Charlotte: “I still struggle with the term ‘healer.’ We’re all babies on our paths. I’m definitely a baby on my path. I feel like I’ve been holding space for people my whole life. In high school, I was known as the person who would take you into nature and give you an experience if you had never smoked cannabis and wanted to give it a try.
I come from a family that has a really strong relationship with nature. My dad is a Rastafarian and my mom is a horticulturist. From the time I was born, I was surrounded by the idea that we are interconnected with nature.
My first plant medicine experience was at the age of 14 when I started smoking cannabis. It made it possible for me to cope with life at times. There were many nights in high school when my mom went out with friends and I’d smoke by myself and actually be able to relax. Cannabis taught me that it was possible to love being alone with myself."
Charlotte: "I experienced a lot of drug and substance-related trauma in my teens and twenties. I wasn’t educated about the healing qualities of plant medicines so I mixed everything together with alcohol and other drugs, in excess. The negative impacts of all of that experimenting sent me through a very rough patch for a number of years. Through my healing process, I became intrigued with the healing qualities of ancestral plant medicines. About that time I heard about a black man holding medicine ceremonies in Baltimore. Undrea is a BIPOC healer so that allowed me to open up because it was important for me to feel represented as I focused on healing from past trauma.
Through my work in the plant medicine space, I’ve learned not to fixate on my past pain. I don’t see the value in participating in the trauma olympics. That’s typically all ego-related. Right now I’m focused on healing. Period.”
Undrea: “I was around 40 years old and about to be a father when I had my first experience with cannabis. I was one of those guys who said no to drugs and got high on life; very straight-laced. I had meditated since the age of 13 and had several black belts from different martial art forms. I always wanted to be enlightened, but it just wasn’t happening for me. I worked about 80 hours a week and I was focused on money, money, money. I was miserable and angry with very alpha-male energy. My two dogs were pit bulls and I’d do a background check on you before you’d come into my house. I held a lot of negative energy."
Undrea: “Shortly after that initial experience with cannabis, I entered a transitional phase of my life. I went to Oakland University to learn as much as I could about cannabis. I became a cannabis advocate and returned to Maryland to play a big role in passing the Maryland Medical Cannabis Bill.
The Father’s Day after I got back to Maryland, with my partner and my mother present, I tried another plant medicine, mushrooms. I was in a hammock at my house, laughing the whole time. It was as if the hardened layers of my former self were shedding away. The positive attributes of these medicines were becoming clearer to me. I wanted to learn more."
Undrea: "A week later, I did my first Ayahuasca ceremony (a ceremony using a psychoactive beverage containing dimethyltryptamine that is prepared especially from the bark of a woody vine [Banisteriopsis caapi of the family Malpighiaceae] and the leaves of a shrubby plant [Psychotria viridis of the family Rubiaceae] of South America.) Initially, it was the worst experience because my ego was huge. I decided that I wasn’t going to purge (a means of purifying and healing a polluted mind and body of afflictive psychic entities, substances, past experiences, and states of being) because I predetermined that purging was for the weak people. In my mind, I thought that I really didn't need to be there because nothing was wrong with me. I was there because I wanted to become more enlightened. After about four hours of fighting my purge, I was so exhausted that I just laid my head on the mat and told myself that I was ready to die. I started crying. I couldn’t take it anymore. And then I heard this lady on the other side of the room purge and I sent a prayer to her saying ‘everything is going to be okay, sister’ and that changed everything for me. That empathy all of the sudden opened me. For the next four hours, I was questioning everything about myself and who I thought I was. It was super intense and amazing. I had a complete rebirth experience. I left that first experience and knew that this was my path. The next month I was in Peru educating myself further, cleaning myself up. It took me a good 11 years of practicing and holding space for people who are in their most vulnerable states. Only in the last two years have I gotten comfortable with people calling me shaman or healer. Ultimately though, I consider myself a bridge to another’s gateway. I would not be the father, the man, the human that I am if it was not for these medicines.”
Undrea: “Frequently, in the psychedelic space, there's a lot of individualist commentary. You often hear things like, ‘I did psychedelics and realized that everything is interconnected.’ But then what? The questions we should be asking ourselves surrounding these experiences are:
How do I transform myself? How do I heal myself so that I can contribute to our collective liberation? What is my responsibility and role in that collective liberation?
When hunter-gatherers did any of these plant medicine practices, it wasn't for fun. It was specifically to improve themselves as human beings and ultimately to be active participants in the tribe. Being a participant didn’t mean solely within the tribe itself, but also the rocks between us and everything else we were connected to.”
Undrea: “I think it's important for all of us to stay vigilant through times of rough transition. We also have to be patient with ourselves and recognize that we can't do everything. Working with these medicines can help you come back to your true self so that you can show up as your best self in the world, which deliberately contributes to and grows your capacity for caring about others.
When you get to a place of transcending your trauma, you realize how privileged you are to know that this opportunity exists.”