Sarah (SK): Hurray, a tea date! Okay, so tell me about your business, Infinite Truth Healing, and where you are today.
Tess (TM): Infinite Truth is my private practice. I do hypnotherapy and shamanic services including clinical and transpersonal hypnotherapy. I'm also doing one-on-one shamanic mentorship training that weaves together the variety of shamanic paths that I've studied in addition to my own pieces I get to bring in.
SK: It's been so exciting to see your growth! Tell me about Unearthed and your partnership with Jonelle.
TM: So Jonelle Tonkin is a photographer and we have been really good friends since high school. We are putting together a women's retreat that's coming out in the fall called, Unearthed. It's an opportunity for women to reclaim their power. It will combine all my magical, shamanic "juju" and Jonelle will be weaving in her photographic gifts by capturing their process using something we have been calling "metamorphic portraiture" which will capture the transformative process. Each woman will have lovely, amazing pictures that she gets to take with her. We are pretty excited about it. We crafted something like this for me when I was going through my divorce. I needed to reclaim my power and Jonelle photographed my essence. That's where the process crystallized and we had a blast.
SK: I see a common thread between Unearthed and Enflesh with the use of multiple art forms to explore ways of expression. What do you think is the benefit of using multiple art forms in terms of reclaiming your power?
TM: I'm an experiential learner and in my experience you get to access things in different ways. We learn things differently through sound than from what we visually see. Storytelling versus things like textures, for example, bring all these things into a multi dimensional experience we would never discover through a single modality. Power is that way, too. We express our power in different ways and through a variety of self expressions so it feels like a rich way to explore something that is also multidimensional.
SK: I really love working that way because you get to see a part of yourself almost like a multifaceted crystal. We also see that with women in Enflesh who are claiming a part of themselves. Through the exploration we find there is so much hidden on the other side that if you don't turn the crystal over, you miss it. We were so lucky to have had you join us this past winter for Enflesh and I would love if you could share what called you there?
TM: It was a really hard season and a half for me before I got the invitation. There was a lot going on for me personally and with people I love. It was beyond overwhelming. I was still showing up in the work that I do, but it wasn’t quite as alive. So when I got your invitation for Enflesh a part of me was like, “I love them and everything they do.” I mean, it could have been anything (laughs). I was also fascinated by the concept of the masks. Masks kind of creep me out. When I have worked with the concept of the mask in the past it’s almost been in a negative sense. I always like when we can reframe something that is not so positive, and uncover what happens when you look at it in a positive light. I was really curious about it and wanted to explore an archetype which I always love to do.
SK: It is a bit of a spin to reframe mask work. We take the mask and work with it in ways that you often see in shamanic and First Nations ceremonies. You wear the mask not to cover something but to...
SK: Shapeshift, exactly. Shapeshifting and augmenting something already within...
TM: which I love!
SK: How was the process for you?
TM: Yeah, it was really easy. It was something that happened organically, I didn’t have to think about it because the shapeshifting piece is something easy for me to hold from a shamanic perspective. So I was prepared for that. I had certain discomfort when it came to the mask itself and what it represented and claiming that, so there was discomfort there.
SK: Concepts like “shapeshifting” may feel scary or unknown for some. How do you approach that concept in your practice that makes it accessible to those without experience?
TM: Hmm, well I tend to get pretty weird with people who are open to this type of work, but as a hypnotherapist I’m always working with metaphor and helping the client find internal resources to tap into wisdom or insight. So when we work with that metaphor hypnotically I might invite them to imagine floating their consciousness into that being, whatever it is. Whether it’s a tree or a wolf, or even a person they are having a conflict with and from that place of embodiment, (a mental, imagined embodiment) it allows them to get insight more easily than being on the outside of that thing and just speculating about it. It’s really, really easy in trance to move past our critical, rational minds that can put up barriers.
SK: Did anything surprise you in the Enflesh process?
TM: I remember being surprised at the sense of loneliness that my archetype held. On the lighter side of things, it’s a sense of solitude and on the other, a sense of separation from the world. So that was a tender thing to experience, and also how frightened I was of the archetype in a way. How frightening it felt to let that take over. I explored the “Magician” - not like the stage, magic magician but more like the archetype in the tarot's major arcana. The being that can weave the elements of the unseen together to create from nothing, something, whether it’s emotional, physical or spiritual. It’s an archetype that had started to drop in for me in my practice over a year ago and this realization that I’m the magician and through my practice I help others learn that they are the magician as well. They can create and transform if they tap into their powers. Now it’s an archetype that has continued to want to speak through me. I’m starting to write a book that is connected to that archetype. I’m hesitant to even say it...
SK: That’s perfect because I wanted to ask you about the ripple effect of working with the magician in Enflesh, and what it's been like continuing the relationship with this part of you.
TM: Yeah, I’ll just call her, "She", her gender can change - the magician, you know? She shapeshifts, for sure. She doesn’t want to be quiet. I think the piece about the loneliness, when we encounter each other she was like, “It’s time. It’s time to pass on these things I’ve been holding.” I feel a sense of stewardship with that. Not sure what that means entirely, but one of the biggest gifts is that it’s gotten me writing creatively again which is what I went to school for and I haven’t done in literally a decade. So now I have a weekly date with a good friend of mine. We sit down and we each work on our own creative stuff. This archetype has brought me back into this practice and a part of myself that’s really core to my being but that I had disconnected from.
SK: Wow, that is so awesome! I didn’t know that. I’m so excited to read anything you write! What do you think is the value of doing things like Enflesh and Unearthed as a group versus one-on-one or solo?
TM: That was the other thing I didn’t say when you asked what called me initially to Enflesh. I really wanted to have a space where I was held and seen and witnessed and have reflections from others in a safe place like that. I find it incredibly valuable. I recently offered an Inner Child Healing Group and over and over the women's takaways were that just the act of being held and witnessed by other women in such a loving and compassionate way with whatever it was they were showing up with - just that alone was healing. So if we didn’t do anything else, if we didn’t do any of the art, if we just came together with open hearts and that intention for caring about one another in the “hard thing” - that would be enough. I think the other powerful part of Enflesh and so many other group processes I’ve been in, is that moment if mirroring. When someone who sits across from you sees something you couldn’t see just by yourself. You had to see it outside of you reflected back to you.
SK: It’s like another part of that crystal.
TM: Exactly. That’s just invaluable. Of course we have those reflections everywhere we go but we are so unconscious of it most of the time when we are grocery shopping or having an exchange with whoever, but in these containers like Enflesh or Unearthed, there’s a consciousness wrapped around it and so you can’t help but see that reflection and recognize that piece.
SK: In the energy of mirroring and sisterhood, if you were to write a little love note for Jonelle (your partner for Unearthed), what rises up in you in terms of what you are excited about or grateful for?
TM: I’m going to cry. Jonelle and I have stood by each other through some of the hardest things in life. I feel so grateful to get to do anything of this creative magnitude with someone I respect so much. She’s such a powerhouse. She’s a mother of 5, has her own business and has come from really challenging places in her own life, but is one is the most generous people I know. It just feels good, and we feel really well balanced in our partnership; it’s fun! I’ve felt the same kind of gratitude working with you on a variety of things. This is another piece of the work of community. These kinds of things and working in partnership are really important. Most days I see my partner, my immediate family and my clients, that’s it (Laughs). So getting to have these partnerships is really life giving.
SK: Through Yellowbird, we talk a lot about cultivating the sacred and I’m wondering how that shows up for you personally and professionally. How do you cultivate the sacred in your life?
TM: In this moment, one thing that's rising up is humor and I have a pretty irreverent sense of humor. It seems counterintuitive to claim that cultivates the sacred, but I really believe it’s sacred due to my own experience with the spirit guides who kind of have a messed up sense of humor sometimes. They always invite me to laugh at myself and look at the absurdity of certain situations and so that’s a relatively available way that I feel I have access to the sacred.
SK: What does sacred mean to you?
TM: Sacred... that’s a good question...sacred has many layers to it. There is something about the sacred that is like this intangible, unknowable, specialness. It’s magic and not everyone can look at it and see that it’s magic. I think of how many sacred objects out there that just look like mundane objects, but they’ve been infused with so much energy from so many people and so many places that bring a certain intention. You could miss it if you didn’t know what you were looking for or feeling for. There’s a part of me that says sacred is anything that we’ve decided to hold above our daily existence. So we can take any part of our mundane experience and make it sacred by lifting it up.
SK: I think it’s something that is really personally defined and so I was curious what it meant to you. I think there is value in being intentional to "lift it up" - whatever it is - and making it almost a practice. Like it could be a rock on the street or this moment - it all depends on how we want to look at it and how you hold it within yourself.
TM: Totally, it makes me think of my Mesa, my shamanic healing bundle, and if I opened it and anyone saw it would think, “Oh, it’s a bunch of rocks.” And it is. It’s a bunch of rocks when we look at it from that physical perspective. But they are my rocks, my sacred healing stones that have been infused with all the work I have done and so that elevates it. They were already sacred because they were all gifts from the mother but now they are (laughs) super sacred.
SK: Thank you so much for chatting with me today! What magical call would you send out for the remaining seats of Unearthed?
TM: Join us for Unearthed if you are a woman in transition that is longing to stand rooted in your power. If you are a woman who wants to experience your inner beauty outwardly manifested. If you are a woman who loves the mountains and loves being with other women in ritual and ceremony you are invited.