By Cassandra Thompson
Healing is not an overnight occurrence, nor does it look the same for everyone. What works for me may not work for you and that is entirely okay. Commonalities I find in most personal reconciliation processes is trial and error, taking the well-meaning-but-poor advice of friends and family and mitigating triggers and painful re-livings. There’s immense affirmation and beautiful re-learnings of self. It’s full of making hard decisions, full of following what makes you feel good
We are healing, all of us, all the time.It takes days, years, decades, lifetimes, but it can be a reality. We just have to find a way to the first remedy or ritual. The breakthrough. The beginning. It is our right to access it. And yet it is so challenging. Especially when we seek to find healing methods that are inclusive of our lived experience as IBPOC. How can we resist and heal simultaneously?
I found my answer in Hoodoo. I found it through strengthening communion with my ancestors in a practical way, alongside finding remedies for physical and energetic ailments. It has long been appropriated and repurposed, but my resistance is reclaiming it for myself, my ancestors and other queer, Black folk like me.
Hoodoo uses the natural elements (earth, water, air, fire & spirit realm/ether) to alchemically shift energy to generate specific results, predominantly centered around healing and justice.
This is my medicine. This is my freedom. This is my reclamation of my power. This is a reclamation of my ancestry. This is afro-diasporic and accessible, rooted in the Continental African religion of Yoruba, and given continued life by Black and Indigenous womxn of the Southern US and Canada.
We have forms of herb work and root work in all of our communities. We can access our ingredients from grocery stores or health food markets, bulk barns and our own gardens. It will be in the rituals you saw family engage in; it will be in the mixtures your family gave you when you were ill or the superstitions that were followed (though no one quite knew why they believed them anymore). It is in between the lines of these common practices that we find magick. In what we eat, in what we wear, bathe in or adorn our home in. It’s in ritualizing your connection with your ancestors. Spending time giving thanks to those who came before you, fuelling your spirit with theirs such that you can always be brought back to a rock steady. Strength. Resolve.
As a descendant of enslavement, a displacement that has had deep and long term generational effects, I seek to reconnect with my heritage through magick & herb work (Hoodoo) to mitigate this, along with continued, communal and personal trauma. It is tangible and effective, and it shows me how much of my power to heal and change and resolve and redefine, truly comes from within. I realise that the answers are all inside, because that’s where the ancestors reside.
When reviewing texts, consulting elders and others, only work with what resonates; claim only that which speaks to your spirit. Right and wrong are relative. Only YOU know what you need. I often get asked what books to read…but go to your grandmother first; your grandfather; your family. There is magick in your lineage. Start there, for that is where it will end.
Here’s a few tips that I’ve found effective when on the path of healing through ritual and herbwork:
1. Never let them steal your magick; drink yarrow and mugwort tea to keep your ancestors close and your spirit unbothered.
2. Plant rosemary around your home, speak to her, love her up, give her lots of water; she’ll protect you when you aren’t looking.
3. Asafoetida worn at the waist will keep the police away. FUCK THE POLICE! Everybody sing! Let that spiritual ring! A’se!
4. Each morning, pour some water in a clean cup for your ancestors; welcome them home. Bless the water with your heart. Promise to protect it by any means necessary. Feel your ancestors smile down upon you; they will strengthen your spirit with their light.
5. Hang sage on the door to bring strength to the womxn, femmes and gender-queer folks in your home. It’ll also protect ya neck.
6. Mix lavender, rose, calendula and peppermint to make a great drink. Hot or cold. With honey to taste. Burn benzoin on charcoal. Take a smoke. Have a glass of wine. A cup of kombucha. Slip back into your body.
7. Carry salt & eucalyptus in your pocket. Add gravel root when seeking ideal employment.
8. Soak your body in oats and chamomile to soothe the skin. Boil them a bit to release the good stuff.
9. Rub your sore spots with a rag soaked in boiled comfrey and a few drops of cannabis oil. Have a lover do it. Have all your lovers rub you down. We ain’t bout monarchies over here, but damn it feels good to be treated like the king you are!
10. Keep a bowl of water under your bed, where you lay your head, to increase dreaming.
11. Light a black candle, blessed with black pepper & agua de florida, to keep the fuckbois away.
12. Mix your drinks with kombucha to keep the probiotics in your belly. It’ll help your food (whatever food you get) do more for your body.
13. Your ‘intuition’ is your ancestors. Trust that tingle across your back, that feeling in your belly, or that sensation in your chest. They’re trying to speak to you. They always have and they always will.
14. Write yourself love notes when you’re feelin’ your damn self; you may need the reminder on cloudier days.
15. Take selfies.
16. Take more selfies.
17. Hibiscus and dragon’s blood will keep you feelin’ like a baaaaaddie while cedar and cinnamon will allow you to stay boujee.
18. Put your whole body on the earth; feel the expanse of this omnipotent mass of life under you. Do this as a reminder that the earth will always have your back and hold you up. You have the earth’s back, and the earth has yours. Keep the fight up and go back to her when you need someone or something else to be strong for you. It’s okay to retreat.
In fact, it’s necessary.
19. TURN THE FUCK UP! Your joy is the ULTIMATE resistance and the most soothing of medicines.
Artwork by Thomarya ‘Tee’ Fergus
About Cassandra Thompson:
Cassandra is a queer conjure womxn & founder of Crystal Root & Conjure; an apothecary that ‘doctors the root’ for protection, healing & self care.
About Thomarya “Tee” Fergus:
Tee is a visual artist, tattooist and documenter who uses multiple mediums. Inspired by her Caribbean roots and the socio-political aspects that impact our lives.