By Jenn Stanley for Boston Compass (#132)
February 8, 2021
Naomi Westwater starts her morning with a sunrise walk on the beach. It’s intentional. It sets the tone for the day. And like everything else she does, it’s spiritual.
“I do certain things to nurture my physical being. I stretch in the mornings, and I eat foods that make me feel good,” Westwater said over Zoom. “But everything else I'm doing to nourish the spiritual part of me: consuming art, making art, getting in touch with nature.”
In addition to writing the monthly tarot column for BCN, she’s a singer-songwriter and producer. She’s currently working on an EP called “Feelings,” which explores the personal and political, tackling topics ranging from climate change to endometriosis.
Westwater’s spirituality is active and grounded in lived experience. She denounces the ways racism and capitalism seep into spirituality and suggests that new practitioners seek non-hierarchical leaders and teachers who they trust, in addition to finding their own way by exploring what aspects of their identity they can bring into their rituals.
“You don't have to go out and copy a practice that is not from your own culture to have a spiritual moment,” said Westwater. “I really encourage people to kind of do things that they would already want to be doing.”
She rejects the idea that people need an intermediary to access their inner truth and says the hierarchy in religion that places certain people closer to God allows oppressors to hoard access to power and wealth. “I am trying to think about spirituality more as a circle, with an understanding that you can tap in at any time.”
She stresses that you don’t need to buy anything or be somewhere in particular to have a spiritual moment. It can be as simple as intentionally lighting a candle, or mindfully sipping your coffee. Or in her case, making music.
Her songs are not religious and are typically not explicitly spiritual, but they often evoke a connection to the numinous in things large and small. At the end of this month, she’s helping fellow songwriters connect spiritually as a means of tapping into their own endless well of creativity in her upcoming retreat, “Song and Sanctuary.”
Mornings will start with light movement and a spiritual check-in, followed by songwriting and creativity workshops later in the day. In the evenings, artists will have an opportunity to share and get feedback on their work. Participants don’t need to identify as a member of any religion or even as “spiritual.” Westwater said it’s about artists gathering together at a time when community is hard to come by. The rest is personal.
“It’s all about intention. Anything can be spiritual, just like anything can be art.”
“Song & Sanctuary” is a three day, virtual retreat (Feb. 26-28). For more information visit www.naomiwestwater.com
— Jenn Stanley