My path of re-membrance began with my own healing journey and continues to unfold.
As a curious student of the Great Mystery of life, I am truly inspired by the incredible people I work with and all of the richness, discovery, insights, intimacy, beauty, depth and mutual growth available in connection & relationship.
I WANTED TO BE AN ARCHEOLOGIST
I was born and raised in New York City in the tudors of Flushing, Queens. My mother instilled a deep work ethic in me from early on. At 5 years old, I was handing lipstick to customers at my mom’s beauty supply booth at Caesar's Bay Bazaar Flea Market.
It was in my temperament from early on to be curious and very relational, looking out for the quiet people like Jeffrey Chin. I would just go over and sit with them, maybe ask a question. I wanted everyone to have a chance to be heard, seen, and included.
When I was 6, I wanted to be an archeologist. Here I am now an ontodelic practitioner and guide, an archeologist of the soul. Following the same impulse, in the mystery, the joy of discovery, and the curiosity to look for the deeper meaning in things.
At 15, I got a fake ID and my friends and I had a bigger world to explore including night clubs in the meatpacking district in NYC followed by 3am disco fries at the Bayside Diner.
I started going to The Mary Louis Academy, in Jamaica Queens, “Educating young women of vision for the 21st century.” I did receive visions and a profound education but it didn’t come from school. The following year, I encountered an unexpected teacher.
MY MYCELIAL RITE OF PASSAGE
My life would never be the same after this one afternoon . At 16 years old, my friends and I bought some large bags of purple mushrooms with caps the size of a tea-cup saucers.
In the furnished basement of my friend’s house, we stuffed an unknown amount of them into a blender with some orange juice, creating a thick shake, doled it out, and drank. I didn't know it until later, but this was a beyond heroic dose. This was a subconscious initiation I called in. It brought me through my very first death experience.
The ego death kicked in quickly. The mushrooms dropped a world of infinite wisdom on the head of a pin… that pin was my head.
Sitting on the kitchen counter, I found myself reflecting out loud to my friends, “I’m here but I’m not here. I have a family that exists outside somewhere, but they don’t really exist.” Everyone was listening, understanding through the experience themselves.
I was intrigued by the mystery of myself beyond my name, my personality. My interest was also touched by a sadness, seeing my familiar world deconstruct and disappear, the constructed timeline of my perceived existence, and the malleability of time and density.
l needed to lie down. I was disappearing fast. Lying under my friend’s formica coffee table, I was witnessing myself and experiencing myself at the same time, receiving a visceral revelation.
I uncontrollably felt every emotion a human being can possibly feel at the same time, laughter and joy, deep grief, pain and loss, terror, love, gratitude… an emotional cyclone swirling and whirling through my body and psyche like a cosmic washing machine. I was in awe. My body was uncontrollably convulsing, shivering. I’d never experienced my soul being met and guided like that before.
Hours passed. I found the mycelium showing me who my parents were on a stripped down emotional level… the vulnerability underneath their combative exchanges…I saw the soul imprints and all the layers of my friends, & my little yorki-poo dog, Rocky.
At some point, I got up. I don’t know when. I found myself on the front stoop with my friend Jess. We began to tune into an experience of my personal angels and guides, one male blonde angel guide in particular came through, whom I had forgotten since I was 4 or 5. Together, we were shown how our guides would change and different guides would come at different times in our lives.
I told her, “I appreciate you so much. My heart swelled with a deep sense of gratitude. Baring our deepest hearts, sharing our pains, regrets, truths, and gripes... It's a connection that transcends mere words."
With a soft smile she listened, her eyes reflecting the vulnerability in my voice. And the joy in embracing the adventure of the unknown! The mysteries of life that we both acknowledge on a profound level," my voice filled with a mixture of awe and wonder. "It's the recognition that there is so much more to discover, to explore, and the beauty that lies in our shared understanding of what we don't yet know."
"You have this incredible ability to ignite the fire of creativity within me," I confessed, my voice filled with admiration. "You encourage me, nurture my creative spirit, and never once make me feel ashamed of any artistic endeavors. Your friendship allows me to bloom and flourish. I am eternally grateful for that."
We shared a profound understanding, an unspoken language that allowed us to laugh at the absurdity of life's peculiarities. In that moment, we basked in the shared knowings, and unknowings that we’d unravel together and how much it all brings into the art we’d make.
This journey opened up something deep that my soul was still catching up with. I was 16 years old and I had found my teacher. It wasn’t human.
After this experience, I found more access to my heart with others. I got closer with my friends. We got more real and vulnerable with each other. We laughed a lot. It also brought more sensitivity to what was going on in my house, so I didn’t want to be there.
This was such a big initiation for me. It left an imprint that I would be unpacking for years. It began to unravel the density of the world I was living in.
I still had to go home to 166th street, up the steps, enter through the wooden stained-glass door, and enter a loud world with high-octane emotions and stress. There was love, but there was also lots of unprocessed trauma.
I retreated to my hunter green bedroom upstairs, aglow with lava lamps and candles. Within a week, I had re-decorated.
The walls that were now undulating with a roomful of psychedelic mushroom posters, with patterns rippling inside of patterns, glowing responsively to the flicker of the black lights.
The end of that journey was the next chapter, a new beginning with a ravenous hunger to know the truth and to be a forever student of the v a s t unknown of the multiverse.
I began to visit with the mushroom intentionally with much reverence and respect. Either with a few close friends or alone in my room, the mushroom sessions were always counseling sessions with the divine for me.
FASHIONABLE DREAMS + DISCOVERING THE POWER OF INTENTION:
Two years later, at 18, I went to FIT. My goal was to be a fashion buyer and wardrobe stylist. I mean, who wouldn't want to shop and style the universe without spending their own cash? It was like the ultimate dream come true.
As you might have guessed, it was not as glamorous as I thought. I couldn’t imagine being in a cubicle somewhere off of 7th avenue participating in the dark side of overseas production, feeding the underlying messages in the fashion industry, and the cultural prisons it puts women in.
By the end of my second year,, I dropped out of FIT, and the question was deeply alive. Where do I fit in this world? What do I want to do?
I started doing hair in the tiny salon space in the back of my mom's beauty supply store. Within a year, I had built a full book with waitlists, and 2 assistants. What began joyfully expanded and stress quickly entered the picture. I loved my clients and I loved what I did, but, as time went on, I felt constricted, overworked, and burnt out. I was stuck in a paradigm, in a world… in my family business, I was beginning to recon, I didn’t want to take over.. It’s times like these when we’re put into a corner that we often times discover something new.
I was about to discover the subtle powers of intention. I knew that I wanted to work at a place where I could transform and grow my skills and also teach and travel and make really good money. I thought of the top three salons in New York City that I wanted to work at… and I wrote them down. I meditated on how I wanted to feel, the freedoms, the dynamism, environment, the vibe, the capacity to be creative, the people... And in the field, the morphogenic field, these dreams and intentions were swirling, forming a new blueprint, a new destiny. The world changed overnight. The next day, I walked nervously (with faith) in the front doors of one of the top salons in NYC, interviewed, and got the job! I met my bestie Abbey Theis there, and friends that have been on a spiritual journey with me up until this moment…
I realized that day that we can dream things into reality. If we enter deeply into the field of consciousness, it shapes the creative forces of the world.
MY FIRST MARRIAGE: AN ARCHEOLOGICAL DIG INTO
In my mid 20’s I got back together with my high school sweetheart, and it felt like destiny, that life was bringing us back-together. Growth was a priority for us both and by now I knew that was important, and we both put our hearts into it. We got married.
Almost immediately, he started drinking again with friends. He regressed, became belligerent at times, falling asleep on the train, disappearing and not calling….
I come from a background of alcoholism. It was like a repeating tape. You know the cliche that we’re attracted to dating or marrying our parents. Some deep part of me was asking, “why are we repeating the same patterns, the same conflicts again and again, even in different relationships?”
I wouldn’t fully understand that til years later. Manifestation works in deeper ways than we often realize.
As this familiar terrain came up, my worst fears were manifesting. Our fights were filled with different miscommunications. It felt like everything each of us said was being taken the wrong way by the other. How could I communicate in a way he could hear?
One morning when he was sober, in the kitchen, I talked with him about my concerns. I said to him, “I’ll be there right with you. I’m totally fine to never have a drink again in my whole life… ….Are you willing to work on this? And I really didn't expect it… but he said, No.
This rocked me. I continued to try to make it work, but it ended, and my heart was broken..
I knew there was a way through this, and I set my intention to learn everything I could about myself, relationship, and life.
That painful heartbreak and death led to a rebirth.
Working with Anne, an 80+ year old transpersonal meditation teacher and Somatic Gestalt therapist, was a transformative experience for me. But, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. One day, I showed up for my appointment and heard nothing from her office, so I gently turned the knob and opened the door slowly. But, before I knew it, she swiftly slammed the door and then yelled at me! “You don't just walk in on someone like that!!! Is that what your mother did to you!?”
My instinctive reaction was, shit, "What did I do?" But, little did I know this was the impromptu psychomagic exercise that opened up the course of study for that day. Anne taught me how to track my body impulses and unconscious patterning. It was the beginning of unlocking the trauma deeply rooted in my being.…I was ready to dive into the unknown, find the dragon, and claim the treasure.
And just as these vital lessons came, in perfect timing, the call to adventure came. One afternoon Abbey and I were imagining and dreaming up our next odyssey… to Guatemala. I could feel a west wind blowing in my soul. On some deeper level, I was ready to step out of the familiar, out of the safety of all the plans that were passed down to me on how to live my life… and step into the unknown in a much bigger way.
But there was a fear as well, maybe on a few levels. It was me stepping out of a paradigm. I would be traveling on buses in the middle of the night in a foreign country, without knowing the language. Just two women winging it with our backpacks together. And I wasn’t even sure if my boss Amy would give me leave for an entire month.
She said yes.
And there I was, next to Abbey, looking out the window of the plane time traveling inside this tube up in the heavens and knowing in my soul that I was saying goodbye…to the life I’ve known, to the safety of predictability… and being catapulted into a different dimension of life that I didn’t know yet but was excited about.
SCHOOL OF MYSTICS
In Guatemala, our jungle adventure began with no plan, just intuition and synchronicity as our guide. We met kindred spirits who led us to meaningful and magical places and experiences. When I returned home to Brooklyn, I felt a strong calling to go back. And this time… the call was much deeper. I knew where I had to go. I gave away most of my
Me & Abbey
belongings, left my job indefinitely, subleased my apartment, and got a one-way ticket.
I went directly to a mystery school called Las Piramedes del KA, where we meditated for hours, studied mysticism, ancient sacred texts, practiced kundalini, and learned to navigate our dream worlds through astral travel and lucid dreaming. I received Reiki attunements and trained in bodywork.
As my time there came to a close, I had an intense case of parasites, E. coli, Giardia, and brutal painful gut infections. Yet I felt an incontrovertible soul calling to stay longer in Atitlan to go on a vision quest in a darkness retreat.
Las Piramides del Ka
A VISION IN THE DARK ROOM
I left my body in that dark room. My soul traveled through a portal of immense light, It was a full and total dissolving into pure peace with a loud sound akin to cicadas surrounding me that got louder and louder louder and louder as I floated through this vast void of serene love-light. It sounded like a cosmic reverberation, like the sound of creation.
I saw Antonia's body below, lying listlessly there in the hammock.
As I traveled deeper into the light, I heard layers of loud chanting in a language unfamiliar to me in this lifetime, yet totally familiar. I felt an infinite ocean of unconditional love, deep peace, forgiveness, and joy. The pure surrender of dying into consciousness. It was a feeling beyond what words describe.
I saw the face of a bearded man and heard a name repeated loudly. A year later, that face I saw would be my next partner, destined to impact me in ways I could have never known.
FOLLOW THE BREADCRUMBS
Grace led me to central Mexico, where I found a vibrant community and pursued my soul's passions in silversmithing and spiritual practices like rebirthing breathwork and plant medicine.
After consulting with an astro-cartographer, Sandy Subotnick, I learned that I had a power line in Hermosillo, Sonora Mexico, a remote and scorching desert area that piqued my curiosity. Little did I know, this was the next breadcrumb on my journey, related to a premonition I had in the dark room.
MR TOAD'S WILD RIDE
Sipping coffee at a cafe with a friend in town, Klaudia appeared, drove by and shouted, "He's here! Come to this address in an hour!" I had no idea what was about to happen, but I trusted my friends. They all had profound experiences with a psychedelic entheogen called 'Bufo' found in the Sonoran Desert (Hermosillo).
The shaman was aloof and grumpy when I first met him. In the same sentence of ‘Hello’ he was telling the pretty brunette helping him, “Get me a trash can.”
I was first to go. Without any words, He stood me up and patted my body to connect with me and my field. It was brief. I was a little nervous but ready. He lit the pipe and told me to keep inhaling, “Sigue, sigue, sigue.” And then he told me to hold it in. ”More air, Mas aire,” he repeated..
He began to shape shift and morph. Just before I was swept away, …and he began to chant that familiar chant that rippled through my cells and memory…then all sense of myself, my body, this reality began to implode, fractal & fold in onto itself. It was so fast…an unstoppable force.
As I surrendered to the force, grief and fear rose in me. I heard my voice, ”Oh no…oh, I'm sorry!” This time, I was sure I was dying. The ‘sorry’ was for the pain my mother would feel that I was gone. And for the things I didn’t get to fulfill in my life.
As I let go, it gave way to pure peace and love. As I traveled into the golden fractal light, I heard that familiar chanting in the distance.
I lost all consciousness and awareness of any sense of my earthly existence. It had all been a dream. A projection. None of it happened, “me” my existence, my life. There was never any Antonia. I experienced essence. I experienced aliveness in other places and in other timelines and dimensions. Everything was an infinite echo of both chaos and peace and perfection and beauty.
And then I began to reassemble, the sensation of my body nestled and held by mother earth. I was overwhelmed with sensuous joy and blissful gratitude.
I woke up with Klaudia straddled across my belly celebrating what she knew I now knew.. It was the most immense feeling of remembrance and rebirth.The knowing of essence I never knew in this way, and the bliss of truly knowing heaven on earth . It was so much. SO much.
Then, someone was up next!
As I sit here writing this, reveling in that echo of the infinite, I can't help but think back to the young girl I once was.
WE ARE ALL JUST GUESTS HERE ON EARTH:
Even then, as a 13-year-old growing up in Flushing, Queens, it was clear that the seeds of my spiritual journey were planted long before I even realized it.
I would make frequent visits to the sanctity of Flushing Cemetery. With a spliff and some free time, mornings and afternoons, I found the peace and quietness to support my soul inquiries. It was intuitive and natural.
Many days, I reveled in the aliveness and freshness of spring or summertime filled with bright pink azaleas, the sweet smell of honeysuckle, Lilies of the valley and lush flourishing fauna. In the winter, it was another universe. Laying down under a tree, I was all bundled up to the nose on a fresh layer of shimmer, held by the fluffy, rainbow iridescent untouched snow. Suspended inside a globe of stillness and silence. Held by mother earth. This cemetery was right next to a Native American burial ground.
On these personal journeys, there was something life-affirming & deep in the ways nature spoke and reflected the truths of soul. Under a certain willow tree, I felt the souls buried under these grounds, born and died, just like the trees inside of pine cones, the cycles of the flowers, blooming, pollinating, and wilting. It was an uplifting spiritual transmission. The cycles were talking, networks.
I was in communication with the souls who were of that place, in that soil marked by headstones. I felt military souls, who fought and died. The native souls, slaves who died of illness. Somebody’s beloved. I felt the full spectrum of the beauty and pains we all share in this human experience. I learned that emotions are the one language that all sentient beings share. The whispers, songs, poetry, pains, and cries, confusions, frustrations, the joys, and tenderness.
It made me realize that we are all just guests here on earth, among all the unseen beings out of body.
THE PULL TO RETURN:
So back to where I was, the day after the first powerful Toad experience, I felt an unshakeable pull to return. It felt like there was a 20 lb weight on my heart, this heavy energy.
I messaged him saying, ‘It feels like there is something else I am supposed to move or learn.” The second journey was much more violent, and I found myself grappling with the brutal legacies of my ancestors, victims and perpetrators. Murders, deaths, rapes. I was processing the violence I still had toward myself inside me, ancestral echoes that fed my inner critic... but I didn't know that at the time. All I could feel was every sensation racing at a dizzying blur of intensity.
Then I opened my eyes and felt the embrace of earth. The shared fragments of time-space were beginning to reintegrate. I found myself scraped up (from my own nails), soaking wet and exhausted.
Octavio's face was close to mine, and we locked eyes. He raised the pipe to my lips again, and I breathed in. I was catapulted into the light again, limbs flailing, purging, a vessel for something bigger than myself. I was again the channel, and the witness... a warrior in me moved through the drudgery of past pains for the remembrance of parts of my soul, the parts of my ancestors souls and the soul of our planet.
RELEASING THE BLACK MASS:
I had no idea how intense those next weeks would be. I was re-activating with spontaneous trips back into medicine portals, losing track of space and time…sometimes in the street. My sense of what I’d known to be my ‘self’ was disconnected, hurricanes of emotion sweeping over me without context.
Seeking help, I turned to Kristina Rogers, my teacher. She discovered a heavy black mass in my 2nd chakra and helped me release that which came out as giant a primal scream and a flood of tears. Kristina, (she’s a psychic intuitive), sensed, “Do you have something with him?”
I said, “No…”
She said, “Hmm, well, he has something with you…You don't have any plans to travel with him?”
I said, “Nope.”
Hermosillo, Mexico near Punta Chueka
THE TOAD PROPHET:
The next day he messaged me, “I don't know what it is, but I'm feeling like we're supposed to know each other. Do you want to come travel with me and see what happens?”
Days later, he returned to my town. His energy was forward, catching me off guard. I was raw, ungrounded and a bit surprised. I felt an anxiety mixed with intrigue and curiosity. I also found myself remembering him more deeply now from the dark room, that bearded face.
The next morning, we left.
We had traveled for the full year of 2013 on an international medicine tour. We spent time with the indigenous Seri tribe in Hermosillo. I witnessed hundreds of people's transformative journeys during that time, serving groups of 20-30 people in a day.
Octavio had become known as the toad prophet. It was his dream to "toad every human." He was an OBGYN doctor and surgeon with a history of crack addiction that was healed by the toad. And yet it felt there was still something compulsive about the way he was moving.
From planes to 15-hour bus rides, to full days of back-to-back sessions, we traveled non-stop from one country to the next. The only break we got was one day when we arrived in a new place. I began to wonder, “What is he running from inside of himself?”
It felt like a guilt and terror in him, an unresolved past that was driving this breakneck pace. I bore witness to a great many, profound breakthrough experiences that changed people's lives forever.
Once you receive the full transmission of truth, there's no going back. You can't un-see it or unknow it. I witnessed people rediscover the essence of life, the unity reverberating through the kaleidoscope of life's joys, pains, fears, deaths, jubilees, and rebirths.
We slept in villas, in mansions, and amidst the poor communities, sleeping on whatever they had to give us to sleep on. Our travels were often ecstatic and erratic. There were highs and lows, twists and turns. I was still integrating my own infinitely profound experiences with the Toad and I had a deep trust with this medicine. But could I trust him? He was running himself ragged, and I was trying to take care of both of us, but it was wearing me down.
And that was the deeper question in me that was always at the surface. He was clearly knowledgeable as a doctor, one of the most experienced practitioners with this entheogenic medicine (he had dosed thousands of people at this point, with documented research). And clearly, he had profound healing capacities as a psychic surgeon.
But as time went on, I began to witness instances where he administered overdoses causing PTSD and inflicted emotional, psychological, and physical damage, traumatizing and retraumatizing people.
3 or 4 months in, I saw instances of him being outright irresponsible at times in his fervor, intensity, and methodology. Despite my suggestion that he shouldn’t take the medicine while working with others, he insisted he needed it in order to work deeply. But on the medicine, he would end up in spirals of his own projections, occasionally yelling at people and humiliating them. When I pressed him, he would justify, ‘It’s not me. It’s the medicine talking. They’re creating whatever’s happening.’ At times he was receptive to me, and I felt I could get through to him.
TRUTH IN THE MIRROR AT A ROADSIDE MOTEL
7 months in, a woman who owned a rehab in the outskirts of town offered us a home to live in after we facilitated sessions with the patients there. The people in the rehab were mostly young men in their 20's.
It was a welcome respite from the non-stop travels. Octavio left to Europe. As a part of the exchange, I taught an intuitive movement class where we explored the emotional body spirit body and mental body and physical body through presencing and insight meditation.
After seven months of travel, I finally had a moment of reprieve to reflect and integrate my experiences. Amidst my journeys, I had the privilege of providing deep support to countless individuals, each undergoing their own unique transformations. Through this process, I gained a profound understanding of the intricate tenderness, care, and gentleness that is required to meet people in such a highly expanded, delicate state. It was as though each individual was a newborn, fully immersed and fused with their surroundings, where the slightest energy shift could leave profound imprints on their being.
I knew there had to be a new normal around medicine work.
Meanwhile, Octavio’s methods were becoming controversial. Amidst the recklessness, there were dramas and death threats on his life. When I met back up with him, it was the same old routine. I had hoped things would change, but they hadn’t. It was only getting worse.
After one long leg of travel in Europe, back to Mexico and a 4 day drive from Cancun to Sonora, I was getting more distanced from my family. His behavior became increasingly controlling and manipulative.
I discovered myself situated in a roadside motel, gazing intently into the reflective depths of my own eyes in a bathroom mirror, and I said to myself, “You are lost, Antonia. You're lost.”
Right after that moment with myself, He hands me his phone, with a text from a woman who had previously arranged retreats for us. I always felt she had a motherly aura, and was very intuitive.
The message echoed a truth that could not be ignored, "My heart is broken. I'm so sorry to hear the news that you both are lost…. You've gotten lost."
That was it.
I was on a plane home 2 days later.
That experience was like 5 years within a year. The pain and profundity had shifted the trajectory of my soul.
Back home now, I had to take a moment to catch my breath, sift through the rubble and find my way back to the light… to gather my strength and find my center again. So many emotions were swirling inside of me to be acknowledged, to be tended to, to be healed. With the loving support of my mother, my dearest friends, teachers, and healers, I would, in time, be able to peel back the layers…
I would eventually emerge on the other side, stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever before.
TRAINING TO BE AN ARCHEOLOGIST: DIG ME UP FROM UNDER WHAT IS COVERING
In 2014, in my hometown of San Miguel de Allende, I signed up for a training with two beloved teachers who would change the course of my life: Diamond and River Jameson of the Living Freedom Program- Total Integration.
In prior retreats and medicine work, the emphasis was on higher chakras and meditation. The emotional body and its lower centers were not explored so deeply. Living Freedom's approach, however, was more comprehensive, considering the entire chakra system, etheric body, depth psychology, and mythopoetics. This allowed me to gain a clearer understanding of my unconscious emotional wounds and how to relate with experience and navigate them.
During our retreats, we delved into writing exercises surrounded by nature and explored the dynamics of unspoken agreements in our relationships. I listed out Octavio, my previous partners, and my parents. Through this inquiry, I began to uncover the roots of my own feelings and how I had given away my power. It took tremendous courage to look within and confront the parts of myself that I had long suppressed or abandoned out of fear.
At one of the ‘Living Freedom’ retreats, my mother was attending with me. In a big beautiful room with stone walls and giant windows and around 30 people, on mats, with pillows, we were doing express and release work. I was letting it rip, kicking my feet and screaming, and raw anger arose inside me.
I saw my mother leave the room, and I saw a part of myself wanting to get up, follow her, soothe her…forget my own experience and take care of her. And in that moment, I felt, in living color, the pattern. I saw something massive about my life, moment by moment, day by day, year by year, every day of my life…I realized something about the deepest forces that run our lives and repeat again and again.
At that moment…this is what I realized… In our early formative experiences, in the womb, as a baby, as a toddler, as a child, we form two to three strategies for how we needed to be/act in order to be safe, to get love and approval from the most important people in our life. They became habits, then automatic patterns. As we grew, they shaped our personality.
Now those safety strategies run our lives.
We go into those behaviors as soon as we feel distressed. It's involuntary; our bodies just do it automatically. Many of us live inside our safety strategies. We do them almost all the time. We think, "That's just the way I am." They control how we act, what we think, and how we feel.
Being caught in a safety strategy is a part of our flow. Its connected to how we and our ancestors made it in the world, and it also distorts our raw perception.
While we're in one of our safety strategies, we're no longer fully present in the here and now. The past memories (and traumas) that led us to adopt this strategy are coloring and intensifying our experience.
To regain control over our own life, we must understand our own safety strategies. In that moment of catharsis, lying exhausted on the mat, without any shame, my face wet with tears….. I remembered….
ACORN TO OAK: THE ROOTS THAT DEFINE US
I was born on Jan 2nd 1982, a breech babe, delivered via C-section in NY Hospital after a long arduous labor. I was taken away from my mother immediately after I was born for 24 hours. My dad didn't make it till the next morning. They said I had hip dysplasia. Turns out, I popped my hip back into place by myself in the NIC unit. I was a colic baby, with eczema, and lots of pain in my body.
I first remembered this during an underwater breathwork rebirthing at the age of 27. Years later, I went into this memory again in vivid precise detail during a profoundly revelatory ceremony with the African root medicine, Iboga.
The Zulus consider certain illnesses we accrue or challenging births we may suffer as a potential sign of our ”calling” or ‘ubizo’. For the Zulus, babies born with challenges and complications during their birth are visited by the shamans of the tribe to see if they have a dharma as a healer. For me, in a way, it was the beginning of my healing path.
When my parents split up, I was only 2. The shock of their tumultuous divorce reverberated in the field, hitting everyone, including my developing self. At 3, I almost died of toxic shock syndrome. Destiny kept me here because I didn't want to break my mother's heart; she'd already been widowed before my dad. Also because I had work to do here. Or maybe just because I had love to do here.
Before that, my mom used to chat with my soon-to-be step-dad when we visited the convenience store. When I got sick, he stayed by our side, bringing food and offering unwavering support. His care for me deepened his bond with my mother, and I felt how much he saw and understood me, connecting with me emotionally.
I bring this into my healing story this way, as these same early stories come up with the people I work with. They are vulnerable and foundational. These early experiences are at the heart of me. They give shape and inform my beingness and ongoing journey of discovery. My trials have become the basis for my gifts.
RE-MEMBERING A NEW WAY OF WORKING:
“Feel the support of the chair beneath you. Let's take a moment to ground ourselves in the present moment. and take a few deep breaths, allowing any thoughts, impulses, feelings, sensations to arise,” I say in a soft voice.
I’m on Zoom with a client who grew up with seven siblings. Her awareness lands on a sensation in her solar plexus of anxiety and fear. As we explore, she allows herself to be carried deeper into her psyche, where the veils of time begin to dissipate, revealing a long-forgotten memory.
“I was five. We were all pretty much on our own.” With a trembling voice, she says, “My older brother is standing over me in the front lawn. He had pushed me over. I was terrified. I shouted, hoping somebody would notice…but nobody ever came.”
My heart goes out. I say gently, “I can feel how terrifying that was for little (we’ll call her), Brenna. And as you and I both, together are here with our full attention with little Brenna in this memory, trusting your body and spirit know what is important about this.. Brenna if you can get some distance as you allow what your body knows to unfurl here……lets just together stay here and be with whats happening is that okay? We can always come out too if it gets to be too.. anything.. She nods.
“It might feel good and safe to imagine you as an adult are right there, right beside her, the 5-year-old you in that moment. And I am there too with you. Take a moment to let her notice our presence and how it makes her feel…”
Breathing deeply, a sense of relief washes over her. Tears begin to stream down her face, but they are tears of release and healing.
We unfold the process of memory reconsolidation with love and care to each detail. At the end, her adult self gets to understand something crucial, a crucial understanding of how the body works.
The feeling of anxiety in the solar plexus IS the 5-year-old…it is her ancestors. She’s been there within her body all along, frozen in time and tissues, imprinted with beliefs, and longing to complete the experience to allow the charge in the body to move through what it organically needs to. .
This is one of the approaches I work with over the years as a part of the signature synthesis of modalities I use to meet the whole person. Memories, once thought to be static and unchangeable, become malleable, forming new neural connections and fostering profound shifts in feeling and perception.
Over the years of training, I steeped myself in integrative studies: Somatic Experiencing, ‘Leadership That Works’ Coaching, IFS Parts work, Hakomi, Diamond Approach, Gestalt, Walking the Medicine wheel, Rebirthing, medicine work/entheogens, vision questing, hypnotherapy, Moon Dance, song, re-consolidating early experiences, and other modalities. I learned about and fathomed the impacts of multigenerational trauma, the depths of cellular memory, and the unconscious.
My practice was thriving. I was fully booked with a steady stream of clients seeking my unique fusion of somatic healing and self-knowledge. This was my form of archeology.
As time went on, I felt another calling within me. I knew coaches and healers could benefit from learning this work I had developed. As is my way, I prayed for a dream, a sign, or a vision to share these ways with others.
THE SOUL CALL TO TEACH: BIRTHING A VISION
In 2018, I attended a dieta. I asked spirit, with the guidance of the medicine for support in showing me how to share my gifts in a way that is most regenerative and beneficial to what the world needs right now. To show me how to get out of my own way and open up to the possibilities of what can be.
In that 2nd Ayahuasca session, l saw a vision of a majestic mountain in the form of a woman, with her legs parted. A river of crimson blood flowed from in between her legs. The blood transformed into crystalline water.
A joyful hummingbird came forth vividly in front of me, in full IMAX, and kissed my third eye. Then it darted upwards and hovered above the mountain.
I saw a bridge with a rainbow arched above the colorful mountain top covered in bright colorful gorgeous blooming flowers. The hummingbird kissing on each flower.
Ayahuasca proceeded to show me a detailed sequence of the 7 module year-long immersive offering for guides. And it was that day I conceived the wholistically integrative program we now call, The Rainbow bridges.
7 months later, I launched this transformative year-long program and integrative school centered on becoming part of the soul-ution in the medicine world and our lives : ) The cohort consisted of healers, therapists, community weavers, and body workers wanting to deepen their offerings. Now we’ve had two year-long cohorts successfully complete the program. It's been such an honor, inspiration and privilege to co-create and cultivate. Together, we traverse innerverses and universes in this experiential leadership training, forging profound connections with incredible individuals.
A deep life stage of bringing my soul gifts into the world had been anchored, and my soul relished knowing this after so many years of gestation and preparation.
As that completion was dawning, my heart still had a yearning for a special connection, a love to share the journey with. I longed for a partner whose soul resonated with mine, a kindred spirit, a soul mate who shared the same passion for love, life, self-discovery and transformation.
YOU & ME & A CUP OF TEA
In an Iboga plant medicine journey and in daily intentions, I began to set the prayer in motion. I asked life for guidance and revelations… And it wasn’t just for what I wanted, but rather to see clearly what it was inside of me that I couldn’t see, that which needed tending and healing in order to create the right pathways - to clear the places inside so I could be in the right vibration for the partner I wanted to create a life with.
As I tended to this prayer, many memories were unearthed, pains excavated, and insights dawned. I saw clearly some of the blind spots in my unconscious that were out of alignment. I pulled on the yarns, grieved, nourished, and began to reclaim those aspects of myself.
Then, one night, I had a dream about me sharing a cup of tea with a blonde handsome man in a warm sunny plant filled room sitting at a little white round table.
Two days later, I get on the phone with my sister-friend Dale, and before we barely say hello, my very intuitive psychic friend says, “Woah! Who’s this blonde Viking dude in your field?!”
Within a week, I met my husband Roger and we fell in love. We had both been on a trial-by-fire school of hard knocks journey. We met in the soul and a deep commitment to growth. From day one, we sensed it could very easily be for life, and we also sensed we had to tie up a few threads together. It took around 6 months to be sure, and to test drive the rhythm of our unfolding.
We continue to learn so much from each other. We are like two mad scientists in the lab of relationship.
We both see relationship as a sacred learning grounds, where growth walks hand in hand with love.
As we delved deeply into meeting and reflecting, I felt like I was cracking codes. Together we were peeling back layers of ourselves AND being able to meet each other in ways we had never been met before.
It felt like a revolution for our beliefs, for our self-worth, for our sense of being worthy of the things that deep down we had doubted about ourselves.
We created a shared hub for our offerings, ‘Wheel of Life’, and
quite naturally it came forth that we began working with couples together, guiding medicine journeys woven into 5 day retreats. Such profound deepenings, healings and transformations were unfolding.
A ROADMAP FOR DEEPENING RELATIONSHIP:
We both knew that romantic love delivers us into the passionate arms of someone who will ultimately trigger the same frustrations we had with our parents, but for the best possible reason! :)
Doing so brings our childhood wounds to the surface so they can be healed. Our unconscious mind wants to heal those wounds, but that can only be achieved if both people in a relationship are aware of what those hurts were, and then a door opens to be met in ways that parts of you can only dream of.
We were seeing this bigger picture, and very clear ways to work it.
We took decades of trials and hard lessons and insight and distilled it to 7 key steps for couples, ‘Foundations of Thriving.’ We love seeing couples, those married for decades and newer couples alike, discover a whole new set of capacities together and find themselves arriving at a summit along a smooth terraced path.
THE RAINBOW BRIDGES COHORT 2021! As I reflect on my healing journey,
it fills me with a sense of awe and gratitude. This path of remembrance has unfolded in the most unexpected and beautiful ways, guiding me towards profound connections and a deeper understanding of life's mysteries. From my early days in Queens, New York, where I longed to be an archeologist, to the pivotal moment when I embarked on a mind-altering journey with purple mushrooms, my soul has been on a quest for truth and meaning. Through laughter, tears, and moments of pure transcendence, I have discovered the power of vulnerability and the immense capacity for growth that lies within each of us. Life has led me down winding paths, from pursuing fashion dreams to delving into the depths of my own soul in therapy sessions. It was in the excavation of my own patterns and the healing of ancestral wounds that I found a profound transformation. And it was in the midst of heartbreak and loss that I learned the power of intention and manifestation, discovering that we can shape our reality with the energy of our thoughts and dreams. Each step of the way, I have been supported by incredible teachers, mentors, and kindred spirits who have walked beside me, lighting the path with their wisdom and love. And in turn, I have learned the power of connection, the gift of deep listening, and the beauty of being seen and heard. Through my travels and adventures, from Guatemala to Mexico, I have come to embrace the unknown, surrendering to the flow of life and the magic that unfolds when we let go of control. In the darkness, I have found light. In the depths, I have discovered resilience. And in the vastness of the universe, I have found a home within myself. As I write these words, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude. Love for the journey that has shaped me into who I am today, with all its triumphs and tribulations. And gratitude for the people who have touched my life, allowing me to grow, learn, and share in the beauty of our collective humanity. I live and work atop a mountain we call Ganesh Mountain in the Berkshires, MA on Mohican lands with my husband, Roger Vanoro our lil’ dog Quest the Infinite, and our 6 chickens, Celestia, Amber, Cayenne, Latifah, Ashland, & Susan. I celebrate Roger, the purity and clarity and fire of his heart. We live in community, with our dear friends, Azura, Delia, and their daughter Lotus and Sarah, & Lev and their son Emett co-creating sacred healing spaces, rites of passage, vision quests, retreats and events, couple's work, medicine journeys, men's and women's work - and reweaving the tapestry of meaningful tribe and multi-generational connection in the remembrance of regenerative living. My healing story continues to unfold, and I embrace it with an open heart and a sense of wonder. May we all find the courage to embark on our own journeys of self-discovery, to embrace vulnerability, and to connect deeply with the world around us. For it is through these experiences that we truly come alive and find the meaning and purpose we seek. ~ Antonia Vanoro
My love, Roger & I
Quest the Infinite and Ashland the chicken