go back to the land

12.19.2020 Oshun/River Cleansing

as many of you have undergone many changes in the past few months, I too have transformed and transmuted in my own ways. an update and some lessons from the earth, elements, flowers, and landscapes I find myself in:

in March I was invited to join a beloved friend and fellow plant lover & community herbalist in a live conversation about the pandemic, the global fight against anti-Black racism, and our healing relationship to Spirit. the conversation itself was rich and I was inspired by our collective call to “go to the land” in whatever ways we can and as often as we can.

soon after I was blessed to spend two months in glorious Mississippi with my chosen family and Elder. There in those wide open skies and green forests my bodies were able to rest in a way that I had not in long time. I hardly “rested” in the traditional sense of sleeping and lounging around, the rest I am talking about is a Spiritual one. where I felt the trees, vast blue and white clouded skies envelop me with warmth and a grandmothers holding.

Earthlodge South, Mississippi

In those beautiful landscapes, I was once again reminded of the importance of connecting our abolitionist movements to intergenerational, multicultural, global climate justice conversations and luchas, and of calling our peoples back to the earth to learn how to re-organize our world in a more loving, sustainable, and kind manner. during those months Spirit also led me to see that it was time to grow my practice and politics in ways that more deeply aligned with my vision for healing justice. when the pandemics of covid and anti-Black violence plagued the united states I knew I needed to allow new energy in that could sustain the work I envision for myself as an abolitionist healer. what is clear to me after having freed myself of the confines of my own deepest fears of financial instability is that for our own humanity now more than ever our movements need to acknowledge the abundance of solutions the earth herself offers us to heal, restore, and nurture our communities. the solutions are within the earth- not within a replicated capitalist system within our own movements. abundance is at our hands when we work the land. healing is in our hands when we create the solutions with our own community- not dependent on the state.

For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. -Audre Lorde, 1984.

I moved to Puerto Rico a few weeks ago to join my Borikén chosen family as well as my child and co-parent who have been living here for the past two+ years. the pandemics we are living through right now forced me to get really honest with myself about what is important to me both in my personal and my political life. as a healing justice trainer & practitioner and as an organizer, my Spirit called me to a place where I can grow and share with others my own work and lessons in abolition, healing justice, transformative justice, community land trusts and other land movements, criminal justice reform, and youth justice movements. I land in my new world with a lot of humility and commitment.

on a very real human (spiritual??) note- coyote, my 7 year old brought me here to this beautiful archipelago to humble myself and get to work deepening my own commitments to the earth (allowing the earth to steward me), flower alchemist, medicine maker, and student of Mother Earth herself. it is Coyote who guided my family here and I listened (finally) 😉 🌈

“no matter where you go, there you are” -my mother’s words (and I am sure many other peoples words too).

a few weeks into my move, my body began to relax, detox…purge. I developed an infection in both my left eye and my left leg. the underlying issue- once again- was my low immune system (in 2018 I had a skin issue as well that I healed while in PR). at the peak of the infection I began to feel my emotions much more deeply, I realized how much grief I have been carrying around. for the past few years I have released relationships, loved ones, friends, soul connections whom I out grew/out grew me, caused hurt/was hurt by…most recently releasing my attachments to being based in Los Angeles was very hard, yet it was the best thing for my mental and spiritual health, my self esteem, and my political growth as an abolitionist healer and parent. as one of the homeopathic doctors I met with (virtually) recently said, my body was “sacando lo toxico” letting go of the toxicity in my body. those nights were rough. I could feel the infection spreading both in my eye and my leg. I got scared and I turned to my body + Spirit for answers. I asked my body what I can do to help heal myself. I looked inward to my spiritual + earth practices that I have been cultivating for the past 10+ years. I read my oracle cards daily. I prayed and listened for messages. lastly, I listened to A LOT of music (thanks to Spotify, Soundcloud!)

for many years through my work with Queen Hollins at the Earthlodge Center for Transformation in Long Beach, I have been healing grief that I carry in bodies about my blood family, specifically my older brother who struggles with alcoholism. This too has come up for deeper healing. It has been a few weeks since the onset of the infection, my eye is back to normal, and my leg is nearing normalcy as well. Although the infection is near gone- the lessons from it are to continue to purge toxicity, more stories, more sadness, and the thought about it coming back- this lingering possibility is pushing me to look at the icebergs of grief that have made home in my bodies for too long. No longer so close to my spiritual home and spirit-mother, I am finding refuge and midwifing from the earth herself. the beauty around me brings me balance, allows me to feel my feelings in a way that Los Angeles and my life there could not. being on edge 24/7 felt normal to me in Los Angeles. rapid response work began to weigh on the bodies especially because the concrete city whom I have a lot of love for (no place like Los Angeles, no people like Angelenos, blessed be) became a place I could no longer see myself building in long term, not in the ways I had been. I needed a break from the gun shots on my block, the death caused by the sheriff department, and the concrete itself. for the record!—- in no way am I talking smack about L.A.- the city is beautiful, the people are beautiful and so resilient and powerful. I have some grief around not being in Los Angeles – I have so many loved ones there- families I met, children I lived near, plant allies I cared for and whom nourished me. I have a lot of rage around how L.A. has done such a great job of disconnecting people from the earth– I know the rage is really grief because I love my peoples who are there fighting for a better L.A. and I want only green for them, the best of nature, access to our mother who can hold and give us new answers to our movements questions. L.A. will always have a candle lit on my altar.

fast forward a bit- we are coming to the end of a very tough year. twenty twenty was anything but a breeze. anti Black racism, anti migrant and immigrant racism, lack of access to holistic care and health resources, and many other injustices became more apparent on a world wide scale. the systems that ensure injustice in many ways, strengthened as well. the values that uphold capitalism, white supremacy, colonial thinking and violence are alive and well in the united states. I have found this to be disheartening at times.

on the flip side, this year has proven to be one of wild dream manifestations and deepening family connections (blood and chosen fam). I am sometimes surprised at how much joy I can hold simultaneously as I move through icebergs of sadness, heal old wounds, and reclaim my right to health, love, and peace. growing up my mother would always say, no matter where you go, there you are, I can understand this better now. I am in one of the most beautiful and powerful places in the world and the grief is still inside me. how does one heal generations of grief? I’ve been on this path for what seems like at least a decade of intentional work. there are better days, months, years. but the truth is I have some work to do. and I feel that my Coyote and my higher self brought me to the best place possible to do this healing. + grateful for my co-parent, Bruje Fuego and their Love, Millo who opened up a whole new world for me here in ancestral Taîno lands.

as I have written in previous posts, I believe in the need and power of being in a reciprocal relationship with the earth. I will always feel like I get the better end of that deal because the earth feels so much more giving than I am capable of. pero, I am learning to give unconditionally to the earth and I hope to share these lessons with my child and all the children in my life.

to close, I want to share about an oracle card that I recently chose. The cards reading mentioned the importance of going to the river to leave my grief there. I then looked up prayers to Oshun (the spirit of the river) and read the beautiful prayer asking Oshun to clean me/us of grief. I mention this to encourage anyone who is reading this that struggles with grief to not only go back to the land but also, go to the river (or any body of water you have access to, even if that is your shower or bathtub). I commit to going to the river to gift her my grief daily until one day I feel lighter. I know peace lives inside me, and I feel it everyday more and more. thank you to my beautiful sister who has always believed in my capacity to find and live in peace. she has been a champion for me. and I am so grateful.

Here are some photos of the landscapes that are healing me. below the images, I share some resources for you to explore.

Resources for this time:

Learning from the plants during Covid

Making Plant Bundles

National Queer & Trans Therapists Network

Fireweed Collective

BEAM Community

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