This last fall we spent time with Sarah Headbird in northern Minnesota to learn more about native prophecy and the role that women play in healing both personal and collective traumas. She is an Anishanaabe spiritual leader from Cass Lake, Minnesota, and a former opioid addict who has found a path to recovery through ceremony and environmental activism.
We were blown away by the some of the wisdom she shared and are passing some of it along here. We were in a parked car talking when she began to open up about the way native women (really all women) are rising to the challenge we facing in trying to heal our current conflicts, and thereby the world -- this 'challenge' bridges both the personal to the communal and beyond -- so please excuse the humble backdrop. I suppose one never knows when and where the wisdom will come through!
Check out the video below and we've included the transcript for those of you who prefer to read along.
"Everything that I had was stripped from me, right down to my house, my home, my child, everything. I had nothing, but myself and the woods. I was completely brought down to ground zero humility, and for us, growing up in society, that's like, oh.. that's failure. That's ultimate failure.
But in a real ancestral times, I'm supposed to be out there. So for the first time in my whole entire life, 30 plus years old, I was doing what I was supposed to be doing as a child. What I'd been missing for 30 years, I was now doing.
It was like I identified with Mother Earth as my mother, and it was like I was no longer lost. I had lost the feeling of being lost, because I was like, "I'm home. She's here. She's here every minute of every second of every day, she's here for me," and I don't need to cry and be like, "I don't have a mom," because I do have a mom. I just need to acknowledge her. Everybody needs to acknowledge her, because none of us would be here if it wasn't for her. Yeah, we all had a mom that gave us life, but that mom wouldn't have been able to give us life if it wasn't for her sister.
It was like that simple reality is just being that simple, is what brought me back to my sobriety. It was just I never thought of drugs again. Every time I thought of ... If I did start to feel a little weak, depression, I would look into my son's eyes and remember why I was doing what I was doing, and then it was about him. It had nothing to do with me. I'm not here for me. I'm here for him as a mother, and the things that my responsibilities are here to be as other people, because we weren't put here to drink and drug. That's not what creator put us here for, and so it was like, "What I am here for?"
With my cancer issues, I always wanted to have multiple kids, and so I think that is kind of what happened to me was everybody turned into my kid. Everybody turned into my kid, and they came into that, "Well, I'm gonna be unconditional to all of you and help you as much as I can because that's what she showed me in my sobriety coming clean." She helped me. If she can help me, then she can help you.
It's not about having all this money and being able to go to fancy treatment centers. It's about learning to love ourselves. Once we can learn to love ourselves again, we don't need those drugs because that's ... We're full. We're full.
One of the teachings that I also received through The Condolence Gathering was that every child is born with certain amount of energies. When that child is born with those energies, that's like a fizzy bottle of pop. When all those carbons are going up and down and they're bouncing, our soul and our heart just is sitting on top of those bubbles. Well, when we're a baby, we have all those bubbles, but throughout our life, we're sexually abused, there goes some energies.
Somebody rapes us, those energies are taken. We have sex with somebody, we give those energies to that person. We have sex with another person, we give those energies to that person. Pretty soon, we're adults standing here, and we've given out all our energies without reclaiming any of our energies or not knowing that, unknowing what's going on, and pretty soon, we have all our energies out here in the world, spread all over the place, and they're bouncing around trying to come back inside of us, which is helping to push us down when we're trying to come back up, but we don't know how to bring those energies back inside of us, and in the meantime, our hearts are drinking and we're depressed because we don't have that inside of us anymore. How do we do that?
I prayed to the creator, "How do we do that? How do we reclaim our energies?"
It was through the water because we are water. Every single one of us starts as a drop of water. We are water, and so to reclaim those energies, in order to heal Mother Earth, we have to heal ourselves, and in order to heal ourselves, we have to heal Mother Earth. The women can do that because, as mothers, we're the ones that are the nurturers. When a baby is crying, when our husband is crying, when a nephew or sibling is hurt, we're the ones, the mothers. The women are the ones that go over and love and cuddle and hug them, and we internalize all of that, and then when we internalize all of that, when it comes to our womb times, we, as women, we are the only ones that have that gift inside of us, that we internalize all of those traumas. We're like the trees. The trees suck in all of the poisoned air, and they cycle that through their body, and then they give us fresh air to breathe [inaudible 00:05:42].
The women are just like that with the water and the traumas. We give somebody a hug and we take those traumas inside of us, and then when we have our moons, when we have our menstrual cycles, which have also been turned into something that's horrific ... They tell us women we're to be ashamed of them. You need to go to a room and be by yourself, and they make all these bad things out of having this when it's actually one of the most beautiful things in the world as a woman to have a menstrual cycle, because our teachings, our original teachings, which have been lost, is that when we are on our moon cycles, they fear us, and the reason that they fear us is because all of those traumas that we have taken in over the month are now distributing back into Mother Earth.
Our responsibilities as women was when we were on our moon times, we would go to the swamps and we would sit in the swamps, and that's where we would have our menstrual cycles. That's where we would have our moons, and our sisters and our grandmothers would come in and they would honor us, and they would pamper us and take care of us because we were going through that shedding process. All of those traumas that we carried, we were now shedding, and we were giving that to the swamp. We were giving that back to Mother Earth. By giving that back to Mother Earth, that was teaching Mother Earth our traumas and our sicknesses and that's how she was reading us. That's how she gets her information from us because we were sitting in the swamps and we were telling her about the cancers, about the sicknesses that we're all going through. That's how she knows.
The plants aren't going to know what they need to do for us if we're not telling them. When we were on our moons, that's when all of that would happen, and that's where all of our medicines come from is the swamp. That's that beautiful circle of life. When you give to her those traumas, we give her those traumas that we have, and she cycles it and gives us life, gives us medicines to heal those.
When I realized the beauty of being a woman and how blessed I really was, after being traumatized for so many years and now, to me, that's the most beautiful thing in the world, and it's really simple, and it's just really, really simple. It's not going to take us nine years of college to get there. We just have to teach each other how to re-love each other and love ourselves and love where we came from. It's just as simple as that."
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