Ep#55 Cuts for Luck, Scars for Freedom: Being the Ones We’ve Prayed For with Mystic
In this episode of Your Story Medicine, I welcome Mystic, a Grammy-nominated hip hop artist. She is also an activist, scholar, community educator, and beloved daughter of Oakland, California. Having released her debut album, Cuts for Luck and Scars for Freedom in 2001, and Beautiful Resistance in 2014, she is known for including themes of healing, community, and justice in her music. She is also known as a member of Digital Underground, and called the “DU Goddess”. As a scholar, Mystic’s research has focused on the use of policymaking for equity and elementary education, and the use of culturally-relevant arts education for students of color.
Main Topics Discussed:
- Mystic’s journey as an artist, her work with Digital Underground, and her initiative for the youth
- Living out love and joy as acts of resistance
- How artists typically process trauma
- The underrated value of arts education for the youth
- Rewriting your story from one defined by trauma to one defined by love
What are you celebrating about yourself today?
Mystic: I’m celebrating that I’m in a state of gratitude and grace. Part of my journey has been reclaiming that trauma is not what defines me. It’s the love that I’m carrying which defines me, which helps me connect with my community and with myself.
How would you describe your medicine?
Mystic: Art. Music. However they unfold. Through my work, I hope to give others—especially the youth—to process trauma and heal. Ultimately, my vision is to help restore divine order in the world.
Where did your roots as an artist begin?
Mystic: Before I even became an emcee, I grew up as a creative. I danced ballet in elementary and joined a modern dance company when I was a teenager. I’ve been writing books and poetry since I was a child. I play the viola and the piano. This is who I am: I’m an artist. It’s my spirit. My poetry became particularly important to me when I was experiencing trauma. I write everything down on a piece of paper. On a blank sheet of paper, I can judge myself and love myself and be any piece of who I am at any given time. Writing things down on paper creates a reflection of myself. I don’t know why I progressed from poetry to being an emcee. I just decided that this was what I would do. When I tried it out, it became so clear for me that this is my path.
How has your ancestral lineage influenced your path today?
Mystic: My mother was dedicated to justice and was a community organizer. In the 80s, she helped people get asylum from Guatemala and Nicaragua. She has an amazing dedication to Mother Earth and how we connect to her. My mother left my father and I met him once when I was five and my half brother was three. I saw him again at ten and I remember cooking him a full-course meal. He gave me $100 to open my first bank account. I didn’t meet him again until I was around 25, and I had a deep desire to connect with my father. I had two years to connect with him before he died. He was an addict, and that was the reason he stayed away for so long—to save me from that life. He played the banjo and was an amazing artist. His death shattered me into a million pieces and inspired me to look backward to discover my lineage.
What do you do to stay grounded and what is it that you’ve learned to release?
Mystic: I’ve been creating. Art is not to be done for the purpose of commercialism or in the name of capitalism. I will continue to create art whether or not I ever release another album again. My mom has a garden, and if I just sit in that garden, I enter a state of grace. I become part of the garden, the ecosystem, and everything that lives in it. I practice breathing, gratitude, and loving up on others. I’ve been continuing to learn to release attachment. Attachment is connected to sorrow and expectations. I’ve learned to just love—not in order to receive something in return—but just to love.
If you could call upon your ancestor Gregory of Digital Underground, what is it that he would say to guide us on our path to ancestry?
Mystic: We’re all connected. It doesn’t matter if we’re black or white. Our power is in coming together. Practice joy. Follow your passion and be the perfect self that you are.
Conclusion: No matter who you are, if you’ve experienced trauma of any sort, you have the ability to reimagine who you are and who you want to be—even if you don’t know who you want to be just yet. It’s your journey, and you control the power to tell your story of your healing.
Action Integration: The world is in need of more love. Carry this as your mantra. Embed it within your spirit.
Learn more about Mystic:
Follow her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/thatgirlmystic