Find the dance within the chaos.

Hey there!

 

I’m Cyrene, the spirituality mentor and creator behind Shadow Animism. 

Story telling is a powerful way of connecting with ourselves and others. So I’d like to share a bit of my story with you…the struggles that held me back, learning to overcome it all, and how all of that led me to where I am today.

I was raised in a Christian home with an abusive family. This was where I began questioning everything I was taught by them, in church, and at my private Christian school about religion, spirituality, and god.

I could feel how wrong many of their teachings were, even as a child. My soul told me a completely different story from the one they were trying to force down my throat. I tried so hard to be a good Christian, but they spoiled that at every turn with their abuse. So I began to question and I began to explore.

I felt like Eve being tempted by the serpent. Because I was like Eve. I was being tempted. I was being tempted by my own power and inner wisdom. (And really, what patriarchal institution wants a powerful and wise woman running around?)

During one particular Bible class early in my education, I remember the teacher talking about humans being god’s special creation…the only living beings to have souls. Despite being a quiet, shy, terrified child, my hand shot up. “What about animals?”

She smiled in that false sweet way adults often do with children. “No, they don’t have souls. Just us. Because we’re truly special. That’s why we have dominion over them.”

I shook my head. “I don’t think that’s right. Where does it say that in the Bible?”

Her smile faltered. “It isn’t our place to question God.”

“I’m not questioning God,” I told her. “I’m questioning you.”

The beginning of the end. That was the moment that determined that I wasn’t going to be a Christian for very much longer. It’s funny looking back on it today. At the time, I had no clue the path that would set me on. But if she’d just simply said that animals have souls, I would have been happy. Wonder what she would’ve done if she knew the outcome of that conversation would lead to me becoming a real-life witch.

Unfortunately though, the constant abuse I experienced left me with debilitating PTSD for many years. I started drinking to cope with what was going on at home when I was just 8 years old. I’d sneak down to the kitchen at night, drink just enough to get a little tipsy, and then add water to the bottle to make up for what I’d had. My parents weren’t big drinkers, so they didn’t catch on. But by the time I was 15, I was a full on functional alcoholic, drinking in order to sleep or socialize. 

I also struggled with severe depression, social anxiety, and insecurity. I didn’t have any close friends and I couldn’t manage being in social situations unless I’d been drinking. And by my teen years, it wasn’t just my own family that was contributing to my abuse. 

It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started to seriously try to fix my mental health and began going regularly to therapy, quit drinking, and went to college. Several years later I was stable, had a grasp on what was going on with me, and had my Masters of Science in Biology. But something was still missing from my life.

Having stability is great, having happiness is even better. And I was determined to find that for myself. I read self-help books, studied mindset practices, worked with various coaches. Everything got me a little bit closer. And each time I got closer, I felt a click as something new fit into place in my life and I saw things around me getting better and better. 

I’d improved my mental health through therapy and coaching. I’d improved my emotional health through mindset work. I’d improved my social health through relationship and friendship coaching. I’d improved my physical health through a more natural diet and more exercise. 

And then on a beautiful New Moon, a Strawberry Moon, I did a ritual. I wanted to release the last of my doubts and insecurities. While I may have intended this to improve my then business as a mental health coach, it had a totally unanticipated effect (as spiritual work often does).

I remember the day after, feeling different but not sure why, sitting at my desk. For the past few weeks I’d been looking into ways of deepening my own nature spirituality practice and I had an article up on the topic. I started to read it, but I could feel the same familiar knowing I’d had as a child with the Christian teachings.

This wasn’t right.

But unlike then, this time I had the words to explain why it wasn’t right. I had the words to correct what was wrong about what I was reading. And that’s when I realized that the doubt and insecurity I’d let go of was about my own spirituality.

Shortly after, I signed up to two very intense and different programs to deepen into my spiritual practice focusing on shamanism, tantric embodiment, shadow work, and unconscious witchcraft. Whether I’d intended to or not, with that New Moon ritual I’d decided I was done playing around with my spirituality. I was a powerful spiritual woman and I wasn’t going to run away from that anymore.

Now I’m excited to see my story intertwining with the awakenings of other women. I was lucky enough to find some amazing guides and mentors along my own path, and I’ve been honored to guide women along their journey to reclaim themselves using every ounce of knowledge and experience I’ve gained along the way.

I can’t tell you it’s easy, because it often isn’t. But I can tell you that it’s worth it. I’ve never been more focused or in control of my life. I’ve never felt so whole and happy. I’ve never had so much confidence and belief in my skill. I’ve never felt so sure of my purpose in this world. I’ve never felt so good in my own body.

It required me to confront every part of myself that I feared and hated. It required me to connect with myself as a part of the nature I loved so deeply. It required me to dig into my own darkness and embrace the power within that darkness.

We don’t need to be afraid of the dark. Darkness is beautiful. Darkness is the night sky filled with stars, darkness is the moon reflected off the vastness of the sea. Women are that darkness. Women are the sparkle of the stars and the moon. It’s time we reclaimed it. All of it.

Me, with a random fish friend in a beautifully dark, murky lake. Because why not? :)