We spoke to Danniel Swatosh of Humble Bloom and Ximena Castellanos Dagnino of Taima Meds about the healing potential that can be grown from Mother Earth.
Grab some firsthand insight into “Of the Earth”. This was the first in what will hopefully be a series of events surrounding the topic of alternative medicine, self-healing and connecting with nature. Whether or not you are someone who suffers with anxiety, depression or any other type of internal or external stressors, it may be helpful in a holistic look at wellness to recognize and utilize our connection to the Earth, perhaps most especially for women.
To that end, Humble Bloom is a New York-based organization focused on building meaningful experiences with cannabis and exploring the healing potential for people from all walks of life. As the health benefits of marijuana (a drug that has been painstakingly regulated in the US, for example) extends into mainstream awareness beyond simply recreational or even medicinal usages, the topic is extremely poignant at the present moment. We spoke about this with Danniel Swatosh, the co-founder of Humble Bloom and the coordinator behind the “Of the Earth” series, along with one of the key speakers, Ximena Castellanos Dagnino of Taima Meds, a project that works with cannabis-infused products, focusing on “relieving pain and delivering wellness”.
The conversation we had with these two inspiring women scratched the surface on the broad topics surrounding the healing potential of cannabis, their business development and creative community building.
Hi ladies, can you tell us the origin behind this “Of the Earth” event?
DS: I’ve been studying plants for their ceremonial, medicinal and nutritional uses for almost a decade. Many medicinal plants used in Europe and North America originated from the traditions of the Aztecs and other Mexican indigenous groups. Now that cannabis has become
a central focus in my work, I felt that it was time to visit Mexico as they are preparing for legalization to help give this plant a voice.
A friend introduced me to Yannina Thomassiny, a journalist who’s followed a path of ontogenic shamanism, herbalism, entheogen coaching in parallel with the practice of sound bath healing. Under her care, I smoked smoked Bufo Alvarias, she performed a sound bath and unlocked the web of my ego. A feeling of oneness washed over me and felt like a cosmic orgasm connecting me to the universe. We bonded over our love of plants and mutual connections with healers from various places in the world. On the cannabis tip, she recommended I meet Ximena and Pedro of Taima Meds. Within the next days, we met and our collective love for cannabis, building community and collaboration grew from there.
XC: “Of the Earth” was born a couple of months after we met Danniel. The story behind it is a beautiful one; it shows how everything is connected and how one decision can transform into friendship, community and education. We met and instantaneously connected over our love for cannabis and her incredible work as a co-founder of Humble Bloom. We began a lovely friendship and kept in touch.
When Danniel expressed her interest in coming back to Mexico, we began talking about having an event to start communicating and giving access to education around subjects that we found really important. Subjects that go from healing ourselves to connection and community. (Micro-Dosing, Psychedelics, Cannabis, Sound Therapy, Pilgrimages through the practice of running, sustainable habitats). That’s how “Of the Earth” had its origin.
How often do you have events like these and what is the ultimate goal behind them?
DS: This is the first experience of this nature in Mexico – an opening of a doorway to a horizon that is bright with opportunities. However in NYC, my company Humble Bloom, which I co-founded with Solonje Burnett, continues to curate cannabis culture by forging partnerships with thought leaders and experts, providing consultation to support and humanize growing brands, and connecting diverse communities through plant education, advocacy and immersive experiences. To that end, we have a couple of upcoming events— “Gateway into Cannabis: An Exploration of the Industry” at Columbia Business School on April 2nd, “Cannabis As An Agriculture Crop: Impact & Opportunities” at the Assemblage Nomad on April 25th and you can catch Solonje and I speaking in Boston at NECAAN on March 23rd.
XC: This is the first of what will hopefully become a constant experience in Mexico. The goal with “Of the Earth” is involving as many experts, projects and workshops with each event, bringing access to education and allowing room for discussion. Everything is connected to the earth, so it makes sense that we grow the same way: from the ground up. Evolving into an educational, supportive and inclusive community.
How did you choose the panelists for this talk in particular?
DS: Ximena shared with me a collection of artisans that she loved; they worked with clay, fiber, metal and stone. In thinking about these materials, and with the idea in mind that healing ourselves is symbiotic with healing our community and planet, “Of the Earth” was conceived. The panelists we chose are all advocates of healing methodologies through different processes of connectivity to one’s own nature.
XC: Choosing the panelists was a very organic and collaborative process. Like Danniel mentioned, Yannina Thomassiny was our first link, her sound therapy meditation is a one of a kind experience and the most beautiful way to bring people together into a collective consciousness. She’s also been working with sacred plants and molecules for the last six years and has a very deep understanding of the Bufo Alvarius and psychedelic therapy. It was through Yannina that we met Joyce Vazquez Braverman, an MD that while working as a pediatric oncological surgery assistant for many years, became interested in psychedelic micro-dosing treatments and has been studying and working on new research ever since. She brought a more grounded and scientific approach to the panel and was very open on her research and work with different substances and plants.
And of course cannabis had to be a part of this discussion, Danniel had recently connected with Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey, author of “The Art of Weed Butter” and an interdisciplinary cannabis entrepreneur legally working with marijuana since 2005. Through her visibility and advocacy, she’s been navigating a future for women of color in the cannabis industry and after living in Mexico for a few years, partnered up with XULA CBD as creative director, working with founder Karina Primelles who came into the panel with all of her scientific knowledge of CBD. Bringing access to a wealth of information on the subject with the intention to help educate consumers on the use of CBD in Mexico.
All of these communal and ancestral practices are shared from one person to the next and from one community to the other. So, it made total sense to reach out to Daniel Almazán, one of the founders of Aire Libre Run, to talk about how physical activity, in the form of pilgrimages, and spirituality are part of this journey. Aire Libre has created a variety of experiences that combine Mexico’s most distinctive cultural and gastronomic offerings with physical and spiritual activities designed to improve the participant’s overall wellbeing, aiming to inspire people to be more active, healthy and spiritually connected with themselves and rural communities.
This was immediately linked to Ana María Gutiérrez, founder of Organizmo‘s, presentation during the event. Ana María is a long time friend of Danniel’s from Colombia who, amazing as she is, made the trip to be part of the event. She dedicates her life to the rescue and innovation of earthen building techniques and the research, design and implementation of community approach methodologies to train leaders in local techniques aiming to strengthen the generational transfer of ancestral knowledges. Her work constantly strives to create empowerment and community building dynamics in rural communities dignifying their local resources and creations.
This is how our beautiful panel of speakers came alive. Through connectivity and support.
Can you speak to the healing potential of CBD versus THC?
XC: We believe that both CBD and THC have enormous healing potential, specially as a team. Although CBD (Cannabidiol) is the “cool kid” of cannabis and wellness right now, for being a non-intoxicating cannabinoid and because of its therapeutic benefits – it helps reduce seizures, inflammation and it’s a neuroprotector, aiding with migraines and depression. This doesn’t mean that THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) has to be the “bad” cannabinoid – quite the opposite! Cannabis extracts with higher doses of THC are actually quite safe, efficient and have some incredible therapeutic benefits too; they help with chronic pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, glaucoma, insomnia, low appetite, nausea and anxiety.
In short, CBD and THC are a power couple; they work better when they’re together and potentiate each others effects and benefits. That’s why we believe it is always better to look for a full spectrum (whole plant) CBD extract than an isolate, because that very small percentage of THC found in hemp and other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids (entourage effect) will make a big difference in your treatment.
Same when looking for a good THC extract, tincture, elixir… Try to look for the right full spectrum cannabis extract THC:CBD ratio, that way your treatment will be far more effective and notable. Consulting with our physician if treating something specific and informing ourselves on brands that operate responsibly within the cannabis industry will also benefit us greatly.
I would cite Jacob Miguel Vigil, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in his research on the immeasurable healing benefits of THC for more information.
DS: I couldn’t agree more with Ximena. Whole plant medicine is where it’s at and no plant should ever be illegal. Now, with legalization on the rise, we are going to see incredible scientific developments in cannabis.
In what ways do you find CBD or THC connected to self-care or healing the self?
DS: We are intrinsically intertwined with cannabis – her intuitive nature has known just what we needed for thousands of years. Starting with the seeds, to the roots, the flowers and the oils, cannabis feeds us, dresses us, shelters us and enlightens us. This plant is a natural supplement for our daily lives, creating homeostasis amongst our bodily systems such as digestion, mood, reproductive and sleep, so that everything can work harmoniously together.
XC: Just like Danniel mentioned, we receive and connect with cannabis in a natural way through different receptors in our endocannabinoid system linked to our brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune and neurological system. Cannabinoids bring a balance to our organism and help us heal not only physically, but spiritually too.
We often find that this plant can take us into a very introspective journey and will get us closer to our inner self, creating a deeper spiritual encounter. It is not as much about the psychoactive effect as it is about what we learn and incorporate into our lives from the experience.
In other words, cannabis will assist in healing both the mind and body from the inside out with a unique path to self-care. Offering an alternative to complement or completely replace some pharmaceutical treatments that often come with a bunch of harmful side effects.
Are there any perhaps lesser-known self-healing practices you think are important for people to know about? What about for women in particular?
DS: A main thread in our conversation was accessing altered states of consciousness for healing, with our lens focused on modalities such as psychedelics – microdosing in particular. However, you can also access the same state through physical journeys such as pilgrimage, meditation and sound therapy. Psychedelics being synthetic or plant-based substances that alter the state of consciousness, microdosing being the practice of taking very small doses of a substance so that there is no noticeable physical or psychological effects, however there is a cellular response that over time creates a shift in perspective of oneself and others.
Cannabis is the “mildest” of the psychedelics, but it is nonetheless able to distort or enhance perception. I believe microdosing psychedelics as a treatment for mental and physical health is on the rise, going mainstream very soon and again education is at the utmost importance because anything brings a sense of calm can be addictive. The FDA just approved Johnson and Johnson’s ketamine-like nasal spray to treat severe depression. This is not for women in particular, however women are the initiating advocates because women are the main caregivers and providers of wellness in the home to their children, family members and friends, the toll that caregiving takes is not just financial, it’s physical and emotional.
XC: I completely agree with Danniel – “Of the Earth” touched on many other practices of connection and healing. Personally I, too, believe microdosing cannabis and other psychedelics is a great path to self-healing and if complemented with exercise, meditation and nutrition; we will definitely start noticing some big changes in your life. For women in particular, I would say all of the above and would add aromatherapy too.
Can you describe what “collective connectivity” is?
DS: I think we can coin Collective Connectivity, right now. “Of the Earth” is about this connectivity, a connectivity to oneself and those around them. For context, the health and stability of any group depends on the health and stability of the individuals. Think of a bee hive; if too many become unhealthy, the entire colony collapses. Through connecting more deeply with yourself, you can connect more deeply with others – an echo effect. Such is the case with microdosing or meditation. And if you were to share in a pivotal experience together as a group, like a pilgrimage or a Ayahuasca retreat, you would have deep personal introspective moments but you would also be sharing in the same beat of step and heart, feeling the same struggles and achievements in your journey, possibly allowing another to step up when you are vulnerable or finding yourself supporting another. It’s these kind of experiences that collectively connect us as humans. It can also be as simple as seeing a film or listening to a band. In the end it’s about the awareness and intention.
XC: Collective connectivity today is experienced in many different ways. Not only are we interlinked to everything in a physical realm, but also in an intangible spiritual and digital one. This event is proof that connection can be transformed into a community joined together by a collective need to access certain information and practices. Where a sound bath with no verbal interaction can connect and bring us together in a completely different way than a discussion or social media can.
We are all part of this enormous net of connectivity that is, like Danniel mentioned, primarily linked to our personal wellbeing and experiences. When we connect and heal ourselves we are more open and easily connected to everyone and everything around us in a very unique way.
Do you think women in general are more connected to the Earth? How do you see this relationship in the modern age?
DS: The cycles and souls of women or very much connected to nature, we are cyclical like the seasons and our menstrual cycle can sync with the moon but I don’t feel that we are any more connected with nature than men. In general, I feel that most are disconnected with their own nature and the natural world around them especially for cultures that are more reliant on modern technology. If you were to visit a remote village, jungle, desert, mountain you would never feel that any one sex is more connected to nature.
XC: We do – the term “Mother Earth” or “Mother Nature” literally speaks of this connection. Where women’s fertility is traduced into planting, nurturing and harvesting, we take a seed and transform it to bring life into the world!
We also connect with the fact that the Earth and everything it provides is constantly mistreated and exploited, without the right to defend itself properly. Rarely asked if what is being done is right and fair, but at the same time healing and providing. We’ve witnessed a similar fight for women throughout history and just like the Earth, we endure and heal in majestic ways; we come back stronger!
What were your biggest takeaways from this talk?
DS: The Collective Connectivity. My mind is still spinning on how easy it is to connect to another person and the potential of those moments to connect to our past and become the future. I just met Ximena and Pedro two months ago and here we are collaborating and creating a collective experience to build community. This is what it’s all about.
XC: This event has taught us so many important lessons on friendship, education, hard work and community. We not only learned so much from the panelists, projects and presentations, but we found there’s a big interest and thirst for knowledge and connection on this subjects.
Our biggest takeaway was definitely the beautiful experience of sharing and receiving.
What’s next? 🙂
XC: We want to continue on this path to education teaming up with different experts, projects and practices in order to grow this community. We wish to bring opportunity and collaboration within “Of the Earth” and give a voice to information, projects and people that we rarely get to discuss or hear about. Like Danniel so beautifully puts it, the goal is to create a collective experience with the intent to build community.
DS: I may be an idealist, but with the history of prohibition in mind and the use of propaganda around cannabis to demonize groups of people and imprison hundreds of thousands, I can’t help but hope that this beautiful plant that creates harmonious connections to heal our body may also be able to break the boundaries that separates us and heal our communities. We will continue to create conduits for larger conversation that evaluate our relationships with ourselves, our community and the planet through education, advocacy and immersive purpose-driven experiences. The best work is yet to come. FROM YOU