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  • Writer's pictureWendy Kaas

An Extended Introduction.

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

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Hi! I'd like to flesh out some of the history that is relevant to my existence here on earth.

An Ashkenazi Jew raised in the US, I was born on Matouwac Territory of Long Island, NY. My recent ancestors arrived from present-day Ukraine (as well as Amsterdam, though the western Europe connection is quite recent) via Ellis Island around 1900, fleeing Russian pogroms. Born in 1977, I was raised in a middle-class Jewish home, and as a child lost my father to the same affliction that killed his father at a young age-- sudden heart failure. The heart disease my father’s line endured, I believe, points to an emotional legacy of solidified pain and grief living in the ancestral body. I have come to pursue the work of grieving as a direct response to not only my loss as a child, but as an attempt to heal, move, and melt what we carry within us from our ancestral inheritance.

I honor those indigenous people who, despite intense cultural persecution and genocide, have chosen to share their teachings. Specifically I am indebted to the Huichol people of Tepoztlan (via Eliot Cowan and Deanna Jenne) for teaching me the ways of pursuing respectful relationship with the plants and the fire. I am incredibly indebted to the Dagara people of Burkina Faso, specifically Dr. Malidoma Some (as well as Sobonfu and many of the elders and villagers I have come to know in Burkina), who have taken action to help correct some deep illnesses and imbalances of this country through sharing their wisdom and rituals with us.

I honor my ancestors, who, despite enduring cultural victimization, somehow survived countless years of persecution with their stories and traditions intact. As Jew, I am born of a people that have been a target of monstrous oppression in the distant and not-so-distant past. As a white person raised in a country that is built on the oppression of darker-skinned people, I benefit from the privileges this system affords me. As a queer/cis ritual leader, I am indebted to the communities who are leading the way in dismantling these injustices, and continue to strive (and fumble) towards equity, balance and social justice.

I honor the traditions and people buried deep in the Rocky Mountain foothills I have called home for my adult life: Arapahoe, Ute, Cheyenne-- the vast majority of whom have been either displaced or erased from their ancestral homeland here in this region. Collectively honoring the native peoples of this land has thus far been painfully inadequate, as the oppression of indigenous peoples is ongoing. And how does one reconcile holding healing rituals from far-flung traditions on land whose native traditions were subject to expulsion? I continue to strive to be in relational integrity with the wounded earth here, knowing that we have a looong way to go towards reparations and reconciliation here on this land, and indeed this whole continent.

I want to especially honor some ancestral non-human allies who continue to assist me on my path and generally make the world more exciting to live in. I would be remiss if I didn't celebrate Yarrow, Calendula, Mugwort, Ponderosa Pine, Juniper, Poppy, Elephant, the Kontomble, Elf Owl, Blue Butterflies, Ladybug, Amethyst, Rose, Mitch and Akasha (2 very wise cats), and Grandfather Fire, to name just a few.

If you made it down this far, thanks so much for taking your time to be with me. Deep bow to you!

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