Meet Your Guru - Brandon Alter!
Updated: Sep 3
by Elizabeth Gracen:
I met Brandon Alter several years ago in a strenuous (but not too strenuous) pilates class. I had no idea what I was in for. Not only did Brandon put us through our 'stretch and breathe' paces, he opened our awareness and left us inspired and much more open to the world by the end of class. It was quite the morning. When I read his powerful Instagram posts, there was no doubt in my mind that his philosophy of life and honest journey of self-discovery must be shared with an even bigger audience. Please meet Brandon Alter, and be prepared to be changed for the better.
EG: Brandon, I haven’t known you that long, but in the brief time we’ve spent together and after a fabulous perusal of your Instagram account (@thebrandonalter), I must tell you how moved I am by your openness, adventurous spirit, and willingness to talk about and ponder the harder questions that we all face on a spiritual level about what it means to be human in this crazy world.
BA: Well thank you, my love! Honestly, my Instagram is one way for me to be a teacher to myself. When I post inspiration or encouragement, I'm really giving myself what I need for the day. But it's always so nourishing to hear that other people are receiving the healing as well!
EG: From your fabulous feed, there are a few things that stand out: your overwhelming love for both your husband, Angel, and your wonderful pup, Noche! Your Mom is in there too, adorned with full-force adoration. Definite Cher worship (rightfully so), followed closely by Babs, Donna Summer, and a sprinkling of Madonna. If I’m seeing this correctly, I believe you proposed to Angel before one of Madonna’s concerts?
BA: Yes, I did! Madonna is truly a spirit guide for my husband; her aggressive self confidence and ability to reinvent and transform herself are a source of immense power for him. I think on his darkest days he asks himself: What would Madonna do?! So I couldn't imagine a more perfect place to propose. He was truly floored.
Myself, I am an acolyte at the altar of Cher. She truly gives no fucks and speaks her heart's deepest truth at all times. I take deep comfort in her effortless authenticity. I can be such a people pleaser sometimes, and the medicine of Cher is to remember that not everyone is going to like you and that's ok!
"I'd rather be disliked for who I truly am,
than liked for someone I'm not."
EG: You love to travel. You’re an actor with the wonderful DEAR WHITE PEOPLE on your resume. You also have a glamorous alter ego named Brandonna, and she is simply beautiful. You have a colorful live full of love, laughter, and contemplation. Needless to say . . . I am fascinated!
BA: I'm very touched by how deeply you've seen me! This is all so true, I adore travel. Seeing the world gives me access to profound universal truths. And since I was born and raised in Southern California and I still live here, I feel the need to travel often, to ensure I'm stepping out of the reality bubble that is Los Angeles.
As an actor it is so easy to forget that there is more to life than Hollywood and being on TV, so seeing new places helps expand my heart and put things in proper perspective. But I will be reprising my role from the film in a little guest star appearance in season two of Dear White People, which I think releases on Netflix sometime in late Spring/early Summer.
Now, Brandonna is the living embodiment of my sacred feminine. I call her the High Priestess of Self-Empowerment, and I'm currently working on her next show, a cabaret piece called "Brandonna Summer: Healing Through Living." She is a channel for me to claim even more of myself and my personal power. I mentioned how I use my Instagram as a tool to give myself the medicine I need, and Brandonna is another tool. She is my inner goddess (we all have one) and she truly mothers and nurtures me. EG: You are a true seeker on a deep spiritual journey. Yoga, healing, meditation, crystals, tarot cards . . . there are so many layers to ‘who’ you are. I believe you have many gifts to offer this beautiful, horrible world, and I am thrilled you have agreed to share your thoughts and guidance on this website.
BA: I'm thrilled for this opportunity. You know, you can only lead where you have followed. So as I walk my path and learn and grow it's only natural for me to want to share what works. Maybe it's because I'm an Aquarius, but I can't help wanting to connect to my community and world through teaching spiritual skills. Yoga, breathwork, crystals, tarot, shamanic skills, meditation are lifelong disciplines that continue to support me. And in some ways I think they are all expressions of the same thing. A tarot card is a crystal is a yoga pose. They are all forms that exude one type of energy.
"It's all energy.
We're all energy."
The more we can learn how to call in the energies we want and release those that no longer serve us, the more quickly our growth and transformation can occur. Everything starts in the void and then manifests here in the physical world. Just like giving birth, life starts in the womb, in the darkness and stillness of creation. And in my humble opinion, these ancient tools can help us connect to that magical place, the cosmic womb, the underlying nature of all reality—and once you feel into that, baby, even the sky isn't the limit.
You're limitless. EG: I'd love to know a little about your background. Where you came from, what kind of childhood you had. If you are comfortable with it, please share some your story.
BA: Well let's see, I was born in San Diego and had a perfectly lovely childhood. My mom is quite spiritual and took me to psychics at a very young age, gave me my first tarot deck when I was eleven or twelve, took me to yoga with her and gave me a strong foundation for esoteric studies. I was always interested in aliens and witches and ghosts and Atlantis and Stonehenge. The invisible world has always held a fascination for me. Simultaneously, I was introduced to theatre when I was seven and pursued it throughout high school—I attended Idyllwild Arts Academy my last two years of high school, which is a boarding school for creatives: painters, writers, actors, etc. It was a magical time, living in the mountains with a bunch of artists, taking academic classes in the morning, and my theatre classes in the afternoon. EG: Can you tell me the origins of your spiritual search? Have you always been this way, or did something happen in your life that compelled you to look deeper into yourself?
BA: My mom definitely started me on the journey. But my real spiritual life has only taken off in the last few years. I think my story is everyone's story. My life began to feel small, suffocating and insufferable. I was out of touch with myself and my purpose and this overwhelming sadness led me to question my reality and seek deeper truths. And this questioning and seeking brought me into a relationship with spirit in a real and meaningful way. Since then I try to do everything from this place of connection. That doesn't mean I don't feel small or sad sometimes, but now I have a greater context for my life and I have tools and allies to assist me when I'm overcome by darkness. EG: When I read your Instagram posts and when I talk to you, I sense a vulnerability that most people are unwilling to reveal about themselves. It’s a willingness to show your underbelly—your soft spots. Is this something you consciously reveal, or are you simply speaking without filters? Do you ever feel the need to cultivate a persona, or are you working toward something else—something more profound?
BA: Oh my god, I am always feeling the need to cultivate a persona, and I vigilantly fight against it. I think our authentic self is our most powerful tool. And no, it's not always easy and it's never comfortable but I am committed to being who I truly am on a moment to moment basis and not hiding any of it. But I am working at it. It's not something that just happens. On a daily basis I challenge myself to be more vulnerable because that's the only way we can really connect. We've been taught not to show our weaknesses or our feelings or our struggles, but those are actually the very things that allow people to enter into your heart. The more contained your "persona," the more alone you are going to feel.
EG: It takes a lot of courage and patience to figure out who we really are. How important do you think it is to recognize and accept the ‘shadow’ side of our own personalities? How do we learn not to push that part of ourselves down and hide it away, not only from others, but from ourselves?
BA: I could literally talk about this for hours. But suffice to say that our job in this lifetime is to love ALL of ourselves. Especially the shadowy bits. The thing is, every part of yourself that you find shameful or embarrassing contains hidden gifts, gifts that have been lost to you. But you can reclaim them and you need them! Without making allies of your shadow selves you will never be able to achieve your soul's true purpose. Once you learn to hold space for those aspects of yourself and not judge them, you have access to more of yourself. As you gain access to more of your authenticity, you naturally have a greater capacity to love and accept others around you. Shadow work is not easy and it's generally not pleasant because it brings up a lot of our childhood trauma and suffering, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun. Brandonna is all shadow work. Through her I can embrace and express all the aspects of myself that the "world" or "society" would tell me to hide. EG: You talk about the macrocosm of the individual in relation to what is happening in the world on a bigger scale. Can you explain this correlation and how you believe the world is evolving in a turbulent time? Do you think we are attempting to heal ourselves . . . or are we doomed?!
BA: I certainly don't think we are doomed. I think we are being shown the true nature of where we are. And it's painful, because a lot of us thought we were further along. But we're not. We're not as progressive and accepting and as aligned as we hoped or pretended to be. However, the paradoxical theory of change says that until you accept EXACTLY where you are, you cannot change a single thing. So I view this all as a profoundly positive time. We've seen our collective shadow, we cannot deny it anymore. And now because we've seen it we can start to evolve and change and truly embody the upgrade being asked of our species. Everything happens inside and outside at the same time. As we wake up in our own hearts and spirits, the world around us wakes up as well. That's why it is so crucial that we all work on ourselves first! Don't get swept up in the madness. Get grounded and connected to our own truth, so you can call bullshit when you see it. The most important thing I can offer as advice for these times is to not let fear motivate us.
"Fear is what turns us into monsters.
So what we need now is to double down on hope."
EG: Final question: even though your blog will take many forms and turns as it goes along, what are you going to be writing about?
BA: What won't I be writing about?! Honestly, I'll just be sharing my life experience from my unique spiritual perspective. I'll aim to keep it real but fun, funny, and ultimately encouraging. I look at EVERYTHING I do as a form of healing, so this blog will be no different. It's a chance to help others heal through radical self acceptance, learning new skills, and most importantly expanding their perspective of themselves and the world around them. I'm honored and excited to connect with your readers! Instagram: @thebrandonalter