Let's talk about demons

In the recent past, I have been asked by multiple different friends and colleagues about demons, demonic possession, and exorcism. I tend not to share that much about this part of my spiritual work, but I've been receiving many more questions than usual lately and I think it is important to outline the basic thrust of my demonology. I get approached regularly by folks who are interested in demons or feel that they have been in contact with a demon. Very infrequently, I am contacted by folks who believe they are possessed and want help.
While the Roman Catholic Church still recognizes demonic possession and performs exorcisms, legitimate exorcists are hard to find and there is a waiting list when you do manage to get in touch. Exorcists typically only take the most certain cases of possession and do not deal with the plethora of spiritual conditions of a lesser degree of severity. These conditions are much more common and they do need attention, even if they don't need a formal …

Chesronot: what our needs teach us about God

As I sat in my therapists office that day I started to get that feeling that I didn't like where the conversation was going but didn't have enough courage to say so. She was asking me about my perceptions of God and where they might come from. Did my idea of God having certain rules come from the rules my parents set? Did my desire for a perfectly loving God come from my desire for perfectly loving parents? In other words, was my experience of God a response to a psychological need from childhood. I hated that idea.
It was a few months into therapy, and I was just starting to feel like I could actually say what I was feeling. That's giving myself too much credit! The truth is, I was just starting to feel like I could know what I was feeling in real time. My therapist asked me what I was feeling in this moment, reading the consternation on my face, and I gathered up all my bravery to say, "afraid, angry."
"Afraid of what?" she asked.
"That God is just …

Summer is Hot

I suppose it goes without saying, but summer is hot. For one reason or another, whether it be climate change or my decreasing tolerance for humidity, this summer (2020) feels extraordinarily hot. In humoral medicine, we think a lot about cold and heat in digestion, but the temperature outside also has a huge impact on the balance of those qualities within. In the summer, we see a lot more pathological heat than in other seasons. Today, I saw that pathological heat surface...on my tongue!
I try to relearn each part of my practice on a regular basis. It keeps my knowledge fresh and reminds me of things I may have forgotten due to lack of exposure. I have been reviewing tongue diagnosis recently and so I looked at my own tongue in the mirror out of curiosity. What did I see? Enflamed papillae on the middle and front parts of my tongue and along the sides, suggesting heat in my upper gastrointestinal tract, liver, lungs, and heart.
This might sound a little more scary than it really is. I h…

Digestion and Healing

Digestion is the foundation of my healing practice, especially when it comes to humoral healing. Humoral healing seeks to balance the forces of nature in the body, those forces that break down food, store up nutrients, and regulate systems. We evaluate the balance of these forces by observing the body’s eliminations. After evaluation, humoral healing proceeds with adjusting lifestyle and nutrition, utilizing herbs when necessary.
A lot of clients think, when they enter my practice, that they will tell me their problems and I will prescribe them herbs. That’s the allopathic model of medicine, the idea that medicine is supposed to treat disease. But the humoral approach to medicine treats the whole person, addressing the body’s balance at the source of its generation - digestion. Herbs are of secondary importance, balanced nutrition comes first! You are quite literally what you eat, and the goal is not to simply suppress your symptoms and make them go away so you can continue to live the…

where ego hides

Healing is dangerous. Sure, we try to be gentle and go slow, we try to peel back the layers of consciousness delicately, but the journey into deeper parts of the self brings us into contact with a variety of spiritual perils.
One of the trickier dangers is the presentation of new attachments from the false self, often colloquially referred to as "ego." I see this a lot in folks who are new to the spiritual journey, and also in folks who have been searching for a long time but experience a sudden release. I have also observed this in my own path. When a layer of the false self suddenly dislodges and flies off, we experience a need to grab hold of something new. That something is very often just the next layer of the false self, trying desperately to survive the healer's onslaught.
We see this at the end of toxic relationships, when one person manages to free themself only to stumble into a different kind of bad relationship. We see this when someone replaces one addictive b…

How do you feel?

I was having a conversation with a friend recently about the nature of spiritual counseling, and also about our own journeys with emotional healing. The topic of conversation was intellectual analysis versus embodied experience. So much of this work, we observed, is intellectual. Is it possible that more of the work should be embodied?
The answer to that question is a resounding YES! Working on your emotional soul at an intellectual level is a very useful way to initiate a healing journey. From a qabbalistic (Jewish mystical) perspective, moving attention to the intellect gets the consciousness out of the sticky, often unnavigable world of feelings. But if the work stays there, on the intellectual level, then it stays there. Sure, a rearrangement of the intellect will eventually trickle down to the emotions, but we can activate those channels ourselves and consciously direct our healing outcomes.
In my spiritual counseling toolbox, I have a host of tools for helping clients intellectual…

What Breath Can Do

Recently I met with a client who has a high level of chronic back and shoulder tension. She is working through some pain in one shoulder now, possibly from an injury. We met, I asked her about her healing journey so far, and then I recommended some herbs to help relax and restore the muscles and nerves.
After our initial conversation, I led this client through some basic breath work and relaxation, followed by a few simple and gentle mobility exercises. At the end of our session, she moved her arm up and down and said, "Wow, it's amazing what breath can do." She had more mobility and less pain at the end of our one hour session. Our work is certainly not done, but there were noticeable results from the first session.
I really appreciate this observation on the power of breath. It resonates with my philosophy of healing and my understanding of the anatomy of the soul. Breath is a fundamental building block of life, bringing light into the body on the air, light which sustai…