I recently received a reflection that I was culturally appropriating by using the phrase “Medicine Carrier” on my website. This made me pause and has unearthed a deep reflection within me around my identity, and how I have been portraying myself online.
I’m in the midst of this inquiry, where a lot of my answers are “I don’t know,” but if you’ve been following me lately you know that the topic of cultural appropriation and white privilege has been on my heart, and this situation has caused me to look even deeper within myself.
As I’ve been stripping away the layers I’ve realized something crucial.
I’ve been wearing a lot of masks.
I’ve been hiding behind a lineage, and terminology, that my ego felt made me more qualified and more credible.
Why was I doing this?
I haven’t felt that being me was enough.
I’ve been tying myself to ancient lineages that I felt gave me something to stand on, otherwise, who am I to share what I share? Who am I to speak about plant medicine? Who am I to introduce people to working with Cacao?
That phrase, ‘gave me something to stand on’ is a perfect metaphor for what I’ve been doing. I’ve been culturally appropriating. Specifically, the use of the phrase ‘Medicine Carrier’ is taking something from indigenous lineages and ‘standing on it’ to gain more followers, credibility, and income.
For this, I am sorry.
My experience with Cacao has been a journey to myself, within myself and by myself. I’ve sat in ceremonies led by Americans, and Peruvians, in Mexico & Peru, but I don’t carry a specific lineage. The lineage I carry is my own creation. I have been reminded of what humbleness feels like to let go of this layer of my identity.
I did not realize how sacred, and how much weight the phrase “Medicine Carrier” holds for those of indigenous roots. I see now that this phrase represents a blessing, and an honoring of a group of people that have 'carried' this medicine through the centuries. Ensuring it has a human guardian to protect it, and share it with integrity so that the medicine isn't misused. When I added it to my website, I didn’t put a lot of thought into it, beyond feeling that it was true for me in the moment and was a more simple way of describing my work of sharing cacao with people.
In this exploration I have tried justifying it by thinking things like: “we each carry a unique medicine, which is our essence” and “I’m half Mexican… my great grandmother was a Curendera… so this is OK.” Or, feeling so deeply connected to Cacao and the healing I’ve experienced, and the love that she’s brought into my life, that I decided she made me a carrier of her medicine herself. And, that may be true in the 5D & beyond realms where plants’ higher intelligences choose who they work with and how, but as I’m a human in this 3D realm where politics, white privilege and supremacy, patriarchy, and cultural appropriation are very real, sensitive, and important topics, I choose to no longer identify with a label that is so important to those of indigenous lineage.
Again, I’m sorry for the disrespect and pain I have caused.
What this means for my work, I’m not sure yet. I know that sharing my own story is important. This is something that I didn’t feel was that interesting, or relevant to the work that I’ve been doing.
I now realize my own story, and my own experiences are the most powerful medicine I have.
As an addendum to this post, I am compelled to share some definitions and thoughts around the use of the phrase ‘Medicine Carrier’ from friends of mine that work with cacao. For transparency, 2 are white American women, 1 is a Mexican woman, and 1 is an Argentinian woman. If you have indigenous roots and would like to share any perspectives around what this phrase means to you and your culture as a way to help educate and reclaim, I welcome that in the comments.
“Someone who has been trained in, sat with and received the lineage of a certain medicine and serves/transmits it to others.”
“I personally think it has been misused, and abused and violated. The Curanderos and Medicine Carriers I have met with integrity and true respect & knowledge don’t call themselves that, and just giggle when you ask them if they are one. And I have met a range from not-so-nice to shining, kindhearted powerful people who do call themselves that and I respect it. It just doesn’t resonate with me to do it for myself. I don’t think I would consider myself a medicine carrier because that would mean I carry cacao, and I feel Cacao carries US.”
“The indigenous carriers I’ve sat with never refer to themselves as such, yet others may describe them as that to help clarify their work and gifts in explaining themselves to others. The sweet giggle and humility of ‘carriers’ resonates with me - it makes me feel really really good to share in their presence.”
“I definitely feel very connected with Cacao as my main medicine. But personally I don’t feel like I am a medicine carrier. Cacao has allowed me to find my place in this world, my purpose, a reason for wanting to continually explore this human experience. For me she’s a partner, a tool, a support system. She carries me and we co-create in the evolution of the soul.”
I also feel it's important to highlight again the incredible work of Layla Saad and give gratitude for her continued education. She has helped me open my eyes, repeatedly.