(Originally heard on Fare of the Free Child podcast)
In Yoruba tradition milestones in life are blessed with the taste of life ceremony. As a Priestess, my mother performed this ceremony countless times in my childhood, each time with slight variation. Ever the artist and storyteller, she spoke the words she sensed needed to be heard, an energetic call and response with the people and spirits present in the room. I watched her with wonder. Her gestures an incantation. Her words a prayer.
It always begins with Water. Wombs, waves, rivers. We begin this way to remind ourselves always that we are a mirror. We make ritual in the washing of hands, hair and bodies. Bathtub filled with rose water and lavender oil. You submerge yourself, becoming mermaid, shark, submarine. Water heals us, a daily dose of peppermint tea, ginger and turmeric tonics for winter flu. Water separates and connects. Drowns and baptizes. This world is so lush and evergreen. Succulent and divine. Resilient, and abundant. And, so are you. May you move like water, able to change shape and move through space, but always keeping the essence of who you are. May you heal and nourish all that you touch.
Now, Salt. Sweat, and wealth. I told you of the times as a child where I collected water from the ocean and tried to harvest salt. Jugs and bowls sat outside of home and after a few days the water was gone, but there was more sand than salt. Ever curious, you wonder why. Why does the salt in our glass jar have only salt and no sand? Why can’t we drink salt water if it comes out of us when we sweat? You lick the sweat off of your arm and smile. May your life be filled with richness and hard work. May you know the taste of sweat on your own brow, and know that from labor can come the greatest beauty of your imagination.
Pepper. We know of peppers. Jalapeño, cayenne, ghost, lemon. You choose the brightest ones at the farmers market and love the way they smell while simmering in coconut oil. I show you the steps to make jollof rice. These days will wear me down as they mold me into the mother I seek to have and become. The work of cultivating myself is the foundation for authentically showing up for anyone, especially while striving towards raising free people. Some days your tongue spits fire. May you know the power of your words. May you use them to tear down walls and build glorious staircases. May you have the strength to fight well, and the wisdom to do it prudently. There will be so many battles, my child.
Gin. May you remember to call your ancestors into battle with you. You will never be alone. Remember their names, and speak them aloud. Walk deep into the woods, dive beneath the tides and listen for them. Place a white candle and glass of water on your windowsill. Still, I want and NEED you to know that you belong only to yourself. You spirit is timeless. Not like a pearl necklace or an unassuming name. No, you are as timeless as heat, and thick lips and cornrow masterpieces. Do not be afraid of your Darkness.
Honey. Above all, love. In loving yourself you honor those who came before you. In loving yourself, you smooth the way for those who will follow. When standing alone in the woods of my mind, or in the midst of mundane chaos, my thoughts frayed like cloth remember: Take long baths, and walks. Speak your truth, and make dangerous art. Linger over delectable poetry and pie. Throw your head back and toss laughter into the air like confetti.
Here is the secret. These words are as much for me as they are for you. Walking alongside you is by far my greatest blessing. I strive to treat it as such. Conscious, peaceful, liberated mothering is an homage to my ancestors and my most sacred spiritual practice. I pray regularly to show you as much respect, patience and love as the Goddesses and my ancestors grant me. If I succeed, you may not need to be reminded of your unthinkable beauty. You will have lived in Freedom every day of your life, and know, without question, you my beautiful darling, are Everything.
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