I remember arriving for a spiritual consultation with a man who would later become not only my spiritual mentor and teacher but friend. He was a Priest of Oshun the Yoruba Divinity of Love, Healing, and fresh water. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time but I came to him seeking help as my life had become unmanageable. After years of Western psychotherapy and rehashing old stories over and over again I found myself still stuck, still dealing with the same issues and had turned to God and the spiritual world to seek guidance. As an African American woman I was also led to the traditions of my ancestors as Western and European forms of healing just didn’t appeal to me anymore.
I was instructed to kneel, prostrate and kiss the straw mat that was on the … Read More »
February 26th was the 1 year anniversary of the murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Trayvon Martin was a 17 year old unarmed Black teenager who went walking outside in his neighborhood in Florida with a bag of skittles and was murdered. As an Ecotherapist who works with people of color to connect their healing to connecting with nature, I began to think of how feeling safe outside can be a barrier to engaging with the natural world. I didn’t spend a lot of time outside as a child because our apartment complex was not always a safe place to hang out; there were often fights or older men and boys harassing young girls. It was not until I was a young adult graduate of college away from home that I experienced hiking for the first time in the … Read More »
In January in the United States we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday that is now known as a National Day of Service to honor the legacy, philosophy and actions of the great humanitarian for civil rights. And in February, we celebrate Black History Month where we remember the important contributions of Americans of African descent. As an African American Ecotherapist and experienced public health social worker I sometimes struggle with finding a way to describe Ecotherapy to my community while also challenging my white colleagues to address the gaping blind spots in Ecopsychology and Environmental movements that rarely address or link the issues of social justice for people of color and poor people in the Unites States to the broader conversation.
And then I began where I always do, contemplating the lives of … Read More »
Giving thanks and honoring the Spirits of the Earth: African and African Diaspora Celebrations for a Good New Year
December 26th is the first day of the African American Celebration of Kwanzaa. This celebration founded by Dr. Malena Karenga in 1966 is based on seven principles to guide the African American community towards cultural healing, peace, and prosperity in the New Year. Although it is a western new world African celebration, it is rooted in traditional ancestral practices of West Africans including Ghana and Nigeria where communities gather for harvest celebrations such as the Yam Festivals which generally take place prior to the rainy season. Yam is an important food staple in the West African diet and people are aware that in order to survive the upcoming year and to avert famine and drought they gather in community to offer prayers of thanksgiving to the Earth for her support and nourishment for the New Year.
Giving thanks … Read More »
On Sunday November 24th the New York Times published a visual piece call “What Could Disappear” as a result of rising sea levels caused by Climate Change. Since Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina and in 2012 the worst drought in the United States in 50 years there has been an increase in this type of news meant to inform us of the dire straits that the Earth and we as humans are in. As a lover of the Earth and all of us on it and as an Ecotherapist I am intrigued by the impact on our mental and emotional selves. It can be overwhelming to one’s psyche to think that the entire Earth is changing in a dangerous way due to human greed and climate change. As the maps below show if we continue on our current trajectory and without adequate intervention 19% of … Read More »