“You have a fierce way of moving through the world that is both gentle and soft, full of fire,” are words I received from my amigx during my interview process for the Seed + Root + and Bloom Apprenticeship. It is with great excitement that I answer the call to be in community to work with plants that are grown here in Roxbury, MA and beyond, with black, indigenous and POC healers. In March 2018, I was accepted into the inaugural apprenticeship and will begin my journey in April.
I have found, even in my most mundane jobs, that I always bring a spark and sense of wonder to the spaces I work in. This has translated to the use of my interpersonal skills or vision to make a process or product better. Whether it was mixing a drink infused with lavender as a bartender in my early 20’s to pay to live in New York City while interning at the International Indigenous Women’s Forum, or seeing highly competitive Harvard faculty soften their gaze when I showed them compassion coupled with efficiency as a Faculty Assistant, I have seen my light reflected back me and received light from others. I have always enjoyed being around people who are committed to a purpose in service of their highest self and our collective wellbeing.
In 2016, I began my reiki study and now I am excited to begin my herbalist study. I continue to weave the ways I move in the world in dedication of social change and in appreciation for ancestral practices of this land and my lineage.
My ancestors and relatives have always worked with plant medicine, whether through a basil leaf, tea or salve, this memory remains in my DNA. In the United States, many immigrants and migrants are forced to leave their culture and land behind in the pursuit of opportunities or refuge. In Puerto Rico, I still have family that lives off of the land yet New York City and Boston are places that I call home where concrete dominates the landscape. Not having access to the land in Puerto Rico propelled me into learning more from my ancestors and exploring ways that I could connect to community and honor the Native American tribes who came before us and know best how to take care of the colonized land we live on.
It is a strange yet familiar feeling coming into collective community with people who have done the excruciating work to heal themselves and then share their practices with others. I am experiencing this in all areas of my life. I feel as though I have been praying to the many of connections I’ve made recently since my early years. If this sounds strange to you, imagine the dream an entrepreneur or young music artist who has envisioned success from a very young age. I am no different. Dreams are seeds that root, grow and bloom. If we do not howl, how can we find our pack? Emerging from a personal healing practice to the collective, a 1:1 role as an assistant to a consultant, has been groundbreaking and an endless source of wonder and joy.
I am deeply appreciative of the diverse village of professionals, healers, freedom fighters, and thinkers that I chose to surround myself with and have chosen me in their company. I appreciate those who have made the courageous leap to share their medicine and start their own businesses. Herbalism is another layer to my work. It is a way to consult with the Mother Earth and healing as an extension of strategy that so many of our ancestors utilized to migrate, find food, love and survive. Communications is also my medicine. Many guests on Café con Cass have described a sense of joy or relief after sharing their stories and being interviewed by me. Curriculum development is also medicine. Helping others achieve their goals, whether by launching a new website or trying a new tea blend, is a passion. They are all connected in the ways that I listen deeply and choose to navigate this world with deep respect for humanity and the Earth that holds us. Sustainability is important to me.
In my application I was asked to whom I would dedicate my herbalist practice and I wrote the following: Soy Cassandra, daughter of Borikén and el mar (the sea). I am mixed race and a descendent of courageous hearts. I dedicate my practice to mending my disrupted lineage and helping other mixed race women do the same. This requires a lot of work on shame and healing in sacred space. I am a survivor of many things. I am the descendant of many matriarchs who have been raped and the 7th generation to end the cycle of abuse. I am grief and I am joy. I am my ancestor’s wildest dream, becoming the ancestor that the future will call upon for strength and courage in a time of need.