“The harm stops here and I'm going to walk in a healed way.”
There is something so freeing about shedding the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ and inviting in simple celebration of our cultures into our daily lives - especially for the Indigenous community who have suffered so much shame and restriction through colonization. However, this invitation can be extended to people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. In this episode we talk to Asha Frost, an Indigenous Medicine healer who speaks about the diagnosis that led her to dig into her cultural background, some beautiful moments at her wedding and naming ceremony, and how uncovering intergenerational harm in her own family led her to feel it intimately and profoundly. Asha leaves us with the thought that by breaking cycles through identification and intention that one can heal, not only for ourselves but for generations to come.
Asha Frost (she/her) is an Indigenous Medicine Woman and best-selling author of You are the Medicine. She is a member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation. Asha is from the Crane Clan, the totem of leadership, and believes in holding space from vision and heart. As an energy healer, homeopath, and mentor, Asha has guided thousands of people through profound and lasting transformation.
Asha lives on Anishinaabe, Huron-Wendat, and Haudenosaunee Territory, with her husband and two beautiful children, with whom she co-creates a better world for the seven generations to come. You can purchase her book at youarethemedicinebook.com
If you’d like to tell us your story or chat about your thoughts on culture, family, and heritage, we always love to chat. Find us on social @rootandseedco and subscribe to our newsletter to never miss a Root & Seed moment.
Hey, my name is Anika Chabra and you're listening to Root & Seed, a podcast about tradition seekers, who were sparked to explore, define, and celebrate their family and cultural identity.
Having an entire season based on celebration warms our hearts and souls. The variety in our guests' stories is astonishing and while their perspectives are different, they allow us to get a glimpse into how, why, and what they do to celebrate their cultures, heritages, and religions, leaving us feeling inspired. This brings joy, awareness and knowledge to acts of observance and of pure, unadulterated celebration.
So far this season, we have learned that sharing our traditions can make a holiday celebratory and the fact that we can celebrate our religion through sheer curiosity and modernizing stories and rituals. And last episode, Abdul-Rehman reminded us how much cooking can be a celebration - connecting us with loved ones and sparking a sense of nostalgia when shared, and the beauty in coming full circle.
And amazingly, we are only halfway through this season!
Today’s conversation felt surreal and my sense is this guest has that effect on many people. There is something about speaking to a Medicine Healer that lightens, and grounds, all at the same time. We talk about ceremony as a form of celebration and how spiritual acts can be simple if you open up yourself to the idea of them.
The Indigenous community has suffered incredible atrocities, and the weight of intergenerational trauma they experience is profound. This episode’s guest is one of the leaders in reclaiming traditional healing as a step in a positive direction, both physically and emotionally. Asha Frost is an Indigenous healer, a mentor, a mom and a best-selling author of the newly released book “You are the Medicine''. But we think she describes herself best:
I always like to introduce myself traditionally. Nenaandawi Nagweyaab Kwe My spirit name is Healing Rainbow Woman, and I'm From Neyaashiinigmiing, First Nation. And I am from the Crane Clan (Aji-jaak dodem). And the reason I like to introduce myself that way is it speaks of the land that my ancestors are from and it speaks of that land connection that my spirit has. I love to express that. I am a Medicine Woman and a Mama, and I've been a healer for the past two decades in different variations sharing my medicine as a Homeopath for 15 years. And then during that time at a private practice, I saw folks to do some shamonic work and energetic healing - and then I just sort of expanded that to a global online presence and sharing my medicine in that way. I love to see folks remember who they are and find their own medicine. That's one of my favourite things to hold space for. And I'm a Mama to two boys. I'm Anishinaabe, an Indigenous first nation across Turtle Island.
Asha’s voice is just so soothing and inviting, and the way that she introduces herself exudes her confidence in who she is AND her gifts to the world. In season one we spoke about culture sparks, the moment you started to reclaim your cultural background, and knowing that Asha experienced a defining and significant moment earlier in her life, we asked her to expand on that experience next.
My father grew up on his First Nation. He was born there. He made a really conscious decision to leave. Back in that day racism was really rampant where he lived. And so his family decided to move off the reserve. And I feel like that decision shaped, of course it shapes the generations to come. So that shaped things in a really big way. And I think that is also the impact of generational trauma from residential schools. My grandparents were in residential school. So there was a lot of assimilation energy that happened. I think that folks can relate to that. We were trying to fit into this bigger culture here.
I felt like my childhood was sort of like this assimilation piece where… we were in a spiritual home. We had our Anishinaabe teachings and we lived in a very, I'd say, white neighborhood... and not that my parents ever said "you need to assimilate", but I think it felt safer to assimilate. Let's fit into this sort of narrative and this culture that's all around us. So there was an aspect of my heritage and my lineage that wasn’t around me, and wasn't within me, until I got sick. When I was 17 I was diagnosed with lupus and I got really sick and we went to the doctor and the doctor said, “we're gonna put you on prednisone and antimalarial drugs”. And they were too harsh for my system. So I needed to find another way… that way really was the way of my ancestors. But it was the ways that had been colonized and oppressed. And the effects of generational harm and trauma from residential schools is so long-lasting and we didn't really have a connection to our language. We didn't have a connection to our medicines. We weren't even allowed to practice our medicines. They were illegal to practice. So that shame moved through the generations to come… and that really impacted my life until that happened. And I thought, “oh my goodness, there has to be another way. Can I go back to the earth and heal myself?” And that was an opening for me.
Using connection with your culture and traditions as a way to heal is such a beautiful act. And this sentiment is so central to Asha’s entire platform - we super appreciate that through Asha’s work that she is not only identifying generational trauma, she is also providing the tools to heal. Asha identified generational trauma in her own son when he went to kindergarten for the first time, connecting it to the multiple influences and experiences of his ancestors.
It's so interesting because that almost cracked me open to a deepened understanding of how this really, from a lived experience, how it happens, because I always understood from seeing people: I could feel the depth and potency of that generational harm in people's blood and bones.
But when he went to school, it was like something I've never seen. I couldn't believe how terrified he was. And when he said the words “don’t let them snatch me away”. And we've never used the word “snatch”. I mean, he's four. We never used the word snatch. He looked horrified in terror and I thought, whoa, it just shook me.
His great-grandfather was in the Holocaust. And then his great-grandparents on both sides, the other side on my lineage were in residential schools. It was just like this, like, whoa, it sent chills on my spine. I thought where this is coming from… it's in my child! Who's never experienced any of those things yet he's expressing them. And it was then that I thought I needed to do some healing work around this. So that I can help move that healing forward into my children. So they don't carry that same level of harm in their bones. That's what I felt.
What a significant moment and significant awareness around generational trauma that is so deep-seated. We know with Asha’s experience and tools, that that awareness will turn to healing. With tradition being so central to Asha’s life, and with so many stories recalled in her book, it was hard to decide what events to ask her about - however we just loved how she recalled one intergenerational ceremony and how it ultimately helped to resolve her mission in life.
Usually you receive a spirit name when you come to earth, when you come earthbound, that didn't happen for me again, for some of the reasons that I described. But it did happen about… probably 13 or 14 years ago now, I asked my grandfather if he would give me my name… You can ask an elder or a medicine person. And my grandfather was the person that I just felt like I wanted that name from. And it was truly a magical day. It sounds sort of movie-like or something, but it really was like, we sat in his backyard on our First Nation land… there was a hawk that came in that just sat so close and he lit the smudge… it didn't happen that much, to be honest, that he lit smudge. He lit it at my wedding. He lit it on my naming ceremony day. There were very few times in my life that I remember that happening and that the pureness of his language came out and when he called the name down and spoke to our elders and our ancestors and called the name down in the prayer, he spoke in Ojibwe. I didn't understand, but it just brought tears to my eyes and my heart just felt so full. And then when he said “Healing Rainbow Woman”, I was like, "oh my goodness, that's so beautiful. I don’t know what that means yet. I don’t know how to live this out yet".
Our spirit name is gifted to us. This is how Creator identifies us or recognizes us. So in my understanding, it's like, this is how your spirit is being called to show up in the world. So I kind of asked myself, well, how am I going to show up as a Rainbow Spirit? I'm not quite sure yet, or how am I showing up as a Rainbow spirit? But it was a very special, special ceremony. It's one that I won't forget. Probably one of the most important ones.
Such an important ceremony, one that naturally affected the trajectory of Asha’s life, and even though she’s still working through it, we just had to know what she thought her newly bestowed title might mean at this point in her journey
Yeah, I think, um, I've done lots of different reflections on this. As you can tell in my book, I'm reflective. I like to reflect on a lot of things, but I think for the last two years or three years, I realized I straddled these two worlds, these worlds of traditional and modern. Speaking to all people, the majority of my audience are non-Indigenous.
So those are the folks that come to me for my teachings. And I think: A rainbow is a bridge. So how is my medicine here to bridge those two energies together and to bring two worlds together in a harmonious way, in a beautiful way? That's what I've come to understand. And also it's not easy - that mission has been something that I've struggled with over the past couple years, so much. Something that causes a lot of inner turmoil at times is what path am I walking? And am I doing this in a good way? And is this really how I'm supposed to do this? Because nobody is leading the way as a Rainbow Bridge elder for me. So it's something I question a lot.
Being a pioneer in any field is met with internal questioning and doubt, and we love that Asha is so honest about her feelings around her newly declared role in the world. But it’s that ownership of not only the title of Healing Rainbow Woman but the meaning behind it that we find admirable and we are left with a resolve that this mission is exactly intended for her. Next Asha speaks about two important celebratory acts, one grand and centered around the special occasion of her wedding, the second a ritual that she gets to experience with her own family daily.
My grandfather lighting….as I'm talking about, this is making me emotional because I realize how little that happened. But when it did, they were the most profound moments of my life. It was a huge Jewish wedding. We're standing behind this curtain and because it's a Jewish wedding there's this beautiful ancestral medicine that just, I feel that my husband's family has just always carried very deep. And it's just very beautiful and profound. So I felt that sort of flowing into us. The Rabbi was saying a prayer. And then my mother and my father and my grandfather who were standing there with this Indigenous medicine kind of flowing too. And everybody in the wedding party had to do this smudge. I mean, they sort of had to, they were in the circle and they were invited in and people looked a little bit uncomfortable because they didn't know how to do this. But as soon as that smoke lit, it's like spirit takes over. It makes me emotional tears come and it's like spirit takes over. And then our hearts are connected and it just feels like that was like the wedding ceremony. That was the time that our hearts came together and that was the vow. As soon as that smudge was lit. So that's what it felt like for me.
It said that tobacco is our first medicine that Creator gifted us. And of course it's been changed and turned into something that's not probably the original intended use. But we show gratitude a lot around here because it's just one of those things that I think is so important. To make a connection to a medicine feels and then offering it to the earth, you know, like we're really just seeing that connectedness of all things and why we're grateful for the earth. So my children, my littlest is still only four. So sometimes their gratitudes are so funny, right? They're like, I'm grateful for my toys and I'm grateful for my to be able to play this.” My eldest is now able to say, (I don't know what we were celebrating, but we were celebrating something here a couple months ago and he said), "mummy, can we, can I go get some tobacco?” It was like 10 o'clock at night. "Can I get some tobacco and put it outside because all our families are together. And I'm so grateful for that". And I thought, oh my goodness. Yes. Like it's now just become a part of his, his own ritual or ceremony. And it can be really simple. It doesn't have to be complicated.
We don’t have to have all the tools and wear all the things. I do think ceremony can be a daily practice. And however you want to experience that because I do think if we put those really intense restrictions and rules, we're not going to participate in them because there can be so much shame that keeps us away from that. Especially as an Indigenous person… if you don't feel enough because of the colonization of your heritage, then you're just going to stay away from those things. But I want people to know, you can practice this. You don't need permission from anybody. You can practice.
That really feels like the key to preserving tradition, doesn’t it? In our fast-moving, complex world if we shed the shoulds and musts, can we free ourselves to invite in celebration of our backgrounds in our daily lives? We think so.
Next, we thought we were asking a straightforward question but not surprisingly Asha uses so much beautiful language to articulate her thoughts and feelings about why it’s important to know your past.
I think it tethers us to stories to an energy that's bigger than ourselves, to even the great mystery. I've done a lot of ancestral work. And I guess I see it's like the fabric of what we're made of… in our DNA. And I can see it's part of our medicine. So I think that being really conscious of that, you're part of thousands and thousands of hearts, thousands and thousands of visions, it can feel so profound to me. And then it can help you walk in a good way. That’s my sense. You hear folks saying “what does that mean to walk in a good way? What does it mean to be a good ancestor? How can you carry, how can you maybe transmute some of the traumas of the past and, and walk it in a healed way?” That's another question I like to ask myself too, because we do carry that in our bones.
So being conscious of our ancestors, being conscious of those energies that maybe we are here to break the cycles. Maybe we are here to walk the healing for the next generation. At least that's my own experience. So it's all I can speak of for myself, but I do see that in others that I serve too… a lot of cycle breakers. It stops here, the harm stops here and I'm going to walk in a healed way.
Beautifully said. Taking ownership of your story and your ancestors' stories is important but the idea of not letting it weigh you down and lifting yourself up to be healed is such a great way of putting it. We asked Asha a question from our conversation tool web app and like many of our guests, food came to mind. We asked her: What cultural food or recipes do you wish to reclaim?
I think for me, I would love to reclaim cooking some traditional foods. I think that's really a big thing for me. Even cooking deer stew, like venison stew, or even… it's so ridiculous, but Bannock is like one of my favourite things to eat. It’s so treat-like, but it really is one of my favourite things to eat. My mom makes the best Bannock, but she rarely made it for us growing up, cuz it wasn't good for us. Right. So I would love to reclaim Bannock.
It’s so fun to hear about all the yummy food, recipes, and treats that bring out nostalgia in our guests and Asha wanting to reconnect with food on her journey is relatable and inspiring. This conversation with Asha made us both emotional and our hearts connected by feeling the energy of our ancestors as the interview progressed. She really shed a light on how beautiful ritual can be and how ceremony can make life moments (small or large) even more special. And how celebratory events like this has the power to, like Asha said, “tether us to something bigger than ourselves”.
Next week we speak to Kirthana, a journalist who is from a Tamil background. We cover so much ground, including how she is learning a cultural art form that her own mother wasn’t able to complete in her war-torn country growing up. But it’s her love of her culture that we celebrate the most and we get a glimpse of what that level of pride in your roots can look like.
Root & Seed is hosted by me, Anika Chabra, Executive Produced by Jenn Siripong Mandel, and Edited by Camille Blais.
Hosted by: Anika Chabra
Brought to you by: Root & Seed
Executive Producer: Jennifer Siripong Mandel
Edited by: Camille Blais
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