The year 2011 was a transformative one for Vanessa Cuccia, the founder of the crystal adult toy shop, Chakrubs. Cuccia had just ended a six-year relationship with her partner after realizing it was an emotionally and sexually abusive experience.
“I had developed some ideas about sexuality that weren’t really healthy for me,” she told Girlboss. “Every day I was having sex, but it was more about his pleasure than my own.” Once she reached her early twenties, Cuccia realized things needed to change. She remembers thinking, “I’m a quarter of my life done. I want to enjoy sex.”
With the relationship over, Cuccia began work at an adult shop while also working with a spiritual healer. The shop had every “sex toy under the sun imaginable,” but Cuccia says she wanted something more than an orgasm. “I needed to reconnect to myself,” she said. “And I needed to really understand my own boundaries and develop a more wholesome relationship to myself and to my sexuality.”
While working with the spiritual healer, Cuccia visited another woman whose home was filled with large, beautiful crystals. That’s when the idea of using crystals for sexual healing popped into her head. After a lot of research and product development, she used the first Chakrub on herself. Friends later reported having interesting experiences. “It took me no time to see that this was something that was really needed in the world,” Cuccia said.
By the following year, Cuccia had incorporated Chakrubs as a brand. Since then, she’s written a book on Chakrubs, Crystal Healing and Sacred Pleasure,where she dives into the philosophy behind the product. “People will say that this is new age bullshit because it has to do with concepts of crystal healing and energy,” Cuccia said, adding that she welcomes skeptics to the conversation. Chakrubs, she explained, are simply “a method of using crystals as a support system to develop a relationship with yourself.”
In the years since Cuccia began her own journey to rediscover pleasure on her own terms, she’s been particularly drawn to books on personal and spiritual development. Ahead, in her own words, she reflects on the most transformative books she’s read to date. “They’re tools in my toolbox,” Cuccia said. “And so it makes me feel like I’m prepared for life.”
Psychomagic by Alejandro Jodorowsky
I had seen a few movies by him that were really wild and beautiful and different than anything I’d ever seen before. He works a lot in symbolism and understands the importance of using symbols to alter the subconscious. So, he speaks a lot about poetry and living a poetic life. I fell in love with his movies and then wanted to read his book. He’s the most unique thinker there is. And his stories are just so beautiful.
I like how he really describes life as this playground, and gives you the courage to do things that are out of the ordinary because he knows that that’s going to develop your character. Doing things that are poetic can alter your whole existence because you’re seeing life in a more poetic manner.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
I listened to it on Audible first, and then I had to buy the hardcover. But I definitely recommend the Audible because it comes across as listening to comedy, almost. What I like about it is that it’s not about not caring about things. It’s about not worrying so much.
It’s this reminder that you can make mistakes, and that’s okay. And you could give your all to something and fail, and that’s okay. It relieves you of this anxiety a lot of the time. You learn to laugh at yourself and life and things like that. I think it’s a really good lesson for anybody to have.
The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
It really helps you understand that love is such a teacher. That’s really what it’s about. It’s like you can look at the bad relationship that I had, that was a teacher. I think everybody should read this book. I think it would help us out a lot.
The main lesson that I got from it is that we think that something like love happens so naturally, and that we find it and it works or it doesn’t. We don’t think of it as something that is an art form that we could practice and get better at.
“Love is such a main aspect of our lives that we think is going to happen or not. It’s rarely seen as something you could work on.”
That really changed my whole viewpoint because there’s two elements of love. One happens on a chemical, very natural, kind of way that just hits you. But then there’s that other part that takes introspection and work and decision. So it’s part intuition and part decision. And I think that decision aspect is something that many of us aren’t really aware of, or that we’ve lost the spiritual meaning of what it is to love.
And it’s not necessarily about romantic love. It’s about all types of love. I feel like it’s a course everybody should take because love is such a main aspect of our lives that we think is going to happen or not. It’s rarely seen as something you could work on.
The Path of Emotions by Synthia Andrews
This one talks about the chakra system, which is maybe what drew me to it. But it also talks about the emotions and how each one is valuable. For example, it explains jealousy as a call to action. So this means that there’s something within you that is desiring growth. It helps you recognize that we need to feel the emotion and really understand where they are in the body and how to process them rather than repress them.
“Feel the emotion, discern the message of the emotion, and then let it flow through you.”
It helped me realize that I had an anger issue, meaning that I would never feel anger. I’d repressed that emotion because I thought that it was bad. And I thought that made me a bad person. Instead of being angry outward, I would turn that emotion inward and it became more of a feeling of depression. So having learned that, anytime I felt anger, I learned how to feel it in my body and let it flow through me physically. I would actually be able to understand where it was in my body.
I think there’s a process. It’s like feel the emotion, discern the message of the emotion, and then let it flow through you.
You Are A Dream by Guillaume Wolf
I found it last month ago but I’m really loving it! The morning that I found the book, I had really vivid dreams and I was telling my boyfriend about the dreams. I was explaining how it reminded me of when I was doing a college interview, and I didn’t know why I said this but I said, “I’m a circle.” This really weird sentence came out of my mouth, out of nervousness, to the person giving me the interview. The dream reminded me of that. When we went into town, in the shop there were these series of books. There was, You Are a Dream and then next to it was, You Are a Circle.
It was one of those things that’s such a funny coincidence. I picked up the You Are a Dreambecause it spoke to me more because it’s called An Introduction To the Creative Dreaming Method. It’s about living creatively and how when you change yourself, you change what’s outside of you as well. It’s like working with creativity and dreaming to alter your life.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.