MEET CASSANDRA. THIS RADIANT HUMAN TALKS TO US ABOUT BEING A DOULA AND HOW SHE EMBRACES MASCULINITY AND FEMININITY.
Cassandra– if you had to write a brief bio about yourself, what would it say?
I think I’d like it to mention my raw duality first and foremost; my fierce shadow and my permeating light – I think I’m hella infectious, regardless – and I’m proud of my recent dance with duality. I’m proud of a lot of my writing and would love to give folx a chance to access some of my little reminders to self; each piece I’ve written had indirectly been addressed to me.
I’d like to be remembered for my radical plant medicine work, my exceptional doula care and my willingness to learn – constantly. I’m grateful to be called a healer, however I am still deepening my understanding of what kind of healer I am; how do I use my ‘bridge magic’ and how can I best support others in being their own healers?
I’m a queer, a black woman and a pretty dope godmother to a 2 year old. That my biggest teachers are the babies I support coming earth side and the parents who choose to be a vessel for these celestial souls.
“I think we often confuse masculinity and femininity with gender or sex or sexual orientation, and so I’m redefining what ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ mean to me; how they look on my body and sound on my tongue; how fear and love power each of these energies.”
You’re a doula with a focus on plant-based remedies - how did you choose this path? What is it like to be apart of such a special part of life?
This path chose me first; plants have always whispered remedy to me – but in deciding to embrace this path, I finally began to listen to them and hear their medicine teachings clearly. My grandmother has always been able to dance on the other side of the veil, so craft and source connection is in my lineage; again, chosen because I am adopted (I call them my chosen family, believing I picked them before my birth mother conceived me). And it just so happened that a lot of the medicines who shared their secrets with me happened to be birth work and care medicines. I just followed that trail that has been laid out for me.
One of my big lessons in this life time is to understand earth; grounding, the planet, humans and the animals who represent one of the elements I feel so far away from. So, it’s very much a path I’ve chosen because it’s where I have the most to learn, to grow. I want to know and understand as much as I can in this life, so my career, my calling, should reflect that where I will find challenge and new information, perhaps not garnered in past lives.
I’m learning a lot about pain; where it comes from, it’s practical use and how to hold it. I am constantly honoured to be a professional witness; to hold space for people during a MAJOR rite of passage, whether they carry baby to term and take them home, or not. I get to dance along the veil of life and death, and to claim such liminal space so constantly is a deeply blessed experience.
Recognizing that this is justice work is constantly humbling and a reminder of where strength lies in our communities.
We sometimes forget that personal identity is beyond our work or the way we look – personal identity includes the way we see the world. We’re curious about what the world looks like to you or what you believe it should look like. Can you tell us about your personal worldview and philosophy?
This is a really hard question to answer. I’m 29 and in major transition; I’m smack dab in the centre of my Saturn return, so my worldview, as I know it, is in a big shift.
I certainly believe that all things are relative, and time is a construct. I want to see community and embrace where our communities have only understood fear and othering. I know that of the two major propelling forces, I choose love over fear. I am a big fan of the #SelfCare generation and believe that the more we are willing to meet people where they are at, the more we will be able to open up the necessary dialogue that can shift perspective.
I have a deep belief in and love of Creator and our Ancestors. I know they are all speaking to us constantly.
I believe each one of us is a reflection of each other; even Donald Trump.
I believe in reclaiming my time. I believe in deep rest. I believe in doing you; whatever the fuck that looks like.
I believe we’re all a little bit queer. I believe we are all a little bit fluid.
I believe that we all carry masculine and feminine inside of us and we’ve confused those energies with genders.
I believe that we have to redefine and rebuild our rituals, especially as people of the African diaspora.
I am a birth worker who supports self-determined termination.
I am a birth worker who supports choosing to bottle feed and not chestfeed/breastfeed.
I am a birth worker who is not anti-anything, but extremely pro-choice in all things.
I believe we should all be able to walk into a room with our full selves. Flawed and perfect, all at once.
Has your personal philosophy changed or evolved? Was there a moment or maybe even an event that initiated that change?
When an Elder of mine looked at me and told me I wasn’t shit, it forced me to admit that I felt the same; I felt I had no magic, I was not the expert other expected me to be, and that I carried a violent masculinity in me that forced me to see masculinity as nothing but violent. It allowed me to hold my shadow, and I’ve been diving inward and deep ever since. I truly believe that a big cure for a lot of the sick in our society will begin when we move towards solitude, reflection and ritual. We all need to be humbled every once in while; and to be seen for the human you are and not the attempted-perfection you’re covering that humanity up with is freeing. This is where I really started to embrace duality as, not flawed, but human.
We spoke about “riding your masculinity in your femininity” – we love the way you phrased that, it’s something that isn’t said enough. How did you come up with that phrase?
I think we often confuse masculinity and femininity with gender or sex or sexual orientation, and so I’m redefining what ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ mean to me; how they look on my body and sound on my tongue; how fear and love power each of these energies. I want to honour the balance of the two within me and not feel forced to claim one or the other in a dominant way because my sex is ‘female’ and my sexual orientation is ‘lesbian.’ What colour can I give my ‘boi’ and what colour can I give my ‘femme,’ and how will those associations change as I grow? How can ‘fluid’ manifest in the physical, mutable human form and what feels good for my body to hold?
And, what does your fluidity express itself as currently, whether it be physically, emotionally and mentally?
Right now my fluidity is definitely expressed in my clothing; I’m wearing shapes and silhouettes I’ve never dared before, and rocking colours I’m told don’t compliment me, and sporting haircuts I never dared try for fear of them taking my femme presentation away from me; in truth, no one can do that to me other than myself though. I don’t swallow people’s bullshit about gender anymore.
What colour did you give your ‘boi’ and ‘femme’?
My boi rocks orange and yellow right now, while my femme sports green and brown. It’s gonna change for both many times, but right now, that’s they respective vibes.
When you mention the topic of duality, what does that mean for you?
Duality is embracing all aspects of ourselves. Understanding that as humans we do chose the shadow response sometimes and that’s neither good nor bad; it’s just human. It’s an exploration of our free will and consequence. It’s an exercise in forgiveness and ‘bettering’ oneself. It’s the deepest embrace of our fluid nature, in all things. Knowing that all on this Earth is constructed, so navigating how can we redefine and define our lives for ourselves and those we’re accountable to. It’s about raw truth and how that feels.
When do you feel most empowered?
When I walk into that which I’m most afraid of.
Which of your physical attributes do you love the most?
My thighs. My back. My eyebrows. My mouth. My vulva.