Ayana Young, Laughing with the Trees.

2 years ago, I found myself desperate for something I couldn’t put my finger on. I have had this feeling my entire life, off and on, that I was missing something really important. I experienced it as intense loneliness, deep grief, and an inescapable feeling of isolation and disconnection. I know that I am not the only one who feels this at times.

I found myself bumping up against these questions:

What fucking matters?

Is there some sort of spiritual path I should be following?

Where did I come from? Who are my people? Where is my homeland?

How do we make right that as a culture, we are so destructive and un-appreciative of this land that holds us? 

How do we fight for the earth that we love so deeply that sustains us and allows us to survive?

Where do we begin to cultivate the strength to look the crisis of of this earth straight in the eye without losing all hope? 

How can I raise my kids in this world with truth and reverence and an understanding of the fragility of our future lives on this changing planet?

Big Questions.

I was being called towards activism, and to the earth, and to some sort of spiritual experience, and I had no idea where to begin.

From the depths of the Russian Taiga, deep in the Boreal forests of the northern woods, a seed was planted long ago. Generations and migrations later, this seed showed up in full bloom, in the form of Ayana Young.

Have you ever been around someone who speaks profound truth in a simple, straightforward way so much that they catch you off guard and make you question what took you so long to see the light? That is what Ayana has been for me. In metaphor, meeting her and following her Earth Action work has been a light at the end of a dark existential tunnel.

Today, I want to honor Ayana Young as being a light and a bridge for so many of us from our own hearts back into the land from which we came. She is the facilitator of a beautiful space where the origin stories of earth love are contained. She is a mother of the wild, a mother of girl dogs, and a laugher with the trees.

Ayana is the creator of For The Wild ( formerly Unlearn and Rewind ) where she hosts podcasts which feature front lines earth activists, indigenous leaders, healers, authors, and politicians and engages them in conversations from the heart on issues related to radical earth renewal.

These conversations take us from the trees, to the oceans, to ancestry, spirituality,  politics, indigenous wisdom, anti-oppression, colonialism and de-colonization, the magic of mycelium, wild horses, psychology, death, birth, renewal, despair, and deep into the roots of the earth and the love that brings us to want to protect her. Activism rooted deeply in love, activism which deeply inspires.

Through these conversations, we learn that to act as stewards and protectors of the planet, we have to be able to understand all of nature as ‘being’, existing in more than just a physical form but in soul and in relationship to all other beings.

Within these relationships, there is a beautiful opportunity to live in reciprocity, give and take. There is an opportunity to lean in to the feelings of kinship we may feel with the natural world. To reconnect and find soul and earth healing medicine in these simple, beautiful connections. And to let them inspire us to act in protection and support of the earth from a place of deep love.

Through Ayana Young and the conversations on For The Wild, many of those questions of existential despair have been answered for me.

I am reminded that any path that leads us from our hearts into the land that we walk and all of it’s creatures is a path worth following. This path leads us to a deeper place within ourselves, and within the web that connects us all. This path leads us to live with more regard and in deeper reciprocity with our natural world. This path leads us away from loneliness and despair and it inspires a sort of activism that grows from a place of love, the sort of love that is needed to be able to keep pushing forward and finding solutions.

Ayana’s work reminds us that every act of love to the earth we walk is activism, and every minute we spend nurturing our own heart connections with the land is healing for both parties. Laughing with the trees, crying with the snails, praying, watering, nourishing and building relationships with the wild.

That is my love letter of the day. I had the pleasure of visiting with Ayana last week when she came through town. We had a lovely afternoon, chatted and laughed and then we visited some of my favorite trees and adorned them with flowers.

We talked about her upcoming Sisters Bonded in Action Webinar series with Spirit Weavers which feature women in activism speaking on the topics of:

Power, Oppression and Intersectionality featuring Barbara Jefferson

Decolonizing and Reclaiming Indignity featuring Jade Begay and Lyla June

Dismantling Systemic White Supremecy featuring Mollie Crittenden & Rain Crowe

Exerting and Expanding our Rights featuring Yasmin Christopher

Direct Action from the Grass Roots featuring Malia Hulleman

and Keeping Sane and Active amid Mass Psychosis featuring Joanna Macy

I highly suggest signing up for this series.

I got to braid Ayana’s hair, finally;) and also give her a little trim and some rose oil. Her braids brought out her inner Taiga Teenager, reminiscent of the Old Country and the sweetness of youth (her last name is Young, after all) I tried my best to encourage her to get deeper into self-care, something that can be hard for those who throw their hearts so deeply into their work. We truly cannot pour from an empty vessel. 

I fell in love with her sweet dog daughter, and she got to meet my human daughters. She left me with a full heart, a shit ton of hope, and 2 half-gallons of strawberry kefir from the farmer up the road from her land in the woods of Northern California.

xo.

 

 

Braids: The Way to Freedom

Photos Camilo Alzate González / Rodrigo Grajéales via Altair Magazine

I want to share this incredible braid story and important piece of history, passed to me from my dear friend Sarah Rotterman.

San Basilio de Palenque is the first village freed from slavery in the Americas.  Deep in the jungle it’s located in Bolivar, a northern department in the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

The way to freedom for these slaves was woven in a very particular manner: On their hair, through braids.

The braids were a way of communication between women. As they were not so monitored, they could sneak along the paths and spy on their masters. They could see the landscape, rivers, mountains and the stationed troops of the Spanish army. They wove in their hair what they saw and created maps illustrating the traveled paths.Photo Jose Alberto Mojico

In this way the slaves, led by Benkos Biohó, planned the escape, armed with what would be a compass of hair.

In their tangled hair, women also hid small pieces of gold and seeds that they could later grow in their free villages. This way they guaranteed future food security for the community.

The braids had two points: the starting one that indicated the way out and the other one was the escape route.

Photos Camilo Alzate González / Rodrigo Grajéales via Altair Magazine

They’ve been giving names to the hairstyles ever since, some of them are:

“Separate braids” that symbolize the freedom, those that are separated from each other.

“Balay” or “The Edge” is the braid that was used to twist the edges of the baskets for cleaning rice, corn and other grains.

“Puerca Paria” or “Farrow Sow” – The meaning is fertility,  both on the ground and in the belly of a woman.

Photos Camilo Alzate González / Rodrigo Grajéales via Altair Magazine

“The Mesh” indicated that an escape was already planned.

“The hearts” was the sign of respect and love of the woman to her beloved who was absent and the comb was a song of waiting for his return.

The braids for the Palenqueras have been a symbol of resistance, union, freedom and reaffirmation of their origin.

Photo Cristina de la Concha. IG @cristinadelaconcha

Deepest thank you to Sarah Rotterman who compiled and translated this story :

Sources:

http://blogs.elespectador.com/actualidad/cattagena/palenque-y-la-eterna-resistencia

http://www.eltiempo.com/archivo/documento/CMS-10180608

Free Your Hair.

xo, HTHG

 

 

 

Radical Love and Braids.

I firmly believe that love is the most radical act there is. As I braided these 3 friends hair together, I reflected love and hearts:

We are all weaving this web together. Threads of love are the strongest.

With love we can honor our own experiences and hold space for the experiences of others, moving forward as individuals who are indivisibly linked together by this land and this moment in time.

Planting seeds and tending plants is a radical and simple expression of love. 

Flowers want to be picked because it helps them multiply and spread their seed. This is revolutionary for those of us who are flower pickers and live with guilt and shame over it. Thankful for friends who remind us of these simple truths.

It is time for those who know how to speak to learn listen with open hearts, and those who know how to listen to learn to speak with open hearts.

Happy Valentines Day.

Love, HTHG

 

 

 

Finger Painting Haircolor: Rainbow Locs

Hey babes. The next 3 weeks will feature a different finger-painted hair creation every week. This came about because I wanted to challenge myself by letting myself do what I always want to do but has felt like breaking the rules…….Losing the tools that sometimes feel like they disrupt the flow between hands and hair and the process/creation of art. So I went all in with my hands.

Meet TT. She is a fellow hair artist, who specializes in Dread Coloring and Curl Cutting at Vain in Seattle. Please read up on her and her hair here.…..

She came to see me, having been feeling in a rut with her own natural locs…….They have been growing for 2 years and she is stuck between wanting to shave her head and grow her locs out.

Naturally, my remedy for this hair conundrum is to bust out some color and go all out. Stuck in hair, Stuck in life. Also because Winter is a lovely time to brighten up.

She sat in my chair with most of her dreads already dark green from a previous color, some dreads natural, and several in the front were bleached and ready for me to paint on.

Her roots were her natural, sparkly salt-and pepper.

I began by applying a dark blue veggie dye (Manic Panic) to her roots, and pulling through a bit farther into some of the dreads. Then, I refreshed her green roots with a brighter green, and added some yellow to brighten up the ends. I did a few random purple ones just for fun.

I applied the color with my fingers, rolling it into each dread. It was a full on finger-painting hair job.

Once I got to the bleached out dreads in the front, I applied the color in a rainbow to each one, blessing it with the entire spectrum of unified color.

After 20 minutes of processing, we rinsed her hair out in the sink. The colors ran together, making a beautiful rich brown.

The, she let me braid her crown up. We giggled and chatted about our kids and life. Twas a wonderful time.

True hair love sees all color and texture. I would like to manifest some more natural textured woman of all colors in my hair chair. Just putting it out there.

 

xo, HTHG

 

Welcome to the Free Your Hair Parlor

Hi Babes! Today I want to give a special thanks to my friends Flor and Zinn at Wired and Stoned for shooting and producing this little video.

They came over and we had a lovely chat about hair and business and creativity and Instagram, among other things! I got to play with Flor’s hair, which was a real dream. I feel like they really captured my little creative space with truth and captivity.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to speak a bit, although my own voice makes me cringe, on things so close to my heart…… And then get to share it with you all!

Check out Wired and Stoned Youtube for lot’s of great DIY’s for Dreads and the Makings of Adornment.

Enjoy, xo, HTHG/ Roxie Jane Hunt

 

 

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