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The roots of Earthlodge Center for Transformation began in Silvercreek, Mississippi, where founder Queen Hollins learned sacred earth medicine from her grandmother. As a child, instead of being punished, Hollins would be instructed to dig a hole in the ground, and allow the earth to “clean her off,” only leaving once she felt more balanced.
Today, community members can regain balance in their own sacred healing pit at Earthlodge’s Long Beach location, while finding a safe space to dig into traumas and generational wounds using Southern Black and African Indigenous practices.
Earthlodge Center for Transformation provides an approach to healing through connection to nature, welcoming people from all walks of life, particularly women and those from the Black and LGBTQ+ communities.
While Earthlodge has provided healing practices in Long Beach for 30 years now, it became a nonprofit in 2017. In the past 10 years or so, Earthlodge has embraced a more community-centric approach, allowing the center to expand its program offerings.
“Aways servicing and creating sacred and safe space for the most marginalized amongst us has been the primary mandate of Earthlodge, and ushering in and sharing healing and trauma-informed modalities to help strengthen the community based in nature,” said board chair Yardenna Aaron.
Healing at Earthlodge can take many different forms; besides its sacred healing pit, it could be utilizing herbs or aromatherapy, participating in community kinship circles, or sitting around a sacred fire. Or, it could be participating in a volunteer-led program, such as its newest offering for youth leadership development, the Youth Rites of Passage program, a development of its previous Girls Rights of Passage program.
According to Aaron, there has been an increasing need for sacred and safe spaces as depression rates have risen, particularly for young people, women, and communities of color.
“Even those of us who are born and raised in the city, we need spaces that are carved off for us to be able to have a more profound experience, and that more natural setting to be able to stay in balance,” said Aaron.
Earthlodge has brought spiritual anchoring and healing to times of social justice movements as well, such as marches for marriage equality in 2008, and during the pandemic and George Floyd protests of 2020.
Last year’s protests in particular brought up generational trauma for many Earthlodge participants, Aaron said, as the trauma of racism began long before 2020, and extends far beyond the United States.
“Not only is it passed down in our customs, it is our belief that it’s passed down in our very DNA, and that’s the effect of trauma,” said Aaron. “Trauma is intergenerational, and our belief of the Earthlodge is that so is healing.”
At Earthlodge, it is always made clear to participants that the practices being shared didn’t just start in Long Beach, and didn’t start with Hollins, but come from an intergenerational model as well.
“When we are 100 years in the future looking back, what we’re doing today is going to be the reference point,” said Aaron. “And the way that nature overlays with that, is that nature never forgot.”
Even as many people today may feel disconnected from indigenous practices, Aaron explained that intuitively, many traditions have remained, such as enjoying the medicinal properties of tea, or lighting a fire at a campsite. Not only does it provide light and heat, but utilizing the element of fire helps to unlock deeper truths, Aaron explained.
Similarly, using the water element to usher in healing is instinctive, and quite common in Long Beach, said Aaron.
“The water element, in her largest form— that’s connecting with nature,” said Aaron. “The soothing effect of water, I know that there’s something there . . . You have salt water coming out of our bodies, and here’s the biggest level of salt water. You live with the ocean, right? You know that you’re connected.”
While connecting to community is a key element of Earthlodge’s work, there are many ways to bring the healing power of nature into your life, said Aaron. It can be as simple as bringing a plant into your home, or taking your shoes off at the beach or in the grass.
“Nature teaches us as humans that you can’t do it alone—it’s in direct contradiction to the idea of rugged individualism,’ said Aaron. “Going alone is not the way of nature, nature is symbiotic. And it’s a lesson that many of us who connect to our indigenous roots remember and understand, but it’s a call for us all.”
Join Earthlodge Center for Transformation to combat holiday seasonal depression and isolation this December for the following events:
Healing, the Holidays, and the Medicine of Winter Solstice with Queen: Saturday, Dec. Dec. 18, 10:30 a.m. to noon. Register here.
Cultivating Calm: Refusing the Chaos and Embracing the Silence of Solstice with Maylei: Tuesday, Dec. 21, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Register here.
Making Medicine to Feed Your Spirit with Agua Dulce: Sunday, Dec. 26, noon to 1:30 p.m. Register here.
Soothing the Inner Child—a meditation journey with Axel Angel: Tuesday, Dec. 28, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Register here.
To support Earthlodge Center, contribute to the December fundraiser here.