Author, coach, sex educator and contemporary mystic LaSara Firefox is, in her own words, a remarkably fast processor. During a ninety-minute telephone interview she moves seamlessly from a description of her recent trip to Israel/Palestine, to her work with addictive behaviours, to the breakup of her ten year marriage, to her subsequent clairaudient experiences. Throughout she draws elegant connections underpinned by her persuasive insistence that artificial dualities between mind and body, spirit and sexuality, ourselves and others, are at the root of much of our suffering. She's disarmingly open about her personal life, weaving asides about depression, divorce, and her unconventional upbringing into explanations of her healing-centered work and philosophy.
LaSara also discusses CoCreative Healing, a new healing technology passed on to her via clairaudient emissions (of which more later), and a forthcoming venture called Global Family Awakening, which will facilitate family trips to international trouble spots with the intention of getting people into anti-objectifying relationships with other people. She's clearly an accomplished businesswoman — listening to her I'm confronted by my own prejudice about the mutual exclusivity of commerce and altruism.
I came across LaSara's book, Sexy Witch, about a year ago and was immediately taken with its playful mix of fun, punchy exercises, meditations, and DIY craft projects designed to foster in women a fresh relationship to their bodies and sexuality. LaSara's take on stereotypes about body size and sexual/relationship roles is that resistance is attachment; to resist is to buy into — resistance equals reinforcement equals judgment. She feels strongly that people (and I assume she means people living relatively affluent, Westernized lifestyles) have dehumanized and punished their bodies by forcing them into unnatural shapes and overloading them with excess consumption. She is adamant that spirit, or the Divine, is inextricably connected with materiality and the present of bodily reality. I don't believe in "out there,"" she says, "the place where we have power (choice) is right here right now. In my own heart… Every cell in my body is a manifestation of God/the Divine/the Universe. God talks to people. There's no separation between my body and the rest of manifest reality. Literally and metaphorically there is no separation between the body and earth."
The last couple of years have been particularly intense and accelerated, part of a process of becoming and reawakening to a more whole sense of self. The end of her marriage prompted a period of loss, of sloughing off old casings, of ego annihilation. She invokes the phrase sacred marriage to describe her ongoing and evolving commitment to spiritual development and mentions that she's redesigning the structure of her workshops, planning new ones around the theme of helping families to define their own values, not necessarily concurrent with the nuclear ideal. When she makes it clear that her marriage was strained by the pressures and discrimination she and her ex-husband experienced in not adhering to conventional parenting roles, I admire her. I am also rather intimidated by her honesty, which seems to wholeheartedly believe in itself with no room for questionalthough perhaps that's just projection on my part, mistaking her charisma for immunity to self-doubt.
Several times during our interview I hear her asking one of her children to help the other with something and I ask her how motherhood informs her work. She tells me she wants to invite her children to be part of her trajectory, to not objectify them as children and asks, how can I be in a relationship and at the same time not form attachments? replying to her own question with a Buddhist-inflected statement: the answer is in the present. Attachment and presence (being present) are mutually exclusive. Attachment is not love.
Following her divorce, she entered a period of heightened awareness; she heard audible voices instructing her to pattern miracles of healing using technologies already familiar to her. She's down-to-earth about these clairaudient directives, referring to Andrew Harvey's book, The Direct Path, and his assertion that experiences outside the realm of tangible reality should be normalized and treated as part of the everyday. She tells me she no longer meditates every day. I have to take my foot off the gas pedal, she says, to decelerate. When I comment on how disorienting all this must have been she reminds me that Jesus asked the disciples to stay awake but they fall asleep. He wants them to help him stay accountable. But no one can do that. In other words, no one else can stay present for you during moments of figurative sacrifice and rebirth.
The trip to Israel/Palestine seems to have emerged from this period of change. LaSara travelled to the area with a party of seventeen, which included singer-song writer, author and peace troubadour James Twyman. They made pilgrimages to various holy sites and a Kabbalistic artist's community, and conducted prayers for peace. She also travelled alone, visiting the West Bank and various Arab families who treated her with love and hospitality and asked her to relay to the world that they are not what the world sees on CNN. The Arab community, she says emphatically, have been demonized by global media conglomerates.
It would be easy to write LaSara Firefox off as a self-involved West Coast New Age-er and I have to admit that my skeptical self is ringing alarm bells. However well-intentioned the trip to Israel/Palestineand I am certain it was prompted by an entirely benevolent impulseI wonder what it gave to the various communities she visited, aside from a brief chance to interact with well-meaning Americans. The Global Awakening Project also sounds ambitious, and while I applaud her attempt to create family getaways based on exchange rather than consumption, I am not sure whom, actually, the exchange will benefit.
I check out Andrew Harvey's website. A section detailing a forthcoming pilgrimage to South India led by Harvey contains glowing testimonials that attest to the "mystery" and "loving… spirit" of India and the Indian people. These rather Orientalist generalizations, and the pilgrimage itself, smack to me of spiritual tourism.
In a follow-up e-mail I ask LaSara whether she or any of the party spoke with Arab or Israeli thinkers, authors, peace activists, healers or cultural workers. If so, where are their voices? She informs me that she spent time with Sheik Bukhari, a Sufi Sheik whom she plans to take people to sit with on upcoming trips to the area, and mentions her guide, describing him as amazingly open-minded. She says she's in e-mail contact with several Palestinians and that she connected with a group of Israeli peace activists who organized the Jerusalem Hug Project.
I ask her if there's any plan to have Arab and/or Israeli practitioners visit the US to work with her and share their experiences. She tells me it's definitely something she wants to organize in future. I ask her how to avoid the pitfall of self-obsession in the name of personal development especially when it's at the expense of those who suffer, are poverty stricken and invisible. How to integrate a commitment to the spiritual dimension of life with an honest appraisal of inequities of power and privilege inherent in such intercultural exchanges?
She returns to the theme of being present, and the lack of separation between I and Other." And she expands upon her current project, CoCreative Healing, on the idea of body-as-spirit and the notion of shared, participatory healing. In a post interview e-mail she explains, …this technology is as old as humankind. The format is indeed new, though, as is the aim. Drastic times call for drastic measures. And we all know that if we don't commit to finding ways to heal this planet, then the future is bleak…. The premise is this: healing is possible. We do it all the time; our bodies are wired to heal themselves; our bodies often heal effortlessly and unconsciously; our bodies know how to do this…. The planet and our bodies have layer upon layer of inextricable interrelation. Just as our bodies are more than just a vehicle animated by spirit.
Firefox explains that, in her view, language, is less an inert, descriptive vessel of a reality that's out-there than a sculpting agent with the ability to mould the material world. According to LaSara this sculptural capability can be harnessed by Neuro Linguistic Programming, a therapeutic technique influenced by, but, she says, with a broader range of application than, hypnotherapy. She explains that a component of her healing work with private clients entails using NLP to reframe non-resourceful patternsaddictive behaviors, for examplestarting from the premise that all actions and beliefs are founded in positive intent. This sounds like a sensible alternative to the vilifying moralism that surrounds most addictions, and a better vantage point from which to help people to become accountable for their actions and choices.
Indeed, the strongest message I take away from our conversation is that we (i.e., anyone with the resources and time to read this article) have the luxury of substantial choice and need to exercise our rights to those choices in a conscious way. Firefox is adamantly in favor of drug legalization and believes that, in the U.S., moral panic substitutes for informed, responsible conversations about the use of controlled substances. In reference to her work with addictive behaviours she says, we need to take the judgmental weight of decisions made from a desire to make life better or hurt less. We were doing (these things) to take care of ourselves. If we drop a major coping strategy and move forward without examining what the addiction served, of course we're going to use again. NLP, she says, can help achieve this by re-patterning thought processes, and, therefore, our reality. We become observers in our own process. The observer alters the observed.
I can't help but admire her energy and commitment. I conclude by asking her to recommend starting points for those drawn to healing work and to cultivating a relationship with faith and spirit compatible with secular living. Stay conscious, she says, it's a practice. If you can't give yourself enough love and compassion you can't put it out into the world. I'm responsible for loving myself completely whether or not I'm capable of receiving. We need to find the humanness in ourselves… Spirit doesn't care who gives the message. The more of us who are willing to filter it through our own particular lens, the better. It's a life or death game.
Despite the distancing medium of the telephone it feels as though LaSara is talking directly to my most intimate fears and hopes. By the end of the interview I'm high on her intensity. Is this healthy? I'm not sure. I follow up with an overly personal e-mail about a series of personal crises that have prompted me to reexamine my life, instigating a desire to involve myself in work that serves others while allowing me to exercise my creative impulses. I'm a child of the privileged West, with a well-meaning urge to connect secular and spiritual dimensions and a deep need to integrate my body, mind and soul. I find comfort in Gramsci's famous maxim, pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.