I had the distinct pleasure of getting to sit down with Dori Midnight and talk about our vision for a new world. Check out the interview here:
Dori Midnight practices community-based intuitive healing that weaves together plant and stone medicine, ancestral and queer magic, and anti-oppression work. Drawing on traditions from her mixed ancestry (Sephardi/Ashkenazi/Roma) and her training as a clinical herbalist and interfaith minister, Dori’s work is grounded in self-determinism and collective liberation and is inspired/supported by the works and magics of disability and healing justice and Jewish earth-based practices. Find out more about Dori here.
Dawn K. Gibson, LCSW helps you BE the woman you want your daughter to become™ through helping you heal generational patterns and trauma you don’t want to pass down to your daughter. She is also the founder of Warrior Girls Rising™, programs for preteens and teens she facilitates within the schools and her local community. Dawn helps girls improve self- and body-confidence, body boundaries, and decrease stress, so they can stay true to themselves and make an impact in the world as confident, powerful, and compassionate female leaders.
Dawn is a mom herself, so she has a deep understanding of the sacred role of mother, why you pass down generational patterns to your daughters, and how you can begin to break these unhealthy cycles. She offers a unique perspective on healing these issues through mindfulness, body and soul connection, divine feminine dance, energy psychology and rituals.
Dawn is a Transformational Speaker and Soulful Somatic Therapist with a Master’s degree in Social Work and over 17 years of experience working locally and internationally with women and girls. Dawn facilitates mind-body healing online and in-person through retreats, speaking events, limited private sessions and two group programs she founded: Be the Woman You Want Your Daughter to Become™ (A Divine Motherhood Journey) and Warrior Girls Rising™.
We are our daughters’ #1 role models and we impact their lives in powerful ways, causing a ripple effect into the world.
As mothers, it is time for us to WAKE UP and take a stand for our daughters by healing our own trauma, limiting beliefs and childhood wounds to leave them stronger legacies.
It is our birthright as women and girls to live authentically and fully and feel self-confident emotionally and in mind, body and soul.
Our bodies hold the key to healing trauma, feeling pleasure, and experiencing life to the fullest.
Sisterhood connection gives us the strength to rise together.
This month as part of my Sacred Wheel Speaker’s Series I talked with Vanessa Couto all about the Astrology of 2017. Find out how the planets align with the Sacred Wheel this year. We talked about the large archetypes we are seeing play out in the political landscape, how 2017 marks the rise of the Warrior Goddesses and which eclipse will hit our President particularly hard.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately on my relationship to the Earth. By now we’ve all heard the concept to treating the Earth as a living being. James Lovelock put forth his Gaia Theory in the 1970s, Bolivia has enacted the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth in 2010, and most recently the nation has seen the efforts of this belief in action in the peace camps at Standing Rock. But I’ve been thinking lately about what that concept REALLY means. Because even though I’m in love with that theory, I’ve been noticing how is does or doesn’t show up in my life as practice.
For me it started with the simple idea of asking permission, and giving thanks for what I take from the Earth. For many years this only came into play for me when I was harvesting herbal medicines. Something about the sacredness of making medicines was enough to remind me to practice good manners in my harvesting.
Other times like finding a patch of wild huckleberries or fishing for Salmon in British Columbia, my response was more like that of an excited kid. “OMG! Look at all this!” and I would find myself caught up in the present moment, wrapped up in the pure joy of the abundance Mother Nature was throwing my way. I used to feel guilty for those moments, but now I think of my own son, and how at age 3 his child-like enthusiasm often gets the best of him, and he just can’t help diving in to what ever delicious treasure he finds. I think of how as a mother I take joy in his enthusiasm and love for whatever I have provided, and I hope that is a little bit how the Earth must feel about me. Surely the Earth must have some motherly grace saved up for her overly-enthusiastic children marveling at her bounty from time to time? Especially when the bounty is given as freely as a patch of Huckleberries.
In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer lays out what she calls the 3 rules of an Ethical harvest; 1. Ask permission, 2. Take only what is given, 3. Give thanks for what you have taken.
I’ve noticed that when I’m in direct relationship to the Earth it is easy to be in right relationship to her, even if I’m acting like a 3 year old and forget to ask please, the pure joy I feel at discovering that patch of huckleberries lets me know that yes, this gift is freely given. In those instances She makes it easy: Her beauty and majesty make it hard to do anything but feel grateful.
Where it gets hard is when the relationship between what I’m consuming and the Earth is so far removed, that I cannot find her in the thread.
As Kimmerer asks in her book: Where is the Earth in the aisles and aisles of plastic goods at Walmart? She is there, all of those polymers were once microscopic sea creatures that lived millions of years ago, but they are so far removed from the place they started out as, that it is hard to remember. And think of the line of people who touched those products to get them on your store shelves, it is almost dizzying. It is so much easier NOT to give thanks, not to think about it: To consume and get on with your day.
For those of us conscious of the idea of right relationship with the Earth we are forced to walk in two worlds. On one side the world where we recognize her presence, we directly interact with her, harvest, hike, hunt, and revere her. And the other world where we are forced to interact with some of the technologies that are harming her. Where I currently live, oil is the main fuel used to heat homes. And I need my home heated. So I walk the walk that many of you probably do: trying to reduce my footprint as best I can by turning the heat down, and installing a wood stove.
Doing all these things make sense in their own right, but there is something else I have noticed: When I move closer on the scale of right relationship with the earth, I feel better. I feel better about everything.
Here are a few examples of when I have noticed it is easiest for me to be in right relationship with the Earth:
Being outside, this may seem like a given, but how many of us go whole days without really spending some conscious time in nature? When I’m outside my whole pattern of thinking changes.
Getting as close to the harvest as possible. I feel really different about the food I prepare from the farmer’s market and the food I buy at the grocery store. It’s all food, but meeting the farmer, knowing that the food was grown on the same land I wake up to every morning makes a difference. That difference carries over to the way I cook and how I feel about eating. Since I believe that intention is the core foundation of magic, the way I feel about my food carries over as a healing intention that affects the way I prepare it, and touches everyone who eats it.
Harvesting myself, nothing beats harvesting by hand. The reverence that I slip into while cooking is doubled or tripled if I’ve harvested the food myself. It is true what people say about a web of life. You can feel yourself a part of it when you enter into the dance of the harvest. Whether I am casting my fishing pole into a crystal clear river, or gathering stinging nettles in the spring, the feeling is the same. “I am part of this place.” Of course harvesting from the wild brings great responsibility, and we are seeing a huge impact on nature from over harvesting certain species. But harvesting gets us invested in the land we live in. When we see the wilderness as another source of our livelihood, we are more invested in saving it.
Like I said above, it isn’t a perfect balance, but there are things I notice that bring me into greater relationship with the Earth. Making a conscious choice to do those things makes all the difference in my life.
Now I’m curious about you. What are the things you do that make you feel closer to the Earth as a living being? Where are the places you tend to stray? To forget? And most importantly, how do you find the balance? Leave me comment below.
When I was in my 20s I worked in a collectively-owned grocery store in San Francisco. During the time I worked there, one of my jobs was to train a new hire, and older African American woman, who was a single mom to 5 kids. I will admit, I felt a bit foolish, ‘training’ this woman who could probably organize circles around me, having raised 5 kids on her own. But I showed her our procedures, and my floor stocking routine, trying to be helpful and respectful. During one of our training sessions, as we were chatting about our lives, I told her about a movie I’d seen recently. I can’t even recall the film any more, but I referred to it as a ‘black comedy,’ meaning it was sarcastic and dark in it’s humor. She immediately questioned me about what I meant by black comedy, I think I defined it just like I did for you in the sentence above. “Why do you have to call it that?” She asked. I didn’t understand. “To me”, she continued, “black is beautiful, it is mysterious, like the night, why do you call a movie like that a black comedy?”
Immediately a million and one defenses rushed to my tongue. It was just a figure of speech, I meant no offense, she was just being too sensitive. Weren’t we allowed to have other connotations of the word black, that didn’t center around race? But something stopped me that day before a single one of them made it out of my mouth. “Oh” I said, “I never thought of it like that. Thanks for pointing that out.” She softened, the moment passed, but later she confided that she appreciated the fact that I didn’t get defensive and thanked me for actually listening to her.
The moment cost me absolutely nothing. Turns out she wasn’t even asking me to change my language, she was just sharing her perspective. But what I gained from that moment was invaluable. I learned about another perspective. My world view broadened. I gained a friend. All for a moment that didn’t even cost me a thing.
I’m not telling you this story to prove to you what a good person I am. Because there are a million other stories I could tell you about how I’ve failed when it really mattered. How I failed speak up for this same woman in a meeting with my department members. How I’ve said the totally wrong thing to someone and made a total ass of myself. About all the times when I DID get defensive. So believe me when I say, this isn’t about me being ‘good’.
I’m telling you about this moment because it was a moment when I learned that the cost of defending white privilege is always greater than it is worth.
I had the pleasure recently of inviting my good friend, a fellow witch and an activist Stevie Ann DePaola to speak to my students about her work combining activism with magic. The work she is currently doing centers around community organizing against evictions and police brutality in San Francisco.
She explained to us that the bulk of the magical part of the work she does as an activist is her own personal work. It’s shadow work she explained to us: sitting with the parts of yourself you haven’t examined before; your assumptions, your privilege, what you take for granted; the choices your ancestors made before you were even born.
It is hard work, and it is deeply rewarding work. It is work that makes us whole again. And it is the work that will ultimately be needed for us to heal white supremacy.
If you are a white ally, but are not aware of the pain of whiteness, when push comes to shove you will crumble. Because racial equality isn’t going to look like having a statistically acceptable number of black CEOs. Racial equality isn’t your life now, except with more POC friends. Racial equality will require a deep restructuring of a society that is founded on slavery. Gender equality will require a deep restructuring of a society that is founded on patriarchy. Society is currently set up to grant privilege to those who are able to do the tasks white men are good at; a more equitable society will value different tasks. (emphasis her’s)
When I recently posted the above article on my FB feed, along with a discussion of how white supremacy actually hurts white people, I got into a long and protracted discussion with a friend who ‘refused to feel guilty or apologize for being white’. Which is sadly how many white people feel when they hear someone mention white privilege.
I want to be really clear here: shadow work is not about guilt or having to apologize for how you were born. Shadow work is about knowing your full self, about looking at your blind spots, your wounds, your arrogances and gently but unflinchingly healing them in the light of your own inner gaze.
What does it mean to be born into the body that you inhabit? What does it mean to have ancestors that may have participated in the slave trade, or segregation, or race riots? What does it mean that many of the opportunities you have been given in life were made possible by the oppression of other people? How do those facts about you, facts that you had no part in creating, but that are still true, affect how others, particularly people of color, may view you?
Are you willing to give up that false power for wholeness? Are you willing to trade it in for the true power of knowing yourself?
When you can look at your shadow and see all that it holds, and still love yourself, you are finally whole. Which is what got me remembering that moment with my co-worker. I gained so much from what I didn’t say. I gained so much from shutting my mouth, taking a deep breath, and admitting that maybe for once, I didn’t know what I was talking about. In this case the moment cost me absolutely nothing, but sometimes shadow work does ask us to change things about ourselves. Sometimes there is a cost to it, but if we only focus on the cost, we are missing much of the value.
Clearly just doing the shadow work isn’t enough. That one moment didn’t magically make me a better ally to people of color. There is real work to do, and we have to blend our inner realizations with outer action, but it is a start, a doorway.
So why? I ask my fellow white friends and readers. Why are we holding on so dearly to something that costs many of
us nothing to give up, and when there is so much to gain once we do?