first, about the land.
I am wasi'chu, gringo, cracker, white.
I have spoken when I should have listened. Demanded when I could have collaborated. Taken space without sharing.
I am of Northern European descent, nearly all British Isles with some Turkish/Caucasus and Greco-Roman DNA. I am a settler, a colonizer living in the unceded lands of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Chinook, Molalla, Tualatin Kalapuya and other indigenous peoples in a place called Portland, OR where I am learning to walk with the cedars. I have moved frequently in my life and am shaped by many places. Currently, I am in the process of showing up to the work of unsettling and de-colonizing as a person socio-politically privileged through oppressive and violent systems. Not perfectly, but deepening everyday.
My relationship to the plants and the land does not exclude these truths and informs the answers to my searches. My work as an herbalist is an imperfect exploration of how white-capitalist-cis-patriarchal systems mediate our relationship with the plants while being such an incredible support to our bodies also being mediated by these systems.
I am queer, cis-gendered and non-binary: I honor the full gender spectrum of expression/identification and find myself sliding to and fro along it. I reject trans-exclusive feminism whole-heartedly. Many of us trauma survivors had/have rigid identities enforced on us and it takes a ton of unseen emotional labor to lift these constraints. I honor the liberation rejecting such narrow identities brings me and wish it for each living creature.
I am not down with the white-cis-hetero-ablest-neurotypical-capitalist-patriarchy. It is the root of so much collective and personal trauma.
I identify as able-bodied and have work to do on internalized and under-explored ablism. It's a place I am working to deepen my knowledge and understanding, specifically how it relates to 'healing,' 'health,' and 'access.'
I grew up with various shifts between poverty/low income and lower middle class. I have danced between low income/marginally housed and lower middle class throughout my adulthood, with financial stability shifting, like with so many of us survivors, as my mental wellness and physical body shifts. I am currently a recipient of Oregon Health Care, unashamedly and believe medical support and access to be a human right. I have lots of thoughts about this.
wryding, herb chanting and magic
I am witch, more intimately: a wyrder: weaver of being, a lybbestre: woman who works with the life force, and especially a wyrtgaelstre: a woman who chants over herbs. For me, the more work I do with trauma, the body, the unseen realms and social justice, the more they all intertwine. I still taste the embers of the burning times as I navigate dominant culture. Much of my spiritual work and devotion is the summoning of that which has been colonized and suppressed into a modern framework that includes social justice and physiology. The work of unspelling of oppression and trauma in personal and political spheres are identical.
As a colonizer with Northern European (and some other) heritage, I am called to study and practice the traditions of my ancestral resisters, those with ties to the land and magic in their blood, as well as the community systems which they fought to keep and lost. But not as an exact replica, not as oversimplification and spiritual bypass evading my responsibility as a current settler-colonizer unjustly privileged by an oppressive dominant culture (there's a TON of that happening). There is no separation between social justice and spirituality to me. NONE.
I understand magic to be implicit in the human experience. It is infused in each aspect of my work with the plants, the land and community. I believe a culture hell bent on extracting everything it can from the earth which it perceives as dead, denying the absolute need for all forms of human and bio-diversity with an addiction to power and control is ill, deathly ill. May the death of such poison go quickly.
I am in service to plants and a student of their teachings. I sing to them. I make medicines as an act of co-creation. I sing over the bones of animals I find with lives taken by human made machines. I work intimately with a few spirits of my blood line and their demands that they be lifted out of the patriarchal structures which they have been entombed.
on being 'crazy'...
My early life was shaped and molded by intense trauma, sexual violation, chaos and neglect. Big things happened, and lots and lots of smaller, numbing, heart-hurting, sad things too. By the time I was supposed to emerge as a young adult into the world I was so panicked, self-hating and fearful that I began a near 15 year spiral into emotional + physical survival, self-sabotage and at times, utter despair. I trusted no one, but didn't know that I trusted no one...I just knew I seemed incapable of making relationships and achieving certain levels of satisfaction and success while I achingly watched my peers move up and onward.
My body hurt. I had panic and depression and periods of extreme dissociation. It was so fucking lonely. And scary. I became a master at basic survival during my 20s. And, as in my 30s, I knew something had to change but I had no idea what, because like many trauma survivors and folks with brilliant minds, I thought all of my struggles were one big character flaw: I thought I was just an awful failure. I thought I was bad (<- that's common and bullshit, btw).
SOME OF THE DIAGNOSES I WORK(ED) WITH ARE:
- Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Dissociative Identity Disorder/ Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
- Clinical Depression
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder/Panic Disorder
- Fibromyalgia, IBS, Interstitial Cystitis, Adrenal Fatigue....
Like many folks with complex or developmental trauma, I am intensely sensitive to power and control dynamics, authority figures and have an immense ability to feel/care-take the needs of others. I spent almost 20 years in social justice work, radical mental health, non-profits, and direct service as a terribly defiant and hard to manage employee.
Most of my developing years I was told that the things I desired and dreamed of were "too idealistic," and internalizing those beliefs made me feel crazy.
I was in intense physical and emotional pain for a very long time. I spent hours staring at vitamin bottles and researching what might be happening to me. I had a many, many disempowering experiences with the medical and mental health systems. Like many trauma survivors, I have hovered in and out of poverty and struggled to meet my needs, both those for survival and healing (restoration is a term I prefer).
Hyper-individualism is isolating. Our very physiology thrives in connection, which looks different for different folks, but it is essential. This bootstraps style demands that we 'get it together' is a violence against the realities of being human. It fits a narrowed range of minds and bodies. It is a cultural perpetration of complex trauma. I reject it. We need each other. We deserve each other.
So, there you have it. I'm a crazy herbalist <3
Some of my favorite things I am up to right now are: my online anxiety class, unspelling work, herbal consultations, new writings about plants and trauma.....scheming new classes....
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a bit. I'd love to do the same!