Friday, April 8, 2016

Spring and Solar Return



Happy Spring!



Yesterday I celebrated another solar return (birthday) and I'm feeling super reflective. I've been thinking about these Queering Herbalism Encyclopedia volumes and all the work that has gone into researching and compiling them over the past year and a half. I've been thinking about how much more expansive I've wanted them to be. You know, the information has always been about black and brown liberation, liberatory healing and the reclamation of our healing histories. It's always been about including suppressed histories and beginning/continuing a conversation about the healing legacy of queer, trans and gender non-conforming folks and honoring the place of spirituality and ceremony in our medicine making of many different varieties. The special edition on Africa and the African Diaspora confronts anti-blackness in the current  (modern western) "herbal revolution" by providing a closer look at African (and it's diaspora's) spirituality, medicine, and healing traditions. I am excited to start working on a more in depth Pan-African healing volume with an anti-colonial focus. And, the special edition of the Women*, feminine healing energy and resistance volume honors the feminine healing energy, women organizers and healers and there's so much more I wanted to include but needed to pare down into two parts! As the volumes expanded I knew that there needed to be another medium for all the seeds that were emerging to be planted. This year I hope to do more knowledge shares and collaborations with this information.






Osain- West African (Yoruba Ifa) spirit of Plants and herbal medicine


It's been a long road. I've been going through a lot of "health stuff/trials" this past year. I've struggled with having life-sustaining medication denied, not having insurance, not being able to afford obamacare and not qualifying for medicaid and patching together sliding scale medical assistance and self-pay treatments. I've had a really intense (short-lived) 80 hour a week organizing job. I've had my body react to the winter conditions and a lot of the toxins here in the D.C. area. Suffering from environmental illness (as Aurora Levins Morales calls Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) is no joke. Having a life-threatening autoimmune disorder and no health insurance really takes up a lot of time, space and energy. Every month I've struggled with not knowing if I can get a refill, afford a refill or a doctor's visit to get a refill. I've wondered if I'm going to deal with a paternalistic doctor and I've lamented that I don't have enough to pay for holistic practitioners- acupuncturists and naturopaths or herbalists. A lot of my healing has come from my own inner knowing and lots of research about the plants, herbs, medicinal mushrooms, vitamins, etc. that are accessible and affordable to me. I also have been able to reach out here and there to friends who are holistic practitioners.

I still dream of nationwide networks of POC healers who ARE each other's insurance and practitioners. A loving exchange network practicing affordable preventative holistic medicine and lifting up each other's healing work. I know these informal networks exist and it takes some digging to find them locally or regionally.  I dream of being a part of these sacred healing villages like Harriet's Apothecary provides every season in Brooklyn and other locations. Or the free clinic Ola's herb shop in Pittsburgh provides monthly. Or similar healing circles and events in Oakland. It's crucial that we keep supporting these spaces in whatever ways we can. Ola's is in danger of closing and is raising funds here.

So what's next for Queering Herbalism/ Queering Healing? Well, my health has become my primary focus for 2016 so while I'm navigating that, I'll  also be finishing editing these volumes. I'm hoping to publish them this Spring and I've already got the special editions up on my Etsy page along with new editions of Queering Herbalism and the Herbal Freedom School volumes. I thank you all for your patience and understanding.  I promise to continue putting my all into these volumes and to be a conduit for the compilation of this important healing wisdom. I'm committed to finding different mediums to share the information as well. This month I'll be at the Harriet's Apothecary Spring Edition and in June I'll be at the Philly Trans Health Conference sharing about QTPOC Healing Histories.



June 9-11, 2016


If (physically) able, I plan to make it to the west coast and to a few more places here on the east coast and even Puerto Rico again. Send me a message if you'd like me to share with your community (whether it be a community center, gathering, conference, college, or other institution) on this journey.

Healing, Justice and Joy,


Toi