Girls, Suicide, and Sluts (Guest Post by Ashley Speed)

by Ashley Speed

Let’s talk a bit about slut shaming and misogyny. For those of you not in the know, last Wednesday a fifteen year girl in Coquitlam named Amanda Todd took her own life because of the ‘bullying’ she faced at her school. Bullying is in quotations, not because I have any doubts that this poor child was harassed, but because bullying is a shitty term that means very little. Bullying is a term which means very little and which, frankly, covers all manner of sins, including actual harassment and abuse.

 

Amanda Todd exposed herself on a webcam in grade seven, and for the next three years of her life, was ‘bullied’- harassed and tormented by explicit pictures of herself being posted on Facebook, sent to her family and friends, and following her to whichever school she moved to. Bullying, in this case, is a word that pales in comparison to the trauma that this little girl faced in her everyday life. For those who did not watch her YouTube video, she chronicles her tragedy is what is, without a doubt, the most heartbreaking nine minutes I have ever watched.

 

Why did this happen? Rather than rally around her and protect her, her ‘friends’ turned on her, picking on her, taunting her and teasing her. Rather than take a moment to think: Wait, why are we blaming this little girl for these photos?, she was tortured for being a slut, and all those other awful names that girls call one another. Instead of being outraged that someone posted explicit photos of a child online, and tried to blackmail her into exposing herself more, her peers turned the blame on her.

 

In fact, even in the media, there have been articles whose main theme is a warning to young girls: Don’t expose yourself. Fair enough, and easy enough for an adult with years of knowledge and experience to say. Less easy for a young girl being told that she’s beautiful and to just show a little more. Is what happened to Amanda Todd her own fault? Of course not. Flashing someone online does not grant license to be tormented for the rest of your life. Nor does it mean she was a slut.

 

Unfortunately, this is the culture in which we are raising our daughters. To be sexually desirable from an extraordinarily young age, and then to punish them when they follow through. We teach our daughters, nieces, sisters, that their self worth is determined by the sum total of their physical attributes. The culture that we live in today, even now, even in our ‘advanced’ world, teaches girls that they need to be sexy, pure, hot, angelic, smart but not too smart, exciting, stable and perfect.

 

Is it any wonder that Amanda Todd exposed herself because she was told she was beautiful and perfect? In a world where girls are taught that they are never enough- that they are too fat, too smart, too slutty, too chaste, too everything- is it really hard to see why a young girl would respond to compliments in the way she did? No, unfortunately, it’s not. And, even more unfortunately, it is not too hard to see why, in this exact same culture, her peers turned on her in a heartbeat.

 

In a less tragic fashion, one need only look at the very public recent slut shaming of Kristen Stewart as another example. When Ms. Stewart had the audacity to cheat on her heartthrob boyfriend, Rob Pattinson, the ‘Twilight’ star was very publicly shamed. Forgetting the fact that the man she was caught in an embrace with was much older, married and should have known better himself. It was her who the focus of furious Twitter posts, blog rants and tabloid articles. Slut, tramp, homewrecker, whore. Reading any article about the scandal makes it seem as if she were the only person involved in the tryst. Why is this okay?

 

Going back several years, let’s look at the example of Rihanna and Chris Brown. Rather than a deluge of media outrage about the fact that this young woman was physically assaulted by her partner, there was a lot of silence. Other celebrities said nothing against Chris Brown, and when Usher, several weeks later, said something about how uncool it was that Brown was caught on film relaxing in Miami as though nothing had happened, Usher had to apologize. To Chris Brown. Let’s think about that for a minute. Even today, when Rihanna is shown in pictures with Chris Brown or says in interviews that she and him are still friends, she is the one who gets media flak. For being a bad role model, for being weak, and so on and so forth.

 

Where is OUR collective shame as a society for all of these hurts and abuses we inflict upon our daughters without a second thought?

 

I say this all as a mature (reasonably), intelligent twenty-seven year old woman with healthy self esteem and a good sense of my own worth. But I was once a fifteen year old girl, and just like Amanda Todd, I tried to end my life with a whole bunch of sleeping pills, for a variety of reasons- bullying, boys and crippling self doubt. Thankfully, I was unsuccessful. There are thousands of girls who are, though, and it is these girls that we, as a society, owe a massive debt of apology to. It is a culture we created, and that we feed into, that allows these girls to be publicly shamed, harassed and tormented, and have it written off as ‘bullying’. It is a culture we created that makes these girls believe that they are valuable as sexual objects and little more, that makes girls believe that it is okay to be punished for being ‘sluts’ and that makes girls turn all of their pain inward and against themselves, rather than raging against a world that is, still, brutally unfair.

 

Being a teenager is, for many, a terrible experience. For girls like myself at fifteen, like Amanda Todd today, it can be devastating and brutal. We owe all of these girls, who are called sluts, who are tormented, who have doubts and heartbreaks and tragedy, all magnified by the hormonally charged roller coaster that is adolescence, a societal change.

 

So here is what I propose. I propose that my generation, all of us who grew up before with the Internet but before insane social media; who grew up in that bizarre in-between time of the nineties; those of us who grew up to be hipsters and emos, and intellectuals, and who pride ourselves on being gender neutral, sex positive and socially accepting; I propose that we change it.

 

Let’s raise our daughters, and nieces, and little sisters, and all of those little girls we love and cherish, to NOT define themselves by their physical selves. Let’s raise them to determine their self worth by who they are as a person, rather than by their cup size or waist size or how quickly they put out. Let’s raise this next generation of girls to just be people, defined not by their genitalia or their beauty, but by who they are inside.

 

Maybe then, in twenty years or so, we can look back and talk about that dark, dark time in our history where girls are pressured from every angle to be perfect, and how we are so grateful that it’s past. And maybe, just maybe, we can do better by teenage girls than we have been.

The Chakras of The Human Body: The Ultimate Image Gallery

A Collection of the Best Chakra Pictures Available

Alignment, an original chakra energy digital illustration by Katana created for WalksWithin.com
Alignment, an original chakra energy digital illustration by Katana created for WalksWithin.com
Did you know that your chakras all contribute to your perception of the world around you? This is how each of these energy centres determine your feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions.
Did you know that your chakras all contribute to your perception of the world around you? This is how each of these energy centres determine your feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions.

A selection of images of the chakras in the human body depicted by artists. They use the traditional Sanskrit chakra symbols,  or their own artistic interpretations in illustration and painting, to give you a clear picture about chakras in the human body.

Seven chakras Correspond to the Elements of Nature

  • Sahasrara (Crown): Time/Space
  • Ajña (Third Eye): Light/Dark
  • Vishuddhi (Throat): Ether/Sound
  • Anahata (Heart): Air
  • Manipura (Navel): Fire
  • Svadhisthana (Sacral): Water
  • Muladhara (Root): Earth

Chakra Resources

Download the free chakra meditation, “Grounding” from Walks Within.

I recommend Caroline Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit.  And read the follow up review for Caroline Myyss’ Spiritual Archetypes.

As well, read Mary Malinski’s experience of chakra meditation here: “Love is My Truth.”

Artist Sketchbook Stairways and Dreams

A little series of sharpie marker drawings from my sketchbooks of dreamlike stairs that aren’t quite architecturally sound, like they could give way at any moment. They go up and down and sometimes don’t lead anywhere at all.  I have recurring dreams of buildings filled with stairways, improbable layouts, and secret passageways.

How I Painted Nautilus Cloud: Acrylic On Canvas

Nautilus Cloud Acrylic Paint by Katana Leigh Dufour
Nautilus Cloud 18×24 Acrylic Paint on Canvas by Katana Leigh Dufour

 

Process:

Drawing sketches – I don’t have future plans when I’m sketching. It’s just, me, my pen, and some paper. If I scan them later or keep them for something else, is to be decided afterwards; no judgement in the moment. These shells also ended up on my wedding invites.

Nautilus – The shell form originally took up the whole canvas, tried to turn into a weird-shaped globe with the sun and moon tucked into the corner, quickly became unwieldy, so I did the hand as a study for Pendulum-Moon (unfinished). Then I started painting over the nautilus with sky blue, when I had some leftover paint from one of the other paintings I’m working on (untitled).

At this point, I realized the hand could be holding a little match, or incense, and I could use the paint ridges from the previous Nautilus as swirls for the smoke, which I laid down in black outlines. As it began to look again like a Nautilus, I realized the smoke was also the shell. Then I added in the white, followed by the blues and the greyscale off-whites.

View My Art Portfolio! 

A Cupcake Painting for A Cupcake Theme Kitchen

This cupcake art painting I did for one of my best friends, Shveta. She did me the honor of framing it. Here is a picture of the glittery rainbow cupcake hanging on the wall of her kitchen. You can’t tell in the photo that the rainbow is glittery! It goes with all of her cupcake kitchen decor – she has potholders and an apron and oven mitts and dishtowels and everything.

Here is the cupcake painting in progress after the cupcake was finished and before painting the clouds. You can see my watercolour trays and the tissue I use to de-saturate the paint if it's too dark.
Here is the cupcake painting in progress after the cupcake was finished and before painting the clouds. You can see my watercolour trays and the tissue I use to de-saturate the paint if it’s too dark.

Shveta, hide your eyes here, or you will see the price tag on the gift! If I were doing this as a commission, this scale of watercolor I would sell unframed for $60.

She is the one who made the glittery stars that were scattered through my veil at our wedding. 

 

Watercolor Cupcake painting, cupcake kitchen, cupcake painting, cupcake watercolor, cupcake art
Here is the Watercolor Cupcake painting for my friend Shveta’s special cupcake kitchen.

Get Better Eyesight? 6 Techniques To Quit Wearing Glasses That Really Work

custom illustration

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Eye Chart- Improve your vision without Glasses with these Eye Exercises and the Tibetan Eye chart and you’ll be able to read every word on the Eye Doctor’s Vision Chart.

Eyes are organs of the body, with muscles that focus and cells that need nutrients. And yet, while we stretch our muscles with aerobics, with sports, with yoga, with swimming, our eyes are simply navigational tools, which we cover with goggles and sunglasses while ignoring the muscles that they need. With these eye exercises I am sharing here, my -5 eyes with astigmatism have improved enough to be able to read the license plates of the car ahead of us, and upcoming road signs before they flash by – I now need to go get my eyes checked again! I am confident I can have healthy eyes again because I have already seen improvement.

1. The Long Swing

Rotate your torso from left to right, allowing centrifugal force to splay your arms out from your body. Let that same force swing your eyes back and forth across the horizon. Best done where your eyes will be seeing into the distance.

2. Learn to Love Light

A photograph taken without light will be a poor image; eyes shielded from light will yield poor images to the brain. Allowing eyes to spend some time in bright light (not looking directly at the sun) is important. Close your eyes and allow the warm rays of the sun to light up your eyes, which are protected by the eyelid.

3. A Prism With Your Hands

Raise your arms to the sun, forming a triangle with your index fingers and thumbs, creating a prism for the rays of the sun to shine through to your third eye. Feed your eyes with light; never look at the sun directly.

 4. Stop Wearing Your Glasses so Much

They are crutches. When you wear high heels too much, your leg muscles become accustomed to walking in that unnatural shape, so you must stretch your hamstrings to balance the effect of sexy shoes. When you wear glasses too much, your eye muscles become accustomed to seeing when they are strained out of place. People who put on heels for the first time feel the difference between natural balance and stillettos; people who put on glasses feel the difference between their clear sight and the strain of glasses; those of us who wear heels and glasses frequently have adjusted to the difference and hardly notice it. So if you want your eyes to return to their natural round form, they must let go of the crutch of clear vision with glasses.

5. Palm Your Eyes

Rest your eyes by covering your eye sockets with the palms of your hands. Like turning of the computer monitor, your eyes will be able to take a break from processing color and light. Look into the blackness of the palms of your hands and allow the muscles inside your skull to relax, so your eyeball can regain its natural spherical form.

6. Use this Tibetan Eye Chart

For blurry vision:

Sitting comfortably, without your glasses, hold the Tibetan eye chart an inch away. Align the tip of your nose with the chart’s central circle.

Trace with the circles with your eyes, starting from 12:00 and moving clockwise.

Rest your eyes using the Palming Technique.

Trace the circles from 8:00 to 2:00 and back.

Trace the circles from 4:00 to 10:00 and back.

Rest your eyes using the Palming Technique.

For Astigmatism: 

Sitting comfortably, without your glasses, hold the Tibetan eye chart an inch away. Align the tip of your nose with the chart’s central circle.

Inhale slowly, tracing with your eyes the triangles of the 12:00 spikes. When you reach the top circle, exhaling slowly, trace the triangles downwards.

Repeat for each spike, clockwise.

Relax your eyes with the Palming Technique.

Inhale when moving eyes upward, exhale while moving eyes to center.

YAO Tibetan Eye Excercise

Free! Aldous Huxley ‘The Art of Seeing.pdf’



Fine Art Secrets: An Experiment In Divine Creativity

 by Alan Beck

light a white sage leaf before painting for enhanced creativity.
Light a white sage leaf before painting for enhanced creativity.

 An Experiment in Divine Creativity

Through almost a millennium of Western culture artists have held a uniquely distinguished position. As proven vanguards of seminal trends, artists employed their creative skills as a sacred trust by which thoughtful members of society could come to grips with present problems and future realities. In fact, as many prescient observers have noted, the post-modern artist fulfills many of the same functions as the traditional shaman.

 Experiment Like A Surrealist

This evident connection between ancient and modern power has long interested me. Thus, since I am privileged to direct this post at practicing artists and their allies, I would like to suggest an unusual experiment in creativity expressly geared to take full advantage of the artist’s underlying shamanic role. Similar experiments were especially popular among Surrealists and Abstract Expressionists, who often reported dramatically positive outcomes.

 Begin Your Artistic Practice With Ceremonial Purification

Clearly, no important or venerable rite would ever commence without prior purification of participants and ceremonial space. Yet, serious artistic ventures directly parallel such sacred acts. You can readily reconnect with the newly pristine primal energy common to both via simple White Sage purification. How? Before picking up brush or pen, burn a single leaf or spray some hydrosol in your workspace. Follow this routine for just one week: see if your mind opens to new horizons and your inspiration receives a remarkable boost!

How to Obtain White Sage For Your Creativity Experiment

I am always gratified to contemplate the remarkable results of such experiments.  By supporting artists, mystics, truth-seekers, and others on the Path we hope to illumine the heart of humanity worldwide.

Contact me if you need some white sage! 

Illustrating A Goddess Meditation on Artemis

Guided Meditations are a relaxation technique that can take you out of your rushing thoughts quickly, and transporting you into a more positive state of mind. Walks Within is a reliable source for a variety of guided meditations, and Prosperity Preistess, Mary Malinski has the powerful, peaceful, and trustworthy voice necessary for a successful immersion into the experience.

Free!

I have illustrated a number of her guided meditations, including “Protection Shield Meditation” (free!) “Creating Sacred Space” (free!) “Spiritual Grounding” (free!) and more. Since these three mediations are all free, you can easily benefit from these simple meditation techniques by downloading those immediately.

The Illustration Process!

View the process I used when creating an illustration for the Artemis Greek Goddesses Guided Meditation. It depicts the Goddess Artemis with the crescent moon at her brow, her bow drawn, and the hind. The landscape is lit up from the moon, making the night as bright as day.

Artemis and Hind, greek moon goddess, night time, artemis illustration, artemis drawing
Greek Goddess Artemis Illustration by Katana Leigh Dufour for Walks Within.
After sketching and establishing poses, I settled on these two line drawings for the final image. Here they are as a composite image.
After sketching and establishing poses, I settled on these two line drawings for the final image. Here they are as a composite image.
Artemis and Hind, greek moon goddess, night time, artemis illustration, artemis drawing
Here is the original Hind drawing; I added a watercolor wash to both the hind and to Artemis once I had decided which drawings to use.
Artemis and Hind, greek moon goddess, night time, artemis illustration, artemis drawing
At this stage, it begins to look like the finished artwork. The background is a plein air watercolor piece I did outside our mountain home. The stars and brilliance of Artemis are added. Later, I removed the navy wash over the scene because I wanted the night to look fully lit by the moon.
Artemis, guided meditation, goddess meditation, goddess illustration, artemis illustration
This is a second version of the final image; this one will be used for the CD label, so the composition has been changed to allow for the hole in the center of a CD.

Read about Artemis at Walks Within.

You may notice some of the changes in the illustrations that I didn’t explain – since I worked with Photoshop and Pixlr, I used layered files, and could move and manipulate the aspects of the illustration, add layer styles, and change hues and values easily.

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A Walk with Artemis Guided Meditation

Purchase the Goddess Artemis Guided Meditation at Walks Within.

More How to Tutorials 

Pictures of the Human Body: Chakras, Reflexology, & Meridians

Every part of the body is connected to the other parts, and by touching or affecting accessible parts you can access and heal the inner, unaccessible parts. The different systems of the body are illustrated in fairly specific ways depending on which modality you’re accessing. Here are some images of the holistic views of the body with chakras, reflexology, and meridians. An understanding of the inner working is beneficial to all of us with bodies, and especially Reiki practitioners who may receive different impressions from different parts of the bodies.

Alignment, an original chakra illustration by Katana created for WalksWithin.com
Alignment, an original chakra energy digital illustration by Katana created for WalksWithin.com
Goddess Diana and her chakras lit up.
Goddess Diana and her chakras lit up, an original illustration created for WalksWithin.com.
Pain is stored in different sections of the body; emotional conditions aggravate physical symptoms.
Pain is stored in different sections of the body; emotional conditions aggravate physical symptoms.
A reflexology hand chart.
“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” ― Mark Twain
“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”
― Mark Twain
In electrical terms, grounding is a common return path for current, or a direct connection with the Earth. It is used to prevent a build up of static or excess current. Everything is energy, including you. So it makes sense that what is a good idea for conducting electricity is a good idea for your energetic body.
In electrical terms, grounding is a common return path for current, or a direct connection with the Earth. It is used to prevent a build up of static or excess current.
Everything is energy, including you. So it makes sense that what is a good idea for conducting electricity is a good idea for your energetic body.
The eye of Horus/ eye of Ra and the connection to the pineal gland.
Tracing the meridians of the body, starting from the triangles. For more information, look up Donna Eden.
Activate your heart chakra to set a strong foundation.
Activate your heart chakra to set a strong foundation.
Chakra diagram. Fairly basic – the rainbow of colors up the body, and the symbols associated with them.

 

Reiki hand positions treat all areas of the body.