Carolyn Jones is a Holistic Health Educator and Chaplain who teaches the art of self-care and practices a ministry of presence. She is licensed by the New York State Chaplain Task Force and serves the community as an herbalist, a certified aromatherapist and reflexologist.
In this episode Carolyn shares her insights on the power of deepening our relationship with plants beyond culinary uses to medicinal and spirtual applications.
This episode we explore:
☀️How to get started with herbalism
☀️Spiritual uses for plants
☀️Medicinal uses for common herbs and spices
☀️Rootworker belief systems
Connect with Carolyn
Episode edited and produced by Unapologetic Amplified
This transcript was generated with the help of AI. Thank you to our supporting members for helping us improve accessibility and pay equitable wages for things like human transcription.
Have you ever wondered why almost all the health and wellness information you see out there is so white, cis able-bodied and het? I know I have. And as a queer black registered dietitian, I gotta tell you, I'm not into it. I believe health and happiness should be accessible to everyone. That is precisely why I wrote Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation and why I host Body Liberation for All.
The road to health and happiness has a couple of extra steps for chronically stressed people, like queer folks and folks of color. But don't worry, my guests and I have got you covered. If you're ready to live the most fierce, liberated, and joyful version of your life, you are in the right place.
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Dalia Kinsey: Welcome to the show Carolyn. I'm so glad to have you.
Carolyn Jones: Thank you for having me, Dalia.
Dalia Kinsey: I have been really interested in herbalism for years, but I always felt like I wasn't a plant person. I thought I didn't have a green thumb, and only since 2020 have I realized that I just wasn't slowing down enough to pay attention to when the plants were asking for more water or more light, and just suddenly it feels like being connected to the plants has been a little demystified for me.
But of course, I'm a total. Baby when it comes to understanding herbalism, the spiritual uses of herbs, any of that. So when I saw you recently in a replay of a webinar that you did for another institute that I've been just studying, like their library, I haven't even gotten that deep yet. I was just fascinated that this institute in particular looks at the spiritual aspect of plants in a way that I really had never seen before, but it really resonates with me that the plants are not seen as just something we take things from.
They're not seen as inanimate. They're seen as really powerful and as teachers that are always trying to speak to us. So when I saw your workshop on the African American relationship with herbalism and root work in particular. I was just blown away, and so I'm so glad to have you here to share some of your story with us and maybe how the listeners can get started exploring some of our traditions that maybe feel a little lost to us right now.
Carolyn Jones: Well, I'm so happy that you enjoyed my presentation and I'm even happier that you were interested and curious enough to invite me on so we could talk about this in more depth. I love the subject and we are all babies when it comes to the plant world. We'll never know everything. It's always a learning process.
The interesting thing is, I seemed like I could kill plants to look at them, you know? Oh, wow. I went to a workshop at a Brooklyn Botanic Garden one day, and I said to the gardener, I feel so guilty because it seems like I touch a plant and dies. He said, don't feel guilty. You know how many plants we kill around here?
It becomes like an experiment, but I still feel that sensitivity because for me, the love of plants started early. My mother had a rose garden in the front of the house. We grew up in Bedstuy. I grew up in Bedstuy, born in Harlem. We moved to, uh, Brooklyn when I was six, and in the back she grew corn, tomatoes, college, she had a beautiful garden, you know, a Georgia peach.
So she brought all that knowledge from her sharecropper parents and. Who unfortunately I never got the chance to meet. They died when she was 16, but she certainly took their knowledge seriously and brought it with her as a form of survival. Now, when I was younger, I didn't really pick up on it. Like I loved looking at it, but worms bothered me.
Dalia Kinsey: As much as I love being outside, I really have a thing with spiders. That was another barrier. I thought, if I'm gonna be spending time with plants, I need to be comfortable with everything that's out there. It's good to hear that not necessarily so.
Carolyn Jones: Yes. And I'm gonna tell you, just as of last night, I connected with a neighborhood garden, the Q Garden here in Brooklyn, and I actually sat next to someone who was digging out a pot and centipedes were running all over, and I didn't run screaming into the night.
Dalia Kinsey: How'd you get to that point?
Carolyn Jones: I don't, I don't know how it happened. Okay. When they were talking about a garden bed that had jumping worms, I held a full interview. How do they jump? Where do they jump? Where are they? You know, because I wanted no part of it, but luckily we didn't see any worms. We did see some of, I think it was a Japanese beetle, but that didn't even send me running.
But I was really amazed that I didn't run away from the, well, they didn't get on me. So that's a start. They were on the pot. So being around people, I think who. Are not fearful that way. Mm-hmm. I think some of their courage may rub off. I'm not quite sure. We'll see next week, but you know, for now, so that it kept me from gardening.
It really did. Mm-hmm. So as I began to develop a community of herbalists around me, more experienced herbalists, and they began to explain how medicines are better when you have fresh plants, you know, not always dealing with the dry herbs, then my mind began to open up more and more. So over time, as you expose yourself to people with different levels of knowledge, I guess this transformation takes place that you're really not aware of.
That's the way we grow anyway. You don't think about it unless you really sit down, slow down, as you said. I thought that was very profound. You do have to slow down now. In order to cultivate my love of plants, I started collecting bamboo shoots. I can keep bamboo alive in water. I have like a bamboo garden all the way through the apartment here, the bedroom and living room.
It's in here and they're flourishing. So I feel very happy about that. But I also incorporate that I'm a bereavement chaplain and I incorporate plants into that service as well because I find that plants are very comforting. And I just received a, a picture of someone's memorial garden. She had lost her son.
I was doing some consultation with her and recommended that she use their backyard or the area that they have. Space. They have to designate it as an altar for him and she Oh, that's beautiful. She a picture of him beautiful memorial garden that the family has created in his memory. So plants will bring peace and depending on the type of plant, it will comfort you.
It will dispel loneliness. And it's no secret that you can talk to plants and if you listen, they talk back, you know, energetically.
Dalia Kinsey: How does that usually come through? Okay. Energetically, yes.
Carolyn Jones: As far as we are talking about herbalism and root work, there are a few herbs that are used for root work. Hiss is one, but it also has many whole body wellness properties as well.
It's used for other things.
Dalia Kinsey: So how would you recommend somebody get started? Because that is something that's been intriguing is how vast the uses for a plant can be, and that once you start adding in spiritual uses too, from where I'm standing now, it looks like it might be easier for me. To remember the essence of a plant when I'm looking at it in a spiritual way also.
But when I look at all of the, it's almost like medication with off-label uses. There's so many different things that one plant can do. Mm-hmm. How do you start getting your feet wet with this? Or how would you recommend somebody even start learning?
Carolyn Jones: Most of the healers healing practitioners that I've interviewed, and I must include myself, started from the point of view of how do I want to heal?
How do I need to heal? What could I use to heal myself? Who do I want to be? You know, they ask children, what do you wanna be when you grow up? Who do you wanna be when you grow up spiritually? Not what job you wanna have, how much money you wanna earn. None of that. Who and how do you want to be remembered?
When it's all said and done, in order to ask that question, I found for myself that I had to get in touch with my own mortality and my own immortality. How do I wanna be remembered? When people think of me, how do I want people to feel when they think of me? Oh, that's really telling. I worked at a funeral home for two years at the height of Covid.
Hmm. So I saw a lot of who I consider our libraries. A lot of elders Pass on the kitchen is as Queen of four. I love her. Always taught is your laboratory and having the wisdom to know. Which plant to use for what ailment. Like today, I woke up feeling a little lethargic. I thought I was just a little overtired of something and I saw it was the sun was shining beautifully outside.
I said, okay, come on. You gotta go outside. You can't sit in front of the computer all day. Because I had a lot of writing to do and I went outside and that was good, but I was still dragging a little bit and I had some B propolis in my bag in the form of a spray that I felt a little congested and I sprayed it.
The dosage is three sprays in the throat, and I had spoken to a colleague of mine yesterday, Amy Anthony. She's was my aromatherapy. Well, she will be my aromatherapy teacher for the rest of her life, but she's also my friend now and team member in the clinic. That we manage. And I sprayed the bee propolis down my throat, remembering that she said how highly antibacterial it is.
And next thing you know, everything started clearing up my energy level rose. The congestion expelled itself, and I felt myself again. So the reason that we wanna know about these things from a spiritual point of view and a physical point of view, is for preventative care. When we feel down or lethargic and don't really know where that's coming from to be able to treat yourself, or if you, you're not getting a deep enough sleep to know that you can use lemon balm or mug wart.
You might wanna dream your way to a solution. So you'll drink some mug wart tea or. Use a mug board tincture in your water to enhance your dreams. Mm-hmm. It helps you dream lucid dreams, but it also, I always describe it as helps you sleep beneath that sleep. You know that first layer of sleep well, it helps you get down deep into the sleep and you wake up feeling refreshed.
You don't feel dragged out. I went to do a house call yesterday and you know, she put her aspirins and stuff in front of me. She said, I don't want to take these, you know, so I offered her some Valerian tincture, valerian, and she recognized right away, Valium. I said, right, that's what they make Valium for.
So now you'll not only get rest, but it's gonna help the pain. But I didn't learn that from studying. I learned that. From healed thyself when I called them after surgery and told them I did not wanna take the codeine aspirin and I needed my circulation and my legs to come back. So I had a masseuse come to the house and got a massage for the circulatory problem.
And I was given Valerian teacher and I didn't have to touch the codeine aspirin. So it's just a matter of having the resources and tapping into them, but believing same thing. It's all the same thing with rootwork. And one thing that one of the authors from one of the books that I researched before I came on said that it's not logical.
If you try to think about this logically, then you lose the magic of it.
Dalia Kinsey: See, I wondered if that was an important component, because you mentioned that you thought about what your aromatherapy teacher had said it was good for, as you were essentially giving yourself the medicine. Does that usually go hand in hand?
Carolyn Jones: Well, uh, a reference point is always good, but imagine if you just had a book. The first herbal book that I started studying from was Back to Eden. That was usually the entry point for people from my generation. And then, you know, it expanded and expanded along the way. So now I have book cases of books about self-care for different healing modalities, sound included, color, light included.
But in speaking about herbs, which to me I just love them. My home is overrun with them to know that I have that plant friend that will help me be it for a spiritual reason. Something as simple as sage to, you know, smudge the homes. Yeah. Yes. Or even boil for a bath.
Dalia Kinsey: What are some of the different ways to use it?
So you mentioned tinctures, essences. Mm-hmm. How do you know what you could just boil and drink versus what needs to be a tincture? Or is every plant able to be basically worked with different ways?
Carolyn Jones: I don't wanna say every, because some plants are poisonous, so we are just gonna reference the general look at plants that.
Edible. The reason I mentioned tinctures is because for me, I love tinctures when my schedule gets so busy that I don't really have time to make a cup of tea, but I want to fortify my body so I do have time to open up a bottle and put a couple of droppers full of the tincture in my water or under my tongue to help myself along.
Same way I did with the Be propolis, four sprays in my throat and changed my whole body system and the way I was feeling for the day.
Dalia Kinsey: Okay, that makes sense. I tried to make my first tincture, multiple tutorials made it sound like it can be as simple as you want it to be, but it came out so bitter that now I'm thinking maybe I should try tease.
Carolyn Jones: The thing that we have to know first is our own habit and our own schedule and our own ability to stick to a program, but also have different ways to approach because we change, sometimes I feel like a cup of tea right before bed or in the morning for two weeks, and then I might want tinctures instead, you know?
Or I might put it in a cream. Now you were talking about making the tinctures and how it could be simple depending on the recipe. And Amy and I made, we just strained and bottled about 12 tinctures. Yesterday Rose was the most exciting one for us and she used organic corn spirits for some and I brought Benedictine to the table, which the priest, the Benedictine priest used.
It has 26 herbs in it and it's delicious. Now you mentioned bitter. That's okay. That something is bitter. Bitters are good for the system. Some things need to be bitter 'cause it helps your digestive system. It helps the enzymes in your body and also it helps cleanse your blood. 'cause look at apple cider vinegar.
It's bitter, but it can be mixed with herbs. I know brags actually has a line of drinks that are delicious, but it has a base of apple cider vinegar. They add cinnamon to it. And the main thing people have to remember with that is add water. You know, have more water than the apple cider vinegar 'cause you'll irritate your stomach.
Mm-hmm. But you know, he used as many different flavorings, natural flavorings in his drinks. But when I saw that, I like, I could do that myself. So I recommend to people who need that little bit of boost of taste good because sometimes if someone's having a bitter experience, they don't need to taste something that's bitter as well to compound it.
So you might wanna put a little honey in there, little bit of cinnamon to soothe it out just so that it'll be more inviting to ingest.
Dalia Kinsey: That makes sense. If you've made a tincture and you wanna have it in water, but you want it to be hot or warm, could that destroy what you've already done or.
Temperature's. Not a big deal. You can make something into drink that's hot
Carolyn Jones: if you want to. Yeah. I've added it to my tea. And when I was at a conference one time at a workshop on tincture, I was amazed we were taking tincture, taste of tinctures that had to be about 30 or 35, 1 after the other. We were passing it down, you know, everybody would shoot a drop under their tongue or something, and we kept it going.
So sometimes I will sit on the edge of my bed and pull out my box of tinctures and decide what I'm gonna do for the day, and just take them one by one according to what I wanna do, be it respiratory, digestive, my mood. I learned that Manta was used by the Native Americans for when somebody died. Oh, sof or grief on a handkerchief.
Yes. Well, to dispel spirits. Oh, okay. Mm-hmm. So, it's used and, and each culture, maybe each tribe, each tradition does things differently. So, I don't wanna make a blanket statement that all Native Americans do this or whatever. I'm just saying that as an example because one thing that is stressed in my research it said, be aware of the ceremonial practices of different cultures, how they may differ.
So, you can't make a blanket statement about that. Now I want to talk about frankincense a little bit. 'Cause you know, frankincense was used in mummification and also it was used by the Egyptians for arthritis in an essential oil form. But it is antibacterial. That I was introduced to by Amy, 'cause she made frankincense water.
She put the tears, they're called tears, the resin balls, and she put it in water and did a coal infusion overnight, so it turns the water milky. But you can also to speed it up, heat it. And I remember she served it in class. And I had respiratory issue. Well, really it was sinuses. I couldn't get rid of this sinus congestion, and after I drank that frankincense water, it went away.
So sometimes you discover healing in the process just by trying something new, just by keeping your mind open. As an herbalist, I believe that most of my struggle and the people who work with herbs, so discuss the fact that our biggest struggle and disappointment is when people close their minds and their hearts to nature.
I do believe in integrative medicine, however, when you take an herb, it’s gonna build your body up. The contraindications will come when it is possibly say like St. John's wart. That seems to be the herb with the highest level of contraindications to pharmaceuticals. So, I don't recommend that people, you know, in my consultation, I don't recommend that they ingest it.
I may put it in an oil for them or a cream, you know, add it to a cream 'cause it's great for pain and it's great for soothing and your skin will soak it in so you'll get the effect you need without ingesting it and having it have cause a contra ending in your body.
Dalia Kinsey: Now when you put it in a cream, is that something you could do with it as a dry herb or it's more you make the tincture and then you can put it in a cream?
Carolyn Jones: That would be an oil infusion. Yes. So, in studying aromatherapy, you get to learn base oils and essential oils and how to use them. But also I. You learn about oil infusions in herbalism and tea infusions, so that's with water. But you can also do kitchen herbal infusion like you see garlic oil. Yes. That means that they infuse the oil with garlic or garlic.
Honey, you can make garlic honey infusion. I'm looking forward to doing some make and take courses. I'm especially in love with honey, you know, and that's a great antibiotic as to weather, you know, comes into winter. So you cure the garlic in the honey and then you can add it. To tea or just take a spoonful of it and eat it.
Dalia Kinsey: Yeah. That's one of the few remedies I do remember in a crystal clear way from my grandma, like she never really was big into cough medicine. Like one, she thought it was too expensive and then had a lot of questions about all the unnecessary ingredients and all of the dyes and stuff. But she would say, you need the entire bulb of garlic, not a clove.
She said, put the whole thing in there. Okay. And then a cup of honey. You blend that together and she would put 10 drops of eucalyptus oil and she's like, that's all you need, but when you take it, people will smell you from a mile away. But it tastes delicious to me. So I still do it and people just have to deal with the smell.
Carolyn Jones: That's right. I love garlic. I do. As a matter of fact, I just had some garlic last week. I think I had to talk to someone up close. I was trying to turn my head, but I, I was saying to myself, look, deal with it because I feel great. Well, yeah,
Dalia Kinsey: It really is one of those things where it just tastes so good, you know, it's doing something good for you. And then because it also reminds me of grandma, I just feel like as soon as I'm blending it up, I'm like, I'm already healed, I can just feel it coming. But I've been sitting in an office and heard my coworker come in the front of the building. And she's like, you're at again from the front. So I know it’s pretty loud.
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Well, how do we get into some more of the spiritual uses and what is. Root work really, because I know most of us have probably heard, I guess it really depends on who raised you, whether you heard scary stories about what root work is. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? I was always told, I was raised in a very conservative Christian household, and so there was always a high concern about possession and so anything that had to do with plants or nature or.
Spirits that you don't know by name. It was something you're supposed to be very, very careful with and probably stay away from, but I've always been drawn to it. Yes,
Carolyn Jones: yes, because it's a natural curiosity. So I grew up in a very conservative and religious home as well. My mother did allude to spirits a bit.
I'll tell you a story in a minute, but she had a book from Edgar Casey on her bookshelf, the famous psychic healer, and at the age of 10, I was reading this book. So my mind was already opened up and I remember one time my mother told me that we were living in Harlem and in a rooming house, and she saw, this is what she told me.
Now, I don't know. She heard and saw the door open and she heard footsteps. Coming in the room, but nobody, she saw nothing and she pulled the covers over her head. She said, I was in the bed with her. She pulled the covers over her head and she said, Lord, have mercy on me in the name of Jesus. And she heard the footsteps turn around and run out of the room.
I did. I, I had no judgment. I still don't have any judgment if that's what she experienced. 'cause she said she felt the, the covers moving back. If she had that, that's her experience. I don't wanna dispute that in my studying. I love to read books, especially by surgeons who have a certain spiritual sense about them and they talk about death and spiritual phenomenon.
And in my studies, uh, with Robert Moss who died or had a near death, death experience as a child, two or three times, I can't remember right now, but I know it was at least two. And he talks about. Near death experiences a lot, and I read a lot about near death experiences. Who am I to judge if a spirit? Are we not living in a physical form as spirits?
Don't we talk about souls regardless of how we are brought up? I don't know if atheists referred to souls. I've had a couple of atheist students in my lifetime, you know, in academia, and they were very interesting people, you know, very clear minded in their thinking as far as I was concerned. To me, that's a personal, my question is what do you need at the moment of transition?
Have you taken care of feeding your spirit, the spiritual food it needs in order for you to make transition? Also, how do other cultures so-called primitive cultures look at death? From a child, I read National Geographic magazines and my mother would bring them home. And that was a fascination for me as to how other cultures look at death.
I was like, you mean only Baptists are gonna go to heaven? Like, how do other people get there? You know? Right. Heaven full of Baptist. I, I can't imagine. You know, and also, how do you interpret Christianity as an individual? If you're living the principles? Are you living it by convenience? Like you're a Christian one moment and then you're doing something untoward the next whatever untoward is.
I don't know what unto is. You know, everybody has, everybody has their own definition of what untoward could be. But meanwhile, my main concern when I'm seeking a spiritual space, Are the people joyful? Because if you are not joyful to me, your spiritual food is not working because you should not be living a life of despair.
I find it hard to believe that the creator, an all knowing creator, would put all of us here to live in despair.
Dalia Kinsey: Yeah, and it seems like if you, at the end of the day, you get to choose which spiritual tradition is going to feed you, which one is gonna nourish you. I don't really understand why you would pick one that doesn't really support you like in all of your identities, and support your happiness and make your life, enhance your life.
You know, add ease rather than make your life even harder. But I know a lot of people are in traditions that make them feel, I. Burdened.
Carolyn Jones: Yes. I watched it happen to my aunt. My aunt, God rest her soul is the reason why we had lipstick today. Ooh. I thought she was so pretty with the red, bright red lipstick and the straightened hair with the curls and everything.
And all of a sudden she joined this church. And not to say she didn't look good in the natural, but she was dowdy. And by that time, you know, admiring people like Diana Ross and Gina Lola Brita and Sophie Lauren and Diane Carroll and all of them, I'm like, oh, that's not working for me. That look you have now back to that red lipstick.
So I then began to analyze why would somebody allow an institution to make them change their whole being? And what is wrong with having red lips? It's a color. So I have to credit Caribbean people for showing me that wearing vibrant colors was beautiful because back in the day, we were supposed to tone ourselves down, you know?
Mm-hmm. I'm like, no, but I like that right there. Okay. And that's what I'm gonna be, and I'll just have to be the bane of everyone's existence because I'm going to do it the way I wanna do it, you know? And I'm so glad that I was stubborn that way.
Dalia Kinsey: Now, would you say like people were encouraging all women or people assigned female at birth to tone it down, or people putting pressure on black people to turn tone it down?
Carolyn Jones: Not necessarily Black people, you know, like in the corporate world, you had to wear black, blue, dark suits, you know, that's, they never tell you, oh, wear, uh, some orange and pink and light up to the room. You know what I mean? Right. You could tone it down without wearing black and. Maybe a dark brown or something, you know, those are pretty colors.
They're nice and they have their place, but colors change your aura and it helps people see you better, you know, see your soul better. What are you representing? I remember. And, and, um, sure it's not hard to find a toxic person on a job. And what I would do to counter that, to make myself feel better, I would decide what, what, especially when I was studying holism, decide what color I was gonna wear that day to make myself feel healed all day in spite of.
That energy. So it gave me a constant feeling of self care, and this is my message to everyone. Regardless of what you are going through, you deserve to love yourself. And if you don't feel it, act as if my newest emotional wellness package includes salt cave, auricular, massage, flower essences, and aromatherapy to teach people how you don't need a lot of people around you to heal.
You can be by yourself. I want to show people places that they can go and be themselves to heal botanic gardens. Listen to the birds. They're talking. If they're not talking to you, they're talking to each other and they couldn't be cursing each other out. As beautiful as they sound. Maybe they are, I don't know.
But usually when a bird is angry, you could tell, right?
Dalia Kinsey: Yes. We have some really territorial ones that like our bird feeder.
Carolyn Jones: Yeah. So you know, listen to the birds singing and watch the animals, how they're handling their lives. You know, take a lesson from the animals. I had even done some research for this podcast to see how animals were used in the root world.
Would you like to hear some things?
Dalia Kinsey: Oh, yes, please.
Carolyn Jones: The first animal that sim used as a symbol is snakes. Okay. And they're seen as powerful symbols of transformation and wisdom and healing. They're associated with spiritual knowledge and the ability to shed all patterns and emerge renewed. So just having that desire to shed what is not working, be it a relationship.
Don't be afraid. Yes, it's bumpy. Yes, you could lose everything, but look at how much you could gain in the end, because the piece that surpasses all understanding has no monetary. You can't, you can't buy it. It's all internal. You need your peace of mind. I, I often tell this story that one day I was sitting in my living room when I was deep into trying to transform my life.
I was living alone, but I sat down. I had read a book. I used a lot of biblio therapy books to heal myself. I remember just breaking down and crying and resolving that. The next day when I got up, I was going to approach life differently and pick up the pieces where they lay and continued the thread of what was good.
Mm-hmm. About what I was doing before and leave the rest behind. And that was the day that my life began. Its full transformation.
Dalia Kinsey:I do think it's really empowering to know that even when it feels like you don't have any say, that there's probably still some autonomy there and there's probably still a way for you to take control, but it's.
Hard sometimes to see it. I know patterns from childhood can follow you. And it's almost like, I mean, we've, most of us have seen this happen when you train a pet. Mm-hmm. You don't have to always keep the fence locked, they'll just assume it's locked after certain point. And we get stuck in similar patterns.
We don't know that we could make a change. It doesn't even occur to us that there might be something we could do to make our lives a little better.
Carolyn Jones: Yes. And that happens when we, when mistakenly give our power to someone else who has no interest in preserving it, you know? Right. So a lot of times people, Amy and I were laughing about that yesterday.
She said, yeah, Carolyn, you always say, See it for what it is, because Maya Angelou made that statement, when a person shows you who they are, believes them the first time. And I have joked in the past and said, okay, I'm up to about the 16th time now I'm getting there, but now I can honestly say, mm, maybe you have two times.
More than likely you have one. Yeah. You know, so it took years for me to get that way because, you know, we brought up, oh, it don't hurt anybody's feelings, so, you know, but what about your feelings? Why are, do you have to be the sacrificial goat?
Dalia Kinsey: That's a hard one because yeah, some of us are raised to just keep trying to be polite, put other people's feelings.
Ahead of our own. And I know even now as we're all, a lot of people are trying to be more compassionate, more kind. Mm-hmm. They give people a lot of grace and realize like, oh, well maybe someone's coming into this conversation with a lot of trauma, but at what point are you going to prioritize your own wellbeing?
And if you aren't for you, who else is gonna do it? Right? Like that's, that's our job is to prioritize our own care and to prioritize our own feelings. And yeah, you care about other people's feelings too, but not more than your own. And it makes some people really uncomfortable to even say that out loud or.
I've been called selfish many times, and when I was younger it would hurt my little feelings. But now I'm like, oh, well you've been conditioned to think it's bad to look out for number one. Yeah. But I understand that I am best equipped to do it, and I can offer people more love and more care when I do it.
So you can call it selfish. And I guess technically it is because I'm looking out for my own self. Self-care. Self-care. Mm-hmm. Certainly not evil or bad, but some of us were raised to think that it is.
Carolyn Jones: Yes. Mm-hmm. And that's how things got the way they are from that mistaken mindset. You know, and, and I wanna say this, especially with women, you know, I, I was so happy when back in the day, women started burning their brass.
I didn't like 'em anyway. You know, and claiming their own freedom and their own rights, because I didn't think, I never thought that. I thought the phrase old made was misplaced, you know? So what if someone decides they wanna live in their own world as a woman? You know, why should she be powerless? Why should she choose powerlessness in place of her freedom?
The freedom that she has defined that she wants to have? You know, so those old philosophies of what a woman should be or what a man should be, we've just outgrown them. But whether we have learned how to navigate it fully yet is still up for grabs. But at least we're on our way. It seems to me that one has to decide what's more important.
Do you wanna stay and suffer and create the definition that's killing you? Just like Judge Judy said on a reel that I saw, when a woman gives up her ability to earn money and choose her career, she's forced to live in unpleasant circumstances many times. You know? And I guess that could go for men too, but I'm speaking from the point of view of someone who had to make that choice and lose everything.
'cause I didn't wanna lose my soul. Hmm. Because you can get material things back. You, once you get too far out there, you can't call yourself back. And one thing I would not want to do is die not knowing myself and not having nurtured myself and given myself the love that I deserve. So I feel that you're absolutely correct in being able to take care of yourself.
And yes, everyone has had trauma and I don't think it's right for people to compare traumas. Why is the other person's trauma more important than your own? And different traumas, like what is a small trauma in your world, may totally devastate me according to my personages,right?
Dalia Kinsey: Yeah. I recently. Well, maybe a few years ago.
Mm-hmm. Heard somebody explain that trauma isn't a thing that happens, it's how your body responds to something that was too much for you to handle at the time. Mm-hmm. So you could be going through the same experience with a family member, and it is not traumatic to them, but it is traumatic to you. And it doesn't become less significant because someone else says, well, that's not traumatic enough.
That's not big enough. You have to prioritize this other person's emotional experience.
Carolyn Jones: So that's a selfish statement. Oh yeah. That, you know what I mean? To just brush somebody off and say, yeah, all right, but that's, you know, you're a cry baby. We all have our inner child that gets wounded. But that inner child, if it was abused, if you were abused as a child, that inner child is damaged and you as an adult, Need to gain the knowledge and the wisdom it takes to nurture that inner child back to health for your own good.
Dalia Kinsey: How would you speak to a child that is upset or emotionally devastated? Would you tell them you're being stupid for crying or would you try and soothe them? Maybe try to explain to them that they are safe? Can't we give ourselves that? Yes.
Carolyn Jones: Yeah, exactly. We, we, and a lot of people walk around not believing that they deserve that kind of kindness, or maybe they've never seen it.
But that goes back to my point of opening one's, mind expanding one circle, go places that you've never been, that looks like people are. You know, growing through their pain as opposed to remaining stagnant. When I first started studying Kundalini yoga, we would meet every Friday strangers for a community circle.
And I'm proud to claim at least four people still as close friends, even though we don't see each other often. But we grew through our pain and as I look at each person's life, we benefited from that time together. And we know deep down inside when we have a moment to have one, we go through the salt cave together sometimes, or another one, we had tea together lunch.
But that's that connection. It's a lifetime connection where we know that whatever it is we had to come through, we did it together in that time and space. And we can discuss the transformation and we thank each other. For support us during that time, you know, each one of us during that time. So it sounds like it's all about community,
Dalia Kinsey: rSo it sounds like it's both. 'cause you mentioned you want people to understand how much healing they could do alone, but then also there's a lot that you can do in community, right?
Carolyn Jones: Right. It spreads to community eventually. That's how healers and healing practitioners are made. It starts from one trying to heal themselves, and then as the modalities are introduced, then it expands into this big, beautiful world.
Right now, the things that are in my life, I didn't even know they existed 20 years ago, you know? But now it's filled to overflowing and the possibilities are endless. Because each person, as I mentioned, always keeps someone in your life who knows more than you do. That's very important. A lot of people wanna live on ego.
Oh, you know, we know the dialogue. No, that's toxic dialogue. Invite people who know more 'cause they'll know more people and they'll introduce you to new things. Open yourself up to new experiences, worms and all these things have, because I opened up my mind to worms. So many new things have happened and so many new people have come into my life.
Now I can join a community garden, which is a learning garden. So, and it just happened last night where I now know I have a place that I can go and learn. What this is, what this plant looks like, what a jumping worm is, you know, how not to be afraid of it. What other people know and what other people don't know, and how I can fill in the blanks for them and how they can fill in the blanks for me.
Hmm. Yes. Because that's what makes life interesting. Not the part, you know, the part you don't know.
Dalia Kinsey: I think that is wisdom in itself. It, like you said, there's a lot of ego driven or maybe fear driven posturing that people do online where they want to act as though they know everything and they keep reiterating.
I'm an expert. I'm an expert. I'm an expert. When. In reality, we're never done learning. And if we are, then I guarantee you, you have a knowledge deficit if you think you've finished. And it's more wise to understand that it's normal. It's human not to know everything. And everybody knows something you don't know.
And you can learn something from anyone. You can learn something from a child. You can learn something from somebody who's 102 and you think, oh, they're out of touch.
Carolyn Jones: There's always something. My favorites are the seniors that I visit. I'm an elder myself, but they're my seniors. And I visit a woman who is 91 and we play phase 10 together.
You know, she beats me sometimes. Yeah, whatever. And then, you know, I have others in their eighties and so forth who want to live. They want that longevity. And I was just a part of my. Feeling today was I, I lost my friend recently. We would always talk politics and health. Mostly politics because he wasn't taking care of taking care of his health.
He was in his fifties and I found out he died about two months ago and that thing was weighing on me so badly today. I said, I miss my friend. I feel like talking politics 'cause it got so bad at a point we were just saying it's over. That's, that's all we would have to say about politics. We wouldn't even talk about the details anymore.
You know, it is done. That sustains me when I step out of my building and someone's there for me to say, good morning too. We didn't have to wake up or at least take a moment to look at the sky and not worry about whether it's gonna rain or whether the sun is shining. Just. Look into the stratosphere knowing that you didn't create it, but you're a part of it.
Dalia Kinsey: And that looks like a way that some people are using root work, seeing that like everything as having an energy or having life in
Carolyn Jones: it. Yes. And I'm glad you said that because there is something that I grabbed for the purpose of this podcast, the common beliefs of root workers. One, there is one God and angels and ancestors and such support the work of the one God, they supplement religious beliefs.
Okay, two, the Earth is sacred, living and breathing. It's a sacred living, breathing entity, so everything is alive around us. Physical death is not final. Acknowledging that the soul is eternal is what the root worker does, and the future can be foretold with divination. So here's what I wanna share with you.
When I was in my twenties, I don't know, I was walking down the street and this young Caucasian woman was reading poems for $5. I'm like, why not? You know? So I sat down in the chair and gave her my hand. Mine was open. I didn't do it as a skeptic. And she read my palm and she told me, you know, I see a lot of sons here.
I said, but I have daughters. She's like, yeah, but I see sons, you know? And she said, you're gonna have a nice long life, but you're gonna have a lot of hardship and your life is gonna begin to open up after 60. So, you know, I kept all that in the back of my mind, didn't really pay any attention. And then after 60, my life began to open up in such a way, and now I'll be 74 this year.
And it's wildly exciting. Just by virtue of me speaking with you about this topic is wildly exciting to me. You know, so all the things that I would think about, I'm an only child, so I didn't have people to discuss all this stuff with, and a lot of these thoughts that we're discussing today, I usually just keeping to myself and study on my own and have my own feeling about it.
And then when I'm in light company, we have these wonderful conversations that I go back in my shell, my shell about it, because everyone doesn't subscribe to it. And I'm not trying to argue about it. I believe what I believe and let you know. I let other people believe what they want to believe and, and I think that it, it is a private matter that our deepest beliefs are private matters.
You, you know, and it is, our choice is a privilege when somebody shares their belief system with you. Mm-hmm. That's what makes being a death doula so important and being able to help people move to the other side, make their transition in peace. Not in despair, not with regrets, just in peace. It's great work and it's work that people shy away from, but it's spiritual work and I think that is what we are lacking a lot in society today.
We've forgotten to do the spiritual work well.
Dalia Kinsey: People don't wanna do what they would consider the shadowy side of it. They definitely don't wanna think about their own mortality. Generally speaking, I find people don't even wanna consider that this body urine isn't gonna last forever. That's where it's interesting to see all of this fear that people have around like working with what they see as an unknown, which is.
Plants because most of us haven't been raised to really be able to recognize them or forage the way, maybe a few generations back. People might've been able to, they're afraid that they're gonna accidentally kill themselves. And it's like the fear of the unknown and the fear of death. Like it's depicted in like more than what a film, I think about how many movies have I seen where somebody mis identifies a plant and they kill themselves.
Carolyn Jones: Oh, I see.
Dalia Kinsey: You would think that every other plant is poisonous when in reality, depending on what part of the world you live in, it's not that many compared to all the plants that you could ingest. Nature is not as dangerous as some of us think nature is. I mean, sure nature kills people every day.
Mm-hmm. But it's not as dangerous as we think. And then also, when are we going to just lean into living? Are we just gonna focus on fear of death? Are we gonna lean into fully experiencing our life? And for me, that's got to mean fully experiencing nature.
Carolyn Jones: Yes. And including death. Right. How can you accept the death of your pet?
But you can't accept. You might suffer, you might grieve, but you still know the pet's gonna live a certain amount of time, probably less time, you know, probably die in your lifetime. Right. But you don't wanna accept that you are in that same predicament, you know? And it doesn't have to be a predicament based on how you approach it.
There is a, a discussion group that I participate in through the Brooklyn Society of Ethical Culture, where we actually have death discussions. What is that like? It's refreshing, you know. And also there is a museum called The Museum of Morbid Anatomy. They have wonderful workshops, and I took a course through them where you actually had to do an artistic symbol of remembrance for yourself.
Oh wow. And the beautiful things that people are doing who are unafraid to breach and approach these subjects. Right.
Dalia Kinsey: I think it's a real barrier to fully experiencing your life is continually avoiding your own mortality, because it makes you make kind of strange choices if all you're thinking about is just avoiding death.
Instead of thinking about what do I wanna do with my actual time in this particular body? Like you said earlier, getting started with your healing work. No matter what modality you're using, you should know what you're trying to do. What do you wanna do with this life? And if you haven't accepted that, it's finite.
I think it really changes a lot of your choices, like you hear all the time that when people were told that death was near, it suddenly made them feel free. To actually do what they wanted with their life. But if you understood early in life, like in your twenties or in your thirties when a lot of people still feel immortal.
Mm-hmm. If you understand then that you are in fact mortal, that you can go ahead and take that invitation to live your life right now.
Carolyn Jones: Yes. Yes, and I believe that it also helps a person be more empathetic. I think more people should either consider volunteering or have an internship at a funeral home or in a hospital, or even with people who are invalids or even visit some of these senior centers just to make seniors happy.
Everybody, you know, sitting in a wheelchair and, and debilitated in some way or another, they weren't always like that. And you can't look at it as a us and them kind of thing, a me, a, me and them kind of thing. You have to see humanity as. Stand before the grace of God go.
Dalia Kinsey: Right now, you mentioned before we got on the call that you teach a class about kitchen medicine.
So I know a lot of people that there are a lot of people that wanted to explore more natural ways to build up their immune system. Mm-hmm. For just all the time so that they'd have less coals and you know, less inflammation year round. Yeah. But people have been complaining or saying they're concerned that alternative medicine options and herbalism in general is very expensive or difficult for them to access.
But if there's some things that are just common that could be found in any kitchen that we are just not aware of how we could be using it, that seems like a really missed opportunity. So I would love to hear more about what type of plants that are around us all the time. That we're not understanding could also function as medicine.
Carolyn Jones: Okay. To start, you know, we had mentioned sage and things like that before basil cardamon, like what I love about Ayurvedic medicine is that, uh, east Indian modality of medicine, there are three recognized systems of medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and western medicine. So to that end, we can use Ayurvedic medicine because it speaks to mostly how you cook the manifestation.
Stage of a disease is the last stage. Accumulation is the first where we're piling on, and then we are experiencing symptoms. That we don't really pay attention to. It's like, oh, my back hurts, but it'll be okay. It doesn't have to show up the way we expect it to. It could be some other way. Or I'm feeling a little lethargic.
I'm feeling a little dizzy. Right? So we have things like garlic we spoke about before and I like to tell people what it could be used in like, I like to play a a, a game. It's called Did I miss something? So Garlic, we can use that in soups, meats, poultry, sauces, and tea. You know, ginger soups, salads, sauces, fish.
Tea and rice. Today, I just went to a Thai restaurant and had ginger soup and I didn't want them to put any vegetable in other than scallions. I just wanted to cleanse my digestive system and my blood and everything. And I felt for something very light nutmeg. Oh, and by the way, I'm just gonna throw this in there.
When you're making rice, you can squeeze some lemon juice in it and make lemon rice. It's delicious. Mm-hmm. Throw a little parsley. And you know, the thing behind that is learn to love cooking. You know, you don't feel like cooking all the time. True. But at least when you cook, make it count. For your health.
Dalia Kinsey:Now that sounds like a tall order. Learn to love cooking. Did you always like cooking or did you have to get into it?
Carolyn Jones: Well, yeah, I, I always love cooking because I, I mean, I love experimenting and I love to eat, you know.
Dalia Kinsey: So you'd try cooking without a recipe?
Carolyn Jones: I, I always cook without a recipe. Oh, okay.
Because I mean, I feel like how many mistakes can you make once you just know the basic, once you have the seasoning down pat, and you know whether it's gonna be spicy or, you know, you experiment, you might wanna taste a piece of parsley before you use it, or taste a piece of cilantro before you use it.
And also when you go to a restaurant, observe how they season their food. When I go to certain vegan restaurants, I learned, that's how I learned about liquid smoke, the mushroom bacon, and I was spending $8 for a side of mushroom bacon. I said, this has got to stop. I asked waiter one day, what's giving it that taste?
So it made me realize that we are not addicted to pork, we're addicted to the hickory taste of pork. Mm-hmm. Pork has no flavor.
Dalia Kinsey: Yeah, in general, when I think about it, there's very few types of meat that people like to eat with no seasoning. Mm-hmm. It's usually just all preparation. And so you could do that with whatever products you actually wanna eat.
Like I do know some people, maybe they do want to eat meat, but if you don't want to eat meat, but you just are afraid of losing out on the taste. Mm-hmm. It's just a matter of mastering the flavors.
Carolyn Jones: It is. And with mushroom bacon, you slice the mushrooms up real quick and I wanna try it with, there are a couple of other mushrooms that I want to try, but I did it with portobello, slice it thin, put enough oil in the frying pan just to layer, you know, so the mushroom will get brown.
And I throw some garlic, you know, powder, garlic powder onions on there and said, I like to use paprika 'cause I like color in my food. And the last thing is the liquid smoke and it puts that hickory in there and there you have your, your mushroom bacon and it's absolutely delicious. Oh, that sounds pretty easy.
It is. So, you know, a lot of things. It's not like when being a vegetarian and being a vegan, when it, it first started out, the food really was terrible to me. So getting back to what you were saying, Paprika I mentioned meat, dairy, fish, and rice. You could put it on pink Himalayan, sea salt salad, greens, meat, poultry, dairy, rice, fish, soups and sauces and aloe, you know, to cleanse your blood.
And it also helps one move. I mean, look, it doesn't work for everyone. Delicious on poultry, pasta, salad, soups, and also you can make tea. Turmeric helps with inflammation. You could put it in soups. You can make a tea with it with golden milk. That's a five spice formula with turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and a touch of black pepper to help the cinnamon and turmeric get through your system.
And that can be used with sauces, poultry, rice, salads, pasta. And you can use it in place of paprika sometimes just to color your food.
Dalia Kinsey: Well, I can taste turmeric. I can't taste paprika.
Carolyn Jones: True. Yeah. Unless it's smoked paprika. Oh yeah. Yeah. That's a nice taste.
Dalia Kinsey: Now what can paprika do? Turmeric's grown in popularity and it's being sold more as a supplement here in the States.
Mm-hmm. But I don't know what medicinal properties paprika has.
Carolyn Jones: Well, first of all, as I mentioned, I love that it colors the food, right? And anytime you make the food look more appetizing, that's always great. But it is also, it has antioxidant properties and you can usually tell when a spice or a fruit or vegetable is red, it has that reddish color.
It works as an antioxidant, like, uh, cherry, you know, the black. The tar cherries that they use to inflammation. Mm-hmm. It improves immunity and alleviates gas. It also is high in vitamin C and E and protects against cardiovascular disease. Once again, looking at the doctrine of signatures, that red color, it helps create healthy red blood cells.
And it reminds me if you wanna talk about that of beats, right? Mm-hmm. Because beats wonders for the blood and, and iron content and everything of the blood. Oh,
Dalia Kinsey: I do remember hearing that. Now. You said the doctrine of signatures. Can you explain what that is?
Carolyn Jones: Well, the doctrine of signatures in is when you can look at a and surmise what organ it, it will help.
So according to the physical, characteristics of the plant, like the shape, the color, texture, and the smell, it could reveal their therapeutic value. And that's a whole, that's a whole study. You know, I can imagine that goes deep. Mm-hmm. It does. So you could look at maybe something like Mullen and look at the leaf, and it may have the shape, or you may see the lung, you know what I mean?
The shape of the lung in there, or various other plants that might be shaped like the organ that it actually helps. So that's what the, the doctrine of signatures is about.
Dalia Kinsey: That's so fascinating to me because it seems like the plants are trying to communicate how they can support us. Visually. But they've looked like that since before we knew what our own lungs look like.
Right. So I wonder how people used to figure it out aside from just experimenting.
Carolyn Jones: Well, that's what fascinated me about this phase of herbalism where I learned that, and I believe it was the Native Americans used to watch the animals to see how they would heal themselves, and then they would use that plant for healing on them.
So really we learned, as I mentioned before, we learn. From each other. And I, we just covered snakes before, but I wanted to share with you about they're associated with wisdom, intuition, and hidden knowledge. So, you know, if you think about it, they're usually used in some type of oc cult setting. Mm-hmm.
And they're often seen as messengers from the spirit realm and guides in navigating the unseen they see in the dark. Tra and cats do too. It's it, it speaks about cats being mysterious. We know that. And it speaks to black cats. You know, how many years it took me to get over that black cat thing, even though I didn't believe it, I never believed it.
'cause I love black cats. I mean, I thought something was wrong with me because I love black cats. They're sweet and they're beautiful, that they're associated with luck, psychic abilities, and spiritual guardianship. I, I, uh, I don't understand when people don't love cats. 'cause I actually love that movement that they do in root work.
Dalia Kinsey: How do people work with totem animals? They're more likely to have an animal around, or they're looking at the animals for notes and messages.
Carolyn Jones: It happens different ways. One audio book that I was listening to in preparation for this interview, I was tickled because the author said that root work evolves over time, mainly because a lot of ingredients.
For the ceremonial activities may not be available unless you know someone with a possum tail laying around. Right? So, you know, there's no telling what what can be used in and everything based on what belief system it comes from. I've had two encounters. The first time I wanted to reverse something that was happening in my life that someone had inflicted upon me, and I went with my girlfriend who was seriously into it.
I won't name the religion or anything type of ceremony, but I got to see people being mounted by spirits and I got to sit with the priests. What I was told to do was, in my mind, untenable. Hmm. So, my girlfriend was very angry with me 'cause she felt like I should do it. But what was very interesting was that life had presented me with a dilemma.
I had a choice of either pudding, $400 out for the work or paying my rent, which was $400. And to me, because of what I was told to do, I felt like it would reverse itself on me. 'cause that was my Christian upbringing, right? That it can bounce back really, right. If you wanna talk about karma, which those words weren't used at that time.
But now I would say I felt that there would be karmic consequences, which would include me losing the roof over my head. My intuition told me this, so I left it alone and I just let her be angry with me. Yeah, so went and paid my rent and dealt with whatever I had to deal with in other ways in so many other ways that didn't include ritual.
Mm-hmm. Except maybe the burning of incense in my home and some other prayers and stuff like that. Something I was comfortable with. Right. I feel that whatever root work one does, you have to be comfortable with it. You can't be scared. I don't believe in viciousness either. It's powerful stuff. The other experience that I had, I've had many, but I'm talking about ritualistic experiences, not like intuitive or psychic experiences.
Those are plentiful, but this particular time I had gone to a love feast. It was African love feast, and it's there that I became a true believer in do not play or do not. Go in like now. I wasn't playing, but when I say play, I mean know what you're doing. So they were dancing, they were doing tribal dances in the ceremony.
And I got up because I'm thinking as a dancer, and when I danced, all of a sudden it's like I lost, I had no hands and feet that I knew of that were operating. You understand? It was just a swirl. Like if you saw water swirling down the the drain. I was just a swirl of energy. And I remember screaming and they gathered me, and I remember I went back to my Christianity.
I said, Lord, that'll do it.
Dalia Kinsey: You're like, this is the demon possession they told me about.
Carolyn Jones: If you allow me to get up and walk outta here, you don't ever have to worry about me again. And you know, like a dough stands up for the first time when it's born. I remember my legs feeling like that and I dowed my way right on out of there, but I never forgot.
And I have a, a healthy respect 'cause it's real. Mm-hmm It's just, you have to choose if that's the route you wanna take to worship. 'cause I see nothing wrong with it for those who understand it. The problem is if you do it and you don't understand it, I believe that initiation is very important when you're dealing with the shamanic world.
Dalia Kinsey: I think that's something that a lot of us have lost access to, I think. Well that's why I think who do appeals to a lot of people. 'cause there's not as many rules around formal initiation. It's like passed on by mouth, by books, by wherever you get it. But yeah, that's a good reminder for everyone to really just slow down and pace yourself and make sure that everything you're doing feels right in your body.
'cause you're going to get information that way too.
Carolyn Jones: That's right. And make sure that you have a trusted teacher if you're going to go the shamanic route. A lot of people are using psychedelics at this time to get in touch with that realm. And all I can say is be sure that you're dealing with trusted individuals.
Dalia Kinsey: Yeah. Thank you so much for coming. God, I think that's great parting advice for everybody.
Carolyn Jones: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
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