coldest months, New Mexico is a magical, mystical place, with its dusty, red landscape awash in drifts of white snow. My former mother-in-law and I traveled to a small adobe house on the outskirts of town, where a Native American shaman held ceremonies in her sweat lodge.
This was my introduction to the use of cleansing herbs, such as sage, and to the power of prayer. The lodge was the hottest place I had ever been, and we were naked for the three-hour ceremony. It was a test of strength, will and spirit. I openly cried as the chants and smoke and sweat unearthed the demons I thought I had so carefully buried. There were many moments when I wanted to leave, but even when my mind told me I wouldn’t last a minute longer, my spirit told me to stay.
In these moments, I would lower myself to the ground and put my naked breasts against the cool earth. I felt the feminine power of the earth supporting me. As I breathed in the cool air that rose up to revive me, I knew that if I could survive this, I could survive anything outside of the lodge as well.
After the sweat, I emerged renewed, and my senses were alive. I saw rainbows and shimmering orbs. The shaman had laid out a beautiful feast of hummus, crackers, olives, salads, and fresh juices, and all the food glittered like gems. Everything tasted incredible, and I felt like I had been stripped raw to reignite my passion for beauty and pleasure.
During this ritual, the shaman told me that I was connected to the wolf, and she used the word lupus, which is the Latin translation. This was my first inkling of my autoimmune disorders, and I would be formally diagnosed with lupus a short while later. I don’t think we have to go to this extreme to have ritual in our lives. That just happened to be my initiation into this newfound world. When I come together with my sisters, most of the rituals we perform are very simple. We will gather flowers, make a mandala and call in the Four Directions, which is a Native American tradition that represents a universal way of connecting with the earth. For a small ritual, often with just one other person, a tea ceremony connects us to nature and roots us in the moment. Something as simple as lighting a candle and saying a prayer can take ordinary life and elevate it to a higher realm.
The most important thing is how you approach what you are doing. Mindfulness and intention are the only requirements for turning a routine into a ritual. Are you approaching your beauty treatments as a chore or as an act of self-love? Are you distractedly slathering on body oil or taking the time to anoint yourself?
In a world that dulls the senses with overstimulation and overextension, women are losing touch with their desire and need for pleasure. As a result, we are starving for these very things. We need to be illuminated and filled up by the divine, and we can do this by creating moments of happiness and abundance in our lives.
Just a simple beauty ritual can trigger a profound shift into a more self-healing modality.
Excerpted from Whole Beauty by Shiva Rose (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by Ngoc Minh Ngo.
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