ART SERIES: ELEMENT

"Element" is an ongoing art series I've created to eulogize the style, attitude, and/or trends pioneered by black women that are often devalued or overshadowed by eurocentric expectations & standards. 

01: Some Shit Is For Us, 2017

01: Some Shit Is For Us, 2017


02: Front Rows, 2017

02: Front Rows, 2017


03: Laid, 2017

03: Laid, 2017


04: Oshun & Ibeji Twins, 2017

04: Oshun & Ibeji Twins, 2017


05: Every Nigga Is A Star, 2017

05: Every Nigga Is A Star, 2017


444: THIS SPIRITUAL SHIT REALLY WORKS

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All self-proclaimed hip-hop heads have had the inevitable Top 5 conversation. You may have been rolling up, smoking, at the barbershop, hair salon or possibly sipping something nice. I think it’s safe to say that Shawn Carter has landed a top spot with most who’ve participated in the convo, with the classic Reasonable Doubt sealing the deal for the man who’s own wife affectionately calls Jay-Z.

What can I say about Hov or rather what can’t I say about him? I mean after all; men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t. On top of that he’s married to BEYONCE- nuff said. His accolades speak for themselves and I think it’s safe to say that he’s made his mark in the world, if I might, his LEGACY. Oh what a segue into this light I’m about to lead you to!

One might ask, ok we love Jay, but how does he fit into this Brown Girl Alchemy love and light that you’re spreading? Well, let’s talk about this 444, which I personally proclaim as another classic (not up for debate). Let me digress for a minute and take you back to Reasonable Doubt; cooking up that white Jay-Z, baggie jeans and white tees Jay-Z, V8 Range and icey Jay-Z,  poppin Cristal- “Y'all be chasin', I replace them” Jay-Z. Let’s call him unevolved Jay-Z; a product of Marcy projects who put his life story on wax and blinded us with his truth, a truth that would brazenly earn its place as a classic and catapult the god into an upward ascension with his latest stop being The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  First Hip Hop artist to earn such a status, I guess this spiritual sh*t really works. Unevolved he was, but his authenticity is what etched his footprints into a timeline of greatness that hasn’t slowed down. LESSON- When one lives authentically or in their truth, greatness is revealed and prevails. He was on a path, some call it destiny..

There were 12 studio albums created prior to 444 and right before our eyes we were witnessing the awakening. We watched him remove his chains of bondage literally and figuratively.  He influenced all the block boys to get rid of the jerseys and get their grown man on with some button downs. And as private as they tried to be, we watched him court and marry his soulmate, Queen/King Bey.  Then the ultimate test of manhood;  Hov gained another title as daddy. When a man begins to see the world through his daughter’s eyes, things that appear cloudy suddenly become clearer.  There were plenty of other lessons in the midst of those majors, they were most likely just as important, but right now I’m going to focus on the end result of number 13, 444.

You see, how could I not fall in love with a piece of work that is a reflection of growth, awareness, accountability, forgiveness, spirituality, economic responsibility, love and as if that wasn’t enough, ALCHEMY!  Word to Hov, I felt as if he were a fly on the wall during my multitude of conversations with various folk speaking about so many of us not having the tools to compete and win at this game called Life or relationships; the focus on materialism and consumerism vs. real wealth and legacies. I could go on and on about how much this black woman connected with this black man on so many levels through this particular work of art.

And then I realized why: Hov is the Archetype of that very old cliché, good girls love bad boys. A perfectly imperfect amalgamation of hood and intellect with all of the ingredients to make a not-so-perfect love story, but as Bey said it best, who wants that perfect love story anyway? 444 represents the state of being WOKE, as in I’ve lived and I’ve learned. It reflects Hov's present truth and once again authenticity wins. “Cry Jay Z, we know the pain is real but you can't heal what you never reveal”, this one line can arguably sum up the whole album. The toughest lessons become blessings. I get it that not everyone is on this part of the journey, but we’re all on the same path, so why not embrace someone who’s willing to reveal and expose the error of their ways so that you too might avoid those hard earned lessons. I felt hopeful for my black men, the ones who weren’t given the tools, that maybe, just maybe they’ll begin to understand that “this spiritual sh*t really works”.  

444 is a the bonus chapter of a novel that you thought had a pretty good ending and then you’re hit with a couple of blank pages and then BOOM, wait a minute, OMG they gave us another chapter. Did I mention that it’s a classic? I didn’t just drink Lemonade, I devoured it and it thoroughly quenched my thirst, but now I am realizing that it tastes even better chased with that D'usse.

BEGINNERS GUIDE TO CRYSTALS

Growing up my first connection with crystals was surface level.  I admired their beauty, their essence, their magic. They reminded me of humans and little did I know how similar they are to us. "How can some damn rocks be like humans?" I know someone is thinking that right now, don't front. But let's retract a bit. Think back to that 6th grade science class when your teacher told you everything is energy and you gave her the side eye. She wasn't lying, everything is energy! The entire universe and your being is composed of energy- mostly dark energy ( I will explain another time!) . Not only are crystals energy, but they also come from the Earth. 

They're formed when liquid rock within the Earth cool and harden. The energetic and magnetic energy fields that these crystals are exposed to affect how they are formed, i.e lightening. The reoccurring theme: Alchemy, alchemy, alchemy. 

Some of us mystics use crystals to shift the energies of specific aspects of our life- self, love, protection, friendships, family, career, health, finance, personal goals. It's limitless! Similar to people, every type of crystal has a story and purpose- it's origin, healing properties. Crystals are even ruled by zodiacs, hence your birthstone! 

Now, lets get down to the nitty gritty. 

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HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF WHEN "SHOPPING" FOR A NEW CRYSTAL: 

What are your intentions? 

What do you want to change in your life?

Are you battling with a physical or mental health issue? 

Are you seeking protection? 

What/who do you need to release? 

Do you need clarity on an issue?

Do you just need to clear your thoughts?

Are you doing chakra work?

Do you need aid in manifesting or productivity ?

What the hell do you want, sis?

Once your figure that out, it'll make your process a lot easier. 

I have a few ways I shop for crystals:

When I'm planning for an energetic shift I go online and do the research and see what my options are. There are plenty of crystals that have the same functions, so I choose the ones that resonate with me.

When I'm visiting a Botanica ( or any spiritual store)  my process is all intuitive; I let the crystals choose me. If there is one that immediately draws your eye, follow that initial instinct and do the research later. That crystal may be exactly what you need.

Don't be so focused on choosing a crystal, allow it to choose you.

SO YOU GOT THE CRYSTAL(S), NOW WHAT?


Once you purchase a crystal, you have absolutely no idea whose been in contact with it. They absorb both positive and negative energies until they are cleansed, making cleansing absolutely essential. Clear those unwanted vibrations! Imagine carrying around a crystal for a year and never cleansing it. You'd be carrying all of the energy and weight from the past year. Like us, crystals are energy and alive; they need to be refreshed, reenergized and recharged! 

Think of activation as the morning iced coconut latte you can't function without. It brings you to life and wakes your ass up. That's exactly what crystal activation does, it awakens it. Activation can be done by the ritual of your choice whether it be sage, meditation or prayer. This process is developing the personal connection with and awakening your crystal. It isn't a necessity in this , but most people believe that it makes your crystal healing process a lot more powerful. So, why not expand the power? 

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Your cleansing process can be as elaborate or simple as you choose. What's most important is choosing a technique which you feel most comfortable with. I'm a ritual type of girl, so I love making my spiritual practices a "thing" and dedicating that time to myself. But if you like to get right to it, the most direct route may work best for you. 

  • Salt/ Salt Water- The spiritual power of salt is unmatched. It's known for draining the dark energy  carried from negative vibrations, demons, etc. It is a great spiritual weapon, neutralizer, and purifier. For cleansing purposes, you can emerge your crystal in sea salt and simply let is sit in the salt for your selected amount of time. The average is overnight, but you can keep it submerged longer if you feel that a deeper cleanse is necessary. If you are cleansing with salt or saltwater, please be mindful that not all crystals work best with sea salt or salt water; they can sometimes ruin the structure, causing them to break over time. 

  •  Smudging- Sage, Palo Santo, Cedar, Sweetgrass, Incense, you name it! Choose your sacred herb or wood to eliminate negative energies. Make sure you have your bowl or abalone shell on deck as you wash over the crystals with the smoke.  

  • Singing Bowls- Music is indeed a healing property. You can play your singing bowl, allowing your crystal to be filled with sound to lift the vibrations and eliminate negative energy. 

  • Candle Flame- White candles symbolize purity, which would work best for this method of cleansing. Quickly run your crystal through the flame of the candle and state your intentions of cleansing and healing. You can repeat this cycle until you feel the energy has been been purified, trust your intuition! 

     HOW DO I CHARGE THEM? 

    • Sun and Moonlight - The sun and moonlight can be used to both cleanse and energize your crystal. The feminine energy projected from the moon can aid in emotional and spiritual cleansing or healing. The sun projects masculine energy, aiding in discipline, growth and stability.

    • Other Crystals- Amethyst and quartz clusters/geodes/druse can neutralize the energies of crystals. You can place a crystal ( or a few depending on the size of the cluster) on the amethyst or quartz and let it absorb the energy for a day or two. 

    Be mindful of how long you expose your crystals to sunlight, If left for an extended period it may change the color. 

     

    CAN YOU WORK WITH MULTIPLE CRYSTALS AT THE SAME TIME? 

    No limit on how many crystals you can work with, word to Master P. 

    WHERE DO I KEEP THEM? 

    If you have an altar, you may choose to keep some of your crystals at your alter. Some also like to make crystal grids ( I always thought they were super cool, but never tried it). Others like to keep them safely stored in a pouch. If you're like me, you may want to carry them with you in your bag, sleep with them, stash them in your bra. I'm totally that girl that carries crystals in her bra, btw! I like to keep Rose Quartz close to my heart.  

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Don't sleep on their power and don't sleep on yourself. Be as specific as possible, and most importantly believe. I know it sounds super cheesy, but crystal healing is not for everyone and I'm sure some people may be skeptical of their power. Your belief system has to align with this form of alternative medicine for its effectiveness. 

  1. Be mindful of the people you expose your crystals to, as they do absorb the energies and emotions of those people.

  2. When you cleanse your crystals depends on how often you use them and what purpose you use them for.

  3. Sometimes crystals are passed down with energy that is specific for you and your healing. If that is the case, you do not need to cleanse them.

  4. There are certain crystals that recleanse and recharge themselves ( i.e quartz), you may not have to frequently charge and cleanse. 

  5. If you were working with a crystal and it breaks, reflect on what it could symbolize. Perhaps it no longer serves a purpose to you anymore. 

If you were interested in crystal healing but didn't know where to begin, hope this was able to give you a head start! 

5 LESSONS I'VE LEARNED FROM BEING AN EMPATH

Being an empath is both a gift and a curse. We're effected by the energies of others and deal with immense emotional intensity. Imagine being able to feel what other's feel 24/7. It's not a switch that you turn on & off, you're forced to deal with the energy presented to you, good or bad. Yep, that's our life. My whole life I've been an empath & didn't put the pieces of the puzzle together until I was in college. I felt everything, I cried about everything, my energy was often drained and I didn't like being around large groups of people. 

My standoffishness could easily be misinterpreted & I really didn't think there was a digestible way to say "I'm not being a bitch, I can sense the energy you're giving off & I'm protecting my space." I mean, is there a nice way to put that? 

There's so much beauty in being an empath. Yes, our feelings can be a bit complex & commanding, but our love is transcendent. I'm still learning how to navigate this life, but here a few lessons I've learned in the process.

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Not only did I come into this dimension as an empath, but I'm also a lunar Scorpio. In astrology, our moon sign represents our emotional expression, inner feelings, and is ruled by feminine energy. The Moon also represents your relationship with your mother and nurturing. Interestingly, my mom's sun is my moon. It might be one of the greatest connections that we have- the ability to almost read each other's mind, instinctively knowing how the other is feeling, because we process our emotions so similarly ( Both of my parents are Scorpios, btw). That connection is what makes our bond so unbreakable. A significant time of my life was spent internalizing my feelings, rather than using my voice & effectively communicating. Burying those emotions and storing them in a guarded safe in the pit of my stomach often lead to feeling empty, sometimes depressed. Constantly replaying things in my head, punishing myself for not being honest or communicative, feeling empty & incompetent after allowing someone to mistreat me. Mom always acknowledged my sensitivity and encouraged me to be honest with myself & emotions. My dad on the other hand, unintentionally tried to desensitize me- often telling me I was "too sensitive". She spent many years being my voice but soon forced me to use my own, ensuring me "Your voice is your greatest instrument". It took a while for me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, but I've learned to be completely transparent and own every single emotion that flows through me. I owe it to myself to be honest, not just to others, but to myself. My feelings are justified, and if someone is the cause of that pain, then I need to keep it 100%. They can't be stored in that safe, nor can they be brushed off.

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It's a no brainer that hypersensitivity is often deemed as a weakness. I think it's weirdos' ways of projecting their insecurities on us to make themselves feel more resilient, which is a damn lie. I often crossed paths with "toughen up", "Why are you so sensitive?", "There's nothing to cry about".  Sometimes, I would let it get to me but eventually I asked myself "Who are they to define my strength?" It's so strange how we often allow the thoughts and impressions of others dictate our mood. I try, but sometimes I can't help it!  But, I blame myself for allowing someone to disturb my peace. When I was younger, I thought expressing my feelings was synonymous with confrontation. Confrontation has always made me uncomfortable. If you know me personally, then you know I absolutely can and sure will handle it, but the action alone is completely draining to me. I despise it, but it is sometimes necessary when living in your truth. 

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Sadly, I'm that person who may end up falling asleep in the club because the energy of so many people LITERALLY drains me. ( Don't worry, I get my twerking in, though). It's something that I can not help and would often feel guilty, embarassed and apologetic for it, but not anymore. As I mentioned earlier, it's natural for empaths to feel fatigued when spending time around large groups. Having some time to ourselves to recharge is essential for both our mental and physical health. If we ask for space, be mindful it often has nothing to do with you personally. We simply just need some "me" time, please respect that and please don't judge us for that. 

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 "If your interaction with someone is not an exchange of energy, but instead they drain you of all yours, let 'em go" my mom casually told me one morning. To this day that one sentence echoes in my head. The people we choose to share our space & energy with is all a choice. Toxic relationships are damaging, unhealthy, and quite frankly unnecessary. I've recognized that relationships fade, sometimes people that you love no longer serve a purpose in your life. Sometimes you have to love people from a far, and it doesn't mean that you love them less. It simply means you love yourself more. All relationships should be balanced and mutually beneficial. Sometimes we hold on to people for the sake of comfort- keeping someone you've known forever around just for the sake of familiarity, even when they no longer serves a purpose. It's important that every person in my life serves a purpose- whether it's the friend who loves to ki over spilled tea or the friend who I can talk about fashion & style with for hours. There has to be a give and take- never a take and take or give and give. Don't feel bad for putting your needs first. 

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Intuition happens to be a gift that everyone possesses, but many often ignore. You know what I'm talking about? THAT feeling. You sense that something is off, but maybe you brush it off because the fear of overreacting. At that moment ignoring those feelings may seem like the best bet; maybe because it makes your uncomfortable, maybe you're in denial. But, it's important to acknowledge those feelings. Trusting your intuition is honoring yourself and a practice of self love; as well as the absolute to key to survival as an empath.