It's a big small word, isn't it? The word "love" is overused and misused and, well, thrown around casually all the time. If love were a brand, it would be significantly eroded due to oversaturation in the proverbial marketplace. Every other instagram platitude talks about self-love, manifesting love, or just LOVING the hell out of something...even if that something is just a silk sleep eye mask that doesn't leave lines when you wake up in the morning. Because that's important. So what is love, really? Well, that depends on who you ask. The ancient Greeks had six distinct words for six distinct kinds of love. There is romantic love, familial love, platonic love, and many others. Energy workers talk about cosmic love and the energy of love as the binding and healing force sufficing all of existence. The primary feeling that seems to come through in a mediumship reading is love- a beautiful, clear signal from the other side intended to affirm and comfort the client. An undeniable, unhackable message that resonates as the truth. In shamanism, love takes on a bit of a different connotation. It's a big, big energy that often evades verbal description. In a spontaneous vision I experienced several years ago- one that brought me out of retirement and back into TOTEM- I channeled an intense, expansive energy that felt so large I genuinely thought that my ribcage would have to break to accommodate it. When asked by a friend and energy worker what the nature of this energy I experienced was, I immediately replied, "It felt like a weapon of mass destruction". This weapon, I believe, was love. To house it, even for a second, my ribcage strained and stretched to accommodate its overwhelming size. And it wasn't just a feeling- it was a focused intelligence, transferring psychic data in a monsoon relative to the trickle of the crown or third eye chakras. I felt tough as hell, armed with this new "weapon". I felt informed and I felt ready. But why would love be a weapon? Or, for that matter, an intelligence? To many of us, this doesn't jive with the concept of love permeating society. The short answer: love is the ultimate weapon against negative energies, entities, and behaviors. In our ongoing battle for happiness, truth, healing and authenticity, love is the cure-all for a system built on deceit, gaslighting, trauma and manipulation. So, in this context, love is a's just a weapon for use by the good guys. And, what's more, love has an actual intelligence to it. Scientists have recently determined that "the heart has its own 'brain'", an intrinsic cardiac nervous system made of an intricate network of complex ganglia, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells, the same as those of the brain in the head. Check out this amazing 3D map of the brain nerve cells within the heart here for more details. This scientific discovery confirms what shamans and many other energy workers have suspected for years: that the heart chakra is smart. It is capable of downloading tremendous amounts of accurate information and benevolent direction. And, if you believe the kind of weirdo Youtubers and energy workers that I personally believe, not only is the heart chakra smart: it's essentially unhackable. What does this mean? Well, in short, that the "bad guys" have their ways to "hack"- i.e. access, manipulate, override- our other chakras, especially the crown, third eye, and sacral chakras. The one chakra that acts as impregnable fortress for the loving intelligence of the universe is the...drumroll please...the heart chakra. And why wouldn't something so hard to dismantle be a natural weapon? What's more: if your heart is filled with love, joy and altruism, it very easily "crowds out" the little negative nasties that can attach to us and cause us problems. Now, many of you may already know that I get grossed out by schmaltzy, gooey, lovey stuff. I don't watch the Hallmark Channel. Like Liz Lemon, the word "lovers" really bums me out, sometimes evoking a light gag from the base of my throat. Likewise, people in matching outfits professing to understand the power of cosmic love kind of turn me off. Not big into getting pulled into a cult or being forced into whatever their version of "group love" might be. I've watched way too many documentary series on Netflix to fall into that trap;) And I don't think love just magically solves everything. Like a vision board of love stuff from a collection of womens' fashion magazines is probably not the solution. And, if we're being really honest, I'm not sure that a lot of the people talking love up actually understand the spiritual horsepower on this energetic pony. It's a big, bold energy that transcends time/ space and helps us move forward with a clarity of mind, will, and action with an intelligence unmatched in the physical and energetic bodies. So what's all this talk about love about? Well, this past weekend ushered in a major astrological event with the asteroid Chiron- the wounded healer- going into retrograde until December 13th. Chiron is the original shaman and, may I point out, a centaur. Not super necessary to know that, but it's really cool that he was half horse and half man. Just saying. Anyways, Chiron being retrograde gives us a unique opportunity to release old pains, reveal toxic partnerships and heal our wounds. In other words, it's heart chakra clean-up time, so order your dumpsters and get a crew in there to remove old baggage or remnant emotional pain that could be interfering with your most powerful chakra- and the energy it channels. So how do we do this? Well, there are lots of ways. TOTEM has scheduled safe, small group workshops to enable this heart chakra healing, including: Shamanic Journeying: Energetic Protection. This workshop, scheduled on Saturday, July 18th, will leverage the powerful memory of love energy to "crowd out" negative energies and strengthen our spiritual immune systems. Register here to secure your spot as space is limited: Shamanic Journeying: Past Life Reconnection. This workshop, scheduled for Sunday, July 19th, is designed to help you embrace a new mantra: "The past can't haunt or hurt me anymore". Join us to release emotional and energetic burdens and reconnect to your life's purpose with a loving, supportive energy. Register here to secure your spot: Candelit Restorative Yoga with Energy Work. Kicking off on Friday, July 24th, this Friday night series is designed to help you commit actively to self-love and enjoy the tangible benefits of this health-supporting practice. For this first session, we'll be focusing on heart-opening poses to maximize release of negativity while receiving the new! Register here to secure your spot: Reiki Level 1 Attunement and Energy Work. Saturday, July 24th, join David Riddle of Chi Balancing Center for the ultimate deep dive in self-love and self-healing! This Reiki Level 1 Attunement workshop will not only arm you with the ability to leverage reiki energy for self-healing, but will put you on a course to learn how to heal others in the classic Chiron "wounded healer" tradition! Register here to secure your spot: Can't make any of our workshops? You can still make this a time for the healing power of love! The heart chakra loves beauty and harmony, so buy yourself a new piece of inspiring art or beautiful bouquet of flowers. Color therapy is a real thing, so incorporate more peaceful emerald and jade greens, corals and pinks to raise the vibration of your new favorite chakra. And the heart chakra responds with vigor to aromatherapy: rose, geranium, and jasmine are favorites. And rose quartz and amazonite are great crystals to leverage when working with this energy. And you don't need to spend any money at all. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Write a nice note to a friend. Connect with someone during this time of distancing and quarantine. Love is a big, powerful tool available for your use! Email me anytime if you want to learn more: -Rachel