I’m popping in today to share a video with you! This 15-minute video (or stream the audio!) is all about my upcoming program, Rooted Here.
Rooted Here is a 6-month program to tend our ancestral connections to food, home and land. I’ll tell you all about it in the video below.
What I didn’t tell you in the video is HOW this course will be delivered. Every month, there will be a live (and recorded) masterclass on the month’s topic. The next week a ritual, ceremony, or something otherwise active and engaging will be delivered to you (like, how to ritualize a recipe or communicate with the spirit of your house!). There will also be a month live (and recorded) Q&A/circle share and an OFF-FACEBOOK private community for us to interact and, well, create community around. You’ll also have two private sessions with me during the 6-month program that we can use to make sure
In the video, I cover:
Why we will be connecting and in relationship to actual spirits versus talking AT spirits and hoping something sticks.
How the dark period of adjusting to my new life in Costa Rica, and finding my roots for myself and for my children, helped me create Rooted Here
Rooting with Persephone and Demeter
Just because something is a spirit doesn’t mean it’s all knowing and all snuggly. That means BOUNDARIES
How your ancestors will take the lead in structuring your personal experience of the program
Spirits of the land and cultural reparation
The importance of connecting to the spirit of our house, and how I learned this first hand
My resentment at being a housewife and stay-at-home mom and how connecting with the spirit of my house changed that (a little)
The night I saw a spiritual grid all over my house and what dramatic changes afterward
Sacred Alchemy in the kitchen and ritualizing recipes and cooking ceremonies
Hospitality as spiritual practice and what happens when ancient hospitality laws are forgotten
Diet culture vs. letting ourselves be nourished
Honoring our ancestors with food and sacred hospitality
We’re painting eggs at my house today, and in case you are too, I thought I’d share a really easy way to infuse the tradition with a little more magic.
Painting eggs with ritually symbolic colors and symbols is an ancient tradition going back thousands of years. People from many cultures have a long history of ritually painting symbols on eggs and using them as part of magical practices including grinding up the shells, burying the eggs in the Earth to plant dreams and desires, burying eggs to ensure a good harvest, burying eggs with the dead to ensure life after death (lots of burying! Maybe that’s part of the reason we hunt for eggs on Easter– they’ve been hidden/buried).
To create your own magical Easter Egg ritual, gather up your usual egg dying supplies– whether you’re making your own plant dies, making your own colors with food coloring or you bought one of those kits with the colored tablets that fizz in the water.
Also remember to have a white crayon on hand to drawn symbols on the egg (the dye won’t color the part of the egg you colored on with the crayon because of the wax).
Now in all honesty, I will probably be doing all of this with alongside the hubbub and excitement of my children also coloring eggs. But if you can create a quiet space, light a candle, put on some music, all the more power to you.
How To Ritually Paint & Infuse An Egg
First, set an intention for Spring.
Next, using your intuition, choose the colors and designs or symbols that you feel support your intention.
Green – new life, new growth, hope
Red – passion, energy, transformation
White – purity, innocence, birth
Yellow – happiness, community, youth
Orange – strength, endurance, sexuality
Black – darkness, the void.
Blue – the heavens, air, peace and vision
Go about the business of painting and designing your eggs, allowing yourself to get lost to the creative flow. When your egg is done and dry, hold the egg up to your mouth and whisper or blow your prayers into it. If it feels right, wipe the egg all over your body/aura (or have a friend help). This is known as an egg limpia or an egg cleanse, as eggs can draw out dense or heavy energy and emotions from your body.
Finally, bury your egg in the Earth (make sure you have permission from the land!) and ask the Earth to receive your prayers, compost your heavy energy and nourish your dreams and desires
How To Cook The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg
Do you have an Instant Pot? Or other electric pressure cooker?
You can make perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs in minutes:
Make a single layer of eggs across the metal rack that came with your pot or a vegetable steamer basket. Add one cup of water to the pot and insert the rack/basket. Manually set the pressure cooker for 6 minutes.
Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure cooker to naturally release for another six minutes, then manually release the steam. Put the eggs in an ice bath for another 6 minutes, or run under cool water until no longer warm to the touch.
Perfectly easy to peel eggs and no gray or green rings around the yolk!
I grew up in a small white farming community in Northeastern Washington State. It’s the same town my mother and my father both grew up in, and where they both still live (though they are divorced).
It’s also my maternal ancestral homelands.
I am an enrolled member of the Okanagan Indian Band— a small band of First Nations peoples who are now headquartered in British Columbia, but whose traditional territory spanned central and eastern Washington and British Columbia. I am a U.S. Citizen but enrolled with a Canadian First Nations tribe. The border crossed us. On the Washington side, we’re known as the Colville and I have many Colville nation family members. And although I am a legal tribal member, although I grew up in my ancestral homelands (but not on a reservation), I sometimes have a hard time identifying myself as a tribal member.
Part of the reason is I don’t “look” the part— at least not all the time and not to all people.
I’m 1/4 First Nations/Indigenous/NDN/Native American. Phenotypically, I’m a racial chameleon. Most people don’t know where to box me in and I get a lot of “what are you?” questions, including one really awkward conversation with a security guard at my undergraduate school who asked me (with hope and nostalgia in his eyes) if my mother was from the Philippines . . . he new a woman there once when he was in the Army and I looked just like her.
Along with my racial ambiguity I can be, and have been, white passing. This means that I have also benefited from the privilege that comes with being perceived white. I’ve even had two ex-boyfriends, both white, male and vert privileged, encourage me to not identify as Native, and just consider myself white.
And then they wondered why I promptly broke up with them after they expressed those opinions.
Here’s Why I Found Their Remarks Offensive:
Not too long ago, being 1/4 or even 1/8 Native was enough to classify you as 100% Native— and be racially profiled and discriminated against because of it. When my grandmother was a young girl she was forced into the Indian Boarding School program— a program in the U.S. and Canada, that ran until the 1970’s, designed to “kill the Indian and save the man” inside every indigenous child. Her hair was cut. She was forbidden to speak her first language of what is now known as Interior Salish, and she was forbidden to speak to her own siblings, who were also in the school. And that’s not even the worst of what she was forced to give up and take on.
My grandmother later fell in love with a white man. I’m told they loved each other very much but they couldn’t get married for two reasons: 1) he had an estranged white wife and divorce wasn’t so easy or accepted in the 1950’s. 2) my grandmother was a Native woman and it was illegal for a white man to marry a woman of color.
However, they lived together, ran a ranch together and had four children together.
And then, when my mother was about 10 years old, her father died of a heart attack and his white wife and children came and took everything from my grandmother and her children. And they had every legal right to. They left a single Native woman without home, supplies or resources to raise her four children and the two nephews she had taken in so they wouldn’t die of neglect. To survive, my grandmother had to go through the shame of asking for welfare from the government and the government’s white male representatives.
And she was turned down.
The white man told her that her current situation was her fault and she needed to work harder and the government would not be helping her.
Her situation was her fault and the government would not be helping her.
She forced into assimilation. She couldn’t marry the man she loved because the government wouldn’t let her. She couldn’t protect her assets because the government wouldn’t let her. But it was her fault. Because she was an indigenous woman.
So no, I won’t be giving up my Okanagan identity, especially if a white man thinks I should.
And yet . . .
I didn’t grow up with the traditions or the language. First, the U.S./Canadian border was one hindrance. Second, we weren’t raised on a reservation, Third, my grandmother HAD to assimilate to survive. Preserving what little she remembered from the first six years of her life before she was taken into the boarding school, was not and could not be a priority.
And there’s something else.
I Don’t Fully Trust My Tribal Membership
A few years before I was born, the tribe was receiving a large monetary compensation from the Canadian government for land and resources they had lost.
The tribe disenrolled ALL THE WOMEN in the tribe so there would be less people to share the resources with. My mother and grandmother were disenrolled. For being women.
My mother told me this when I was young (aged 10 or so) and I felt the wind go out of my sails when she did. I felt the pride of being Okanagan lessen in my heart. And something else, that I couldn’t identify until recently— I felt the fear and uncertainty of being an Indigenous woman. The message was clear:
You are an indigenous woman and you are not safe, not even with your own tribe.
Unfortunately, my tribe was not the first nor the last tribe to do this to indigenous women. And a side note: this is one reason why I cringe when I hear white women/people far removed from a tribal identity, refer to their businesses as “tribes.” You. Have. No. Idea. What. The. Tribal. Experience. Is. Like. And it is mostly definitely not about 100% belonging, safety and security. The tribal system had it’s flaws long before Manifest Destiny came along too.
My ancestors are Okanagan, Nez Perce, and came from Sweden, Ireland and Germany. I’ve always felt like an insider-outsider. I’ve felt like an insider-outsider in the dominant culture and I’ve felt like an insider-outsider around other Natives, despite working in Native media for 10 years as a journalist and radio producer. Despite earning a Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication which helped me learn A LOT about how my different cultural identities inform who I am. And now, as an expat living in Costa Rica, my insider-outsider status is even more pronounced.
Where Ancestral Healing And Connection Comes In
Nearly two years ago, I was working 1-on-1 with a spiritual mentor and asked her to teach me how to do ancestral healing work. I had actually never seen the words “ancestral healing” before nor had known that it was possible to heal your ancestral wounds, stories and traumas. As part of learning how to heal my ancestors, my mentor, Mary Shutan, taught me how to connect with my ancestors in my body and how to create a spiritual practice around that connection.
The first time I connected with my ancestors, I sobbed. I sobbed with grief. I sobbed with love. I sobbed at the overwhelming sense of connection, deep love and belonging that I experienced in my own body.
A year after I had begun my ancestral spiritual journey, I was introduced to another ancestral healing modality and I jumped in immediately, it was such a full body YES.
Over the last six months I have deepened my connection and healing process with my ancestors in a profound way as part of my training as an Ancestral Lineage Healing practitioner. In fact, it was my ancestors who reminded me about the story my mother told me when I was a young girl about being disenrolled from the tribe. It was my ancestors who showed me that that story was underlying a lot of other stories and situations in my life where I wasn’t feeling safe and also wasn’t recognizing the feeling of being unsafe. And it was my ancestors who helped me begin to heal that story and begin to feel safe.
Why I’m Telling You This
All of this informs why a large part of my life’s work is to bring Ancestral Healing to you. It informs my experience of the Ancestors, of Spiritual Connection and of my place in this world. It informs my sympathies and my proclivities and it is informing a lot of the offerings and content I have in the chute for you. I want you to understand that Ancestral Healing isn’t just a spiritual healing modality flavor of the week for me— it’s something I’ve been searching for and engaging in for most of my life, and something I will continue to do for myself and now, for others, for the rest of life. I have personally and profoundly been affected by this work, for the better and I hold it in integrity and in all sacredness.
Healing and learning how to work with your ancestral lineages is a profound method for effecting change and bringing blessings into One’s life. In addition to sloughing off generations of trauma, guilt, illness and limiting beliefs, ancestral healing allows ancestral blessings and support to come down the line (literally and metaphorically) unimpeded.
Well that sounds all well and great, but what actually happens during an ancestral lineage healing session?
If you’re thinking about booking your first ancestral lineage healing session, you’ll want to book the Initial Ancestral Exploration Session. This session is 15-30 minutes longer than a typical session and you’ll only need to book this session once.
In an Initial Ancestral Exploration Session I will guide you into a deep meditative state– you will not leave your body or “journey” anywhere. Your ancestors are in your DNA and you do not need to go outside of your body to contact them. We will set up a ritual space inside this meditative state, including boundaries and protection. The idea is to allow you to “peek” in on your four main lineages (each of your grandparents– Mother’s Mother, Mother’s Father, Father’s Father and Father’s Mother) without drawing their attention– you want to be invisible to them at this point in a sense. And don’t worry, you needn’t know anything about your lineage(s) or even be in a good relationship with them to do this work– and both of those situations can actually make the work more healing and impactful.
Once we’ve set the ritual space up, I’ll guide you through the process of checking in on your four lines and gauging their health and well-being on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the healthiest and most vibrant. Once we’ve established a rating for each line, we’ll begin with the healthiest line and go through the process of establishing an ancestral guide along the line. This will be someone who is willing and able to be the guide and is also in good relationship with all of the ancestors before them– we often have to go pretty far back in time to find this guide. You’ll have time to sit with this guide and become familiar with him/her. Making contact with an ancestral guide and be an emotionally uplifting and spiritually important moment– I want you to revel in it. Throughout the entire process you’re invited to speak aloud what you are experiencing and feeling and I will take notes for you.
That is likely all we’ll have time for in the Initial Session. When you’re ready to proceed you’ll book an hour-long Ancestral Healing Session.
In an Ancestral Healing Session, we’ll again create the sacred and safe ritual space in a deep meditative state. We’ll pick up where we left off with the ancestral guide and ask for his/her help in healing the line. There are a few steps we will go through to initiate this healing, in addition to any steps the guide may suggest. Essentially the line between the guide and the most recent dead in that line will be held in a cocoon of prayer and healing, what happens next is up to the guide and is relevant to the culture of the lineage and the nature of their wounds. Sometimes the guide will allow you to witness this process and sometimes they will not.
When this healing is complete (and it may take awhile– it may not be completed in our session but it will continue to happen even when our session is complete), we will begin the process of being blessed by, and in turn blessing, the lineage and your living family members before moving on to the next best well line. (The idea here is that you will have three really well lines ready to support you when you come to the least well line).
After you’ve healed all four of your main lines, we can go through the process of harmonizing the lines (sort of like a marriage of lines), and of course your spiritual practice will be deepening and changing throughout the entire process based on the connection, blessings, healings and insights your ancestors give you.
That is a basic ancestral healing process. However, you really can take this as deeply as you want to. Once your four main lines are healed and harmonized, you can work on your next four lines, meaning the four great grandparents that weren’t included in the first tier– Mother’s Father’s Mother, Mother’s Mother’s Father, Father’s Mother’s Father’s and Father’s Father’s Mother). And then we can also move into healing larger cultural wounds around subjects such as sex/uality and gender, colonialism and racism, etc.
If you’d like to begin the process of healing your ancestral lineages you can learn more, and schedule your first session, by clicking the button below:
Last week I kicked off the Food, Culture, Ancestors: The Series, by examining the history and ancestral applications of salt. This week, it’s only fitting to also examine salt’s faithful sidekick: pepper. Last week we went over why salt is a necessary element to the human diet– it makes sense that we would keep a bit on our tables to self-medicate as needed. But what about pepper? It’s hardly a necessity of life to have pepper in your diet.
First, if your ancestors are from the New World, or the Americas (and some of mine are), it’s likely that they never tasted pepper, black or long, until well after Europeans invaded the place. What our New World ancestors had instead was the chile pepper, arguably the third most holy condiment to be found on any table in the Western and Latin world. Chile pepper performs much the same function as black pepper: they providee a little kick and citrus-y enlivening of a dish. Too much of any pepper, however, will ruin a dish to the palate just as fast as too much salt will.
The black pepper gracing most tables in the Western World (and the Latin world by proximity and colonialism) owes it’s popularity to it’s more nuanced, and expensive, cousin Long Pepper. Long Pepper is a bit spicier and overt than black pepper and the ancient Romans were mad for it. Well, the ancient Romans that could afford it. Soon, common black pepper, which grew a little bit further west than long pepper (both from South Asia), was found to be quicker and cheaper to supply and began to replace Long Pepper on the table. Then, suffering from over exposure, pepper went out of vogue for a few hundred years. Then, thanks to the picky palate of Louis XIV, pepper made it’s rip roaring comeback and has had a revered place on millions of tables ever since. Louis XIV had a delicate palate and preferred only very lightly seasoned dishes. Salt, black pepper (because it was more mild than long pepper), and parsley were the only spices his chef’s were allowed to use. Et viola, you’ll now find salt, black pepper and parsley to be the mainstays in French or French lineage cooking, which is the wellspring from which most Western cooking is influenced by, even to this day.
Pepper has had some dubious uses in its ancient past, including use as an eye poultice (ouch!) and as a treatment for sunburn (ouch again!). However, modern research has found that pepper does indeed aid digestion (another good reason to keep it on the table), is an antioxidant and an immune booster– so add some to your hot toddy!
Because of it’s hot and prickly nature, black pepper makes a good addition to protection spells and rituals. Adding a little to a spiritual cleansing solution (such as water, vinegar, salt and pepper) is an option, as is carrying some on your person in a mojo bag or in a mojo bag for your car. You can also sprinkle a little pepper behind someone as they leaving your house to ensure they don’t come back– just keep in mind there are spiritual/karmic consequences to doing things like this! If you’d like to learn more about spiritual cleansing and protection, check out my course here.
If it feels right, you can also offer a little pepper on your ancestral altar (learn how to make one here). Most of your ancestors will probably be familiar with the spice and if they’re not, I’m sure they’d be delighted to try it for the first time!
If pepper played a significant part in your ancestral lineage (either because your ancestors were from the Western world and colonized/traded/traveled far for it, or because your ancestors were from the parts of India were pepper naturally grew and were thus impacted by the trade and colonization spurred by this little black nugget), you might consider searching for a beautiful, if not significant, pepper mill. Of course, you can do this just because you like to have pepper on your table, no matter where your people are from. But the idea is to find a peppermill that invokes beauty and perhaps even a little ancient nostalgia, so that every time you see it or touch it you briefly remember the many many generations the peppercorn has touched. As you use the peppermill, you could even ask for your ancestors to bless the meal and the table, even silently.
In love and sacred darkness,
P.S. Green, Black and White peppercorns? They all come from the same plant! Green peppercorns, are well, green as in unripe. Black you know. White peppercorns are just like black peppercorns but the black shell has been removed. The appeal here is so that if you are making a white sauce and if you use white pepper instead of black, you won’t have any black speckles in your sauce. Personally, I like the black speckles.
Welcome to the first article in the Food, Culture, Ancestors Series! This is a 52-week series that will explore our cultural identities and ancestral connections through the lens of food. The loose framework/idea is to begin by exploring common spices and then move on to common/universal and simple food staples (such as breads) and then later in the year begin building and examining entire ancestral meals. I’m keeping it loose because I expect this project to take on a life of it’s own and I’m excited to see where we are a year from now. Today we are exploring salt and I also hope to explore pepper, bay leaves, cinnamon and possibly vanilla before moving on to the next “tier.” The sacred, ancestral/folk uses and practices I’ve learned about these now-common spices/herbs is wonderous. I invite your constructive feedback and requests for this series as well! Now let’s talk salt!
Like pepper (which we will talk about next week), salt is now a ubiquitous staple, perhaps even taken for granted, in most kitchens around the world. Salt is a crucial element in our diets so much so that Roman soldiers used to be paid in salt (where the saying “worth his salt”) comes from, and the word salary comes from the Latin word for salt, salis. The Romans also salted their greens, believing the salt to balance the bitterness, and from this we get the word salad.
Salt is a common household item first and foremost, because our bodies need it although that is rarely the conscious reason we have it on hand. Salt is on hand because it enhances the flavor of dishes (and it probably enhances the flavor precisely because our body recognizes it as something we need). Among other things, the two compounds that make up salt, sodium and chloride, help regulate fluid balance, the transmission of nerve impulses and blood pressure.
Our ancestors who hunted wild game and fished wild fish had their natural salt needs provided by the meat and bones of the animals they ate. Ancestors who relied more heavily on agriculture and domesticated animal projects, however, had to begin to seek salt out as an addition to their meals. Since ancient days, salt mining, salt trading– and controlling both– has been a strategic (and often unmentioned) motivator for conquerors and spreading empires. And up until the invention of modern refrigeration and canning techniques, salt was the most common way to preserve food. Salt has also been recognized as a healing element since ancient times and has a number of applicable uses today as well.
But it turns out that salt perfectly embodies the universal forces of life and death. First, some basic science: acids search for an electron that they lack; bases try to shed an extra electron. When this successfully occurs, a balanced compound is formed. When the base/electron donor is sodium and the acid/recipient is chloride, the resulting balanced compound is salt. In this way, salt represents the yin and the yang or the sacred act of masculine meeting feminine and creating new life. Interestingly, monks were long forbidden to eat salt.
Salt, as a balanced or neutral compound, makes a great cleansing, purification, blessing and protection agent. Salt was — and is– a sacred offering to God or The Gods in many religions, including Judaism (ancient and modern). In ancient Judaism, newborns were “salted”, or their skin gently rubbed with salt, to protect them from demons and illness. This practice may have evolved into the Catholic church’s practice of making holy water, which contains salt and is used for similar purposes. Salt also represents the preservation of a relationship/commitment and is used in rituals from all sorts of belief systems for this reason. Spilling salt is seen as bad luck because it can be taken as breaking a relationship or commitment. The folk practice of throwing a pinch of spilled salt over one’s left shoulder is believed to reverse the bad luck. If you look closely at Leonard Da Vinci’s Last Supper, Judas has just spilled the salt cellar with his elbow, signifying the breaking of a relationship or commitment with Christ.
Many who practice “other” spiritual traditions, myself included, use salt to create boundaries and to “soak up” unwanted psychic energies.
If it feels right, you can offer salt on your ancestral altar. If salt feels too purifying or cleansing and you feel weird about putting it in your sacred space, don’t. If you, and your ancestors, resonate with the idea of salt as a symbol of a commitment, go ahead and place some on your altar. (New to ancestral altar tending? Check out my mini course)
My favorite way to use salt, and to honor it’s significance to all of my ancestors (And descendants for that that matter), is to use a salt cellar. A salt cellar used to be a social statement. In ancient times when pure salt was a luxury reserved for the wealthiest of the wealthy (everyone else got gray or other discolored salt, which ironically is more expensive than pure white salt nowadays), ornate, grand and luxurious salt cellars where used to display the salt on the table. A salt cellar is basically a bowl, sometimes with a lid, that holds salt. I have this Le Creuset one (in “Flame”) on my kitchen counter (the knob on top is very handy!) and have loved it for many years now– it’s mouth is even big enough for my husband’s giant carpenter hands. I prefer a salt cellar to a salt shaker for a couple of reasons: first, the cellar holds more salt so I don’t need to refill it often. When I do refill it, it’s wide mouth makes it a breeze. Second, I like feeling the salt between my fingers when I use it. I like feeling and knowing how much salt I’m about to put into the dish I’m preparing or onto my plate. I like the hands-on, intuitive/felt connection to the salt. Third, when baking and needing precise measurements, my measuring spoons can dip in and out of the salt cellar quickly and easily. There’s a salt cellar out there to match your decor or budget and antique salt cellars are very multi-functional. I have two little silver tray salt cellars, about 3 inches in length by an inch and half in width or so, that I use to hold my rings when I take them off– one salt cellar-turned-ring-tray lives in the kitchen and one in my bathroom. You can also consider a beautiful bowl as a salt cellar if you find one!
Salt jars have evolved from Jewish salt rituals. They make a great addition to the spiritual cleansing and protection of your home and also make great hostess gifts or housewarming gifts. The idea behind a salt jar is to let it soak up negative/loose energy in the home. It can be something you continuously have in the home, or something you create for a specific purpose or time and then disassemble. Examples include when you need to purify or protect against an illness, when blessing a new baby or a new home, when purifying yourself by releasing a habit or addiction, removing streaks of bad luck, etc. Like a salt cellar, a salt jar can really be made out of any vessel that can hold salt. I, however, am on the look out for a beautiful piece of carnival or milk glass that could serve as my salt jar– get creative and let your sacred salt vessel really speak to you on many levels! (p.s. you can also create a sugar jar to bring more sweetness to your life!). For more on salt jars and how to make one, check out this great tutorial.
To protect your home from physical and non-physical intruders, sprinkle a line of salt across your threshold. I like to leave the salt overnight and then sweep it away in the morning. For more on the magic of thresholds, see my previous post here.
Of course a great way to use salt is in an epsom salt bath. Epsom salts help relax the body and can draw out inflammation as well. Fill your tub with water, add a couple of cups of salt and anything else you’d like to add to set the mood: essential oils, candles, a book, etc. Take a few deep breaths and enjoy!
And there you have it! A (very) brief introduction to salt. The next time you sprinkle a little salt on your dish, I hope you will pause for a moment and think about the thousands of generations that came before you that also sought out and tasted salt. For some of those generations, it may not have been an easy or inexpensive matter either.