November 19, 2020
Hi Shop Good babes,
This month we’re talking all about the many ways we can boost ourselves, both in body and mind. Whether it be what you’re putting on your skin, or in your body, we’re here to provide you with the most practical tips in supporting you this month. Recently, we had the joy of connecting with a Los Angeles local known for her incredible skills within the practices of herbalism, kitchen alchemy, and ceremonialism. She’s a true gem and has so much to offer us — can’t wait for you to all dive into her interview!
Featuring Sasha Emoniee for November’s Good Talks feature.
SG: Tell us a little about who you are + your journey to becoming an herbalist, kitchen alchemist, ceremonialist. Can you define what each of those mean to you?
SASHA: I am an artist and a seeker of knowledge at my very core. My artistic mediums are healing and food. So herbalism, alchemy, and ceremony are very intertwined for me. Retrospectively, I can see that I’ve always had the spirit of an herbalist. My journey to herbalism has been parallel with my journey of accepting myself as an artist, a kitchen alchemist, and a wise woman. These were all things that I have always been but I needed to acknowledge them as fact for myself before I could fully embody them and tap into my own power.
My parents have always referred to the things I would make in my youth as my “potions”, I was always rummaging through the kitchen looking for ingredients to make my own beauty or hair products, mixing up different teas, and cooking even from a young age. So before I understood what herbalism was I was already concocting “potions”, backed up with real research I was doing myself with books and internet resources so when herbalism was introduced to me in my yoga teacher training, I went full speed ahead gathering any book I could find on herbalism, local and wild edibles, different lineages of traditional healing, and then took any courses I could find on herbalism. Right now, Im a few months into an herbalism apprenticeship after about 4 years of herbalism certifications and self study.
Kitchen alchemy is a term I use to convey intuitive cooking as a true art, I’m a kitchen witch and all of my greatest experiments are food. When I was a child, my mom had that “Better Homes” Cookbook that I think every household in the western world has and I would try to find the most obscure recipes that I, growing up in Northern California, had never heard of and would cook them repeatedly to familiarize myself with them. It was a lot of exploration and the recipes did not always come out well but it helped me build my foundational knowledge of cooking, baking, and understanding flavors. By the time I was in high school, I was bringing classmates homemade cakes, cookies, truffles, pies, anything that I had felt inspired to make that week. It was then I really understood the connective power of food. I was able to offer this moment of joy and connection in a place where I didn’t feel very connected to. Now I cook every day, develop recipes, and offer healing foods to my friends every opportunity I get. Offering nourishment is such a beautiful way to love your people.
When I began to take food and healing seriously, I realized that everything can be ritual and everything can be ceremonial when we place our presence and intention there. There is this narrative that ceremony has to be elaborate and that you have to be someone “important” or “professional” to live in ceremony and it’s just not true. Small ceremonies are just as supportive and nourishing as the larger ceremonies in my life. My daily tea is a ceremony, preparing a meal is ceremony, setting up my space to work is a ceremony, the same way that creating an altar and going through an extensive full moon ritual is a ceremony. Ceremony is allowing everything to be an act of intention, an act of celebration, and of reverence.
SG: What has inspired your journey towards peaceful living through reclamation?
SASHA: Reclaiming the space that I take up in the world, reclaiming my healing, reclaiming my ancestral wisdom and blackness has been a natural progression in my life. When we awaken to our paths and to the truth about who we are, it impacts every aspect of ourselves. We can’t just awaken in one way, we must awaken in all ways. In my life reclaiming looks like taking the aspects in my life that have brought me pain, shame, anxiety or that society has stigmatized and completely destroying my perception of it and building my relationship with it anew, in a way that supports me and in a way that doesn’t need to live within any parameters. We all have parts of ourselves that are waiting to be reclaimed, no matter who we are or what our paths have been.
SG: This month our community is focusing on boosting our bodies, inside and out, to support our wellness as we go into the holiday season and round out this crazy year. What do you recommend for boosting wellness for the body?
SASHA: I am a big advocate of consistency and deep daily nourishment. There is no magic pill and radical change doesn’t come from taking a supplement for two weeks and leaving everything else in your life as it was. For me, true healing and wellness comes through slow consistent loving gestures to myself, especially through food. During this time of year when the energy of the season is inviting us to slow down but the holiday season and the world is asking us to speed up and burn out, I like to incorporate nervine herbal teas every day that are going to support my nervous system and help ground my energy. My favorite combination right now is passionflower, lemon balm, milky oats, skullcap, and rose. In addition, I love making soups with a medicinal mushroom broth base to support my immune system. Lastly, I make the time to rest, as rest cannot be overstated. Whether it’s going to bed earlier, resting/napping even if it’s only 20 minutes, or taking more breaks throughout our days, we all can benefit.
SG alternative to Sasha’s recommended nervine herbal teas:
SG: Your IG is filled with gorgeous recipes — what is your favorite nourishing meal right now?
SASHA: Soups! I want soup all of the time. My favorites are my Full Moon Spiced soup and any really great veggie pho I can get my hands on.
SG: How have you used plants to heal + protect your mind + body throughout this year?
SASHA: My biggest allies this year have been plants and fungi, specifically nervine supporting herbs and mind quieting herbs. Reishi and skullcap have been my best friends all year long. Usually I’m consuming plants + fungi through infusions or meals that I make but even when I’m not consuming plants they have still been there to support me! I feel supported by them when I am out in nature getting to know them better and understand their natural environment and character better. I started a garden in the front yard of my very urban east side Los Angeles home at the beginning of this year and have been so nourished by it. It’s not a high yielding garden by any means but having the opportunity to get my hands into the dirt and grow things from seed has been so healing and has helped ground me on the craziest days of this year.
SG: For those of us who are not familiar with herbalism, can you provide us with a “crash course”? What are the benefits and how can we incorporate the practice of herbalism into our daily routines?
SASHA: I love this generation of herbalists so much because I feel like we are doing the work to demystify an area of healing that much of the wellness industry has tried to make very exclusive and capitalize off of healing that is meant for everyone. My definition of herbalism is being receptive to the knowledge plants and fungi have for us and applying it. Herbalism can support anyone and for me it is about nourishing deeply rather than rapidly “changing” or “fixing”. I use the word “nourish” a lot but it’s because for so long many of us have simply lacked true nourishment and it’s one of the most profound things we can do for ourselves. When we can move from a place of internal nourishment, it leaves so much space for fuller living.
Herbalism is for everyone, it should not be exclusionary or inaccessible. It should and can be as simple as enjoying a cup of tea, as fun as eating a pizza that has lots of wild weeds on it, or as traditional as gathering medicinal mushrooms and brewing them up in a cauldron to make a decoction. Herbalism can be incorporated in everything that we consume. When starting out with herbs, begin with what you are already eating, ingredients you already have around you, things that you are already familiar with. What are the properties of foods like ginger, peppermint, cacao, or shiitake mushrooms and how can they support you? We don’t need rare or expensive ingredients to incorporate herbalism, we only need to open our eyes and minds to what is already around us.
SG: What has been your favorite self-care ritual lately?
SASHA: Resting! Also taking what I call “sound bath showers”. I turn off the lights in the bathroom, light a few candles, grab a bundle of eucalyptus or place a few small drops of an uplifting essential oil in the shower, turn on my favorite meditation playlist, get into a steamy warm shower, and allow myself to be renewed. It feels like being in a steam room or sauna at a magical spa. It’s transformed showers into a beautiful ceremony and has provided wonderful moments of much needed solace.
SG: Who is a woman who inspires you and why?
SASHA: Jeong Kwan. She is a Buddhist monk who lives in South Korea and believes in making food as a meditation, which is the ethos of all of my work and art, doing it as meditation. Jeong Kwan is full of joy and warmth and is a true wise woman. I found out about her a few years ago through an episode of Chefs Table and was crying by the end because of how beautiful and intentional she + her food are. It’s a dream of mine to experience it first hand and to soak up her incredible energy.
SG: Just for fun, what’s your favorite go-to drink of choice (coffee, tea, etc) and how do you make it?
SASHA: My go to drink is my herbal latte, it switches up based on what ingredients I have on hand but the basics are an herbal infusion base blended with some of my favorite adaptogens. My go-to combination for the herbal infusion is dandelion root, gotu kola, and gingko. I pour a few teaspoons of dandelion root, gotu kola, and gingko in a tall mason jar, pour hot water over them and let it steep. Once steeped I blend it with a tablespoon of cacao powder, teaspoon of Reishi powder, teaspoon of cordyceps powder, a little almond or coconut butter, 1 date, and a plant based milk. Since I’m not a coffee drinker, this acts an energy sustaining, brain supporting, and mood boosting elixir.
SG: Do you have a favorite holiday tradition, and if so, what is it?
SASHA: The past few years I’ve decided to make new holiday traditions that revolve around taking things slow. I’ve been spending holidays with my closest friends, starting the day with a walk in the redwoods of Santa Cruz where my friends live, spending most of the day lounging and cooking, and ending the day with a beach side walk. It has all the best parts of the holidays: connection, love, and fun without the aspects that I find overstimulating.
Who else is making plans to adopt Sasha’s go-to self-care ritual?! I know I am!
A huge thank you to Sasha for sharing her passion and knowledge with us today — I’m feeling so inspired to explore even deeper into the power of plants and herbs as a way of supporting my overall health and wellness. And loving her commitment to slowing down this holiday season in the midst of a world that only wants you to continue going as fast as you can — I truly hope you all find moments of quiet and calm this holiday while boosting yourself in mind and body.
Follow Sasha on IG!