Did you know that fat was magic?

This is my current spell: I heal my body and remember, I am a child of earth and starry heaven. Telling my story sets me free. 

Living in a fat body is like having the body of a Goddess, where most people can’t see my divinity. Imagine that. Being immersed in the sacred, but not able to feel it. That sounds like isolation, like deprivation. Like a wound of not belonging. 

Freedom might look like naming hurt. Naming wounds I have not wanted to name. Surfacing what I have not wanted to surface. Pain recorded in the cells of my fat. Did you know that fat was magic? It’s called Myelination. Imagine that. Doesn’t it sound lustrous? Can you imagine this being held up as a thing of beauty and importance? Myelination. Or that is what scientists call it. The Ancient Ones Who Were Around Before The Trouble Began** might have called this beauty. But this is what our sick culture does. It holds up a mirror until we forget that we are magic, losing track of who we are. Lying to us with a thick painted smile on its face, telling us buy this, watch this, be this, don’t be this. This sickness replaces truth with illusion, much less integrous. And after so many generations of lying you can forget which way is up. Start to believe the lie yourself. That you are ugly, lazy, sick. That no one will want you. That you don’t deserve to be alive. That who you are is wrong. 

Here are some things we have forgotten. Of particular importance yet in no particular order. We are sacred. We are made of stars, of earth. And in the re-membering we are made of earth and star, what does that tell us about us? Diversity of skin, of gender, of size, of queerness, of transness, of neurotype, of language is gorgeous. And what is magic if not paradox. And who are we if not magic. 

The Salmon knows how to return. Ask the Elwha river, whose banks cried tears of grief and joy and homecoming when the dams were removed and the waterways could once again run wild and free. After being blocked from parts of the river for almost a century, Salmon began returning to these waters just months after this rewilding. Salmon are recolonizing the river.

The Wolf knows how to return. Ask the Deer of Yellowstone, whose wise nervous systems urged them toward the hills, away from the vulnerability of overgrazed meadow as 41 Wolves were released into the Yellowstone wilds. This rewilding almost 70 years after Wolves were driven to extinction in the region. This allowing for true ecosystem regeneration. Bare valleys becoming forests of Aspen and Cottonwood and Willow. The regenerating forest stabilizing the riverbanks, changing the river. Fish, Songbirds, Beavers, Muskrats, Coyotes, Rabbits, Mice, Eagles, Bears and more. All benefitting. A trophic cascade. Wolves are ecosystem engineers when given the space and freedom to be their truest selves. Imagine the brilliance we could be if given those same freedoms. 

Our bodies know how to heal. I know this to be true because not because I learned it somewhere, not because science or medicine tells me, but because the deep wisdom of my heart invites me over and over into healing. 

This is the edge of my healing: having surrounded myself with a beautiful intact community of beloveds who truly know and see me (safety/love/connection/belonging) and who accept me in my humanness (traumas/wounds/burdens/griefs) I have taken their hands and bravely (and fearfully) journeyed into the foothills of my own traumas. And, having entered the foothills, I have journeyed up the mountain, footsteps touching a terrain that has not before been tolerable to be with. This after coming from a loving (safety) human (burdened) family system whose protective system (underneath the protection there is always a hurt) taught me that the way to be OK was to not feel painful things. So the fact that I am crying as I write this is proof that we can heal.

And here is something else I have learned. Community trauma requires community healing. And because all trauma is at its core interpersonal, all traumas require community healing. And this we heal in relationship. This we heal in the field of love and care and belonging. And to speak of and for my experience in this beautiful fat body, as I am re-learning to feel, I am having to learn to be with the pain of the broken and traumatizing ways my body is experienced and seen and judged by others. And this feeling and being with, when surrounded in a circle of love, is what helps me to also feel for the lie. Implicit in our sick culture but not the truest version of who we can be. And because our souls know how to heal in relationship, and because I know as you are reading this that something is being touched in you, I know that healing–even the wounds of isolation and deprivation and not belonging–is there for us to reach for.

** This beautiful languaging I learned from Keath Silva, https://www.keathsilva.org, an ancestral lineage healing practitioner in training at https://ancestralmedicine.org. This language is inspired by his training at Ancestral Medicine.

The witchery and neuroscience of body based trauma healing

My beloved friend and teacher Nicole sent me this recent NY Times article on EMDR.  I’m what you would call a true EMDR devotee (I like to say ‘I have gone down the rabbit hole of EMDR and am not planning on coming back’) and I read this article with the typical enthusiasm of my Aries Sun/Enneagram 7 combo flare. 

I am deeply inspired by, and often reference, Michelle Casandra Johnson’s beautiful body of work around the dismantling of racism. She teaches and practices “We have to love ourselves into who we want to be. Love is part of accountability. I love people enough to ask them to change. Actionable love, the love connected to I believe in us.” So, as a white anti-racist liberationist, who loves and believes in us enough to ask us to change, I’d like to say out loud that this article should include pictures of BIPOC bodies healing. Of the 4 pictures featured in the article, all 4 are of folx who are white appearing. I want to say clearly, as a dismantling of racist culture and a mantling of what we are building, trauma recovery work (including, but not limited to EMDR) is for all of us and healing is our birthright. 

EMDR works by catalyzing our body’s innate wisdom and deep capacity for healing and transformation.  This is folk magic (meaning magic of the people; this belongs to us) that travels the riverbed of our bodies’ birthright capacity for healing and that taps into our deep embodied knowingness of how to heal. This NY Times article is speaking directly to the science of EMDR which, as a self-proclaimed EMDR devotee, is fascinating. However, science removed from magic (and awe) falls flat for me. 

This NY Times article explains, “the added component of bilateral stimulation theoretically anchors the patient in the current moment as they’re engaging with a trauma [memory]…The bilateral stimulation needs to be compelling enough to distract patients, but not so overwhelming that they totally focus on it.” While I somewhat agree with how this is framed, for me this description is missing the beauty and the magic of the transformation that becomes available to us during trauma reprocessing. 

In EMDR, we draw from the deep regulation of moving both sides of our bodies to help anchor us in the present. This is an anchor to the relational field of healing that creates the conditions for safety. The conditions for safety are the energetic container that allows our healing to shine through this work. Or we might instead choose to say this (this being what-is-created-between-us, between our bodies, hearts, nervous systems and souls) is where the magic happens.  As the relational neuroscientists say, “we heal when we have both enough stress and enough safety for change to happen.” And, as the witches say (yes, I am both), “what happens between the worlds changes all the worlds.”  EMDR  is both science and magic. 

While many EMDR therapists like to say we are working with one foot in the past, one foot in the present, I prefer to think of this work as building a bridge. Or, we might say, we are building a relationship. The parts of us that are burdened with trauma memories do not tend to understand they are in the present moment or that the past traumatic experience is not still happening. Our learned neuroception of the inner and outer world affirms this lack of safety to our nervous system and therefore our ecosystem body. However, when we are anchored in the present moment, supported by the deep regulation of movement, presence, attunement & the safety we receive when we experience true belonging, we can learn to be with the parts of us that are reliving past traumas and can deepen our capacity for presence with experiences that have otherwise been intolerable. As we build this capacity, we can bring a depth of healing and offer compassionate witnessing to these tender, wounded parts of ourselves. This is work we can’t access when we are fully reliving traumas or are fully blended with our most vulnerable, wounded parts. However, when we begin to access this from a place of love and care–which is possible and is the body of work we achieve within EMDR–we can bring healing to these wounds, releasing the negative beliefs we have (learned) about ourselves, replacing them with more whole and true beliefs about who we really are. And this, while science continues to try to explain it and sometimes comes closer to touching a piece of it, is absolute(ly) magic. 

And by the way, I am an EMDR CIT (Consultant in Training) and I offer both individual and group consultation for folx on their EMDR practice. Consultation with me is anchored in the rooted wisdom of trauma healing, anti-racism, intersectional ecofeminism, queer and trans/affirming culture, fat and body positivity, neurodivergent affirmation, relational repair and collectivist culture.  Right now, I have a monthly affinity consult group forming for trans/non-binary and queer folx, witches and fat babes. If you hold one or more of these beautiful identities & are interested in joining an affinity consultation group, reach out with your interest. 

hope comes

Feeling this in my bones today, letting this reverberate in the cracks.
folk magic from the Bengsons.

hope comes from the place where the hurt comes.

the part of you that is not alright. is also the part that loves the light.
the part of you that is suffering, is the part that calls in change.
and you don’t have to feel ashamed, there is nothing to forgive.
the part of you that is crying out is the part that wants to live.

hope comes from the place where the hurt comes.

when your world is burning down, getting hot is a sane reaction,
but one in need of action, because your spirit needs protection.
so gather up your sinew, and gather up your faction.
hey, hope is not a feeling. hope is an action.

hope comes from the place where the hurt comes.
we are not alright. we are not alright.

I’m gonna fall down on my knees. that’s an act of living.
I’m gonna say, will you help me please. that’s an act of living.
I’m gonna say I’m not alright. that’s an act of living.
I’m just trying to make it through this night. that’s an act of living.

hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes.