By virtue of living in an era where the amount of information available to us seems endless, and given that knowledge is often shared a way that is disconnected from place, body, and source, I believe it is important to name the influences and lineages that have taught me so much.
In the words of Catelynn from A Tethered God, “Naming lineage is not only an honor — it is an ethical necessity.” In naming where my own perspectives and understandings come from, I acknowledge that my growth was made possible thanks to an immense number of causes and conditions.
Below you will find a list of people, places, and more that have influenced me. This list is ever-evolving, for I am always learning. I am sure I have forgotten to mention some things, so I pray for forgiveness on that front. I extend my gratitude to all those who have offered me their wisdom and helped me grow into the person I am.
(I have created thematic sections for ease of reference. Because many teachers straddle multiple categories, they might appear multiple times.)
- Art & creative visual practice: for information about the people who have influenced my visual creative practices (like paper cutting and collage, block printing, and more), please check out the various pages dedicated to my artwork.
- Astrology: as someone who began her college career as an astronomy + religion double major, I have always been fascinated by the ways the heavens have been mapped both scientifically and spiritually. Astrology is a natural meeting point for these interests of mine. I still have much to learn when it comes to this medium, but it feels important to name it here because it is influencing my life more and more. My primary teachers in the field of astrology include Chani Nicholas, Naike Swai, and Alice Sparkly Kat, all of whom infuse their understandings of the heavens with progressive, decolonial, and anti-oppressive frameworks.
- Body Connection, Embodiment & Somatic Wisdom: developing a deeper relationship to my body has been one of the most beautifully difficult tasks I have ever pursued. It goes hand in hand with my connection with spirit, land, psyche, and more. There are many teachers and guides I could name here, but I am particularly grateful for somatic coaching, Assana Rae Halder, Janelle Hardy, Lara Veleda Vesta, and Gabriela Gutierrez.
- Buddhism: somewhat unexpectedly, Zen Buddhism became my first “formal” spiritual home in my mid-twenties. I thank Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village community, namely Blue Cliff Monastery (which served as a home for me in my mid-twenties) for all they have offered me.
- Christianity: as a former candidate for pastoral ministry in the United Church of Christ, I have a deep love of God and Christ and many elements of mystical + contemplative Christianity. Some primary teachers in this realm have included Fr. Richard Rohr, Dr. Brandon Nappi, Rev. Dr. Julia Burkey, Rev. Jacqui Lewis, Rev. Amanda Hambrick-Ashcraft, Rev. Bertram Johnson, the Union Theological Seminary community, the United Church of Christ. I also consider many Christian mystics, especially Medieval women, to be my teachers, including Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, Hildegard of Bingen, and Teresa of Avila.
- Disability & Mental Health: as a disabled person who lives with severe and chronic mental illness (which often manifests into somatic symptoms), it has been deeply nourishing to learn from other disabled, mentally, and/or chronically ill folks. I particularly appreciate the work of Lara Veleda Vesta, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and her book Care Work, Mia Mingus, Alice Wong, Naomi Ortiz and her book Sustaining Spirit, my former professor Max Thornton, my former Union Theological Seminary classmates Allison Connelly and Bekah Anderson, and many others.
- Dreamwork: I believe dreams are keys to better understanding ourselves and envisioning new worlds (two key ingredients to dismantling old systems and crafting an existence that is worth living). I have long been fascinated with my dreams and tried to journal about them on many occasions throughout my life. It wasn’t until I read Toko-pa Turner‘s book, Belonging, that I truly resonated with a dream teacher. I then completed her online course, Dream Drops, and my life has been forever changed as a result. Flowing from that encounter, I learned of Ariella Daly‘s dreamwork and was blessed to take an in-depth course with her. I have also learned shamanic dreaming techniques from Gabriela Gutierrez, and am always seeking out new teachers who can help me bridge the waking and dream worlds.
- Earth Connection: as a child, I had a love for the earth and the many lands I encountered. Somewhere along the way, this sense of enchantment left me because capitalism kills our sense of connection and magic. To relearn how to connect with the spaces I inhabit has been both challenging and immensely healing. I especially wish to thank bronte velez, Weaving Earth (especially my Under the Auspices of Summer class members), Ayana Young of For the Wild podcast, Queer Nature, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Forest Whisperer, Marysia Miernowska, Assana Rae Halder, Sophie Strand, Joanna Macy, Asia Suler, Sabrina Scott‘s beautiful book Witchbody, and A Tethered God for the ways they’ve all helped me reconnect with plant, animal, mineral, and other forms of kin. I also thank the many lands I have called home and the beings that neighbor me for holding me in their embrace, including: the California Bay Area / Ohlone territory; Biarritz, France / Basque territory; Middletown, CT / Wangunk and Quinnipac territory; Washington, D.C. / Anacostan territory; Pine Bush, NY / Munsee Lenape territory; Hartford, CT / Tunxis and Poquonook territory; and Upper Manhatten / Munsee Lenape and Wappinger territory.
- Myths & Folklore: as part of my process of reenchanting my life, I have found it invaluable to read and connect with myth, foktales, fairytales, and other forms of magical storytelling. Related to these topics, I particularly wish to thank Clarissa Pinkola-Estes for her book Women Who Run with the Wolves, Toko-pa Turner for her book Beloning, Amber Magnolia Hill for the podcast Medicine Stories, Janelle Hardy for her blending of myth and writing and embodiment, Sharon Blackie for her writings on enchantment, Jessica Dore‘s weaving of tarot with mythical/magical stories, Sophie Strand’s essays, and many other folks too numerous to name.
- Politics & Social Justice: ever since a young age, I was interested in the political process and civic engagement initiatives, largely thanks to my parents’ encouragements that I pursue those passions. My first job out of college was to serve at Young People For, a Project of People For the American Way Foundation as a social justice educator and civic engagement mentor, but truthfully, I learned far more from my colleagues and mentees than they did from me. I believe in people power and stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, indigenous sovereignty and environmental justice efforts, immigrant-led movements, queer/trans/gender nonconforming liberation, disability justice initiatives, and many other liberatory efforts. I am deeply grateful for adrienne maree brown‘s work, as well as the work of countless black and indigenous movement builders. As a card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, I despise capitalism and love humanity. I know a better world is possible, and firmly believe that it is coming.
- Shamanism*: I believe the world we readily perceive with our conventional five senses is only a partial reality. I believe unseen worlds exist and are animated and inhabited by spirits. Familiarizing myself with shamanic frameworks and practices has been powerful, enchanting, and healing for me. I am particular indebted to my teachers Ariella Daly and Gabriela Gutierrez for their wisdom, as well as to Langston Kahn and Joan Halifax for their beautiful writings and commentaries. The show undone was also a beautiful commentary on the possible intersections between mental illness / neurodivergence and shamanism that helped further my interest in these topics. (*Note = the term “shamanism” is, in my view, an imperfect word to use when describing those who work with spirits in healing modalities. It originally only described a particular practice from indigenous communities in Siberia, but anthropologists then mapped the word onto many other practices across the globe. I do not know a better word to use, unfortunately, but this context felt important to name.)
- Spirituality: in addition to all of the traditions listed above and below, I wish to thank and uplift the ways 12 Step programs (namely, Al-Anon, but also All Addictions Anonymous, Adult Children of Alcoholics, and open Alcoholics Anonymous meetings) have powerfully influenced my spiritual journey. I also would be remiss to not mention the ways Sufi poets (namely, Hafiz and Rumi) helped me fall in love with God. I also thank John O’Donohue, Mirabaii Starr, Jan Richardson, my best friend Sarah Martin, and many others for their glorious offerings.
- Spiritual Care: as a spiritual care provider, I believe it is importnat to share who I learned spiritual care techniques from. My former pastor, the Rev. Dr. Julia Burkey, has been an exemplary role model and mentor for me in this area, especially while I served as a Deacon for First Church of Middletown, CT. The same goes for Rev. Bertram Johnson, who served as my supervisor while I was a Peer Chaplain at Union Theological Seminary, and Rev. Jose Collazo Jr., who supervised me for a semester of Clinical Pastoral Education while I was at Union Theological Seminary. My pastorcal care teachers, Dr. Eileen Campbell-Reed and Rev. Dr. Pamela Cooper-White, were also instrumental to me learning. I am currently learning the art of spiritual direction through Still Harbor and thank my teachers Marchaé Grair, Nathan O.A. Bakken, and Enrique Cintrón for their guidance. Additionally, I am trained in techniques of Nonviolent Communication training thanks to Peggy Smith. Lastly, I received training from Jessica Dore on how to offer trauma-informed tarot readings.
- Tarot: my primary teachers when it comes to tarot are the cards themselves — their images constantly inspire new insights in me (I have Pamela Colman Smith and many artists to thank for that). In addition to learning from the cards I build relationships with, I am a graduate of Jessica Dore‘s Tarot Skills class, which provides guidance on how to offer trauma-informed readings to clients. I am also a graduate of Rise Up! Good Witch‘s Tarot for Liberation class, which helps students understand the ways divination can help further collective liberation. I also admire and have learned much from Maria Minnis, Sophie Strand, Michelle Tea, Jessa Crispin, Jericho Mandybur, Cassandra Snow, and many others, either through their social media accounts, books, workshops, or other means of knowledge exchange.
- Witchcraft & Magic: witchcraft and magic were my first spiritual inclination, yet I eventually learned to think of it as nonsense. Now, I am slowly and joyfully reclaiming that spiritual yearning and lovingly identify as a witch. I consider many of the people I have already listed here as teachers of witchcraft, but because I am not sure whether or not all of them identify as such, I will simply name those whom I know for sure use that title: thank you, Lara Veleda Vesta and Marysia Miernowska!
- Writing: my biggest writing teachers were my parents thanks to the countless hours they spent editing my writing while I was in elementary, middle, and high school. I must also thank my academic teachers, namely my high school English teacher, Kate Goldberg, and my high school French teacher, Michel Schreiber. I have also be influenced by the countless authors I’ve read, who are too numerous to name, but I thank them all the same.
- Yoga & Yoga Nidra: I have practiced yoga since the age of fifteen and have found it helpful for both physical and spiritual nourishment. I am ever so slowly making my way through My Vinyasa Practice‘s online teacher training program, and am also a graduate of Tanis Fishman‘s School of Sankalpa Yoga Nidra training program. I am also influenced by Jana Roemer‘s AstroNidra offerings, the Iyengar lineage, and the Yoga with Adrienne community.