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On Trauma, Grief, Finding Power, & Being Joyful

botanical self care Written Word

I really had no intention of sharing this here. 

But after a series of what-would-be-called "coincidences" this past week, I think it may be important. 

*TRIGGER WARNING: trauma, sexual trauma, suicide*
**Please bear in mind that these writings are directly from my own experiences. I am not writing to explain, describe, or resolve anyone else's. I share this in the hopes of them being helpful**

It wasn't until I was 18 years old and living in Israel for a year abroad, that a phone call with my mother resulted in the confirmation that I had been molested by an older male family member while I was between the ages of five and seven. I didn't remember any of this. I had blocked it so emphatically out of my memory (which is normally eerily vivid- I have vivid memories from before I could utter a word), that I'm not sure how we even got onto the topic. When I expressed anger that there wasn't more dialogue about it, I was told that the professionals in the early 90's believed it was best to move forward and never bring it up again. (Insert rage-ful emoji). 

Enter: Mariola. I will write more about her some other time, but Mariola became an older mentor/healer/friend to me when I was about twenty or twenty-one years old. She is a gifted acupuncturist, but she also works with energy and the human psyche and she was the first healing professional who I really told about my childhood trauma that I had blocked out. She gave me a series of questions to answer, regarding this trauma. Things like "what did this human who hurt you give to you?" Questions that really threw me through a loop and admittedly made me feel defensive at first. But as I sat with the questions and found answer to them, there was a certain aspect of my own power that started coming back. It was a way of shifting from victim-hood to empowerment. Of course, answering some questions does not fully heal such a trauma, but it began the wheel of healing to gain some inertia, and during the next few years, more and more healing occurred. 

When I was 18, I also went on a trip to Poland to visit all the death camps that were active during the Holocaust. This was an *intense* trip. I really went to deep and dark places relating to this collective trauma that impacted so much of my lineage. A few years later, I read the book A New Earth by Eckhartt Tole, and he speaks a great deal about the collective pain-body and how it spirals through large groups of people who inherit trauma. The list of such large groups who inherit trauma is so long, and many of us belong to more than one of these categories. 

At this point in my life, I can name the trauma that is associated with each of the following aspects of my identity:

  • being a woman
  • being Jewish
  • being a sexual abuse survivor
  • being queer

Enter: Albizia//Mimosa//The Flower of Collective Happiness.

I remember trying a tiny drop of Albizia tincture when I first started herbalism school in 2014. We were supposed to sit with our immediate reaction to the herb. Notice the nuances of the taste, and whatever energies are discernable.

When I tasted this drop, I was filled with a weird combination of sweetness and decay. But I'd say, mostly the decay. When I mentioned this to my teacher, she said that maybe it has to do with unresolved trauma. And that when the trauma is more healed, it will be sweeter. 

I got really, really into Albizia. I would walk for hours and stand near these trees whenever I passed them. I took the tincture daily. I did a lot of writing during the next bunch of months, processing aspects of my past. 

By the next July, I was in a very different place. I was walking with a friend, talking about an herbal amulet that I wanted to make for her. I started gushing about Albizia and how powerful a plant it was, and suddenly on the ground, I see an Albizia blossom. When I looked up, the most glorious, abundantly bloomed Albizia tree was standing there. 

On that day, we also met the homeowner whose property this tree stood on- Judy. She not only said I should take as many blossoms as I can, but she gifted me with a baby Albizia tree to take home and try to plant. This is the tree that I visit each year, and make my In Joy Tincture from, and this is the tree that I make my Albizia Essence from. 

Here is what Albizia teaches me about trauma:

We are all processing some form(s) of trauma- whether it is from our own lives, or from the lives of our ancestors. Trauma can be dis-empowering, make us feel like victims, and feel impossible to heal. Albizia is a healer of trauma AND the flower of collective happiness. This teaches me that with the pursuit of healing trauma, we also pursue joy. Through processing trauma, joy is not only possible, but highly probable. When we process our trauma, we become empowered, and grief can give way to abundant joy. 

I've had lots of folks tell me that this tincture is helpful when grieving situations associated with death, heartbreak, difficult transitions, and processing the past. I lost a friend to suicide and this plant was helpful in processing that, as well. 

An addendum to all this, a beautiful set of encounters in July of 2018:

On July 10th, I was looking through some piles of papers to organize my office, and I came across that old faded paper on which Mariola had jotted down questions regarding my sexual trauma. Only July 12th, Mariola landed in Portland. I hadn't seen her since 2013- so five years had passed since I had been in her New York home for a new moon ceremony. Of course, she landed on a new moon, partial eclipse. We spent a beautiful evening together. The next day, I drove past Judy's house, and got to chat with her about everything going on in our lives. I picked just a few Albizia blossoms because the tree just started blooming, and I had a strong desire to make an essence of it on this new moon. I went home and did a pretty trippy new moon ceremony all on my own (this is irregular- usually I lead new moon ceremonies for a group of people). The flower essence was sitting in a bowl that I had never used for essences yet- one from my maternal grandmother. Using the Many Moons Workbook, I went into a deep meditation about the waters, our blood-line, healing aspects of my matriarchal bloodline (Jewish), and healing past traumas.


I'd say this is plant magic. 


If you're interested in either my In Joy tincture, or Albizia Essence, you can get them in the shop! 


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