Healing manifesta, Part the First

Community class on Basic Herbal Medicine Making at Epic Skill Swap 2013

What is all this?

I’m Charis. I’m an herbalist, a scholar, a teacher, a child, a woman, a witch with words and herbs. I’m a community organizer and I try to be a vessel for compassion and justice. Drawing on my background as an anthropologist of medicine, healing and religion, as well as my long term commitment to building a socially and environmentally just world, I created TumbleUp Wellness in order to help our communities address our health and wellness needs. Fierce Blossom Herbals, offering teas and tinctures and more, grounds this work in the world of plants and natural remedies.

Logistical realities that come out of all this? I do holistic wellness and herbal consultations on a sliding scale that is based on ability to pay–whatever you decide your ability is–and I’m open to work-trades as well. I strive to be accessible in a number of ways–I’m available for consults and workshops in person, by phone, or over the Interwebz.

How did I get here?

I’ve come to my herbal medicine and wellness practice for many reasons. Most powerfully, I feel deeply the suffering of the residents of this planet. I see huge strains on our society–on our globalizing cultures. On our planet and her ecosystems. I see social inequity–oppression and injustice in the form of gaps between the rich and the middle class, let alone between the rich and the chronically poor. I see rising numbers of people incarcerated, predominantly people of color–they and their families becoming traumatized by that system and its systemic racism and cyclical nature. I see a culture of violence and fear–fear of everything from our government to our neighbors to the possibility of a new world. I see suffering and exploitation–much of it at the hands of corporations whose first mission is to get a few people rich. I see activists, and all those who do their best to help their communities, burned out by the depth of the need that is there. I see the horrors of war as they are wreaked at a distance by drones, by bombs, by cross-territory missiles on communities across the planet. Those horrors come home to the United States not only in hyperbolic newscasts, but also in the eyes and hearts of veterans of war who witness so much suffering themselves and, by participation in it, return to us changed.

I see a world where people work so much they are completely exhausted, they lose sight of their heart’s longing. This happens because we have families we love, and we want to feed and support them, and because the system we live with is profoundly unjust–economically, socially, and politically. This culture hurts us–the relentless drive for speed, progress, and getting more and more leaves us empty and lonely for connection.

I see all this–and I also see a world that is full of possibility. Full of hope. Full of people loving and thriving in spite of it all. I see people who struggle through their daily life and still have a million sparks of humor, of desire, of love to give. These sparks are our vitality–they rekindle our hope when it seems all is lost. Now, at what can feel like the end of the world, a chaotic time of changing climate, ecosystems, economies, social structures, now is a time of great possibilities. Great and wonderful changes–we can shepherd these in together.


I am sometimes afraid of what I see–I see myself and all of us walking on the blade of a knife, poised, balanced, breathing slowly, but able to tip off at any moment. How and fear keep tugging us from one side to another.

The challenge of our time, I think, is to live holding both these things in our hands, like the precious gifts they are. Our flesh feels them, each of them, deeply and poignantly–viscerally. We are tugged towards hope, towards profound love, one moment, and towards fear the next.

Rather than thinking we can get rid of either (“be realistic!” some say to the dreamers, “don’t be so hopeful!” Or, “be positive!” say the hopeful people, “ignore the message of the fear!”) it is instead our gift, our great challenge, to hold both together as the visceral realities of our fleshly lives. These are the consequences of being alive on this teeming planet at this time. This is the manifestation of our desire, of the gap–the scary Unknown–that is between what is now, and what is to come.


Joy and struggle

To bring hope and fear into our bodies, welcome them both, make them at home, and bring them into radical presence in our lives together. This is at the root of the healing work that I do, and at the heart of the healing spaces I create with those who seek them. Your digestion, your back pain, and your eczema each matter–and are each bound up, I believe, with these larger questions. What are you afraid of? What do you long for? Where do you feel stuck in your life? TumbleUp Wellness makes room for your whole self and experience as we seek physical and emotional health together.