HEALING AT THE ROOTS by alexandra "ahlay" blakely
Alexandra "Ahlay" Blakely (she/her) Ashkenazi/Scandinavian lives on Coast Salish Land and benefits from the ongoing harms of colonization and the displacement of the Muckleshoot and Duwamish Peoples. Some local movements to support Indigenous sovereignty are Real Rent Duwamish, Protectors of the Salish Sea & Canoe Journey Herbalists to name a few.
HEALING AT THE ROOTS
Healing at the Roots is a portal into the amalgamation of trauma-informed communal grief work, politicized healing, community singing, reclaiming witch identities as ancestral pathways & re-enchanting white culture as abolitionist, anti-racist, anti-colonial and anti-oppressive practice.
Healing at the Roots is one of the ways I stay accountable to my ongoing commitment to breaking cycles of intergenerational trauma both caused and endured by my ancestors. While also recognizing the compounded harm we have yet to collectively acknowledge so we can begin to transform it.
I am a descendent of the uprooted and rootless ones and I am a commitment to re-rooting & re-sensitizing my people through culture building and re-viving my indigenous ancestor's cosmologies through re-membering what was meant to be forgotten.
ALEXANDRA (AHLAY) BLAKELY
What is the role of an elder in these times of collapse?
What does building/creating or remembering and re-integrating culture for people of European descent living on Turtle Island (USA) look like without reproducing patterns of colonization and cycles of harm?
How does resiliency exist in my body during collapse and how can I pass that onto my children (aka: the future ones)?
These are the questions guiding my life.
My ancestry is whole. It encompasses a range of witches, healers and earth based spiritualities and wether it is rooted in my direct lineage or not, I benefit from a legacy of colonization, slavery and genocide that I am responsible for dismantling along with my other kin of European descent. I am both the witch and the witch burner.
I am an Ashkenazi, Scandinavian - cis-woman, mother, using she/her pronouns and benefitting from white advantage. I am visibly able-bodied, hold a US passport, college educated and have housing and food security. My disabilities are hidden to the eye, (autoimmunity and CPTSD). I am a survivor of ongoing child sexual violence and domestic abuse.
I am a child of the most northern archipelagos of Norway, the Swedish Island People in the Baltic Sea, northern Finland, as well as Irish, Scottish and English. I descend from the Hebrew people, of emigrated Polish Jews becoming Brooklyn Jews becoming unassociated with any Jewishness at all as one of many forms of historical and diasporic resilience. I am grateful to my Ancestors who stayed Jewish, generation after generation, when it was not strategic or safe to do so. I am a descendant of survivors of the Pogroms, genocide of Jewish people and the gynocide of my great grandparent witches in medieval Europe. I am of the reindeer, whale, rain, rue and mycelium people. I come from priestesses, healers, activists and oracles, silversmiths, potters, alchemists and farmers. I am here to reclaim what my Ancestors withheld from me in order for my child and I to be here today.
Part of their strategy for my existence came in the form of giving up our animist (or spiritual) ways and trading them in for the social construct of whiteness with its very real benefits. Because of my white identity, I have more than often been able to choose at what times I unsettle myself and at what times I soothe myself. Because of my white advantage I am able to choose when I disengage with the struggles of my People of the Global Majority siblings and when I engage in them. I have the privilege of not fearing for my life (or my child’s) being targeted by the prison industrial complex and I have many more privileges because the system under which I live, white supremacy, says I deserve these things - while others do not.
I am also here reclaiming all of my ancestors, not just the bright and benevolent ones. ALL OF THEM. I am here to claim the wholeness of my lineage, the wholeness of myself. I am here to divest from the annihilation and purist energies that are so often in the collective field of our movements for liberation and life-affirming culture shifts. I can only be an expert of my own experience. I cannot expect others to know what I am not naming. As a descendent of rootless ones, of European descent, our indigeneity was annihilated and I refuse to further perpetuate this energy on my people for not knowing. I am here to contribute to the collective remembering... that which was meant to be forgotten.
Read my artist statement.
Read my grief lineage.
Read about what I belong to.
Image by: Julie Dillon
EDUCATION | TRAININGS
Somatic Attachment Therapy Certificate Program - The Embody Lab
Wheel of Consent - Katie Spataro & Corinne Diachuk
Sweet Darkness - Animas Valley Institute
Embodied Anti-Racist Intensive for White Bodies - Education for Racial Equity
Healing White Bodied Supremacy level II - generative somatics
Tending the Five Gates of Grief - Francis Weller
White Racial Justice Somatics level II - Dara Silverman | Amanda Ream
Healing White Bodied Supremacy - generative somatics
Foundations of Somatic Abolitionism - Resmaa Menakem & Carlin Quinn
On Solid Ground - Kohenet Priestess Institute | Keshira Fife
Grief Work Training - The Institute for the study of Birth, Breath & Death
Before We Were White - White Awake
The Burning Times Never Ended - Village Mystery School | Rain Crowe
The Work that Reconnects Facilitation Training - Mutima Imani | Constance Washburn | Molly Brown
Comparative History of Ideas Major [BA with honors] - University of Washington 2021 Graduate
Community Organizer & Leadership Team - 350 Seattle (Since 2018)
Social justice based community singing - Founder of The People’s Echo (Since 2019)
Grief to Action & Chronically Undertouched - Holistic Resistance (Since 2020)
One thing I notice the more I learn about myself, my family and collective whiteness is the tendency to be a-historical or a-nuanced when it comes to history. In my case, I keep asking, what all did my ancestors trade (i.e. their cultural practices and traditions, songs and dances, etc) in order to assimilate into white privilege, in order to be resilient, in order to survive? How quickly are these things forgotten through one generation, two, three? It has lead me to live a good portion of my life spiritually emaciated, deprived and deracinated of my ancestral roots, practices and animist ways of embodying belonging to Earth. And the result of this for me historically has often been appropriating cultures where I found spiritual food. As I walk my way back to my own wholeness through ancestral research and connection, I remember our inherent birthright to belonging.
The more I understand the wombs that birthed me, the seeds that swam for me to be here, the movements that gifted our generation more freedom, the long histories of mutual aid, the trees that we live in symbiosis with, the small role of our species in this vast ecosystem called Earth, the more I feel interwoven into life.
I would not be doing the work I am doing today without the lineages of blood and bone I rise from and also the anti-racist ancestors that I claim. I offer boughs of cedar to the lives and work of Cetaceans and Salmon, the Coast Salish People, the North Star, Abolitionists, Mycelium, Rock, Ocean, Rue, Witches and Curanderes, Femi, Sobonfu Somé, Resmaa Menakem, Prentis Hemphill, Susan Raffo, BJ Star, Aaron Johnson, Leticia Nieto, Angela Davis, Laurence Cole, Nala Walla, Joanna Macy, Rain Crowe, Dori Midnight, Wilhelm Reich, Francis Weller, Winona LaDuke, Alec Connon, Linda & Charlie Browne, Angel Ramos, Maria Cacho and Lisa Marcus among hundreds of others I haven't named here.
To read about the lineage of Grief Work I come from, click here.
Besides supporting the building of this grief sanctuary for African Heritage folks and People of the Global Majority over the years to come with Grief to Action, I have additional visions that I dream to leave behind for the future beings.
I dream of public spaces that are designated for collective ritual, grief and trauma, for atonement and reparations, for remembering and for leaving time capsules for the generations to come.
I also dream of building a grief sanctuary called Heartwood in Washington State, somewhere near Seattle that can house Grieving White Supremacy rituals, transformative justice circles, racial healing collectives and just about anything that has to do with grief, song, spells, embodiment and ritual. If you are interested in funding a project like this, please email me.