Saturday, October 3, 2015

Happy Autumn!

The seasons have been flying by. I returned from Puerto Rico this spring, spent the summer in Austin and now I am unexpectedly on the East Coast. As I've been transitioning in PR, TX, and the DC/MD/VA area, so has Queering Herbalism 2. What started out as one volume and 200 pages has now become 5 volumes with a total of 505 pages. As I've struggled with health and housing and food insecurity, I've managed to keep writing and compiling slowly, but surely. Back in December my computer died, which set me back some months as I wasn't in the financial position to buy a new one. I kept at it, though and a very generous transwoman donated an old laptop to me. The ancestors have definitely been at my side saying "Keep walking."

So, as the months have gone by, I've found each section/volume getting richer and richer. Namely, the Ceremony and Ritual chapter and the Women* Healers, Healing and Resistance chapter. I was able to take a step back and really think about the perspectives being represented (or not represented)  and really "go in". In the Ceremony and Ritual chapter went in on many aspects of different ceremonies and the histories and cosmologies informing them, plants' rightful place in these ceremonies and had a little discourse on gender/sexuality and ceremony.

In the Women* healers, healing, and resistance section/volume I was able to spend more time with the questions of...who is a woman healer? what is a healer? And what stories are not being told when we speak of women* healers? This allowed me to add more articles about transwomen and their place as healers in our history and though I was not able to find what I wished I could have on gender non-conforming femme and feminine healers, I was able to write about how this perspective is largely absent in the current literature and literature of the past. You know, our history is oral and this colonized way of legitimizing written history is an issue anyway. But ,where does that leave those of us searching for our predecessors, lineages and legacies?

Well, we are definitely in a new and exciting time where we have to sit down together in living rooms and at kitchen tables and compare notes over meals about who we were and who we are becoming. The next Queering Herbalism is an encyclopedia of 5 volumes that is a window from the past into the present and future. I can't wait to share the completed versions with you later this month. Though I'm working double shifts tirelessly at my day/night job, I am even more committed to getting this completed. Please support by pre-ordering your copies which will be in e-version for now. Also, if you have any printing hookups, please let me know. This will make the reading more accessible to those who are not able to access ebooks or read ebooks online. I'm thinking of doing some audio for some of the sections but that is a few months out, at the least.

Thank you to all who have supported Queering Herbalism 2 and to those who have pre-ordered and waited patiently for the book to come out. I know these volumes are worth the wait. You will receive a special thanks consisting of the full encyclopedia.

Healing and Justice,


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Queering Herbalism 2

Hello and Happy Solstice!

Queering Herbalism 2 is available for Pre-order

This second volume reflects a deepening and asks you all to journey deeper into plant medicine and the wisdom of black and brown ancestors. We walk farther away from "modern western herbalism" and deepen our connection to healing practices, spirituality, and cultural and historical context, and the stories behind different traditions' relationship to plants. We also unapologetically honor women healers and our queer predecessors and trans*cestors by acknowledging and reclaiming their legacies through learning more about queer and trans* healers, queerness and healing.  And we honor the importance of healing ourselves and get a better understanding of internalized oppression and internalized trauma and learn herbs that support us with our depression, anxiety and trauma.

In this volume there are sections dedicated to:

-Understanding Health and Healing and healing history

- Understanding and partnering with plants
(plant history and biology, ancestral plant traditions, exercises/suggestions for connecting with plants, plant and tree stories)

-Traditional indigenous healing
(in West Africa and the diaspora, New Zealand and the Philippines)

-Ceremony and ritual
(4 sacred medicines, baths, temezcal, creating sacred space)

- Two-spirit healers/queer/ and trans*cestors
(pre-modern Asian and Pacific Islands, Africa, and a critique of colonialism and the western gaze)

-Women healers, healing and resistance
(history of women healers/shamans, Mexican women reclaiming indigenous ceremony for wellness and body autonomy, a profile on a partera, birthwork in the black community, and a call to indigenous women and two-spirit people to be accountable and do the work of decolonization)

-Medicine making

-Healing ourselves from historical trauma and internalized oppression
(with remedies/recipes for anxiety,depression and trauma)

This is the first edition and there are nearly 200 pages.
*Contents may vary slightly after final edit.

**PRE-ORDER today .PDF ebooks available. You must send your email address!
*limited edition printed copies. (only 25 available) Message me to purchase a printed copy. (additional shipping costs).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Queering Herbalism 2 and Herbal Freedom School 3- Coming Soon

Just a quick note...

I've been working diligently on the content and structure for the next volumes of Queering Herbalism and Herbal Freedom School and I have to say I've been truly motivated and inspired by feedback, my new home and surroundings, and re-emerging interest in the first volume. I hope to have previews available by the first week of December and the new zines online before the new year. Luckily I've just gotten my computer back from the repair depot in awesome condition and that's no longer a barrier. If I could just get my hands on a decent printer/copy machine and ink and toner I would be in the best shape. Til then, copy shops and e-books!

Speaking of best shape...

I have so much gratitude for my friends who have shown an overwhelming amount of support through my illness by sending me wellness packages of herbs and salves and linimients, vitamins, and natural mosquito repellant. I never knew that community care could look like this. A circle of friends as your health insurance? As in, actually ensuring your health. I am so grateful and it has opened my eyes to what our communities are capable of when it comes to supporting each other's well-being, whether that is emotional, psychological, physical, or spiritual. Though many of my friends are struggling we try to find ways to be there for each other in whatever ways we can. And that's what truly matters. A phone call. A care package. An uplifting e-mail. A text to check-in. Even with a handful of friends, this goes a long, long way.


I can't wait for ya'll to see the new volumes. They are natural next editions, reflecting a deepening and asking you all to journey deeper into plant medicine and the wisdom of black and brown ancestors. We will be walking further away from "modern western herbalism" as there are enough texts concerning this and we will be deepening our connection to healing practices, spirituality, and cultural and historical context, and the stories behind different traditions' relationship to plants. And yes, more information about queer healers and queerness and healing.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Much-Needed Return

It's been 2 months and here I sit reflecting on the last few years of my life that have brought me to heal on the island of Puerto Rico. I've spent much time frequenting the beach- my confidant, my teacher, my altar. There is so much knowledge hidden deep in the warm, fierce waves of the Atlantic off the northeast coast of Puerto Rico where I now reside.

In the first 2 weeks of being here, during my artist residency at Patio Taller, I contracted a (mosquito-born) virus much like the dengue fever, called chikungunya. I was already beginning to feel lonely and having a hard time getting grounded and BOOM! I started getting these immense headaches, then the next day I threw up over and over and over and then the next day was a rash that started on 2 limbs and spread to all 4 and my face.

I questioned the ancestors..."WHY?!"

Already I was trying to adjust to being so far from my created family and then I get this disease with no cure. Luckily at Patio Taller there were a number of herbs and fruit trees that had anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. (Oregano brujo, Oregano chiquito, menta poleo, and limoncillo). The chikungunya's symptoms are arthritic. So yep! I get a double dose of joint pain with having systemic lupus and this virus. Luckily (?) I am already taking pills for joint pain so with my medications and the copious herbs and fruit and coconut water and medicinal mushroom tea,etc. I've been able to have milder symptoms than some folks that have contracted it.

In reflection, having this illness brought me full circle to my love for herbalism and a few steps further on this path as a medicine maker. I've spent the last year struggling economically and with my health and transitioning- a true dark night of the soul or healing crisis. It has truly been a long journey though I feel in many ways it just began when I stepped foot here on this island.

Pre-chikungunya, while being on the grounds of Patio Taller I began connecting with the plants and making teas right away thanks to Michelle (one of co-founders of the space) introducing me to local herbs. Then, within the first week I met a really awesome group of herbalists and healers (accion camandular) and they invited me to table with them at a festival on Calle Loiza in Santurce. I had a good time speaking with folks about Queering Herbalism and the Herbal Freedom School Zines and even sold a few.

After tabling there I decided that Queering Herbalism 2 definitely needs to be bilingual. It will have both Spanish and English articles. I am excited about the themes for this one. Stay tuned for the preview of either a series or the entire guide.


I hope to meet Maria Benedetti soon! She is an awesome yerbera/herbalist and activist who has been on the island for decades doing amazing things. I'd love to be more involved with botanicultura and learn more about the plants here on the island. I've been studying up...TRUST. And I've even been making some of the folks in Luquillo and Guaynabo remedies for the chikungunya and other ailments. I would have never thought that I'd be making house calls.

Other than my artist residency, the chikungunya, medicine making and ideas for a new Queering Herbalism and Herbal Freedom School, I have been meeting all types of artists, farmers, travelers, healers, visionaries and all around buena gente.

So- here I am in Puerto Rico- piecing together suppressed histories. Healing myself with mango teas, papaya leaves, lemongrass, oregano brujo, cundeamor/cerasee and other herbs that some have lost faith in or have become disconnected from. I am thankful for herbalists like Maria Benedetti and curandera historians like Aurora Levins Morales who have started the conversation again about our non-european herbal traditions.

Healing justice is something we've got to step up and own if we ever want true freedom. Western medicine...the medical industrial complex...Big Pharma....the food corporations...the 'greenwashing" of the so-called sustainability movement, they are all exploiting us and at times working in conjunction. There are a handful of companies profiting from our demise. And it's just the truth. We need to own our healing. We need to own what happens to our bodies.


I struggled for years and years- economically, with my health, etc. And now here I am, in Puerto Rico thankful to be meeting such awesome people and slowing my life down so I can heal and do what I'm here to do on this journey. I began to feel a bit of guilt as I stood knee deep in the Atlantic looking at the crystal blue, see- through waves. I wondered why everyone couldn't feel this. Just stop being on the grind...and feel this. And I became even more committed to co-creating a space where that is possible. A space where people can stop hustling and just BE and heal in all the ways they need to. Whether that be growing food, building their own home, learning about herbal medicine or birth work, or anti-oppression or their own internalized oppression. I've been talking to so many friends who want to co-create this type of community and I know many already exist or have in the past. I don't know how far off it is from now but I'm going to keep working toward seeing this vision manifest slowly as I heal myself from this virus and this autoimmune disorder.

Please send healing energy and good vibes as I continue to transition and walk this path.

If you have benefited from the compilations and information on this page, please consider supporting those authors and healers who have painstakingly written the information by buying their books or attending their workshops,etc. If you are interested in owning a downloadable version of Queering Herbalism and the Herbal Freedom Schools, you can buy the Warrior-Healer Collection here or the individual zines Herbal Freedom School- Freedom Session volume 1 and Herbal Freedom School- Freedom Session volume 2 are available on the Afro-Genderqueer shop.

Please donate HERE to support me continuing this work. As I've mentioned, I am healing myself of a virus and autoimmune disorder and I, like many of you, am struggling to sustain myself and have a stable living situation. I don't have health insurance and I now write full-time, which works best for me as a genderqueer, brown person on this healing path with chronic illness and limited ability. Holistic medicine and treatment can be expensive and there isn't a lot of access to these services for those of us with less capital, especially in the colony of Puerto Rico. So it's important to support your visionary healers, the majority of us have come to this work through our own healing crises.

I look forward to keeping you posted about my research and writings.

Wishing you all healing and a sense of community and belonging,


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Queering Herbalism Zine/Resource Guide

Hey, hey,

You can preview Queering Herbalism a zine/resource guide with a brown, queer perspective HERE.  A lot of work went into compiling these 160 pages so please consider supporting future work here:

You choose the amount


Co-visionary support

I. Reclamation and Reflections
II. Traditional Indigenous Healing
III.Two-Spirit Healers 

IV. Medicine Making Basics
VI. Flower Essences
VII. Radical Brown Health and Healing
VIII. Brown Resources
XI. Brown Reads
X. POC-Led Classes and Seminars
XI. POC Healers
XII. Queer Reads
XIII.Free Classes and Info

Go here for the full Queering Herbalism guide.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Freedom Session 2 is out!

Hello Co-Visionaries,

Freedom Session 2, the second zine compilation from the Herbal Freedom Webpage, is hot off the press and ready for your viewing pleasure.

Table of Contents:

Medicinal Herbs by David Hoffman. 9
Herbal Properties and Actions by Jim McDonald. 13
Writings from blogs by Atava Garcia Swiecicki, from Ancestral Apothecary. 20
Flower Healing Past and Present 20
Flower Healing Part 2. 20
Making Flower Essences. 22
Flower Essence Therapy. 24
Administering Flower Essences. 26
        Flower Essences for Healing, Recovery & the 12 Steps. 27
        Flower Essences and Same-Sex Relationships by John R. Stowe. 30
        The Digestive System.. 34
         Basics of Muscle Testing. 45
         Pan-African Indigenous Herbal Medicine Technology Transfer 51
         Young Lords: A Reader: Health and Hospitals 63


You can access it here:

Yours in Knowledge,

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hello community! Co-visionaries!

Guess what! I graduated the community herbalist program this past weekend and we had a wonderful potluck with chocolate infused damiana, kava punch, lavender-orange snow cones, and all kinds of other delicious food. Everyone presented on the projects they've worked hard on over the past 6 months. My presentation was about both the zine "Herbal Freedom School- Freedom Session #1" and blog "Queer Herbalism" that I created. I explained how both intend to address the lack of affordability and inaccessibility of herbal/holistic knowledge. I also explained that they were created to give a broader (and more accurate) perspective of holistic healing, as we are always inundated with eurocentric models and interpretations. 

It seems that the western (european) perspective (of course, not counting eastern healing modalities TCM and Ayurveda) are largely what we have access to in books since other indigenous cultures might not share the same interest and values of the written language and healing traditions tend to be mostly orally passed on.

As I have grown as a medicine-maker over the months in this program I am more and more committed to anti-oppression work within holistic healing. I recently had a post from Queer Herbalism reposted on Decolonizing Yoga that addresses this:

As I slowly heal myself physically (from systemic lupus- SLE), emotionally (from internal/external oppression), and spiritually, I know that I am most drawn to doing energetic work (using tools such as herbs, flower essences, and ceremony) in marginalized communities that help them to release internalized oppression (racism, homophobia, etc.), get in contact with their inner Self, and become more aligned with nature, Spirit and the ancestors.

I thank each and every one of you who have walked this road with me, made love offerings, and followed my updates.

I still have a long road of paying for the rest of my tuition, though.  So far I have worked 47 hours at a rate of $10/hr. for work exchange and have paid $660 over the past few months. I still need to raise $720.00 (I was not able to continue with the year- long clinical herbalist course due to the demands of my full-time Americorps VISTA job, organizing within the community, and a raise in rent and an increase in medical expenses. 

Total tuition for the community herbalism program is $1850+ $300 for books/supplies= Grand total: $2150. 

Please continue to spread the word to folks to contribute love offerings as I will continue to pay tuition until my balance is paid in full. *you can contribute to love offerings by clicking HERE.

Love, Healing and Solidarity!