Spring has officially sprung in the Northern hemisphere. This weekend, the first full moon after the spring equinox, we’re getting set to celebrate Easter, a holy-day that has it’s roots in ancient cultures all over the world who celebrated the return of spring with eggs, rabbits and other fertility symbols.
Seeds are another symbol of spring. My ancestors once told me that life is like a seed. You plant a seed, you plant the kind of life you want to live. How you live each day, enjoy yourself moment-to-moment and handle the hard times, determines what kind of plant will grow from your seed.
I think it’s fitting that we celebrate the dead/the ancestors near the autumn equinox and we celebrate new life at the spring equinox. Of course, both are inseparable. The ancestors give us the seeds and the seeds become ancestors– no matter how you want to apply that metaphor.
To celebrate Spring and Easter, I’ve put together a link round up for you on all things woo about these topics:
Hot Cross Buns: Cakes For The Moon Goddess
The Ancient Symbolism In Painted Easter Eggs
The Curious History of Easter Eggs: From Birth to Burial
The Origins of the Easter Bunny
Why Do We Have Easter Egg Hunts?
How ever you do (or don’t) celebrate Easter, have a happy and fun weekend and enjoy the weather where ever you are in the world.
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.
If you’re interested in learning how to both connect with your ancestors and to begin healing your lineages (and receiving the blessings of your lineages!) please check out my Ancestral Healing offerings here.
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:
Learn More & Schedule
In love and sacred darkness,
In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up this week, I wanted to share a little piece of research I found when I was writing my Master’s thesis on how food creates and sustains cultural identity.
I had been working on a research paper that explored cultural belief in aphrodisiacs and found a study out of Germany that claimed to be able to predict the bedroom habits of men based on how their wives described their eating habits! Immediately I thought this was fascinating and began talking about it with my friends and retroactively applying it to lovers I had had– and the rule seemed to apply!
In my upcoming lecture on Food, Culture and Ancestors, (oh and hey! It’s FREE) I’ll be talking more about how food– and dining together– creates romantic and familial bonds, which enhance our cultural identity. Yes, most cultures have a dating tradition around food and drinks. Yes, most cultures reinforce community bonds with community meals. But until I read this study, I had no idea that eating with someone could be telling you important and intimate details about whether or not you wanted to invite them in for a night cap. *wink wink*
But this Valentine’s Day, see if you can’t match up your partner’s eating habits with their love making style. If you’re dating, pay attention to what and how your date eats their meal and see what it does to your level of attraction for them. And don’t forget to tune into your own eating style! Are you projecting the right message?
Here are some scenarios to consider. None of these scenarios are right, wrong or ideal– it all depends on what you’re attracted to and what kind of mood you might be in on any given evening.
Does your date:
- Carefully look over the menu, ask what’s fresh/the chef’s recommendation are?
- Not even both to crack open the menu because he/she likes to eat the same thing over and over again?
- Shovel their food in their mouth, barely tasting it before swallowing it?
- Slowly savor the first bite and comment on the various flavors they’re picking up?
- Eat painfully, irritatingly slow?
- Carefully consider the wine and dessert pairings to make sure the ambiance is ideal?
- Prefer to order take-out for Netflix and Chill?
- Absentmindedly eat while scrolling on their phone?
- Talk with their mouth full?
- Put too much food in their mouth?
- Seem afraid to eat/show any sign of an appetite
- Have a bunch of rules around what they will and will not eat?
- Not have enough rules around what they will and will not eat?
Let me know if you see yourself or your partner in any of these!
And don’t forget to register for the Food. Culture. Ancestors. Workshop taking place next month!
I grew up in the same small town that my parents grew up in. There were 80 kids in my high school, one blinking light (20 miles away in the county seat) and a little over 7,000 people in the entire county. I grew up thirsting for big city flair, drama and access to art and entertainment. In 2008 I finally got my wish, at the ripe old age of 26, when my now ex-husband and I moved to Madrid, Spain (he’s still there!). We lived almost smack dab in the middle of the city of 3 million people. The noises, smells, crowded subways and alleys were all very exciting and tantalizing but came with an unexpected side affect: social anxiety.
There were probably several reasons I was simultaneously excited and scared of Madrid. It was, after all, over 4,000 times bigger than my hometown . . .er, hamlet. It was a foreign country with a foreign language that I had to adapt and operate in, every day. It was stressful, chaotic and also a lot of fun and more than a little romantic.
However, I was also on the verge of a spiritual awakening, a divorce and my Saturn return and thus was beginning to realize how empathic, sensitive and hermit-ish I really was. Although I was propelled to wander and explore the city streets, I found myself wanting nothing more than to claim the streets as my own and kicking everyone else off of them. Ha! But I soon realized that I had already intuitively stumbled onto a solution for demarcating my personal boundaries, not picking up other people’s chaos and emotions and to reclaim my body and energy for myself after every foray into the bustling streets: I began washing my hands in cool water. Frequently. Every time I emerged from a Spanish powder room, hands cool and slightly damp, I felt refreshed. I felt drawn back into myself. I felt my energy recalled from the various busy distractions and I felt the energy of others be repelled– just like you’d expect something cool and damp to repel — hehe.
Although there is as many different meditations, visualizations, herbs and crystals for protecting one’s energy as there are people in Madrid, one of the simplest, most effective, and available options is to just wash your hands. You may already be doing this. You come home from a busy day of running errands or attending to people and the first thing you want to do is wash your hands– and part of you just knows it’s about more than any germs you may have picked up on the commute home.
Water, as we’ve seen from the work of Dr. Masuru Emoto, is programmable and susceptible to our intentions. Energetically it also makes a great personal barrier/boundary marker and cleanser. In my upcoming Spiritual Cleansing and Protection Course for Soulful Living, I’ll be teaching all about the healing power of water and how to utilize it in spiritual baths, protective house washes and more. But know this: All you REALLY need is water. Pause, take a beat and add the intention to wash away any energy that’s not yours, then wash your hands in cool water.
This works great if you’re an empathic hermit like me. It’s wonderful to use if you’re a hands-on healer type. REALLY handy if you have little children crawling all over and needing you all day e’ry day too.
Let me know how it works for you!
In love and sacred darkness,
P.S. The Spiritual Cleansing and Protection Course is happening next month and it’s only $13! Those $13 bucks get you a front row seat to an hour long workshop PLUS a 30-page, full color, beautifully designed supplemental ebook. I’d love to see you there! You can learn more, register and get a sneak peek at the ebook here.
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.
Spice: The History of a Temptation, by Jack Turner
Black Pepper, Wikipedia
How Salt And Pepper Became The Yin And Yang Of Condiments, Gizmodo
Three Surprising Medicinal Uses Of Black Pepper, Herbal Academy
Magickal Uses Of Black Pepper, Herbal Riot
Spiritual Hygiene & Protection Course
Ancestral Flame Tending Course