Interview by Eva Mayhabal Davis
Culturework had a chance to hear from Tania Romero, founder of Herbal Rising, a platform dedicated to advocacy and education of herbal and traditional medicine. She shared knowledge and a series of graphics done in collaboration with designer Itzy Ramirez at @itzy_designs
Thank you for sharing and doing this work!
Culturework: How long have you been advocating and practicing traditional medicines?
Tania Romero: My journey with herbal medicine and traditional healing practices began at home in Ecuador, South America with my two parents who raised us with the power of plant medicine and food as medicine, so as long as I can remember, I’ve been practicing traditional medicines. As I became an adult, and became aware of the power and value of traditional medicines, I became a fierce advocate of them. I’ve been actively learning and sharing about ancestral healing for the past 20 years of my life.
CW: Where does your grounding for your work root from?
TR: My grounding as a healer is rooted in my parents’ teachings, and also my maternal grandmother, who was an intuitive. My mother also has the power to “see things” or dream things before they happen. As a little girl, my mom would share her visions with me, although she was often times afraid of her powers. My grandmother also didn’t openly share her spiritual practices. I see this as a result of colonialism and religion, which condemned Indigenous spirituality and earth-based practices. As an adult, I was lucky to find teachers and elders, who guided me and taught me to connect to my roots and my ancestral practices. It has been part of my healing journey to heal the fear and the ancestral trauma that has been passed down. I’ve been actively healing myself for the past 20 years. My own healing journey inspired me to then train and learn and apprentice to then be able to share this medicine and knowledge with my community. One of my latest teachers, who has guided and taught me about plant medicine is master herbalist Karen Rose. I’ve been apprenticing under her for the last 5 years. As a Latinx Queer women who’s a product of forced migration and colonization, my work is also grounded in the value of healing justice. I see the reclaiming of our ancestral traditions as a political act towards our own liberation and the rebirth of a more just world.
CW: What are you working on now?
TR: Currently, I’m working to grow my herbal practice. I founded HerbalRising as result of the huge need to make herbal medicine and ancestral healing modalities accessible, especially to communities who are exploited, marginalized and invisible inside of a white supremacist, capitalist and cis-hetero-patriarchal society. I make my own herbal remedies and products to support people prevent dis-ease, and to help them heal and restore balance on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. I also offer one-on-one healing and community healing circles, which are now being offered virtually due to the pandemic. All my work is ceremonial in nature and brings the use of plant medicine and ancestral earth-based practices.
In response to the pandemic, and considering that one of the communities most deeply impacted are Latinx recent immigrant communities, I’ve developed a series of bilingual (English and Spanish) written materials that include simple, affordable, and accessible herbal healing recipes and healing rituals for our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. These materials have been beautifully illustrated by Itzy Ramirez. I plan to develop more of these materials in the months to come.
I’m also collaborating with other community herbalists on developing a series of virtual herbal healing workshops, as well as on starting an herbal medicine collection and drop off initiative for those that can’t access this type of medicine easily.
Eva Mayhabal Davis is the arts content editor at Culturework.