“The Healer is not Reactionary.
The Healer is Relational.
The Warrior is not Reactionary.
The Warrior is Relational.”
My reflections on the Sacred Survival Sisterhood that my Sister Jamie Yancovitz of Survival Arts envisioned, manifested and are investing in growing is becoming an essential part of my journey. When the Pinay Healer meets the Pinay Warrior they become mirrors to each other’s re-membering.
We met years ago, and immediately felt a connection because of our Womxnhood- Sisters who stood firmly as Matriarchal presence amongst the circle of men we trained with in Pekiti Tirsia Kali Pilipinx Fighting Arts. Sisterhood happens that instantly if our spirits open to it, and it was formed that day- but then both of us turned inward to do deep work of understanding self in relation to the world around us. As both of us slowly emerged back into a connected world with intention, after being challenged by our communities, our shadows and the ways Colonization through patriarchy showed up in our lives- we fortified and expanded, and I know our Ancestors brought us back together- to do Sacred Work in collective liberation.
In late January we dreamed up a circle of Womxn being held by our combined practices, of Sacred Survival. In connection to our Matrilineal AnSisters in their most ancient forms when the Healer and Warrior were one. We imagined a retreat that would invite our sisters to honor the indigenous and ancestral knowledge cultivation of and for Survival held by the Womxn. And to celebrate the rising of Womxn in the wake of the coming revolution.
Both Jamie and I hold very complex and rooted socio-political frameworks and social justice centered pedagogies in connection to our respective walks of ancestral remembrance. Jamie carries her bloodline and lineage in her Fighting Arts Training – it is a central part of her knowing of the ancestral. In tandem, I carry the gifts of my Ancestral line to connect to spirit in “mediumship” and ritual practice. And in all our work we always center in Liberation, and in service of creating a world that has dismantled and done away with the Colonial Powers of Patriarchy, White Supremacy and Capitalism. We know that to do our work, to share it in the diaspora and particularly in the Urban Diaspora, is to equip our sister comrades with the abilities to rise above and confront the violence, the harm, the degradation and the killing in protection of the sacred self and the family (central, global, planetary). Our union is meant to balance us- The Healer-Warrior and Warrior-Healer are the transcendent paths we are waking now together and this retreat was a ceremonial commencement to our commitment to one another’s growing alongside the commitment to the greater vision of growing Sisters everywhere, who will further grow their sister circles until we have created and fortified a spiral of Diasporic Healer-Warrior and Warrior-Healer Womxn ready for the coming revolution.
We began with setting intentions and speaking to the ancestors of the land we gathered upon with the Stewards of Wildseed acting as a bridge to ask permission to the original stewards (of Mohican and Lenape Decendants and also of the Animals, the Plants, the Waters) throughout time who had protected and held the land in communion.
And we laid down offerings for our circle and for our expanded circle to all the spirits and all the divine being we invited in to the space. I offered the teachings of Dambana building that came from my Grandmother in Ilokano tradition and from my elder Lagitan from Ifugao tradition. We allowed for a space for the living and one for the dead to be intentional about how we welcome ourselves and our ancestors into Circle. It was here in the Sun House that we gathered in ritual and ceremony and connected to the Ancestral with Love and worked on how to be in re-membrance in a good way.
Ready, and open, we began a 2 day journey that would link us all through ancestral lifetimes and connect us through time and space in purposeful, powerful rising in the creation of the world we will contribute in continuing.
Every meal was created through sisterhood and called upon the Soul Food of our Pilipix Heritage. This communion time nourished us body and spirit and every meal prep filled my heart with joy as our laughter and love also filled the food at every meal. Introducing our foods to our comrades not of the Philippines was beautiful and we spoke about the healing within our food and alterations made to make our meals vegan, and also less fried and sugar based.
The Survival Arts Work lead by Jamie, pushed us all to understand the need to strengthen and fortify the Womxn’s body. She asked us to see our very bodies as weapons, as the blades that would cut down and through the oppressors and allow us to rise fully as the protectors of the family. She shared her political teachings that echoed her teachers around the Matriarchal ways of being and rising. She shared this quote that I feel encompasses so much of what Survival Arts is fueled by:
“Patriarchy as a system of male dominance over women emerged some 5,000–6,000 years ago among certain tribes living in the central Asian steppes north of the Black Sea. . . . The Kurgan People were able to make warfare and conquest of other tribes and their territory the main source of their wealth. The secret . . . was not their superior intelligence or culture, or some kind of genetic superiority, but mainly more efficient means of transport, namely tamed horses and camels, and their more efficient means of destruction, namely bows and arrows and spears and other long distance weapons. . . . This monopoly over efficient means of destruction, however, changed not only the relationship between those tribes and other tribes, but also the relationship between humans and nature and also, in particular, the relationship between men and women. . . . It also changed the whole conceptualization about the originator of human life. Whereas before it was clear that women were the beginning. . . . of human life, this logic could now be turned upside down. A new logic could be created, namely that of “He who kills is.” . . . “He who kills is” has remained the core of all patriarchal logic until today. (Veronika Bennholdt- Thomsen and Maria Mies, The Subsistence Perspective—Beyond the Globalized Economy [Zed Books Ltd, 1999] pp. 32-33)
Her re-membrance work in relation with mine is tremendous.
I have walked readily on my path beginning as an Artist/Activist/Scholar that invites us to be in awareness and accountability to those we carry with us, that ask us to do work of connecting to an expanding belief in our abilities to be in communion with spirit (the ancestral, the forces that live in connection to our lives) and the divine (the greater powers and creators/goddesses/gods/dirties, that are beyond and greater than human understanding). I don’t take my sacred work lightly. I understand the care, consciousness, and compassion that I have to hold for myself and all that I relate to in the pursuit of remembering and reclaiming and creating life. The work is not as measurable or quantifiable as other teachings may be. The work that I am sharing in circle, that I invite all those who are called to be in presence with me, is meant to dismantle The colonized existence is that we have allowed ourselves to invest in. The work is a major shifting in our ways of life. And it invites us to look at the parts of our lives that are full of complexity and contradiction and asks us to discern honorability and use our agency and will in connection to our gifts to make change and to create a life that will hold us all to our responsibility to each other and the planet that we have been entrusted to be in communion with.
I invited Jamie and our sisters to speak with the spirits within and around them that live on through them- that connect them to their very real warriorship- that remind them of all who’s lives were lived and lost to allow them to arrive. We called in the fighters, the resistance leaders, the Womxn who stood firmly in their power, who protected our ancestral circles, who influenced revolutions in their beliefs, words, actions and ways of life. We called them in and acknowledged them with honorable purpose.
Together, Jamie and I rise. And invite sisters to circle in the Sacred Work of survival and gather together collective lessons to pass down intentionally to our lineages of families and communities.
On this trip we held 21 Womxn who all arrived with their gifts and their whole beings:
The Stewards of Wildseed (describe Wildseed) on Mohican and Lenape Territories-
Naima- our central organizer, a sacred creator who with all her vibrancy, fierce love and joyful power, held every part of our communion with such care and connectivity to the Sacred land we gathered upon.
Antonia- who’s gentle and poetic words and movements continually draw the lessons of Mama Earth, she is an embodiment of the very medicines she shares knowledge of- channeling the divine through the plants and trees.
Jasmine- a walking, breathing reflection of Love, who’s great sacred teacher arrived with her, her daughter Nirvana, whose energy and light filled every room she entered. Together, like water and fire dancing in Spiritual connection they energized our space with the Sacredness of the mother and daughter sisterhood relation, reminding us what our larger vision is- to raise our daughters to Survive beyond us in greater wellness.
Crystelle- Our sister with intuitive healing medicine flowing through her. Grounded and lifted all in one being, the power of her presence opened us all with joy and gratitude. With the warmth of the light in her smile that grew in the fire of her movements, our Sister taught us open self, to welcome Love in and to listen with the wholeness of our beings- to hold space with that deep listening, and to have our heart be in lead of that holding.
Cai- having recently birthed her first child into this world, arrived serendipitously as an extension of the Soul Fire Farm Family who circled in retreat just before us. She stayed answering a calling and in her presence reflected the strength of the Womxn’s body, in its transformations as creators of this living and how the shifts of our womb awaken new entryways for re-membering.
Then we’re the sisters who arrived from different walks across the North East of Turtle Island to explore, excavate and rise to their Warriorship and Healership in honor of their ancestors who survived and died so they could live:
Vanessa- my best friend, my sister, who is also closing up her second trimester of pregnancy, came full force with her lessons of the Womxn’s body being able. The Womxn’s body in its work of creating being able to move, to be vigilant, to be in strength and not helplessness. And also she spoke to us of our descendants, and ancestors being nurtured in their childhoods- aging us reflect on how we grow, who gives to our growing, what surrounds and lifts our lives.
Trisha- held her sister circle that she has been building with in her heart and mind throughout. She spoke the truths of “Walang Hiya” to her, in connection to breaking down the shame of being a Womxn- bred from the violations and violence of patriarchy and capitalism- and how the very things that force womxn into oppression and exploit us- also shames us. She paid homage to all the trafficked, harmed and exploited Womxn, and all the ways we have to fight to honor them.
Evert- with an eagerness to do the deep re- membering work that would shake her. Evert opened herself and let her ancestors gather around her. She looked head on at the work physically, mentally and emotionally and pushed herself to be in communion, though hesitant at the thought of the work she brought courage and commitment to every moment we engaged in sacred work.
Lisa- brought her tenderness, her open heart-in vulnerability- she arrived and shared her spirit with us. She confronted her western colonial ancestors, intermixed with her Pilipinx ancestral honoring. She pushed into that space with intention to heal- inspiring that in all of us- co fronting where the Colonizer lives in the Colonized. Her heart was felt, in its fullness and it’s aching, and the work guided her in bringing all of herself to the table to be strengthen and to survive.
Jillian- Focused. Committed. Jillian arrived as a gentle Warrior,a warrior who came to take in all her lessons. She was very connected to her physical vessel and showed us how to bring our bodies to aligning with the mint and spirit. Movement was her lesson- little words needed for how she allowed her body to be in loving Union with her intentions.
Candice- our sister whose smile and humor taught us all the power of levity. Our smiling sister warrior who even through the tirednesses and soreness pressed on, and let laughter lift her with strength. And also her laughter was grown, was wise, invited us to sit and be in communion with her- and just as her laughter is generous, so is her spirit.
Chelsea- a Sister, showing up with trust in one of her closest sisterhoods (roommates with Candice), to expand and grow sisterhood further. Her presence was warm and familiar, and as she opened we experienced the lessons of that warmth and openness that reminds you of home, that feels like your aunties and mamas embracing you.
Mayra- each time I’ve been blessed to be in presence with this sister, she carries the honoring of spirit in a good way. This moment was another one of experiencing her relation to the spiritual, being held with tenderness and care, with questioning and openness. Her unfolding, of her heart in vulnerability was so powerful, and the work she arrived to for her healing, carrying her deep prayers in the form of reflections and questions was so beautiful.
Natalia- our fierce sister, with the spirit of a revolutionary in every movement she makes. Leadership in sisterhood feels like deep care and urgency in encouragements to be moved. Moments with Natalia felt always like she was staying ready, visioning forward movements fueled and fired up- and all with Love. Lessons of the way Womxn encourage and support movements with tenacity and fervor lives through Natalia and we felt it deeply.
Joanne- our youthful elder, self proclaimed and sisterhood communally affirmed “Solar Being.” She carries the energy and life giving, warming, light bearing qualities of the Sun at her core. What a blessing it was to have Manang Joanna teach us to be present, and thankful in every moment. Her gratitude and wonder were reminders all weekend to dance and relish in JOY.
Jay- our stealthy sister, who listens and feels and sees deeply and purposefully. She teaches us pause, and steadiness and how to be present in the whole of our experiences and to take good care of every exchange- and that when that care is true, we open hearts, expand minds and shift spirits. Her humility and sincerity are profound Teachers we were humbled to be in communion with.
Josephine- Arrived with her inquiry, her questioning of self and of the world around her. Open to the learning, listening with all of her attention and focus, body, mind and spirit- she taught us what it is to be invested in expanding and learning. To be in communion with Josephine is to be heard, is to be invited to wonder, is to be willing to grow together.
Danielle- A sister who feels like sister to all, her openness and willingness to give with such grace was beautiful. Her arrival to our circle was with deep intention to expand in her connections of self to all others was in the spirit of Kapwa. Danielle who walks with centering and growing purpose, and in any engagement with her you can feel the energy that propels her on her life’s journey. The learning of that embodiment flows through every exchange with her.
Kristian- Bright, brilliant, beaming- the joy that is Kristian uplifts a room with her presence. To be in communion with her is to laugh, is to cry, is to be balanced and open to emotion and the feeling of life in its fullest. Our sister with the jolts of energy and laughter and love that she brings to circle, teaches us to feel Alive. She lives constantly in a melody, a song in her step that draws you in to joy.
Triz- like her Turmeric blend tea she offered to our circle, her presence was nourishing and gentle in the way she filled us with her presence. Her tenderness was where her lessons were rooted, her Love is where her presence was centered. She taught us the power of gentleness and stillness and what can be grown of power from those places.
Kai Kai- Sister walked with a bandana around her head calling to the Justice for our Lumad brothers and sisters, and in connection to the taking of the land. Her presence called us to remember resistance, and to connect our rising with those of the Motherland. Kai Kai’s fierce energy welcomed her ancestors to teach lessons of always being ready, and standing tall in our places in the revolution.
Every sister brings their lessons to circle. Every sister brings the questions to expand us. Every sister reminds us of our expansiveness. Every sister is a mirror of parts of ourselves waiting to be acknowledged, understood, learned from and Loved. Every sister that circled made us more whole than when we came. Our gathering changed all of us, transformed us forever.
Jamie and I are making a commitment to each other and to all of the circles that spiral through out collective teaching. And we know that our partnership is powerful and will transform the world. We do our work, in tandem because we understand and honor that together we surface Source in continuation of preserving and connecting to our true liberation. We visioned and manifested. And we are only beginning.
We are teaching each other to rise in the fullness of our most ancient selves, where the Healer and Warrior are one in every Womxn with the duty to Protect the Family- to serve life with honor and liberation. We are teaching one another to be whole again and it’s more powerful than can be explained. It can only be witnessed and experienced. As our lessons begin to echo through this existence we invite our Sisters to circle in communion- to Return to Matriarchal existence that is not Womxn taking over and adopting the power and force of this Patriarchal, Capitalist and White Supremest world, but creating a radical one like our AnSister creators did, one that ever evolves and expands for our collective Survival and re-memberance of our selves.
Connect to our movement- in the Name of Sacred Survival Sisterhood- we rise, together.