A Collaboration in Black and White

Greetings!  Time to dust off this keyboard and get back to blogging! 31932250_10214712776625722_8651299963738783744_n

So I’m working on a new collaboration with a fellow Scorpio artist. It’s not music, reiki, or meditation, or any of that although it does hold a lot of good energy.
It’s art.
In case you weren’t aware, I draw….I paint…I’m creative. I just don’t always have the time to focus on that outside of my other creative endeavors and sometimes I don’t share these things on social media.

I’m going to tell you this story for two reasons…First, I’m SUPER excited about what she and I are doing together and second, I also think white people need to understand why it’s important to be mindful of how we incorporate black culture into our own creations. The term “cultural appropriation” is thrown around a lot lately but I don’t really think white folks get it.

I get it.  So I feel that it’s my place to speak on it and give examples. (Side note…more white folks need to be the ones speaking up and educating other white folks.)

Let me first explain how we met. A few years ago I was attending Handmade Holiday at the Living Well in Baltimore. It’s one of my favorite events in December with local vendors selling handmade items. This was before I was heavy into wrapping jewelry and making crystal grids. Dana was one of the vendors. She was selling these amazing paintings of women…mostly black women with interesting angles, curvy nudes, half portraits, big afros and headwraps. They just really spoke to me. The colors, the imagery, the power. Her energy was fire as well. A calm Scorpio (we do exist lol) just standing there painting a new piece while the energy from the completed canvases was vibrating all over the place. I’m an intuitive and an energy worker. I know all about you before you even speak. She didn’t need to speak. I knew she was good people. Deep…probably misunderstood sometimes…but genuine and gifted.20190604_123127

I took her card and stalked her art works for a while. LOL We crossed paths again maybe 2 years later when this time I was vending my Reiki Rocks and Crystal Grids at Handmade Holiday. My grids are works of art in a way. Crystal grids on a painted canvas. Her art tells a story. Mine sends an intention. The same…but still different.

Fast forward to this year. I contacted her with an idea I had. What if we put my grids into her paintings? Or what if she creates a piece with the intention of it having a grid in it? How powerful would THAT be? Sacred geometry inside a goddess’s womb? Sri Yantra shapes inside an afro or a Metatron’s Cube in the 3rd eye of a warrior goddess? AMAZING, right???
She shared my enthusiasm and excitement and we started working. This collaboration is unique. I went to her place to see all the pieces she has. We discussed how crystals and grids could be incorporated to add even more intention to the piece. A few weeks later she brought some canvases to my house and we tried out grid shapes and stones.
We aren’t always in the same room together. We communicate via social media a lot, sharing progress photos, and thoughts. She trusts me with her art works and my crystal healing expertise and I trust her experience with how the intention works within her artistic expression from her experience as a black woman.  

So you might be asking what does this have to do with white people and cultural appropriation?
I’m getting there. Listen up.

Understand…this could have played out differently. I could have met her, experienced her artwork, been blown away…and then gone home and started painting similar images of black women to incorporate my grids into. I could have taken her influence and ideas and claimed them as my own. I can surely put a brush to canvas and paint an afro. I already have an established clientele of crystal grid customers who would love this. I could probably make some money. She’s not the only person who paints these images so why can’t I, right? Art is about expression and isn’t about race, right?

Nahhh love. That’s not right. I was directly impacted by HER story on canvas. Black hair isn’t my life experience. Even though I’ve cared for black hair, twisted friends’ locs, helped take out braids, all that. It doesn’t matter that I have black friends. It doesn’t matter that my clients and grid customers quite often don’t share my skin color. It doesn’t matter that my intentions might be good.
What matters is that THIS artwork that I was directly influenced by is HERS. And she is a black woman. It’s her story that she has been telling through images that look like her. Her experiences. Her energy. Her joy and pain. It’s not for me to tell. If I copied her and claimed the amazing images with grids as my own creation that would be cultural appropriation.  That’s not the energy I want associated with any of my work.

I know people get confused because sometimes it’s not always so black and white. (pun intended)
We are all influenced by each other to some extent. My straight haired self has always wanted to just once have a big bouncy afro mane of curls. Too many hours of my life and 10 million dollars worth of spiral perms in the 80s and 90s was surely a waste of time and money. And people with curls sometimes want flowing straight hair. That’s not really what this is about, though. If I copy a style and claim it as my own creation or benefit from it because now with my privilege it is cool and acceptable to the mainstream, that is cultural appropriation.  If black people are discriminated in the workplace for wearing their hair in a natural style but I can roll up to work in some cornrows and everyone thinks it’s so “new and trendy” that is cultural appropriation.  

I know white people ask “Well what can I do?” There is no simple solution but you CAN choose differently, mindfully, and you can make yourself more aware of the issue even if it doesn’t seem to affect you directly.
As a white person you have a privilege that other people don’t have. Use it to bring attention to these issues when you have a platform to do so. On a personal level, support black owned businesses. Support women in business. If the person sells products that you can’t use or offers services that don’t apply to you, then talk about them to other people who can benefit from them.  

Make an effort to be present and attentive when conversations about racism and cultural appropriation come up. Be the only white person in the room sometimes. Stand up with people and for people who are being discriminated against. If you don’t understand, research it. Google it. Talk about it. LISTEN and HEAR what people who don’t look like you are saying. It might make you uncomfortable but you can’t grow without some discomfort.
Also, when doing any of these things…DON’T expect any applause or accolades for doing what is right. Don’t show up with an attitude that anyone owes you anything for being present. Also don’t think you are entitled to ask people about their own life experiences with racism. No one owes you anything.  But you still need to do the right thing. 20190604_122653

So….back to the art! Not sure when we will be done. Not sure if this will be a new offering of hers or something we present together. It’s still in the planning and testing stage. You know we Scorpios are secretive and mysterious about our creations. 😊

She is Rhed Scorpion in the art world and on social media.  And you know where to find me. 

All I know is that this combination of energy from two very different life perspectives is POWERFUL. Stay tuned!

 

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Crystal Healing: The Nitty Gritty Before the Shiny Pretty

I see you. You are new to the world of crystals and you are enchanted by these amazingly beautiful stones. And when you find out they can be powerful tools of manifestation and healing you get even more excited. We’ve all been there. I get it. We’ve all come home with bags of gorgeous pink, purple, and rainbow colored shiny stones, our hearts filled with excitement about how they will draw love, passion, protection, and abundance into our lives and at the same time make our wallets a little emptier. You carry them in your purse, your bra, and surround your home with them. You probably went through crystal websites and books looking for your favorite stones and what they do. It seems so matter of fact. You want love? Rose Quartz. You want protection? Tourmaline. Healing? Amethyst. Sometimes it is that simple…but if you are embarking on a journey of healing, life changes, or a new level of consciousness sometimes you need to stop and cut through the glimmer of those pretty stones to get to the heart of the matter and the core of what is keeping you from having the things that you are now in search of.

Healing and the changes that accompany it while necessary, are often not pleasant experiences. Sometimes they require deep introspection. It requires facing truths about ourselves that we may have spent a lifetime avoiding. We may have to revisit traumatic events or experiences that we had no control over but have left us unable to fully shine the Divine light that we all have inside.  As we take the journey toward being healed we can use holistic methods to help us stay aligned and gain greater peace and insight. Although crystal healers are not doctors who can make a  medical diagnosis or prescribe medications, we sometimes energetically can tell when there is something deeper to look into.

When clients come to me for Reiki and crystal healing I listen to not only what they say but what they don’t say.  I feel energetically what they are unknowingly carrying like a thick blanket. It’s like a heavy, dark vibration and sometimes an invisible armor that they have created to protect themselves. This is familiar territory for me. I’ve been there and I’m surely not alone. Some of the most positive and light filled people you meet have at some time had to look down into the darkest depths in order to transform their lives.

When I bring crystals into the equation I am looking for what will open you up energetically to what you need to facilitate healing. So while you may want pink stones, you might need to do some heart healing or tend to some wounds from past relationships before we create a wall of rose quartz around you. Why do you feel you are lacking love? Is it a lack of self love? Is it a fear of being loved? Maybe a different stone will better deal with these issues.

For example, rhodonite is a heart healer. It brings to the surface the emotional wounds of the past so that you can examine them and make changes. It brings you back to the center during stressful times. It calms emotional shock and panic and provides grounded support during the process of dealing with painful issues. It helps you to forgive and see both sides of a situation. Clients who wear rhodonite for heart healing will sometimes say the stone is too heavy.  That’s because it’s awakening a vibration that they might not be ready to confront. The stone isn’t heavy. The emotional baggage it is releasing is.
This might not be a rosy fun experience for you. But it’s necessary to be able to receive the love you are looking for.

The same goes for crystal grids. Grids amplify your intentions and create a movement and vibration around you to eventually manifest what you want. The hardest custom grid request to fill? Drumroll……….

The Love Grid.

Do you want a love grid because of numerous failed relationships? Are you dealing with a divorce or break up? Are you lonely? Are you repeating the same patterns and getting nowhere? Is there sexual trauma or abuse? Sometimes it’s best to start with a grid that will help you work through what is causing you to be out of alignment in the first place.

If you have low self esteem and feel intimidated or undervalued in your life or relationships, I would recommend a grid that combines red jasper with a solar plexus stone like citrine or sunstone to boost your confidence and open you up to receiving joy and love of self. Red jasper is a courage stone. The warrior stone. It empowers you and grounds you in confidence and encouragement. I might even throw in a soft protection stone like jet. Most people reach for black tourmaline to block negativity. But we aren’t blocking. We are transforming into someone more powerful and jet has the ability to draw out the negative energies that are lingering in your auric fields. Jet can give you physical, emotional, and spiritual guidance that will help you accomplish your goals and achieve balance and harmony. It can reveal how to come out on top during difficult times.
Think of it like this…you can block your ex-partner’s juju with black tourmaline all around you but you are blocking their negative energy now. Jet however, clears your auric field of all the dirty smog they left you with from prior experiences. Kind of like burning sage in your home.

Speaking of blocking bad juju…let’s talk about protection from “toxic” people. I get that request a lot. But again…let’s look deeper before we start packing our bras and pockets with black tourmaline and obsidian. Why do you feel under attack from toxic people? What is toxic? Are they draining you? Are they narcissists? Is your intuition or sense of self out of balance and it’s hard to clearly see who is not in alignment with you? You may need to do some grounding work or work on enhancing your intuition and ability to protect your energy at all times. Maybe high vibrational selenite and third eye loving labradorite would help. Maybe even a combination with amethyst for it’s healing and intuitive properties. You can enhance clarity with sodalite or fluorite. All of these things in combination with the psychic attack blocking abilities of black tourmaline might be what you need.

Crystals definitely carry vibrations with a specific properties that you may desire. But in order to get there you might need to look deeper. Take some time. Breathe. Meditate. Clear your mind and look inward. Step back from situations and examine your feelings…and enlist a certified crystal healer to help you find the combination of stones that will create the vibration that works best for you. This isn’t magic (well it kinda is) but we all possess the ability to change and transform our lives at any moment.

You are more powerful than you could ever imagine!

 

Janice B. is a Usui/Holy Fire II Reiki Master Teacher & Certified Crystal Healer

For more info:Janice B. Reiki Website

Feeling Their Pain, Healing Their Energy

janice b feeling fine still editI was driving on the beltway making my way from my parents’ house to my job in Landover, Maryland like I did most days.   I was about 19 years old.  I was halfway to work when a sudden feeling took over my entire being.  I don’t know how to explain it other than to say it was a feeling of incredible sadness and heartache.  It was physical and heavy.  It overwhelmed me while I was driving and I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way.  Stranger still, at the moment I started feeling this immense sorrow the name of a boy I went to elementary school with came into my mind as clear as a bell.  Tommy Stevens*.  I hadn’t seen, talked to, or thought about Tommy in over a decade.  Although he was a nice kid, we were never close friends and I had no idea where he went after our few years together in elementary school.  The feeling passed as quickly as it came and I didn’t give it much more thought as I arrived at work.  About a half hour into my shift my mother called me and before we hung up she said “Oh by the way, I don’t know if you remember him from elementary school or not but I heard today that Tommy Stevens died.  They found his body in the Anacostia River.”

I’ve always been able to “feel” things from people.  I can sense when something isn’t right, when someone can’t be trusted, or if the person is carrying some unresolved pain or grief.   And  incidents like the one about Tommy Stevens have happened too many times in my life for it to be a coincidence.  Too many times I’ve been taken over by a dark emotion attached to a name or vision of someone, or their home or family only to find out later that someone died or was hurting or going through a significant loss or upheaval.  Someone I would have no reason to “feel” or think about.  I don’t talk about this much.  On the rare occasion that I recount these incidents I am often met with disbelief and doubt.  I understand that response because I myself have doubted if this is really happening.  Is there some logical explanation that could make sense as to why I am feeling something so real and painful from someone I don’t know?  In the case of Tommy’s death I’m not sure whose sadness I was feeling.  Was it his mother’s loss of her son?  Was it the emotions my mother felt upon hearing the news?  I won’t ever know.

Some people would call this intuition. That is the term that is tossed around most often but what I experience is much more intense.  I know my father was very intuitive.  He could keenly sense if someone wasn’t on the “up and up” as he would say.  He never discussed it deeper than that but he was always in tune with what he felt from people and he never doubted his feeling.

Later in life I understood myself to be an empath, a person who can sense/feel and sometimes take on the emotions and pain of others.  The list of empath traits sums me up quite well but I don’t usually hang on to what I am feeling.  I experience it very strongly and clearly and can now recognize when it’s not my own pain I am feeling.  However, looking back at my life it would explain a lot of things I experienced that seemed bizarre at the time.  I would have extreme anxiety over going to places with big crowds of people.  Panic attacks that upset my stomach and tightened my chest.  Empaths aren’t fond of large crowds because they can often feel everyone’s emotions.  I would sometimes feel sad and overwhelmed for no apparent reason.  I thought I was going through a depression or I was just over stressed from work.   Looking back I can guess that perhaps I was feeling someone else’s emotions but I just wasn’t aware of what was happening at the time.

The empath title fit me quite well until this June when I started my journey to become a reiki practitioner.  I explained some of my experiences to my teacher who said that I may be a clairsentient.  This was my first time hearing of this term.  I had of course heard of clairvoyant which is “clear sight”.  Clairsentience is translated as “clear feeling”.  The definitions of empath and clairsentient are very similar and I’m certain that both can apply to me.  Empaths take on the emotions of people around them.  They may feel the need to help or fix that person.  They are often sought out as the person to confide in or unload upon.  They get overwhelmed in large chaotic crowds.

Clairsentients are highly sensitive to their surroundings.  Not just the feelings of the people around them but also the location itself.  They can sense when something bad has happened somewhere and they can think of someone that isn’t around them and inexplicably know how they are feeling.  They can touch an object and feel the person who owned it.  I’m certain that I am a combination of both empath and clairsentient.  TV and movies have made these traits seem otherworldly and even “spooky” but the truth is, everyone has some level of these abilities.  We are all born with gut instincts and intuition.  But as we get older and more distracted we are conditioned to not pay attention to what we intuitively feel.  This is unfortunate because it could definitely assist us in making better decisions and even help keep us safe.

Over the past two years first with the loss of my father in 2014 and the passing of my mother in hospice in my home this April, I seemed to have “opened up” more to this level of consciousness.  I am very aware of their energy around me and this has changed how I view many things in my life now.  As I mentioned before, in June I decided to pursue training to become a Reiki practitioner.  If you aren’t familiar, Reiki is an ancient Japanese laying-on of hands healing technique that uses the life force energy to heal, balancing the subtle energies within our bodies. Reiki addresses physical, emotional, mental and spiritual imbalances.  I felt that this was a natural practice for me.  If I’m going to have these metaphysical abilities I certainly want to use them to help people.  And after years of intuitively feeling the pain and emotional states of other people, I know I can also assist in making them feel better.  This is not a religion or medical practice.  It doesn’t require the client to “believe in” anything however being open and receptive will certainly help the flow of energy.   I also truly believe that many “physical” ailments that we suffer from are often caused by emotional stressors and things we are holding onto in our hearts and spirits.  I’m finding that my intuitive knowledge of a person’s well-being combined with Reiki can help people heal themselves.

After I received my Reiki attunement from my teacher in June, I felt an immediate surge of heat in my head, heart, and hands.  Since then I have found myself more in tune and aware.  People seem louder and more intense.  Best of all my life purpose is finally clear to me.  I’ve been connecting with people through music and song for over a decade now.  This is naturally the next step for me.  My teacher said she feels that I have the ability to be the bridge between dark and light.   That I have a great understanding of the pain and darkness but also the ability to guide people to healing and light.  This is my intention.  The journey begins….

 *names were changed for confidentiality