Fairy Journey Experience @ Oneness Spiritual Gathering

chocolate-ceremony-2016Back in March 2016, I was invited to visit Lake TomBigBee in Livingston by a friend named Guy which is on the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation to help plan and guide workshops for a Spiritual Gathering in the Fall.  There is a lake surrounded by the camp grounds and it was all gorgeous and had such great energy.  As Guy was taking us all on a tour and we were walking through the area, all of a sudden we crossed a bridge and the light was different, it was more glisteny and sparkly.  Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw little things zipping by me and hiding as I turned to see what it was.  Then, I finally had to stop and just stand there as I could feel the happyness and lightness of the area.  Finally, I forget who I was with, but I said, “There are fairies here” with complete confidence.  And she responded questionably, “Yes, there are.  They are all over here.”  And just like that, we turned back towards each other and continued our journey back to the camp grounds.  Before I left that weekend, I decided to plant my intentions for a beautiful gathering by leaving a carnelian stone that was gifted to me by a friend.  I found an old tree and stuck my hand deep into it’s base where I deposited the stone knowing that I’d be back to share and lead others in their own journey.

Six months later, I am in Colorado after spending a few months working in Austin and then setting out for my own road trip.  Colorado just felt like home and all of my friends were still here just like I’d left them almost ten years ago.  Because, who in their right mind, would say No to moving to Geneva?  That is the only reason I had left and that decision led me right back to Houston where I started this journey all over again!  I segway to Geneva, because the only reason I knew about fairies is because I lived on the border of Geneva in France right next to a small forest that had been encroached upon by developing homes like mine, and when ever I went into the forest all I could hear were beautiful enchanting sounds and sights.  I ended up going there almost every single day as refuge and pure curiosity because I had never experienced a forest like this one.  I learned that it had been the hunting grounds of a Russian ruler who would come here to retreat since it was right by Lake Geneva.  He also had a chateau that was now a restaurant and you could get there from the forest since it had eight directional paths going through it and all the paths lead to a great circle in the middle surrounded by eight massive trees marking the trails.  It was stunning.  Once in the forest and at the great circle, you could turn and head towards the boat dock, or the chateau, or the horse stables, or the field of poppies that were right next to my house.

Once in the forest in France, I could feel all sorts of little things coming towards me, to greet me, to check me out and they always wanted me to stay.  It seemed as if as the forest got smaller, all of the life inside got compacted into the area, so it was teeming with life.  There was even a granite altar that looked like it had been there for millennia.  And of course, it was broken and from what, someone surely knows.  Me and my two dogs Bella and Zoe were always going through the forest no matter what kind of weather we were having.  One day we got caught in the rain as we were jogging through and by the Chateau we caught a swan and her baby signets bathing themselves and it was like watching ballet in nature as they continuously dove into the water doing flips while sticking their beak in and under one wing and then the next and so on.  It was mezmerizing and as I caught myself staring I looked down to see the girls doing the same thing.  We didn’t move a peep so we didn’t interrupt them as it rained.  I’ll never forget that moment.  Plus, at the center of the circle lined with eight perfectly planted trees, I would always stop, put down whatever I had in my hands and just spin in circles looking up and it always makes me laugh!  I remember asking my now ex-husband to try it as he just rolled his yes in disbelief.  Thanks to him for taking me to Geneva to get a divorce, because I, of course, returned to Houston to start another journey without him to share and guide others who DO believe!

OK, back to the story: As the date for the Oneness Spiritual Gathering grew closer I gave Guy a call who shared that people were waiting for the last minute to attend as I continued to stay with friends in Colorado and even had multiple opportunities to house sit.  One friend even shared that I healed her as she housed me, which was so sweet.  There was a full moon the weekend before the Oneness gathering where I knew that I had been saying that I lived in Boulder while at Burning Man, but now my heart had decided to stay in Colorado forever for now.  But, I couldn’t find my passport and I needed it for a trip to Geneva. And this instigated my return safely back to Houston knowing that I would just be there for a week tidying up things, so I could officially return to Colorado once and for all.  And when I woke up the next morning, after the full moon while still in Colorado, I knew that it was time to head back to Texas, not only for the Oneness gathering but to get my things from Austin, find my passport, and bring back my IMAC, and winter clothes since the leaves were already changing in Colorado.  And just like that, I packed up the car and headed back to Texas as I called my parents to let them know of my arrival.  And on the way, I stopped in Austin to get my IMAC and then without thinking I slid my hand in between the mattresses of the guest bed where I had stayed with friends while working in Austin and felt my passport.  My girlfriend was surprised as she shared that she had changed the sheets multiple times and never found it.  I was ecstatic as I jumped up and down and then threw myself on the bed victorious.  Then, I was off to Cypress to spend some time with my parents and gathering my winter things.  The week flew by as I ended up seeing my opthamologist and getting my annual mammogram, plus I was visited by my cousin and an old friend.  It was nonstop before I headed back to Lake TomBigBee for the gathering.

Friday I arrived at the camp grounds and then was reminded that I had left a stone here, so I went straight to what I thought was the tree when it wasn’t there and kept looking and found the tree to retrieve my stone and again I was victorious.  The weather forecast was for rain all weekend so I set up my tent first thing.  All day it thundered all around us, but as Guy said, the storms went around us all weekend.  Later that night I got to share the opening Wild Women Circle with all the women who had arrived which was really beautiful.  And Saturday morning was the Fairy Journey Experience but only after we united for opening circle.  I shared with the group that was starting to form a few pointers about fairies that they are white, opaque or light and maybe you’ll see a bubble but whatever you do, don’t look away, before we headed off towards the bridge in silence so that we could turn off of our phones, and continue to get grounded focusing on everything around us in nature.  By the time we got to the bridge, there were about fifty of us which was wonderful considering that I had counted a hundred during the opening circle.  Again, I shared more details about how fairies are everywhere but they are in another dimension and the more clear and conscious we are, the more apt they are to meet us half way so that they can be seen, felt or heard.  It’s a gift to be in that space with grace and love and it’s a personal experience without any judgement.  Then, in silence everyone walked across the bridge and into the forest for their own experience.  And I will share with you my own experience and few others I heard:

I went into the forest and found a small group of trees by the water and looking out from under the canopy I could see a limb that grew up and then down and out that was interesting.  I thought, if I were a fairy I would hang out here.  I kept looking out and unfocusing my eyes as I breathed deeply and grounded myself.  I was there for awhile and nothing caught my attention, so I took one step to leave when I felt a little leaf fall on my back, which I thought nothing about.  Then, I was inside the group of trees looking down at their base just acknowledging how beautiful they were together and as I took a second step going through them, I got another knock of something falling from the tree on me and now I thought, OK, maybe there IS something here.  But I continued to take another step as if to leave and that’s when a big thing, I don’t know what it was, but it came from the tree and thwacked me right on the head! THWACK!  This just goes to show you how much our minds don’t want to learn new things, even when the heart does.  Imagine me standing there, now with my eyes wide open, thinking, CRAP, it’s the fairies and I haven’t been listening.  So, I turn around and go back to where I started and this time I put my left hand on the tree as I stand there grounding with my eyes closed and the intention to be present.  I took a few deep breaths, and then as I opened my eyes I was looking down and there it was.  It was like from the Moulin Rouge movie of the fairy but she was like a butterfly reflection on the base of the tree as her wings moved and sparkled like a shadow made of crystals and light.  I didn’t move, but it moved.  Then, my dang brain says, That’s nothing, it must be a reflection of your diamond cut mala bracelet and so I looked up at my bracelet and then back to the butterfly fairy wings and she’s still there, so I moved my left hand behind my back.  And the fairy is still there, and now she is flying around and I am still awstruck, and my mind says, It MUST be a reflection from your shoes, because they are also covered with sequins and stones and then I look at my shoes and back at the fairy, this time knowing it’s not my shoes.  And for some reason, I looked away for a split second and when I looked back, it was gone.  I knew immediately that she left because of my own disbelief, even though I thoroughly believe in Fairies.  In my own internal programming and stubborness, I was still happy to have been able to experience such beauty and grace on such sacred lands.  Those fairies have a sanctuary out there that will forever be guarded and loved.

I met another girl with a flower crown as I crept up to her who turned to me with tears in her eyes as she had her hands out and she said, “They are everywhere and keep coming to me.”  I was thrilled for her and then silently left her there to continue her own experience.  Then, I met another lady who said she stayed by the bridge and focused on the water and the plants and she kept seeing little droplets coming from seemingly nowhere as they were in a line dropping on the plants and the water.  She said they kept coming from different directions and she knew they were fairies and they were leaving a trail for her to experience. And then, a young man later stopped me to share his story which is amazing.  He said, he crossed the bridge and took a left while looking at the ground.  He said he kept finding trash, so he started to pick it up! I’m thinking, Fairies love this guy already.  He says, he finally came to a spot in the forest and sat down to meditate.  While he was meditating he said he was surprised to find that his medallion necklace had broken so he left it for someone else to find in the forest and he could feel a light presence all around him.  Then, he says, he barely took one step and looked down to find a beautiful shell that he believes was a present from the fairies!  I was ecstatic when I heard this along with a friend and we both agreed that the fairies were so happy for him to be picking up trash and that he was done with that medallion and I was glad he left it and even suggested that he have the shell wrapped so he can wear it from now on! The best part was that everyone had a moment to themselves in nature.  They had all come from as far as Chicago, Alabama, Austin, and Houston so just getting there was stressful enough so for them to be there on Saturday morning communing with nature and themselves was more than I could have ever planned.

From there we all gathered to share our stories and Awakened Joy who came from Chicago found a guy who was meditating facing a massive star shaped spider web in between some trees and it was gorgeous!  We all went to see it together as people were still off on their own experience in the background or joining us as we continued to the next workshop.

I have so many ideas to publish! My intention is to find an editor, graphic designer and publisher to continue creating a whole series of Fairy inspired books for kids to adults to enjoy.  If you agree, then please connect with me! 713-232-9796.

Even when I returned to Colorado the fairies came to me while teaching a yoga class with the door open to a beautiful street lined with trees.  There are fairies everywhere.  All it takes is a bit of fine tuning on your part to communicate with them and have your own experience.

With love and light,

Cancer Advocate Advantage

I think I’ve always been a Global Patient Advocate, now that I think about it.  Seriously, I’ve been teaching group exercise since high school and got really used to talking people into trying something new, like step aerobics, or slide or even spinning which is the stationary form of cycling.  It’s always been totally fun for me to draw in a new class of students and then take them through a beginner class teaching them how to do it and how to do it safely and then of course, how to have fun doing it!  That’s just me.  That’s the story of my life, as my dad would say.

So when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, I continued to share information and my experience with my community via social media with the intention to inform and educate others so that they wouldn’t be as surprised as I was!  I for one, almost never did my own self breast exam, much less monthly.  And I didn’t know of any family history of cancer.  Plus, I was a yoga teaching, vegetarian at the time I was diagnosed so I really didn’t believe the doctors.

Fast forward to seven years later, and I’ve continued to find new and valuable experiences in advocacy that I kept sharing with my inner circle of friends.  And when it comes to young breast cancer survivors, the circle is still super teeny.  Yet, I kept blogging and sharing great things through Facebook and Twitter until my dear friend and advocate soul sister passed away of metastatic breast cancer at the age of thirty in 2015.  We both went to Texas A&M, we both had two dogs, and we both even had the same birthday, but not the same birth year.  Actually, she was born when I turned sixteen and started teaching aerobics in 1985.

Today she is not with us, and I am going into my thirty-first year of teaching group exercise, but now I specialize in Special Populations including cancer survivors, newly diagnosed, Alzheimer’s Caregivers, and my favorite form of teaching is through group retreats.  I remember when Amber got just as excited as I did at the idea of advocating in DC, Austin and even rode 200 miles along the PCH1 for the Young Survival Coalition.  I loved Amber and miss her so much.  But now she is kicking me in the tukus to share the love and grow my sphere of influence to include Austin and beyond.

With that said, I am continuing the Cancer Advocate Advantage as an email newsletter to all those that keep asking me to remind them when and how to get in to a certain advocacy program.  It’s time to get more survivors inspired to become advocates for not only their own story, but all those stories that aren’t here anymore.  This is why I continue to blog and share and tweet and post because of so many that can’t be here today, including Amber Gillespie, Judy Gulgun, JoAnna Myers, and Rachel Midgett among others.  If you’d like to join the newsletter please send a message to sandymcastillo@gmail.com and use the word CAA in the subject line.  And if there is something in particular that you’d like to know about, then by all means ask.  I plan to share my own schedule of dates, application guidance and can even offer a recommendation if needed.  Once you know then you know better.  In one year alone, I won so many scholarships that I spent every single month at the airport to attend a conference, meet the doctors, meet other advocates from around the world, shared ideas, got inspired, learned new things and then came home to share the details with my community.

Advocates Inspire others to Speak up about their Health!

Ecstatic Dance Evolution

When I first heard of Ecstatic Dance I thought it was kind of different and odd since it was so completely different from what I was used to.  And then let’s frame this by sharing that I grew up teaching group exercise staring with high impact aerobics and went to Texas A&M so dance to me had lots of boundaries, restrictions and accepted moves.  Little did I know that was all changing before my eyes and in my life…

Until, after the Magdalen Workshop in Houston that Sarah and I had co-chaired I woke up in the middle of the night and just knew that I MUST GO TO DANCE TOMORROW!  It was that kind of knowing that was big and foreboding and I could do nothing else but here it loudly in my head and I could feel the dancing in my  bones trying to come out.  Plus, my friend Randy had told me about it and I knew he was going so that helped me feel safe about trying it out.  Yet, I felt a bit paranoid about showing up alone so I texted him in the middle of the night letting him know that I would be there in the morning, and I prefaced it by sharing that Spirit made me do it!

That was last summer and I have to say that after my first dance where I just starting to tap into my inner groove, I have gotten more and more into Ecstatic Dance so much that my life has become ecstatic.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, let me start by saying that Ecstatic Dance has just a few guidelines and no rules!  For me it’s like teaching high impact with strict dance moves to provided music at a 180 beats per minute and then going straight to teaching a spin class that flows with nature and gives you the opportunity to feel yourself more intently while you get your sweat on.  Does that paint a better picture?  Because that’s what it’s like, it’s amazing.  You don’t need to wear any shoes, but maybe socks when it’s super cold; you don’t, I repeat DO NOT use the mirrors, which is so fantastic since I grew up staring at myself in the mirrors and wearing the perfect outfit, and about clothes, you just need anything that is kind of loosely yoga based so you can move around comfortably.  I’ll never forget my first dance because I actually wore a bra!  And quickly after seeing everyone in their jog bras did the remove-your-bra-without-taking-off-your-clothes in public shimmy shimmy co co puff shake.  And finally, there is no talking during dance.  We are invited to use our body language only as we dance and you can always dance with another person but when you are done, you can put your hands together and give a little nod in gratitude before continuing on your journey. Having an ecstatic life means that it is full of joy and happyness because when your thoughts, words and actions match your expression about life, you become much more grateful and in synchronicity with the world around you.

Samadhi and her team create a beautifully curated sacred space in which to totally feel the music and let it move you in any way that feels good to you.  You can’t dance in any way wrong.  It just doesn’t exist! You can go in any direction at any time doing whatever your body feels and without any judgement about how you look or how anyone else looks.  It’s all just an expression of each person as they take a journey through the music!  It’s like a grown up version of going to Great Skate!  Remember skating?  You just do what you want when you want.  It’s a big sand box and we are all just playing together and having fun. Sometimes the music makes me feel like jumping up and down, or gliding around the floor, or even beating on the floor during a tribal beat.  It’s always different and a compilation of rythms and beats that make you want to move.

Back story is that I sometimes dream in music and wake up with a song that means something to me.  That’s what Ecstatic Dance is for me.  Samadhi is the amazing talented individual that started it here in Houston more than twelve years ago.  She is ALL about the music, I mean she spends hours upon hours working on the music set which is completely different for each dance every single Sunday.  And it’s all professionally mixed and flows together so you never lose your dance buzz.  The music is created by going through the chakras taking everyone on their own individual journey, kind of like how teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation works.  Everyone comes in for their own experience and gets exactly what they need at that moment.  Samadhi and her group of trained facilitators set the intention with a theme each week during a conference call on Wednesdays and then from then on Spirit works to create a vortex of loving support to which everyone shows up and it starts.

The dance officially starts with a warm up which is a few songs to which you’ll see people stretching on the floor, in yoga poses, dancing around, meditating, or just laying on the ground in their own silent space.  Then, when the warm up has ended, Samadhi invites us to come together in opening circle where we all sit in a massive circle to hear about the intention of the dance, who is facilitating since there are a few different leaders so we can understand the intent of the set of music we are about to dance to.  The last dance held at Planet Funk Academy was facilitated by Andy and the theme was Epic and the set of music even included the theme to James Bond and Star Wars which was a total delight for us all to dance to!  Now that the dance has moved to MATCH in Midtown Houston, we are all excited to open up the dance for more people to join, especially since we are now in a beautiful new studio in the middle of town.  The floors are so soft and spring loaded, with tall ceilings and the music sounds fantastic!  You are all invited to attend Ecstatic Dance Evolution Houston every Sunday from 10:30am to 1pm and know that you are welcome to come any time and leave any time.  Some people come after warm up and that is totally up to you!  The dance is about 90 minutes long with definite high notes and ends in a loving manner by winding everyone back down for a closing circle.  The Closing circle is when we slowly move back into a circle and Samadhi invites us for share-backs where anyone can voice how their experience was during the dance, then we go around sharing our names quickly, and then end with any community announcements.

The entire Sunday morning when I go to Ecstatic Dance is the best way I know how to start my favorite day of the week!  It’s a great place to meet friends, meet new ones and just be yourself.  Everyone wears what suits them from yoga clothes for women and shorts and bathing suit trunks for men. Sometimes I wear flash tattoos, bendi and sequins with my hair in mini buns!  It just depends on my mood.  Plus, after dance we will share a local place in which we are all meeting if anyone wants to join us for lunch.  And this is the best time to meet all those familiar faces that you’ve just experienced Ecstatic Dance with and maybe don’t know.  This past Sunday we had a great group of new people from as far as Victoria with us during dance and there were about 85 in attendance.  Samadhi has worked tirelessly to create Ecstatic Dance Evolution in which to package the dance with her style so that others can go through facilitator training, join the music service and create their own conscious community with her brand of dance.  For me, the experience is always different each week depending on where I am with my life and what I’m feeling, but it’s the one place that I can truly go to express myself and I always leave feeling a bit shinier and brighter about life!