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My hope is to one day be an elder, not just an older.

During my conventional school years, I prided myself on being able to find the right answer in a moment’s notice. All it took was an easy internet search or quick purchase of a bright yellow spark notes booklet that contained everything I’d ever be tested on.

But that was back then…when life was more linear.

I had been conditioned to learn to interpret the syllabus. It took me mere moments to suss out the sort of answer that was deemed “right” and “good” and plow my way towards it using the abundance of tools and technology that had always been at my fingertips.

But most of that knowledge now? Gone. Stripped from the record. It all seeped through cracks once the tests were taken and the grade was given.

Nowadays, I’m focusing less on consumption of facts and more on the intentional gathering of wisdom.

I’ve been working to release my attachment to ways of learning that never really empowered me from the beginning. I’m consciously re-directing my attention towards what makes my heart say yes and what has me naturally reaching for my journal to write it down, sing it, memorize it in such a way that the pressure of knowing is turned way down. Because the joy of wisdom nourishes and motivates me in a much deeper way.

This concept of being an elder, not just an older was presented to me by my friend and teacher Liz in a circle of women.

Her words struck me deep down in my belly. They felt powerful, especially living in a time when facts are so easily accessible by technology but so many stories have been lost. The stories that explain where we come from, who we are, and our connection to the medicine and wisdom of this planet and our ancestors.

In my own journey of understanding the folk magic, medicine, and lore of my own ancestors, I’ve been shocked to find out just how little of that recorded history is still around today. Much of the records of the old ways of living were destroyed during times of war and the rise of the patriarchy. What has survived has done so through story – through the people who kept records safe in their homes and memorized the songs, recipes, and stories – and passed it down to the next generation.

I have long been seeking keepers of these stories and this wisdom so that I, too, can one day serve that role for the future ancestors of this land.

And as amazingly convenient and helpful technology can be, there is a different way to truly gather the wisdom and store it within yourself.

Our bodies carry the stories of our ancestors.

So, dear one, I encourage you to go to gatherings, take classes, and work with your hands. Talk to your grandparents, your elderly neighbors, or the woman in your town you see at the library who you know carries potent stories.

Seek out wisdom and share it.

This is how we heal the wound of suppression. This is how we remember who we are and why we’re here. This is how we reclaim ourselves.

Image via Regina Felice

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