On this Earth Day, here as a small offering is a poem I wrote in apprenticeship to the Earth and her craft and ways, The Witch on My Grandmother's Mountain.
Mama Earth, you astound me! You bewitch me. Your teachings never cease to remember me to life. May every path I walk be guided by your honoring.
The poem was first published in Wyrd & Wyse #4 (2018). Read or download it below.
I spoke to Chantal Noa Forbes about my doctoral research, covering topics such as decolonial and postcolonial frameworks in the context of South Asia, feminist spirituality, writing from the body and writing for the earth, multi-genres, relational modes of knowledge production, and being indigenous at the borderlands/as a transnational person.
You can listen to the podcast on Soundcloud.
My article, "Serpent, Earth, Healing, Initiation," appears in The Land Remembers Us: Women, Myth, Nature--Proceedings of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology Volume III, edited by Mary Jo Neitz and Sid Reger. More information about the volume, along with purchase links, can be found on the ASWM website here. You can also read/download the article at academia.edu, or download a PDF below.
This drawing by Rita Hillman beautifully depicts Nagadevi, who started me on this serpentine journey!
In short, the article proposes reconnecting with and decolonizing earth/snake energies as a way for the borderlands feminine to heal her pasts, presents, and futures. Serpents are our co-dwellers in an ecological real. Priestessing Nagadevi at a small temple in Bangalore and visiting a renowned serpent temple in Kerala presented me with two distinct models of relating with sacred serpent energies. I conjecture that the access to psychic borderlands once enjoyed by serpent priestesses is now controlled and patrolled by patriarchal authority. Still, serpents come from a part of us/the world that is wild and untamable. These ancient energies can be unlocked by transforming the trauma and stress stored in our bodies, spine, and nervous systems. Remantling the serpent liberates a new arc of the possible for the body, intimacy, and futurities. We shed old identities, agreements, and codes, and renew ourselves into wholeness. Neuroscience research has shown memory too to be serpentine—what and how we remember changes the possibilities for the future encoded in the past. Thus, feminists at the borderlands can use memory as a resource for liberation and for reconnection with the ancestresses. Being initiated by the serpent comes with the responsibility to change the movements of energy in our own lives.
The article weaves in multiple genres—including critical prose, personal reflection, and poetry—so as to make space for epistemologies from multiple centers of consciousness. Poetry—as ars mysteria—can open access to the layers that may otherwise be hidden to or subvert ordinary consciousness. A synergistic counterplay of genres allows for a non-assimilationist, border-crossing hermeneutics.