Season 2 Ep#63 Psychedelic Liberation: The Healing Power of Sacred Earth Medicine with Charlotte James
In this episode of Your Story Medicine, I welcome Charlotte James. She has been a harm reductionist and psychedelic explorer for over 10 years, but her path through this work has certainly not been linear. After leaving harm reduction years ago because of rapid burn out, she is returning to this work with a new energy—thanks to the power of healing with Sacred Earth Medicines.
Main Topics Discussed:
- Defining “Sacred Earth Medicine”
- How purging leads to liberation
- Becoming more intentional with your Sacred Earth Medicine journey
What are you celebrating about yourself today?
Charlotte: I just came out of the jungle. It was my first time traveling back to really sit in medicine, in community, in tradition that is steeped in a thousand-plus years of learning and of interaction and engagement with the realm beyond the invisible world. It was also my first time camping for ten straight days and sleeping on the ground with no electricity and bathing in a river. I am really proud that I just made it through that aspect of it—that I have this strength to disconnect from this realm and what I'm very used to and accustomed to as a Western acculturated human. I’m celebrating that I was able to sit in about six nights of deep ceremony. I probably purged over 20 times in six nights! So, I'm just proud to be listening to the ancestors and following that path with less and less resistance each time.
How much purging do we need until we are fully liberated?
Charlotte: I'm a huge fan of purging. I think many of us grow up in cultures where purging or vomiting is seen as sickness, as opposed to it being seen as a form of getting well, of being able to release and let go of the things that our body is holding, that our bodies have been holding for generations.
How would you describe your medicine?
Charlotte: I bring mountain energy: strong, stable, grounded energy. When things are chaotic around me, I'm able to really stay in my center and that takes a lot of practice.
Do you feel like that is something that has come naturally to you throughout your life or was that something you had to learn?
Charlotte: A lot of my early childhood experiences contributed to that. And at the beginning of the pandemic, I was really struggling to connect to other people's sense of uncenteredness and deep loneliness. I had a journey where I saw myself as a child sitting within that chaos. My home had a lot of loud, aggressive energy in it. I was an only child and my parents divorced. So, very early on, I had to learn to hold myself amongst that chaos, amongst the lack of emotional or spiritual maturity around me and for better or for worse, it made me self-sufficient. For a long time, I didn't ask for help. But now that I have asked for help, I’ve moved through parts of my healing journey, and now I can cultivate that energy for the collective good.
How has your ancestral lineage influenced your path today?
Charlotte: For a long time I saw people talking about ancestral healing as this thing that was very distant and that you had to have like whatever skillset or gift or XYZ process to make that connection. But the really beautiful thing about Sacred Earth Medicine is that it makes you the channel. My ancestry on my father's side is Western Africa by way of Jamaica. We made it to Jamaica via enslavement, so I feel really deeply connected to that lineage—to the lineage of the African diaspora, Jamaica, and what is present-day Ghana. Then, on my mom's side, I am predominantly of Germanic lineage. One lineage is not more “legit” than the other, because the reality is that we all come from, at one point, indigenous animist traditions that lived in harmony and deep relationship with the earth. If you go far enough back, especially into hunter gatherer times, most traditions were also working with some type of Sacred Earth Medicine to connect with the land, and to connect with the spirit realm—what is invisible to us in our waking state.
Why did you choose the Sacred Earth Medicine space?
Charlotte: I wanted to have medicine circles for black women only. My ancestral partner Dre and I had a lot of experiences in our medicine path where we were the only, or one of very few Black folks or People of Color in the space and had experienced spiritual bypassing microaggressions and a facilitator's inability to hold the nuance of identity-based trauma and how that shows up through the medicine. So, our middle ground solution was to have integration circles that are only for BIPOC and integration circles are a space to, as we say, take your downloads and turn them into daily action. So, how are you embodying the lessons of the medicine in your day-to-day life? How are you taking care of your physical, mental, spiritual, collective, and environmental health? It has been really powerful to be able to talk about that in the community.
What was your role in harm reduction?
Charlotte: My background is in opioid use, harm reduction and overdose prevention. For years, I worked with the mobile needle exchange program and also did training in overdose prevention in Baltimore City.
For those who have just begun their journey, or their entry point into Sacred Earth Medicine has been through the festival culture and now they want to build a more intentional relationship with it, how can they shift into actually using this as a ceremony?
Charlotte: Intention is your guiding post. Bring your journey into a ceremonial context: create a ritual for yourself, drawing inspiration from the rituals that others have carried through time. Get your mindset right; but, also decide where you are partaking in the medicine and who will be around you. Focus on your daily practices as well. For this, use CCP: Cleansing, Centering, and Protection. What tools do you have to support you in keeping yourself clean? And then what are the practices to come back home to yourself, to center yourself? And how are you protecting yourself as you move through the world, navigating the chaotic energies that are all around. Consistently build that relationship with your ancestors, and come back to your altar—your place of worship for those ancestors.
What are you doing to stay grounded in this dimension?
Charlotte: I work to keep a strong connection with my body with movement. That’s very important for me. I go to my altar each day to really center myself, to find clarity and focus for the day. Then, little things like getting a massage and pedicure and a manicure, doing yoga, and even going to a float tank. I just love up on myself.
If you could envision yourself as a future ancestor, what would they say to you today?
Charlotte: Think less, be more, and be proud of yourself.
Conclusion: As stated on The Ancestor Project website: “We believe that Sacred Earth Medicine is key in liberating all oppressed peoples.” By harnessing the healing power of Sacred Earth Medicine, we expose ourselves to ancestral wisdom, thereby reducing harm and expanding consciousness.
Action Integration: If you are at the beginning of your journey into Sacred Earth Medicine, take the time to do some ancestral research and find out what medicines your people carried. After all, preparation and intention serve as your foundation.
Learn more about The Ancestor Project:
Visit their website: www.theancestorproject.com
Follow them on Instagram: www.instagram.com/theancestorproject
Download my free guided meditation on how to connect with your ancestors bit.ly/ancestorinthemaking
Apply to Roots to Rise: