A disclaimer: the following post is based completely on my last, “Nonplacency Part I.” Because I directly address elements of Part I in this essay, I highly recommend you read that one first if you have not already! Thanks for reading!
I wrote that last blog essay a few weeks ago, but hadn’t felt the call to edit and post it right away. I’m glad I didn’t. Since writing those words, I’ve been hearing them repeated back to me in the voices of others. I’ve been absorbing a lot of content lately and I listen to a lot of podcasts, several of which have touched base on this very feeling of nonplacency that other descendants of European colonizers also feel. On the podcast For The Wild, guest Rowen M White, a Seed Keeper and indigenous Mohawk farmer, so eloquently describes this:
“We all descend from people who have had at one point a culture of belonging that surrounds the way in which we nourish ourselves…. people have not been stewarding and caring for seeds at the local and village level for quite a number of decades in many instances. [The] result of that is that you have seeds that are a reflection of the people. Right now in the United States in particular, we have a lot of human beings that have no real, deep inborn sense of who they are as people. They have a confusion about who they are; this idea of a ‘melting pot’ has turned into people who yearn for a cultural belonging and a culture of connection and don’t have that.”
Now Ms. White is speaking to this as it relates to the health of our agricultural systems and how our diminishing local and regional stewardship of the land and the use of GMOs within our crops is affecting us as a culture. While that is an issue of which I am passionate about, I feel as though this state of cultural confusion applies to many aspects of our lives as individuals and as communities.
The day after I wrote the first part of this essay, during the first week of July, I had my very first birth chart reading by a wonderful astrologer, Linda River Valente, over Zoom. It was a truly enlightening experience from which I took away many valuable things to consider. The most resonant of these were: to never stop pursuing my artistic and creative passions and to incorporate ancestor work into my spiritual practices. While the affirmation that I was on the right path by being a multi-disciplinary artist was satisfying, I admit that I was stunned to hear Linda urge me to do this ancestor work, a suggestion reflected in multiple placements in my chart, especially after I had just written an essay on the subject. (If you are curious about your own birth chart, you can get one for free here and you can find out more about Linda here).
Since my meeting with Linda, I have attempted a few meditative rituals to connect with my ancestors. I can’t say that they’ve been all that successful, so I decided to reactivate the old ancestry.com account. I’ve spent hours looking into my family tree and while I haven’t really discovered anything particularly new, I’ve taken the time get to know who the people in my family were; their occupations, the towns they were born in, how old they were when they immigrated to the US. True to my nature (as also reflected in my birth chart), I began to pick up patterns in this research. Though census information wasn’t available for all of my family members, I began to notice that many of their occupations revolved around food: farmers, restaurant owners, grocers.
Most of you who know me personally know that I’ve been dedicated to keeping a large, organic garden for the past decade. Every year we expand a little bit more, adjusting our crops to suit our favorite meals and preferred varieties. I grow flowers and herbs and have been an amateur family herbalist, making ointments, skin care products, teas, and other herbal concoctions. I firmly believe that this country needs to heal its relationship to food and food cultivation, as well as its dependency on pharmaceuticals. Don’t get me wrong, I support western medicine and most vaccines, but I would also like to see our society looking more to the earth to tend to our health and making sure we do so in a sustainable way; not just reaping the land for profit, with intention to not only benefit people, but the land itself.
I’m going to backtrack even farther here, but before I do, here is a recap. A week or so before I sat down to right the first half of this easy, which was the first week of July, I had made the decision to become a trained Herbalist. I had been trying to think of ways to expand my yoga business in a way that not only blended with the wonderful practice and teachings of yoga, but also something that I felt passionate about. I had considered further yoga training, and still may in the future as I intend on always being a student of yoga, but finances aren’t currently available for that investment, nor is my schedule in being a mom. Then it hit me; I was already halfway there to begin with: Herbalism. I could already be considered a “Family Herbalist” as I’ve independently researched plants in my garden and have been putting them to use in my own home for years. With a little more dedication and training, I could begin refining these practices and provide another option for my yoga students, friends, and community: plant based wellness. I began looking into online certification programs, making pros and cons lists, comparing prices, and reading endless reviews. I was very excited about this realization, but something was telling me to wait to make a decision until after my birth chart reading, which i had incidentally just booked.
One of the very last things that Linda and I discussed during our meeting was my herbal certification intention. I had waited until the very end of the reading to disclose much about my personal life with her and since another recurring theme during my chart reading had been about working in service to others in a nurturing way, I felt as though I was on the right path. When I told Linda about this plan, she agreed that it would be a good path for me (based on certain placements in my chart), but she urged me to wait to take action on it until after the Winter Solstice for astrological reasons that I won’t get into here. At first, I scoffed at this suggestion inside my head, but as I thought about it later, I agreed that it probably is a good decision. I am in the midst of several other projects at the moment toward which I should keep my attention. I have a terrible habit of leaving things unfinished; probably why I haven’t had much success as an artist. As excited as I may be to start this next chapter of my life, I see the merit in using the next few months to complete some of these projects. And what’s more, one of my yoga students is a trained Herbalist and has agreed to take me on as her apprentice! She the loved the idea of starting in the New Year, as we could take a medicine wheel approach to my training. Things are beginning to connect, seeds are being planted.
It’s been a strange month. We’re still in the middle of a global pandemic, there are daily protests and terrifying responses from government agencies, the election is approaching. While all of this gives me anxiety, I am still hopeful for the future. If anything, I have a plan. I may still feel this sense of nonplacency and perhaps I always will. Ancestral guilt might always be a part of my life and I hope to do what I can in the service of reparation to those to whom this land truly belongs. This hope not only comes from having a plan and a great system of support behind me, but in recognizing these patterns that are arising within my life. I don’t believe in predetermination or that “everything happens for a reason”, but I do believe that for every action there is a reaction and one of the most beautiful things about consciousness is our participation in this; having the opportunity to act and react.