community educator, writer, herbalist


my plant path

may 2017

manzanillo, costa rica

plants demand my transformation. and like some medicine, it doesn’t always taste easy going down. but as my favorite astrologer chani nicholas says, “we came here to heal.”

doing this herbal apprenticeship in costa rica, i connect with my young girl self, who would rebel against the plant life around me. i was a bully to my mom’s house plants and would feel uneasy around them. she would look at me strangely and say, “what kind of a child is mean to plants?”

sunday hike views from the edge of the Refugio Gandoca in Manzanillo.

sunday hike views from the edge of the Refugio Gandoca in Manzanillo.

as a kid, my mom helped me start my own rose garden, which i liked because of their beautiful petals, but soon gave up on. my mom’s refuge was and is in growing plants. as i grow older, i have more respect and reverence for her hands which have grown an abundance of rosemary, thyme, eggplants, and tomatoes over the years. for me there is some connection in how she has been able to survive decades of patriarchal abuse and her love of plant life. witnessing what she has gone through, i wonder how she stays soft and finds joy in the small things. to me she comes from what i imagine is a long line of maternal alchemists, transforming suffering into resilience. (#scorpiomoms)

though i was grumpy with the plants, i feel i was telling them something too. something that emitted how my mother’s denial about our family, left me feeling a chaos within. plants have an unconditional understanding, so i sense they were able to hold my mixture of emotions more than the adults in my life were equipped to. the medicine of nature is that it draws us into what is deeply present (also known as the erotic, thank you audre lorde). the undeniable clarity of that present, of what is, as a brown girlchild, was something i had been repeatedly told to distrust.  and the work of my lifetime is to slowly return that knowing to my center. 

as an adult, when i am in nature or in spaces where plants are centered, it is often proliferated by whiteness. when i visit what we violently call a national forest, and wealthy white people in expensive 'outdoor' clothing are dominating the space, i feel disease. the contradiction of colonization and nature-loving is so stark to me. i wonder if they are connecting to nature or conquering it—which is the fastest way to cut off erotic power—to try to own life-force. in the blue mountains of north carolina where i went to college, i feel a disturbed and haunted energy in the land. this is the spiritual chaos of native genocide and erasure. and it feels like those of us who are intimate with this haunting must carry the burden of it’s secret. it’s likely that this is because we are the same ones who are trying to reconcile this haunting within ourselves.

(insult to injury is when they tell you the way you are in nature is ‘not doing it right.’)

the plant path i walk will reconnect people of color and our queerness to the earth, without uncertainty of our belonging.

i am at a place with plants where i revere them but am weary of their stillness. even in the beauty of this place, i feel overwhelmed by the lush wilderness. why does the source of my resilience also overwhelm me? in my urban life i feel more cut off from this abundant landscape, so much that i feel like my constitution has to integrate it back in slowly so that i don’t feel out of place. my somatic practitioner shared with me that at times when we feel very open, the fastest way our body knows how to contract is through shame and fear. plants open a richness within me, yet i am weary of this profound depth too. because it is so quiet. there is not enough noise there to distract me from what is.

my plant path is a commitment to providing powerful mind, body, and spirit work with culinary magic.

it will create healing space for personal and social transformation.

it will have to be non-linear in ideology yet simple in essence.

it will reconnect me with my pleasure senses and heal the sexual shame of generations.

it is life-affirming and the art of being in relationship with others.

it is moving from aversion and fear of plants to a reverence for them

(and reaching a place of joy where i shrink myself less.)

it is the oldest knowing

and the deepest belonging there is.