Ep#31 Embody Your Radiance and Mend a Broken Heart with Roshni Kavate

ancestral healing embodiment plant medicine Jun 08, 2021

In this episode of Your Story Medicine, I welcome Roshni Kavate, Founder and Creative Director of Cardamom and Kavate, a wellness platform dedicated to reclaiming nourishing practices rooted in ancestral wisdom for collective liberation. She believes grief is a portal to wholeness. Through rituals and storytelling, we can reconnect to our origins and be our wild selves. She sees the path to being whole as a radical art and political practice.

Roshni speaks to us about how witnessing racialized trauma and its lasting impact on the health and wellness of communities of color—first in early childhood then as a palliative care nurse in the U.S.—drove her to launch Cardamom and Kavate. Her mission? To reimagine what it means to rebirth ourselves, embody our radiance, connect to our ancestral rituals, and live in our pleasure.

How would you describe your medicine?

Roshni: I’m a grief artist, particularly around our unprocessed ancestral grief. I really see life as my art practice. It’s an act of creation and of rediscovering our ancestral tools for healing.

What is your ancestral lineage and how has that influenced your medicine today?

Roshni: I come from a line of textile artists. I read a book on the Bombay Hindu tribes, where even the title was so insulting coming from a white lens. They basically classified what we did by our last names. It’s based on the caste system which I don’t personally believe in; but, it was through this lens where I found out who my ancestors were. There was this one page with words that stood out to me, and these words were “the wind of a sail”, “clay”, “betel nut leaf”, “turmeric”, “salt”, and “silk”. I just thought, that’s it! Those are the words to guide me. Those are my “plantcestors”. I don’t make textiles, but I believe my calling is in weaving something—I’m weaving wisdom, healing stories, and a way of being.

What do your parents think about this path that you’re walking right now? Did you grow up knowing about your ancestral lineage, or was it something that you had to reclaim?

Roshni: My parents still think that what I do is foolish, stupid, and indulgent. I don’t blame them, because they can never imagine a creative and spiritual life. You had to go work for somebody else and receive what you were given. You can’t ask for what you deserve. You can’t imagine a world of your own. There is no imagination. The imagination is, what is the structure that exists in the white supremacist context? I don’t want any part of that. We grew up with rituals, but we never sat with grief. We never addressed it. We just sort of marinated in it. Having some distance now, I realized that my mom, my dad, and my grandmother all carried this heaviness that was so palpable, even as a young child. Ten years ago, I realized that our dreams had died. Their beautiful lives that they had imagined had died. That’s a huge amount of grief to sit on.

How can we reclaim these rituals if we’ve never been taught these things?

Roshni: That’s the first question to ask. At least some of us have our parents and have that connection to start with. But many others in black or indiginous bodies never grew up with parents who could serve as the gateway to rediscovering our ancestral lineage. So, just acknowledging that collective grief is the first step, and that can lead to us asking what our bodies and souls are craving. Sometimes, it’s so uncomfortable to just sit and soak in those feelings. But it’s only from there that we can then start thinking about treatment and healing. So, the first step is to take stock and find your community. Then, really get to know your body and your spirit and ask what it is that you’re craving. It’s a full-body experience. Start feeding yourself what your grief is making you crave for. For some of us, it’s comfort food from our ancestral homeland: rice, mangos, stew, bone broth, and other succulent dishes that remind us of our grandmothers. It’s easy, nourishing, and abundant.

How is all of this showing up in your work, and how do you see this as a form of activism?

Roshni: People tend to attach rituals to death more often; but, it all starts with birthing: how you bring life into this world. This happens every day. What does your daily ritual look like? I like to think of ancestral rituals as daily living. It starts with how you wake up, how you eat, how you move. The ancestral way of being is how you deserve to live, even down to taking control over how we breathe. That’s our ancestral ritual. Beauty is our activism. Protest as we know it is fine; but there’s another way to protest: by eating rice with our hands and going to sleep at ten.

What are you currently doing to stay grounded in these times, and what is it that you’ve learned to release?

Roshni: Taking in the beauty of my body and my spirit. I grew up feeling very much not enough. That’s the message I received every day from my parents and the culture. So, for me, it’s a radical act to say, “I love this body that has survived and thrived through the pandemic.” I love my lungs. I love my hair. I love my eyes. I love my health. I love my appetite, my digestion. I remind myself that if this body and this spirit are not healthy, there is nothing, nothing, nothing happening. What I’m releasing is striving—dropping all the “should”s. Ancestral grief has transmitted over thousands of years, so healing doesn’t happen in one lifetime, much less one year. We’re being told that the pandemic is such a great opportunity to launch our business, lose some weight, tone up, and spiritually evolve. I don’t want to do any of those. I just want to enjoy this moment in time, even though it’s really painful a lot of days.

What is a ritual, practice, or words of wisdom that you would invite us to embody?

Roshni: I want to lead people through a pleasure practice. Again, that is our daily ancestral ritual and activism. I call it a “mango meditation” where I lead people through eating a whole mango—no cutlery, no napkins—just a mango and you. But today, we’ll do it with loquats because these are what I foraged this morning in Barcelona. We’ll just hold the fruit in our hands. Let’s close our eyes. Let’s feel the shape of the fruit. Start smelling it and get into it. Let’s take a moment to thank Nature, thank the land, thank the soil, thank the insects, the farmers—everyone who tended to this fruit to be here. Thank the wisdom of Nature to let the fruit evolve over thousands of years. As you open your eyes, take in this beautiful fruit as if you’re meeting them for the first time. Extend your gratitude to this fruit and ask permission to receive it. When you’re ready, slowly bring it to your mouth and take a small bite. Let the fruit linger in your mouth: taste the tartness, the sweetness, the warmth of the juices. Go back in for another bite and take a bigger one. Really feel your wildness—your sensual body. If you have any juices dripping, you can lick it with your tongue. Ask yourself what your grief is feeling.

If you could speak to yourself as a future ancestor at any time in your life, what would you say?

Roshni: I would tell myself, “What a beautiful life you’ve created. Just keep smelling the fragrance of the world. Just don’t lose that curiosity. Keep coming back to the beauty of life.”

Conclusion: Never become reactive to your perceived challenges in life, nor should you become hard on yourself regarding those things that your mind says you “ought” to do. We address our ancestral grief by taking control over every part of our daily living down to our breathing. The ancestral way of being is how you deserve to live.

Action Integration: Do a “mango meditation” today (or with whichever fruit you want to practice this with). Reclaim your childlike curiosity for that fruit, for Nature which conceived them and cultivated them over thousands of years. Reclaim your wildness—your sensual body—by extending your gratitude to Nature herself.

Learn more about Roshni and her offerings:

Visit her website: www.cardamomandkavate.com 

Follow her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/cardamomandkavate 

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