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95. Stories of Collective Liberation Leadership Beyond Dominance, Psychedelic Expression, and Hope

Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast featuring real conversations with conscious objectors to the status quo.

I'm your host, Nicole. I tried to keep her hiding all strong hope. I tried to keep her quiet, but she's screaming outside of me. I tried to keep her hiding all shut up.

I tried to keep her quiet, but she's a wild, wild woman. On today's episode, we have a multi-sensory medicine maker and artsy fartsy rebel rouser, Naomi Grace, join us for a conversation all about imagining a new future of collective liberation. Together we talk about leaning into our intuition, stories of pan-African feminine leadership, and a world beyond hierarchy and extraction. This was such an incredible conversation with Naomi, and I really appreciated the questions that she invited all of us to ask of what are our values and how do we live into our values and how are our values affecting our community, and then how will this affect our community once we become ancestors. It's important to remember what Naomi said and that you don't have to be making art or speaking on a large platform to create real change in our society. Every person that you're interacting with, you are changing and they change you.

The ripples are strong. I just want to invite everyone to feel that because I think that sometimes it can feel like we live in a society that is so broken in many ways and it is. We don't discredit that, but also there's so much that we can do like Naomi said to change the narrative. The narrative is not over. We are still living it.

It is still unwritten. I also appreciated the openness with which Naomi talked about using sacred mushrooms to channel creativity, and I just want to share that that is equally something that I do in my own spiritual practices for myself of having time alone where I can be on a psychedelic medicine to explore my own creativity. This isn't stuff that I'm sharing out with the world or trying to sell on Etsy or anything like that. I can just get some paper out and scribble with some colors and sometimes I cut those into little bookmarks that I use in my reading.

It doesn't have to be something that fits into the capitalistic work mode of if I'm creating art has to be sellable. That is something that I've definitely struggled with myself. Using plant medicines and psychedelics can be a really powerful way to get into that flow state that Naomi talked about.

That's something that I definitely do for myself and have found a lot of healing in having that spiritual practice. I just appreciate the open discussion with which we are creating a new paradigm by being vulnerable to talk about these things. Naomi, thank you for setting an example of what that vulnerability looks like and for sharing all of your wisdom on the podcast today. I hope all of you are inspired by her work and the stories that we share during this conversation.

Y'all, tune in. My name is Naomi Grace. I live on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Slewa-tooth nations, colonially referred to as Vancouver. I am a multisensory artist and my tagline is Multisensory Medicine Maker and Artsy Fart See Robble Rouser. It was very difficult for me to understand to try to find a way to distill what it is that I do because I do many things that at one point in time seem to be disparate.

Over the past little bit, I have been really leading into the relationships between those separate, seemingly separate things. What it means to me to be a multisensory artist is I create art and tell stories that can be accessed through all of the senses. Somebody once described my work as being on the confluence, which I thought was quite apt. I saw the mediums that I employ would be visual arts, studio art, meaning painting, collage, sculpture, zero-proof cocktails, meaning alcohol-free cocktails, food and music and storytelling. Very. I mean, I'm sure we could talk about all of that and all the details of your process and how you even got into the space of being an artist that touches into all the different senses.

Yeah. How did you get into the process of creating our weirded all of this start from? What's your journey into this space? I don't really know how to answer that question when I started because I think all human beings are creators. That is essentially what makes us human. So to ask when did I start being creative?

I don't know. When I manifested on this realm of reality in human form, that's when I became a creative. To understand that that was to make it into a vocation, these things sort of evolved over time. I was born into a musical family. So I studied music from the time I was young and also that's what my post-secondary education is in. But I've always been expressive in a number of different mediums, including culinary. I remember when I was a kid, I really wanted an easy baked oven and I begged and I begged and I begged my mom and then she was like, well, why don't you just use the real oven? And I was like, oh, I didn't realize that was an option. I started taking out kids' cookbooks from the library. And yeah, that's always been, you know, by the time I was like 10 or 11, I was making full meals for the family and that's always been a creative outlet for me as well. Yeah. Yeah, I love that. You said all humans are creative and I think it also takes a special level of confidence to do that as a vocation.

Like you said in yourself, a lot of people aren't as confident in their ability to create or think that it's worthy of sharing with the world. You know? I disagree. I think everyone has something to share and agree with the world, but it takes a level of trust in yourself and your gifts. Well, I mean, it's also, that I think is a very cultural thing and those of us who live under colonialism and under, you know, César-Hedero, patriarchy, capitalism, whatever you want to call it, I usually just refer to it as the thing.

The thing, yeah. And those of us who live under the thing, our contributions, you know, we're conditioned to believe that our contributions need to be monetizable and that art and creativity, our art and creative expression don't have value because they are, it's not, it's not you know, except in certain circumstances, they're not easily monetizable, which is actually also not accurate. But, you know, many of us are told that, you know, there are artists and then there are regular people.

And there is somehow a separation between those two things. I think that people who just follow the call of that of artistry are people who are just more like in tune with that reality about themselves. But that doesn't mean that they are the only ones who have it, that everybody does have that creative spark.

I mean, taking ideas, you know, channeling ideas and, you know, bringing like manifesting them into the physical, that is what human beings do. And you can be creative in business. You can be creative in athletics. You can be creative in any kind of space that, you know, that calls you.

And creativity is not just relegated to people who are considered artists. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, thinking about even just like our own experiences, our own experiences in the world of all the different narratives that we tell ourselves of just our personal storyline, right? Like we're all creating narratives in our head of what we're doing, who we are. And in that process, I say that's creativity, right? And sometimes, at least for myself and my experiences with anxiety, I call that creativity maybe in the wrong direction, right? Like I'm being creative about all the bad things that can happen. And like, wow, what creativity in my brain to think of all these ideas, you know, like, and it can also be used in the positive way. And I think like everyone, whether you're even creating something tangible or not, like we're all creative in our heads and how we understand ourselves and like what you're saying, yes, of this capitalistic structure and the thing, all these other concepts under patriarchy.

It's so true. It's like, if I can't sell my thing, then I'm not really an artist, which is sad. And, you know, speaking of, you know, ideas and the limitations of ideas of who we are and the stories that we tell ourselves, the stories that we are also told about who we are will affect our perceptions of what we are capable of. So creativity also plays a role in the ways that we can reimagine those stories.

And the current series that I'm working on right now explores, there's a few different moving pieces. So it daylights stories of pan African feminine leadership. And it also looks at the relationship between human beings and plants and liberation movements. And it also looks at leadership as a role of stewardship and liberation rather than ownership and domination. If we look at a lot of the myths and the, uh, either cultural mythology that many of us live under, or are influenced by the idea of leadership is equal to violence.

If you just, you know, if you dissect Disney cartoons, for example, like, you know, or fairy tales, usually the person who is seen as the victor is the one who is the most violent, like the, you know, the prince goes off to slay the dragon or, you know, the bat, whoever wins the battle is the person who is, is the leader. And we can see that being played out in our, you know, in real time, in many, in many cases, and those who we have delegated or who we, who we've delegated to a leadership role under this paradigm or those who we celebrate as having a strong leadership qualities are people who, yeah, who dominate and who control, but that is not the only form of leadership that is effective. And there are lots and lots of examples currently, and also, you know, in, you know, in the past in history that don't get as much airtime, so to speak. But I think it's really important for us to look at those, at those stories as well, to help shape that collective consciousness to, so that we know that, okay, there is another way to be impactful and to be a leader and to, especially now that we're moving into a new age of consciousness, and I don't necessarily mean that in an esoteric way, I mean that is, you know, understanding of, yeah, as we, yeah, as we move into a new era of understanding our relationships to one another, especially over the past three years, I think that the light has been shone on the, the ineffectiveness of a lot of different kinds of leadership that, that we, that exists, that exists right now. And rather than having to reinvent the wheel or to try to come up, you know, create brand new ideas, part of the reason that I, that I'm, I'm working on this series is to show examples of effective leadership that we can look to and, and adopt.

And of course, you know, because we're, you know, this is a different, you know, a new, a new time, that might look a little bit different, but I think the essence of that will be, will be the same, that yeah, we don't have to look at leadership as being in defiance of what's currently happening, but rather just putting our focus on things that have, on leadership styles that have, that have always happened, but just haven't got as much, yeah, airtime. I hope that made, hope that made sense. It does, and it sounds like a whole area of avenue for us to chat about. Honestly, I'd love to hear before maybe getting into the stories of the past and how to bring them into the future. I'd be curious too, if you could talk about this new era of understanding relationships and our relationships with one another.

I'd love to hear what you're, you're seeing and envisioning for our future collectively. That's an excellent question. And all this just, all this is just my opinion and just my speculation. I am a no, like, you know, in no way an expert on any of this. These are just things that I've been thinking, thinking about. We can, I think that it's pretty clear that hierarchical systems are not sustainable to continue to extract and extract and extract. Eventually things are going to, you know, stuff is going to, going to run out. I think that sustainable leadership looks like those who have power and privilege, using that power and privilege to uplift those with less power and privilege to steward future ability to like, for us to collectively evolve, rather than to continue, yeah, to continue power hoarding. I'll just call it that power hoarding.

Yeah. So that, that includes human beings and non-human beings as well. That includes, you know, you know, mineral beings and includes plant beings includes fungi beings. It includes animal beings, bird beings, fish beings.

I mean, this is all beings that we all work together as, you know, we all work together as a collective unit. And I think that, you know, many indigenous cultures have stewarded this knowledge and this understanding and that knowledge and understanding has been, has been so, suppressed. So this, you know, what I'm saying is not like, I'm not saying anything revolutionary, I'm not saying anything new that hasn't been said before. There are people and cultures that have a deep understanding of this and I think that it's time to really lean into that knowledge and and their leadership, because those systems were effective for thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of years.

This new way of being this extractive hierarchical, this is a relatively new thing. And I think that the people who have stewarded the knowledge of how to how to live in a more balanced and reciprocal way. Those people are the ones that need to be guiding all of humanity at this time. Yeah, I like to think that maybe at least my thoughts are with the internet, right, and the ability for us to collect and come together in a new way that wasn't really possible in these paradigms in the past, right? So much of our connection to other humans was controlled by larger systems of power, you know, even thinking about things like a very novel point in our experiences as humans where we do have more power to communicate, share ideas, come together and work as a collective. So in terms of like shifting consciousness, I think we're seeing it happen in our current age with something so powerful like the internet to connect all of us and to give us a sense of power through the masses.

So yes, I feel this ripeness in terms of all of us and where we're going as a collective, hopefully right, like in the best world. I feel like that could be a double-edged sword though, because just as we have, you know, the people who have, you know, pure intentions that are distributing the information through this way, we also, there's also people who don't and who are working to manipulate information in order to push the agenda as well. I mean, that's always existed. Yeah, questions they always existed, but I mean, that's existed as long as mass media has existed.

Sure. So yeah, I think that they're, you know, we're also being called to be discerning. And yeah, just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's true. I hope that like, you know, let's make that clear.

You all agree with me. But one thing that, you know, during some, you know, since the shutdown at the beginning of 2020, I have been able to connect with people all across the planet that I wouldn't that I wouldn't have before lots of conferences have moved online. You know, discussion groups have, you know, come up online and I have been able to forge relationships with people with whom I have shared values and shared vision and we can exchange, you know, information exchange wisdom that we maybe weren't able to before. So I think that's kind of what you're, yeah, what you're referring to. Yeah.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, and you're so right on it being a double-edged sword. There's a lot of stuff going on that is also going in the exact opposite direction.

If there is a direction, but I like to think maybe there is in terms of like our collective healing, there are some people going in the radical other way, right? So I hear you on that. It is scary to think about that. And I also, I'm just holding on for some sort of hope in our light. I'm like, I need some sort of hope that we're going in the right direction. And I think that kind of what you're saying, yeah, the ability to have conferences, the ability for us to even have this conversation right now, right?

Like, it's so neat that we get to do this sort of thing and have this ability to come together. But you're totally right that it is something to be very critical of and conscious of that not everything that is out there is helpful and accurate, right? It's tricky. Yeah. I think that this is also moving us to really lean into our own internal compass and our own internal guides, our intuition rather than our brains, which sometimes can be really difficult to discern what's intuition and what is learned with thinking.

Yeah. So that's what's coming through here now of intuition and the internal compass. And yeah, if you have more to say on that, I'd be curious. I don't because well, maybe I do. I mean, it's something that I am that I am also also learning to get in touch with that aspect of that.

And to learn not to second guess myself and part of it is that like, you know, the ways that we have been conditioned, we've been conditioned to think in a certain way and in many cases have been told what to think very like binary right wrong, not really encouraged to challenge beliefs and ideas and also in a way be reliant on having morals and, you know, and our own sense of the judgment and values and stuff impose and that's, you know, like that's yeah, we've been taught to defer to some to institutions to lighter moral compass rather than rather than looking within. Mm hmm. Absolutely. Yeah, I hear you on that and that's something that I'm trying to work on too as well, right of trusting my intuition and trusting my gut.

I think what's been scary at least in my own journey is, you know, as someone who's experienced trauma as someone who has experienced anxiety, it's a question of is my gut able to be trusted right that's so scary when you've had patterns of thought that might be limiting beliefs, other sorts of things than trust your gut I think it can be really scary sometimes. Mm hmm. Yeah. I think that we also, you know, we're many of us are taught to really value the intellect over the over the emotional.

And that's again that's that's that's cultural and social. It doesn't mean that it can't be reprogrammed, but reprogramming is hard. It's not like you can just say, Okay, well, I'm going to live my life in a completely different way and then just decide that it then that's it. No, no, no, it's like it's a daily practice to be able to to be able to shift that. Yeah, yeah, one of my mentors use this really great analogy. She was talking about when people were moving west in the expansion just how like when people were doing that they had the wheels that would move across and over time it created these ruts in the land of so that other people who would come by would you know follow those paths, and it was so easy to like ride your wagon through that path and thinking about our thoughts in the same way right of when you have the same sort of thoughts and patterns like it does create these and we kind of know that from neuroscience right of things that fire consistently become more like our normal pattern and more used and maybe others. And so when you try to. to take a different path and try to pull that wagon out from under the rut onto a new path. It is really difficult.

That is not easy. I think that's part of why I think psychedelics and other sort of plant medicines that allow us to have altered states of consciousness where we're working on reconnecting and having neuroplasticity actually become really important in that conversation, right? Not that it's impossible to do that completely sober-minded, but I do think that if we have a tool that allows us to tap into that and maybe an easier capacity, it is an interesting thought in terms of future, in terms of mental health, of where we go with that. I agree with you. I think that it's also like a very complex conversation to be had because I'm concerned. I'm excited about the potential of psychedelics to be able to affect these kinds of things, but I'm also concerned about the ways that they're also being toted as a panacea, like this cure-all for, you know, like, oh, if you take this medicine that somehow it's going to, no, I mean, we're still, we can't transcend our humanness. We can't escape our humanness and engaging in relationships with these medicines can for sure shift our ways of thinking, but we still need to, it's the integration piece that is the most important. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, they are not a magic bullet in the slightest.

Like, they will not solve everything at all, not even close, right? Did I tell you I was doing ketamine assisted psychotherapy work? I don't know if we talked about that. Yeah, yeah.

Yeah, yeah. So currently I'm training right now where I do ketamine assisted psychotherapy work where I do integration with clients on it and like that's part of the whole process is that like, yeah, you don't just sit with the medicine and then walk out and expect that to be game over. Like this is a lot of integration of moving forward from the downloads or whatever you experience on that and how you move forward with that to integrate it into your life.

So integration is spot on. Yeah, this, it is not the panacea. I will say that with confidence. It is not the panacea. The panacea is community in my opinion, right? Mm hmm. And yeah, community and also willingness to be wrong. Oh, yeah. Yeah, the willingness, the willingness to be wrong, the willingness collectively to transform our ways of thinking.

Yes. And evolve our ways of thinking. Yeah, we're all just kind of trying the best we can.

I don't think that anybody really, really has, really has the answers. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah, yeah. I try to tell myself that all the time. It's not if I'm going to mess up, it's when, right?

When it happens. That is part of, like you said, we can't escape our humanness and we're all growing and learning. So the reality that you're going to mess up is 100 % a part of the process of being a beginner, of being a learner and someone who's continually expanding, right? And having, I think the compassion for yourself and the willingness to look at those moments too, right? Not to run from them, but to look at them in the face and to say, like, how do I go from here?

Where do I go from here? Mm hmm. Yeah. And this is like back to the, you know, back to the piece around story coming. I think this is like where part of where, where this can come in. And I think it's really important that we question and challenge the kinds of stories that are continually being told about who we are and who we're supposed to be. Human beings are incredibly multifaceted. And when you have a dominant culture that is controlling the narrative, then we're only really getting a small piece of the puzzle. And yeah, if we're being told the same stories over and over again about who we are, that is who, that is who we're, we're, we're going, we're going to be. I'm seeing more and more now, like in, you know, in sort of mainstream Hollywood, you kind of things, there are different facets of humanity that are being or different expressions of humanity, I guess I should say, that are being, that are being told through that, through that class of storytelling mass media, storytelling, however, it's still overwhelmingly like the folks who are controlling what, you know, who are just controlling who are deciding which stories are worthy of being told, which ones are not, which ones are marketable, which ones are not, which ones are going to make money, and which ones are not. Because that, it's still, it's still the same, it's many, like it's still the same people, the same cultural perspective. Yeah, so when we talk about things like diversity, I don't think it really, you know, it shouldn't be just like a visual like, okay, you know, we have a bunch of different colors represented, then therefore, we're good, like, you know, it really does need to be different kinds of life experiences as well, that can show us the multiplicity of the human experience to help us to grow and evolve. And the more that we can share our stories with one another, the better off we're gonna, we're, the better off we're gonna be, the more choices we have as to, you know, which, which paths we want to take and, you know, what, yeah.

Yeah, absolutely. Yes, the stories, and I think the stories that we see are so powerful, like you said, for kind of envisioning our lives, envisioning different narratives that we could play into, I think this is also where a lot of psychology's concepts of the archetypes of like these different type of, yeah, stories that have gone through the human collective, and then passed around, they're so powerful. And so what you're saying is so spot on, right, that so much of, at least the media is, is what like white heterosexual, monogamous, Christian or whatever, you know, sort of language, all of that. And that's not helpful to represent all of the types of the different diversity, you know, able bodied, all these sorts of things that we could talk about that are just portraying one type of existence that leaves out so many other people.

And when you're trying to look to your, to see stories of what you can be, and who you can become, and it's not modeled in the media, that affects you. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it affects the individual also, it also affects the collective. I mean, even like, you know, ideas of, of gender is the first thing that affects into mind that like, you know, gender being binary and men are like this and women are like this. And if you, you know, to be a real man, you need to exhibit this, you know, you know, these kinds of behaviors in order to be a real woman, you need to, you know, exhibit these kinds of behaviors and like, you know, that there's a power, there's a power difference between the two. And, you know, these kinds of things that they need to be, need to be dispelled. But mainly the idea that if you are successful, that, or if you are powerful, that power and success means success in having power over or yeah, so that, so yeah, through the art that I'm working on right now, I'm the stories that I'm I'm daylighting our stories of particularly women of the African diaspora, ancestors who have exhibited kinds of leadership that is based in collective liberation rather than power over.

Hell yes, hell yes. Could you tell me some of the stories if you'd be willing to share? Sure, so the exhibition that I will be showing in March, starting in March of 2023, focuses on three ancestors. One from the African continent, one from the Caribbean, and one from Turtle Island. Maybe I'll start talking about the person from Turtle Island, because this is actually one of my favorite stories to tell and relay. It's just such an amazing story that it's not a story that's commonly told or she's not somebody that is widely recognized, but so Biddy Mason, or Bridget Mason, people called her Biddy, she was born enslaved in the early 1800s, 1819 I believe, and she was a midwife. And slave midwives had a very distinct role, played a really distinct role in society at that time. First of all, they were usually, there was, in the United States, it was illegal to teach black people to read, except for the case of midwives, because they needed to know particular kinds of knowledge in order to be safe, because they not only delivered, so they were people who walked between two worlds.

They not only delivered the babies of other enslaved women, but they also delivered the babies of their enslavers. They walked between two worlds in the way that they were literally concierges between two realms of consciousness, bringing human life from, into between worlds. They also were herbalists, so they walked between the plant world and the human world, and they brought that kind of knowledge.

They also were double agents in the way that they, because they were in the house of their enslavers and also in the fields of the other people, the other enslaved folks, they were able to basically pass messages on. So Biddy, so during the, what something that was called the Great Migration, which is when Mormonism started to rise in the, take hold in the United States, people were moving out west and were creating colonies in places like Utah and Idaho and California. Her enslaver brought them out to Idaho and then to California. And at the time, while they were there, California became a free state, meaning that, that slavery, slavery was about, I'm using air quotes, people listening can't see, but I abolish, before abolition in the rest of the United States. And her enslaver said, Oh, Biddy, come back to Texas with me, where you'll be safe.

And, you know, we love you, your family. And she called his bluff and ended up taking him to court and winning. So she asserted her freedom, not only for herself, but for the other people who were enslaved by the sky. It was a bit more complicated than that. Because also, black people were not allowed to testify against white people in court.

So there was a very covert way that they had to go about it. But regardless, she ended up winning this court case. And at the time, sorry, this was shortly before the smallpox epidemic, because she was already well versed in, she was already knowledgeable in herbal medicine, as well as general health care. She became a registered nurse. She saved, I mean, like 150 lives during the smallpox epidemic.

And I know like, you know, it would seem like the story would come to a natural conclusion with her winning the court case, but it actually gets better as the story goes on. So she was very, very good with money. And she ended up investing in a small piece of property, which is one of the, which is now one of the highest value pieces of real estate in downtown LA. Her investment matured and matured and matured. I think she became something like the sixth wealthiest person in the United States at the time. And she, instead of, you know, she wasn't like a, like a musk or a bezos, where she's just like, you know, hoarding the wealth, that wealth that she accumulated, she would put back into the community. So she opened, she opened hospitals, she opened daycare centers, she opened the first AME church in LA.

Yeah, people call her Grandma Mason. She just kept giving and giving and giving, and the more she gave, the more her investment came back to her. So in one of the, one of the quotes that she's attributed to is, the open hand is blessed for it gives in abundance, even as it receives. And, you know, I think that when people have gone through horribly traumatic things in their lives, it's really, it's, you know, some of us are prone to kind of get stuck there, or to be resentful and allow that to be our guiding compass for how, you know, for how we live the rest of our lives. And the reason that I really wanted to highlight her and the story is that it just gives, it shows us that, that there is, there's an alternative.

She, you know, she was able to recognize her gifts and recognize her abilities and use those things to build up community around her. And, you know, the story is amazing. It's not one that's widely told. From what I understand, there is a, you know, there's a mural in LA that honors her. And it went, you know, in the past couple of years, it's been slated to be torn down and her descendants were campaigning to have it remain.

Yeah. Essentially, you know, she was one of the founders of LA, which is one of the, you know, major cities in the world. And I just, so these are the kinds of stories and these are, this is the kind of leadership that I think that really needs these kinds of stories that need to be told to help to shift our consciousness. So we understand what leadership can look like, other than what is, you know, what is being, you know, what is being sold to us as the way to lead.

Absolutely. And the other two women that I'm profiling in this, I won't go as, you know, in depth into their stories. One is Wangari Mthai. Wangari Mthai was the first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It was in the early 2000s that she won this. So this is, she passed away in 2011.

So this is quite recent. But she looked at the interdependence between economic oppression, gender oppression, and environmental degradation, and created systems of ecological conservation while building economic systems to benefit those who were at the, who had the least access. So she used her access to create systems of access for others. And because of her work, the Nobel committee could clearly see the relationship between environmental justice and peace.

And so that was why she was the first environmentalist to win this award. And then the third person is Queen Nanny of the Maroon. So I have kind of jokingly, well, jokingly, but sort of, you know, said that she's almost like, the Jamaican Harriet Tubman. So she was an Ashanti queen who came to Jamaica and refined help, the Maroons, who were a group of people who rose up against their enslavers and developed their own colonies.

She was their military leader and taught them how to work with the land to give them a military advantage over the colonizing British army. And she wasn't a Disney princess. She was an old woman. And she's always spoken about as an elder and somebody who was just really, really strategic, really powerful and deeply, deeply spiritual. And yeah, it taught people how to work with the land to be able to assert their own independence. So essentially under her leadership, they were able to, she was able to lead the army to, sorry, so that the British would sign treaties guaranteeing sovereignty over certain pieces of certain parts of land in Jamaica.

This was in the 1700s. Very powerful, very powerful. Yeah, yeah. And these are stories, are not ones that are widely told. I think that trying to rely on systems that are designed for control and oppression, if we rely on them to be able to tell us, there's no motivation for them to be able to tell us. So to sit and wait for that to be given to us is unrealistic, that we need to start talking to each other more, we need to start sharing our stories more. And we also need to be open to listening to these stories and to open to shifting the ways that we relate to the world around us. And I think that art is a very powerful vehicle for that kind of social change, which is why I'm choosing to, yeah, explore this through art practice and through multi-sensory art. So for every painting, so there is a 40, four foot by four foot portrait of each of these women, but there's also verbal storytelling and a piece of music and a food item and a drink. So it's hitting all of the different sensory avenues. And I think that people are gonna get out of it, what they choose to get out of it. If somebody's like, oh yeah, I just really like that, I really like that drink, then that's cool.

They got something out of it, and people are really inspired by the history and wanna learn more about the history of these women and profile, or I'm day-letting, then that's the way to look at that. People have senses that, everybody has like one or two senses that they primarily rely on to examine the world around them. And by creating art that's like, reliant on just one or two senses, it's excluding the participation of a number of other people. So yeah, it's very, I want it to be accessible, I guess for lack of a better word. Yes, exactly what you were saying too, about art being a vehicle for that change and to connect to these stories and be moved by them and to integrate them, right? I mean, that's a great way to do that when you have multiple ways for people to connect. If maybe, yeah, sight isn't one, then maybe touch is, or maybe taste is, right?

That's brilliant. And also, it doesn't matter where on the planet you are from or your ancestors are from, human beings all gather around food, fire, story and song. Those four elements are things that all of us gather around.

They're like four, not the only four, but they are four of the pillars of culture everywhere. And by expressing ideas by painting those things, that's what I'm really leaning into. So yes, these are women of the African diaspora.

However, you don't need to be black or a woman to be able to relate to this because I'm wanting to create art that really just speaks to the essence of who we are as human beings. Yeah. What is it that you'd wanna say through that? What is it that you are saying through that?

There are different ways that leadership can be expressed or leadership in this experience other than what we are being, what we're being sold. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yes.

I deliberately use the word sold. Yes. Yeah, yeah, that's what I think it's, yeah, that's, that's really what it is.

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Under a capitalistic patriarchal society. Yes.

Under something that's extractive. Yeah, and I think what you said earlier of the power over models, right? And creating a different paradigm that that would change our whole society if we could create a model of existence where the paradigm is not power over and these are beautiful, powerful examples of that sort of leadership. Mm-hmm, and as, you know, the questions that I'm moving people to ask of themselves are, I'm wanting people to lean into their own value systems and ask, you know, what are my values? How am I living my values?

How is my, how is my like bringing these values into action? How is it affecting my community? How is it affecting the world around me? And how will it continue to affect the world around me when I am an ancestor?

Mm-hmm. Because all of us, whether or not we fully believe it, we're all powerful. All of us are impacting something else outside of us. So having, you know, a conscious expression of power, I think is really, is really important as well. And I want people to think about that in themselves.

Even if it's just their own little corner of the world, right? Like, I don't think that you need to, you know, you don't need to be like profiled in, you know, profiled on the newspaper or, you know, like have like, you know, big social media following or like, you know, be, you know, win, you know, win at Nobel Prize or whatever to be impactful. There are many, many ways that we, you know, we're impactful. All of our actions affect what we perceive as the other, right? Because we're all connected. Yes.

Yes, absolutely. No one lives in a silo, not at all, right? We're all, when I think of chemistry, we're all in the same container, you know, we're all interacting with each other. And I think about that even on a small scale, right? When you're, at least I experienced this, walking through the world in the city and someone smiles at me, right? And the natural mirror neurons that we have, which then create a smile in myself, which then sends good, you know, feelings to my brain. And then I'm a little bit happier. And it's just interesting, even in that small little thing, right, of like smiling at someone, which then changes my mood. And maybe I smile at another person, like, and the way that that can kind of just ripple out, even in just a small thing, like walking on the street. Yeah, for sure.

For sure. And through this practice too, I mean, through the creation of these pieces, this is medicine for me. as I am learning more and more, and just, you know, a bit of a disclaimer, the stories, the ways that I just shared these stories are based on my own limited knowledge of the lives of these women. I'm learning more and more and more as I go along. Oh, so I also work with, I work with sacred mushrooms as I'm creating these pieces. These mushroom beings help to open me up to channel that creativity. So I'm essentially just showing up and allowing myself to be a catalyst for this energy that's moving through me, but also moving me to reflect on the impact of my own actions and how, as I'm creating these pieces, sometimes I'm laughing, sometimes I'm crying, it's a ability to, they're opening me up to have the energy move through me. So I'm not so much in my brain, but more in my heart space and allowing the pieces to develop intuitively. So I'm not trying to control what's happening so much that I'm allowing myself to get into flow state, I guess, as they say. And I sometimes, you know, when I start, I don't, I mean, the actual portrait, like the, you know, the piece of the faces, of course, I'm like, you know, trying to make it look like, like the, like the, like the, but the other aspects and the other elements of the piece are really just happening, stream of consciousness, they're happening intuitively, they're happening as these sacred beings, these sacred mushrooms are, you know, we're co-creating this.

Yeah, that sounds so beautiful. I can imagine, I mean, flow states are such powerful, to me, altered states of consciousness, right? Whether with the medicine or not, there's a lot of different ways we can get into flow states. And I think that that's a beautiful practice with your creativity to unlock it too. We know that it will amplify the emotions that we're experiencing and to be in flow with that and let yourself create, I mean, oh, it sounds beautiful. I'm really glad that you brought up that you don't need to engage, you don't need to work with, like medicine or substances to achieve that. There was many different ways to achieve that, but every time, you know, that is achieved. To me, what that means is that I'm connecting with my higher self or energy, you know, things, you know, beings outside of what I perceive as myself and as separate, that I'm entering this state of being a little bit closer to oneness. But yeah, there's lots of ways that we can access that, sometimes it can be accessed through listening to certain pieces of music, sometimes that can be, sometimes that can be accessed through sex, sometimes that can be accessed through quality time with people that we love, sometimes it can be accessed through movement.

Yeah, there's lots of different ways that this can be accessed. This is for me and in my practice, it's something that I have been practicing for a while and it's something that I trust and that's, you know, I'm also called to engage in. But yeah, it's not, doesn't necessarily need to be the way for everybody. Yeah, I have a relationship with these beings for a very long time and I entrust them implicitly and that's why, you know, they've called me to work with them and I called them to work with me and that's the relationship we have, but it's not the only way to access creativity.

Yeah, I totally hear you on that. All the things you mentioned, I'm like, yes, yes, these are all great ways to do it and the way that you do it is also very powerful and openness, right, to be more receptive and to get at, you know, to let your brain take a moment to like take a step back, right? So much of the intellect is always going and so to have this altered state of consciousness where you can be in more flow state, more receptive to the plant medicine that sounds like such a beautiful and meaningful practice to engage your creativity in. Yeah, kind of like getting out of your own way. It's something that at least I'm trying to work on myself. I still feel like just like a baby little seed in this practice of trying to like take off the intellect, which kind of like you mentioned earlier in this whole conversation of like how much the patriarchal, colonial understanding of wisdom has been so intellectual, so intellectual and there's so many other ways of knowledge and knowing and so I'm trying to work on that myself. Like how do we let go of the intellect to engage more in the felt sense, engage in the intuition, engage in the gut because that is not what we're like you said sold under this paradigm at all. Yeah, I don't think that letting go of the intellect is necessarily a good thing to do either. I think that integrating intellect into these other ways of being, because we are again, we're human beings and the intellect is a part of the human experience and our minds and our egos and our brains of looking for patterns and making predictions based on patterns.

That is there to keep our bodies alive. Just a matter of learning how to be I guess in a place where, yeah, it's not defining us and it's not defining our actions but it's integrated with the other aspects of our being fully integrated in order to live a more full human experience. Yes, yes, yes. I hear a lot of talk about transcending, like transcending the mind, transcending the, I heard somebody talk about rooting in to our humanity rather than trying to escape it. I'm paraphrasing, I really wish I could remember the exact, the exact terminology they use, but it really spoke to me because I think that, yeah, trying to escape, I try to escape ourselves as a losing battle. Yeah. Wherever you go, there you are, you know, that saying, yeah, yeah, yeah, right, right, right. Like a dog chasing its tail, like he's just like, you're gonna keep going in circles. Maybe a good way to think about it is non-hierarchical, right?

Like understanding that we have these different types of wisdom and not to put one or the other and to integrate all of them in what they can teach us. I like that caveat. Well, holding in a little bit of space here as we come closer to the end of our time, is there anything that's still lingering for you on your heart that you wanted to speak to today?

I'd like to hold some space. I'm really excited to be alive on this planet right now. I think that there's no denying that we are experiencing a major shift. And some of it is terrifying, not gonna lie. Some of it is absolutely terrifying.

But I also am experiencing a lot of hope. I think that, again, like, you know, being sold ideas of who we are and what the world is and this kind of thing. Like there's a lot of doom and gloom and like, you know, fear and this kind of thing, you know, is, you know, that's what makes headlines. But I also see beneath the surface, people coming together and creating new solutions to things.

And also, yeah, integrating ancient wisdom with new solutions. And the solar punk movement is something that really, really excites me. So solar punk is kind of the antidote to cyberpunk. So cyberpunk is a view of the future where technology is our evil overlords and we're fighting to keep our humanity. Whereas solar punk is this futuristic idea where technology helps us to work more closely with nature's rhythms and nature also being ourselves.

Because we are nature, we're not separate from that. And the thing I really like about it is that all of those things, like the kinds of technologies that are being exposed. Sorry, solar punk is a genre of speculative fiction.

I should probably have brought that up. But it's also become a bit of an aesthetic as well. We have the technology to do this now. This isn't like, it's not like we have to create something new that doesn't exist or that we have to imagine something different than what's already present now. All it just means is that we need to lean into what the gifts that we have at the moment to be able to make this a reality.

So that therein, for me, lies the hope. There is a book by an author named Starhawk called The Fifth Sacred Thing. And there was an artist named Amanda Perlstein who created a piece of art about that reflected this work of fiction. I got a print of it and it's in my kitchen. And I look at it every single day.

This is a reminder that, yeah, this world of greater harmony, not perfect, but greater harmony. And there are solutions that are already in existence. This is not something out of reach. We just have to get out of our own way.

Yes, yes, yes. And I really appreciate you sharing your time and energy here on the space with all the listeners to get out of our own way and to hear other stories and to imagine a new future and to create that new future together, that co-collaboration. Thank you so much for having me. I, yeah, I didn't really know where this conversation was going to go. But yeah, I'm really hoping that, yeah, people feel uplifted and hopeful and, yeah, because there is hope. It's not a, the story, the story has not yet been written. We are the co-authors of this human story. Absolutely, absolutely.

Let's take it in a positive direction. Totally. Yeah. Well, then the one last closing question that I ask everyone on the podcast is what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal?

Ooh, that's a good question. Woo! More normal.

What do you mean by more normal? I won't, I refuse to answer. But, but, um, so you can take that in any way you want.

Some people have outright been like, I refuse to comply with the understanding of normalcy, nothing is normal. That's the piece I'm getting. That's the exact piece that I'm getting stuck on, because like, what is normal? Somebody has defined what normal is and this idea of like normal as I understand it doesn't actually exist. I've never met another person who is normal. So maybe abnormality is normal. Diversity is normal. Like, you know, very, you know, that's, what's more normal? I don't know.

Hell yeah. Honestly, weirdness is more normal. Yeah, I don't know. I don't think I'm, I've never met a normal person in my life.

Have you? Yeah, that's a great point. Absolutely.

Yeah. I mean, I created a podcast about anarchy and I'm asking people a question and they're like, I refuse and I'm like, hell yeah, refuse away. Like, refuse away. There's a concept that I jokingly call norm, call norm court, like normal, like, but like, like hardcore, but norm court, which is like, when people's, you know, live out this prescribed, like, you need to, you know, graduate from high school at the age of 17 and then you need to, you know, go to university and then after university, you need to get married and then you have like, you know, 2.5 kids in a house in the suburbs with a golden retriever and then you like retire at a level of law and you, you know, you work your 9 to 5 job and the people who I know who strive for that are struggling to keep that up and they're not actually very happy. It's in the places where they like, they're just leaning into what they, you know, what they really want rather than what they think that they should be. Those are the people who I know are, are happiest.

So yeah, the people who in my experience who are striving to be, like, they are, they who are trying to live like in the norm court, they, yeah, I've never, I, I don't experience those people as happy. So yeah. Yeah. So leaning to your unique, freaky, whatever it is energy that brings you life because I promise you that that is where your joy and your vitality is going to be. Right. There is no norm for how to live in this existential void in my opinion. Right. So absolutely lean into whatever brings your life, your soul, that energy and that light and that vitality.

Yeah. And sometimes, you know, in some cases maybe going, you know, graduating at 17 and, you know, going to university and getting married and the 2.5 kids in the Golden Tree, maybe that is like, sincerely what it is that you need to be doing. Then yeah, lean into that, but lean into that because that's what brings you joy and not because that's what you think that you should be doing. Amen. Amen. Yes.

Yes. Oh, well, it's such a pleasure to co-create this space with you and to have this conversation and to learn about your art. Is there anywhere that you'd like to plug so that people can see your work and connect with you?

Yeah. So my website is My Instagram is Naomi.v .grace.

Send me an email, say hi, check out my stuff online. I'm doing a number of different projects. Some of the projects I'm doing are around food sovereignty and hydroponics.

I also work with herbal medicines and there's a number of different things to check out on the website. So yeah. Perfect.

Perfect. And I'll make sure I have all of those linked below so people can just click and connect directly with you. So yeah, thank you for sharing your time and energy with all of us. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much, Nicole. If you enjoy today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast. And if you're a part of the anarchist community, then follow us on Instagram or nominate a guest for the show by sending in a letter to Otherwise, I'll see you next week.


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