Dream-State Embodiments of the Shadow-Self, Free Methods for Self-Care, and Nourishing the Nervous-System with Didn't It Rain Herbal Coffee Blend

I had a dream the other night in which I was picking the last of the season's fruit from my neighbor's dragon fruit tree. It does not exist there in waking life. In waking life they've taken down a lot of their trees and no fruit trees live there. Not even the rose hedges anymore. But in this land, there was sweet, sweet late summer dragon fruit. We were all together and they were dressed in Native Central So-called-American garments with top hats. The lighting was beautiful. It must have been a bright day that was narrowing toward evening. Maybe around 4 o'clock or so. I went inside their home and into a room in which I sat down with a man who I feel must be part of my Shadow. He was a very critical man. He lived inside a room with no windows, the only light being the blue light that beamed from his laptop. Maybe a lamp too. He sat on a black couch that was against a painted black wall, red accents. He was critical, as I said, and more than that, he thought that this made him real, made him safe. He was criticizing everyone--for their band names, for their, what he thought were, shitty essays, for their lack of self-awareness. He was always running some sort of commentary, some sort of facetious joke, always running, running, running. Yet still, there he sat, running so far away, yet going nowhere, yet staying so tethered and so isolated to his dark imprisonment while the rest of us poised together amongst the dragon fruit trees, sucking the juices out of them with the first bite. 

In my dream I went along with his narrations as he painted everyone and everything so drab and with so little context, except for that of his own projections which were fueled by his miserable isolation of which he unconsciously oppressed himself. Isn't that what constant criticism is? Castration? He did this to help himself feel secure in his vacant and chosen exile. His darkened and dirty room was just a symbol of how cluttered and unprocessed his thoughts and emotions were. He thought somewhere, in the hidden places of his mind--hidden even to him-- that it would set him apart from everyone else. A self-aware individual, he thought. And intelligent too. His elitist attitude reminded me of white supremacists stomping through streets with torches. His self-alienation was no different than theirs. He was aggressive. And yet, through it all, I think he just craved the light. He had forgotten how sweet the fruit from the dragon fruit tree was. He thought his remarks would replace the sun kisses and the caress of the wind, the sound of his own unassuming laughter in chant with another's. Indeed, always having some gnashing remark, acknowledging all of the slights always shuts the door to any light. And they both need one another, light and dark.

The dream continued with a giant blow up roller-coasters in the driveway, designed in the shape of a My Little Pony cartoon, which was actually quite a terrifying ride. Since awakening form that dream, I've been inviting this part of my shadow into the light. My thought is that he showed up in my dream because he too is tired of all the shit-talking. 

So this all to say that I've felt pretty critical lately. Like, wearing criticism as my shroud. I've been doing this for years, actually when I've not been careful, thinking it will save me somehow. But it wont. It'll just isolate me further, put more locks on the door, more chains in my chair--or couch, rather. So this, with all the hurricanes and all the political violence, the earthquakes, the fires, the constant environmental destruction, which gives way to these massive hurricanes like Irma, causes me to feel so, so tired. Goddamn, isn't it all just way too much? I feel the vat for our collective emotional life has sort of cracked the roof and is bubbling onto the floor. Now we're all just looking at it like, "Oh my god, I can't anymore", yet still trying to help one another pick up the pieces, all of us so exhausted from one thing after the other after the other. There is so much to process and so much to feel, even if we don't want to, from within and without. The trick is remembering to stay in your body, within your immediate experience, and to stay grounded to the earth. It isn't always easy, but it's doable if you practice. And it doesn't mean turning your face from another, it just means putting your oxygen mask on before you help someone else put on theirs. No one's asking you to be their martyr. 

I understood my current lethargy in congruence with all of this just a few days ago after wondering why the heck I was feeling so drained and exhausted. I'm moving across the country in a week, I'm finishing up a job, making jewelry, and also experiencing a lot of weight from so much collective trauma. Feeling tired makes absolute sense. So on that day of illumination, I toasted some sesame seeds, made some tahini, and cooked honey, cacao and maca in with it. I made a paste this way, added a dab of milk to the skillet to make it runny, and added more milk and ice. It was bomb. A little pink salt on top finished it off like adult sprinkles or something. 

The featured Didn't It Rain Herbal Coffee Blend by Villagers  does the trick of supporting your nervous system as well. Something that very much needs to be supported these days. The tea is a grounding mix of chaga mushroom, chicory root, burdock root, dandelion root, eleuthero root, carob, orange peel, and cinnamon chips. It's one of my absolute favorite teas and I highly recommend it if you are able to purchase something like this to aid you. A recipe for a latte with this tea can be found below. If you're like me though, and all you've got is $65 until the next time someone buys something from you because you're moving next Wednesday or something like that, then also listed below are some of my favorite ways to decompress, without buying a thing. 

 

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Ways to feel more supported without buying something:

-Make something: food, crafts, love, a poem, a song, clothes, a wall hanging

-Burn incense--hell, even make them yourself with foraged tree resins, sticks, and dried cedar, pine, and roses

-Take a hot bath and read a book

-Call a friend and laugh or cry or do both at the same time

-Write in your journal

-Draw a picture

-Cuddle with your dogs and pay attention to all their little details

-Go on a walk, barefoot if you can

-Lay in the grass and watch clouds, name their shapes

-Allow all of your feelings without reacting to any of them--even the warm ones, even the cold ones

 

 

Didn't It Rain Herbal Coffee Blend Iced Latte:

Ingredients:

-Approx. 1/2 cup of the Didn't It Rain Herbal Coffee Blend

-Honey or your preferred non-refined sweetener of choice, to taste

-Whatever milk you fancy. I use local or Organic Valley, sometimes nut milk if it's around. Any will do, just be mindful of where they're sourced. 

To Make:

-Steep about 1/2 cup of tea with your preferred sweetener in about 1.5 cups of hot water for 5-10 minutes. The longer it sits, the more extraction, the stronger the flavor. Be careful not to over-extract though. Stir here and there.

-Into a drinking vessel of your choice, strain the tea until your glass is about one-fourth to one-half of the way full. Add your milk and some ice.

Enjoy! It tastes like a chaga mushroom, cinnamon cookie. 

Tacos--A Template

For several months I've devoted many meals to learning how to make an incredible and absurdly simple taco. This has no conclusion, I'm still learning. And in no way do I mean to appropriate or take lightly the culture or peoples who first cultivated this food. To the first Olmec, Mayan, and Aztec peoples to assemble these along with their decedents, do I owe all of my respect and any credit for my knowledge of and appetite for the taco. I roll each tortilla and assemble each taco with gratitude and awareness. 

Tacos, for me, used to mean buying corn tortillas from the store, a can of beans, and piling it with scoops of guacamole. Now it has come to mean growing the corn, learning to make masa harina, sourcing local peppers, sprouts, cheeses and meats. Tacos have become a beautiful and very temporary expression, portrait even, of my "here and now," as it considers land and history. You can take this with any meal, yet I've been particularly interested in the taco. 

Fundamentally, a taco is a tortilla--corn or flour, a fat, spice, and acid. With that though, is thousands of years of history. This regards corn cultivation, pre-colonial diets, and the post-colonization imprints on native food culture. There's so much to explore, so for now I want to touch only on some of the basics in hopes that you might do some of your own research.

Corn, or maize, is a sacred food to many cultures throughout Central and South America. It was first bred by Mesoamericans around 3000 B.C. from a wild grass called, teosinte. It took generations of natural selection to cultivate the corn we're familiar with today. There are now over 300 varieties, though a majority are no longer grown due to corn's exploitation. Today it is one of the largest and most environmentally destructive mono-crops. It's used to feed livestock in factory farms, and to produce ethanol, corn syrup, and corn starch. The over-cultivation of corn devastates soil and biodiversity, both very important fundaments for our ecosystems that are intrinsic to us. 

First eaten with tacos were small fish, wild turkey, and beans. Beef, chicken, and pork are not native. All arrived to the "Americas" with European invaders. These are all things I like to research, wonder about, and consider. It's good to know where your food came from both physically and historically.

Corn is processed into masa harina by using a technique called, "nixtamalization." This utilizes an alkaline solution such as wood ash or lime water. I'm still learning this technique so I wont be sharing it with you today. My first batch ended up just being used in a pozole verde I made. For now I use Bob's Red Mill's masa harina, as this is the best quality I can find at my grocery store. I've started growing my own corn, Hopi Blue Flint. My hope is to make masa harina out of that once it's time to harvest. 

With in mind that the building blocks for a good taco are fat, spice, and acid, use this very loose recipe as a guide. I hope you'll roll out or press your own tortillas and will source each ingredient with attention and care. If you're going to use meat, I highly suggest using locally raised and cruelty-free meats. No factory farms. I suggest the same regarding cheese, if you choose to use it. I use local goat cheese. 

The quality in taste of your taco with be highly attuned to where you've sourced your ingredients. There is often a huge difference in taste when eating a tomato from the store rather than from the farmer's market, and vice versa. Use only local and only organic, if at all possible. Try to grow your own produce, get to know the folks who raise and cultivate the rest. This makes all the difference. 

Ingredients for one tortilla:

1/4 cup masa harina

Pink himalayan salt

water

Stuffing:

You can go anywhere with these. I'll post here what is on the pictured taco but go for what you're into.

Your choice of fat--beans, meat, etc. I used locally and very happily raised pork sausage. 

Wild lettuce

Pea sprouts

Cilantro

Green onion

Salsa--I made mine with tomato, habanero, serrano, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, pink himalayan salt, and apple cider vinegar (just roast the veggies and put it all in a blender or mash it together with a pestle and mortar). You can also use pico do gallo which is just diced tomato, onion, garlic, juice of one lime (you can use apple cider vinegar too), salt. Cilantro is optional. 

Goat cheese

 

Prepare the tortilla: 

-Heat a skillet or commal on high. No oil. 

-Mix the masa harina and a sprinkle of pink himalayan salt. Add a small bit of water and mix. Do this until you have a firm dough that sticks together. This shouldn't be too wet. 

-Roll dough into a ball and press into a patty

-Use a large sheet of parchment paper. Fold it in half. Put the masa patty between the two sheets and roll it until it's thin. I suggest not being to heavy with the rolls. Roll in various directions. This will help you create a circular shape. Don't get too attached to a perfect circle. 

-Carefully peel the raw tortilla from the parchment paper and gently place it onto the skillet. If it falls apart, quickly rescue it from the hot pan, roll it back into a ball and try again. You'll get the hang of it. 

-These cook quickly so watch carefully. Once the edges begin to raise, flip the tortilla either with your fingers or a metal spatula. Cook the other side and place to the side on a plate. 

-If you want your tortilla crispy, simply fry it in coconut oil or animal fat after its first initial cooking. 

Prepare the stuffing (if using beans): 

If you're working with beans and want to go the re-fried bean route, I suggest getting dry beans. Soak them overnight or just boil them right away. Boil them with salt and some onions, garlic, and peppers (dry peppers will do too). This will give you flavor. If you're not vegan or vegetarian, add a little animal fat as well. This also helps with flavor. If you want additional spice, try coriander, cumin, paprika, etc. 

The beans will boil for about an hour or two. Keep adding water. 

Once the beans are soft, cook the water down until it's level with the beans and mash it using a potato masher.

If you're not into cooking dry beans or just don't have time, get an organic canned bean with no additives (read the label). Drain. Cook with a little water, onion, garlic, peppers and whatever spice you like. Mash with a potato masher.

Red Quinoa and Rice Vinegar Nori Seaweed Salad| A Training with Bloom Post

I've been sitting with Bloom Post in her, A Heart of Service Shamanic Training, since January. I sat in circle with eight other students. Much of what I learned with her, and the circle I sat with, is still marinating, settling into my system. I began my training with Bloom and my peers unnerved. I felt generally anxious and defensive, needing to prove something while also being highly aware of this need and trying to shut it down. This of course, persisted the tension amongst my "selves" and within my body. I remember sitting in our first ceremony together overwhelmed with how fraught I was with the judgement I held against some of my fellow students. This was only my own self-judgement, guised. It was heavy. All of this was me trying to get out of body to find relief. The antidote, paradoxical. I needed to get back in my body. It's the initial safe place, the only one that we need. Yet it's also the place we other. We run from our bodies during trauma, trying to escape our fear and our pain. Sometimes we never learn to trust ourselves again. The consequence, we may never find our way back. 

Our first training was hard for me. I have a tendency to outcast myself from groups of unfamiliar people. I know this is common. I understand it as social anxiety, which it is, but I further understand it as fear of being seen from an angle I don't want to be seen. This is shame. And oh, the lengths we can go to cover it.  

I talked more our second day together. This opened me up. I had insights that day in regards to the naming of myself. How naming myself "Appalachia" reveals much about what I resist within my lineage. I knew this, of course. Resistance to lineage is why I changed my name to begin with. Seeing it to such an extent, however, exposed a childhood wound. I've been working with it since. I left this training feeling disarmed and surprised. And so it went after each following training. 

We began every day with ceremony. By our last training together, we all took part in opening the energy of the space, in calling in the medicine we wanted to work with, in singing to the medicine, itself. It was all alive--the East, the West, the South, the North, the clay spirits, the shell spirits, the angels, and all the things we name demons, many of which are actually pains we aren't sure how to own, to integrate, or even notice. We took responsibility for those "demons". The demons, especially. Declaring, "I take responsibility for my shame, my self-rejection". We threw back a dose of tobacco tea via our nostrils to make the medicine go down, to raise our spirits. They rose, indeed. 

We closed our last circle this past Saturday with self initiations, lightly bathing one another (clothed) with flowers and herbs. It was like a baptism of sorts.

We recessed each day together with a potluck. This recipe shares one of the four dishes I brought. I didn't intend on making this. I was actually trying to make sushi with some old produce I needed to use from the fridge. I couldn't cut the rolls cleanly so I just turned it into a salad and said to everyone, "It's sushi salad!" Ha!

It's super, super easy and you'll probably be able to use a lot of what you've got in your fridge. That's what I did. Get creative and experiment with your ingredients. 

Red Quinoa and Rice Vinegar Nori Seaweed Salad| Daikon radish, avocado, white sweet potato, sunflower shoots

Ingredients

This recipe is one of those, "to taste/eye ball it" sort of recipes. I used:

-1.5 cups organic red quinoa, rinsed

-1 medium white sweet potato

-1 organic daikon radish

-1/2 organic avocado

-approx. 3 sheets nori, cut into medium-sized flakes

-approx. 1/3 cup rice vinegar

-a couple pinches of coconut palm sugar

*cucumbers are great in this as well!

Preparation

-Start boiling your rinsed quinoa

-Chop sweet potato, julienne. Boil until tender

-Chop up the rest of your produce, including the nori

-Once the quinoa and sweet potato is ready, mix together the rice vinegar and palm sugar in with the hot quinoa. Taste to make sure you like this ratio. Add more vinegar or sugar if you feel it's lacking.

-Throw in the nori, stir

-Add in your produce and mix well

-Serve and top with sprouts. I like to use sunflower shoots. 

I like to set this in the fridge for at least an hour and a half or so. I think the flavors come together better this way, but you're welcome to eat the salad as soon as it's finished. 

It's also delicious to add cream cheese if you're into that. I use Organic Valley. I also think pickled ginger and wasabi with a little shoyu sauce would be awesome, but you tell me!