Occupation: Ayurvedic Practitioner and Educator, Craniosacral/ Acupressure/ Plant Medicine Steward
Where does the name Blumhouse Wellness come from?
Blumhouse (bloom~house)represents the healing process. In my personal healing, I came upon this recognition of the importance of slowly peeling back the layers as I moved toward the core issue I was working with. I feel like this peeling back, or blooming process, is a lifetime journey that requires continued patience and respect for the process. Often times in our culture there’s a subconscious idea that there will be a magic bullet- that if we simply pop a pill, all of our problems will miraculously go away. In reality, healing takes a lot more willingness, patience and work than that. So through my process of healing, it became clear that there was a need to ‘allow’ the healing to unfold in its own space and time, like the idea of a flower blooming. With a flower, we can never make it bloom through force without destroying its essence in some way. Blooming is one of those phenomenal acts of nature, which needs to happen in its own time. The flower needs all the elements of nature to be intact for this phenomena to occur. It’s a very special balance of the elements, which also requires that the flower’s own unique, innate will be intact for the blooming to happen. The same goes for our health and wellbeing. The “House” part of the name is a direct reference to the body, with the body being the house that our soul lives in, the place where this energy of blooming is always unfolding.
You have a background in fashion and Ritual Theatre- do you feel your experience as an artist informs your work as a practitioner, and if so, how?
To be honest it was a real challenge on an emotional level to make the transition from artist to healer. I was very happy working as a costume designer for a decade, creating wild forms of expression to dance on stage through theater. During the process of making these costumes, I was guided by what at the time I called the “muse’, these benevolent elemental beings nudging me to make clothes for them. There was always this draw to work with the elements: earth, air, fire and water and how these elements could be expressed through design. So after making a collection of costumes, the next obvious course of action was to parade them on stage. However after my 3rd winter living in Bali, where I spent the majority of my time designing, my dear friend and roommate passed away in a very traumatic and violent way while we were living together. To live through something like what happened absolutely changed the course of my life, to the point where everything I was doing was in question. My friends’ death spiraled me down a road of soul searching, inviting me to look at myself in a way I had never done before. This period of searching pushed me into a space of having to love myself and life, beyond the capacity I thought was possible. For years I sat in ceremonies, working with medicine people, many of whom I now call my spirit family, as a way to come to terms with life and death and the grieving process around it. It was through the process of diving deep into my own terrain that I sought out the plant medicine world, yoga, meditation and ceremony. Eventually I stumbled upon Ayurveda. I sat in the back of the class, quietly checking out if this was for me or not, because I still had every intention of going back to my costumes and theater. That first day, I experienced shock and amazement to find myself in a classroom acknowledging the traditional science of the elements as a foundational understanding of wellbeing. I nearly fell off my chair. I literally pinched myself several times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The fascination for this traditional science pretty much hooked me right there on the spot. The magic of the elements that I shared through my costume work was coming back around in this entirely new way! Long story short, those benevolent elemental beings who whispered in my ear to dress them, who nudged me into the classroom that day, are still whispering, but now through the healing art of Ayurveda and the intelligence of the plant medicine kingdom.
What happens in your Ayurvedic consultations and treatments, and what do you love about what you do?
You know its funny, when I was transitioning from student to Practitioner, I had this idea of how I was going to approach my client, like I was supposed to remember a formula my teacher taught in class. However, time and time again that ‘formula’ would get thrown out the window within the first five minutes of the session. It became clear that it was about listening to the client instead of some technique I learned from a book. Don’t get me wrong, the training has given me an incredible tool belt, which I use often, however there’s a huge difference between the map and the terrain. All this training has given me access to a highly sophisticated map, however when you’re walking the terrain verses looking at a map, it’s a very different point of view. I allow the client to show me how to best serve them. It requires a very deep and subtle listening on how to best approach each person. However, what you can expect when you come for a session, is that I will read your pulse and assess what’s happening with your Doshas (Your constitution, either vata, pitta, or kapha, which describe what’s happening with your health internally on an elemental level) I always give my client the 101 on Ayurveda on the first visit, as giving education is paramount. Once I have a read, I’ll suggest herbal supplements, I’ll teach you how to work with culinary herbs, spices and food as medicine. The treatments are usually focused around working with clearing congestion from the lymphatic system and working with acupressure and craniosacrial to help keep the prana (energy) moving in a balanced, vital way in your body. Some of the tools I work with are essential oils, warm compresses, cupping and Guasha, which is a little wooden or jade tool that either helps move the lymph or breakdown scar tissue. Both the consultations and treatments are pretty comprehensive.
It is important to bring Ayurvedic Wisdom to the west because:
I see our western culture as a society of orphans, where we have found ourselves disassociated from our ancestors. We once were all linked to the rhythms of the Earth and it feels like we’re in a time when we are remembering our connection to her. If you go to any intact culture on the planet, you’ll find threads of similar themes in healing practices and mythology. These mythologies weren’t just bedtime stories we told our children. These stories held fundamental truths about life. It wasn’t about memorizing theories from a book. We as a species remember through story, whether we are seeking to remember how to make a medicinal decoction, the alchemical process for making essential oils, or how to cut open a deer after its been hunted. How well we do these practices now is the result of how well the stories were told. The wisdom keepers, or elders, were usually the ones who carried these stories, systems or maps. Unfortunately over the past 2000 years, the wisdom keepers along with the stories where taken from us in some form or other through really aggressive tactics, especially in European cultures and more recently Native American cultures. What’s so powerful about Ayurveda, the Vedas, Yoga and Mantra science, is that their tradition recorded these stories and systems in the form of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a language written specifically to express this ancient metaphysical knowledge, which they called the Vedas. Sanskrit wasn’t a language used for the common tongue. Essentially, all monistic cultures around the world carried similar, sometimes even identical stories as those contained in the Vedas. Ayurveda is one of the branches of the Vedas and is a huge gift to humanity. Aryuveda, along with Chinese medicine, are among the last ancient health traditions that are still relatively intact and accessible, and as such able to be kept alive for generations to come. Even now Ayurveda is under threat, not only because it is becoming bastardized through its use in health spas as a way to loose weight, (similarly to how yoga has become the new aerobics of the 21st century) but also because so many young people are moving away from their tradition and lineage, and moving instead toward western practices. One of the ways to shift this, seeing as all eyes are on the west anyways, is by helping to make it popular to uphold lineage work so that the youth can look at this, and take pride in their ancient culture again.
Tell us about your relationship with your Mentor Prashanti deJager? When did you meet, and what was it about his work that inspired you to want to join forces as you have?
Prashanti is brilliant! And he’s a dear brother of mine. We met well over a decade ago when his partner at the time bought one of the first wearable art pieces I made. We had a lot of the same friends, and he came around to the studio I lived and worked in, on the Sunshine Coast, where he commissioned a piece from an art collective I was working with at the time. I would see him around at events and music festivals. I always knew him as the Tulsi Tea Baba, as he’s one of the co-founders of Organic India. My friends called him Baba-ji, but I just assumed they called him that, the way some people referred to each other as Goddess or Priestess. Needless to say I took the term lightly. It was only after I started going to Ayurvedic School that my teacher made a few references to Prashanti in class and spoke of him with a lot of respect and reverence. That’s when I finally put two and two together that he was actually really adept in his field. He never talked about what he did, and he always maintained a humble, quiet attitude around his work. Honestly, I just didn’t know. As I started to become more involved in Ayurveda and going to school, we would bump into each other and have conversations here and there about it. He would always have words of encouragement and say how proud he was of me for moving in this direction. He knew me as a fashion designer, and saw how deeply involved I was in that world, so it was clear I was making a big transition in my life. Years later, after coming back from a 6 month study in India, I happened to be in Sebastopol for an Ayurvedic Symposium, which Prashanti was one of the guest speakers. It was during this class I realized how comprehensive his understanding for his craft actually was.
Recently Prashanti reached out to me after he saw a post I did on Facebook, which offered a free one-hour intro class to Ayurveda. In that conversation he expressed how he and his colleges have been talking a lot over the years about how important it is to start teaching the next generation of Ayurvedic teachers, and how important it is to start grooming them now. Right there, he offered me his mentorship. He basically made me an offer I couldn’t refuse! Prashanti’s whole approach is about seeing the bigger picture and not getting caught in the minutia. He’s already taught me in short period of time, how to approach life in much broader strokes and how this translates both into my practice and life.
Why are you excited to help Prashanti share about Epigenetic plants?
The Epigenetics class was actually my request for him to teach, so my excitement is already a pretty selfish one. This is the last of a series of three summer workshops we’ve been working on. The first one was on Adaptogenetic plant medicine, which was utterly mind blowing, and the second one, that just passed was on Antimicrobial plant allies, which was equally mind blowing. I’ve only been hearing whispers of Epigenetics recently and find it truly fascinating. It’s how our environment has the ability to restructure the cells and DNA in our body to deprogram hereditary diseases and program new ones. Depending on what confluence of factors we’re exposed to, this can be a good or bad thing. This terminology of Epigenetics is a relatively new concept to western science, only around 20 years old, however Ayurveda has known and worked with this concept for thousands of years. He’s going to be teaching us about what Epigenetics are and which plants have the capacity to restructure our cells from the imprint of hereditary diseases from our family line. This subject is still relatively new to me, however that’s precisely the reason I’m so excited about this class. It’s a rare opportunity to participate in these teachings from a master teacher.
You mention that Ayurveda is the science of the elements. Earth, Air, Ether, Fire and Water. This sounds a lot like Magic. We hear that word a lot these days, used to mean everything from pretty, to efficient, to unnatural. What does the word Magic mean to you, and do you think of Ayurveda as a house of Magic?
I love that. Seeing Ayurveda as a house of magic. So beautiful. My Navajo brother once told me, “what you call magic, I just call healing”. I find that to be such a true statement. What we see as magic is happening around us all the time, but it seems rare these days for us to stop long enough to observe the phenomena of life. Simply that we exist is miraculous. That the sun rises each morning without fail, that water has the capacity to carve into stone over a long period of time, the way a seemly inert seed has all the material and intelligence, not only to sprout, but become something as massive as a tree. To this day I’m blown away, that my body has the capacity to make a baby! So when we look at the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Ether, for some reason when we speak about these elements, people think of it as something that’s ‘New Age’. Let’s stop for a precious moment and take stock: if we had no water, life as we know it wouldn’t exist. If there was no air, life as we know it wouldn’t exist. If there were no earth, we wouldn’t be here. If the ray from the sun didn’t shine… well, you get the point. These are fundamental building blocks to life. Its not a concept that’s, “OUT THERE’, its right here, right now, all the time. So yeah, when you really drop into how these elements came together to work with each other in perfect balance- heck… yeah, that’s pretty damn magical! But it’s also extremely specific and very scientific. The way Ayurveda understands the elements and how there’s this incredibly sophisticated system that helps bring health and wellbeing into balance… It’s truly an amazing gift! So lets call it magic. I’m down with that! However it’s also a sacred science that’s been tried and tested to be true over thousands of years, which can’t be ignored.
I do like to say that a scientist is just a different kind of magician, employing different kinds of rituals in their quest for metaphysical knowledge ( knowledge as to the nature of reality) … Your current series of weekend workshops with Prashanti really caught our attention as offering an uncommon depth of wisdom and experience, and we’re excited to attend and connect deeper with the tradition. Can you speak about any of your other collaborations yet? What can we look forward to from Blumhouse Wellness in the coming year?
My dear friend Petecia Lefawnhawk and I are collaborating on an Ayurvedic medicinal tisane called Witches Brew. In my consultations with each client, I always write a recipe for them to make their own brew at home. It’s really so important for people to maintain a relationship with plants in their daily lives. It amazes me how quickly my friends and clients get well when they are interacting with the plants in this way. Part of what seeded Witches Brew was when Petecia and I were in Joshua tree and she got sick. We went to the health food store, where they have this massive wall of bulk herbs in jars. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I got to hand select exactly what we needed. We went back to the house and made the brew. Petecia was so impressed with the results that she looked at me straight and said, ‘We need to make this accessible to people- I’m serious, we need to start making this’. Petecia is an incredible artist and has a Midas touch with everything she interacts with. She’s done branding for companies for years, art directed music videos, sculpts, sings and plays guitar. Whenever we go on walks I’ll suddenly loose her to some beautiful smelling bush, where she’s already starting to harvest the flowers and leaves. She is a true force of nature with a very natural inclination towards plants and wild crafting. Between the two of us I know that we can be successful in bringing this product to a larger public. We are very excited to be able to make this medicine available, and to be growing Witches Brew as a sustainable and ethical company that supports famers who grow organic non-GMO herbs. Prashanti has really taught me that the true success of a business is that it has to authentically be a win/win situation for everyone involved. Prashanti and I will continue to offer workshops, while putting together an Ayurvedic curriculum that can grow into an accredited program. These collaborations offer so much potential, and I am curious and excited to see what will unfold!